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Ren and Stimpy: the quintessential dynamic duo of interspecies peace and harmony. Thus begins the journey of dialectical and existential actualization through the cartoons of my youth. Perhaps my global schema has more to do with the life lessons to be learned through the magical medium of cartoons than with anything I done lerned in my skooluns.

The Smurfs: definitely commies

I was a dedicated viewer of the smurfs from about age five to age eight. Such an amusing group of blue miscreants prancing around their village, sharing in all the wealth and riches of the forest. Essentially, a very communitarian conclave in which every smurf had a unique talent to add to the proper functioning of smurf society.

Quite obviously, the smurfs were Communists. Come on: sharing the wealth; every smurf got a free home and free health care — I’m assuming a free ride on Smurfette as well; she must have been pretty warn out. I suppose Papa Smurf  had some sort of authoritarian and fascist inclinations, not quite so much a Stalin as a Jim Jones type of leader — sans the strychnine-laced kool-aide. continue reading…

A blow for consumers

For those not following the FCC as of late, the issue of Net Neutrality has been a hot-button issue. For a few years now, mega internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon have been of the mindset that they can dictate the bandwidth allocated to whatever services they deem acceptable. In 2007, Comcast decided they had the god-given corporate right to slow down the bandwidth of BitTorrents, among other things Comcast didn’t find appropriate—-Oh Crap, I’m using Comcast Broadband right now, better watch my tongue, otherwise my faithful readers will be going back in a 1998 dial-up time machine when they visit my site.

My conspiratorial delusions aside, Comcast fought the FCC–who’d a thunk it–and on April 6 of this year, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC did not have the authority to stop all mighty Comcast from doing as they please; essentially ruling that the FCC can’t impose net neutrality at all. Here is the FCC’s response to the decision:

The FCC is firmly committed to promoting an open Internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans. It will rest these policies — all of which will be designed to foster innovation and investment while protecting and empowering consumers — on a solid legal foundation. continue reading…

What is the prison industrial complex?

A very brief answer to that question would be: the private businesses, corporations and contractors that benefit from the construction, security and maintenance of prisons as a profit generating enterprise. In and of itself, making a profit by providing a service, in whatever form that service manifests, is how capitalism works. When it comes to the private prison industry however, that profit comes at the expense of; not only the tax-paying public that supports the private prison industry, but also the largely minority and poor population that is disproportionally incarcerated when compared to whites. The guards, or correctional officers, of these institutions are typically unable to unionize and generally paid very poorly for the dangerous job they do, ultimately leading to widespread corruption throughout the prison system; from the guards to law enforcement to the judicial system.

In the United States, 1.8 million individuals are behind bars. This is nearly 500,000 more than China, which has a population over quadruple the population of the United States and is largely criticized–deservedly so–for their human rights violations. If you are a black male in the United States, you are six times more likely to be in prison than a white male, and almost three times more likely than a Hispanic male. In 1993, while apartheid still existed in South Africa, the incarceration rate of black men was almost 1/6 what the current incarceration rate of black men in this country is. Not only is this emblematic of broad and systemic racial injustice, it is also the result of a profit-motivated prison system that makes more and more money–at taxpayer expense–when our citizens are locked up; increasingly for non-violent offenses. continue reading…

Originally written on April 30, 2010

On the eve of International Worker’s Day, otherwise known as May Day, I thought it fitting to close out the month with a celebration and remembrance of the struggles of the workers, the poor, and the oppressed throughout the world.

First, I would like to thank everyone thus far who has supported, read, subscribed and given words of encouragement to The Todd Blog. In just over a month, my little blog, which started merely as a means of filling some time and defending my name, has become something I am proud to put my name on–something that is enjoyed by an increasing number of leftists, artists, writers and free-thinkers every day. I sincerely hope that I continue to provide intelligent and thought provoking content on a daily basis (I’ll try at least) and continue to receive the overwhelming support, not only from the left, but all others who enjoy reading my stories of a life well-worn and well-lived–I’ll try to add a bit more non-political posts in the future for you folks. Again, I give genuine thanks to everyone who has helped make The Todd Blog something special and something that will continue to strive in the future. Now on to May Day…. continue reading…

Originally written on April 29, 2010

About a week ago, a good friend of mine e-mailed me an article on existentialism, after a blog post of mine had got him examining the topic. The author of the article, Alexander Green, laid out a fairly simple explanation of the basic characteristics of existentialist thought. This, in turn, got me thinking about my role in the world, both as an individual and as an activist for social change. In essence, it is the self versus the society. Perhaps that is a bit too confrontational of a description, but I do indeed at times feel pulled between my individual desires, thoughts and manifestations and the desire to exacerbate critical thinking and pro-active social change. These two worlds are most certainly not mutually exclusive, but nonetheless, it is a common tendency of the Marxist left to distance dialectical materialism from individual notions of self, and of spiritualism and the role that plays in our schema of the social world around us. continue reading…

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