The Battle of Aleppo

God, can you hear us cry?
Do you wake up in the middle of the night
When you hear bombs falling from the sky?

Why do you look with a half-blind eye
While we’re bleeding for our lonely fight?
We reached out but you won’t lend a hand
As we stumbled and struggled for our rights

You said the meek will rule the land
Not the guns of brutal might
Why do you refuse to hear our pain
At a time when we need your light?

Behind a wall of ruin and death
We fall down on the ground
And prayed to the endless frozen night
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Can Work be Enjoyable?

Fruit picking is one of the most interesting phenomenon in the modern world. Usually fruits on farms are picked by migrant labor who are paid extraordinarily low wages, work in very difficult conditions and are treated poorly by their employers. On the other hand, some people enjoy picking fruits for fun. Usually they are middle-class people who, for a day or two of the year, go to a farm with family and friends, and pay a farmer so they can do menial work that is usually done by desperate people who have no other options for employment. Why would people want to do a job that is usually terrible, and not only that pay for the “privilege” of doing so?

I thought about this for a few hours and came up with an obvious solution. People who go to farms and pick fruit for recreation don’t have a boss who are constantly breathing down their necks, or have to worry that if they don’t finish their daily 5 ton quota they will not have enough money to feed their children. When you don’t have to work under conditions of domination, work naturally becomes easy and not a burden.

Throughout most of human history, people lived off the land by foraging and hunting. They worked to earn a living, but they worked willingly because they always got everything they worked for. Importantly, they only produced as much as they could consume, which meant that in general they didn’t work very hard. Anthropologists have calculated that most pre-agricultural societies worked on average 4-hours a day. That left a lot of time for recreation.

Somewhere along the line people discovered agriculture. With agriculture, people can produce much more than what they need to survive, which is technically called a “surplus”. This should have been a good thing, but it also meant that people worked much harder than before. In addition, there developed a class of people whose sole job is to use violence or the threat of violence to take away this surplus. We usually call these people slave-masters and feudal lords, and they introduced the element of domination to the process of production. The slaves and serfs in this system suffered many indignities, such as being physically abused with impunity, not having basic freedoms and so forth. Eventually the injustices of these systems caused their collapse, giving away to the system of capitalism we have now.

While capitalism is much better, it still carried forward the practice of domination in feudalism and slavery. Anybody who is in a corporate hierarchy will have felt the heavy hand of a bad boss. The worst thing about capitalism aren’t all the domineering bosses, but the fact that most of us aren’t doing what we want to do most of the time. I myself am an example; I write software to support myself financially so I write novels. It is very difficult to do work that makes us feel fulfilled while at the same time earn us enough money to live a decent life.

I think there is something redeeming about the story I told earlier about people going to farms to pick fruit for fun. It shows that people are always willing to work in the absence of domination. The problem with our economic system is that people are forced to work doing things they don’t want to do by bosses they don’t like. Some people might say it would be utopian to expect the world to operate in a different way, but history has shown that at least one time in the past where people weren’t coerced to work and yet were able to get the necessities of life. This inherent flaw in our economy isn’t a part of nature, but something that can be changed to make a better world.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Lunch!

Three score and eleven years ago
our corporate overlords brought forth a nation
conceived in sin
and dedicated to the principle
that “all money is created equal.”

A nation where our children
will not be judged
on the content of their character
but on the content of their bank accounts.

Give me Liberty or give me Lunch!

Let Taco Bell ring!
Let Taco Bell ring from the diabetic state of Mississippi
Let Taco Bell ring from the illegal prisons of Guantanamo
Let Taco Bell ring from the minimum wage purgatory of McDonald’s

Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what Starbucks can do for your country
We chose to go to war not because it was easy
but because it contributed to the profits of Northrop-Grumman

And the brave men who have died
have not died in vain
But so
a government of the military-industrial complex
by the military-industrial complex
and for the military-industrial complex
shall continue to be a parasite on the earth

Winter Rain

The breath of winter from north descends
Puts the autumn leaves down to rest
The gentle chirps of birds in peace
Bring the troubled sky to ease

Beneath the clouds the earth and sky meet
Raindrops kiss the ground with gentle beats
Muddy streams meet in sleepy streets
To the clear ocean the turbid flow reach

Freezing rain drip through shiny leaves
A blessing for shoots but a bane for cats
Resting on cotton-soft paws
Listening to the symphony of raindrops