Land of the Morning Calm

“You always answer my questions, but they don’t always answer my prayers.” – Carly Simon

Today is Friday in North Seoul, South Korea. The world has been successively and successfully falling apart at a rapid pace over the past week or more. Once you pull back the covers, you find reasons that just lead to incessant weeping. We put the dictator in power who suppressed the peaceful protests that lead to the fusion of tribal leaders and extremists that then beheaded children because they couldn’t get to the real culprit. The only good news is that Iran and the U.S. finally agreed to get rid of Saddam Lite. It’s gotta be bad if Iran and the U.S. actually agree. That’s what I keep hoping for–that things will get to the point where rational (forget good v. bad) people will come to their senses and take control of the insanity.

Let’s look at Ferguson, Missouri. I love how the news sources pretend that St. Louis is the town sung about in the 50s. The Greyhound bus I took across country the first time I fled L.A. (I couldn’t flee the first time and was imprisoned on the streets) stopped in St. Louis, and while we were there, a woman was apparently abducted and the bus station was a-hub with rumors of how dangerous it was just outside the doors. Having seen more than most of the white people my age could ever imagine despite late night re-broadcasts of Kojak, I figured they had tried to get speed or crack and it was your average drug deal gone bad. Being a transient population (duh, we’re on a Greyhound bus where, at the time, and this was after 9/11, you didn’t need an I.D. to ride), we never heard what happened to the woman who had been taken off in an LTD. That was St. Louis.

While everyone is arguing about whether or not you should lean into a police car, all I say, is should a policeman shoot an unarmed person 7 times? Should we be seeing cops who clearly aren’t trained as our US military brandishing the weapons of war? How many images of people (of color? aren’t we all some color? White-Black-whatever else is in your crayon palette — the fact that we can’t get past this is the shame of our species, among many others) with their hands up in the air in front of a line of police officers with assault weapons do we need to see before someone realizes these are cops on a power trip?

Well, apparently, our beleaguered president and his attorney general and the federal government and the Missouri Governor and the State Police knew it was time to make the good ole boys step aside.


I won’t even use the word ‘victim’ because the incidents don’t measure up to a Nelson Mandela or anyone who has been seriously brutalized by the supposed ‘protect and serve’ institutions around the world — but I have been the recipient of excessive force used by police officers on at least 3 occasions. And I am white. And I KNOW for a fact that all of my black friends have been harassed for their skin colors. I know that kids are being beheaded for being the wrong affiliation. I know that people are being murdered for believing in the wrong God. I was searched for ‘weapons’ twice because of the car I was driving (and speeding in, but I was not speeding because I had burglarized a house in the exclusive Hancock Park nor was I smuggling drugs into the Glendale neighborhood as the drug cartel disguised by a white girl in short shorts who drove a blue Jetta). Didn’t matter. The cops (the worst were the women — a Puerto Rican chick who had the hots for my husband and searched me three times for weapons, which were apparently concealable in a vagina; and the Korean bitch who made sure the handcuffs were so tight that I was bruised and when I asked if they could at least loosen them a bit, they put a flashlight in my face and called for back up — which I later found out was on the way coz these rookie idiots didn’t have any tickets in their binder! SO the back up came with the paperwork).

It’s hard to like cops anymore. The small town lovable protectors just don’t exist. If you are one and you are good, I apologize. Most I have encountered are the good ole boys who would just as soon lynch you as keep the real enemies at bay. Again, I apologize. I worry that if someone reads this, I could get tear gassed for stating my reality. I didn’t always feel this way. I started out starry-eyed, and I still believe in the greatness of the country of my birth. She has many flaws but as long as the first three amendments stay in tact, that is a start.


The point of this post is nothing really other than — at the beginning of the week, I was convinced that evil would get a foothold, stronghold, chokehold and good would whimper. I talked to God. In fact, I talked to all three of them. I said, what the fuck are you doing? Is this where we go down with the ship? Where are the good? Are they just watching football and tweeting about vodka and vaginas all day long? (Nothing wrong with any of that — but if all the good people actually acted on good, evil would have to take note. EVIL continues because good looks the other way).


And then, Robin Williams. Someone who was fueled by our energy, who gave us laughter. Who was by all accounts a generous man. Who battled depression — which apparently, Fox News and the fuckers who send photos to his daughter of his dead body don’t believe is a medical condition despite the actual scientific facts, but hey those are the same people who turn the other way in the face of humanity — and decided enough was enough. His suicide replicates the suicide of my father’s second wife’s daughter almost identically. The family thought she was asleep. She used a bathrobe cord to hang herself from a door of the closet.


I spent years in anger towards this woman, who seemed like she had so much more than me, for ruining my family — my father seemed drawn to help her mother cope with the grief simply because of this tragedy — I even told Marilyn (her mother, who I later came to love as a friend and good soul), “What did I have to do to get attention? Kill myself too? God knows I tried, but not as effectively.” My passive attempts included a car and putting myself in life-threatening situations, as often as possible. The difference, I have come to learn, is that I am not mentally ill (despite people who assure you that I am crazy — I am a creative genius and there is a difference, trust me) and I do not suffer from clinical depression. My depression comes on directly from circumstance (sexual abuse, rape, poverty, job loss, oppression, etc.) but I do not have to battle those dark demons that I know Sharon did and also, now, Robin.


So I am left looking at my scars, wondering if I can heal enough to get on a plane tomorrow to my beloved Hawaii (since I am trying to recover from sinusitis-laryngitis-conjunctivitis and am almost there but still, ironically, you may say, have no voice) and if I can DO anything with the time I have left on this earth. I will be 49 years old in a few weeks and I feel that if I am lucky, I have another 20-25+ years left– that is if the world doesn’t end sometime before then. I want to do something good. Not because of my legacy (the one thing Putin apparently is scared of, his legacy) or my obituary. I have already done a lot of good things and the bad usually entails behaving like a rockstar. I don’t hurt people and I don’t harm as a matter of course. I have no regrets with regards to my behavior (other than not being able to have kids which is more about my body’s unwillingness than my behavior and the fact that I worked out of town the whole time I should have been working on my ovulation calendar homework, but hey, the ‘family’ needed money, so I kept working, like a good whore with limited choice on the pimp) — and now I just want to make sure of one thing.


That the human race stands for 51% good over 49% evil. That needs to go in the time capsule. That what separates us from ‘beasts’ and monsters is not the killing or the eating of meat (and each other and our children and the list goes on and on) is song, language, love, goodness overwhelming evil. That’s all I got. That’s all we got. Jesus saved me on the way to the library on Ivar Blvd. when I was hungry and the only people who would feed us were the Catholic and Presbyterian churches in the area. I forget which Hollywood star it was when I looked down, but I felt it after many months of struggle (having been abandoned like the bastard that I am, many times, by many people) — there was this sense I will never forget — and it was the truth of compassion and love.


I am not naive. But I will say again because it’s worth repeating and I believe Buddha & Allah would concur: love one another.



Amazon to readers: You should email Hachette’s CEO and CC us


On Sunday, a letter denouncing Amazon’s tactics in the ongoing negotiations between it and book publisher Hachette will run as a paid, full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Signed by more than 900 authors, the “Authors United” letter calls Amazon (s AMZN) out for blocking sales of Hachette titles, singling out authors “for selective retaliation” and “inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery.”

The letter, overseen by thriller author Douglas Preston, who has been a vocal opponent of Amazon throughout the negotiations, was signed by traditionally published authors including Stephen King, Lee Child, Anna Quindlen, Barbara Kingsolver, Meg Wolitzer, John Grisham and Malcolm Gladwell, among hundreds of others.

The letter suggests that readers “email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at, and tell him what you think. He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all…

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I took Duolingo’s standardized language test of the future on my phone


Standardized tests are part of the educational process, but their primary purpose is not educational: Most tests are designed to give a score at the end, a credential which presumably indicates the test taker has a certain level of knowledge. While massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other internet-based tools have focused on providing quality instruction cheaply through the internet, there haven’t been many efforts focused on using the same tools to provide useful certifications.

In July, Duolingo, best known for its translation and language learning app, released Test Center. It’s an Android and web app that lets users take a proctored exam and provides a statistically validated score, which hopefully will eventually be accepted by schools and institutions. So far, it’s been a success: the Android app has been downloaded 157,000 times and 9,000 tests have been completed and scored.

The tests are currently free, but eventually, they’ll cost $20. “We…

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