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Wal*Mart is our friend and helps the local community economy by making it more competitive. Coal is safe energy and it is clean now. We've changed our name to Altria, because Phillip and Morris do not work here anymore. Technology has advanced a long way since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Nuclear energy is cheap and safe. ExxonMobil is helping humankind face the challenges of energy consumption. Mission Accomplished!

Corporations and politicians spend billions of dollars to influence your perception of reality. Pick up any (almost any) magazine, turn on a television, read a newspaper, go online and we are bombarded with useful information on what is lacking in our life, what we should buy to make us happy. We are subjected to a continuous stream of ads for pills or gear that will make us thinner, bulk-up or more attractive. The six for six pizza deal (I suspect they really mean six more pounds for six dollars). You must drive the newest fastest car. Your pickup truck isn't as powerful as ours -look, we can pull a hotel.  Chevy has started the "American Revolution" although I don't recall reading it in Howard Zinn's "The People's History of the United States". I didn't realize being patriotic was as simple as buying a Chevy. Just how stupid do advertising agencies think we are? Our representatives believe we are stupid too. The "Clear Skies" act, the "Healthy Forests" initiative, the PATRIOT act, "No Child Left Behind". All about creating a perception that is vastly different from the underlying reality. Think about the photo opportunities, like dishonoring our military by landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit under a banner that says "Mission Accomplished". This dishonors all that have or will put on a flight suit and have or will fulfill their military obligation with bravery and integrity. If any of our leaders want to play "dress-up" or "let's pretend" allow me to suggest Halloween.

Fashion
You must have the latest Coach purse. Why are you wearing yesterday's fashions? Those shoes (that you wore twice) are so last season. And if you aren't wearing all of the latest, you really must not be worth our time as a society. Here's a fashion idea. A new, simple line of clothing coming from certified fair labor sources and fair trade global marketplace sources from a label called "Opt-out". Opt-out will carry a line of basic, durable, comfortable work, casual and going-out wear for reasonable prices. We can immediately recognize people wearing Opt-out as people that would rather be comfortable and spend their resources on being cool instead of looking cool. While we are at it, let us rethink jewelry and accessories. Throughout my life I have been the beneficiary of a very large Oracle paycheck, or have lived as I have for the past year, with money from the grace of family and friends, I have worn a simple wedding band throughout. If you don't want to talk to me because I am not wearing a Rolex or a ruby encrusted class ring then I am not sure I'd really enjoy your company anyway. And think about diamonds. We are told in ad campaigns diamonds say that "we love you forever". Do we stop and consider the origin of the diamond we are giving to create joy and the perception of love? Certainly the commercial is not saying that our love is expressed through the mining of a blood diamond.  Isn't the concept of adorning ourselves with jewelry a little pre-historic? And when we know people to be living in abject poverty, isn't it worse than pre-historic? And what of furs? Here's a new rule for furs (with apologies to Bill Maher and the New Rules). And I am acquiescing to the fact that we are a theoretically free society, I am a near vegan (darn that cheese pizza) and would prefer we did not cause the suffering and death of other living things for our coats, shoes and our Big Mac's. Rule for furs: If you trapped it, killed it, skinned it and made it yourself, you can wear it. Otherwise, just stop.

Cars, Fuel Rebates and Fun with Math
I don't care how small your penis is, figuratively or not. A bigger car or SUV will not make it any larger. Here's an analogy for all of us. Right now we know oil is finite (we've known for a long time, but we forget. Darn those 60's). So think of us as walking through the desert with only a certain amount of water. If we all conserve, we may make it to a cool oasis. Now a few of the people we are walking with take the canteen gulp down far more than their share of water and then pour it over themselves for their personal comfort. Now you know why the Hummers raise my blood pressure. These people are gulping down oil, driving more demand for oil product. Guess what happens when supply is becoming scarcer while demand rises? You could have slept through and failed your 8am Economics class and still know that the act of buying and driving a Hummer around causes the price of gasoline and energy to increase for all of us. It could even cause a country to invade another country just for oil (hypothetically speaking of course). Again, we are a (theoretically) free society. I think if you want to buy a Hummer, that's fine. But in Polisner-world, I would assess a special "I don't give a crap about society tax" on your ass and use that pool of money for clean mass-transit, energy credits for people that buy Hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles. Also, if any car company manufacturers products that suck so badly they have to offer a fuel price rebate, if you are considering it, how about simply buying a more fuel efficient vehicle? Here's the math. Let's say GM manufactures a new vehicle called the Huge Dumbass. The Huge Dumbass has a 20 gallon tank, and gets 8 miles per gallon. Therefore it has a range of 160 miles. If they offer to pay for your gas beyond $1.99 per gallon, this means every 160 miles you drive will cost about $40.00. Lets say some other company makes an SUV hybrid that gets 24mpg's, also with a 20 gallon tank. When fuel prices rise to $4.00 per gallon, you will pay $80.00 to fill up the tank and have a range of 480 miles. So if you are driving a GM Huge Dumbass you will pay $120.00 to go 480 miles, and if you are driving a Hybrid it will cost you $80.00. Still like the fuel rebate for 1 year? So not only does the ad agency and our government think we are stupid (and government should know as our neglected education system continues to erode), corporations believe we are stupid too. Or should I say stewpid to?

Beverages
I'll be clear about this. At a social gathering women are not going to fight with each other to talk to you because of the brand of beer you are holding. Men are not going to engage you in discussion because of your choice of vodka. If it is incredibly hot, opening a beer is not going to cause a train to appear and the temperature to drop 40 degrees. Sorry.

Toys
Here is another alternative plan. Instead of attempting to assuage our guilt for no longer spending time with our children (since both parents have to work longer hours to make ends meet), lets cutback the time we spend making others wealthier, and spend more time with our children. Between having the latest violent game where children can objectify others and shoot them or playing catch with you in the park, when your children look back and reflect on their lives, which memory would you prefer guides them when they become parents? Each generation of society must evolve toward compassion, patience and responsibility. They will not arrive accidentally; it is up to each of us to lead the way. How can a child develop their creativity and imagination if they are constantly distracted with stuff (the way we are)?

The Home
I really enjoy privacy and a private place that is my own. I cannot judge how much enough for any person is. In funding alonovo.com myself, I made a difficult personal decision to sell my home and use the funds to move to an apartment and to provide more resources to grow the alonovo effort. I think wistfully how much I might enjoy a small home overlooking the Pacific Ocean where I might write and provide strategy for social ventures. Sometimes I think about a big ranch house in Montana, an expansive space and sky. Sometimes I think of a work/live space with a loft in the city. Whether I eventually end up in any of those spaces or simply stay in an apartment, I am not defined by the walls around me. I think every person should enjoy a place within their community where they feel safe, secure and comfortable. Nevertheless, our home does not define us. So while more and bigger can yield more comfort, there is a significant financial burden that comes with that. As interest rates continue to climb, with no end in sight what will the impact be when the mortgage payments on the larger home you could barely afford, skyrockets? The price of energy is going to cause a significant ripple effect throughout our economy that will lead to foreclosures and other personal economic trauma. But now, "our" representatives have decided to "protect" us by eviscerating what once was our ability to protect ourselves through bankruptcy.

Vacations
We deceive ourselves with vacations. If we are fortunate enough to travel outside of the U.S., staying at the Marriott and eating at Pizza Hut does not count. You are no longer allowed to say you vacationed outside of America if you surround yourself with the trappings of American culture and society. Try a reality or eco-tour. http://globalexchange.org/...  Research Friendship Force. Peace on earth can only occur through understanding and cooperation. Peace cannot be attained through bombing countries into democracy. Tension, anxiety and uncertainty stem from isolation.

Our Minds and Bodies
We now have pills that help us sleep, lose weight, calm our restless legs, allow us to eat any foods we want without acid reflux and to be happy. Here are some alternative thoughts. Instead of working at a job you hate for people that you despise, and having to work longer hours so you can buy the houses, the cars, the jewelry and subsequently the medicines here is something bold to try that is not for the squeamish. Let's demand a 32 hour work week, spend time volunteering in the community, reconnecting with nature, our neighborhoods and schools and each other. This will help restore a life balance. Your hiking and reconnection with nature will relax your legs and help you manage your weight. You'll sleep better. You'll feel satisfaction in volunteering and helping others. You will begin to feel more content. Instead of taking a pill to eat whatever you want, if your stomach doesn't like spicy foods, try not eating them.

Miscellaneous
If you want to really support our troops, slapping an American flag sticker (made in China, by the way) on your imported car or Buick doesn't impress us.  Support our troops by electing a government that will use them carefully and judiciously. Support the troops by electing a government that will supply them with protective armor in the event we actually must go to war because we are attacked. Support our troops by electing a government that will increase their salary and benefits so their families don't have to live below the poverty level. Support our troops by electing a government that will send their own children into battle first, before sending your children or mine.

I will not measure myself as a man by the car that I drive, the place that I live, the clothes that I wear. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right; let me be judged by the content of my character, not by the color of my skin, or anything that is external to my core, spirit or soul.

The true content of our character is expressed in our actions. It is not just about going to the Mosque, Church, and Temple or wherever you may (or may not worship). It is about how we live our life every minute of every day.

Just a few thoughts from my over-caffeinated alphabetic mind.

About the Author: Mr. Polisner founded alonovo.com in March of 2005. He has been working in most aspects of Information Technology since 1981 and was an early commercial adopter of the UNIX operating system. Prior to founding alonovo.com earlier this year, George was a Director at Oracle Corporation. He is a frequent contributor to newspapers regarding political and economic policy and often appears as a guest on radio programs. In fact, when it comes to alonovo.com, it's pretty difficult to get him to stop talking.

Originally posted to 100yearmarch on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 09:48 AM PDT.

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