Sneak Privatization of Mexico's Oil HaltedBy JOHN ROSSMexico City."The Adelitas have arrived/To defend our oil/Whoever wants to give it to the foreigners/ Will get the shit kicked out of him!" yodeled the brigades of women pouring onto the esplanade of the Mexican senate to protest a petroleum privatization measure President Felipe Calderon insists is not a petroleum privatization measure and which he sent onto the Senate for fast-track ratification at the tag end of the winter-spring session this April. Inside the small, ornate Senate, leftist legislators aligned in the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), some dressed in white oil workers’ overalls and hard hats, were camped out under pup tents arranged around the podium for the eighth straight night, paralyzing legislative activities and demanding an ample national debate on Calderon's plans to open up the nationalized petroleum corporation PEMEX to transnational investment. The hullabaloo, which has been brewing for months, exploded when rumors circulated that Calderon's right-wing PAN party and allies in the once-ruling (71 years) PRI had cooked up a secret vote approving the privatization measure - such covert maneuvering is called an "albazo" or "madruguete" here, a pre-dawn ruse to approve legislation in the dark when there is significant opposition, often behind locked doors and military and police barricades. Seizing the podiums in both houses of congress and the timely arrival of the Adelitas prevented a madruguete and derailed Calderon's plans to fast-track the privatization of PEMEX.Under the President's "energy reform" package, building and operating refineries and pipelines will be opened up to the private sector - 37 out of PEMEX's 41 divisions would be subject to partial privatization. One example: a modified form of "risk" contract, which relegates a percentage of the petroleum brought in to the private driller, and which is outlawed under Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, would become the law of the land. In an analysis anti-privatizers label "catastrophic" which Calderon sent on to congress to back up his initiative, the President pinned salvation of PEMEX on deep water ("aguas profundas") drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that would necessitate the "association" of private capital.Mexico's petroleum industry was expropriated from an array of oil companies known collectively as the "Seven Sisters" in March 1938 by then-President Lazaro Cardenas, an act that remains a paragon of revolutionary nationalism throughout Latin America. But down the decades, PEMEX has subcontracted out important parts of its structure - the Exploration or PEP division in particular - to transnational drillers and service corporations like Halliburton, now its number one subcontractor, that suck billions of dollar in profits from Mexican oil each year.The appearance of the Adelitas and their male counterparts ("Los Adelitos") is the latest gamble by the left populist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) to monkey wrench the government's plans to return PEMEX to the contemporary version of the Seven Sisters. The PAN was indeed founded in 1939 to oppose Cardenas's nationalization of the oil industry.Organized by neighborhoods and by workplaces, the Adelita brigades are the lineal descendents of the groups of AMLO supporters who came together after the stolen 2006 election in a seven-week sit-in that shut down the capital's main thoroughfares. At last count (Friday April 14th), there were 41 registered brigades - 28 Adelitas and 13 Adelitos, about 50,000 citizens in all. Operating in shifts, 13,000 "brigadistas" have been encamped off and on for a week in front of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The brigades are named after significant political events - "18th of March", marking the day Cardenas expropriated the oil - or to honor social activists such as Jesus Piedra, the long-disappeared son of left senator Rosario Ibarra, and Arturo Gamiz, a 1960s guerrilla fighter. Women warriors like Leona Vicaria and Benita Galeana are similarly remembered. One brigade of Adelitas tag themselves "Enaguas Profundas" or "Deep Petticoats" - Calderon wants to drill in deep water or "aguas profundas."The creation of so large a citizens' army pledged to carry out civil disobedience to prevent the passage of legislation it thinks detrimental to the republic is unprecedented in Mexico's political history. As thousands sat down in the street to block the automobiles of PAN and PRI senators from entering the precinct last Thursday, AMLO, who often cites Dr. King and Gandhi as role models, urged non-violence: "not one window broken, not one stone thrown.""Tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo!" the Adelitas sang back in a call and response that is always a feature of Lopez Obrador's mobilizations, "They are frightened because we are not afraid."Similar brigades, led by women, have invaded local congresses outside of Mexico City and one band of activists closed Acapulco's busy airport last week. Shutting down Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport is the Adelitas' ultimate threat.The Adelitas, like most of the weapons in AMLO's arsenal, are drawn from Mexico's revolutionary history. Las Adelitas were "soldaderas" or women soldiers who fought shoulder to shoulder with the men in Pancho Villa's "Division del Norte" (Northern Division) during the 1910-1919 revolution. With their long skirts, broad sombreros, bandoleers strung across their chests, and toting .22 carbines, the Adelitas were emblematic of the many courageous women who participated in that epic struggle. The first Adelita is thought to have been Adelita Velarde, a nurse from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Like "La Cucaracha", another popular anthem of Pancho Villa's irregulars, "La Adelita" is now a mainstay of Mexican folk music. The song tells of "Adelita" who fell in love with the "Sargente" (Sergeant) and went to fight with him on the frontlines against the "Federales" (government troops.) In the final verse, the Sargente swears that if Adelita should leave him, he will come for her in a "war ship" or "military train" - which may be prophetic of the Adelitas' pursuit of Calderon and his oil privatization scheme.AMLO's crusade has not been confined to one house of congress. On April 8 when the President sprung his initiative on the legislature, FAP members stormed the tribune in the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico's version of the U.S. House of Representatives) while lawmakers were preparing to grant Calderon permission to travel to New Orleans for the April 21-22 summit of the ASPAN (The North American Security and Prosperity Agreement) - Mexican presidents must solicit congress for permission to travel. ASPAN is a corollary of NAFTA that projects North American security and energy integration and Calderon was eager to attend the summit with the re-privatization of Mexican oil in hand. Suddenly, the FAPOs unfurled a 60-foot banner that announced Congress had been closed ("Clausurado") and cast it over the entire presidium, trapping president Ruth Zavaleta, who occupies Nancy Pelosi's position in the Mexican house, in its folds. Struggling to free herself of the fabric, Zavaleta reappeared with her gavel in hand but the ensuing chaos prevented her from calling for a vote on the President's travel arrangements. Eight days later, the tribune was still draped in the banner and FAP deputies had chained shut the doors of the chamber and moved the desks of the PAN legislators to the podium to barricade themselves from attempts to take it back. Zavaleta, a member of AMLO's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) but not friendly to Lopez Obrador, has called for the use of "public force" (police, military) to remove the rebel lawmakers. Thrust back into the national spotlight by the battle to head off privatization, Lopez Obrador is the target of extravagant vitriol delivered by the nation's electronic and print media reminiscent of the public lynching he was subjected to during the tumultuous 2006 presidential campaign. TV tyrant Televisa's coverage of the takeover of congress (a "kidnapping") was so venomous that thousands of Adelitas, wearing bandaleros and wielding facsimile .22s, descended on the conglomerate's Mexico City headquarters, provoking one prominent PAN politico to label them "paramilitaries."In violation of constitutional amendments banning "black" political hit pieces, a PAN front group "Better Society, Better Government", is running primetime Televisa spots comparing Lopez Obrador to Hitler, Mussolini, and Pinochet. PAN party president German Martinez accuses Lopez Obrador of "hiding under the skirts of women" and the EmpresorialCoordinating Council, the nation's elite business federation, takes out full-page ads blasting the AMLOs for staging a coup d'etat ("golpe de estado.")Despite the anti-AMLO media blitz - or perhaps because of it - Lopez Obrador remains the only figure on the Mexican political stage who is able to convoke tens of thousands of supporters, often with virtually no notice. Three times since March 18 when he kicked off this crusade, AMLO has filled the great Zocalo plaza, the heart of Mexico's body politic. What makes the turnouts even more impressive is the fact that Lopez Obrador has built this massive movement while his Party of the Democratic Revolution has been reducing itself to rubble. In-fighting since a corrupted March 16 party presidential election has divided the PRD down the middle - the party is roughly split between an activist wing headed by Lopez Obrador and his candidate Alejandro Encinas, and party bureaucrats who see the PRD as an instrument for political and personal advancement and seek to demobilize the Adelitas. The "Chuchus" or "New Left" eschew AMLO's rallies and sit-ins and instead conduct their own private hunger strikes to protest privatization. The Chuchus (many of their leaders are named Jesus) portray themselves as the "reasonable" left and are only too willing to "dialogue" with Calderon, a president Lopez Obrador resolutely refuses to recognize. Whoever wins, the tussle over the bones of the PRD may be a moot one - after two years of campaigning down at the grassroots, Lopez Obrador's base has grown wider than that of the party.Although Calderon's scam to fast track privatization through congress was blunted by the Adelitas and the FAPs, the PAN and the PRI - the latter a repository of seven decades of dirty tricks - still have plenty of room in which to connive. Now the PRI, seconded by Calderon's right-wing minions, proposes an uninterrupted 50 day "national" debate to be restricted to the two houses of congress with a congressional vote by mid-summer. Calderon's initiative can only pass if at least half of the PRI's 120-vote delegation goes along with the game. Even if the privatization measure eventually passes, the legislation is bound to wind up in the Mexican Supreme Court the moment it clears congress. Ironically, the Supreme Court was the instrument by which Cardenas nationalized the oil industry in the first place.Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador's people are clamoring for a very different kind of debate, one that would unfold over the next four months - 120 days - and be conducted inside and outside congress in every state and municipality in the country with the prospect of a national referendum in the fall to decide the issue - one poll has 62 per cent of those questioned opposed to the privatization of Mexico's oil. Such grassroots decision-making would be a revolutionary strophe here in the land of the "albazo" and the "madruguete."Out on the esplanade of the Senate, the Adelitas were shaking their boodies to "La Cumbia del Petrolio." There were enough pink "gorras" (baseball caps), pink hankies, and pink parasols that read "Defend Our Oil" to make Code Pink blush. Brigadista Berta Robledo, a nurse about to retire from the National Pediatric Hospital, hugged a blade of shade under the punishing mid-day sun. "Are you tired, companeras?" the companera with the bullhorn asked and Berta came to her feet with a loud "No!" "Sure the sun is hot but so what?" she responded to a gringo reporter's stupid question, "the sun can't stop us, the rain can't stop us, the cold can't stop us and you know why? Because we are right! We are fighting for our oil and for our country. This is the resistance. We don't get tired."John Ross is at home in the belly of the Monstruo writing a book about the belly of the Monstruo. If you have further information write email@example.com
So, do you ever get tired of being asked, “what is unschooling”? Or are you someone who keeps asking but you haven’t found a person who can really put it into words for you? Neither of you are alone! I knew that before I ever conceived my son, I would be ‘educating him at home’ and so did my hubby. I never put much thought into ‘the how’ or really much thought into ‘the why’, but it only felt natural and right.
When I became pregnant, home education is exactly what I focused on…not the fact that I was about to give birth to a child! I started reading and researching everything about homeschooling. I discovered ‘unschooling’. It made sense, because that’s the way I envisioned homeschooling to be in the first place. So, I was rather shocked when I kept finding all these resources online that were VERY ’school-at-home’ orientated. I guess being an Anarchist naturally puts me at odds with any educational system or theory that uses control of/over children to ‘produce’ results (i.e. an educated child).
I always assumed that what parents did with their children on most days before they were ’school aged’ and then sent away for 4 to 8 hours a day was unschooling. I mean, I know that no one really works at teaching their children how to talk, crawl or walk (barring some special cases) — we kind of have to figure that one out for ourselves in order to be able to communicate and interact with the Universe around us. How would this natural desire to figure things out and to explore our Universe go away if we never knew school? It doesn’t go away…until you go to school. Well, it might not go away completely, because we still (most of us) desire knowledge as adults and we find very non-mainstream ways of acquiring said knowledge at times. I have to admit though, I have been damaged by the public education system and most of those who are near and dear to me can attest to the same. As adults we spend our entire life trying to over come the damage of a childhood full of punishment and praise.
Back to unschooling. Unschooling led me to John Taylor Gatto and if ‘we’ are still naming Saints, then his name should be added to that list! Unschooling makes so much sense to me…why doesn’t it make sense to everyone else. Because everyone else has more faith in ‘experts’ than in themselves, let alone their children…not to mention that most people do not view children as real people with real feelings, thoughts and rights; they are only ’second class’ citizens who can not be trusted and need to be constantly corrected and broken like some kind of wild animal.
Respecting children as though they are real people is step one. Trusting that they know what is better for them than anyone else is step two…because I hope that you know what is better for yourself than anyone else does. Not pushing one’s own agenda onto a child or forcing them to ‘cooperate’ (read: obey without question) because you are selfish and assume that because you are bigger and older you matter more than they do is step three. Step four comes after all that…it’s when true autonomy is respected…not given, because that implies that you could take it away if you wanted. When you do not forbid something, it loses it’s appeal or never gains appeal in the first place — children can and should be trusted with EVERYTHING.
Unschooling…yes, it is in all of this rambling. Once you are at a place where you are able to put into action Steps 1-4, then it only makes sense to NOT enroll your children into ANY kind of school against their will, unless there is ABSOLUTELY NO other option. Children are unschooled from birth (or conception, depending on what team you play for) and there is no magical age at which they stop learning and wanting to learn. And right now, I have to say that if you are still reading this and saying, “yeah that’s nice, but I had to endure school and I came out alright — why shouldn’t my kids be schooled too?”, I have to say you are one selfish person to even suggest that your children deserve to endure the same pain, punishment, pressure and boredom that you endured. People try to defend school by saying that it is some kind of ‘rite of passage’, when all they are doing is trying to rationalize why they are sending their children away — even when their heart aches for them to be home and even when their children are obviously not happy and not succeeding.
I think I could maybe be swayed into believing that the school system has my child’s best interest in mind and might be more equipped to care for their education than I, if and only if, the system’s own report card was not so laughable! And if I didn’t know what the system was really there for in the first place.
Ok, so fine. Hopefully you have gotten through my very biased rant and now you are asking, but ‘how’, if there isn’t a curriculum or plan or goal of some kind in place (but there is). I’ve been trying to explain this one for awhile now. I’ve been trying to really make a fairly concise description and still get everything in there…I can’t do it. But, I can give examples of it in action and I can think of some words and I can share the words of others. One mother in New York, blogs about how she wishes she could be honest about unschooling to fulfill state requirements and she has this to say (extracted from link above):
If I could write something for this IHIP that would actually reflect some of the spirit and scope of unschooling, I would focus on the following four concepts. These are concepts that we encounter in many forms every day and that seem to flow organically from Lucia’s exploration of the world around her.
Concept 1:Information is available and abundant.
Lucia will learn that her community is rich with resources. These include, among others, public libraries, museums, colleges and universities, research centers, nature centers, theatres and performance spaces, galleries, gardens, farms, and religious institutions. She will become comfortable using these resources. Lucia will identify her own interests and learning goals. She will locate and utilize appropriate resources, critically analyze and organize available information, and apply this information in the way that best suits her needs.
Concept 2:There are as many ways to live as there are people on the planet.
Lucia will explore many cultures. She will find that ideas are expressed in many ways: verbal, visual, physical, and sonic. She will experience different concepts of family, friendship, and love. She will understand that lifestyles are shaped by many factors, both internal and external. She will come to recognize that there are many forms of government in place all over the world and that some are more participatory than others. She will develop an idea about personal freedom and individual rights. She will be concerned with issues of social justice because they affect her and the people she cares about - even some she’s never met.
Concept 3: We are part of a natural system.
Lucia will experience her life as part of a dynamic, living system. Evolution is a chance occurrence that happens in response to environmental change. It has no direction and no goal. The idea that humans are somehow separate and distinct from other living things is sorely misguided and is largely responsible for the environmental crisis in which we find ourselves today. The earth existed for billions of years before us, and it will end without us.
But before that happens Lucia will learn that natural resources are finite. Our actions have consequences. Our consumption creates pressures elsewhere. The food that sustains us is a product of the earth. The waste we generate must go somewhere. Lucia will have the power to live as a conscientious steward of the earth. She will help her family strive to reduce our negative impact on nature’s balance. This can be a challenge in our modern, technological society. It requires thought and effort. But a feeling of kinship with nature can only enhance our experience of the world, adding texture, depth, and a sense of fulfillment.
Concept 4:Everything is connected.
Lucia will notice the connections among all of the concepts above. She will see, for example, how access to information affects personal freedom, how cultural belief systems affect people’s attitudes toward the environment, how participation in government can bring about legislation to improve a community’s handling of natural resources. There are countless possibilities. And it is within these connections that Lucia’s true education lies. In making these connections, she will begin to construct new and original ideas of her own.
I can just replace my son’s name wherever ‘Lucia’ appears and I’m done…for the most part! I think this beautifully captures and explains the curriculum part of unschooling, which is LIVING A REAL LIFE and learning from it! I can not really explain it better at the moment.
“But how will they learn XXX or XXX, if they never open a XXX book or never have to raise their hands to ask permission to pee or etc.?” Well, they might not, if they don’t need to. Really, how much of what was forced down your throat during school do you remember? And more importantly, how much have you needed to know to make it ‘in the real world’? If there was a certain subject that you really loved and one that you really hated, those are the two examples that are going to come into your mind right now. The first because you were genuinely interested and the second because you were being forced to ‘learn’ something that had no revelence to your life at the time…maybe you would have been ‘better’ at say math, if you hadn’t had to ‘learn’ it until you were a teenager or out in the ‘real world’ when you needed it.
The REAL World gets a lot of attention when it comes to unschooling and naysayers. As if school is the real world! I haven’t yet come across a situation in the real world yet (mind you I am only 26 at this time), that I have been prepared for because of school. In fact, there were TONS of things that I NEVER learned in school that I have needed out here in the real world that I have had to learn post-school. This doesn’t mean that my parents and other influences in my life didn’t teach me about some of the ‘life lessons’ mentioned in the article linked to, but I wasn’t taught most of them and I can not really remember being taught them in school or if I was, the information wasn’t presented in a manner that was relevant to my present state of being. Most of the things mentioned probably shouldn’t be taught or shouldn’t be expected to be taught in schools…but really, what should schools be ‘teaching’ in the first place? I think all schools should be Free Schools — at least if children are forced into going for whatever reason they’ll have a better chance at coming out the other side practically unschooled in a public manner! Is that really possible?
I’m going to do my best to explain unschooling as this blog progresses along…be patient though, it’s not easy…like most life lessons!
On a side note: I’m fascinated by the number of Radical Unschoolers out there who are not Anarchists (quite a few are Libertarians, so that can count…I guess).
Some people who have survived a life-threatening crisis report an extraordinary experience. Near-death experience occurs with increasing frequency because of improved survival rates resulting from modern techniques of resuscitation.
The content of NDE and the effects on patients seem similar worldwide, across all cultures and times. The subjective nature and absence of a frame of reference for this experience lead to individual, cultural, and religious factors determining the vocabulary used to describe and interpret the experience.1
NDE are reported in many circumstances: cardiac arrest in myocardial infarction (clinical death), shock in postpartum loss of blood or in perioperative complications, septic or anaphylactic shock, electrocution, coma resulting from traumatic brain damage, intracerebral hemorrhage or cerebral infarction, attempted suicide, near-drowning or asphyxia, and apnea.
Such experiences are also reported by patients with serious but not immediately life-threatening diseases, in those with serious depression, or without clear cause in fully conscious people. Similar experiences to near-death ones can occur during the terminal phase of illness, and are called deathbed visions.
Identical experiences to NDE, so-called fear-death experiences, are mainly reported after situations in which death seemed unavoidable: serious traffic accidents, mountaineering accidents, or isolation such as with shipwreck.
Several theories on the origin of NDE have been proposed. Some think the experience is caused by physiological changes in the brain, such as brain cells dying as a result of cerebral anoxia.2-4 Other theories encompass a psychological reaction to approaching death,5 or a combination of such reaction and anoxia.6
Such experiences could also be linked to a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which perception, cognitive functioning, emotion, and sense of identity function independently from normal body-linked waking consciousness.7
People who have had an NDE are psychologically healthy; although some show non-pathological signs of dissociation.7 Such people do not differ from controls with respect to age, sex, ethnic origin, religion, or degree of religious belief.1
Studies on NDE1,3,8,9 have been retrospective and very selective with respect to patients. In retrospective studies, 5-10 years can elapse between occurrence of the experience and its investigation, which often prevents accurate assessment of physiological and pharmacological factors.
In retrospective studies, about 45%1 of adults and up to 85% of children10 who had a life-threatening illness were estimated to have had an NDE. A random investigation of more than 2000 Germans showed 4·3% to have had an NDE at a mean age of 22 years.11
Differences in estimates of frequency and uncertainty as to causes of this experience result from varying definitions of the phenomenon, and from inadequate methods of research.12
Patients' transformational processes after an NDE are very similar1,3,13-16 and encompass life-changing insight, heightened intuition, and disappearance of fear of death. Assimilation and acceptance of these changes is thought to take at least several years.15
The authors defined NDE as the reported memory of all impressions during a special state of consciousness, including specific elements such as out-of-body experience, pleasant feelings, and seeing a tunnel, a light, deceased relatives, or a life review.
They defined clinical death as a period of unconsciousness caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain because of inadequate blood circulation, breathing, or both. If, in this situation, CPR is not started within 5-10 min, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die.
The results show that medical factors cannot account for occurrence of NDE; although all patients had been clinically dead, most did not have NDE. Furthermore, seriousness of the crisis was not related to occurrence or depth of the experience.
If purely physiological factors resulting from cerebral anoxia caused NDE, most of the patients should have had this experience. Patients' medication was also unrelated to frequency of NDE. Psychological factors are unlikely to be important as fear was not associated with NDE.
Only 12% of patients had a core NDE, and this figure might be an overestimate. True frequency of the experience is likely to be about 10%, or 5% if based on number of resuscitations rather than number of resuscitated patients. Patients who survive several CPRs in hospital have a significantly higher chance of NDE.
Good short-term memory seems to be essential for remembering NDE.
Patients with memory defects after prolonged resuscitation reported fewer experiences than other patients in our study.
Forgetting or repressing such experiences in the first days after CPR was unlikely to have occurred in the remaining patients, because no relation was found between frequency of NDE and date of first interview.
However, at 2-year follow-up, two patients remembered a core NDE and two an NDE that consisted of only positive emotions that they had not reported shortly after CPR, presumably because of memory defects at that time. It is remarkable that people could recall their NDE almost exactly after 2 and 8 years.
Our finding that women have deeper experiences than men has been confirmed in two other studies,1,7 although in one,7 only in those cases in which women had an NDE resulting from disease.
Our findings show that the process of change after NDE tends to take several years to consolidate. Presumably, besides possible internal psychological processes, one reason for this has to do with society's negative response to NDE, which leads individuals to deny or suppress their experience for fear of rejection or ridicule.
Thus, social conditioning causes NDE to be traumatic, although in itself it is not a psychotraumatic experience. As a result, the effects of the experience can be delayed for years, and only gradually and with difficulty is an NDE accepted and integrated. Furthermore, the long-lasting transformational effects of an experience that lasts for only a few minutes of cardiac arrest is a surprising and unexpected finding.
Several theories have been proposed to explain NDE.
We did not show that psychological, neurophysiological, or physiological factors caused these experiences after cardiac arrest.
Neurophysiological processes must play some part in NDE. Similar experiences can be induced through electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe (and hence of the hippocampus) during neurosurgery for epilepsy,23 with high carbon dioxide levels (hypercarbia),24 and in decreased cerebral perfusion resulting in local cerebral hypoxia as in rapid acceleration during training of fighter pilots,25 or as in hyperventilation followed by valsalva manoeuvre.4
Ketamine-induced experiences resulting from blockage of the NMDA receptor,26 and the role of endorphin, serotonin, and enkephalin have also been mentioned,27 as have near-death-like experiences after the use of LSD,28 psilocarpine, and mescaline.21
These induced experiences can consist of unconsciousness, out-of-body experiences, and perception of light or flashes of recollection from the past.
These recollections, however, consist of fragmented and random memories unlike the panoramic life-review that can occur in NDE. Further, transformational processes with changing life-insight and disappearance of fear of death are rarely reported after induced experiences.
Thus, induced experiences are not identical to NDE, and so, besides age, an unknown mechanism causes NDE by stimulation of neurophysiological and neurohumoral processes at a subcellular level in the brain in only a few cases during a critical situation such as clinical death. These processes might also determine whether the experience reaches consciousness and can be recollected.
With lack of evidence for any other theories for NDE, the thus far assumed, but never proven, concept that consciousness and memories are localized in the brain should be discussed.
How could a clear consciousness outside one's body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death with flat EEG?22
Also, in cardiac arrest the EEG usually becomes flat in most cases within about 10 s from onset of syncope.29,30 Furthermore, blind people have described veridical perception during out-of-body experiences at the time of this experience.31 NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation.
Another theory holds that NDE might be a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which identity, cognition, and emotion function independently from the unconscious body, but retain the possibility of non-sensory perception.7,8,22,28,31
Lancet December 15, 2001; 358: 2039-45
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT:
The Lancet is one of the world's most respected medical journals. So when it published an article in its current edition in which scientists claim to have PROOF that humans have a life after death that exists independently of the body that it inhabits, folks are sitting up and taking notice.
Many readers of this newsletter have strong spiritual convictions about the existence of the soul, but it is wonderful to have medical science support these convictions.
If you’re a woman, or know one . . . you need to know what the GOP did to you yesterday.
If you are an employment age female, or will become one, or know one, and give the first damn about her, this story may be more important to you than any other you will learn of this year. Its facts may certainly have greater impact on your personal life than just about anything else. The irony is, it’s a story you probably did not hear, at least if you restrict your sources of news to the national television media or newspapers.
Before I relay the story, let me recap what you probably did get from the broadcast and cable media. A bear killed its handler. The kids from the El Dorado sect are headed to foster homes in Texas. And there was video of snow at Lake Tahoe. So cheap, so easy, no in depth analysis or explaining required, and, via every marketing survey the networks use to hold the American audience, it’s the sort of mind-numbing, flatulence-inducing inanity we demand.
Whatever you do, do not expect me to actually try to grasp anything more complicated! I can’t do it. And besides, I’m not interested. I like vapid. I adore simple. I crave stupid.
An interjected inquiry: Did you catch Tuesday’s (April 22) Colbert Report? His guest, Susan Jacoby, author of Age of American Unreason, humorously — though I found none of the “truthiness” the least funny — provided a brief series of anecdotes describing just how regrettable is the current state of our overwhelming ignorance, and our national anti-intellectual desire to stay that way. By way of example: one survey demonstrated how a majority cannot locate Iraq on a map or globe . . . when the name is immediately over the country! Or 2/3ds of Americans don’t know what DNA is. Or how half the population cannot name all four gospels, or tell you the name of the first book of the Bible.
But the majority can identify the characters and stars of Desperate Housewives.
Now to the news you didn’t get, but should, given the criteria noted in the first sentence above, care a great deal about.
Ms. Lilly Ledbetter was the only female supervisor in Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s tire plant in Alabama. She worked for the company 19 years. Immediately prior to her retirement Ms. Ledbetter received an anonymous tip that, throughout her career, she had been earning considerably less than any of her male counterparts. As is typical of most companies, concerning non-hourly personnel, there was a policy at the plant that, with disciplinary sanctions for violation of the policy that could include termination, individual employee personnel matters were not to be discussed. At no time had she had any way of knowing the company was in strict violation of Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act.
Upon learning she had been illegally discriminated against, Ms. Ledbetter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and sued Goodyear for its illegal actions, actions the illegality of which at no time did Goodyear argue. Rather than attempt to defend a position that had no defense, Goodyear claimed the statute of limitations had run out for Ms. Ledbetter because she didn’t file within the 180 day time limit set by the law, even though she could not make a claim until she knew there had been a violation of her rights.
In every previous instance, the courts have held that the 180-day clock does not begin to tick until an employee learns he or she has been discriminated against, and the clock is reset with each new violation. Last year, the majority (all Republican members, by the way) on the US Supreme Court, the one John McCain likes so much, found for Goodyear.
Okay, okay . . . that’s water over the damn and there’s nothing anyone can do about that now, right?
In the United States Senate, “debate” (filibuster) of an issue can continue so long as the speaker(s) wish, or until such time as a “cloture” vote is called. Invoking cloture closes the debate, terminates the filibuster. Current senate rules now require a super-majority, or 60 votes to end debate and bring the issue to the full floor for an up or down majority vote.
Yesterday, Senate Democrats attempted to end the Republican filibuster of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Act would have made null last year’s Supreme Court decision. It would have made clear that tolling commences from the date the employee learns of the trespass, and the clock is reset to zero with each discriminatory paycheck. Forty-four Republicans backed the Bush administration and big-business interests, and blocked the vote to end the filibuster.
In practical terms, what this means is that, unless the Democrats win at least six more seats in November’s election, working age women and those who will turn working age within the next few years will, not only remain in constant jeopardy of discriminatory employment practices, they will have access to no legal remedy.
As I reported a few months back on the tragic ignorance of Steve, my Palm Springs’ mail carrier (Shouting at me that the Democrats have “done nothing, even though they have a majority in both houses!” “Know what a filibuster is Steve?” “They have a majority!” Steve had no clue what a filibuster was, or what he was ranting about.), the very same level of ignorance is pervasive in our country, and it is damning to the legislative notions of fair play and justice for all citizens.
How many of us know someone like Steve? A brother, perhaps? A father? Mother? Someone you work with? While they’re caught up in the utter nonsense of lapel flag pins, dodging bullets in Bosnia, whether the Ten Commandments should be erected in public squares at public expense, whether gays and lesbians should be permitted to marry, and who is and who is not an “elitist,” the mothers and daughters of America are being ravaged of basic employment rights, and the entire country is being steadily pushed to the economic precipice.
You know someone who’s going to vote GOP this fall? And while they are putting you or your spouse or your daughter and our country at dire economic and military risk by their vote, do you still consider such a one as your friend? How?
Contrary to popular belief and the sycophantic exhortations that political candidates will be showering you with, working hard, paying one’s taxes, and playing by the rules does NOT make of anyone a good citizen. Working hard helps meet one’s costs of living, getting that person from today to tomorrow morning. Paying one’s taxes helps keep the IRS off his or her back. And playing by the rules helps keep that person free from the long arm of the law. Being a good citizen means knowing at least as much about the country, its government, how it is supposed to work, and who’s doing what to whom, as what Jack Bauer is up to, one week to the next.
New Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Monday that all death sentences had been commuted to prison terms of 30 years to life, with the exception of three people charged with terrorism.
"The Council of State decided to commute the death penalty imposed on a group of prisoners," Raul Castro announced at a Communist party Central Committee meeting, in a speech broadcast by state-run television.
Castro said two Central Americans charged with hotel bombings in the 1990s that took the life of an Italian tourist, and a Cuban American charged with murder during an attempt at armed infiltration of the island, were not included and their cases were still on appeal.
"This does not mean we have eliminated the death penalty from the penal code," Raul Castro said.
He blasted the United States for allowing Cuban Americans to use its soil to launch violent attacks on the country.
"It would be irresponsible and ingenuous to renounce the dissuasive power that capital punishment has on the real terrorists, the Imperialist mercenaries," he said.
Cuba has been under pressure from human rights organizations to eliminate the death penalty, which is carried out by firing squad.
Just three people have been executed since 2000, all of them involved in a failed 2003 boat hijacking.
"This decision was not undertaken because of pressure, but as a sovereign act in line with the humanitarian and ethical conduct that has characterized the Cuban revolution from the start," he said.
Since taking over from his ailing brother Fidel Castro in February, Raul Castro has lifted a number of restrictions on daily life, from owning cell phones to entering tourist hotels.
Cuba in early March signed two important United Nations human rights agreements long opposed by Fidel Castro.
Thousands of Mexicans took to the streets of Mexico City on Sunday to protest an oil reform bill they say would lead to the privatization of the country's state-run oil company. Led by opposition lawmaker Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the demonstrators expressed their displeasure with plans to look for private capital to help fund the expansion of Pemex, Mexico's national oil company.
Professor Gustavo Indart of the University of Toronto specializes in the study of economic reform in Latin America.
Iraq's National Museum on Sunday welcomed the return of more than 700 antiquities stolen during the chaos that followed the U.S.-led invasion five years ago.
Golden necklaces, daggers, clay statues, pots, and other artifacts were displayed briefly during a ceremony attended by Syrian and Iraqi officials.
Syrian authorities seized the items from traffickers over the years and handed custody last week to an Iraqi delegation in Damascus.
Mohammad Abbas al-Oreibi, Iraq's acting state minister of tourism and archaeology who led the negotiations with Syria, said he plans to visit Jordan soon to persuade its authorities to turn over more than 150 items.
"This was a positive initiative taken by Syria, and we wish the same initiative to be taken by all neighboring countries," he said.
"The treasures contain very important and valuable pieces."
7,000 Years of History
Looting broke out in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities following Saddam's ouster in April 2003.
Museums were ransacked and thousands of items taken, dealing a harsh blow to collections that chronicled some 7,000 years of civilization in Mesopotamia including the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Assyrians.
Iraqi and world culture officials have struggled to retrieve the treasures with little success.
Between 3,000 to 7,000 pieces are still believed missing, including about 40 to 50 that are considered to be of great historic importance, Laurent Levi-Strauss of the U.N. cultural body UNESCO said last month.
Artifacts have been recovered before, but Hassan said Syria was the first country to return such a large quantity of stolen antiquities, and officials hoped others would follow its lead.
Syria has said it arrested some of the antiquities traffickers but did not provide more details. The items recovered by Syria were packed in 17 boxes and flown back to Baghdad on Saturday, according to Dr. Muna Hassan, the head of a committee working to restore the artifacts.
The head of the Syrian Antiquities Department, Bassam Jamous, said some of the objects were from the Bronze Age and early Islamic era.
Hassan declined to put an exact value on the trove, saying only that the items were collectively worth millions of dollars.
Museum Remains Closed
Hassan said negotiations were underway with several other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Italy for the return of more looted antiquities.
For Iraqis, the museum is an important reminder of their cultural heritage. However, the facility remains closed to the public due to violence, lack of security, and the poor condition of the building.
The U.S. military was intensely criticized for not protecting the National Museum's treasure of ancient relics and art in the weeks after Baghdad's capture, when looters roamed the city looking for anything of value.
Thieves smashed or pried open row upon row of glass cases and pilfered, or just destroyed, their contents.
The sale of stolen antiquities has allegedly helped finance Iraqi extremist groups, according to Marine Reserve Col. Matthew Bogdanos, the U.S. investigator who led the initial probe into the looting.
"It's the first civil rights bill of the new century of life sciences," said veteran Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts last week, after the US Senate finally passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
After more than a decade of political debate, GINA bans health insurers from setting premiums or denying coverage based on the results of genetic tests, as long as customers have no pre-existing disease symptoms. It is also aimed to prevent discrimination in employment decisions.
GINA is expected to be approved this week by the House of Representatives, which backed a slightly different version of the act last year, and will then be signed into law by President George W Bush.
Geneticists hope the act will usher in a new era of personalised medicine, which depends upon people being willing to take genetic tests without fear of discrimination.
"With the passage of GINA, researchers and clinicians can actively encourage Americans to participate in clinical trials and appropriate genetic testing," says Aravinda Chakravarti of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, president of the American Society of Human Genetics, in a statement.
But a legal loophole may still allow employers to view genetic test results, says Mark Rothstein, a specialist in health law at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. In the latest issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (vol 36, p 174), he warns that existing law allows employers to request medical records, which may include genetic information, after making a conditional job offer.
by Chalmers Johnson...Our excessive military expenditures did not occur over just a few short years or simply because of the Bush administration's policies. They have been going on for a very long time in accordance with a superficially plausible ideology, and have now become so entrenched in our democratic political system that they are starting to wreak havoc....
Juke Box Love Song
I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem's heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day--
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.
Sparks-Roger, mp3Sparks=Hasta Maсana Monsieur, mp3
[I suppose I'm not shocked that in a county where a director of a lib. would have an already spayed cat that had been living at the lib. sent to be killed because of the imagined and delusional fears of an anonymous asshole - that the life of a living animal is worth nothing here]
A man suspected of killing a young cat pleaded guilty to animal cruelty Monday when a judge offered to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor.
Steven Bruce Tippett is now serving a 90-day sentence in Tuolumne County Jail.
He was arrested Oct. 29, after he brought a dead cat into the Tuolumne County Animal Control office. He told staff members he was trying to put it in a box, but it kept jumping out.
He choked it after the second time, officials reported.
William Polley, a retired judge who was sitting in for Judge Eric DuTemple, offered the plea deal.
Prosecutor Jim Newkirk was disappointed with the case's resolution because Tippett has a history of violence, and drug and alcohol abuse, he said.
"I felt that the conduct was felony conduct based on Mr. Tippett's fairly lengthy criminal history," he said.
Newkirk doubts Tippett will have to serve his full sentence due to jail overcrowding. He was also not given probation.
Tippett faced a prison sentence of up to three years for the felony charge.
Elsie Sheldon, founder of Sonora Cat Rescue, said the latter was more fitting for Tippett's crime.
Members of Sonora Cat Rescue, a nonprofit group that works to spay and neuter feral cats and place some cats in homes, had followed the case from its beginning.
"He'll just be out able to kill more cats," Sheldon said.
Tippett's attorney, Clay Bedford, who pushed for reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, couldn't be reached for comment.
Man is a creature of astonishing contradictions and enormous moral range. The same species that produces fools, knaves, cowards, a massive number of mediocrities, and assorted monsters of depravity, also gives us geniuses, saints, and heroes of exemplary virtue. The spread of behavior is so vast as to be almost incomprehensible. But maybe the most interesting thing about humans is their capacity to travel from one point of the moral spectrum to another, from evil to good, and from good to indifference and often tacit acceptance of evil.
Modern-day hunters and people who callously use animals for vanity and or “recreation” (remember Michael Vick) fall into an especially troublesome category. In the vast majority of cases the person in question is simply a victim of unexamined assumptions and cultural traditions, and a pitiful lack of empathetic imagination, a total failure of compassion. Such individuals commit disgusting acts, but the baffling thing about the horrors of this world, what some call the sheer “banality of evil”, is that committing an evil act does not per se signify the person is utterly evil. People are often not only contradictory in their behavior, they also change their ways and undergo redemption. I’m not a conventionally religious person, at all, but the idea of redemption —in a secular, not Catholic form—I find powerful and touching in the extreme. For by showing that humans are indeed capable of understanding their wrongful deeds, that, despite all the muck that surrounds us, decency manages to survive somehow, and that in consequence they indeed aspire to live in peace with their conscience, because, if nothing else bad actions do in fact bother them, deny them rest, redemption underscores the possibility of a better world grounded in real peace and justice for everyone, none the least for the most exploited and brutalized creatures on this earth, the animals.
The personal document I reproduce below has special significance for me because it is about redemption, a hunter’s redemption. Although I have always been familiar with weapons of various types, I never took to the “pleasures” of shooting animals, “live targets.” I never could see the “sport” in it at all. And never will. Thus the hunter’s mind, a person who sees absolutely nothing wrong in killing a beautiful, innocent, living breathing creature for his own personal pleasure, or some other frivolous reason or pretext (and I should tell you that after more than three decades in the animal defense movement I’ve heard just about all the pro-hunting arguments ever crafted by this fraternity) remains a baffling mystery. I was therefore immensely excited when, back in 1986, when I served as editor at large for The Animals’ Agenda, the first independent US animal rights publication, I got this unsolicited testimony from Dallas Gragg, a former hunter.
Dallas’s words are effortlessly eloquent and they remain true to this day. The strong personal conscience and integrity that illuminated his journey of moral self-discovery was there all along, only momentarily suppressed by the pressures of conventionality and cultural norms. I am therefore confident you’ll find his testimony as moving as when I first read it more than 20 years ago. The truths he speaks about can never be extinguished. For they define what the transformation potential of human beings is all about. I am happy to be able to share Dallas’s story with our Cyrano audience. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for coming forward.
BY ROY DALLAS GRAGG | [Original dateline: Animals’ Agenda, November 1986]*
I WAS BORN in the mountains of North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Mitchell. Hunting, killing and butchering animals was a way of life for the mountain people. I killed my first hog at age eight. I had expected the animal to fall as if by magic when I squeezed the trigger of my grandfather’s old .22 caliber rifle. I was both surprised and alarmed when the animal screamed with pain and agony. “More carefully,” my uncle said, “You have to hit him in the head.” When the rifle cracked the second time, the animal fell dead.
I couldn’t sleep that night—I could still hear the animal’s screams. The adults laughed the next day when I told them it just didn’t seem right to shoot an animal when he was locked helplessly in a pen.
I dreaded October each year-that was the month when the hogs and steers were killed and butchered. Early in the morning barrels of water were heated over roaring fires to scald the animals so that their hair could be scraped off. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when a butcher knife slashed the hog’s throat and the blood ran across the ground as the pitiful animal convulsed and kicked. The air smelled of death, especially when the hogs were gutted. I noticed that the horse, a huge Clydesdale mare named Bell, would sniff the air, and with big eyes run away. She too smelled the death. I always stayed outside whenever possible because the stench of lard being boiled on the woodstove was unbearable.
However, it was always my job to turn the handle of the hand-operated sausage machine. Spring brought another dreaded time, when the man came to castrate the pigs and dehorn the cattle. I would hold my ears to shut out the sound of their agonized screams. “Don’t be a sissy-you’ll get used to it,” I was told, but I never did.
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Sundays usually brought another unpleasant task: catching a chicken and “wringing” its neck. The sight of the unfortunate creatures’ bodies jumping high in the air with a broken neck is still fresh in my mind, even though it was over thirty years ago.
To make matters worse, the butchered birds and animals had often been pets. I had a pet chicken named Red. I trained Red, a big red hen, to sit patiently on a fence post or other object for hours until I set her down. I also had a pet turkey named Fred. As is the fate of most turkeys, Fred ended up on the Thanksgiving table. The crowd roared with laughter when I said, ”I’m not thankful. Fred was my friend and I’m not going to eat him.” My cousins taunted me until I finally ate a small piece of breast, but I felt like a cannibal.
I rather enjoyed hunting because I didn’t have to butcher the birds and animals. By the time I was fourteen I was a “crack shot”. I never missed. Squirrel hunting was my favorite because the elusive gray squirrels were hard to hit. One day I grazed a big gray squirrel and he fell right in front of my dog Rex. The squirrel was putting up a furious battle against the dog who was many times its size. I sat down and thought for awhile. I couldn’t help but admire the little animal. He had wanted to live!
The mountain people often shot the red squirrels or “boomers” for shooting practice. The red squirrels were not good to eat so they were thrown away. But that didn’t sit right with me either. I doubted that God made his boomers just to shoot at.
One morning, as I sat on top of a steep hill waiting for the sun to come up and the game to start moving about, I noticed many small oak trees on the hill. Acorns are heavy, especially this variety. They were as big as chestnuts and probably weighed several ounces. I hadn’t seen this particular variety before.
I strolled down the hill and crossed a small valley to another hill and found the parent tree, a huge oak about four feet in diameter. I was puzzled. How did the acorns travel across a valley to another hill? The wind didn’t blow them, that was for sure, and floodwaters don’t run uphill. I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. It was a gray squirrel leaping from a huge oak heading across the valley. I dropped the squirrel with a single shot. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the squirrel and he had one of those huge acorns lodged in his mouth! I had been shooting the planters of the forests! On the way home I said to myself, “So that’s why God made squirrels.”
A few years later, I joined the army and became qualified as an expert rifleman. “I have never seen anyone shoot like that,” I overheard the sergeant tell the lieutenant.
“He dropped 16 men (targets) in less than 20 seconds!” Later the lieutenant said to me “You could do that in Vietnam, too. The slant-eyes are just bigger game.” But I didn’t make it to Vietnam. An ulcer got me a medical discharge and I returned home to the mountains.
I still hunted some but I thought about the squirrels. If they were nature’s planters, what were the other animals’ jobs? Later I noticed holly bushes in sheltered mountain valleys, over 20 miles from their natural growing range. It was quite obvious that birds had carried the seeds this great distance.
By the time I was thirty I had quit hunting entirely and began studying the birds and animals. I read books on ecology and the environment. And I returned to the forests—this time with a camera instead of a gun. I watched the squirrels carefully. They would always follow the same path through the trees, swinging like trapeze artists. Occasionally I would see a flying squirrel gliding silently through the trees or a ruffled grouse blasting away like a rocket.
I marked the spots where the nuts carried by squirrels fell and returned in the spring to find small trees growing in those areas. I also observed the “worthless” red squirrels burying nuts. It occurred to me that nut-bearing trees, oaks, hickories, walnuts, chestnuts and many, many others all depended on the little animals to transport their seed throughout the forests.
It should be obvious to any thinking person that nature is a powerful but delicate force. Each living thing on the planet is striving for survival in one way or another, and striving to keep its kind from becoming extinct. Various species of plants, birds and animals have survived earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods and many other kinds of natural catastrophes only to fall victim to uncaring humans.
Hunters are directly responsible—to name a few—for the extinction of the passenger pigeon as well as many kinds of island-dwelling birds. The buffalo very nearly became extinct after hunters [retained by commercial interests] went after them largely to wipe out the Indians’ [main] food supply. Starve’em to submission.
This strategy left more than 50 million of the great creatures on the plains to decay in the sun. Hunters have brought the mountain lion, the grizzly bear, the whooping crane, and even the symbol of our nation, the bald eagle, to the brink of extinction.
I began studying hunters from “the other side of the fence:’ When working with hunters I would ask their opinions of hunting. One hunter’s reply was, “God made animals for me to eat - what else are they good for?” Another said, “It makes me forget my troubles to hunt and fish.” I thought long and hard about his statement. Humans vent their stress and their frustrations from daily life on innocent wildlife. Hunting is a one-sided game with only one winner—human beings. This is why hunters refer to birds and animals as “game”. When the hunter has hunted down and killed an animal, he has “won” the game. More often than not, the creature is killed for pleasure instead of for food. A certain sadistic pleasure is derived by killing another creature. When a human kills an animal the act fuels his ego: he has mastered the creature by taking its life.
Why else would a trophy hunter spend thousands of dollars, hike through steaming snake- and insect-infested swamps or climb steep cliffs to kill a magnificent member of another species? Why else would he cut off the head of his victim and leave the body to rot? Why else would he take the head to a taxidermist and mount it over his fireplace? He has dominated and killed the “beast”, and therefore hangs its head up for all the world to see that he is the mighty and fearless hunter. It is nothing but fuel for the insecure ego of small men.
The hunter, with the scent of death in his nostrils, has little respect for his neighbor who enjoys seeing the creatures on his property alive. “No hunting” and “No trespassing” signs are torn down or shot full of holes. A hunting license is a permit to kill indiscriminately. Our government sells out our wildlife for the price of a hunting license. Soon after becoming an anti-hunting advocate, I found my tame mallard ducks shot and floating on their pond. They too had enjoyed living and I enjoyed them. But some pervert found pleasure in their death. Once I observed hunters exterminating a covey of Bob White quail. Their cheerful calls can no longer be heard around the small mountain community where I grew up as a child.
TRADITION is perhaps the worst enemy of the animals: even our holidays call for the killing of birds and animals. These barbaric traditions, including hunting, rodeos and other cruel sports, are taught to children and thus passed down from generation to generation. Only a little more than a century ago blacks were considered to be animals and were treated as such. Similarly. during the second World War, Jews were considered to be subhuman by the Nazis, or perhaps even subanimal, and were killed by the millions.
Even today we abuse our fellow humans through boxing, wrestling and other cruel sports. How can the perpetrators of cruelty among us be expected to respect animals when they do not even respect humans? Before we can understand animal abuse we must understand ourselves. Humanity lives not by reality but by habits— often anchored in selfishness and staggering ignorance. It is this aspect of human nature we must work against.
If my story can, in some small way, influence the traditional way of thinking and the ignorant beliefs about our fellow creatures, I would be greatly pleased. This story is to aid our fellow creatures who have long suffered at the hands of mankind. May they someday live in peace, without suffering and fear.
Roy Dallas Gragg worked as a housepainter. He used to live in Montezuma, N.C.
Patrice Greanville is Cyrano’s Journal Online editor in chief and publisher.
By GENE JOHNSONSEATTLETimothy Garon's face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant.His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.But Garon's been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons."I'm not angry, I'm not mad, I'm just confused," said Garon, lying in his hospital bed a few minutes after a doctor told him the hospital transplant committee's decision Thursday.With the scarcity of donated organs, transplant committees like the one at the University of Washington Medical Center use tough standards, including whether the candidate has other serious health problems or is likely to drink or do drugs.And with cases like Garon's, they also have to consider — as a dozen states now have medical marijuana laws — if using dope with a doctor's blessing should be held against a dying patient in need of a transplant.Most transplant centers struggle with the how to deal with people who have used marijuana, said Dr. Robert Sade, director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina."Marijuana, unlike alcohol, has no direct effect on the liver. It is however a concern ... in that it's a potential indicator of an addictive personality," Sade said.The Virginia-based United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation's transplant system, leaves it to individual hospitals to develop criteria for transplant candidates.At some, people who use "illicit substances" — including medical marijuana, even in states that allow it — are automatically rejected. At others, such as the UCLA Medical Center, patients are given a chance to reapply if they stay clean for six months. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.Garon believes he got hepatitis by sharing needles with "speed freaks" as a teenager. In recent years, he said, pot has been the only drug he's used. In December, he was arrested for growing marijuana.Garon, who has been hospitalized or in hospice care for two months straight, said he turned to the university hospital after Seattle's Harborview Medical Center told him he needed six months of abstinence.The university also denied him, but said it would reconsider if he enrolled in a 60-day drug-treatment program. This week, at the urging of Garon's lawyer, the university's transplant team reconsidered anyway, but it stuck to its decision.Dr. Brad Roter, the Seattle physician who authorized Garon's pot use for nausea, abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.That's typically the case, said Peggy Stewart, a clinical social worker on the liver transplant team at UCLA who has researched the issue. "There needs to be some kind of national eligibility criteria," she said.The patients "are trusting their physician to do the right thing. The physician prescribes marijuana, they take the marijuana, and they are shocked that this is now the end result," she said.No one tracks how many patients are denied transplants over medical marijuana use.Pro-marijuana groups have cited a handful of cases, including at least two patient deaths, in Oregon and California, since the mid-to-late 1990s, when states began adopting medical marijuana laws.Many doctors agree that using marijuana — smoking it, especially — is out of the question post-transplant.The drugs patients take to help their bodies accept a new organ increase the risk of aspergillosis, a frequently fatal infection caused by a common mold found in marijuana and tobacco.But there's little information on whether using marijuana is a problem before the transplant, said Dr. Emily Blumberg, an infectious disease specialist who works with transplant patients at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.Further complicating matters, Blumberg said, is that some insurers require proof of abstinence, such as drug tests, before they'll agree to pay for transplants.Dr. Jorge Reyes, a liver transplant surgeon at the UW Medical Center, said that while medical marijuana use isn't in itself a sign of substance abuse, it must be evaluated in the context of each patient."The concern is that patients who have been using it will not be able to stop," Reyes said.Dale Gieringer, state coordinator for the California chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, scoffed at that notion."Everyone agrees that marijuana is the least habit-forming of all the recreational drugs, including alcohol," Gieringer said. "And unlike a lot of prescription medications, it's nontoxic to the liver."Reyes and other UW officials declined to discuss Garon's case.But Reyes said that in addition to medical concerns, transplant committees — which often include surgeons, social workers, and nutritionists — must evaluate whether patients have the support and psychiatric health to cope with a complex post-operative regimen for the rest of their lives.Garon, the lead singer for Nearly Dan, a Steely Dan cover-band, remains charged with manufacturing weed. He insists he was following the state law, which limits patients to a "60-day supply" but doesn't define that amount."He's just a fantastic musician, and he's a great guy," said his girlfriend, Leisa Bueno. "I wish there was something we could do legally. ... I'm going to miss him terribly if he passes."___On the Net:United Nework for Organ Sharing: http://www.unos.orgGaron performing his song "Goodbye Baby": http://www.youtube.com/watch?vUJDihYn_fJA
America's top military officer has ratcheted up the pressure on Iran by issuing an unusual public warning that the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action”.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, blamed the Iranian government and Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for its “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. He said conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” for America’s overstretched forces, but added: “It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.”
Mullen said he was increasingly concerned about Iran’s growing involvement in supplying munitions and training to rebel Shi’ite militias and “killing American and coalition soldiers in Iraq”.
Speaking at a Pentagon news conference late on Friday, he said recent operations in the southern port city of Basra had revealed “just how much and how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability”. A Pentagon source said the admiral’s frankness was “extremely significant” and could pave the way for some form of attack on Iran. However, Mullen said: “The solution right now still lies in using other levers of national power, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure.”
Mullen’s tough rhetoric came shortly after General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq responsible for the troop surge, briefed Congress about the “nefarious activities” of the Quds force in stirring violence in Iraq. There were a total of 923 civilian deaths in Iraq last month, the highest number since August 2007.
“We should all watch Iranian actions closely in the weeks and months ahead, as they will show the kind of relationship that Iran wishes to have with its neighbour,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus was nominated last week to take over as commander of all US forces in the Middle East from Admiral William Fallon, who resigned in March after becoming an outspoken critic of American policy towards Iran.
Petraeus has been asked to prepare a briefing on the extent of Iranian involvement in Iraq. It will include the recovery of weapons with date stamps showing that they were recently manufactured in Iran.
American officers claim that Iran is responsible for new, highly dangerous roadside bombs in Iraq and accuse Iranian-trained militants of responsibility for the deadliest rocket and mortar attacks on Baghdad’s green zone.
“The question is not if Iran is unhelpful in Iraq,” said Philip Crowley, a retired air force colonel and defence expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington. “The question is what to do about it.” Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said last Monday that Iran is “hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons”. He added that war would be “disastrous” but the military option must remain on the table. However, a senior defence source said the administration regarded Iran’s nuclear programme and its interference in Iraq as separate problems, requiring different tactics and solutions.
Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed radical Shi’ite cleric, called on his followers at Friday prayers to stop fighting Iraqi troops and unite against “the occupiers” – US troops.
“All government, without exception, conceal from the people everything that might further their emancipation, and encourage all that degrades and demoral izes them [...] all manner of amusements of the senses [...] even physical means of stupefaction, such as tobacco and alcohol, the tax on which consti tutes one of the chief revenues of the state.”
SANTIAGO, Chile (WOMENSENEWS)--Hundreds of Chileans are planning to renounce their membership in the Roman Catholic Church on April 29 as an outcry against a major blow to the government's push for expanded access to contraception.
On April 18 Chile's Constitutional Court outlawed distribution of emergency contraception in public health clinics to women 14 and older, a policy implemented in September 2006 by the government of President Michelle Bachelet to lower teen pregnancy rates in a country where 15 percent of births are to women 18 or younger. Emergency contraception remains available in the nation's private pharmacies.
Over 10,000 people also marched in evening demonstrations to protest the court's decision Tuesday.
Mujeres Publicas, or Public Women, a women's rights group in Santiago, has used e-mail to organize the "massive apostasy," that is, an active rejection of the Catholic faith. Group members say that roughly 500 people have signed up to participate so far and they expect the figure to reach 1,000.
Participants are being asked to sign a letter requesting the Catholic Church remove their names from all records and then deliver the document to their nearest archdiocese. Women from each of Chile's 15 regions have committed to the abandonment of their faith.
I pulled into the church parking lot a little after 6:00 p.m., at more or less the last possible minute. The previous half hour or so I'd spent dawdling in my car outside a Goodwill department store off Route 410 in San Antonio, clinging to some inane sports talk show piping over my car radio — anything to hold off my plunge into Religion.
There was an old-fashioned white school bus in front of the church entrance, with a puddle of heavyset people milling around its swinging door. Some of these were carrying blankets and sleeping bags. My heart, already pounding, skipped a few extra beats. The church circulars had said nothing about bringing bedding. Why did I need bedding? What else had I missed?
"Excuse me," I said, walking up to an in-charge-looking man with a name tag who was standing near the front of the bus. "I see everyone has blankets. I didn't bring any. Is this going to be a problem?"
The man was about five feet one and had glassy eyes. He looked up at me and smiled queerly.
"Name?" he said.
"Collins," I said. "Matthew Collins."
He scanned his clipboard, found my name on the appropriate sheet of paper, and X-ed me out with a highlighter. "Don't worry, Matthew," he said, resting his hand on my shoulder. "A wonderful woman named Martha is going to take care of you at the ranch. You just tell her what you need when you get there."
I nodded, glancing at his hand, which was still on my shoulder. He waved me into the bus.
I had been attending the Cornerstone Church for weeks, but this was really my first day of school. I had joined Cornerstone — a megachurch in the Texas Hill Country — to get a look inside the evangelical mind-set that gave the country eight years of George W. Bush. The church's pastor, John Hagee, is one of the most influential evangelical preachers in the country — not because his ministry is so very large (although he claims up to 4.5 million viewers a week for his Sunday sermons) but because of his near-absolute conquest of a very trendy niche in the market: Christian Zionism.
The whole idea behind Christian Zionism is to align America with the nation of Israel so as to "hurry God up" in his efforts to bring about Armageddon. As Hagee tells it, only after Israel is involved in a final showdown involving a satanic army (in most interpretations, a force of Arabs led by Russians) will Christ reappear. On that happy day, Hagee and his True Believers will be whisked up to Heaven by God, while the rest of us nonbelievers are left behind on Earth to suck eggs and generally suffer various tortures.
So here I was, standing in the church parking lot, having responded to church advertisements hawking an "Encounter Weekend" — three solid days of sleep-away Christian fellowship that would teach me the "joy" of "knowing the truth" and "being set free." That had sounded harmless enough, but now that I was here and surrounded by all of these blanket-bearing people, I was nervous. When most Americans think of the Christian right, they think of scenes from television — great halls full of perfectly groomed people in pale suits and light-colored dresses, smiling and happy and full of the Holy Spirit, robotically singing hymns at the behest of some squeaky-clean pastor with a baritone voice and impossible hair. We don't get to see the utterly batshit world they live in, when the cameras are turned off and their pastors are not afraid of saying the really dumb stuff, for fear of it turning up on CNN. In American evangelical Christianity, in other words, there's a ready-for-prime-time stage act — toned down and lip-synced to match a set of PG lyrics that won't scare the advertisers — and then there's the real party backstage, where the spiritual hair really gets let down. I was about to go backstage, to personally take part in the indoctrination process for a major Southern evangelical church. Waiting to board the bus for the Encounter Weekend, I had visions of some charismatic ranch-land Jesus, stoned on beer and the Caligula director's cut and too drunk late at night to chase after the minor children, hauling me into a barn for an in-the-hay shortcut to truth and freedom. Ridiculous, of course, but I really was afraid, mostly of my own ignorance and prejudices. I had never been to something like this before, and I didn't know how to act. I badly wanted to be invisible.
The bus was nearly full, and mostly quiet. Here and there a few people sitting together or near each other huddled and chatted, but I could see right away that a great many people on the trip had come alone, like me. They were people of all sorts: younger white men in neat middle-class haircuts, a matronly Mexican woman quietly reading a romance novel, a few scattered weather-beaten black folk in secondhand clothing whom I immediately pegged as in-recovery addicts, a couple of ten-alarm soccer moms who would prove the loudest people on the bus by far, a few quiet older men of military bearing.
The one obvious conclusion anyone making a demographic study of the Cornerstone Church population would come to would be that it's a solidly middle-class crowd. These are folks who are comfortable eating off paper plates and drinking out of gallon jugs of Country Time iced tea over noisy dinners with their kids. They're people who grew up in houses with back yards and fences, people with families. This particular journey to God is not a pastime for the idle rich or the urban obnoxious.
I sat down next to a frankly obese Hispanic woman who was carrying what both looked and smelled like a paper bag full of cheeseburgers.
"Some weather we're having, with this rain," I said.
"Tell me about it!" she said, introducing herself as Maria. "It truly is an act of God that I even made it here today." She told a story about having to drive down from Austin in bad weather. God had helped her four or five steps along the way. "It just seems like God really wants me to come on this trip," she said. "Otherwise, I would never have made it."
"It looks like God is going to give us a rainstorm all the way to Tarpley," I heard a voice behind me say.
This oddly uniform style of dialogue ringing all around me made me shift in my seat. I felt nervous and unpleasantly certain that I was about to be found out. When Maria asked me why I'd come on the retreat, I bit my lip. When in Rome, I thought.
"Well," I said, "since the new year, I've just been feeling like God has been telling me that I need to get right spiritually. So here I am."
I paused, wincing inwardly. An outsider coming into this world will feel sure that the moment he coughs up one of those "God told me to put more English on my tee shot" lines, his dark game will be instantly visible to all, and he'll be made the target of one of those Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style point-and-screech mob scenes. But nothing could be further from the truth. You simply cannot go wrong praising God in this world; overdoing it is literally impossible. I would understand this better by the end of the weekend.
Maria smiled. "I feel the same way. Have you ever been to one of these Encounters?"
"No, I haven't," I said.
"Me neither," she said. "I'm really excited."
"They're wonderful," said the matronly Mexican woman in front of me, turning around. "They really change you forever."
I slunk in my seat, trying to look inconspicuous. My disguise was modeled on other men I'd seen in church — pane glasses and the very gayest blue-and-white-striped Gap polo shirt I'd been able to find that afternoon. Buried on a clearance rack next to the underwear section in a nearby mall, the Gap shirt was one of those irritating throwbacks to the Meatballs/Seventies-summer-camp-geek look, but stripped of its sartorial irony, it really just screamed Friendless Loser! — so I bought it without hesitation and tried to match it with that sheepish, ashamed-to-have-a-penis look I had seen so many other young men wearing in church. With the glasses and a slouch I hoped I was at least in the ballpark of what I thought I needed to look like, which was a slow-moving hulk of confused, shipwrecked masculinity, flailing for an Answer.
One of the implicit promises of the church is that following its program will restore to you your vigor, confidence and assertiveness, effecting, among other things, a marked and obvious physical transformation from crippled lost soul to hearty vessel of God. That's one of the reasons that it's so important for the pastors to look healthy, lusty and lustrous — they're appearing as the "after" photo in the ongoing advertisement for the church wellness cure.
In these Southern churches there are few wizened old sages such as one might find among Catholic bishops or Russian startsi. Here your church leader is an athlete, a business dynamo, a champion eater with a bull's belly, outwardly a tireless heterosexual — and if you want to know what a church beginner is supposed to look like, just make it the opposite of that. Show weakness, financial trouble, frustration with the opposite sex, and if you're overweight, be so unhealthily, and in a way that you're ashamed of. The fundamentalist formula is much less a journey from folly to wisdom than it is from weakness to strength. They don't want a near-complete personality that needs fine-tuning — they want a human jellyfish, raw clay they can transform into a vigorous instrument of God.
I was very, very, very good — at everything!" shouted our hulking ex-paratrooper pastor, Philip Fortenberry, into the barely visible mouth mike that curled around his ruddy face. "I was a Green Beret — top of the class. Six feet four, 225 pounds. A star athlete, basketball player. Starting outside linebacker on the varsity football team. . . ."
The crowd cooed as our spiritual leader rattled off his macho credentials. Our supercowboy pastor was the perfect foil for the Revenge of the Nerds-style crowd of fatties, addicts, loners and broken-home survivors populating the warehouse-size building where we were all destined to spend the next three days together. In his introductory speech, Fortenberry did everything but tape-measure his biceps. His autobiographical tale of an angry overachieving youth who fell into a young adulthood of false pride, only to rebound and be reborn as a turbocharged, Army-trained enemy of Satan ("A friend of mine once joked that he saw my picture hung up in a post office in Hell," he quipped), was to serve as the first chapter of our collective transformation — and to work it had to impress the hell out of us scraggly wanna-be's.
It did. "I'm going to start tonight by telling y'all two stories," he began.
The first was a story from his Army days, about having to take a training flight in the Pacific Northwest as a young man and being trapped in the back of the transport plane when the landing went wrong and the plane ended up crash-bouncing along the runway. "If you've ever been in the back of a C-130, you know what I mean," he said, and I saw nodding heads all through the audience. The pastor subsequently would not miss a single chance to drop the name of a piece of military equipment.
The second story was more personal. It was about being a little boy in a small Southern town whose father ran around on his mom with a local barmaid. Dad used to bring little Junior to play golf with him, keeping his arm around the barmaid in the golf cart for the entire eighteen holes; finally Dad left Mom to shack up with the barmaid in a house down the road. Dad was so busy with the barmaid that he never came to see Junior's ballgames. But from time to time he would come back home to Mom, moving back into Junior's world, turning his life upside down.
"And every time he came back," the pastor said, waving his hand up and down and his voice fairly breaking with tears, "it was like one more bounce along that runway, bouncing in that C-130, tearing my little boy's world apart."
The pastor fell silent, still using his hands to demonstrate that bouncing transport plane of fate, as he surveyed his hushed audience. Fortenberry then stood staring at his audience in full pre-weep, his eyes wrinkling with incipient tears. The grown macho man unashamedly breaking into boyish tears in public is one of the weirder features of the post-Promise Keeper Christian generation, and Fortenberry — himself a Promise Keeper, incidentally — had it down to a science. "You never came to my ballgames, Dad," he'd screech, his face wrinkling like a raisin with grief at the word "ballgames."
I heard sniffles coming from the audience.
Sensing he had his crowd in an emotionally vulnerable state, the pastor then plunged into a story about how his bitterness at his father's abandonment had pushed him, in high school, to become just about the best basketball player you could imagine. Young Fortenberry, we learned, had scored lots and lots of points in high school and had many great games.
How great were those games? Well, he told us, they were really great. Some of the stories wandered irrelevantly into the specific stats of some of those games; he also punctuated his storytelling with oddly vigorous and adept pantomimes of jumpers and hook shots. It was a weird scene, like listening to a married man wax poetic to a mistress in a roadside motel room. "But after a while I realized that all those thousands of jump shots" — here he mimicked a jump shot — "and all those thousands of moves" — he ducked his head back and forth, Tim Hardaway-style — "hadn't brought me any closer to Dad."
The program revolved around a theory that Fortenberry quickly introduced us to called "the wound." The wound theory was a piece of schlock biblical Freudianism in which everyone had one traumatic event from their childhood that had left a wound. The wound necessarily had been inflicted by another person, and bitterness toward that person had corrupted our spirits and alienated us from God. Here at the retreat we would identify this wound and learn to confront and forgive our transgressors, a process that would leave us cleansed of bitterness and hatred and free to receive the full benefits of Christ.
In the context of the wound theory, Fortenberry's tale suddenly made more sense. Being taken on that eighteen-hole golf trip with the barmaid, and watching his family ditched by Dad, had been his wound. It was a wound, Fortenberry explained, because his father's abandonment had crushed his "normal."
"And I was wounded," he whispered dramatically. "My dad had ruined my normal!"
The crowd murmured affirmatively, apparently knowing what it was to have a crushed normal.
After introducing us to the concept of wounds and normals, Fortenberry told us one last cautionary tale before sending us to our first group session. It was about a paratrooper who had done a tandem jump with a training dummy for some Army exercise or other, only to have the dummy's chute fail to open. The dummy had plunged to the ground, crashing through the trees and landing with a thud in a bush. Fortenberry's Army buddy had taken advantage of the situation to have a little joke at the expense of some other exercising soldiers on the ground who weren't privy to the fact that the troopers were jumping with dummies. The Army buddy had cried and wailed in asking where the "body" had fallen, leaving the soldiers on the ground to think that someone had just been killed.
The soldiers had felt guilty, Fortenberry explained, because they'd failed to help what they thought was a fallen comrade. Why? Because they'd been afraid to look behind the bush.
"So I'm telling you now, as you go into your groups," the pastor explained, "don't be afraid to look behind the bush."
I wrote in my binder: "LOOK BEHIND THE BUSH." Then I waited as my name was called out for group study.
The groups were segregated. Men with men, women with women. Each group was led by a life coach, who was actually a recent graduate of the program. At the beginning of the group stage, the coaches were all called up to the front of the chapel, and Fortenberry would call out the coach's name first, then the names of his group members.
My coach's name was Morgan. Morgan was a big man, ex-military, with curly black hair, a black mustache and a softening middle. He looked a little like a post-rehab version of Keith Hernandez — soft-spoken, deferential, all nose and mustache.
There were four other men in our group. Besides myself, there was José, a huge Mexican with a sheepish expression and a steam-boiler body; Aaron, a squat and alert Pennsylvanian with a clean-and-jerker's build; and Dennis, a somewhat vacant and medicated-looking man pushing forty with a bald head and stubbly beard. Dennis looked like a distantly menacing version of Homer Simpson after electroshock therapy. Seated just a few feet away from us in our tight circle, he gazed out at us like he could barely make out our faces.
Once Morgan had us all gathered together, we looked for table space in the cafeteria area of the main building. Ominously, each of the cafeteria tables had a fresh box of Kleenex resting on top of it.
"Well," Morgan said, "I think what we're going to do to start is this. I'm going to tell you my story about my wound, and then we're going to go around in a circle, and each of us is going to just tell his story. Is that OK?"
Everyone nodded. I noted with displeasure that I was seated first after Morgan in clockwise order. Already I was panicking; what kind of wound could a human cipher like myself possibly confess to?
Morgan told his story. Even a perfunctory look at my fellow group members told me that we had people here with some very serious problems, and yet Morgan's wound was a tale that wouldn't have even ruined a week of my relatively privileged childhood, much less my whole life — something about being yelled at by his dad while he was out playing with remote-controlled airplanes with his friends as a thirteen-year-old. He hammed up his trauma over the incident in classically lachrymose Iron John-in-touch-with-his-inner-boy fashion (again, there is something very odd about modern Christian men — although fiercely pro-military in their politics and prehistorically macho in their attitudes toward women's roles, on the level of day-to-day behavior they seem constantly ready to break out weeping like menopausal housewives), but his words were bouncing off a wall of unimpressed silence radiating from the group.
Blank stares. This was a tough crowd. Five minutes into our group acquaintance, we were at a full 9.5 out of 10 on the International Uncomfortable Silence scale.
Morgan turned, glanced again at my name tag and sighed.
"Well, uh, OK, then," he said. "Matthew, do you want to tell your story?"
My heart was pounding. I obviously couldn't use my real past — not only would it threaten my cover, but I was somewhat reluctant to expose anything like my real inner self to this ideologically unsettling process — but neither did I want to be trapped in a story too far from my own experience. What I settled on eventually was something that I thought was metaphorically similar to the truth about myself.
"Hello," I said, taking a deep breath. "My name is Matt. My father was an alcoholic circus clown who used to beat me with his oversize shoes."
The group twittered noticeably. Morgan's eyes opened to tea-saucer size.
I closed my own eyes and kept going, immediately realizing what a mistake I'd made. There was no way this story was going to fly. But there was no turning back.
"He'd be sitting there in his costume, sucking down a beer and watching television," I heard myself saying. "And then sometimes, even if I just walked in front of the TV, he'd pull off one of those big shoes and just, you know — whap!"
I looked around the table and saw three flatlined, plainly indifferent psyches plus one mildly unnerved Morgan staring back at me. I could tell that my coach and former soldier had been briefly possessed by the fear that a terrible joke was being played on his group. But then I actually saw him dismissing the thought — after all, who would do such a thing? I managed to tie up my confession with a tale about turning into a drug addict in my midtwenties — at least that much was true — and being startled into sobriety and religion after learning of my estranged clown father's passing from cirrhosis.
It was a testament to how dysfunctional the group was that my story flew more or less without comment.
So it began. Our meetings were a prolonged, cyclical course of group-directed confession and healing that began on Friday evening and continued almost without interruption through Sunday afternoon. The basic gist of our group exercises was this: We were each supposed to reveal to one another what our great childhood wounds were, then write a series of essays and letters on the wound theme, taking time after the writing of each to read our work aloud. The written assignments began with an autobiography, then moved on to a letter written to our "offenders" (i.e., those who had caused our wounds), then a letter written to Jesus confessing our failure to forgive our tormentors.
Unfortunately, my one fleeting error of judgment about my circus-clown dad had left me shackled to a rank character absurdity for the rest of my stay in Texas. I soon found myself reading aloud a passage from my "autobiography" describing a period of my father's life when he quit clowning to hand out fliers in a Fudgie the Whale costume outside a Carvel ice cream store:
I laugh about it now, but once he chased me, drunk, in his Fudgie the Whale costume. He chased me into the bathroom, laid me across the toilet seat and hit me with his fins, which underneath were still a man's hands.
Again no reaction from the group, aside from an affirming nod from José at the last part — his eyes said to me, I know what you mean about those fins.
After each of these grueling exercises we would have lengthy, fifteen-to-twenty-minute sessions singing unbearably atonal Christian hymns. Then we would have teaching/Bible-study sessions led by Fortenberry on the theme of the moment (e.g., "Admit the Truth About Our Wounds") that lasted an hour or so. Then, after Fortenberry would waste at least half the session giving us the Marlboro Man highlights of his professional résumé ("I was the manager of the second-largest ranch in America, 825,000 acres. . . .") and bragging about his physical prowess ("If someone was to slug me, I could whip just about anyone here"), we would go back to the group session and confess some more. Then we would sing some more, receive more of Fortenberry's hairy lessons, and then the cycle would start all over again. There were almost no breaks or interruptions; it was a physically exhausting schedule of confession, catharsis, bad music and relentless, muscular instruction. The Saturday program began at 7:45 a.m. and did not end until ten at night; we went around the confess-sing-learn cycle five full times in one day.
We were about a third of the way through the process when I began to wonder what the hell was going on. Fortenberry's blowhard-on-crack-act/wound gobbledygook were all suspiciously secular in tone and approach. I had been hearing whispers throughout the first day or so to the effect that there was some kind of incredible supernatural religious ceremony that was going to take place at the end of the retreat ("Tighten your saddle, he's fixin' ta buck" was how "cowboy" Fortenberry put it), when we would experience "Victory and Deliverance." But as far as I could see, in the early going, most of what we were doing was simple pop-psych self-examination using New Age-y diagnostic tools of the Deepak Chopra school: Identify your problems, face your oppressors, visualize your obstacles. Be your dream job. With a little rhetorical tweaking and much better food, this could easily have been Tony Robbins instructing a bunch of Upper East Side housewives to "find your wounds" ("My husband hid my Saks card!") at a chic resort in Miami Beach or the Hamptons.
True, I could see some other angles to what was going on as well. Virtually all of the participants of the Encounter identified either one or both of their parents as their "offender," and much of what Fortenberry was talking about in his instructional sessions was how to replace the godless atmosphere of abuse or neglect that the offenders had provided us with God and the church. He was taking broken people and giving them a road map to a new set of parents, a new family — your basic cultist bait-and-switch formula for cutting old emotional ties and redirecting that psychic energy toward the desired new destination. That connection would become more overt later in the weekend, but early on, this ur-father propaganda was the only thing I could see that separated Encounter Weekend from the typical self-help dreck of the secular world.
But then, midway through Saturday, Fortenberry and the coaches started to show us glimpses of the program's end game. The wound, it turned out, was something that was inflicted upon us because of a curse, a curse that perhaps spanned generations in each of our families. Alcoholic parents abused their children, who in turn carried their parents' curse to their adult lives and became alcoholics themselves — only to have children and continue the pattern again. Now, why was that curse there to begin with? Here was where we could get into religious explanations, see the footprint of Satan, etc. We were unhappy because of earthly troubles from our childhoods, but those troubles were the work of a generational curse, inflicted upon us by devils and demons — probably for unbelief, bad behavior, disobedience, worship of the wrong gods and so on.
This little bit of semantic gymnastics helped transform all of us at the retreat from being merely fucked up to being accursed carriers of demons. Having ridden an almost entirely secular program to get our biographies out in the open in a group setting, Fortenberry could now switch his focus to the real meat and potatoes of the weekend: Satan and the devils inside us.
He started off slowly, invoking the godly curses of Genesis — the sweat on Adam's brow, the pain of Eve's childbirth, etc. — the punishments for eating of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. "How many of you women out there have had babies?" Fortenberry asked. "Can I see some hands?"
A dozen or so hands raised.
"Now, did it hurt?" he asked.
Laughter. Of course it hurt.
"Let me ask you a question," he said. "Why do alcoholics give birth to alcoholics? Why do the fatherless give birth to the fatherless?" He paused. "There are some people out there who will tell you it's genetics. It's in our genes, they say. Well, I tell you, it's not genetics. It's a generational curse!"
Fortenberry then started in on a rant against science and against scientific explanations for cycles of sin. "Take homosexuals," he said. "Every single homosexual is a sexual-abuse victim. They are not born. They are created — by pedophiles."
The crowd swallowed that one whole. One thing about this world: Once a preacher says it, it's true. No one is going to look up anything the preacher says, cross-check his facts, raise an eyebrow at something that might sound a little off. Some weeks later, I would be at a Sunday service in which Pastor John Hagee himself would assert that the Bible predicts that Jesus Christ is going to return to Earth bearing a "rod of iron" to discipline the ACLU. It goes without saying that the ACLU was not mentioned in the passage in Ezekiel he was citing — but the audience ate it up anyway. When they're away from the cameras, the preachers feel even less obligated to shackle themselves to facts of any kind. That's because they know that their audience doesn't give a shit. So long as you're telling them what they want to hear, there's no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.
A team of twenty of the world's leading scientists wouldn't be able to convince so much as one person in this crowd that homosexuals are not created by pedophiles.
Fortenberry told a story about a nephew of his who called him up one night. "Both of his kids had fallen on the ground in respiratory distress, half-conscious, writhing around, gasping for air," Fortenberry said. "And I said to my nephew, I said, 'It isn't something they've done. It's something you've done.' "
The crowd murmured in assent.
"I told my nephew to look around the house," Fortenberry continued. "I said, 'Do you have a copy of Harry Potter?' And he said yes. And I said, 'That's your problem.' So I told him to go get that copy of that book, tear it in half and throw it out the window. So he does it, and guess what? Both of those kids stood up completely recovered, just like that."
He snapped his fingers, indicating the speed with which the kids had jumped up in recovery. The crowd cooed and applauded. I frowned, wondering for a minute what life must be like for a person mortally afraid of toothless commercial fairy tales. It struck me that Phil Fortenberry's nephew was probably more afraid of Harry Potter than Macbeth, which to me said a lot about this religion and about America in general.
Here I have a confession to make. It's not something that's easy to explain, but here goes. After two days of nearly constant religious instruction, songs, worship and praise — two days that for me meant an unending regimen of forced and fake responses — a funny thing started to happen to my head. There is a transformational quality in these external demonstrations of faith and belief. The more you shout out praising the Lord, singing along to those awful acoustic tunes, telling people how blessed you feel and so on, the more a sort of mechanical Christian skin starts to grow all over your real self. Even if you're a degenerate Rolling Stone reporter inwardly chuckling and busting on the whole scene — even if you're intellectually enraged by the ignorance and arrogant prejudice flowing from the mouth of a terminal-ambition case like Phil Fortenberry — outwardly you're swaying to the gospel and singing and praising and acting the part, and those outward ministrations assume a kind of sincerity in themselves. And at the same time, that "inner you" begins to get tired of the whole spectacle and sometimes forgets to protest — in my case checking out into baseball reveries and other daydreams while the outer me did the "work" of singing and praising. At any given moment, which one is the real you?
You may think you know the answer, but by my third day I began to notice how effortlessly my soft-spoken Matt-mannequin was going through his robotic motions of praise, and I was shocked. For a brief, fleeting moment I could see how under different circumstances it would be easy enough to bury your "sinful" self far under the skin of your outer Christian and to just travel through life this way. So long as you go through all the motions, no one will care who you really are underneath. And besides, so long as you are going through all the motions, never breaking the facade, who are you really? It was an incomplete thought, but it was a scary one; it was the very first time I worried that the experience of entering this world might prove to be anything more than an unusually tiring assignment. I feared for my normal.
On the final morning of the weekend, we gathered in the chapel for the Deliverance. Fortenberry, dressed in his standard Western shirt and hiked-up jeans, sauntered up to the lectern wearing a solemn and dramatic expression. "This is fixing to be the biggest spiritual battle that ninety-nine percent of you will ever face," he said. "But let me tell you something. It's already been won. It was won 2,000 years ago."
The crowd cheered. As the applause tailed, he held his hands up Mussolini-fashion, asking for quiet. The crowd complied. It was quite dramatically done, this whole business, whatever we were working toward. And at that moment, I spotted a younger kid who had been at the retreat all weekend working a soundboard for the musical parts zipping behind the crowd to some kind of dimmer panel. He turned a switch and the lights dimmed slightly; though it was morning, the light in the building suddenly turned unnatural, like the light during a partial eclipse.
Throughout the whole weekend, Fortenberry had been setting himself up as an athletic conqueror of demons. Now, on the final morning, he looked like a quarterback about to take the field before a big game. The life coaches assembled around the edges of the chapel, carrying anointing oil and bundles of small paper bags.
Fortenberry began to issue instructions. He told us that under no circumstances should we pray during the Deliverance.
"When the word of God is in your mouth," he said, "the demons can't come out of your body. You have to keep a path clear for the demon to come up through your throat. So under no circumstances pray to God. You can't have God in your mouth. You can cough, you might even want to vomit, but don't pray."
The crowd nodded along solemnly. Fortenberry then explained that he was going to read from an extremely long list of demons and cast them out individually. As he did so, we were supposed to breathe out, keep our mouths open and let the demons out.
And he began.
At first, the whole scene was pure comedy. Fortenberry was standing up at the front of the chapel, reading off a list, and the room was loudly chirping crickets back at him.
"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of incest! In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of sexual abuse! In the name of Jesus. . . ."
After a few minutes, there was a little twittering here and there. Nothing serious. I was beginning to think the Deliverance was going to be a bust.
But then it started. Wails and cries from the audience. To my left, a young black man started writhing around in his seat. In front of me and to my right, another young black man with Coke-bottle glasses and a shock of nerdly jheri curl — a dead ringer for a young Wayne Williams — started wailing and clutching his head.
"In the name of Jesus," continued Fortenberry, "I cast out the demon of astrology!"
Coughing and spitting noises. Behind me, a bald white man started to wheeze and gurgle, like he was about to puke. Fortenberry, still reading from his list, pointed at the man. On cue, a pair of life coaches raced over to him and began to minister. One dabbed his forehead with oil and fiercely clutched his cranium; the other held a paper bag in front of his mouth.
"In the name of Jesus Christ," said Fortenberry, more loudly now, "I cast out the demon of lust!"
And the man began power-puking into his paper baggie. I couldn't see if any actual vomitus came out, but he made real hurling and retching noises.
Now the women began to pipe in. On the women's side of the chapel the noises began, and it is not hard to explain what these noises sounded like. If you've ever watched The Houston 560 or any other gangbang porn movie, that's what it sounded like, only the sounds were far more intense.
It was not difficult to figure out where the energy was coming from on that side of the room. Some of the husbands glanced nervously over in the direction of their wives.
"In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of cancer!" said Fortenberry.
"Oooh! Unnh! Unnnnnh!" wailed a woman in the front row.
"Bleeech!" puked the bald man behind me.
Within about a minute after that, the whole chapel erupted in pandemonium. About half the men and three-fourths of the women were writhing around and either play-puking or screaming. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I raised my hand for one of the life coaches to see.
"Need . . . a . . . bag," I said as he came over.
He handed me a bag.
"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!" shouted Fortenberry.
Handwriting analysis? I jammed the bag over my mouth and started coughing, then went into a very real convulsion of disbelief as I listened to this astounding list, half-laughing and half-retching.
"In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!" Fortenberry continued. "In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!"
The minutes raced by. Wayne Williams was now fully prostrate, held up only by a trio of coaches, each of whom took part of his writhing body and propped it up. Another bald man in the front of the chapel was now freaking out in Linda Blair fashion, roaring and making horrific demon noises.
"Rum-balakasha-oom!" shouted Fortenberry in tongues, waving a hand in front of Linda Blair Man. "Cooom-balakasha-froom! In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of philosophy!"
It was obvious that virtually everyone in the crowd was playacting to some degree or another. I was reminded of the Tolstoy story "The Kreutzer Sonata," when the male narrator described marriage as being like the bearded-lady tent in a French circus he'd seen. You pay a few francs to go in, and when you come out, and the carnival barker shouts at you, "Was that not the most amazing thing you've ever seen, monsieur?" — well, you're too ashamed to admit that you've been had, and so you nod your head and agree: Oui, monsieur, it was really something! That's how people come to say marriage is a blessing, and that's how you can get fifty-odd high school graduates puking demons into three-cent paper bags for a Deliverance.
The whole thing — the demonic expulsions, the trading of miraculous wives' tales, the crazy End Times theology based on dire predictions that come and go uneventfully once a year or so — it's all a con that is done with the consent of the conned. Which is what gives it strength. If everybody agrees to believe, it is real.
The hooting and howling went on seemingly forever. It was nearly an hour and a half before Fortenberry was done. He had cast out the demons of every ailment, crime, domestic problem and intellectual discipline on the face of the Earth. He cast out horoscopes, false gods, witches, intellectual pride, nearsightedness, everything, it seemed to me, except maybe E. coli and John Updike novels. At least four of the men and about six of the women writhed and screamed and fussed themselves into sheer physical exhaustion, collapsing in chairs by the time it was over. Several of the coaches actually had to bring Wayne Williams and the other young black man behind the chapel to subdue their demons. By then most of us men were just sitting there mute, looking around absent-mindedly, waiting for it to end. I was sitting there, clutching my demon vomit bag — perhaps the single greatest souvenir of my journalistic career — when I made the mistake of closing my mouth. A coach rushed over to me.
"Matthew!" he snapped. "Keep your mouth open! Let the demons out!"
"Oh, right!" I said. I straightened up and opened my mouth in the shape of a letter O.
Meanwhile, Fortenberry was tiring.
"I cast out . . . uh . . . In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of pornography. I cast out, in the name of Jesus, the demon of disconnect."
Fortenberry shook his head as though trying to revive himself. He had been at this for a long time. His stamina really was astounding, a testament to his military training.
Afterward, a frightening thought shot through my head. It occurred to me that over the past decades, any number of our prominent political leaders (from Jimmy Carter to Chuck Colson to W himself) had boasted publicly of their born-again experiences, broadcasting to Middle America an understanding of their personal relationships with God. But whereas once these conversions were humble things — Billy Graham whispering and putting his hand on W's shoulder in Kennebunkport, or even (in the case of Tom DeLay) a flash of recognition while watching a televangelist program — the modern version might very easily be this completely batshit holy-vomitus/demon-exorcism deal. The thought that any politician could claim this kind of experience and not be immediately disqualified from public service seemed utterly terrifying.
We were called back to chapel, and this time the drill was speaking in tongues. We were asked to come up to the front of the chapel and let a life coach anoint us with oil, hold our heads and speak to us in tongues. Fortenberry instructed us to "just let it out. Just let it out and it'll come out."
He didn't come right out and say, "Just act like you're speaking in tongues." But it was damned close. Once again, Fortenberry greased the process by telling us a story about how he'd once been at a service where folks were speaking in tongues, and he was skeptical, but it had just flown right out of him — and now it just shoots right out of him, almost on command.
I went to the front. One of the coaches grabbed me by the shoulder and sploshed a big puddle of oil on my forehead. Then he began to speak in tongues:
"Gam-bakakasha. Hoo-raaa-balalakasha. . . . Come on, Matthew, let it out."
American Christians who speak in tongues basically all try to sound like extras from the underworld set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If you want to pull it off and sound like a natural, just imagine you're holding a rubber replica of Harrison Ford's heart in your hands: Umm-harakashaka! Loo-pa-wanneee-rakakakasha, Meester Jones!
But I didn't think of this at the time and just went another route.
"Let it out, Matthew," the coach repeated, clutching my forehead. "Just open your mouth."
I shrugged and rattled off the lyrics to the song "What is Autumn?" by the Russian rock band DDT:
What is autumn? It's the sky The crying sky below your feet. Flying about in puddles are the birds and clouds. Autumn I've not been with you for so long!
It's actually a beautiful song, but with my eyes rolled back in my head and recited in Russian it sounded demonic enough.
"Hmm, very good," my coach said. "Good job, Matthew."
I kept going, on to the next verse. "What is autumn? It's a stone. . . ."
"OK, that's good," the coach said, annoyed, moving on to the next guy.
"It's important that you practice," said Pastor Fortenberry. "It sounds silly, but when you're at home, when you have a little time, just try to let it out. You'll get used to it, and soon you'll be speaking in tongues like nobody's business!"
He then pronounced us baptized in the Holy Spirit and fully qualified now to cast out demons.
He held up his hands in triumph.
"Hallelujah!" he shouted.
The crowd jumped up, and we all threw up our hands.
He called out Hallelujah! again. We repeated after him. And we repeated after him again. Arms in the air. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
I felt a twinge of recognition from somewhere as I threw my arms up over and over again.
We had graduated.
By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to "be rational" or "set aside your religion" about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you've made a journey like this — once you've gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It's not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that's the issue. It's that once you've gotten to this place, you've left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you're thinking with muscles, not neurons.
By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet, and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you've gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no "anything else." All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this "our thing," a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that's all.
Some articles demand a profound introduction. Others ... not so much. If we were a different website we might use this space to talk about how America is the biggest penis-worshiping-religion of them all. But we're not that website (in case yesterday's bowl of penises didn't tip you off). We assure you, this is no metaphor. You will find no pop psychology or vaguely phallic imagery in this article. These are religions that worship human penises. Learn from them.
The Lingam is the symbol of a very special part of the Hindu god Shiva's body. (Hint: It's his cock.) Within the trinity of Hinduism, Shiva is the god of destruction and change. How much of that destruction is wrought with his four arms and how much comes from his manhood? We leave that to the reader to decide.
In Hindu mythology, when Shiva is killed, the goddess Kali squats over his body, rips out and eats his organs, and then mounts his still erect manrod to complete the cycle of creation. It's also worth noting that in most Hindu art and temples, his "linga" is usually depicted without the rest of him, the disembodied member being worshiped all by itself:
The object in the foreground is a "yoni" (literally: vagina) and they are most often shown together, in full penetration:
How Big Is It?
Huge. Out of a billion or so Hindus in the world, about 100 million belong to various sects that focus on Shiva, Kali and the giant Lingam.
On Your Knees:
Worshiping the linga is pretty straightforward. First, you have to make it wet, either by pouring water or milk over it. Then just say your prayers and meditate. Smaller, pocket-sized lingas should be held in the hand and rubbed while meditating, and you're well on your way to a religious experience.
Mara Kannon Shrine, Tawarayama Japan
According to legend, about 450 years ago two local politicians in Tawarayama had such a hate-on for each other that eventually the feud came to death threats. In order to protect his family, a Mr. Oji disguised his son as a girl and hid him in the local shrine. Eventually the other guy, Mr. Sue, found the boy, cut off his head, and to prove his identity (a head isn't enough?) also severed the boy's penis.
Hearing about the killing, the locals immediately took to making wood and ceramic phalluses, to replace the boy's missing member (at this point, you have to wonder if the boy would have benefited more from a prosthetic head, but back to the story). Discovering the joy of making cocks, the locals just never stopped, eventually getting into a cock arms race with each other. Today, the woods surrounding the shrine are forested with as many stone boners as trees, all pointing gloriously up to the heavens above.
How Big Is It?
Quite respectable, thank you very much. The shrine sees thousands of visitors each year. Mostly tourists, they come from nearly every country to see the forest o' phalli, some of which stand five feet tall. The shrine is a popular destination for men suffering from erectile problems, and is even more popular with their wives.
On Your Knees:
In addition to the usual Shinto ceremony of bowing and praying, worshipers can buy smaller--and by smaller we mean life-sized--ceramic dongs to place in the shrine as an offering. After many years and thousands of visitors, the shrine is currently overflowing with them. Also, for best results, be sure to write your prayers and wishes on your cock.
Now, see if you can guess which country made our list twice.
Hounen Fertility Festival, Komaki, Japan
Most historians agree that fertility and phallus worship existed in prehistoric central and Eastern Asia, influencing the pre-Buddhist and pre-Shinto religions of the area. The Hounen Fertility Festival has been going for so long in Komaki that no one really remembers why they do it. But boy do they do it.
How Big Is It?
Try 9-feet-long and 620 pounds, baby.
Who's a bright shining superstar now, Diggler?
On Your Knees:
Get there early every March 15. The main event starts at 2PM, but they start giving away free booze at 10AM. That's right, they start tapping barrels full of sake even before lunch. Then at 2PM, the crowd staggers to the Shinmei Shrine where the mega dong is kept.
Shinto preists then give blessings to the wavering crowd, mount the thing on their shoulders, and everyone starts down the street. When they reach the Tagata Jinja shrine, they spin the giant cock around in circles over their heads, threatening all around with 360 degrees of mega penetration. At about 4PM they place the cock in its new home, and pray for a fruitful year. And while you're at the Tagata Jinja Shrine, don't forget to rub the sacred balls for good luck:
Min, Egyptian God
Min was an ancient Egyptian god of fertility. In Egyptian art and statues, Min is always shown holding his cock with his left hand and a threshing flail in his raised right hand. A flail, in case you're wondering, is a kind of whip used to separate grain, or judging from the erection, to beat the shit out of some particularly adventurous woman who's been naughty and needs to be punished.
Min rose to prominence during the Middle Kingdom era, about 2050 BC, and by the New Kingdom era (1550 BC) he was the central figure in the Coronation Ceremony of every new Pharaoh. This involved a ritual in which the new Pharaoh would prove that he could ejaculate, and Min was there to make sure the King wasn't shooting blanks. We're not sure what the punishment was if the King couldn't fire one off, and we don't want to know.
How Big Is It?
You know, some things are more important than size. Centuries ago Egypt converted to Islam, with a few Christians and Jews thrown in, so no one really follows Min's cock anymore. But at one time Min was a principal deity of the entire Egyptian empire, with hundreds of thousands worshiping him. Today the modern city of Akhmim is built over the ruins of Min's temple, where excavation only just started in 1991, but ancient sources suggest that statues of him could be 55 feet tall or more, giving the old boy about eight feet of god rod.
On Your Knees:
At Min's temple, worshipers would rub the leaves of the Egyptian lettuce plant (Lactuca serriola), some varieties of which are tall, straight and round, and which would emit a milky white sap.
Yep, they masturbated lettuce.
The sap contained a chemical called lactucarium, which in large doses has an effect on the body similar to cocaine. At the harvest festival each year, naked, geeked-out Egyptians would play various games, the most important of which was climbing a giant pole, with special prizes for anyone who reached the top. We'd have thought the award would go to the person who could climb up and down the poll over and over again in a rhythmic motion, but we didn't write the rules.
The Flaming Thunderbolt
Above is Drukpa Kunley, a 16th century Buddhist Monk who lived in what is now the country of Bhutan, or as he was more commonly known, The Divine Madman. Kunley spent his entire life, after becoming a monk in his late teens, traveling the countryside dispensing his wisdom and enlightenment to as many young ladies as he could get his hands on.
So where's the penis in all this? Well, he promised each of them a path to Nirvana through the use of his "Flaming Thunderbolt." In case you're still confused, here's a picture of it:
Kunley eventually earned such fame that women sought him out, or at least were very willing when he showed up. And in exchange for his spiritual illumination, all of the women were required to pay him in beer.
In between, and during, his deflowering sessions, Kunley would give advice on spiritual peace, how to balance one's karma, and how to attain Buddahood. Kunley preached that sexual ecstasy and drunkenness were the best ways to transcend the illusion of the material world and become one with oneself.
"The best wine lies at the bottom of the pail/And Happiness lies below the navel." A few inches below.
After riding nearly every wife, sister and daughter in the land, Kunley eventually rode into Buddhist mythology itself. He is said to do battle with all sorts of demons and evil spirits, most of them female. In one Bhutanese legend, he defeats a demoness by beating her in the face with his penis, and then gags her with it. After she is defeated, he transforms her into a good spirit "through divine sexual play."
How Big Is It?
It's not the size, it's how you use it. Over 80 percent of Bhutan's 700,000 people are Buddhist, and nearly all of them use images of the Flaming Thunderbolt as a good luck symbol. Images of it are everywhere, most notably painted on the outside of homes and buildings to ward off bad spirits and 'the evil eye.'
On Your Knees:
The best place to become one with your inner Flaming Thunderbolt is at Kunley's Chimi Lhakhang monastery, about a three-hour drive from the capital of Thimphu. There, Monks use a large wooden phallus, carved by Kunley himself, to hit devotees over the head and bless them with it's healing powers.
How this did not become the dominant religion on Earth is impossible to understand.
From: http://carolom.wordpress.com/Posted by carolom on April 19, 2008
For those of us over 40….
Remember how the book stores once had very few Self Empowerment / alternate thinking books? How Jonathon Livingstone Seagull inspired us to fly beyond the flock…and then “I’m Okay- Your Okay” came out…I was a teenager then and didn’t really understand it but carried it around for months like an affirmation of somewhere I would be one day!
Then there was the Primal Scream by Arthur Janov who decided we had every unshed tear and soul wound trapped in our body and the sale in beanbags quadrupled as therapists across the globe created little spots for people to anguish-out their pain.
“One flew Over the Cuckoos nest ” let us all know that really, madness was quite okay and it was the drugs and Nurse Ratchetts of the world who were messing things up!
And then Shakti Gawain- once known by a much more western name caught onto the Science of Mind / New Thought teachings and packaged them in a cool and inviting format…”Creative visualisation” groups sprang up across the country and Affirmations became the newest key to making dreams come true!
Some of of us then did months / years of “Women who love too much”…”How to recognise a commitmentphobic man before he breaks your heart”…”Letters from Women who love too much” and “Ten Stupid Things Women do to Mess up their Life”……and STILL let another bad boy in because he was such an irresitable pattern to break…
Our bookshelves and the dusty boxes in the shed are an archival record of the Journey…and it continues ever onward …
Paulo Coehlo let us know that the Alchemist did not have to travel anywhere if only he had looked within…….in the Celestine Prophecy we were shown how control draaamas and Energy snatching is a way of life amongst the still-sleeping-humans…
Not to forget the maverick Richard Bandler who challenged the years of psychotherapy with something he called NLP- Neuro Linguistic Programming - where changing thought patterns and internal states became as easy as the title of his book - Using Your Brain for a Change…
Then there was the energiser bunny of the change-movement, inspired by Bandlers work…as Anthony Robbins bounced across the stage, altering states and appearing with Leeza Gibbons for years on the 2 am infomercials..
We have laid with tissues next to our Gratitude journals…we have loyally committed to ‘doing what it takes’..sometimes falling asleep witih crumpled notes to the Universe and a pile of ‘must read books’ next to our beds…
We have bought exercise books for our one-person Soul class exercises…and meditation tapes back when there were no cds/ dvds/ and mp3’s…
For some the Bible has been a consistent presence but as we have seen with the Biblical wars across the net, it is a book not without polarising emotions…
Then we expanded to reading blogs, downloading pods and vods…and Skyping and Cellphone texting…on and on and on the learning and growing and communicating expands…
Phew! Aren’t we a wonderful group of Soul School Earth students and aren’t we all blessed that the fruits of our fellow travellers and Soul School class mates becomes the nourishment and ponderings for our own journey…that still has infinitity to go……
Some days I browse in the second hand books stores and come across “I’m okay , You’re okay” or a dusty copy of “My Mother Myself” and turn the page of the old fashioned cover with a deep sense of nostalgia and gratitiude that in this dawning of the Age of Aquarius…the Age of Enlightement… we are free to CHOOSE our Soul food and each year produces more and more nourishment and food for thought….( and Yes, the astrology, psychic phenomena, astral travelling, tribal wisdom, aura reading, Silva mind development, Louise Hay -Healing empowerment books should also get a mention in the Archive…
Oh yes….some more name I have forgotten…
John Bradshaw, the dyanamic son of an alcoholic Father showing us how the sickness of the parent is visited upon the child. I still have a 10 part video series we used to use in workshops.. The local free to air community tv station had the tapes playing regularly through out the week for over a year and my mother did one of the exercises that lead her down the corridor within and into her own Awakening…
We still joke that the videos should not be watched alone as it was a frightening experience for her to meet her sad, lonely little girl whose daddy never came home from the war at 11 oclock at night with her husband snoozing on the couch next to her…
I did not read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” or “Fire in the Belly” and “Iron John” but the caring sharing guys who were a part of my life and fellow shelter workers would head off to their mens weekends with Sam Keen and Robert Bly ‘mens business’ books tucked in their back packs…
I also forgot to mention one book that impacted my priveleged white-girl world enormously when I was just 13 - “Black Like Me”, the diary of a person who changed the color of their skin and shared the reality of racism they experienced having never known it before… in order to make us white-folk really think about the set up we had created……and of course Jane Elliotts “Blue Eyes” , I bought the book, recorded the Oprah Shows and passed on the information whnever and where ever I could…
And how could I forget “Rolling Thunder” Doug Boyds acocunt of the life of the amazing medicine man Shaman who lived in the world of quantum phyiscs, time travel and communiion with Nature…
I flew out of my childhood under Jonathons Livingston Seagulls wide wings…..
Sigh….it was a time of greater silence in the world when the skies were empty of microwares, sattellites, cell phones and the zillion megawatts of electricity that fils the airwaves in these early days of the 21st century…
I feel a little nostalgic for my Frankincense , Patchouli and beads and …..oh…hang on………that’s right..I am still wearing them……
What were the books that shaped your travels ……………and have you bequeathed your library to a fitting new home once your travels in this body have passed?
"A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world."~Manly Hall
Complete Lecture Series
Part IThe titles of the albums are:AlchemyAstro-TheologyAtlantean Hypothesis, TheAtom in Religion and Philosophy, TheCycle of the Phoenix, TheDoctrines of Hermes TrismegistusDoctrines of NeoplatonismEsoteric AnthropologyEsoteric Philosophy of H.P. BlavatskyExploring Dimensions of ConsciousnessFirst Principles of PhilosophyFive Paths of YogaFive-Fold Nature of the Self, TheGreat Polarities, TheGreek and Roman Deities as Personifications of Divine PrinciplesInterpreting Great Legends of the WorldInvisible Bodies of Men in Hindu PhilosophyLandmarks of Esoteric LiteratureLove Series, TheMan Grand Symbol of the MysteriesMysteries of the Cabala, TheMystery and Meaning of the Ancient RitualsNew Concepts of Therapy for Daily LivingParacelsian PhilosophyPhilosophy of Value, ThePractical Mysticism in Modern LivingPsychological Theory and PracticeSeptenaries, TheStudies in Comparative MythologyStudies in Dream SymbolismStudies in Morals & Dogma by Albert PikeStudies in Self-UnfoldmentSymbolism of the Great OperasUniverse According to Esoteric Philosophy, TheUnseen Forces That Affect Our LivesWisdom Series, TheWorlds in TransitionZen Concept of Intensity Without TensionPythagorean Theory of NumberPart IIThe individual lectures in this collection are organized by subject matter, and include the following categories:Alchemy of Attitudes (3 lectures),Ancient Mysteries & Secret Societies (5 lectures),Art & Aesthetics (5 lectures),Astrology (4 lectures),Bible & Christianity (15 lectures),Biographies (3 lectures),Buddhism (8 lectures),Classical Philosophy (4 lectures),Comparative Religion (2 lectures),Eastern Philosophy (2 lectures),Education (2 lectures),Esoteric & Metaphysical (29 lectures),Health & Healing (10 lectures),Inspirational & Mystical (14 lectures),Literature (2 lectures),Miscellaneous (18 lectures),Occult Anatomy (3 lectures),Philosophy & Religion (25 lectures),Psychology & Self-Improvement (56 lectures), andReincarnation, Karma & Life After Death (8 lectures).Between the present collection "Part Two of Complete Lecture Series" and the original "Complete Lecture Series," are contained all of the lectures by Manly Hall which have ever been made available to the public. These, together with the 6 lectures comprising the "Life in the 21st Century" album, yield a grand total of 218 lecture recordings in the present collection.http://www.manlyphall.org/http://www.myspace.com/manlypalmerhallhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manly_Palmer_Hall
My Manly P. Hall Book Collection
Title - Copyright
Reincarnation the Cycle of Necessity - 1939/1941
An Introduction to Dream Interpretation - 1955
Lectures on Ancient Philosophy - 1984
Psychic Symbolism of Headaches, Insomnia, and the Upset Stomach Search for Reality Part 6- 1960
Secret Teachings of All Ages, The - 1928
Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians - 1937
Is Each Individual Born with a Purpose? Search for Reality Part 2 - 1960
All Seeing Eye, The - 1931
Ways of the Lonely Ones - 1945
Right Thinking - 1946
Philosophy for the Sick and Disposition and Disease - 1966
Secret of the Untroubled Mind, The - 1965
Incompatibility, a Crisis in Modern LivingHall, Manly Palmer1956
Lost Keys of Freemasonry - 1931
Most Holy Trinosophia of Comte St. Germain - 1983
Super Faculties and their Culture - 1934
“To learn is to live, to study is to grow, and growth is the measurement of life. The mind must be taught to think, the heart to feel, and the hands to labor. When these have been educated to their highest point, then is the time to offer them to the service of their fellowman, not before.”
Some knew him as an internationally famed stamp collector, many were charmed by his childhood memories from his book Growing up with Grandmother; but always he spoke to people with dignity and respect, never trying to overwhelm them with his encyclopedic knowledge of the spiritual traditions. He championed the value of an idealistic philosophical education for all in the classical tradition of Pythagoras, Paracelsus, Lord Bacon, Plato, Socrates, and all the philosophers of history who believed in a rational world soul. He wanted nothing more than to assist the great philosophers of history to fulfill their honorable plans for the nation and the planet.
"Hence the disciple of the Ancient Wisdom is taught to realize that man is not essentially a personality, but a spirit."
~Manly P. Hall
RIO DE JANIERO, Apr 26 (Tierramérica)
The success of pioneering efforts to reduce inequality and poverty using relatively few resources has led to an expansion in Latin America of direct aid, targeting the most vulnerable families, especially in rural areas.
Known as "conditional cash transfer", it encompasses many different strategies in more than a dozen Latin American countries. Brazil and Mexico have truly massive programmes, reaching 11.1 million and five million impoverished families, respectively, while Colombia's programme involves just 1,500 families.
The "Chile Solidario" initiative, often included in the same category, "is not comparable to other programmes in terms of amounts or objectives," like Brazil's "Family-Grant" and Mexico's "Opportunities" programmes, said Verónica Silva, executive secretary of Chile's Social Protection System.
The Chilean programme, created in 2002, now covers 290,000 families, about 40 percent of whom live in rural areas. "The proportion of participants is much higher in rural zones (the Chilean population is around 88 percent urban), because if you want to find the poorest of the poor in Chile, you have to look for an indigenous mother who is the head of a household in a rural area," Silva told Tierramérica.
The focus is on extreme poverty, which affected 5.6 percent of the Chilean population in 2000, a sector so marginalised that it falls outside the social welfare networks. The aim is to bring these families into the fold with psycho-social support and a monthly stipend, which gradually declines from 28 to eight dollars over two years.
The reduction in poverty and indigence was 20 percent for rural homes benefiting from the system, according to the latest report by the World Bank, which provides technical assistance to Chile Solidario. Official data indicate that in 2006, "for the first time, poverty rates in rural areas were below that of urban areas (12.3 and 14 percent, respectively)."
The World Bank estimates that Chile Solidario is responsible for 18 percent of the reduction of indigence and 35 percent of the decline in poverty.
Brazil's Family-Grant, created in 2003 by joining together several social programmes launched in the 1990s, achieved its goal of providing aid to 11.1 million families in 2006. It offers between 10.5 and 100 dollars a month to each family group, conditional on children's school attendance, vaccination, visits to the doctor, and adequate nutrition.
The programme achieved a 21 percent reduction in the gap between rich and poor between 1995 and 2004 -- an outcome identical to Mexico's Opportunities initiative, according to the International Poverty Centre of the United Nations Development Programme.
From 1993 to 2006, the proportion of Brazilians living below the poverty line fell from 35.3 percent to 22 percent of the population. Family-Grant and the Continued Benefit programme, a stipend for the elderly and infirm, played "a fundamental role" in that achievement, Marcelo Neri, social policy expert with the Getulio Vargas Foundation, told Tierramérica.
In 2006 alone, 5.8 million people escaped poverty, as defined by the official poverty rate, in this country of 188 million.
Poverty in rural areas fell from 63.7 to 40.9 percent between 1993 and 2006. Rural retirement pensions, guaranteed by the constitution even for informal sector workers, today offer the minimum monthly salary (245 dollars) to 7.7 million retired farm workers, which helped bring about the reduction.
Brazil’s tax burden amounts to 35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), similar to that of rich countries, noted Neri. But the Family-Grant provides the best results with proportionally lower costs, of just 0.7 percent GDP, he added.
The Family-Grant benefits children, in contrast to pensioners, and gives a dynamic boost to the local economy, expanding the market for food produced by small farmers, which also reduces rural poverty, Neri said.
Most of the Family-Grant money that goes to families is used to buy food, which promotes family farming and smaller local commerce, said Rosani Cunha, secretary of Citizen Income at the Ministry of Social Development.
Of the families receiving the grant last year, 30.8 percent were rural, a proportion much higher than the 18 percent of Brazil's total rural population, due to the higher rate of poverty in the countryside.
The statistics show higher school attendance rates, especially in the north and northeast, the country's poorest regions, reducing the risk of poverty of future generations and giving the lie to "the laziness effect" that critics had warned of, Cunha told Tierramérica.
In Pombal, an impoverished town in the northeastern state of Paraíba, a woman who used part of the grant to raise chickens and thus was able to get off government support, became an example of initiatives for exiting the programme, she said.
Pombal, with 3,710 families receiving the grant out of a population of 33,000, has seen several hundred families leave the programme. The city government is preparing a poultry farming initiative involving a pilot group of 25 families.
The municipal registry, which includes all poor families, is "an important instrument" of integration and reinforcement of other policies, like food security and housing, which generates "synergies", city social worker Cizia Romeu said in a Tierramérica interview.
The Brazilian programme is notable for its decentralisation. The local authorities take on much of the responsibility, given that some of the conditions for receiving the grants, such as school attendance and health, depend on municipal and state governments, explained Cunha.
But it was in Mexico that the first programme of massive conditional cash transfer was launched, in 1997, under the name "Progresa", later replaced by "Oportunidades" (Opportunities), in response to the 1994-1995 economic crisis.
From 2000 to 2006, poverty in Mexico fell from 53.6 to 42.6 percent of the population, and infant mortality dropped 11 percent, thanks largely to the initiative that began with 300,000 families and today helps five million in 96,000 marginalised areas, 86 percent of them in the countryside.
Nevertheless, "it doesn't seem to have prevented emigration, and we don't see a direct impact on the rural area’s economic problems," which are the result of other factors, like credit, irrigation and land quality, but it has "helped many families to remain on their land," according to Santiago Fernández, a consultant who evaluates social programmes.
"The young people end up migrating," due to poverty and the attraction of cities and the United States, even though Opportunities "has provided improvement in the situation of many families, and the statistics show it," he said in a conversation with Tierramérica.
In Colombia, the "Families in Action" programme, launched in 2001, has a limited impact, reaching just 1,500 families, with subsidies for food and education of 8.5 to 27 dollars a month, distributed almost exclusively to mothers.
But the programme responds to a unique facet of Colombian reality: the population displaced from rural areas by the decades-long armed conflict. "The benefit was great, as if it fell from heaven," said Fernando Parra, displaced in 2001 from the southern department of Huila, with an 11-member family. He is now a community leader in Ciudad Bolívar, a poor suburb of Bogotá that is home to many who have fled the war.
"I like the programme a lot, but they aren't taking registrations now, and many people need it," lamented Rubiela Castro, who lives in Usme, a district in southeastern Bogotá.
(*Additional reporting contributed by Daniela Estrada in Chile, Diego Cevallos in Mexico and Helda Martínez in Bogotá. Originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)
Africa, Latin America to be short 500K tons of rice as Brazil becomes latest country to ban rice exports
Brazil has banned the export of rice over fears that a supply crunch and rising global prices could threaten food supplies at home. Reinhold Stephanes, Brazil's agriculture minister, said the move was in response to a number of other countries, mostly in Asia, who have also banned rice exports, causing an imbalance in the global rice market. The move came the same week as the World Food Programme said its budget deficit as a result of soaring food prices hit $755 million.
Original idea: stlive
Leprosorium.ru is truly a gem of Russian Internet. It’s a place where talented people meet, famous and not yet famous. It’s a unique community where users actually select their moderators through weekly elections, which mimic quite closely a real thing.
Saying a lack of the witness credibility "eviscerated the people's case," Justice Arthur J. Cooperman returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts for three detectives charged in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who was gunned down outside Club Kalua 17 months ago in a hail of NYPD bullets on the eve of his wedding.
As reporters, protesters and onlookers were assembled outside State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on Friday morning, PBA president Pat Lynch was the first to react to reporters, saying this "was a case where there is no winner and no losers, we still had a death that occurred... we still had officers who had to deal with that death." But Lynch said it sent a message to New York City police officers that says "you will get fairness" which was important to officers out on patrol because "there is never a script... we have to deal with circumstances as they come."
Calling for possible federal civil rights charges for the involved officers, Leroy Gadsden, of the Jamaica chapter of the NAACP, told WNBC Channel 4. "This is court is bankrupt when it comes to people of color."
"A week into the trial of three cops in the Sean Bell case, the prosecutors' theory that two of the cops were "acting in concert" when the bridegroom was gunned down in a hail of police bullets is striking a sour note with some observers.
For Judge Arthur Cooperman, who's hearing the case without a jury, to convict on the top counts of first- and second-degree manslaughter, he'd have to believe "that they planned it and they all had the same mind-set," says veteran defense attorney Marvyn Kornberg. "And that's ludicrous."
If anything, the prosecutors undercut their own theory during the first week of the trial by stressing the lack of planning by the accused officers' unit on the night of the shooting and the chaos that followed."
In "Guns Gone Wild," an examination of the frequency with which cops fire their weapons, and NYPD tactics in the wake of the Bell slaying, some observers questioned the efficacy of deploying details of detectives to stake out a two-bit strip club in Jamaica, Queens.
"Eugene O'Donnell, a former NYPD cop and prosecutor who is now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, calls such initiatives "overpolicing." "What are these cops doing in a strip bar in Jamaica at four in the morning listening to trash talk?" O'Donnell says. "You've got alcohol and drugs being used and then you have cops bringing firearms and deadly force into the picture. So you have trouble. . . . We've got to stop overpolicing everything."
The last time this happened, the Egyptians were
building the pyramids......
Now it is our turn....
This next month, starting tonight, is astrologically
EXTREMELY special, as the full moon will appear twice
in a row in Scorpio, an event that happens about once
every few thousand years, and even rarer in this
In some traditions, this moon is called the Buddha
Moon, and we get to experience it twice!
Once in April, once in May.
In honor of the Earth's enlightenment.......
First, the astronomy part:
Every month, the full moon comes along and sits in the
zodiac sign that is opposite where the sun is. So if
the sun is in Taurus, like it is now, the moon is in
Scorpio. If the sun were in Cancer, the moon would be
in Capricorn, etc.
So every month, the sun changes zodiac signs, and the
moon goes along with it.
But not this month. This lunar cycle takes place in
Scorpio for the next 2 full moons in a row!
Ok, but what does that mean?
Well, if you are willing to get a little witchy with
me here, Scorpio is the zodiac sign that stands at
the doorway to the unseen. That is why it is the sign
of magic (and sex too in many traditions), and mystery
So essentially, if you want to ride on the
astrological bandwagon, there is an INCREDIBLE window
open for manifestation and transmutation of energy,
since scorpio moves between realms, and can transmute
poison to nectar.
Tonight is the first full moon of the pair, and the
next one is in 28 days.
So I am inviting all my friends (and your friends) to
do a daily candlelight evening meditation to manifest
our dreams, and the kind of planet we want to be
living on globally, locally, and personally. Let's
use this window right!
The commitment, if you are in, is a 10 minute seated
meditation before bed each night. In honor of the
lunar energy, we can sit each night and call upon the
kind of world we want to see for the next 28 days till
the 2nd Scorpio moon.
The idea is:
Use the time to love the Earth and bless her (Isn't it
wonderful Earth Day falls in the midst of this
And visualize peace in the war torn places, and the
environment recovering. Literally SEE it. Visualize
lots of happy green plants!
And see our government turning around in any way you
And also see the kind of joy and love and fulfillment
you would like in your own life.
And take a moment to connect with the amazing Scorpio
full moon, the Buddha full moon of enlightenment.
This is an incredible time to work through any old
patterns that are holding us back personally and
collectively. Remember the hundredth monkey? We can
do it now....
Open to the divine light, in yourself, and in this
Honor the moths, that you might notice are everywhere
right now. The moths are the creatures of intuition
and feminine radiance. Honoring the feminine, we are
nurtured, and loved by the Goddess.
Let's invoke the Goddess together!
Any other rituals you feel inspired to create are so
welcome, and so needed at this time. Make up your
own! Invite friends!
Please pass this along to anyone you would like to
invite into the meditation train. The more of us that
participate, the stronger the energy is of what we are
Breathe love in...... Breathe love out.....
(As inspired by a conversation with Derrick Jensen)
“There’s got to be just more to it than this;
Or tell me why do we exist?”
Is the Western consumerist culture that we inflict upon the rest of the world truly the pinnacle of our evolution? If it is, I resign my membership in the human race. Though I don’t fear that I’ll be compelled to tender my resignation any time soon because our so-called “non-negotiable American Way of Life” is a piece of shit, for myriad reasons.
We in the Western “developed” nations, particularly in the United States, are an utter disgrace to our species. Our myopic, self-centered, jejune, hubristic, and benighted ways of examining and interacting with the rest of the world, including other human animals, non-human animals, and Mother Earth herself, are reprehensible to the point of nausea and beyond.
And why wouldn’t they be? We carry perceived entitlement to such pathological lengths that we actually believe that the world and all of its inhabitants are resources we can objectify and use to enhance and ensure our “prosperity,” “security,” and “the growth of our economy.” We are conditioned to believe ahistorical, manipulative and grossly distorted sound-bites streamed into our shriveled, atrophied cerebrums by well-coiffed, polished talking head sycophants who owe their careerist souls to a system that is destroying the world.
And why wouldn’t we US Americans believe that our “shining city upon the hill” is entitled to whatever our little hearts desire (and our $1 trillion per year military can plunder)? We are all living large thanks to the genocide our forefathers committed against the natives of Turtle Island. After all, who’s going to worry about a little thing like 10-100 million dead “red men?” Or the 100 million black slaves who contributed mightily (and involuntarily I might add) to the development of our economic juggernaut of a nation? I can already see the shoulders shrugging and people assuaging potential guilt with the shop-worn arguments that “we’ve more than made it up to them,” “you can’t change the past,” or “I wasn’t there when it happened.” Well, guess what. I’m not suggesting reparations or apologies. Fuck applying band-aids to gaping wounds. We are barbarians masquerading as enlightened Christian folk—we’ve even deluded ourselves into believing our shit smells like roses. How far do we go before we call a halt to our insanity?
Stocks of large marine animals have fallen 90% since 1950. The polar bears and penguins are drowning and disappearing in droves. Cattle, pigs, and chickens suffer unspeakable horrors in torture facilities euphemistically labeled factory farms mostly so we can get our “fast food fix” and destroy the world one burger at a time by eating at McDonald’s. 50% of the world’s tropical forests are gone and if present trends continue they will all be gone by 2090. A unique species of life goes extinct every 20 minutes.
Conscienceless sociopaths like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney routinely rise to the ultimate positions of power, visibility and responsibility in our nightmare society. We have already slaughtered over a million Iraqis in retaliation for the 3,000 people they DIDN’T kill on 9/11. Disproportionate scapegoating at its finest. Job well done, USA! (One shudders to think how many we would’ve killed had Iraqis been the actual perpetrators of the WTC bombings).
I wonder, dear reader, if you are wondering the same thing I’m wondering as I’m writing: Just what the fuck is wrong with us? We US Americans excel at paying lip service to worshipping Christ and/or the God of the Old Testament, but the truth is that our real god is Mammon. Even those who reject mainstream culture and its obsession with wealth and material possessions are forced to subjugate themselves to the almighty dollar in our filthy capitalist dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all system.
We fancy ourselves to have a monopoly on “freedom” and “decency.” In fact, we’ve mind-fucked ourselves into believing it is our “duty” to “civilize” the rest of the world. In reality we are wage and debt slaves who each play a role in perpetuating a system that is grossly immoral, exploitative, and malevolent. We export our evil via our blood-drenched foreign policy. “Get them before they get us” is our motto—even if we happen to be the equivalent of Mike Tyson pulverizing an infant. Hey, he might’ve attacked us when he grew up, right?
For those of us who haven’t had every shred of moral decency indoctrinated out of us, there is cause for some optimism. Like a pyramid balancing on its apex, capitalism is destined to topple. Linear, short-sighted, chaotic, grossly immoral, and dependent upon infinite growth in a finite world, it has already reached obsolescence in the minds of most intellectually honest critical thinkers. Its myriad victims have discovered perhaps its ultimate vulnerability: asymmetric warfare. In its insatiable thirst to commodify everything, capitalism is at odds with Mother Nature herself. If the victims of imperialism and monopoly capitalism don’t bring this son of a bitch down, the Earth will. And I feel confident that I speak for many when I state that the world will be truly blessed when our violent, hierarchal, and malignant culture of murder and mayhem is throttled to death like a perpetrator who finally encounters a victim with the means to eradicate him.
Meanwhile, we can accelerate the demise of the dominant culture, as Derrick Jensen has labeled our rotten-to-the-core Westernized, capitalistic way of being. As Jensen suggests, we need to build upon the culture of resistance that is rapidly expanding in the pre-revolutionary environment in which we find ourselves.
As the inevitable revolution or crash approaches (the power elite can only fuck the people or the environment so hard before the backlash takes them out), there are many things we can do (each according to our abilities and resources) to monkey wrench this merciless, murderous machine.
Students of history will note that all manner of people and activities are necessary to bring down a deeply entrenched rotten and oppressive establishment. Strikers, boycotters, organizers, thinkers, writers, spiritual leaders, protestors, civil disobedients, conscientious objectors, providers of resources, and groups engaged in direct action like the ALF are all essential to the success of resisting the considerable might and tenacity of those who hold a majority of the world’s wealth and power.
So, as Jensen suggests, find what you love and do it in such a way that it puts a little more wobble on that inverted pyramid.
And when the time comes, those of us who are clinging to our guns so bitterly will know what to do with them.
Since the press doesn't bother to ask key questions, here's an attempt to unravel the situation in Iraq.
Can there be any question that, since the invasion of 2003, Iraq has been unraveling? And here's the curious thing: Despite a lack of decent information and analysis on crucial aspects of the Iraqi catastrophe, despite the way much of the Iraq story fell off newspaper front pages and out of the TV news in the last year, despite so many reports on the "success" of the President's surge strategy, Americans sense this perfectly well. In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56% of Americans "say the United States should withdraw its military forces to avoid further casualties" and this has, as the Post notes, been a majority position since January 2007, the month that the surge was first announced. Imagine what might happen if the American public knew more about the actual state of affairs in Iraq -- and of thinking in Washington. So, here, in an attempt to unravel the situation in ever-unraveling Iraq are twelve answers to questions which should be asked far more often in this country:
1. Yes, the war has morphed into the U.S. military's worst Iraq nightmare: Few now remember, but before George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, top administration and Pentagon officials had a single overriding nightmare -- not chemical, but urban, warfare. Saddam Hussein, they feared, would lure American forces into "Fortress Baghdad," as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld labeled it. There, they would find themselves fighting block by block, especially in the warren of streets that make up the Iraqi capital's poorest districts.
When American forces actually entered Baghdad in early April 2003, however, even Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard units had put away their weapons and gone home. It took five years but, as of now, American troops are indeed fighting in the warren of streets in Sadr City, the Shiite slum of two and a half million in eastern Baghdad largely controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. The U.S. military, in fact, recently experienced its worst week of 2008 in terms of casualties, mainly in and around Baghdad. So, mission accomplished -- the worst fear of 2003 has now been realized.
2. No, there was never an exit strategy from Iraq because the Bush administration never intended to leave -- and still doesn't: Critics of the war have regularly gone after the Bush administration for its lack of planning, including its lack of an "exit strategy." In this, they miss the point. The Bush administration arrived in Iraq with four mega-bases on the drawing boards. These were meant to undergird a future American garrisoning of that country and were to house at least 30,000 American troops, as well as U.S. air power, for the indefinite future. The term used for such places wasn't "permanent base," but the more charming and euphemistic "enduring camp." (In fact, as we learned recently, the Bush administration refuses to define any American base on foreign soil anywhere on the planet, including ones in Japan for over 60 years, as permanent.) Those four monster bases in Iraq (and many others) were soon being built at the cost of multibillions and are, even today, being significantly upgraded. In October 2007, for instance, National Public Radio's defense correspondent Guy Raz visited Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, which houses about 40,000 American troops, contractors, and Defense Department civilian employees, and described it as "one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades."
These mega-bases, like "Camp Cupcake" (al-Asad Air Base), nicknamed for its amenities, are small town-sized with massive facilities, including PXs, fast-food outlets, and the latest in communications. They have largely been ignored by the American media and so have played no part in the debate about Iraq in this country, but they are the most striking on-the-ground evidence of the plans of an administration that simply never expected to leave. To this day, despite the endless talk about drawdowns and withdrawals, that hasn't changed. In fact, the latest news about secret negotiations for a future Status of Forces Agreement on the American presence in that country indicates that U.S. officials are calling for "an open-ended military presence" and "no limits on numbers of U.S. forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term U.S. security agreements with other countries."
3. Yes, the United States is still occupying Iraq (just not particularly effectively): In June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), then ruling the country, officially turned over "sovereignty" to an Iraqi government largely housed in the American-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad and the occupation officially ended. However, the day before the head of the CPA, L. Paul Bremer III, slipped out of the country without fanfare, he signed, among other degrees, Order 17, which became (and, remarkably enough, remains) the law of the land. It is still a document worth reading as it essentially granted to all occupying forces and allied private companies what, in the era of colonialism, used to be called "extraterritoriality" -- the freedom not to be in any way subject to Iraqi law or jurisdiction, ever. And so the occupation ended without ever actually ending. With 160,000 troops still in Iraq, not to speak of an unknown number of hired guns and private security contractors, the U.S. continues to occupy the country, whatever the legalities might be (including a U.N. mandate and the claim that we are part of a "coalition"). The only catch is this: As of now, the U.S. is simply the most technologically sophisticated and potentially destructive of Iraq's proliferating militias -- and outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, it is capable of controlling only the ground that its troops actually occupy at any moment.
4. Yes, the war was about oil: Oil was hardly mentioned in the mainstream media or by the administration before the invasion was launched. The President, when he spoke of Iraq's vast petroleum reserves at all, piously referred to them as the sacred "patrimony of the people of Iraq." But an administration of former energy execs -- with a National Security Advisor who once sat on the board of Chevron and had a double-hulled oil tanker, the Condoleezza Rice, named after her (until she took office), and a Vice President who was especially aware of the globe's potentially limited energy supplies -- certainly had oil reserves and energy flows on the brain. They knew, in Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's apt phrase, that Iraq was afloat on "a sea of oil" and that it sat strategically in the midst of the oil heartlands of the planet.
It wasn't a mistake that, in 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney's semi-secret Energy Task Force set itself the "task" of opening up the energy sectors of various Middle Eastern countries to "foreign investment"; or that it scrutinized "a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, together with the (non-American) oil companies scheduled to develop them"; or that, according to the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, the National Security Council directed its staff "to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 'the review of operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields'"; or that the only American troops ordered to guard buildings in Iraq, after Baghdad fell, were sent to the Oil Ministry (and the Interior Ministry, which housed Saddam Hussein's dreaded secret police); or that the first "reconstruction" contract was issued to Cheney's former firm, Halliburton, for "emergency repairs" to those patrimonial oil fields. Once in charge in Baghdad, as sociologist Michael Schwartz has made clear, the administration immediately began guiding recalcitrant Iraqis toward denationalizing and opening up their oil industry, as well as bringing in the big boys.
Though rampant insecurity has kept the Western oil giants on the sidelines, the American-shaped "Iraqi" oil law quickly became a "benchmark" of "progress" in Washington and remains a constant source of prodding and advice from American officials in Baghdad. Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan put the oil matter simply and straightforwardly in his memoir in 2007: "I am saddened," he wrote, "that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." In other words, in a variation on the old Bill Clinton campaign mantra: It's the oil, stupid. Greenspan was, unsurprisingly, roundly assaulted for the obvious naiveté of his statement, from which, when it proved inconvenient, he quickly retreated. But if this administration hadn't had oil on the brain in 2002-2003, given the importance of Iraq's reserves, Congress should have impeached the President and Vice President for that.
5. No, our new embassy in Baghdad is not an "embassy": When, for more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, you construct a complex -- regularly described as "Vatican-sized" -- of at least 20 "blast-resistant" buildings on 104 acres of prime Baghdadi real estate, with "fortified working space" and a staff of at least 1,000 (plus several thousand guards, cooks, and general factotums), when you deeply embunker it, equip it with its own electricity and water systems, its own anti-missile defense system, its own PX, and its own indoor and outdoor basketball courts, volleyball court, and indoor Olympic-size swimming pool, among other things, you haven't built an "embassy" at all. What you've constructed in the heart of the heart of another country is more than a citadel, even if it falls short of a city-state. It is, at a minimum, a monument to Bush administration dreams of domination in Iraq and in what its adherents once liked to call "the Greater Middle East."
Just about ready to open, after the normal construction mishaps in Iraq, it will constitute the living definition of diplomatic overkill. It will, according to a Senate estimate, now cost Americans $1.2 billion a year just to be "represented" in Iraq. The "embassy" is, in fact, the largest headquarters on the planet for the running of an occupation. Functionally, it is also another well-fortified enduring camp with the amenities of home. Tell that to the Shiite militiamen now mortaring the Green Zone as if it were ... enemy-occupied territory.
6. No, the Iraqi government is not a government: The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has next to no presence in Iraq beyond the Green Zone; it delivers next to no services; it has next to no ability to spend its own oil money, reconstruct the country, or do much of anything else, and it most certainly does not hold a monopoly on the instruments of violence. It has no control over the provinces of northern Iraq which operate as a near-independent Kurdish state. Non-Kurdish Iraqi troops are not even allowed on its territory. Maliki's government cannot control the largely Sunni provinces of the country, where its officials are regularly termed "the Iranians" (a reference to the heavily Shiite government's closeness to neighboring Iran) and are considered the equivalent of representatives of a foreign occupying power; and it does not control the Shiite south, where power is fragmented among the militias of ISCI (the Badr Organization), Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, and the armed adherents of the Fadila Party, a Sadrist offshoot, among others.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has been derisively nicknamed "the mayor of Kabul" for his government's lack of control over much territory outside the national capital. It would be a step forward for Maliki if he were nicknamed "the mayor of Baghdad." Right now, his troops, heavily backed by American forces, are fighting for some modest control over Shiite cities (or parts of cities) from Basra to Baghdad.
7. No, the surge is not over: Two weeks ago, amid much hoopla, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker spent two days before Congress discussing the President's surge strategy in Iraq and whether it has been a "success." But that surge -- the ground one in which an extra 30,000-plus American troops were siphoned into Baghdad and, to a lesser extent, adjoining provinces -- was by then already so over. In fact, all but about 10,000 of those troops will be home by the end of July, not because the President has had any urge for a drawdown, but, as Fred Kaplan of Slatewrote recently, "because of simple math. The five extra combat brigades, which were deployed to Iraq with the surge, each have 15-month tours of duty; the 15 months will be up in July ... and the U.S. Army and Marines have no combat brigades ready to replace them."
On the other hand, in all those days of yak, neither the general with so much more "martial bling" on his chest than any victorious World War II commander, nor the white-haired ambassador uttered a word about the surge that is ongoing -- the air surge that began in mid-2007 and has yet to end. Explain it as you will, but, with rare exceptions, American reporters in Iraq generally don't look up or more of them would have noticed that the extra air units surged into that country and the region in the last year are now being brought to bear over Iraq's cities. Today, as fighting goes on in Sadr City, American helicopters and Hellfire-missile armed Predator drones reportedly circle overhead almost constantly and air strikes of various kinds on city neighborhoods are on the rise. Yet the air surge in Iraq remains unacknowledged here and so is not a subject for discussion, debate, or consideration when it comes to our future in Iraq.
8. No, the Iraqi army will never "stand up": It can't. It's not a national army. It's not that Iraqis can't fight -- or fight bravely. Ask the Sunni insurgents. Ask the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. It's not that Iraqis are incapable of functioning in a national army. In the bitter Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, Iraqi Shiite as well as Sunni conscripts, led by a largely Sunni officer corps, fought Iranian troops fiercely in battle after pitched battle. But from Fallujah in 2004 to today, Iraqi army (and police) units, wheeled into battle (often at the behest of the Americans), have regularly broken and run, or abandoned their posts, or gone over to the other side, or, at the very least, fought poorly. In the recent offensive launched by the Maliki government in Basra, military and police units up against a single resistant militia, the Mahdi Army, deserted in sizeable numbers, while other units, when not backed by the Americans, gave poor showings. At least 1,300 troops and police (including 37 senior police officers) were recently "fired" by Maliki for dereliction of duty, while two top commanders were removed as well.
Though American training began in 2004 and, by 2005, the President was regularly talking about us "standing down" as soon as the Iraqi Army "stood up," as Charles Hanley of the Associated Press points out, "Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, free-standing Iraqi army has seemed to always slip further into the future." He adds, "In the latest shift, the Pentagon's new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when local units will take over security responsibility for Iraq. Last year's reports had forecast a transition in 2008." According to Hanley, the chief American trainer of Iraqi forces, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, now estimates that the military will not be able to guard the country's borders effectively until 2018.
No wonder. The "Iraqi military" is not in any real sense a national military at all. Its troops generally lack heavy weaponry, and it has neither a real air force nor a real navy. Its command structures are integrated into the command structure of the U.S. military, while the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy are the real Iraqi air force and navy. It is reliant on the U.S. military for much of its logistics and resupply, even after an investment of $22 billion by the American taxpayer. It represents a non-government, is riddled with recruits from Shiite militias (especially the Badr brigades), and is riven about who its enemy is (or enemies are) and why. It cannot be a "national" army because it has, in essence, nothing to stand up for.
You can count on one thing, as long as we are "training" and "advising" the Iraqi military, however many years down the line, you will read comments like this one from an American platoon sergeant, after an Iraqi front-line unit abandoned its positions in the ongoing battle for control of parts of Sadr City: "It bugs the hell out of me. We don't see any progress being made at all. We hear these guys in firefights. We know if we are not up there helping these guys out we are making very little progress."
9. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and fragmentation: The U.S. invasion and the Bush administration's initial occupation policies decisively smashed Iraq's fragile "national" sense of self. Since then, the Bush administration, a motor for chaos and fragmentation, has destroyed the national (if dictatorial) government, allowed the capital and much of the country (as well as its true patrimony of ancient historical objects and sites) to be looted, disbanded the Iraqi military, and deconstructed the national economy. Ever since, whatever the administration rhetoric, the U.S. has only presided over the further fragmentation of the country. Its military, in fact, employs a specific policy of urban fragmentation in which it regularly builds enormous concrete walls around neighborhoods, supposedly for "security" and "reconstruction," that actually cut them off from their social and economic surroundings. And, of course, Iraq has in these years been fragmented in other staggering ways with an estimated four-plus million Iraqis driven into exile abroad or turned into internal refugees.
According to Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times, there are now at least 28 different militias in the country. The longer the U.S. remains even somewhat in control, the greater the possibility of further fragmentation. Initially, the fragmentation was sectarian -- into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite regions, but each of those regions has its own potentially hostile parts and so its points of future conflict and further fragmentation. If the U.S. military spent the early years of its occupation fighting a Sunni insurgency in the name of a largely Shiite (and Kurdish) government, it is now fighting a Shiite militia, while paying and arming former Sunni insurgents, relabeled "Sons of Iraq." Iran is also clearly sending arms into a country that is, in any case, awash in weaponry. Without a real national government, Iraq has descended into a welter of militia-controlled neighborhoods, city states, and provincial or regional semi-governments. Despite all the talk of American-supported "reconciliation," Juan Cole described the present situation well at his Informed Comment blog: "Maybe the U.S. in Iraq is not the little boy with his finger in the dike. Maybe we are workers with jackhammers instructed to make the hole in the dike much more huge."
10. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and civil war: As with fragmentation, the U.S. military's presence has, in fact, been a motor for civil war in that country. The invasion and subsequent chaos, as well as punitive acts against the Sunni minority, allowed Sunni extremists, some of whom took the name "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia," to establish themselves as a force in the country for the first time. Later, U.S. military operations in both Sunni and Shiite areas regularly repressed local militias -- almost the only forces capable of bringing some semblance of security to urban neighborhoods -- opening the way for the most extreme members of the other community (Sunni suicide or car bombers and Shiite death squads) to attack. It's worth remembering that it was in the surge months of 2007, when all those extra American troops hit Baghdad neighborhoods, that many of the city's mixed or Sunni neighborhoods were most definitively "cleansed" by death squads, producing a 75-80% Shiite capital. Iraq is now embroiled in what Juan Cole has termed "three civil wars," two of which (in the south and the north) are largely beyond the reach of limited American ground forces and all of which could become far worse. The still low-level struggle between Kurds and Arabs (with the Turks hovering nearby) for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the north may be the true explosion point to come. The U.S. military sits precariously atop this mess, at best putting off to the future aspects of the present civil-war landscape, but more likely intensifying it.
11. No, al-Qaeda will not control Iraq if we leave (and neither will Iran): The latest figures tell the story. Of 658 suicide bombings globally in 2007 (more than double those of any year in the last quarter century), 542, according to the Washington Post's Robin Wright, took place in occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, mainly Iraq. In other words, the American occupation of that land has been a motor for acts of terrorism (as occupations will be). There was no al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia before the invasion and Iraq was no Afghanistan. The occupation under whatever name will continue to create "terrorists," no matter how many times the administration claims that "al-Qaeda" is on the run. With the departure of U.S. troops, it's clear that homegrown Sunni extremists (and the small number of foreign jihadis who work with them), already a minority of a minority, will more than meet their match in facing the Sunni mainstream. The Sunni Awakening Movement came into existence, in part, to deal with such self-destructive extremism (and its fantasies of a Taliban-style society) before the Americans even noticed that it was happening. When the Americans leave, "al-Qaeda" (and whatever other groups the Bush administration subsumes under that catch-all title) will undoubtedly lose much of their raison d'être or simply be crushed.
As for Iran, the moment the Bush administration finally agreed to a popular democratic vote in occupied Iraq, it ensured one thing -- that the Shiite majority would take control, which in practice meant religio-political parties that, throughout the Saddam Hussein years, had generally been close to, or in exile in, Iran. Everything the Bush administration has done since has only ensured the growth of Iranian influence among Shiite groups. This is surely meant by the Iranians as, in part, a threat/trump card, should the Bush administration launch an attack on that country. After all, crucial U.S. resupply lines from Kuwait run through areas near Iran and would assumedly be relatively easy to disrupt.
Without the U.S. military in Iraq, there can be no question that the Iranians would have real influence over the Shiite (and probably Kurdish) parts of the country. But that influence would have its distinct limits. If Iran overplayed its hand even in a rump Shiite Iraq, it would soon enough find itself facing some version of the situation that now confronts the Americans. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the Nation recently, "[D]espite Iran's enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis -- even most Iraqi Shiites -- are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the U.S. occupation and Iran's support for religious parties in Iraq." The al-Qaedan and Iranian "threats" are, at one and the same time, bogeymen used by the Bush administration to scare Americans who might favor withdrawal and, paradoxically, realities that a continued military presence only encourages.
12. Yes, some Americans were right about Iraq from the beginning (and not the pundits either): One of the strangest aspects of the recent fifth anniversary (as of every other anniversary) of the invasion of Iraq was the newspaper print space reserved for those Bush administration officials and other war supporters who were dead wrong in 2002-2003 on an endless host of Iraq-related topics. Many of them were given ample opportunity to offer their views on past failures, the "success" of the surge, future withdrawals or drawdowns, and the responsibilities of a future U.S. president in Iraq.
Noticeably missing were representatives of the group of Americans who happened to have been right from the get-go. In our country, of course, it often doesn't pay to be right. (It's seen as a sign of weakness or plain dumb luck.) I'm speaking, in this case, of the millions of people who poured into the streets to demonstrate against the coming invasion with an efflorescence of placards that said things too simpleminded (as endless pundits assured American news readers at the time) to take seriously -- like "No Blood for Oil," "Don't Trade Lives for Oil," or ""How did U.S.A's oil get under Iraq's sand?" At the time, it seemed clear to most reporters, commentators, and op-ed writers that these sign-carriers represented a crew of well-meaning know-nothings and the fact that their collective fears proved all too prescient still can't save them from that conclusion. So, in their very rightness, they were largely forgotten.
Now, as has been true for some time, a majority of Americans, another obvious bunch of know-nothings, are deluded enough to favor bringing all U.S. troops out of Iraq at a reasonable pace and relatively soon. (More than 60% of them also believe "that the conflict is not integral to the success of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.") If, on the other hand, a poll were taken of pundits and the inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia (not to speak of the officials of the Bush administration), the number of them who would want a total withdrawal from Iraq (or even see that as a reasonable goal) would undoubtedly descend near the vanishing point. When it comes to American imperial interests, most of them know better, just as so many of them did before the war began. Even advisors to candidates who theoretically want out of Iraq are hinting that a full-scale withdrawal is hardly the proper way to go.
So let me ask you a question (and you answer it): Given all of the above, given the record thus far, who is likely to be right?
[Tomdispatch recommendations: For another numbered piece on Iraq, check out Gary Kamiya's eminently sane reprise of the Ten Commandments as applied to the launching of the 2003 invasion -- to be found at Salon.com. ("Commandment I, "Thou shalt not launch preventive wars..."; Commandment VI: "Do not allow neoconservatives anywhere near Middle East policy... Special Bill Kristol Sub-commandment VI a: Stop giving these buffoons prestigious jobs on newspaper-of-record Op-Ed pages, top magazines and television shows. They have been completely and consistently wrong about everything. Must we continue to be subjected to their pontifications?"). Also let me offer a Tomdispatch bow of thanks to Cursor.org's daily "Media Patrol" column. Someone at that site with a keen eye for the less noticed but newsworthy pieces of any day (and an always splendid set of links) makes my life so much easier, when gathering material for essays like this one.]
"An amusing and yet also depressing passage to contemplate in the light of contemporary politics"
"I do not think that explicitly showing power to be abject, despicable, Ubu-esque or simply ridiculous is a way of limiting its effects and of magically dethroning the person to whom one gives the crown. Rather, it seems to me to be a way of giving a striking form of expression to the unavoidability, the inevitability of power, which can function in its full rigor and at the extreme point of its rationality even when it is effectively discredited."
--Michel Foucault, Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France, 1974-75, p. 13
Vast amounts of money are flooding the world's commodities markets, driving up prices of staple foods like wheat and rice. Biofuels and droughts can't fully explain the recent food crisis -- hedge funds and small investors bear some responsibility for global hunger.
The Philippines will take delivery of 500,000 tons of rice in May to address its shortage. But the price has been bid up by speculators.
Not long ago, Dwight Anderson welcomed reporters with open arms. He liked to entertain them with stories from the world of big money. Anderson is a New York hedge fund manager, and as recently as last October he would talk with enthusiasm about his visits to Malaysian palm-oil plantations and Brazilian grain farms. "You could clearly see how supply was getting tight," he said.In mid-2006 Anderson was touting the "extraordinary profitability" of field crops from corn to soybeans. He was convinced that rising worldwide hunger would be synonymous with highly profitable -- and dead-certain -- investment bargains.
In search of new investments, Anderson sends dozens of his employees to visit agricultural regions around the world. Back in New York, at his company's headquarters on the 27th floor of an office building high above Park Avenue, they bet on agricultural markets from Peru to Vietnam.
But in the towers above Manhattan's urban canyons, it's easy to lose touch with the ground. Hedge fund manager John Paulson was recently celebrated for achieving a record annual profit of $3.7 billion (€2.3 billion). Those who work in this environment have only one rule: Don't disappoint profit-hungry investors.
"I'm constantly wired," Anderson used to say, back when he talked to journalists. His nickname in the industry is the "Commodities King," and his Ospraie hedge fund is the world's largest. These days, though, Anderson avoids the media. He's even kept his face out of the media by buying up rights to all photos of himself on the market. His spokesman is now paid, mainly, to say nothing.
A Broken Market?
There are plenty of questions to ask Anderson, though -- in particular about the role of international investors in the current spike in the price of staple food. Not only is there talk that investors have profited from desperate hunger in Honduras, the Philippines and Bangladesh; critics also wonder if commodity speculators are making the crisis worse.
Up and away
On Tuesday in Washington, DC, a regulatory body called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission held public hearings on this very question. Farmers and food producers argued that the market was "broken," suggesting that the steep rise in the price of staple crops was hurting everyone -- farmers as well as the people they feed. "The market is broken, it's out of whack," said Billy Dunavant, head of a cotton-producing firm in the United States, at the Tuesday hearing.
Regulators on the commission warned against government intervention, and no doubt fund managers like Anderson would, too. But the crisis keeps deteriorating. India and Vietnam have imposed export bans on ordinary rice. Indonesia is following suit. According to the United Nations, North Korea is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. After unrest shook countries from Egypt and Uzbekistan to Bangladesh, thousands of South Africans took to the streets of Johannesburg last Thursday to protest high food prices. In Haiti, the prime minister was fired after riots over the price of rice.
Biofuels and global warming have been blamed for shortages driving up the price of food, and both trends have played their role. The planet's grain reserves are almost empty for a number of reasons, including global population growth and greater prosperity in some countries like India. Feed corn is in short supply because industrialized nations have used it for ethanol. Droughts -- in Australia, for example -- have devastated rice and wheat harvests. Wheat reserves worldwide are only sufficient right now to cover about 60 days of demand.
This helps to explain why commodity prices have rallied since early 2006, with the price of rice ballooning 217 percent, wheat 136 percent, corn 125 percent and soybeans 107 percent.
But classic supply and demand theory offers only a partial explanation. Sudden price hikes since last January have been alarming. The UN estimates that at least $500 million (€312 million) in immediate aid will be needed by May 1 to avoid serious famines. Agricultural scientists at the world body's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have presented a report on the world food crisis. And criticism is growing that hedge funds, index funds, pension funds and investment banks bear part of the blame.
The History of Futures
Commodity speculation spread long ago from standard products like oil and gold to anything edible and available for trade on the Chicago Futures Exchange. These days there are futures contracts for everything from wheat to oranges to pork bellies. The futures market is a traditional tool for farmers to sell their harvests ahead of time. In a futures contract, quantities, prices and delivery dates are fixed, sometimes even before crops have been planted. Futures contracts allow farmers and grain wholesalers a measure of protection against adverse weather conditions and excessive price fluctuations. They can also help a farmer plan how much to plant for a given year.
The Chicago Board of Trade is the nerve center for global futures contracts.
But now speculators are taking advantage of this mechanism. They can buy futures contracts for wheat, for example, at a low price, betting that the price will go up. If the price of the grain rises by the agreed delivery date, they profit.
Some experts now believe these investors have taken over the market, buying futures at unprecedented levels and driving up short-term prices. Since last August, this mechanism has led to a doubling in the price of rice -- including the 500,000 tons that the Philippine government plans to buy in early May to address its own shortage.
Greg Warner has worked in the grain wholesaling business for more than two decades. His office sits a block away from the Chicago Futures Exchange. He's an analyst with the firm AgResource, and he says what is happening now in the wheat market is unprecedented.
"What we normally have is a predictable group of sellers and buyers -- mainly farmers and silo operators," he says. But the landscape has changed since the influx of large index funds. Fund managers seek to maximize their profits using futures contracts, and prices, says Warner, "keep climbing up and up."
He's calculated that financial investors now hold the rights to two complete annual harvests of a type of grain traded in Chicago called "soft red winter wheat."
Wagner is stunned by such developments. He sees them as evidence that capitalism is literally consuming itself.
'It's an Election Year'
Even the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington has recognized the potentially explosive nature of the issue. For Tuesday's hearing, the commission called not just on farmers but also on representatives of investment bank Goldman Sachs and major investors like Pimco and AIG to testify. One member of the commission, Bart Chilton, backed away from regulating investors, saying, "These markets have to work for all the participants. If you don't have speculators in the markets, there's no liquidity and you don't have a market." And the editor of a commodities newsletter, Dennis Gartman, flat-out denied that speculators were to blame.
"It is an election year," he said. "To think you won't have senators and congressmen blaming high prices of things on speculators is naive."
But some basic market rules seem to have stopped working. "The enormous influx of capital has resulted in the futures markets no longer reflecting supply and demand," says Todd Kemp of the US National Grain and Feed Association. Ironically, investors have placed their wildest bets on staple foods. Information about supply bottlenecks and famines at the other end of the world is not noted on market quotations.
A commodities dealer named Christoph Eibl soberly concludes that financial managers just want to "benefit from the scarcity of these commodities." Eibl's Stuttgart-based investment firm, Tiberius, manages €1 billion ($1.6 billion). His in-house experts estimate that hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed into the futures sector as a whole within the last five years, much of it for agricultural commodities. Eibl admits the whole thing demands an "ethical discussion." Some futures traders argue that they don't cause prices to rise in the real world because as a rule they never take delivery of a given crop -- other parts of the economy control the actual street price. But futures prices affect real-world behavior (such as inventory hoarding), and Eibl says that buying futures in rice, for example, "eventually causes consumer prices to rise in developing countries like Haiti."
by Bill MachonPsychiatrist Jerald Block argues in the American Journal of Psychiatry that Internet addiction should be listed in the next version of the US handbook of recognized psychiatric addictions.
He breaks down Internet addiction into three parts - excessive gaming, pornography, and emailing/texting.He defines excessive use as being associated with loss of a sense of time, and feelings of anger and tension when a computer is unavailable, among other symptoms.He cites reasearch about web addiction in South Korea, where high schoolers spend 23 hours per week gaming online. The South Korean government considers web addiction to be one of its top health priorities. Unfortunately, research in the US has produced mostly cloudy results.
by Richard SmoleyThe latest issue of my old college literary magazine, The Harvard Advocate, appeared in my mailbox a few days ago. It contains some translations of some poems by the Dalai Lama—not the current one (the Fourteenth, or if you like the XIVth), but the Sixth. He was something of a different character, I guess, from the current occupant of the post. Although since all of the Dalai Lamas are said to be the same being, incarnations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the god of compassion, I suppose one could say that the Dalai Lama had a wild youth a few centuries back. Anyway, some samples:
If my girl could not die
there'd be no end to beer;
we'd stay in youth's haven.
In this I put my trust.
Is not my love since youth
descended from the wolves?
Once she's known skin and flesh
she bolts back to the hills.
Our tryst in the dense woods
of the southern valley
a parrot only knows,
all else are ignorant.
O parrot, please do not
repeat our secret words.
—Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama translated by Nathan Hill with Toby Fee From TheHarvard Advocate, winter 2008
Alive Mind is pleased to support Pangea Day, which is on May 10th. Join us and filmmaker Jehane Noujaim as she uses film to explore global perspectives and tell untold stories from around the world.
Starting at 18:00 GMT on May 10, 2008, locations in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro will be linked for a live program of powerful films, live music, and visionary speakers. The entire program will be broadcast – in seven languages – to millions of people worldwide through the internet, television, and mobile phones.
The 24 short films to be featured have been selected from an international competition that generated more than 2,500 submissions from over one hundred countries. The films were chosen based on their ability to inspire, transform, and allow us see the world through another person's eyes. The winning films will be announced in late April.
The program will also include a number of exceptional speakers and musical performers. Queen Noor of Jordan, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, musician/activist Bob Geldof, and Iranian rock phenom Hypernova are among those taking part.Our latest initiative is our Host a Screening Program. Do you belong to a group that is interested in women and spirituality, whether wiccan, pagan, goddess, pangaian or eco feminist? Let us know and we will send you an episode gratis from the Women and Spirituality trilogy to screen for your friends. Likewise, do you belong to a group dedicated to secularism, agnosticism or atheism? Interested in the ideas of Richard Dawkins, Colin McGinn or Daniel Dennett? Let us know and we will send you a screener of three episodes from The Atheism Tapes to show and discuss. The only thing you have to provide is the pop corn, the friends and the DVD player.And last, but not least, are two exciting new publications from Alive Mind's very own Colin McGinn and Richard Smoley. Colin’s latest book, Mindfucking, promises to be a provocative read:What I really think about religion is that the less said about it the better. I'd rather discuss almost any other topic. Debating it always leaves me feeling faintly nauseated. However, religious belief does connect with a topic that does interest me: psychological manipulation. As it happens, I have a new book (very short) coming out on it next month, called--wait for it--Mindfucking. In it I analyze this concept, just as we analytic philosophers are supposed to.Read more here...
...The view of Nature as Ruin depends in part (or half‑consciously) on the concept of a Cartesian ergo sum alone in a universe where everything else is dead matter and "animals have no soul," mere meat machines. But if the human body remains part of nature or in nature, then even a consistent materialist would have to admit that nature is not quite yet dead.Science, taking over the mythic task of religion, strives to "free" consciousness from all mortal taint. Soon we'll be posthuman enough for cloning, total prosthesis, machinic immortality. But somehow a shred of nature may remain, a plague perhaps, or the great global "accident," blind Nature's revenge, meteors from outer space, etc. – "you know the score," as William Burroughs used to say.Taking the long view (and allowing for noble exceptions) science does precisely what State and Capital demand of it:-make war, make money. "Pure" science is allowed only because it might lead to technologies of death and profit-and this was just as true for the old alchemists who mutated into Isaac Newton, as for the new physicists who ripped open the structure of matter itself. Even medicine (seemingly the most altruistic of sciences) advances and progresses primarily in order to increase productivity of workers and generate a world of healthy consumers....This article is excerpted from Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford, and Kevin Townley, with an introduction by Zia Inayat-Khan. Publisher Lindisfarne books (www.lindisfarne.org)
The cell phone industry mobilized its behemoth defense machine calling the study a select view of existing literature. This meant that his conclusions were not in line with all the studies the industry has been funding around the world called INTERPHONE. Indeed, a casual look through Pub Med and you will see study after study refuting a link between cell phone use and brain tumors. The cell phone industry has excelled.......by Byron Richards, CCN
"I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN LITERATURE AND ITS NAME IS ROB BREZSNY."
--TOM ROBBINS(author of Another Roadside Attraction, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All, and Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates) "The Televisionary Oracle is a book so weird it might drive you stark raving sane." --Robert Anton Wilson "Like a mutant love-child of Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin, Rob Brezsny writes with devilish humor, spiritual audacity, and erotic intensity. The Televisionary Oracle is a kick-ass gnostic tale. Prepare to be astonished." --Jay Kinney (author, Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions There are two main protagonists in THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE, a male named Rockstar and a female named Rapunzel Blavatsky. One-third of the chapters are narrated by Rockstar in the first-person, and another one-third of the chapters are narrated by Rapunzel in the third person. The rest of the chapters are "Televisionary Oracles" -- programs broadcast by a sacred infotainment cabal which resembles what the television industry might be if it were a source of wisdom, integrity, and blessings instead of propaganda, degradation, and junk food for thought. Rockstar is an aging rock star who has been plugging away at his trade for 20 years with very modest success. He's a legend in his own mind, a fiery bard who leads his band in pagan rituals disguised as rock and roll shows. The story that Rockstar tells revolves around his encounter with Rapunzel Blavatsky. It seems that she and her gang intend to begin initiating certain selected men -- maybe even him -- into the mysteries of menstruation. Rapunzel is the chief shamanatrix of a Goddess-inflamed mystery school called the Menstrual Temple of the Funky Grail. She might be the pranksterish reincarnation of Mary Magdalene and the time-traveling possessor of a ten-million-year-old television -- or else maybe just a foxy, jive-talking babe with delusions of grandeur. Her goal? To "kill the apocalypse" in the most enjoyable ways possible. To accomplish this noble aim, Rapunzel and her crew employ countless tricks that reside on the borderline between wacky performance art and sacred, kick-ass rituals. Given her high-concept mission, Rapunzel might be expected to cast herself in the role of an intellectual femme fatale. And yet her thoughtful, tender narrative reveals her to be anything but that. Compassionate, humble, lyrical in her drive to live a life that is both moral and beautiful, she is a lovable mystery. And what about those "Televisionary Oracles"? Any more hints about them? Let's just say that they're love spells designed to aid readers in debugging the black magic they've inadvertently practiced on themselves. * NOW FOR THE Q & A QUESTION. Rumor has it that the original title of your book was A Feminist Man's Guide to Picking Up Women. Is the material that tempted you to use that title still in the text? ANSWER. A lot of it, yes. As the widely published witch Starhawk commented, "This book effectively poses the question, 'Can a really horny guy achieve feminist consciousness'"? One of my goals was to create a character who embodies all the most beautiful and positive aspects of lusty virility while at the same time being a sensitive nurturer with a deep respect and reverence for women. In other words, a macho feminist. QUESTION. What do you mean when you talk about the "genocide of the imagination"? ANSWER. The word "imagination" doesn't get much respect. For many people, it connotes "make-believe," the province of children and artists. But I believe the imagination is the most important asset we all possess; it's the power to form mental pictures of things that don't exist yet. As such, it's what we use to shape our future. That's why it's so disturbing to realize that the imagination is increasingly becoming a vestigial organ. It's being pummeled into dysfunction by the numbing onslaught of generic and nihilistic images that endlessly flood from the mass media. How can you generate your own images or ask your own questions if your mind's eye is swarming with dazzling yet inane creations crafted by news and entertainment companies that possess what amounts to sleek multimillion-dollar propaganda machines? To get a sense of the growing devastation, wander around a grade school at recess. Kids' conversations will overflow with the regurgitation of stories that have been blast-furnaced into their sensitive psyches by movies, TV shows, and video games. QUESTION. Short of a medical textbook, there's probably never been a book written by a man that has dealt so extensively with the subject of menstruation. Do you have some weird fetish? ANSWER. While I am probably more at ease with actual physical menstruation than any man I know, my primary interest is in its poetic and mythic meanings. For instance, I sincerely believe that everyone, men and women alike, would reap lush rewards by honoring the menstrual cycle and dropping out of the frenetic routine for four days every month. The menstrual huts of indigenous culture were a recognition of this profound human need. They honored the value of regular escapes. QUESTION. Why is it so important to the future of daffodils and sea urchins and the jet stream, as you assert in your book, that childbirth be shown regularly in prime time? ANSWER. Giving people constant graphic reminders of the single most astounding act of creation is one of the best ways to kill the apocalypse. Keep in mind how well-hidden it is now. Compared to the easy availability of televised murders and porn on the Internet, the mysterious miracle of a child being born is an invisible taboo. QUESTION. Is your coinage of "killing the apocalypse" meant to sound like a joke? ANSWER. You make it seem like that would be a bad thing. My philosophy holds that one of the most effective weapons against evil is humor. That's why all the major religions are useless to me: At best they all regard laughter as irrelevant to the spiritual quest, whereas I give it a central place. QUESTION. But how can you "kill" the apocalypse without reinforcing the very hateful, adversarial attitudes that contribute to the possibility of apocalypse? ANSWER. You're neglecting to state the principle in its fullness. The point is to kill the apocalypse with love and beauty and truth. QUESTION. Everyone has a secret agenda. What's yours? ANSWER. To show what a moral vision would look like if it were rooted in the quest for beauty, truth, love, pleasure, and liberation instead of order, control, politeness, fear, and self-denial.
[Thanks to cent for the link]
Soaring food prices are a "massacre" of the world's poor and are creating a global nutritional crisis, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday, calling it a sign that capitalism is in decline.
His comments came only hours after the United Nations' World Food Program called more expensive food a "silent tsunami" that threatens to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger.
by Antonio Lopez...Yes, we can... but what? What is it that we can do? Propel another media creature into the White House? Have hope, change... I'm sorry but these are the most hollow and meaningless words to pervade politics since the invention of television. They are no more substantial than a product claiming it is "30% more free."
Obama strikes me as the perfect PoMo politician. As a chameleon he can be many things to many people. In "Yes, We Can!" he is clearly invoking the rhetorical style of MLK. Yet this is populism without the populous, i.e. a "movement." Yes, Obama is a big phenom among certain enthusiastic throngs, but every time I examine his views, it's like poking the Pillsbury Doughboy-- my finger just moves the fat around while he giggles in response. Obama is still an organ of corporate lobbyists and fails to challenge in any fundamental way the entrenched militarism of our system. So yes, he is very good at cribbing style, and with Will.i.am at the helm, style is in abundance. Obama has found a perfect partner for the manufacture of slick imagery and corporate pseudo culture (for more on Black Eyed Peas and selling out hip hop to Snickers, read this post).
So I believe we can say it's official: the "Yes, We Can!" Will.i.am-produced celebrity Obama love fest is viral, and since the video link landed in my inbox five different times in one day I figure it requires a response.
With so many good vibes and celebrity endorsements in one impressive eyeful should we let the images and words bubble through us like the temporary elation of a pill or cocktail? Makes one wonder if feeling good is all that is left of the Democratic platform.
The video itself is a quintessential artifact of the postmodern political system in which images are the map, and there is little left of the policy territory to explore. Politics have been reduced to toothpaste slogans, and this is certainly a clever one. The "Yes, We Can!" incantation rifts the Latin American protest chant, "Si, Se Puede!," and is not unlike Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" jingle-- yes it sounds great and meaningful, yet when you scratch the surface there is no there there (I don't mean to harp on my fave act PE, but as a media literacy dude I have to call it like it is). After watching the video, I'm still starved for meaning.
A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a "voiceless" phone call for the first time.
With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.
Users needn't worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires "a level above thinking". Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.
"I can still talk verbally at the same time," Callahan told New Scientist. "We can differentiate between when you want to talk silently, and when you want to talk out loud." That could be useful in certain situations, he says, for example when making a private call while out in public.
The system demonstrated at the TI conference can recognise only a limited set of about 150 words and phrases, says Callahan, who likens this to the early days of speech recognition software.
At the end of the year Ambient plans to release an improved version, without a vocabulary limit. Instead of recognising whole words or phrases, it should identify the individual phonemes that make up complete words.
This version will be slower, because users will need to build up what they want to say one phoneme at a time, but it will let them say whatever they want. The phoneme-based system will be aimed at people who have lost the ability to speak due to neurological diseases like ALS – also known as motor neurone disease.
The world's first "voiceless" phone call took place thanks to a neckband that converts nerve impulses into speech (footage courtesy Texas Instruments)
A Manifesto Plagiarizing and Expanding the Visions of Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose.
There are three types of poets: ordinary poets, great poets and seer-poets. Ordinary poets grow like mushrooms in infinite number. As most of us know, the great poets are few and far between and are also known as “born poets.” But as we will come to realize, the seer-poets are of the supreme heights. A seer is one who envisions the past, the present and the future… all at once.
True integral poets, by default, are required to be seer poets. Without an overhauling or evolving of our rationally-based languages by adding at the very least a series of numerical superscripts to nouns such as “God,” this dictum will be the umbrella for the next (and dare I say final) stage of poetry.
The integral poet must recognize perspectives, write about states and point to the moon. He or she must willingly compose koans for the good of the twenty-first century.
Not all seer poets must be, or are, integral. But as of today, all true integral poets must be, and are, seers.
An integral poet has four very special names: yesterday's delight-seeker, today's delight-seer, tomorrow's delight-harbinger; and finally, of course, (my favorite) the Ground of all names: Infinity’s Delight.
At this point in history, one lucky enough to be an integral poet should never compromise (or even be asked to compromise). He or she is the manifestation of All things from the Experience of the carnal reptilian brainstem to high and higher vision-logic Illumination. If one compromises this interpretive structure, he or she instantly becomes the manifestation of a blind prophet. Which is (with all due respect) their right. But it can also be viewed as a travesty.
An integral poet (no matter the poetic forms he or she utilizes) MUST, first and foremost, currently be operating in the world-space of an integral consciousness.
In so doing he or she will no longer be completely satiated with the performative contradiction, “There is no such thing as truth.”
In so doing, he or she will no longer be completely satiated with the post-modern poet Charles Olson’s advice of jumping from perception to perception.
In so doing, he or she will no longer be completely satiated with the “first-tier” battle for dominance; but rather will embrace all previous modalities while being the North Star for evolution.
In so doing, he or she will no longer be completely satiated with form as an extension of content. The integral poet will see content as an extension of form.
In so doing, he or she will purposely evoke a trio of crucial realizations (usually in this order):
Number One: It is the poet and the poetry.
Number Two: We are the poet and the poetry.
And, finally, Number Three: I am the poet and the poetry.
The integral poet is interested in complex coherence and achieves this by nurturing a diversity of perspectives.
Which leads me to this:
Integral poetry has five very special names:
Number 1: Aspiration-heart
Number 2: Inspiration-mind
Number 3: Confrontation-life
Number 4: Meditation-soul
And Number 5: Divination-Spirit
God wants to have a very, very special garden of Her own. She is asking Her integral poets to be the gardeners. She is also asking that integral poets create a garden as beautiful as possible and, at the same time, as inclusive as possible.
The integral poet will devotedly ask God if there is any esoteric purpose for the garden to be more than tolerant, more than relative, and more than beautiful.
God will respond to Her newly appointed poet-gardeners, "What is integral poetry, if not a description of My real Beauty? Do you not recall the English poet John Keats' immortal utterance: 'A thing of Beauty is a Joy forever'? Beauty and Infinity are inseparable. I want to reveal the Infinity that I am through the finite that I equally am. Therefore, I am asking you to make Me a garden of beauty unfathomable. And with a depth unsurpassable."
God will further say to Her integral poets, "My sons and daughters, once you have accomplished your task to My Satisfaction, I shall entrust you with another task. You will then be the supreme semioticians in My garden. Infinity's Beauty-lovers from the four corners of the globe shall visit and drink deeply while simultaneously realizing that they ARE the beauty of this infinite garden that all of us have created... together."
Most poetry, since the turn of the 20th century, has been written under the mantra “Art for Art’s sake.” Although commendable, this mind-set has lead the world of poetry and art to a stagnant, and now unremarkable, pool of irony.
I offer a response in the form of a letter.
Dear postmodern and contemporary artists of the world:
To cut to the chase: You’re trying too hard.
Most of you seem to be dead set on becoming the next “mad genius.”
And it’s obvious.
And it’s tiring.
And, quite frankly, it’s now cliché.
When art becomes enamored with itself, it can become a form of masturbation.
And, at this point and time, most art and poetry accepted by the establishment is just playing with itself.
After nearly fifty years of little more than a series of tired translations, it’s high time for a group of integral artists to transcend and include the trendiness of self-deconstruction and call for (dare I say demand) the necessities of a global transformation.
May I be so bold as to offer a couple new mantras for the 21st century?
Here’s the first: Art for Spirit’s Sake.
Do you like it?
If so, I offer the second: Sanity is the new Crazy.
Here’s a sonnet from Suicide Dictionary written while under the spell of this mantra:
"Paradise is sleeping with jungles and stars,
It feels with two hands and a mind like your own;
It dives into Shadows and fuses with Scars,
Then centers the axis of Shadow to Bone.
These Luminous Pipers are silent but Loud,
Their song is concrete yet transparent to sight;
Content with non-dual even One is a crowd,
Yet structures are Perfect Eternal Delight.
This Portal is present and never will veer,
It’s moving with you as you’re reading this page;
No angels are winking or Rational jeers,
Just Beautiful Sanity living with change.
Nirvana is seeping through shapes made of ink,
These Statues were dead…
but then suddenly blink."
Although it may not appear so, I’m writing to you with the utmost compassion.
I keep hearing Ezra Pounds’ tortured scream from Canto CXVI: “I cannot make it cohere. I cannot make it cohere. I cannot make it cohere.” Which is, of course, the same plea from Eliot’s "Wasteland" as he sings his pains on the fragmented nature of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
Postmodern artists of the world, I’m here to help. And I assure you there is now a way to make it cohere. Or at least come closer than we’ve been for a very long time.
Hope all is well.
Ten personal statements.
1. Integral poetry I write with a technique of placing “the best words in the best order.”
2. Integral poetry I write with a technique of composing in the sequence of the musical phrase and, at times, in the sequence of the metronome.
3. Integral poetry I write to transcend the famous maxim, “No ideas but in things.”
4. Integral poetry I write to lighten your mind and enlighten your heart. It is shared between us so that you may lighten my mind and enlighten my heart. It is read to each of us lightening our hearts and enlightening our minds.
5. Integral poetry I write to replace your heart's sorrow with your soul's ecstasy. It is shared between us so that you may replace my heart’s sorrow with my soul’s ecstasy.
6. Integral poetry I write to transform your human mind-jungle into a divine heart-garden. It is read to each of us transforming our human mind-jungle into the Way of the Heart.
7. Integral poetry I write to fathom my own inner worlds and to scale my own higher worlds.
8. Integral poetry I write to see and feel Divinity's Beauty inside the heart of humanity.
9. Integral poetry I write to watch the hide-and-seek of my heart's tearing tears and my soul's blossoming smiles.
10. Integral poetry I write as a means of riding the wave of evolution.
Which leads us to this:
Mystical poetry, for the most part, has pointed to the Heart infinitely more than it preached to the mind.
True integral poetry will point to the Heart AND the mind… while attaching to neither.
Image: "Recycled Poetry," by pupski on Flickr, used through a Creative Commons license.
Michael Fox, freelance journalist based in Latin America. He joins us on the telephone from the Paraguayan capital Asunción, where is he reporting for Free Speech Radio News and Upside Down World.
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: A former Catholic priest once known as the Bishop of the Poor has been elected president. Fernando Lugo will be the first Paraguayan president since 1946 not to be from the conservative Colorado Party. Lugo won 41 percent of the vote, beating Blanca Ovelar, who received 31 percent. Lugo has pledged to crack down on corruption and channel Paraguay’s wealth into social programs.
PRESIDENT-ELECT FERNANDO LUGO: [translated] May we never again, in the political class of Paraguay, never again base our politics on clientism and enticements, because it has done so much to damage our national politics.
AMY GOODMAN: Lugo’s win ends more than six decades of one-party rule in Paraguay. Election officials said Sunday’s voting had the highest turnout, about 66 percent, of any presidential election since 1993.
Lugo is the first bishop ever to become president of a country. Both Paraguay and the Vatican ban clergy from seeking political office, so Lugo resigned in December 2006. Lugo says he was influenced by the liberation theology of the ’60s. He told the Associated Press he would not move to the presidential palace, remaining instead in his modest house in a middle-class suburb. He said the first lady would be his eldest sister.
Washington has signaled a willingness to work with Lugo and hailed his election as a “step forward” in Paraguay, but a State Department official told the Los Angeles Times his victory had left Washington worried about its waning influence in Latin America.
In a pre-election interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lugo noted Washington’s sometimes-contradictory role in Latin America, saying, “The United States…has sustained the great dictatorships, but afterward lifted the banner of democracy.” He went on to say Washington must acknowledge a new scenario in which Latin American governments “won’t accept any type of intervention from any country, no matter how big it is.”
For more, we turn to Michael Fox, a freelance journalist based in Latin America, joining us now on the telephone from the Paraguayan capital Asunción, where is he reporting for Free Speech Radio News and Upside Down World.
We welcome you, Michael Fox, to Democracy Now!. Talk about the significance and the background of the priest who has won the presidency.
MICHAEL FOX: You know, this is—it’s one of these really, really amazing moments here in Paraguay. Before I go onto Lugo, I just want to kind of put this into perspective. For listeners, imagine—it’s almost as if, for many Lugo supporters, as if the dictatorship, from the longtime Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship that fell in 1989, is finally coming to an end, because in 1989, when Stroessner fell, basically it was just a kind of a party share, the powers passed over to the Colorado Party, and they’ve been in power until now. So, literally, I was in the streets for the victory celebration just a few nights ago, and, you know, grandmothers, ages sixty, sixty-two, sixty-three, saying, “This is the first time in my life, you know, we’re actually—we’ve won. We can’t even believe that we’ve won. This is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Lugo is one of these people that’s kind of just jumped onto the political scene. As you said, Amy, he’s, you know, the Bishop of the Poor. He worked for many years in San Pedro, which is the northernmost and poorest province of Paraguay, working with campesino movements and in indigenous communities. He kind of came on the scene about a year and a half ago, and it’s been this movement of social movements, campesinos, political parties, that’s kind of all joined together and really supported his campaign. And it’s been extremely powerful, and people across Asunción are—you know, can’t believe he actually won.
AMY GOODMAN: How did he win?
MICHAEL FOX: He—do you mean the numbers, or how did he—how was he able to achieve his victory?
AMY GOODMAN: How—I mean, how did he come on the political scene, and what was—how did he campaign around the country? What are the major issues that he addressed?
MICHAEL FOX: Excellent. He came on the political scene about a year and a half ago. The current president, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, had done something that was unconstitutional to the constitution. He had, you know, tried to make himself party president of the Colorado Party, the longtime, longstanding Colorado Party, which he was able to do. So you basically have this kind of instantaneous large grassroots mobilization against that that came out on the streets. And this was the first time that Lugo spoke. He was always supporting grassroots social moments, but this was the first time that he was the main speaker at this event.
From there on out, you had a number of different grassroots social movements, this movement Tekojoja, which is a movement that kind of grew out of that moment, and they began to support the idea that he might actually run for president, without any possibility or ever thinking that they would actually win. He began to travel around the country, and really it kind of just brought together all of this support and all of the resignation that people had against the Colorado Party.
The Colorado Party has been in control, you know, as you mentioned, for sixty-one years. Its hundreds of thousands of representatives are members of the Colorado Party. And essentially, if you wanted before—now Lugo’s in office—but if you wanted to do anything in office, if you wanted to be an office member, you had to be a member of the Colorado Party. They essentially—it was a one—you know, it was a unilateral state.
And so, obviously, whether it’s from the left or to the right, people really kind of came out, and they said, “You know what? We want change.” And that’s why they decided to go for Lugo. The campaign, obviously, against Lugo, in terms of the fear campaign, was extremely strong. You had Nicanor Duarte Frutos who was, you know, calling out and saying that Venezuela was getting involved and that destabilizers from Venezuela were going to come here and destabilize the elections and what not. But in the end, he was victorious. And it’s really a—it could create huge change here in Paraguay.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Fox, some say Iraq saved Latin America, that with the Bush administration’s focus on Iraq, that the Latin American governments have much more reflected the base, the people in their countries, rather than pressure from the United States. Can you talk about the leftward shift of the governments of Latin America and how Father Lugo, the priest, now president, fits into that?
MICHAEL FOX: You know, it’s really interesting, and Amy, I’m glad you brought this point up, because across Latin America you have had this huge leftward shift. I mean, some of them, it’s more progressive, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, who, you know, are trying to create the new constitutions. They’re really trying to bring power and give power down to the base and flip the whole system upside-down. Now, you have other countries, like Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay, who are more kind of liberal democrat, but still on the left.
You know, it’s really difficult to say exactly where Lugo is going to stand. Paraguay itself is extremely, extremely important within the whole geopolitical structure of Latin America. Why? Because it’s just on the southern border of Bolivia, it’s on the western border of Brazil, the northern border of Argentina, it’s very close to Uruguay. It’s kind of the center of what is Latin America. And especially within the past couple of years, there was reports that came out a couple years ago that the United Staets was sending—had sent 500 troops to a military base here close to the Bolivian border. Now, it’s difficult to say what in these—what these changes—what will actually happen once Lugo comes into power on August 15th, whether, you know, he’ll follow along more in the lines of the footsteps of Hugo Chavez or whether he’ll line up a little bit more with Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay.
Regardless, geopolitically speaking, it’s a huge victory and especially really interesting for this country of, you know, six million people. You’re talking about a country almost the size of California, that’s tiny. And the people here, they’re not used to having—being inundated by international press. There’s like a hundred press agencies that sent people down here for the elections. And so, really, this is a huge win for the left in Latin America, and it’s going to be interesting to see how things develop in the coming months.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Fox, I want to thank you for joining us from Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, where the priest, Father Lugo, has now won the presidency, reporting for Free Speech Radio News and Upside Down World.
SN&R connected with Eugene, Oregon-based green anarchist John Zerzan for his take on modern society and mainstream environmentalism. Zerzan is a preeminent writer on anti-civilization, anarchist theory. He serves on the editorial collective of Green Anarchy, a biannual journal, and travels the world speaking with others committed to breaking down all forms of domination and moving toward a radically decentralized existence in the quest for liberation and freedom.
In terms of ecological defense, why is civilization the enemy?
You’ve got to go back that far to see the roots of the present crisis. Go back to domestication. As the late author Paul Shepard said, we’re talking about things like nanotechnology and genetic engineering and cloning that begins with agriculture. It’s implicit in the first step. Worsening environmental degradation stems from that shift to control—the domesticating move where nature becomes an object to be manipulated and dominated. So that’s getting back to a fundamental, primary motor. Oswald Spengler, a person of the right, a rather horrid person I would say, said civilization means ultimately nature’s a graveyard because it just marches forward. Or as German philosopher Martin Heidegger put it, all of nature is just the raw material for technology; it’s something to be used up. If you’re not looking at the mainspring, you’re only operating on the surface.
Is this why green anarchists criticize technology?
Technology, a lot of which is clean and shiny and looks nice on the shelf has, you might say, blood on it. It comes from the systematic use of nature as the raw materials for technology. Technology doesn’t fall from the skies. It comes from the existence of mines and smelters and assembly lines. The dominant idea the system gives us is, yes, there’s a crisis, but technology will come up with a solution. We see it as part of the problem. Technology keeps creating the problem, and then it comes around to say more technology will be the answer. We think that’s a false claim.
Should we just throw out mainstream environmentalism completely, or is there anything about it that works?
Mainstream environmentalism does not approach the problem with any depth. You’ve got Sierra Club’s Sierra magazine, the back cover is always Toyota advertisements. That’s really unbelievable. You can’t be environmentalists, in our view anyway, and say big auto companies are just great. That doesn’t make sense. We feel there are a lot of very sincere, well-meaning people in the mainstream environmental milieu. But we’re not going to get anywhere unless we use a different model instead of just hoping we’ll patch up this one. Just let it go. Al Gore says change your light bulbs, but that’s ridiculous. Even if everyone did everything he said, it would be a minor part. It’s not so much an individual, consumer choice as it is a much deeper institutional choice. Do you want a world of mass production, which devours everything and just hope for the best somehow when you can see it’s only getting worse, or do you want to try some different way?
COURTESY OF JOHN ZERZAN
How does green anarchy move beyond a human-centered outlook and lifestyle to a biocentric one?
Well, that’s the whole thing. How do we break our dependency on all these domesticated features that we’ve become accustomed to? When we talk about reconnecting with the Earth, that’s a practical challenge: How do you do that in a real way and not just in terms of ideas of critiques? And that’s a matter of looking to what techniques and tools we can use. For example, with food, there are people working with permaculture: What do they eat? What is their relationship to the actual landscape? These people are moving away from domestication. People ask what do green anarchists offer cities?—and nothing, in a sense, because ultimately we don’t think cities are tenable. I just came back from Istanbul, and you’re looking at 15 million people living in tower blocks. They’re going to be dead in about two days if the whole system crashes. We’ve got to start this movement outside or away from these artificial situations where people have no autonomy, no skills to feed themselves.
Does that relate to the anarchist idea of “primitive-future?”
If we’re going to have a future, it’ll have to be primitive to stop destroying the Earth, some kind of return to community. I’ve been writing about social dislocation and what’s been happening with society as much as with the environment, because I think that gets at the core. What we are now seeing in the most developed, most technological countries, such as this one, are these mass shootings—school shootings, mall shootings—this is really scary, this is really pathological. It’s what you get when society becomes technology and not much else. It becomes empty and meaningless and desolate and you start having people that are so nihilistic they don’t even care about life anymore. I don’t think it’s just outer nature, I think it’s our inner nature too that is having such a bad time. I’ve got grandkids, and I wonder what kind of world they’re going to live in. What have we become?
Do you find hope in any of this?
In a strange way, I’m optimistic because I think there can be a wonderful change—a big shift that’s going to come because the system doesn’t have any answers, and we can see there’s no future sticking with this, so there’s a good chance for people to get together and figure out something better.
Anarchists promote direct action over mediated or symbolic forms of resistance. What are some actions you encourage?
I’m not averse to saying I think direct action is a good thing. Damage to property, not violence against people. Things in the streets, like in Seattle in 1999, really got people’s attention. The Earth Liberation Front, when they commit arson, it draws people’s attention to just how bad it’s getting and to take up arms—and I don’t mean against people. They’ve never injured anyone—and go after these targets. We literally mean direct action, and we’ve got friends in prison because of it. Like the war [protests], there are a lot of good people in the streets but it hasn’t meant anything, the killing goes on. Maybe you’ve got to do something more than that. Maybe you’ve got to start blocking the streets. Personally, I would say it’s a dialogue in society; if that gets going, there’s huge potential. And self-sufficiency makes people stronger. If you’re vulnerable, you can’t oppose things very well, you can’t stick your neck out so far. If we’re better situated, we can be a more vigorous voice.
What is meant by a green anarchy revolution?
We don’t really use the word ‘revolution’ because we feel that’s an outdated model that hasn’t worked. But I know what you mean—what would be the turning point or big social momentum? I think that would be a critical questioning of everything and removing the things that cause the problems. So this is not a political revolution really, but a much deeper one.
ASUNCIÓN, Apr 20
Former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo was elected president in a landslide victory Sunday in Paraguay, putting an end to 61 years of rule by the Colorado Party.
With 52 percent of the ballots counted, the presidential candidate of the centre-left Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC) took 40 percent of the vote against the 31 percent garnered by governing party candidate Blanca Ovelar, who ceded defeat.
Five exit polls had previously indicated that Lugo, known as "the bishop of the poor", was three to six percentage points ahead of Ovelar, the first-ever female presidential candidate of the National Republican Alliance, better known as the Colorado Party.
"We have written a new page in the political history of our nation, and I hope we can all celebrate together," Lugo said in a press conference, although without declaring himself the winner.
"We are convinced that the people of Paraguay have a right to better conditions. We have felt it in the pain and the tears of so many mothers, the disenchantment of so many young people and the suffering of so many children," he said.
"I call on the political class as a whole to stake their bets on the country, which was once great, and which we believe will be again," he added.
Despite fears of fraud and possible disturbances, the elections went smoothly, with the exception of a few isolated incidents, according to local authorities and international election observers.
Because of Paraguay’s lengthy history of dictatorships, coups d’etat and election irregularities, hundreds of international observers were in Paraguay for Sunday’s election, including delegations from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), whose mission was led by former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana.
"The panorama is one of complete normality, with a few minor incidents. The high turnout was outstanding. I congratulate the people of Paraguay for their civic spirit," said former Colombian foreign minister María Emma Mejía, head of the OAS delegation.
The initial estimates point to 75 percent turnout in Sunday’s polls, in which voters elected a new president and vice president, 45 senators, 80 members of the lower house, 17 governors, 214 provincial lawmakers, and 18 members of the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) Parliament.
Scuffles broke out in a few polling stations between members of the Colorado party and supporters of the opposition, leading to intervention by the police and prosecutors. However, no serious violence was reported.
The only irregularities were a few polling stations that opened late, reports of several people who tried to vote twice, and violations of the ban on publishing poll results.
But the Supreme Electoral Court reported that the system functioned perfectly, in a climate of "total normality."
Lugo, who left the priesthood in 2006 to launch his political career, emerged from APC campaign headquarters with a Paraguayan flag wrapped around his shoulders, giving a double thumbs-up.
He told his loudly cheering supporters: "This is the Paraguay I dream of, of many faces and many colours" -- an allusion to the coalition that backed his candidacy, made up of 10 political parties and 20 social organisations, trade unions and small farmers’ associations.
Thousands of Paraguayans filled the central avenue of Asunción Sunday night to celebrate the fall of the Colorado Party, which has governed Paraguay for six decades, including 35 years of dictatorship under General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989), who died in Brazil in 2006.
Even before Ovelar acknowledged defeat, voices within the Colorado Party began to speak of the need to "renew" the party.
The most biting remarks came from former vice president Luis Castiglioni, who claimed to be the victim of fraud when he lost the Colorado primaries to Ovelar in December 2006.
After casting his ballot, Castiglioni said that "after tonight, Vanguardia Colorada (his faction) has become the real Colorado Party."
He said the people had evolved more than the party leadership. "People want us to care about their lives," he said.
"Many politickers live well and concentrate on accumulating fortunes," he said. "That happens especially in my party, which suffers from a serious infection. With the help of honest people, we are going to cure the ANR."
In response to Castiglioni’s remarks, the president of the Colorado Party, José Alberto Alderete, who is close to President Nicanor Duarte, commented angrily to the press that the party’s conduct tribunal would study the measures to be taken against the former vice president.
Yesterday, the New York Times exposed a secret Pentagon campaign to infiltrate the media with pro-war propaganda.
The scheme reaches all the way to the Bush White House, where top officials recruited dozens of "military analysts" to spread favorable views of the war via every major news channel -- without revealing they were working from Pentagon scripts and often lobbying for major military contractors.
Spreading "covert propaganda" is illegal under federal law. Congress must investigate these military pundits and their ties to the Bush administration, defense contractors and our national news media.
Signing this letter does work. If we can get 50,000 people to join this call to Congress, they will likely take action to stop government propaganda.
The more than 75 analysts exposed by the New York Times have become fixtures of war coverage on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. The front-page article reveals the many ways that the Pentagon fed them pro-war talking points and misinformation. The White House even has a name for these covert propagandists: “message force multipliers.”
The pundits trade on their access to the media and the White House to secure high-paying jobs as lobbyists, consultants and contractors -- vying for hundreds of billions of dollars in military business generated by the war.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEApril 18, 200812:46 PMCONTACT: Americans for Safe AccessASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson (510) 388-0546HR 5842 would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state lawsWASHINGTON, DC - April 18 - Congressional Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the "Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act," HR 5842, yesterday, a bill co-sponsored by Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Ron Paul (R-TX). The act would change federal policy on medical marijuana in a number of ways. Specifically, HR 5842 would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug, which cannot be prescribed, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize the medical value of marijuana and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program.Similar versions of HR 5842 have been introduced in prior Congressional terms, but have never made it out of committee. "It's time that the federal government take this issue seriously," said Caren Woodson, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy group working with Mr. Frank and other Members of Congress to change federal policy. "By disregarding marijuana's medical efficacy, and undermining efforts to implement state laws, the federal government is willfully placing hundreds of thousands of sick Americans in harms way." In addition to rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), HR 5842 would provide protection from the CSA and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for qualified patients and caregivers in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Specifically, the act prevents the CSA and FDCA from prohibiting or restricting: (1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana for medical use, (2) an individual from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, manufacturing, or using marijuana in accordance with their state law, (3) an individual authorized under State law from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, or manufacturing marijuana on behalf of an authorized patient, or (4) an entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such authorized patients.In December, U.S. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers stated publicly his concern about the tactics being used by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and promised oversight hearings. Since then, several California mayors have written to Conyers expressing their support for hearings, including the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood, and Santa Cruz. Opposition to federal interference in state medical marijuana laws has also come from multiple city councils, members of the California Board of Equalization and the state legislature, as well as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.Further information:Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 5842: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/HR5842.pdfASA Fact Sheet on the Escalation of Harmful DEA Tactics: http://americansforsafeaccessnow.org/downloads/dea_escalation.pdfDecember 2007 Statement by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers: http://judiciary.house.gov/newscenter.aspx?A=889Letter from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to Conyers: http://www.americansforsafeaccessnow.org/downloads/Newsom_Letter_to_Conyers.pdfLetter from NM Governor Richardson to President GW Bush: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/richardson_letter.pdf With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.
The decision by all 301,139,947 U.S. citizens to talk about something else is expected to last the more than six months leading up to the presidential election on Nov. 4. During that time, the nation has agreed to supplant all lively debates and impassioned arguments about politics with topics such as movies, music, summertime, and, in some rare cases, personal matters like family, relationships, and feelings.
The White House will not even be mentioned for at least six months.
Anything, Americans strongly reiterated, so long as it is not politics.
SIXTY countries, backed by the World Bank and most UN bodies, have called for radical changes in world farming to avert increasing regional food shortages, escalating prices and growing environmental problems.
But in a move that has led the US, Britain, Australia and Canada to withhold endorsement of the report, the authors said controversial gene modification technology was not a quick fix to feed the world's poor and argued that growing biofuel crops for vehicles threatened to increase worldwide malnutrition.
The report was issued as the UN's World Food Program called for rich countries to contribute $US500 million ($A540 million) to resolve a growing crisis that has led to staple food price rises of up to 80% in some countries, and riots in many cities. According to the World Bank, 33 countries are in danger of destabilisation and conflict following food price inflation.
The authors of the 2500-page International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development say the world produces enough food for everyone, yet more than 800 million people go hungry.
"Rising populations and incomes will intensify food demand, especially for meat and milk, which will compete for land with crops, as will biofuels," they write. "The unequal distribution of food and conflict over control of the world's dwindling natural resources presents a major political and social challenge to governments, likely to reach crisis status as climate change advances and world population expands from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050."
Robert Watson, director of the assessment and chief scientist at Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "We have to applaud global increases in food production but not everyone has benefited." He said governments and industry focused on increasing food production, with little regard for natural resources or food security.
The report — the first significant attempt to involve governments, non-government organisations and industries from rich and poor countries — took 400 scientists four years to complete. The authors concluded that food production and the way food is traded around the world have led to unequal distribution of benefits and adverse ecological effects and are contributing to climate change.
The authors say technology should be targeted towards raising yields but also protecting soils, water and forests.
The GM industry, which helped fund the report, along with the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, the World Health Organisation and the British and US governments, abandoned talks last year after heated debate. The scientists said they saw little role for GM in feeding the poor on a large scale.
"Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable," said the report.
Bill bars Fla. medical license for doctors who studied in Cuba
Americans who get their medical degree in Cuba would be prohibited from practicing medicine in Florida under a bill passed by the House.
The measure is aimed at students who accept scholarships from the Cuban government to attend the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Havana. About 150 American students are currently enrolled in the school. They would be prevented from getting medical licenses in Florida if they were to move here.
The bill passed 107-3 today. It now goes to the Senate.
Fire is His head, the sun and moon His eyes,space His ears,the Vedas His speech,the wind His breath,the universe His heart.From His feet the Earth has originated.Verily, He is the inner Self of all beings.
"Thou shalt know;Self-chosen are the woes that fall on men -How wretched, for they see not good so near,Nor hearken to its voice - few only knowThe pathway of deliverance from ill."*
The early evidence shows, however, that, while Pythagoras was famous in his own day and even 150 years later in the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was not mathematics or science upon which his fame rested. Pythagoras was famous (1) as an expert on the fate of the soul after death, who thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations; (2) as an expert on religious ritual; (3) as a wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time; (4) as the founder of a strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self discipline.
Excerpts from the biographies on the Life of Pythagoras by Diogenes Laertius (ca 180); The Life of Pythagoras by Porphyry (ca233-306); Iamblischus of Syrian Chalci's Life of Pythagoras (ca280-333); and an Anonymous Biography on the Life of Pythagoras, Preserved by Photius (ca 820-891) in The Complete Pythagoras [offsite ebook]
Authors state that a trainer of the name of Pythagoras certainly did train his athletes on [meat], but that it was not our philosopher; for that he even forbade men to kill animals at all, much less would he have allowed his disciples to eat them, as having a right to live in common with mankind. (Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XII "Diet and Sacrifices" [offsite ebook])
In addition, the best polity, popular concord, community of possessions among friends, worship of the Gods, piety to the dead, legislation, erudition, silence, abstinence from eating the flesh of animals, continence, temperance, sagacity, divinity, and in one word, whatever is anxiously desired by the scholarly, was brought to light by Pythagoras. It was, on account of all this, as we have already observed, that Pythagoras was so much admired. (Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras, VI "The Pythagorean Community" [offsite ebook])
by David Roknich ( roknich (at) electromagnet.us )
Sunday Apr 20th, 2008 9:11 AM
April 20th is a day of provocation famous especially among pot smokers in Santa Cruz California, but it was just before 911 that I discovered the importance of 420.
It's Not What You Think It Is
This year, the annual celebration in Santa Cruz started early, on April 18 to head off a crackdown by the fascist cabal that has taken control of UCSC, and many universities across the nation. They don't a have a shooting incident to use as an excuse to declare martial law, which is their de facto status at the moment. For details, see the local coverage.
"On April 20, 1999, in the suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault..."
The perpetrators idolized the Nazis, and were known for their iron crosses and frequent nazi salutes. April 20th happens to be day that Adolph Hitler was born in 1889.
420 is the number chosen by police departments across the country for marijuana violations, and a holiday is celebrated on April 20th in the City of Santa Cruz ever since those violation were de-prioritized - placing them at the very bottom of the list of official police duties - for the city police department.
It wasn't until September 2nd of 2001 that the importance of the date came clear to me: it marked the beginning of the current War of Errors: a war that links our mercenary drug warriors with the "War on Terror". On that day, I reported:
Iquitos: Our Next Gulf of Tonkin?
On April 20, “Iquitos” became a household word when a family of Baptist missionaries aboard a Cessna 185 was shot down by a joint operation of U.S. and Peruvian drug interdiction forces. Veronica Bowers and her adopted infant daughter were killed in the shooting; her husband survived, and the pilot was severely injured by the subsequent strafing of the plane by machine gun fire after it was downed by a Peruvian fighter jet. The explanations provided by the U.S. and Peru still have not been reconciled with eyewitness accounts and physical evidence...
To this day they have not been reconciled, but the deaths were caused by an operation by contractors hired by the CIA, who operated in much the same fashion as Blackwater does today, here and abroad. In 2001, U.S. Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois) observed:
“...The U.S. taxpayers are unwittingly funding a private war with private soldiers. This is a “shoot first and ask question later” policy encouraged by the U.S. in its war on drugs. Shooting down unarmed civilian aircraft, even those thought to be carrying drugs, is contrary to fundamental U.S. law enforcement policy. I don’t think that any of my colleagues would support U.S. law enforcement officials in this country shooting down planes or blowing up vans based simply on the suspicion or even the conviction that drugs are present. We believe in due process which should be no less respected in the other countries than it is in our own. The kind of action we saw in Peru last week, amounts to an extra-judicial killing and we in this country now have innocent blood on our hands because of it.”
The investigation of the Iquitos incident was snuffed by congress, and now our mercenaries continue to operate with impunity.
It is time to end the war. Light up, and start the celebration.
*Bruce, Founder of the San Francisco Bay Guardian weighs in...4-20: High times at UC-Santa CruzBy Bruce B. BrugmannHere's the official word from University of Santa Cruz Executive Chancellor David Kilger on the kind of day that university administrations can't stand. April 20 has become nationally known, as Kilger says in a letter today (April 17) to faculty and staff, "as the date when people gather to communally smoke marijuana in an expression of support for the reform or marijuana laws. In recent years, thousands of people have gathered on the UCSC campus to participate in the event."Kilgore in UCacademese says that the university does not "condone, support or otherwise sanction t his event." To his credit, he doesn't threaten damnation nor a flood of troopers but he does lay out some regulations Santa Cruz style. Thanks to an alert from a UCSC graduate, and roommate of a Guardian employee, we can turn up and tune in on the letter for you....
This brief piece is dedicated to magical realist writers Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is also an artistic statement of a small life drawing.
Each day I try to revel in all live bodies’ unending miracles. Yet still I don’t know how to shape a language that would tell my open-mouthed awe for the nerve links, the tiny electric intertwining of my ideas, sentiments and my entire cell structure, my corporeal self.
Others have successfully shown their worship of our bodies in activism, in spiritual practice, in art, and in joyful and generous living. These manifold expressions sustain me when I feel well and when I am ill.
And so it is with a mixture of worry and admiration — for my own body — that just after March 19th (start of the sixth year of the US occupation of Iraq) and April 15th (war tax deadline), I woke up to find my body crying blood.
I have secretly been awaiting this physical manifestation of my intensifying sorrow, and it has at last arrived.
As choreographer Martha Graham said, “The body reveals what words cannot.”
by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front - ZACF We welcome and support the decision by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union for their workers neither to unload nor transport the shipment of Chinese-made armaments destined for Zimbabwe. This is a very encouraging sign of working class solidarity and internationalism, and we hope that such actions will indeed prevent this weapons consignment from reaching its destination - the Zimbabwean Defence Force.
At the same time, if the transport workers should fail, if President Robert Mugabe's friends should find a way to bypass their resistance, all who stand with the Zimbabwean people should be ready to take a stand. Should the action taken by Satawu fail to prevent the armaments from being transported across South African territory to Zimbabwe, we call on all progressive elements across the country to intervene.
On 29 March 2008, parliamentary, presidential and local elections were held in Zimbabwe. This represented the last-gasp attempt of the Movement for Democratic Change to oust the 28-year-old regime of incumbent President Robert Mugabe, after a series of contestations since 2000 had resulted in an impasse.
The results of the parliamentary election show that the MDC has a narrow majority, but the results of the presidential election have been unaccountably delayed – presumably to allow Mugabe's regime to reassert its authority over the masses of the people who have been brutalised and impoverished.
These facts are well known to the world's progressive forces and to those who struggle for economic, social and political justice and equality. Now, in the hour of Mugabe's ultimate betrayal, a new threat has arisen in the form of a shipment of Chinese armaments – including rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifle rounds and mortars – which, we fear with justification, will be used to forcibly suppress the democratic forces in Zimbabwe, and could lead directly to the murder of thousands of Zimbabwean people.
We are fully aware of the heroic resistance of the Zimbabwean people to racist domination and their successful defeat of the regime of Ian Smith in 1980. This resistance was both pluralistic via the guerrillas of both Zanla and Zipra, and multiracial – even if the majority of white "Rhodesians" chose to abandon their country after independence.
But we are equally aware of the grievous injury done to the cause of the people by Mugabe's paranoia over the years – even if this paranoia was well-founded on apartheid attempts on his own life – and the dead of Matabeleland  and the displaced of Operation Murambatsvina  cry out for social justice.
Now, with the whole world watching – and the Southern African Development Community vacillating as predicted in its usual ineffective "engagements" – Mugabe has again stolen not only a march on the opposition, but the future of his people.
Journalists are being expelled and election observers have already fled the roost, allowing blood to flow in the streets unseen and unchecked: scanty reports now emerge of torture, murder, evictions, dispossessions and beating.
And now we have caught, red-handed, a Chinese shipment of arms to this regime, a regime that by all accounts is in terminal decline, with the highest inflation rate in the world and an elite that is already displaying the most grotesque elements of social decay imaginable.
We call on all progressive groups, organisations and individuals to physically prevent, whether peacefully or with necessary force, the shipment of arms to one of the world's most despised pariah dictatorships. This call extends to the progressive world community to do whatever they can to bring this to public attention and to prevent possible massacre.
This could include:
Targeting and putting pressure on South African Port Authorities not to allow the consignment to come onto land.
Targeting South African, Chinese and Zimbabwean embassies and diplomatic missions with pickets, protests and other non-violent direct actions - against representatives of these governments - and not the ordinary citizens of these states. (We will not tolerate any actions against Chinese, Zimbabwean or South African people on the basis of their ethnicity and/ or nationality).
Gathering intelligence about the whereabouts, planned route and mode of transport for the armaments, and publicising these.
Blockading these routes in a non-violent manner with an eye to preventing the armaments from reaching their destination.
Blockading the South African border with Zimbabwe should the armaments reach it.
Supporting and sustaining the transport workers in their refusal to unload and transport the weapons.
Defending the transport workers and anyone else who faces repression as a result of their efforts to stop the weapons reaching their destination.
Link this struggle directly to global opposition to China's campaign to suppress the Tibetan people and turn the 2008 Olympics into a replica of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany – where nationalist sporting events were used as a cover for gross human rights abuses.
What we know:
A Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang - owned by the parastatal Chinese Ocean Shipping Company - carrying armaments destined for Zimbabwe has anchored at Durban harbour.
The shipment contains almost three million rounds of ammunitions for small arms and AK-47s, about 3 500 mortars and mortar launchers, as well as 1 500 rockets for rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and is valued at R9,88million.
The ship's cargo documentation was allegedly finalised just 3 days after the Zimbabwean elections.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union has refused to unload or transport the arms consignment, although this does not mean someone else won't.
About 10 Chinese soldiers armed with pistols have been seen with Zimbabwean military officials in Harare.
THIS SHIPMENT WILL BE STOPPED BY THE DIRECT ACTION OF THE PEOPLE!
MUGABE WILL FALL! BUT WE, THE AFRICAN PEOPLE, WILL STAND IN HIS STEAD!
 The Matabeleland Massacre, between 1982 - 1983 was an attempt by ZANU-PF on the ethnic cleansing of people of the Ndebele ethno-political group living in the Matabeleland region. An estimated 20 000 people were murdered.
 Known in English as Operation Drive Out Trash, Operation Murambastvina was a large scale government campaign to forcibly clear out slum areas, effectively displacing an estimated 2.4 million people. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Murambatsvina
[Thanks to James Bennett for this link] Earth gives off a relentless hum of countless notes completely imperceptible to the human ear, like a giant, exceptionally quiet symphony, but the origin of this sound remains a mystery.
Now unexpected powerful tunes have been discovered in this hum. These new findings could shed light on the source of this enigma.
The planet emanates a constant rumble far below the limits of human hearing, even when the ground isn't shaking from an earthquake. (It does not cause the ringing in the ear linked with tinnitus.) This sound, first discovered a decade ago, is one that only scientific instruments — seismometers — can detect. Researchers call it Earth's hum.
Investigators suspect this murmur could originate from the churning ocean, or perhaps the roiling atmosphere. To find out more, scientists analyzed readings from an exceptionally quiet Earth-listening research station at the Black Forest Observatory in Germany, with supporting data from Japan and China.
In the past, the oscillations that researchers found made up this hum were "spheroidal" — they basically involved patches of rock moving up and down, albeit near undetectably.
Now oscillations have been discovered making up the hum that, oddly, are shaped roughly like rings. Imagine, if you will, rumbles that twist in circles in rock across the upper echelons of the planet, almost like dozens of lazy hurricanes.
Scientists had actually expected to find these kinds of oscillations, but these new ring-like waves are surprisingly about as powerful as the spheroidal ones are. The expectation was they would be relatively insignificant.
This discovery should force researchers to significantly rethink what causes Earth's hum. While the spheroidal oscillations might be caused by forces squeezing down on the planet — say, pressure from ocean or atmospheric waves — the twisting ring-like phenomena might be caused by forces shearing across the world's surface, from the oceans, atmosphere or possibly even the sun.
Future investigations of this part of the hum will prove challenging, as "this is a very small signal that is hard to measure, and the excitation is probably due to multiple interactions in a complex system," said researcher Rudolf Widmer-Schnidrig, a geoscientist at the University of Stuttgart, Germany.
Still, a better understanding of this sound will shed light on how the land, sea and air all interact, he added.
Researcher Dieter Kurrle and Widmer-Schnidrig detailed their findings March 20 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
In 1884 he married the painter Henrietta Rae (1859-1928). They both painted the nude in lush settings, and were criticised for an apparent tendency towards an excess of sensuality in some of their paintings. He and his wife were based in London from the early 1890s, where he had his studio and received support from the circle around Lord Leighton.
There are days during the year that allow us to elevate above our short-circuiting world of chaos, to tap into a higher level of circuitry.
These next eight days [April 19 — 27] - the holiday of Pesach - are such days. At this time we receive spiritual support from the universe that assists us in creating a stronger circuitry in the quality of our life.
The meaning of Pesach is that every year on the 15th day of the month of Aries in the lunar calendar, we're supposed to celebrate Pesach by having a special dinner — without bread or anything leavened — while reciting stories from a book that is a remembrance of leaving Egypt, of redemption, and of our enemies some 3,400 years ago.
That's what this holiday's all about.
But, Kabbalistically, there's a powerful opportunity to transform and change our life for one year and forever. It is not about remembering what happened in the past. It's about remembering what's happening now — and knowing how to tap into that energy.
We can remove ourselves from the chains of repetitive patterns of wrong relationships, fears, pains, uncontrollable thoughts that drive us crazy, laziness and lack of energy and enthusiasm. We can remove ourselves from our own personal Egypt.
What does your Egypt look like? Where are your hot buttons? What are your insecurities? How do you doubt yourself? Pay attention.
When someone says something that ticks you off, don't shoot the messenger. Explore why the comment provoked such a strong emotional reaction in the first place. Is there some grain of truth there? Where there's smoke, there's fire.
Ask yourself, "Why did that comment make me feel so mad [sad, defensive, hurt, judged, or attacked]?
These next seven days, expose your weak areas, your vulnerable "I don't want to talk about it' spots. What can you do to make it different?
The gates are open this week. Leave behind all that's ruling you. Put in the extra effort to look within. You just may get the key to opening those gates for the rest of the year.
"All deep aspirations and unconscious motivations, all unspoken drives, rise up for the approval or disapproval of the conscious mind, and await its direction. Only when it abdicates its functions does it allow itself to become swayed by negative experience. Only when it refuses responsibility does it finally find itself at the seeming mercy of events over which it appears to have no control."
The Nature of Personal RealitySession 609, Page xviii
Matt Gonzalez, running on Ralph Nader’s ticket as a vice-presidential candidate. He is a San Francisco-based attorney and the former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 2003, he ran for mayor of San Francisco on the Green Party ticket but lost in a close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom.
AMY GOODMAN: From the Democrats, we now turn to another candidate in the 2008 field: Matt Gonzalez, running on Ralph Nader’s ticket as a vice-presidential candidate, San Francisco-based attorney, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 2003 he ran for mayor of San Francisco on the Green Party ticket but lost in a close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom. Matt Gonzalez joins me here in Palo Alto at Stanford University. Welcome to Democracy Now!
MATT GONZALEZ: Thanks for having me.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we play clips of the debate last night, let’s start at the beginning, with this whole controversy about what Senator Barack Obama said about people who are in desperate conditions, people who are economically strapped, turning to guns and religion.
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, Amy, I think it’s a tempest in a teapot. I don’t think that you can take this one- or two-sentence remark that Senator Obama made and really draw all kinds of conclusions by it. I think anybody that’s in the political arena, often as you’re speaking, you engage in shortcuts as you’re trying to make a point. And my understanding of the way the polls have played out there, the comment isn’t that significant.
AMY GOODMAN: And these other issues that were raised for the first forty-five minutes of this debate: wearing a lapel pin, friends with someone who was in the Weather Underground in the 1960s?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think that that’s disturbing. I think the real question is the responsibility of the media not to, essentially, present these in a way that suggests that there is something that Senator Obama has to explain about them. And that’s the sense that I have is what occurred last night.
AMY GOODMAN: Their positions on war?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think the debate actually—and the problem with the debate is that they’re not getting clear answers on these issues. The candidates are using certain catch phrases. They’re saying “no permanent bases” and “we’re going to start a withdrawal” or “we’re going to get combat troops out." But they’re not committing to having troops out of the region in the first four years of their presidency. They have left it very open. I think Senator Obama, in an interview with you, indicated that he would leave the private army that’s there, over 100,000. And I think there are policy groups, Democratic policy groups, that have made it clear that it would require tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq to carry out Senator Obama’s mandate, which is to be able to strike at al-Qaeda and do counterterrorism there.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your proposal?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think Nader has been very committed to getting our troops out. He’s saying that the resistance is going to continue as long as there’s an American presence there, and we have to start engaging in a foreign policy that doesn’t believe that you’re going to accomplish everything through aggression. I think it’s very clear that the United States has a long history of engaging in foreign policy for our quote-unquote “interests,” which are unfortunately too often corporate interests.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to the candidates’ positions on the economy. This is a clip from last night’s debate in Pennsylvania.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: We have seen wages and incomes flat or declining at a time when costs have gone up. And one of the things that we’ve learned from George Bush’s economic policies, which John McCain now wants to follow, is that pain trickles up. And so, partly because people have been strapped and have had a tough time making ends meet, we’re now seeing a deteriorating housing market.
That’s also as a consequence of the lack of oversight and regulation of these banks and financial institutions that gave loans that they shouldn’t have. And part of it has to do with the fact that you had $185 million by mortgage lenders spent on lobbyists and special interests who were writing these laws.
So the rules in Washington—the tax code has been written on behalf of the well connected. Our trade laws have—same thing has happened. And part of how we’re going to be able to deliver on middle-class tax relief is to change how business is done in Washington. And that’s been a central focus of our campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Clinton also touted her economic plan.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: I think we have to invest in our infrastructure. That also will get the economy moving again, and I believe we could put about three million people to work in good union jobs, where people get a good wage with a good set of benefits that can support a middle-class family with a rising standard of living.
I want to see us actually tackle the housing crisis, something I’ve been talking about for over a year. If I had been president a year ago, I believe we would have begun to avoid some of the worst of the mortgage and credit crisis, because we would have started much earlier than we have—in fact, I don’t think we’ve really done very much at all yet—in dealing with a way of freezing home foreclosures, of freezing interest rates, getting money into communities to be able to withstand the problems that are caused by foreclosures.
AMY GOODMAN: Independent vice-presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez, your response to their economic proposals?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I don’t think you can really talk about the economy without talking about the tremendous amount of resources we’re putting into the war. A full 55, maybe as much as 60, percent of our tax dollars are going to this war, to paying debt on the war, to going into the military. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates in this field want to increase military spending. And so, for all of the rhetoric about trying to deal with, you know, the common person, the war has to be addressed.
The other thing I would say is that when the Democrats took Congress, when Pelosi became the Speaker, they moved forward on raising the minimum wage. But one thing that they didn’t do is address an issue that these candidates are raising now, which is, as cost of living shifts, that minimum wage should be going up without having to go back and have a fight in Congress. When we passed the minimum wage in San Francisco, we did that. And again, the question mark is, how effective is our opposition party in Congress, when, when they have a majority, they don’t take advantage of it and institute something that can work on its own in the future?
AMY GOODMAN: Do you and Ralph Nader have a strategy to win?
MATT GONZALEZ: I do. I certainly do. In talking to Ralph, I think he’s very heartened by some of the polls that are out there. The real question is whether or not we’re going to be allowed into the debates. When I ran for mayor, I started—in San Francisco, I started with support of maybe three, four percent. Because I was allowed into debates, that eventually became 47 percent. Nader has poll numbers in Michigan at ten percent. Other national polls have put him at five, six percent. I think that—put us in the debates, and let’s see how it goes. And I think as the American people see there is an alternative, those numbers will get stronger.
AMY GOODMAN: And the argument, of course, that this is a pivotal year, 2008, in changing the direction of this country—what impact do you think your race will have?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think one thing that’s important to keep in mind is that if you don’t change how elections are happening, you’re never going to have the fundamental change that you need to address a host of issues. So if we don’t run, there’s no problem that needs to be fixed, and we keep on this very narrow political spectrum. If we run, we raise the question, which is, “What are the other political parties doing to reform elections?” and “Why aren’t they addressing issues that we’re addressing, like single-payer healthcare or issues related to a full withdrawal from the war in Iraq?”—questions like that.
AMY GOODMAN: If you had won in 2003 against Gavin Newsom for mayor of San Francisco, you would have been the first Green mayor, the first Green Party mayor in the country. Yet, now you have left the Green Party to run as an independent. Why?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I left the Green Party to enhance ballot access in certain states that don’t allow you to be a member of a political party and run as an independent. I think the important thing that would have happened if I had been elected mayor of San Francisco is that a lot of the red-baiting that was taking place in that campaign would have essentially gone to the wayside. I think people would have seen that members of the left can govern when they’re given an opportunity to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: You talked about the polls in Michigan, indicating Ralph Nader has a good percentage there. But what is your strategy to win? How are you campaigning right now?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, Ralph is on the road full-time. I’m doing interviews every day, and I’m going to join him as he’s reaching California in a couple of weeks and start traveling up to the Northwest. And I think it’s the way you campaign in any contest: it’s one voter at a time. You talk about the issues, and you challenge your opponents to win your voters away from you if they’re concerned about some outcome that shouldn’t happen. I think that in a three-candidate race, a four-candidate race, you can win the contest with 35 percent of the vote. So if you’re allowed into the debates and you suddenly have 15, 20 percent, there are a lot of voters who will suddenly consider you, if they truly believe that you’re competitive and have a chance to win.
AMY GOODMAN: If you were vice president today, what would be your first act in regards to Iraq?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think we would certainly start an orderly withdrawal of all the troops out of Iraq. I don’t think there’s any question about that.
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of the candidates on the issues, what—is there a candidate who you prefer?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I don’t want John McCain to win the contest, but I don’t want Senator Obama or Senator Clinton to win either. I think what’s missing from the debate is the fact that nobody is asking Senators Obama and Clinton to account for some of their terrible votes, when Obama votes for the Class Action Reform Act, which was a Republican bill to really make it harder for people to bring class-action lawsuits, or when he supports something like the Energy Policy Act in 2005, which is one of the reasons why oil companies have the profits that they have this year. Why aren’t we having that discussion? And before progressives vote for him or vote for Clinton, they ought to have an accounting as to how you can vote for those bills and somehow suddenly change the culture of Washington if you’re elected president of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to another clip of the debate last night. This is a clip of—well, Senator Obama was asked how he would use past presidents, how specifically he would use, if he would use, George W. Bush.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I’m probably more likely to ask advice of the current president’s father than the President himself, because I think that when you look back at George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy, it was a wise foreign policy, and how we executed the Gulf War, how we managed the transition out of the Cold War, I think, is an example of how we can get bipartisan agreement. I don’t think the Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas. I think that there are a lot of thoughtful Republicans out there. The problem is, we’ve been locked in a divided politics for so long that we’ve stopped listening to each other.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Barack Obama?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think it’s unfortunate that he continues to make these remarks. He made similar remarks on Larry King Live about a month ago. I think he’s romanticizing George Bush, Sr.’s presidency and the way that he acquitted himself in the original Iraq war.
AMY GOODMAN: The fact that President Bush—that’s George H.W. Bush—invaded Panama, Iraq, as well, what about Obama’s expressed support for him, turning to him?
MATT GONZALEZ: Yeah, I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand how, on the one hand, you can be suggesting that you’re really going to engage in a different kind of foreign policy and sort of wax eloquently and romanticize this sort of presidency in what it could offer you in terms of advice. I think it’s troubling.
AMY GOODMAN: Is there an area of the country you’re going to be focusing on?
MATT GONZALEZ: I’ll probably be more on the West. I’ve got trips planned to New Mexico and Arizona, and that’s where I’ll start.
AMY GOODMAN: The fact that Barack Obama didn’t want to have a photo taken of him with Gavin Newsom, afraid, at least as the reports go, concerned about Gavin Newsom’s support for gay marriage?
MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I think that the way we create change if we’re progressives is that we have the courage to go out and articulate what we believe in. And certainly, taking a picture with an elected official, there’s just nothing wrong about that. And to want to distance yourself from that, I think, says a lot about the lack of courage you have and the unlikeliness of you being able to change Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt Gonzalez, I want to thank you for being with us.
MATT GONZALEZ: Thanks for having me.
AMY GOODMAN: Independent vice-presidential candidate on Ralph Nader’s ticket.
*yeah i know who you remind me ofa girl i think i used to knowyeah i'd see her when the days got colderon those days when it felt like snowyou know i even think that she stared like youshe used to just stand there and stareand roll her eyes right up to heavenand make like i just wasn't thereand she used to fall down a lotthat girl was always fallingagain and againand i used to sometimes try to catch herbut never even caught her nameand sometimes we would spend the nightjust rolling about on the floorand i remember even though it felt soft at the timei always used to wake up sore...you know i even think that she smiled like youshe used to just stand there and smileand her eyes would go all sort of far awayand stay like that for quite a whileand i remember she used to fall down a lotthat girl was always fallingagain and againand i used to sometimes try to catch herbut never even caught her nameyes i sometimes even tried to catch herbut never even caught her name*The Cure
(the much lesser known black & white of Dwight Clark...THE HOTTEST FOOTBALL PLAYER WHO EVER LIVED...THEN, NOW & IN THE FUTURE)
SHERIFF JOE IS AT IT AGAINMaricopa County was spending approx. $18 million dollars a year on stray animals, like cats and dogs. Sheriff Joe offered to take the depar tment over, and the County Supervisors said okay. The animal shelters are now all staffed and operated by prisoners. They feed and care for the strays. Every animal in his care is taken out and walked twice daily. He now has prisoners who are experts in animal nutrition and behavior. They give great classes for anyone who'd like to adopt an animal. He has literally taken stray dogs off the street, given them to the care of prisoners, and had them place in dog shows. The best part? His budget for the entire department is now under $3 million. Teresa and I adopted a Weimaraner from a Maricopa County shelter two years ago. He was neutered, and current on all shots, in great health, and even had a microchip inserted the day we got him. Cost us $78.The prisoners get the benefit of about $0.28 an hour for working, but most would work for free, just to be out of their cells for the day. Most of his budget is for utilities, building maintenance, etc. He pays the prisoners out of the fees collected for adopted animals. I have long wondered when the rest of the country would take a look at the way he runs the jail system, and copy some of his ideas. He has a huge farm, donated to the county years ago, where inmates can work, and they grow most of their own fre sh vegetables and food, doing all the work and harvesting by hand. He has a pretty good sized hog farm, which provides meat, and fertilizer. It fertilizes the Christmas tree nursery, where prisoners work, and you can buy a living Christmas tree for $6 - $8 for the Holidays, and plant it later. We have six trees in our yard from the Prison.Yup, he was reelected last year with 83% of the vote. Now he's in trouble with the ACLU again. He painted all his buses and vehicles with a mural, that has a special hotline phone number painted on it, where you can call and report suspected illegal aliens. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement wasn't doing enough in his eyes, so he had 40 deputies trained specifically for enforcing immigration laws, started up his hotline, and bought 4 new buses just for hauling folks back to the border. He's kind of a 'Git-R Dun' kind of Sheriff.Update on Joe ArpaioTO THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR WITH JOE ARPAIOHE IS THE MARICOPA ARIZONA COUNTY SHERIFFAND H E KEEPS GETTING ELECTED OVER AND OVERTHIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY:Sheriff Joe Arpaio(In Arizona)Who created the 'Tent City Jail': He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights Cut off all but'G' movies.He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.Then He Started Chain Gangs For Women So He Wouldn't Get Sued For Discrimination.He took away cable TV Until he found out there was A Federal Court Order That Required Cable TV For Jails So He Hooked Up The Cable TV Again. Only Let In The Disney Channel And The W eather Channel.When asked why the weather channel He replied, So They Will Know How Hot It's Gonna BeWhile They Are Working ON My Chain Gangs.He Cut Off Coffee Since It Has Zero Nutritional Value.When the inmates complained, he told them, 'This Isn't The Ritz/Carlton..If You Don't Like It, Don't Come Back.'He bought Newt Gingrich's lecture series on videotape that he pipes into the jails.More On The Arizona Sheriff:With Temperatures Being Even Hotter Than Usual In Phoenix (116 Degrees Just Set A New Record), The Associated Press Reports: About 2,000 Inmates Living I n A Barbed-Wire-Surrounded Tent Encampment At The Maricopa County Jail Have Been Given Permission To Strip Down To Their Government-Issued Pink Boxer Shorts.On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 Degrees Inside The Week Before.Many Were Also Swathed In Wet, Pink Towels As Sweat Collected On Their Chests And Dripped Down To Their PINK SOCKS.'It Feels Like We Are In A Furnace,' Said James Zanzot, An Inmate Who Has Lived In The TENTS for 1 year. 'It's Inhumane.' Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: 'It's 120 Degrees In Iraq And Our Soldiers Are Living In Tents Too, And They Have To Wear Full Battle Gear, But They Didn't Commit Any Crimes, So Shut Your Damned Mouths!'
The guards at Guantanamo are terrified. Even a man with no legs (amputated after being intentionally exposed to extreme cold by American guards in Afghanistan) is treated as a horrifying threat:
"The bandages wrapped around Abdul's stumps were never changed. When he took them off himself, they were full of blood and pus. He showed the bandage to the guards and pointed to his open wounds. The guards ignored him. Later I saw how he tried to wash the bandages in his bucket of drinking water. But he could hardly move his hands, so he wasn't able to. And even if he had, where would he have hung them up to dry? He wasn't allowed to touch the fence. He wrapped his stumps back up in the dirty bandages.
"When the guards came to take him to be interrogated, they ordered him to sit with his back to the door and put his hands on his head. When they opened the door, they stormed in as they did with every other prisoner. They hit him on the back and pushed him to the ground. Then they handcuffed and bound him so he could no longer move. Abdul howled in pain."
A man with no legs? No, a terrorist with no legs, a mythical evildoing creature with no legs. Hatred? Yes. Bigotry? Yes. But driven by fear instilled through training in the U.S. military, fear of monsters with superhuman powers, fear strong enough to make a team of armored storm troopers fear a legless man in a cage.
The passage quoted above is from "Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo," by Murat Kurnaz, and reading his account might begin to make the reader, too, view the caged prisoners as less than human, were it not for the skillful way in which Kurnaz intersperses descriptions of his pre-Guantanamo life in Germany.
Kurnaz made the mistake of traveling from Germany to Pakistan shortly after September 11, 2001. He has never been to Afghanistan, except in the custody of American guards who took him there from Pakistan on the way to Cuba. The Americans never alleged any particular crime, but simply declared him an enemy combatant and took away five years of his life. A U.S. military kangaroo-court commission convicted him on two counts. The first was having once been friends with a man who supposedly committed a suicide bombing long after Kurnaz was in Guantanamo and about which Kurnaz knew nothing. The strangest part about that first count is that the alleged suicide bomber is alive and well back in Germany, has never been involved in anything of the sort, and has not himself been charged with anything. The second count was of having accepted free food from a humanitarian group with which Kurnaz was working in Pakistan. How that act made Kurnaz "the worst of the worst" is not clear. While the United States always knew that they'd paid $3,000 to someone to turn Kurnaz in, in Pakistan, on the basis of no suspicion of anything, the tribunal concluded that he'd been arrested as an al Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan. At least that was the conclusion up until the moment the United States set him free, or the moment three years earlier when the United States decided he was innocent but allowed him to be tortured daily for three more years prior to release.
At Kandahar air base in Afghanistan, Kurnaz was deprived of food and sleep, routinely beaten, electro-shocked through his feet, threatened with drowning and his head held under water, and hung from the ceiling by his wrists until he lost consciousness. Kurnaz was in very good physical shape prior to this ordeal, and survived it. He saw others die from these procedures. Kurnaz did not know at the time that the worst still lay ahead for him on a Caribbean island, and he had no idea where he was being taken when they loaded him on the plane for Guantanamo:
"They chained us together and herded us onto a plane. We were bound so tightly we couldn't move a millimeter. Again, I thought they were taking us to an American military base in Turkey. What else was I supposed to think?
"Sleep would have been the only consolation in such a situation. But the soldiers kept hitting us to keep us awake. I thought about the American movies I had seen in Bremen. Action flicks and war movies. I used to admire the Americans. Now I was getting to know their true nature.
"I say that without anger. It's simply the truth, as I saw and experienced it. I don't want to insult anyone, and I'm not talking about all Americans. But the ones I encountered are terrified of pain. They're afraid of every little scratch, bacteria, and illness. They're like little girls, I'd say. If you examine Americans closely, you realize this - no matter how big or powerful they are. But in movies, they're always the heroes."
Brought to the New World in a transport reminiscent of slave ships, Kurnaz was placed in a small metal cage (six by seven feet) exposed to the sun, rain, spiders, snakes, and soldiers, on a lawless military base in Cuba. And he was better off than most of those around him.
"I know of a prisoner," he wrote, "who complained of a toothache. He was brought to a dentist, who pulled out his healthy teeth as well as the rotten one. I knew a man from Morocco who used to be a ship captain. He couldn't move one of his little fingers because of frostbite. The rest of his fingers were all right. They told him they would amputate the little finger. They brought him to the doctor, and when he came back he had no fingers left. They had amputated everything but his thumbs."
Even in Cuba, one of the torture techniques employed is subjection to extreme cold inside a chilled metal box. Kurnaz provides us an inside account of these experiences, and of the day-to-day life of solitary confinement, beatings, interrogations, and denial of adequate nutrition. Kurnaz was once kept awake for three weeks. He was given extensive stays in solitary. He was subjected to extremes of cold and heat. He was denied oxygen almost to the point of suffocation.
When guards trampled a Koran, the prisoners began a hunger strike and discovered that the General in charge did not want them to die. They discovered that they had some power, and they got organized. In the end, Kurnaz and others were force-fed, and the commander of Guantanamo was replaced with another (General Geoffrey Miller) who seemed not to care at all who lived or died. Prisoners once mixed feces and water and threw it on Miller's face, and from that point on called him "Mr. Toilet."
In this environment, Kurnaz found humanity among the prisoners, who shared the little food they were given and cared for each other. And in very rare instances he found humanity in a couple of guards who spoke of their disagreement with what they were engaged in. One can only hope that every man and woman who has served as a guard at Guantanamo reads Kurnaz's book and adds their voice to the growing chorus speaking truth to unspeakable power.
In Guantanamo, prisoners are sometimes told they are being released, given clothes, placed on airplanes, and then thrown back in their cages. So, Kurnaz was inclined to be skeptical when told of his impending release:
"I was brought to an interrogation room and chained to the floor. But no one came to ask me any questions. Hours later, two soldiers appeared and placed a telephone on the table.
"'You'll be getting a call,' they told me.
"That made me curious. I didn't know who the caller would be. An interrogator? My lawyer? Maybe the judge?
"More hours passed. What was going on here? Suddenly the phone rang, but no one came to help me.
"I couldn't pick up the receiver with my hands and feet shackled, but the telephone kept ringing. I threw myself to the floor and tried to drag the table toward me with my feet. Kicking one of the table legs, I managed to dislodge the receiver and knock it down to the floor. I squirmed to get my head as close as possible to the handset. I could just hear a voice on the other end of the line.
"It's me, Baher. You're going to be released!'
"'I know. How are you doing?'
"'Murat, are you listening? You're going to be released.'
"'I know,' I said. 'They're playing a nasty trick on you. How is your daughter doing?'
Yet he was released. And yet we do not all know his name. For five year our tax dollars paid guards to ask him his name and other basic questions endlessly, between beatings. And yet we do not all know his story or feel the shame of it.
All across the United States of America there are university departments that claim to teach philosophy and others that claim to teach politics, and yet there are not a million students and professors in Washington, D.C., every day demanding impeachment. How can this be? Can a German victim of our apathy shake us out of our Good-Germanism?
Can we hear the words of Patti Smith in her song about Kurnaz?
NPR - April 17, 2008
Edward Lorenz was the father of "chaos theory," also known as the "butterfly effect." He explained how something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wings could lead to a big change elsewhere in the world, like a tornado. He died Wednesday at age 90. David Kestenbaum talks with Madeleine Brand about his life and achievements.
People and cultures go through different stages of development. The Spiral guys like to color-code them to make it easier to keep track. It goes like this:
RED.Think: Terrible twos. I’ll blow you up if you piss me off. (Yikes!)
BLUE.Think: Ten Commandments. Fundamentalist anything. Rules are paramount. Literal interpretations of the Bible are absolutely (God damnit!!) correct. Ahem.
ORANGE.Think: Wall Street. Academia. Science and ambition are key here.
GREEN. Think: Environmentalism. Pluralism. All is one. Non-violent.
So, the idea goes that we all evolve through different stages of development. All of those stages above are part of what they call the “first tier.” Here’s the funny thing about those perspectives: they’re all convinced they’re 100% right.
It’s a big food fight.
GREEN looks at ORANGE and says, “You greedy capitalists!!! You’re good for nothing and totally destroying our planet! And, my non-violent self HATES you!”
ORANGE looks at GREEN and says, “You tree-hugging, New Agey hippies!! Get a job and contribute to the economy, will ya?!? And quit looking at those crystals.”
BLUE looks at everyone and says, “You’re all going to hell because you don’t believe in [insert favorite God here], God damnit!!”
RED looks at everyone and says, "I hate you!!! I’m blowing you up.”
Everything is “either, or.”
No one can see the validity of the other perspectives.
Not so good.
The idea? Let’s consciously evolve as individuals and as a culture to a “second-tier” level of consciousness. Here, for the first time, we can hold multiple perspectives. We can see that, in the words of Ken Wilber, “No one is smart enough to be 100% wrong.” :)
What’s that look like?
Well, you can see the truth in the need to take care of our environment AND the need for a powerful economy AND the need for rules and regulations AND the need to take aggressive action when the situation demands it.
I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy.
I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die.
I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports... When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours,
I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them.
(I pledge allegiance to Budweiser and free drugs) Peace to Rick James, Anna Nicole Smith, Bill Clinton and Motley Crue And anyone else who has ever utilized their 15 minutes of fame to realize their true dreams of being an absolute jerk off, just to keep the masses entertained This goes out to learning from the mistakes of others Bring it on now Come on I said come on I said come onThey call me a jerk, once they get to know me But they don't stop calling, they read me well It's no work if I was phony, I'd win a trophy Who needs to make records when there's seeds to sell Freak the bell, and make it all spin crooked God please help, too much grim to look at Grab the tree by the limb and shook it Like, "Have you seen my self esteem, where the hell'd you put it?" Oh wait, never mind, I found it in a bottle Drunk at the Troubadour talking to a model Wrecked the rental on Santa Monica Boulevard I was headed to the El Rey to slap a security guardRowdy, stubborn, loud and arrogant As American as apple pie and embarrassment Package the kid's face, put it on display Look ma!, another national disgrace Dumb and ignorant, drunk and belligerent Open up your heart y'all, come on and let me in Package the kid's face, put it on display Look ma!, another national disgrace [Verse 2] The liquor gets hold of the head liver's soul Blurry on Sixth Street and Red River Road Last thing I remember was the Ogden Theatre Backstage bathroom making out with all three of ya Kicked out of Topcats... for where I put the vomit at Finally passed out in a laundry mat Malnourished and topless, slurring and obnoxious Like, "Yo, we got this!" The Zodiac Killers 'bout to rock this At the Great American Music Hall, pissin on the box office Pick apart the detail, alcohol and females All around the world same song Houseton and Ludlow, Maxfish, Vampire You poor the beer and I'll bring the satire No prob, I'll play the part of doorknob and make it look so good you're gonna wish that it was your job[Verse 3] It's all about the hangovers, and late checkouts Maid banging on the door like, "Wake up! Get Out!" But Come on mami, y'all probably don't want me comin' out like a Zombie brushing teeth in the lobby This is a career, not a hobby Ain't no reason to fear what you wanna see Hey paparazzi, don't you wanna watch me quote the Fonzi and then crash his Mazaradi? Sweat pants, t-shirt, mesh hat, blue blockers Feeding JACK D to a room full of teenie boppers Howdy neighbor, take a shot for flavor Let's debate whether or not we should punch the waiter I'm just kidding, let's love each other It goes lick, swallow, suck, and order another Do what you like, don't nobody care It's a sign of success only in AmericaI didn't cooome to start no trouble or hurt no one I'm just heeere to get drunk, party, and have some fun.
by Starhawk, 14.3.2007What stays with me most from the last few days is the kindness of women. Just ordinary women, caught in bad circumstances, being nice to one another.I?ve spent a lot of the last week being searched, questioned, detained, jailed, and ultimately denied entry and deported from the State of Israel--that land which I had been raised to believe would always be the ultimate refuge for anyone born Jewish. But not, apparently, for me.I was refused entrance because of work I have done in the past with the International Solidarity Movement, a group which supports nonviolent resistance against the Occupation. ISM works in the West Bank and Gaza, bringing internationals as witnesses, moral and practical support for nonviolent Palestinian initiatives--like the ongoing campaign against the Wall which the Israeli military is building to protect the illegal settlements which have encroached deeply into the territory once designated for a Palestinian state.I came to join the ISM out of a deep belief that nonviolence is a powerful means of struggle, that the Jews of Israel who after all are my own people are good people and a nonviolent struggle would touch their hearts and turn the tide toward real justice. I saw efforts to establish a nonviolent movement as a small ray of hope in an endless cycle of killing begetting more killing and revenge begetting revenge.Four years ago, I spent a month or more working with the ISM. When I left the country, I was questioned and warned that I might have difficulty returning.But I chose to try, anyway. This time my intention was to work with ecological groups, doing permaculture presentations and trainings. I had invitations from three green Isrtaeli organizations, and the assurance of a lawyer that that would be enough to get me in.The lawyer was wrong.There's a jail that they take people to, who are refused entry into a country or being deported for one reason or another. It's not a horrific place--no one was being beaten or tortured, no screams echoed on the concrete walls. Those places exist, too, and most Palestinian men and many women have spent time in them, under conditions so much worse than anything I have ever experienced that the strength it takes to survive is hard to fathom.But this jail is just a kind of limbo, a place to wait, for a forced flight back home, or for a few lucky or intrepid ones with lawyers, for a hearing and a trial. Most people are there for a few hours, maybe a day or two. Some are there longer, as their court cases drag on.There's a human tide of immigration that washes around the world, lured by the gravitational pull of jobs and hope. Now and then, the waves crash up against the seawall of a border and leave behind a human being as the sea leaves mementoes of driftwood and shells..Now I had become a piece of that detritus. And for the other women with me, some tide of hope has also gone out. The first night, I am with Tina, the young American law student of Palestinian descent. She and her brother are plucked from a student tour group and refused entry. All the indignant protests of their law professor, travelling with them, and their professional friends cannot change their fate. Tina, in her headscarf and white poncho, has spent months planning and organizing the trip, and she sobs in disapppointment when it finally becomes clear she will not be able to stay.With us is Zmerna, who I begin to call the Bewildered Brazilian. She is slim, dark-haired, dressed in her good jewelry and high heels. She speaks nothing but Portuguese, and no one else speaks her language--not the guards, not the Security or the Ministry of Interior or anyone she has contact with through the whole process. A couple of us speak Spanish and at times manage to communicate some simple concepts."Prison"? Zmerna says in alarm as the guards marched us into the locked entryway. Tina and her brother have been told they were going to a hotel, where they would have wifi and access to their luggage and computers.."Not prison,? says the guard. But they separate us from Tina's brother, and lock us into a small room full of bunkbeds. I say, if you?re locked in and can?t get out, you?re in jail. It's not the worst jail I've ever been in. I note its attractions: plastic mattresses, wool blankets, a toilet with a door that actually closed, a shower. Tina has a horror of germs, and has to force herself to use the facilities. I try to comfort and reassure her. She tries to comfort me. We both sit down and try to comfort Zmerna, who is crying on the other bunk. Tina's course which she will now miss is, ironically enough, a human rights course. I tell her she deserves an "A"."Get some sleep," I said. "You?ll need your rest." But I find it hard to take my own advice. There?s an energetic field that seems to underly Israel, like a nest of high voltage wires that short circuit continuously, buzzing and jangling. It?s hard to hold an uninterrupted conversation, a train of thought. I find myself able to doze lightly, but not able to relax and truly sleep. My mind keeps buzzing and I keep fighting with it, doing my meditations, grounding, trying to draw somehelp and nurturance from the land itself. But all I can really feel are walls and fences, barriers to any flow.By morning, Zmerna and Tina are gone. I refuse the first flights that are offered to me, waiting to hear back from the lawyer my friends have hastily arranged to take my case. One of the guards, round and hard as a billiard ball, with a round beer belly and sharp, round eyes, tries to intimidate me, shouting and bringing out a pair of handcuffs to show me. But his heart isn?t really in it, and he soon gives up and admits that they will not physically force me to get on a plane.Instead they move me to a new room, with Sol, a young Phillipina with an acne-scarred face, six months pregnant, who is trying to resist going back to the Phillipines. With her is Marie, from Moldava on the border of Romania and Ukraine, who has been here for a month, while her lawyer push her case slowly through the courts. Sol is heavy bodied and tired and sad; Marie is slim, blond, and radiantly cheerful, washing out her underware in the sink, stalking about the cell in her gold, high heeled sandals, creaming her face and chattering on the cell phones. They are economic refugees. In Israel, one of the results of the Intifada and the closures is that the low-level jobs once done by Palestinians are now taken by a stream of immigrants from Russia and Central Europe, Africa and Asia. They come, as immigrants all over the world come, with the hope of bettering themselves, making money to send home, finding love and fortune. When they overstay their welcome, or when the system decides, for its own reasons, not to admit them, they end up here. Marie gives Sol most of her lunch. I try to give her mine. For some reason, I just can?t eat. It?s not my usual reaction to stress--usually,the worse things get the more I?ll eat anything in front of me. But for once in my life, I have entirely lost my apetite, even though I tell myself that I should eat something. ?Eat when you can, sleep when you can, and whenever you get a chance to pee, pee!? is my usual rule. But this time I just can?t force down the mystery meat, the plentiful but greasy and dead-looking chicken wings, potatoes and rice. I do eat some aged salad, and an orange.To cheer Sol up, I offer to read her cards,, as I have my pocket Tarot deck with me. Her face lights up as I predict something good happening for her, soon. Love, celebration, joyfullness--the cars are like a window into all the bright possibilities on the other side of the walls.Marie?s cards show trouble ahead, but I comb through them for every hint of good fortune. Strength is at her crown. ?You are a strong woman,? I tell her. In truth I am amazed at her ability to smile, to radiate cheerfulness and grace after a month in this place which, for all it's amenities, is still driving me crazing with boredom after less than a day.?Ani ?zkah,? she agrees, smiling and nodding with confidence. ?I am strong.?And then Sol gets called by the guards, to be ready to go. Whatever is happening to her, she seems joyful about it. The cards? prediction is confirmed, and she leaves us, smiling.The guards, for reasons of their own, move me to a different cell. I am settling into the solitude when the door opens and they usher in Irina, from Russia--Siberia, to be exact. Irina is plump and middle-aged, like me, and she makes herself at home, taking off her blouse and relaxing in her slip. She wears a gold icon around her neck and gold, spoked earrings and she tells me she is a doctor, a gynecologist who has been in Israel for eight years. She speaks fluent Hebrew but little English, and we communicate in Hebrew words I drag up from my deep memory like archaeological relics. She has a big bagful of food and drink, and she makes me drink a cup of orangina and shares her face cream. Although we are both fifty six years old, I can?t help but notice how much better preserved she appears. Her hair is still brown, her face neatly made up, her mouth a red rosebud and her skin clear of wrinkles. Whereas I have no hairbrush--it disappeared in the original search at the airport, myskin is dry and covered with a fine net of wrinkles, and I am coming to more and more resemble the Hag of the Underworld.Irina does what I think of as ?the woman thing?...she flirts with the guards, purses up her little rosebud mouth and lowers her eyes, scolds them from time to time, pleads with them. I can?t do it. It?s not that I don?t know how, I just can?t bring myself to do it even though I know that the way I am with them--clear, calm and stubborn--makes them angry.Irina comforts me as I get bad news from my lawyer, news which convinces me that I have little chance of winning a case. My own cards look consistantly dismal.Irina goes off to Moscow. I try again to sleep. In the night I am jolted awake with the conviction that I have made a terrible mistake in abandoning my case. But in the morning, when I might still get word to my lawyer to carry on with it, the cards say over and over again that it is useless, and time to make a strategic retreat. I can?t ever know, really, if they?re right or wrong, if I?ve lost all objectivity, if my own inner sense of agreement with their verdict is accurate or influenced by the stress of going cold turkey from all my usual addictions and comforts: food, tea, exercise, and above all, work. In the end, I have to make some decision, so I decide to go.The morning brings two sweet, doll-like Filipina women, sisters who have come, they say, to spend Holy Week with a friend. Immigration has not believed them, and after yelling and shouting and threatening, is sending them back. They are slim and delicate and beautiful, and one speaks English quite well. She is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Tourism, she tells me, and says, again and again, repeating it like a mantra: ?You come to the Phillipines, you will not need visa.? They huddle on the bunk in a state of shock, two delicate, frightened birds, while I urge them to eat, to rest, and assure them that they don?t need to be afraid, that nothing terrible will happen to them. Finally I read their cards, too. I feel like I have become the Hag of the Underworld.I?m glad to see their faces brighten a bit, imagining they can go home now with at least a good story and a bit of confidence in a brighter future predicted for them by the old Witch in the bowls of the Israeli jail. Just as I finish the second sister?s reading, the guards come to escort me to the plane. I?m in the back of the van with the tall, good-looking guard whom Irina told me was the good one, the one with a heart of gold. ? I noticed you were doing something with the cards,? he says. ?You read them? What are they called?And while they load my luggage onto the plane, I read his palm.Israel is a place where faith is either magnified or abandoned, where belief becomes delusion easily, shifts to fanaticism, or burns itself out into cynical ash. From my first visit there with my Hebrew High School student trip when I was fifteen, For me, something in the air or the water or the energy always challenges every system of belief or faith I come in with: from my childhood faith in a personal God that deserted me in the midst of the Hebrew High School youth trip I was on at fifteen, to my belief that nonviolence would easily turn the hearts of the Israelis back toward justice for all people of the land. And my faith in a refuge.But I continue to believe in this: that in even the terrible places of the world, we find.the small hands of sisterhood, reaching across boundaries and borders and walls, across gaps of culture and language and belief to do acts of kindness for one another. And that in the end,that power is strong enough to break down the walls.
One monotonous day is followedby another monotonous, identical day. The samethings will happen, they will happen again --the same moments find us and leave us.A month passes and ushers in another month.One easily guesses the coming events;they are the boring ones of yesterday.And the morrow ends up not resembling a morrow anymore.-Constantine P Cavafy//blog.chewxy.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/monotony.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
[Thanks to 13ben for this link]The Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the miniscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.
Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.
There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.
Dear Air America Executives,
The departure of Randi Rhodes has left a major gap in programming that can only be filled by one voice. Sam Seder combines humor and wit with in-depth new analysis, and his vital voice in progressive radio deserves a prominent spot in your daily lineup.
Please give Seder the chance to reach his devoted listeners on a daily basis.
(Lotsa great vids of Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder at the site)
In this year’s presidential campaign, the major media want you to focus on the candidates’ gaffes, their tactics toward one another’s gaffes, the flows of political gossip and four second sound bytes.
Over and over again this is the humdrum pattern. Is Obama an elitist because of what he said about small towns in Pennsylvania? Why do Hillary and Bill exaggerate? Will Bill’s mouth drag Hillary down? Will Barack’s pastor drag him down? What about the gender factor? The race factor? Will they figure?
Who has more experience on Day One? What is McCain’s wizardry over the reporters on the campaign trail? Can McCain project any human warmth? Which state must Hillary win and by what margin to continue in the race?
On the Sunday talk shows, it is the same couple dozen members of the opinion oligopoly. There is Bill Kristol bringing home the neocon bacon with dreary frequency. There is the James Carville/Mary Matalin spouse show featuring their squabbling over ideology.
Meanwhile the daily struggle of the American people, absorbing the results of the power abuses by the rich, powerful and corporate, continues outside this inbred force field of insipid coverage and commentary.
The people hear nothing regarding what McCain, Obama and Clinton will do about runaway drug, gasoline, and heating oil prices, not to mention what these Senators have already not done in these areas of public outcry.
Disintegration is everywhere. Public works are crumbling — schools, clinics, public transit, libraries, drinking water and sewage-treatment plants. Tax dollars are being used to destroy more of Iraq and to subsidize or bail out companies recklessly run by obscenely overpaid CEOs. Public deficits are soaring.
Corporate criminals laugh all the way to the bank and back. Eighty percent of the workers have been falling behind while the growth of the economy, until last October, made the rich richer and the hyper-rich go off the charts.
One of three workers lives on Wal-Mart wage levels. Nearly fifty million Americans are without health insurance. Eighteen thousand of these Americans die each year because they cannot afford health care, according to the Institute of Medicine. The recession deepens.
The corporate giants are abandoning millions of American workers as they move whole industries to dictatorial regimes abroad where political elites dictate wages, ban independent trade unions, and given sufficient grease, reduce other costs for these companies. Only American CEOs are not outsourced in this mad dash for greed and profits.
All our democratic institutions — courts, agencies, legislatures — are bypassed by “pull-down” autocratic trade treaties like the secretive World Trade Organization and NAFTA.
Wall Street operators seethe with reckless risks and then expect Washington to bail them out. Sure, why not? Washington is run by Wall Street executives on temporary job assignment in high government positions. The big corporations are big government.
Consumers are facing rapidly rising food prices, more home foreclosures, and rising rents. They have lost control over their money, as shown by the daily gouging by credit card companies, cell phone operators and the thousands of imposed fees, penalties, and charges, so well described in the new book Gotcha Capitalism by MSNBC reporter Bob Sullivan. Poverty increases.
Each year, about 58,000 Americans die from air pollution (EPA figures), and 100,000 patients lose their lives from medical negligence in hospitals and many more from hospital-induced infections. Have you heard any of the major campaigns pay any attention to these grim casualty levels?
Anxious workers feel shut out — they are disrespected, denied claims, arbitrarily laid off and just plain helpless on the shifting sands and seas of corporate globalization.
Fully 81 percent believe the country is going in the wrong directions. Almost as many believe corporations have too much control over their lives. And 61 percent polled say the major parties are failing.
Now turn on the television and radio coverage of the presidential campaign. How much of the above is reflected in the incessant distractions about tactics, gaffes and the fervid money-raising race?
Can the press and pundits ever be serious if the people do not grab hold of politics and make them become serious about their pleas, their plight and their revulsions? If voters want a concise mission statement, read the preamble to the Constitution, which starts “We the People…” not “We the Corporations….”
There is a responsibility attached to those words.
Women & Socialism Conference in Los Angeles
Revolutionary Speakers, Workshops & DiscussionClick Here to Register for the ConferenceSaturday, April 26, 11am-4pm (Registration begins at 10am)
137 N. Virgil Ave., #231, Los Angeles
Map and DirectionsPublic Transportation
(5 min walk from Vermont & Beverly Metro Red Line stop)
For more info call 323-810-3380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Women & Socialism Conference is just two weeks away. Be part of this important event and help build the class struggle. It will be a very special day of Marxist analysis and discussion on the struggle for women's liberation and socialism.
Learn about the roots of women's oppression and why socialism is the way forward for women and all working and oppressed people. Find out how to get involved with the struggle for a better, more equal world. The conference will feature speakers, workshops, cultural presentations, discussion and more. Childcare and food will be provided and parking will be available. Invite friends, family members and co-workers. Register today by filling out the form below!
Hosted by the Party for Socialism and Liberation: www.PSLweb.org.Women & Socialism Conference topics include:* Is socialism possible in the United States?
* Women in revolution: from Cuba to Palestine ...
* Women in class society: from matriarchy to patriarchy
* Fight against sexism, racism & homophobia
* Women under attack: welfare, reproductive rights, violence against women
* Immigrant women: the struggle for full equality
* Socialism, women & the 2008 capitalist elections
* Women's struggle & the fight for working class unity
* How students can struggle for women's liberation
PSL presidential candidateGloria La Rivawill be a featured speaker, along with many others.
------------------------------------------------------Party for Socialism and Liberationhttp://email@example.com N. Virgil Ave, #203, Los Angeles 90004
For more info call 323-810-3380Get involved in the struggle for socialism! Join the PSL today!
From the freewillastrology newsletter
My docu-fiction memoir: *THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE*is available for sale at http://tinyurl.com/2ftyq6and can be read online at http://tinyurl.com/3c2j4x(Scroll down the page to find the link to Chapter 1)
Here's an excerpt:
Please answer as many of the following questions as you can. Work with
ferocious intensity and/or gentle reflection. Don't push on till you're
exhausted, but try to come as close to total combustion as you can.
Be innocently truthful and spontaneously thoughtful, or else gratuitously
sarcastic and recklessly flippant. If you find yourself responding with ideas
that you used to believe but don't any more, abandon them and start
Take advantage of this rare opportunity to be creative and authentic for
no reason. Don't save yourself for "something better."
Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What did you dream last night?
2. What image or symbol represents the absolute of your desires?
3. In what ways has your fate been affected by invisible forces you don't understand or are barely aware of?
4. Tell a good lie.
5. What were the circumstances in which you were most dangerously alive?
6. Are you a good listener? If so, describe how you listen. If not, explain why not.
7. Compose an exciting prayer in which you ask for something you're not supposed to.
8. What's the difference between right and wrong?
9. Name something you've done to undo, subvert, or neutralize the Battle of the Sexes.
10. Have you ever witnessed a child being born? If so, describe how it changed you.
11. Compose a beautiful blasphemy that makes you feel like crying.
12. What do you do to make people like you?
13. If you're not familiar with the Jungian concept of the "shadow," find out about it. If you are, good. In either case, give a description of the nature of your personal shadow.
14. Talk about three of your most interesting personalities. Give each one a name and a power animal.
15. Make up a dream in which you lose control and thereby attract a crowd of worshipers.
16. Name your greatest unnecessary taboo and how you would violate it if it didn't hurt anyone.
17. Give an example of how smart you are in the way you love.
18. What ignorance do you deserve to be forgiven for?
19. What was the pain that healed you the most?
20. Make a prediction about yourself.
In the ancient Greek epic, Odysseus and his men become stranded on an island belonging to the sorceress Circe. In a famous scene, Circe uses magic to turn the men into pigs. Later, though, in an episode that's often underemphasized by casual readers, she changes them back into men -- only they're stronger, braver, and more beautiful than before they were pigs. Tell an analogous story from your own life.
My partner and I hitch-hiked down to California to interview Derrick Jensen, an author better known for his radical philosophy than for fiction. But I had read Walking on Water, a book he wrote about writing and education, and it was one of the impetuses for this collection.
It was a windy, rainy day in a rather dull, lifeless, stripmall sort of town, and when my partner and I spotted a small circle-A graffitied on a grocery store we immediately began to suspect Derrick. He met us and directed us to a nearly empty restaurant where we conducted our interview. I didn’t work up the nerve to ask him about the graffiti. Instead, we talked about language, fiction, writing, anarchism and dungeons & dragons. He even managed to bring my sex life into the conversation. Politely, mind you.
SiTW: I’m trying to talk to radical authors, specifically anarchist authors, and more on the fiction side about the intersection between the art of writing and where political things lie, and how they influence each other.
I’m going to be interviewing mostly fiction writers, but I’m interested in interviewing you because you did Walking On Water [a book about writing and education] and I’ve heard that you also write fiction, although I haven’t seen any of it.
DJ: I’ve got a graphic novel coming in January [As the World Burns, now released], and I’ve got two novels that nobody is interested in, so I’m going to publish them myself. And when I finish the current project, the next project I’m going to do is another novel and I’ve got another novel planned after that.
SiTW: What are the novels about?
DJ: The two that are written but aren’t published, one of them is about a character who is essentially like me—but is a woman. She is basically a paper revolutionary; she talked about how fucked up the system is and how it’s irredeemable and how we need to fight back, and she works on toxics issues in the inner city, but like with me she’s an analyst and a theorist. And then one night she gets mugged by these three guys, and as she’s getting mugged she gets really mad at them and she’s cursing at them about “I’m in here trying to help stop all of you from getting cancer is this is what you fucking do” and what she doesn’t know is that one of ‘em’s little sister died of cancer just before, and the other one’s cousin died of cancer, everyone’s dying of cancer. And it really pisses them in the moment, but then they go back and they think about it, and the one guy, he goes to visit his brother in the penitentiary, and his brother says she’s right, and he uses the example that if you take gunpowder and you put it on a table and you set it off, all you get is a burn mark on your table and a stink in your house, but if you take that gunpowder and you put it behind a bullet you’ve got something. And what he was saying is that you’re just beating up on other people just like yourself, but if you take this anger that you got and aim it, then you’re going to have something.
And then she gets over the mugging and six months later she’s working late at night and the guy shows up at her office, one of the guys who mugged her, and says “I thought about it and you’re right. We did it.” And what they did is they kidnapped the CEO of this chemical company that’s poisoning the inner city. He says “you’re right, and we did it, he’s out in the car, he’s in the trunk, so, help us figure out what to do with him.” She has a choice. If she just tells them to get lost then what she’s doing is acknowledging that everything she’s every said is rhetoric and nothing more. On the other hand, if she participates, she’s participating in a capital crime. To go ahead and ruin the book, she participates, she kills him. Kills the CEO. And that’s half the book. Interspersed with all of that is what happens afterwards. Basically, everything’s fine for awhile, and then one of the three guys is a drug addict, and two of the guys it really politicizes them and they end up going underground. And the other one is one night whacked out of his mind and he tells his drug dealer, spills the beans, and of course there’s a big reward for whoever killed the CEO. And so after that she ends up on the run and her parents die of cancer, the feds killed her niece, interspersed with that main plot is what happens in the years that follow.
The other novel that is already written is about this character ... It’s a pretty interesting book, because you know my writing style obviously: what I’ll do is have a central story and then I’ll hang all this analysis off of it, like The Culture of Make Believe. The main character is still me and I still tell stories, some of which are true, like in this book I’ve got a partner named Allison, and then this character, the Derrick character, starts falling through time. And what that means is that he can be sitting right here and suddenly he’ll see how it was 10 minutes ago, or 10 minutes from now, 100 years ago. Then he sees this serial killer dumping the bodies of women on this golf course. There was a golf course in Spokane that’s in Hangman Valley, and hangman Valley is called that because this white guy, this white colonel called Indians in to parlay under a flag of truce and then he hanged them. It’s pretty typical stuff. And they named a golf course after one of the Indians that was hanged. And the stream that runs through there used to have salmon in it and it doesn’t anymore. So it’s pretty amazing because in this one spot you’ve got everything wrong with the culture. You’ve got ecocide, genocide, misogyny and golf.
And it was a serial killer dumping the bodies of women on the golf course. So anyway this character sees that, he’s walking down by the golf course and he sees this guy dumping a body, and he’s sees other stuff, and eventually he sees the serial killer dumping his own body and the body of his girlfriend, and so the guys like what the hell am I going to do now, so the first that they do is that they leave, but then they come back to fight him and blah blah blah.
So that’s what that novels about. And the graphic novel coming out next year started out as a spoof of those 50 simple things books and then goes from there to have these space aliens land and they are going to consume the planet and one of their waste products is gold, their feces are gold. They can’t believe that people will do anything for gold here so they basically give a bunch of gold to the president and he gives them permits to take everything on the planet which makes it legal which means that nobody can fight them because of course we cant fight anybody if they got permits. So the aliens are consuming the planet and eventually wild animals start fighting back and some of the domesticates start joining them.
SiTW: Who is that one being published by?
DJ: Seven Stories.
SiTW: And they haven’t published the novels?
DJ: They didn’t even look at 'em, they don’t want them
SiTW: It just seems like you would have a lot of clout at this point as a respected author, but it doesn’t really help you get your fiction published?
DJ: It doesn’t even help me get my nonfiction published. I had a book come out this spring, it’s an anti-zoo book, and we had my agent whom I like a lot sent it to a bunch of publishers and they all turned it down. I woulda thought that with 10 books out it would get a lot easier, and it is a lot easier, certainly from when I started, but its gone from impossible to difficult. I don’t understand it
SiTW: I mean, I know a lot of people who would probably just read everything that you write, and publish, and you would probably do fine with self-publishing
DK: That’s what I’m going to do. And the reason I feel comfortable doing that is because I produced the two CDs, the first one of which, god, stinks, but the second one is good. Putting out another CD, and then I put out a novel, The Day Philosophy Dies, by Casey Maddicks. So I’ve had experience with this. The problem is that I stink at distribution.
SiTW: How did you get involved in writing, and specifically in teaching writing.
DJ: I always wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid. The thing is, when I was in high school, I went through calculus, and I got accepted with a full ride scholarship to an engineering school. And if you get through calculus in high school and you get a full ride scholarship to an engineering school, then you’re insane if you want to go be a writer. I tried to transfer at some point and the registrar at where I wanted to transfer actually said to me: “you have a full ride scholarship and you want to transfer here? Are you insane?” Because of course when I got out of engineering school, I would have started at 35 or 40k back in 1983, honestly at this point I’ve still never made anything close to 35 or 40k. It’s the big cliché, and I’m sure you know this: writing is a great way to make a life and a terrible way to make a living. So if you presume that money is what’s important than you’d be an idiot to try to do something else. Even though I didn’t really like science, didn’t like math.
I was miserable in college and I realized I didn’t want to wake up when I was 65 and go “who the hell’s life was this” and so I realized that I would do whatever it took to be a writer. Then I spent my twenties... if you’re going to look at this from a production standpoint, I spent my 20s doing nothing, if you’re going to look at this from a soul standpoint, I spent my 20s getting grounded. But that sounds a lot more hoitie toitie than it actually was: what it actually was is that I spent a lot of time sitting by a river, which once again sounds really enlightened and everything but it’s not, I sat by the river and then I went home and watched the cubs. I spent a lot of time doing nothing.
My mom was very supportive of that, but my mom doesn’t have any patience for people who are lazy. She just trusted me. How did she know that I was just going to waste 4 or 5 years figuring out who I was as opposed to just being a lazy person who was going to waste my life? Which is not to say that a person has to be productive; I think that it’s really important for people to vomit up the effects of their schooling and to teach themselves how to think, to teach themselves how to write, to teach themselves what is important, and to teach themselves how to feel. All of those things are really important and it can take a really long time and I have a lot of patience for that process, in myself and others, and for people spending a lot of time confused. The thing that I don’t have patience for is for people who are just sort of... I don’t have a lot of patience for laziness. How do you know? I’ve had some friends that I think obviously have some issues, that they have tremendous talent and they’re never going to fulfill that talent because they are too lazy to do that work, or they have emotional issues or low self-esteem, any combination.
I remember, an important point came to me when I was 27. I called this friend of mine, and he gave me this lecture. If he had done sooner would have bugged the hell out of me but as it was it was perfect, he said to me, “You have been gifts, your ability to write is a gift. And if the universe gives you gifts and you don’t use them in service to your community, then you’re not worth shit.” And that’s where I really fall on the whole laziness line, that if you’ve got some gifts, you damn well better use ‘em, you better repay the universe for giving you those gifts. It’s like caterpillars and butterflies: you’ve gotta go through this period of pupation, and you have to go through this, and that’s what my 20s were, this period of pupation where I was becoming no longer the person I was as a teenager and becoming the person I am as an adult. And perhaps that process would have gone faster for me had I been in a functioning community that could have told me that this is the process I was going through as opposed to me just knowing that I was miserable? I mean, I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like my life, I didn’t like anything.
There’s a great line by Herman Hesse, in Demian: “I wanted only to act according to the promptings that came from my true self, why was that so very difficult?” It’s a lot easier now because I have an idea ...
Oh I gotta tell you this. I was doing a talk in Los Angeles several years ago. And these parents had brought their 14 year-old daughter, and she was this total fan. It was in this church, and it was this little talk, actually it was more of a discussion than a lecture, and then she started talking about, “what should I do with my life?” I’m not really saying anything, I’m just listening to her talk. This is after the sort of big Q&A and now there’s like 15 of us sorta sitting around. This was so great because she was sitting there, and her parents were sitting behind her. And she’s just rambling like a 14 year-old would do, and then at one point she says “maybe what I should do is find what I love to do, and then do it again.” And then I said “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said, could you say it again?” And then she said it again. And I said “The acoustics in here are really bad because I still can’t hear you. Can you say it again?” And then she said it again. And I said “god it’s really weird, because I’m still not understanding, can you say it again?” and she said it again. It was great cause I still remember her parents eyes were just shining with tears, and I had her say it again and again until... I mean she obviously figured out what was going on pretty quick. But I mean, that’s it. Figuring out what you love to do, and then doing it again.
And that’s sort of the short version, believe it or not, of how I became a writer.
SiTW: You mentioned that writing is a sort of a gift that you need to use in service of the community. What do you feel...
DJ: For me, if someone else knows explosives, they should use that. I mean whatever.
That’s the thing, I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from people over the years, it bugs the shit out of me. I’ve gotten probably 10. Organizers saying, “you know, you’ve written enough. Now you should organize.” I was thinking, jesus christ, I’m not an organizer. That’s not my gift. I’m terrible at that. I mean, I’m not really a people person—most writers aren’t—I mean, if I was social, I wouldn’t be a writer. So whatever your gifts are.
SiTW:What do you feel like you can accomplish through your writing to serve your community. have you seen anything specific and tangible.
DJ: Well there’s still dams standing, so obviously my work isn’t doing what I want. I’ve gotten bazillions of notes from people, and the most common type of note I get is saying “I thought I was the only one who was thinking these things, that civilization is unsustainable, and that it’s insane, that working in a wage job is insane,” or whatever part, “I thought I was the only person who thought that zoos are insane. So thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone.” And that’s really gratifying and that makes me really happy. And I’ve gotten so many notes from people, geez I’ve gotten notes from women who’ve—never men, have done this, oddly enough—I’ve gotten women who’ve divorced their abusive husbands they say because of my books—obviously they were ready for it—, there’s people who’ve become activists because of it, there’s all sorts of stuff. And that’s really great. And the bottom line is, how does it help the land. Does it? I don’t know. I mean that’s really the bottom line. This is something I say in Endgame, I say in my talks, you know nobody’s going to give a shit as to what good books we wrote, or whether we did treesits or didn’t do treesits, or whether we recycled, or whether we were vegetarians or not vegetarians, or whether the potstickers [which we were eating] were any good, they’re not going to care about any of that. What they’re going to care about is whether they can breathe the air and drink the water. The land is everything. And so, is my work helping to save the salmon? I don’t know. And that’s a tremendous source of frustration.
I mean as a writer you are, by definition, abstracted, from the real work, I mean there are layers between you—even when I affect somebody and let them know that they’re not alone—there’s still those layers.
So what do I want, is your question? What do I want to accomplish?
SiTW: What do you feel like can be accomplished through writing, in the sense of the health of the landbase, etc.
I’m doing a conference, I hate conferences, but I’m doing a conference next week actually, South Carolina, and it’s a conference of nature writing or something. And the reason I’m doing it is because Orion published an excerpt of Endgame that really helped jumpstart the book, and they’ve a lot to do with it, so I’m doing it basically as a favor to them. And, [sigh] one of the things I’m going to talk about is... basically for years I was going to write an essay called “why I can’t read nature writing” cause I hate most nature writing. One of the reasons I hate it is because I’m not sure that the world needs more descriptions of beautiful places. Look out your fucking back door, ya know? What we need is to stop this culture from killing the planet. Its like, I’m writing a book right now with Eric McBay, about shit, about decay, and basically the book is about how this culture has taken some beautiful gift to the landbase and turned it into a toxic thing. In nature, somebody’s shit is somebody’s food. There is no waste in nature. You’ve seen, I’m sure, that there’s 6 times as much plastic as phytoplankton in the ocean. This culture’s creating these... I mean, how long is this [points to a plastic water cup] going to be here, or this [points to my recorder]? And I’m not picking on you; I’ve got a truck, and a computer, and blah blah blah. I mean, for crying out loud, how long is this [grabs the tablecloth] going to last I mean, I don’t know if it’s made of polyester or if it’s made of cotton, all of these things. And it’s an interesting book because I’ve always been fascinated by decay, it’s really fun, you know, all these fun facts about shit and fungus and everything else, but a problem Eric and I were having with it, one of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot as I’ve been writing this book ... RD Laing, in his book The Politics of Experience had the best first line ever of any book, which is: “few books today are forgivable.” The whole book is about alienation, how we’re so horribly desperately alienated. The point is if your book doesn’t start with this alienation as your starting point, and work towards resolving it, insofar as any piece of writing can resolve alienation, which is a big question, then it’s not forgivable and you’d be better off with blank pages. Basically in this book, I’m saying that any book that doesn’t start from the fact that this culture is killing the planet and work to resolve that is unforgivable. We’d be better off with blank pages.
So what do I want to accomplish with my writing? I want to bring down civilization, I want to stop this culture from killing the planet. And writing is my gift, and writing is my weapon, and if it ends up that writing isn’t a good enough weapon I’ll have to choose another weapon. Because, and this is what I’m going to say next week, is that so many nature writers forget that writing is a means to an end. Maybe if the planet weren’t being killed then we’d all have the luxury of just writing fun little stories, that it doesn’t matter if it’s a fun little story about a vampire or a fun little story about the beautiful bird out your window. It doesn’t matter. Right now we don’t have that luxury. And that’s a question I think about every day. How does my work help to bring about civilization?
SiTW: What are your associations with anarchism, and would you describe yourself as an anarchist? If so how did you get interested in it?
DJ: I get called an anarchist lot. I think that’s the most accurate way to say it, I get called an anarchist a lot, and I don’t mind. Do I self identify as an anarchist? Sometimes. It’s a label. Like any other label, I guess I’ll use it when it feels right, and I won’t use it when it doesn’t feel right. I’ll tell you this review I got one time, it’s so funny, I don’t remember what magazine it was in, someone was attacking me for not being enough of anarchist. How can you be not enough of an anarchist? Isn’t that a contradiction? Do we have rules? This one anarchist actually told me this joke: “If there’s a party, how do you recognize the anarchists? They’re the ones all wearing the same uniform.” I read a really good book, History of Anarchism, and the author took anarchism back to Lao-tzu, back to the cynics in Greece. If I can use his definition... I don’t remember his definition. If I can use his lineage of anarchism, I’m down for anarchism. If I go with some of it’s other manifestations then I’m probably not. I got interviewed for Green Anarchy a few years ago. And the way I started the interview they asked me if I’m a green anarchist and I said “you know? I don’t give a shit. If you want to call me that that’s great, but what I really care about is living in a world that has wild salmon, and living in a world that has no dioxin in a mothers breast milk, a world that has icecaps, whatever, and if that makes me a green anarchist, great, if it makes me not a green anarchist, great.” It’s the same with anarchism ... I have problems with labels anyway. I mean it took me years before I’d call myself a writer. People would say “what are you” and I’d say “I’m a person” and that felt really precious to me. So yeah, I’m a writer, I’m an anarchist, I’m an anarcho-primitivist, whatever you want to call me, whatever, but then I’m a capitalist for that matter; I mean I sell books, I have a little publishing company. So yeah I’m a capitalist and damn proud of it. Whatever. It’s all just... once again John Zerzan's thought has been very important to me, I like John. Do you know john at all?
SiTW: I don’t know him personally.
DJ: He and I, we’ve been friends for ten years or something. And for ten years we’ve been having this great disagreement about the degree to which symbolic representation is always alienating. And it’s just, if anarchism consists of conversations like that, then yeah, sure, it’s wonderful, respectful, it’s the way I wish every disagreement was. Each of us is very respectful of the other’s position, and each of us respects the others work, and we still have some disagreements that we don’t hold back on expressing, and it’s very... I want to be clear: it’s not like “yeah I think your works great but you’re so full of shit on that” its not like that at all, it’s like okay, symbolic representation, what about birds chirping, I would say. Is that symbolic, is that a form of a language? Ge’s like “well yeah,” and then we’ll drop it and talk about something else, and then we’ll come back to it six months later.
SiTW: That was actually my next question.
SiTW: it was about primitivism and anti-language and mediation. And I was going to say that one of the reasons I feel like more people connect with your work than the other primitivist theory, it doesn’t say, by using words that I have to look up in a dictionary, that I can’t use language. Because I think that a critique of mediation, an awareness of mediation, and how, yeah, there’s barriers between people and your work when they read it, I think that all of that is very important...
DJ: Right. Well that’s another thing, John Zerzan says if we’re sitting in a restaurant and it catches on fire, then it would be nice if one of us said to the other one, “you know it’s on fire, we need to leave.” There is a place for language, and the thing that helped resolve for me the question of whether language is inherently alienating, I mean its a no-brainer, so you two are partners?
DJ: Are you lovers?
DJ: So if I say “lips touching, tongues touching, kissing in the ear, whispering in the ear,” if I say all of those things, then it’s different than them happening, and they have a different effect. Obviously words are not actions, and so in that sense they are inherently alienating. I mean I can write up this really passionate sexy scene, and it’s still just ink on paper. Likewise I can write this really horrible scene like the introduction to Culture of Make Believe. One day I was driving and I pulled off the interstate, and there was a stop sign on the off ramp. And I suddenly got it. The stop sign doesn’t stop your car, the stop sign tells you to stop your car. And so I suddenly understand.
Joseph Campbell said this about the people who literally believe the Bible: “You don’t go to a restaurant and eat the menu. The menu is telling you something else, the menu is pointing to something.” So as long as we recognize that me saying “there’s a fire over there” is not the fire itself, then there shouldn’t a problem. The problem comes—and this is a real problem in this culture, because people are insane—when we confuse what is real and what is not real, or when other people do, and so they confuse the words for the reality. That’s when it becomes a problem. This is part of a much bigger problem, I see this with all the so-called solutions to global warming, is that they all take industrial civilization and industrial capitalism as a given, and the natural world as secondary. So basically, it’s how can we maintain this culture, and it would be nice if we still have a world. But what is primary is that right there [points to the trees outside], what’s primary are those trees out there, the rain. That’s what’s real, everything else is negotiable. Does that make sense?
SiTW: Yeah. You mention in Endgame that you used to play Dungeons & Dragons. Do you think that fantasy, the creation of imaginary worlds, has played a role in your political/social development? We play D&D is the reason we ask.
DJ: You do now, or you used to?
SiTW: We do now, we started again.
DJ: Is it still.... I have to tell you that this is a point of pride, that I started playing, this also says how old I am, I started playing back when it was three little itty bitty paperback books, and then soon after they came out with the big hardbacks, that was a couple years later. What is sort of the current state of it? Is it 300,000 books now?
SiTW: Yeah, though you still theoretically need only three.
DJ: The same old three?
SiTW: They changed the system. When I first learned, in like 1990 when I was really young, it was one system, and in 2000 a different company bought it, and they changed the system.
DJ: One thing, I don’t think this answers your question, one thing that I learned, didn’t have to do with activism, it was an existential question. I had a character that would die, and then I’d just roll up another character. I was never one of those people who would kill themselves when their character died, we were all just like, “Okay I didn’t like him anyway, let’s roll up another one. God, this one is really stupid and really weak and really not charismatic. okay ill send him in to get killed” and one time when I was rolling up a character after having yet another one day... we also didn’t play it “right” whatever that means, because we never got past 4th level
SiTW: You just died?
DJ: Yeah. Plus I think that the way we handed out the experience we were too cheap with it: it would take you weeks and weeks and months of playing to get to second level, cause I mean you kill an orc you get 12 experience points and you got to get 1000 to get to the next level? Anyway, I was rolling up yet another character after having yet another character die--and this was a character I really liked, you know, had some really good characteristics--and I realized you know, this is the end, this is not a big deal for me, but if this character was alive, then this character would be dead. And I suddenly realized that it’s the same for me. If I was one of these characters, I mean, I don’t wanna just... especially because it was a character I liked, it had really high qualities of some sort or another I don’t remember what. It’s like okay, I’ve been given these gifts by the universe, and I’m going to die some day, and I’m not going to get rewards. So far as I know, when I die I’m done, so I need to live my life to the fullest. I need to be what I want to be, to explore those gifts. So that was the lesson it really taught me.
I don’t think it taught me anything as an activist. In retrospect, the lessons of Dungeons & Dragons, I don’t know if it’s any better now, they’re appalling, they’re so pro-civ. So basically, lawful is a good thing, that means you obey the rules. Why are orcs and kobolds the bad guys?
SiTW: We play that way actually, a lot of us play chaotic good, and lots of us play orcs and kobolds.
DJ: All of these various creatures who are just living their lives, what are they called? Ochre jelly?
SiTW: yeah and the gelatinous cube.
DJ: Yeah. It’s just hanging out, it’s not hurting anybody, and we see anything like that, giant slugs, you gotta kill ‘em. You gotta kill everything you see. The lessons were pretty appalling, in retrospect. Another thing I thought is pretty interesting about Dungeons & Dragons ... I thought it would be a pretty darn good psychological evolution tool. A lot of the people I played with, I mean some of them might be real sadists. When we start playing, and these really nasty, they devise all these extraordinary tortures. It’s like, “I guess I understand you a bit better now, don’t I?”
yeah, we had to do an intervention last summer at our house, because I was playing and it was mostly boys, all these anarchist boys that pride themselves on their feminism and everything, and they just started getting sexist, their characters would try to sleep with every woman who came their way, and like, we had to stop and say “you alls characters cant do this, why are you acting this way”
SiTW: Have you run into any impediments in publishing because of your status as a radical, of how far you take your words?
SiTW: I think the question is “have I ever not run into impediments to getting stuff published.” Yes, I’ve run into those impediments. I was actually surprised they published Endgame. I’m lucky; no publisher has ever tried to censor me, no publisher has ever tried to take the edge off my work. I’ve heard so many stories of other writers who have been censored. Of course I’m also going with small publishers who don’t give me big advances, but I’m very pleased with my publishers in that way. I don’t know if you know this, but the rule in publishing is that the writer has final say over all of the words and the publisher has final say over things like the cover, the title and marketing. So if they were to say “I want you to cut this” I would say “I will listen to your arguments” and so it’s been great because they always recognize that I have the final say, and that’s how we have the discussion.
I really like my agent right now. He’s great, his politics are very radical obviously. And he doesn’t tell me to edit my stuff. I’ve fired agents before. I had one agent that read the first 70 pages of Language and told me that if I took out the social criticism and the family stuff I’d have a book. I fired her. I’ve had agents, early on in my career, try to stifle me, try to “steer me towards bigger audiences” they would say. Sierra Club didn’t take the zoo book because they thought it was too much of a rant. They said that it wouldn’t help animals at all. I think my fiction writing is good, I don’t think that that’s why it hasn’t gotten not accepted anywhere, part of it is the idea. If you have a book where someone kidnaps and kills a CEO, that’s totally different than if you have a book where somebody kidnaps and kills a woman. That’s every movie that’s on HBO right now, that’s what you do. It’s what George Gerber talked about: casting and fate. George Gerber was the TV violence guy; he studied violence from the 50s till 2005 when he died. And when people talk about how much violence is on TV, they’re citing his studies. I interviewed him, he’s a great guy. He said everybody gets his stuff wrong, they always misinterpret him. His problem is not that there’s violence on TV, he doesn’t care about that, or movies, his problem is that he says that violence is a social relation, and the question is who does what to whom. He studied how many times in movies men commit acts of violence, versus how many times do women commit acts of violence, and who is doing them, so what he found, no surprise, is that white males, on film and TV and movies, commit violence with impunity, and if a woman commits an act of violence, then the whole movie has to be about why would she do something so disturbing. But if you have Bruce Willis? Kills somebody in the first three minutes. And that’s really important because what he says is, these are stories. I mean there’s this great line by a Scottish balladeer, “If I could write all the ballads, I wouldn’t care who wrote the laws.” And it’s so true because stories are how we learn—we are for better or worse social creatures—and stories are how we learn how to be human beings. And if the stories you see routinely show people like you committing acts of violence and getting away with it, you’re going to be different than if stories routinely show you being victimized. That’s a really important thing. Why’d I bring that up? What was your question?
DJ: That’s one of the things that I think, is that it’s distasteful for a person to have a book where a woman, of all people, kills a CEO. Never mind that the body count in the book is pretty low. Two people die. The feds kill her niece, and she kills the CEO. That’s the other thing that’s pretty interesting, people have said: “oh my god, your books are so violent,” but that’s not true at all. The body count on my books is much lower than your standard Hollywood movie. The thing I’ve found really important is that I bring meaning to it. And the problem is, if you put meaning and violence together? It’s like... nature writers can say, “oh its so terrible” and philosophers can use big words to say “oh its so terrible” and then you can have this huge body count in a movie. But the problem is, if you put a body count together with the analysis, it’s not additive but multiplicative, do you see what I’m trying to say? And so that’s one of the things that’s really been scary, that’s one of the reasons why I think the work is more effective than some people’s.
SiTW: When I was talking to Ursula K LeGuin about it, she mentioned that the main thing was what she referred to how it was good for what people used to call consciousness raising, just kinda a general basic level of awareness, creating a culture... I feel like that’s one thing that your work has contributed to, is a culture where people actually talk about this.
DJ: I did this post to the Derrick Jensen discussion forum, maybe a month ago, that one of the reasons I don’t bother to learn primitive living skills is that I’m not going to survive the crash. Either those in power will kill me ... Somebody asked John Stockwell: “If everything you say about the CIA is true, then why are you still alive?” “Because they’re winning.” And so I’m safe for now. I can say whatever I want, they don’t give a shit. But if they start to lose, we’re all dead. And one’s purity and ones silence won’t save you. Those in power will do what it takes to maintain power. That’s one thing, the other thing is that Crohn’s Disease will kill me. So I’m dead through the crash. But that’s okay because if the big revolution comes that I’ve been working for my whole professional life, my whole personal life at this point, if that came I’d be done anyway, my works done. My work is about creating culture where what I’m writing about can take place. And once it starts, my work takes a long time ... Jesus, if I finished a book today it doesn’t come out for at least a year, so there’s a big time lag, and then after that, people have to read it, people have to digest it, they have to internalize it, they have metabolize it, they have to shit out what they don’t accept, and they have to turn what they do accept into theirs, and that takes years. And so my role is really a longer term thing. There’s this great movie, The Battle for Algiers. Have you seen it?
SiTW: No, but I’ve heard it was required viewing for the Black Panthers.
DJ: It’s also required viewing at West Point. It’s the movie on insurgency and anti-insurgency. And I was thinking about where I would fit into the movie. It’s about an insurgency against the French in Algeria, and where I would fit into this movie is that my books would be on the shelves of the people who are doing the fighting. That doesn’t mean I don’t have other roles; I spent most of the day today fighting a timber harvest plan. But what I’m really trying to do is lay a philosophical and emotional and intellectual groundwork for all of this. When Listening to the Land came out, Barry Lopez read the first line: “We are members of the most destructive culture ever to exist,” then he held it at arms length and said, “this is great, somebody is finally saying it.” And that’s what I do: I finally say the stuff that a lot of people are thinking. And yeah, I see my role the same as Ursula k LeGuin’s in that way. She has one of my favorite lines ever about writing, which is, “writing is a lot like sex, its better with two people.” It’s one thing to write in a journal, and it’s another to write for an audience. It’s an interactive thing, and a lot of people don’t understand that and a lot of people’s writing ends up being essentially journal writing that someone else is supposed to read. It’s like, “why the fuck am I supposed to read this? It’s boring as hell.” And I really like the way she puts that because it’s essentially like masturbating with another person. It’s like, “Hi I’m here, I’m having a great time, you don’t exist, but I don’t care.” Which is of course the patriarchal model. Tell her I think her work has been really vital.
SiTW: She also wrote possibly my favorite line about anarchism: “An anarchist is one who, given the choice, chooses responsibility.”
DJ: That’s great, under that definition, yeah, I’ll call myself an anarchist. One of the problems I’ve had with a lot of anarchists, is that frankly, I’ve known a lot of “anarchists” for whom it was basically an excuse to be irresponsible, and to be fuckups. I got into this little argument with these kids several years ago. They were saying that anarchism is about doing whatever you want whenever you want to do it. I said, you know, let’s say we’re all going to do an action. And you decide at the last minute that you don’t feel like doing it tonight, you’re going to watch a movie, you’re going to stay at home and smoke pot. And because you don’t show up, the action fails and my brother dies. I’m gonna kill you. Because my brother is dead because of you, because you chose to stay home and smoke pot. There has to accountability if we’re going to have any sort of real movement, there has to be discipline. The truth is I would want to vet him out before hand, so I wouldn’t get in the position where I was relying on him in the first place.
*O ME, man of slack faith so long!Standing aloof--denying portions so long;Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth;Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and can be none,but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does uponitself,Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production of the earthdoes.(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately--But it must berealized;I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest,And that the universe does.)Where has fail'd a perfect return, indifferent of lies or the truth?Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man?or in the meat and blood? 10Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into myself, I seethat there are really no liars or lies after all,And that nothing fails its perfect return--And that what are calledlies are perfect returns,And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what has precededit,And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as much asspace is compact,And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth--butthat all is truth without exception;And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or am,And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.*
From: http://dedroidify.blogspot.com"When we look at the causal world, it is rigidly bound by cause and effect. But when we reach a higher dimension of consciousness we find that the rigid walls of matter melt. Space and time lose their rigidity, and there is a mingling of the past, the present, and the future.Looking at the whole thing from this point of view, what we think about the universe - the laws, the effect and cause - is a product of our own consciousness. In our dimension of consciousness, the world is not illusory. It is real. But in the next higher state of consciousness it loses its solidity."
Posted by dedroidify
A lot of people (like me) find billboards a hideous blight on our cities and our countryside. Billboards blot out the natural beauty and architecture of communities, assets that should be highlighted, not hidden behind ugly billboards. In urban centers they are actually little more than trash. Rather than going away, corporate America is coming up with new ways to make things worse. For example, some big companies have taken things a step further - they turn huge buildings into giant advertising graphics. As Spreading the News points out what happens is a marketing type company scouts for a space (a building) to "hit up", once found they contact the realtor or owner, persuades them for X amount of dollars to rent or lease the space, generates a large ugly digital print known as "supergraphics" and has them installed, on the building for us to be bombarded with its imagery and be seen every morning while we either drive to work or every evening while we drive home. Lucky us. But as ugly as giant billboards, there is another model that is growing much faster and is just as hideous and probably more dangerous. Growingly (that is not a word according to spellcheck, but I don't care) we are faced with digital signs that change about every few seconds. From Connecticut to California, digital billboards are becoming an increasingly hot issue as outdoor advertising companies seek to convert existing billboards to digital and erect new ones. Critics say they are a driving distraction and a neighborhood eyesore that should be forbidden. Scenic America, which is fighting to stop these digital eyesores says, "The biggest threat now facing America's communities and highways is the proliferation of digital billboards." In Detroit, its one such billboard in particular is taking some heat from locals. A billboard on Interstate 75 near 7 Mile in Detroit has some residents in the area very upset. They say the billboard is too bright and is making sleep impossible. "It drive me crazy at night. I live right here," said resident Audrey Watson. "It shines right here in my family room." Well, Audrey you aren't alone in your anti-billboard feelings. Some citizens of Los Angeles have had enough after documenting their fair town has 11,000 "points of blight" on local streets allowed by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles City Council. It seems, too, any time any city has tried to limit and control what some call "litter on sticks," the billboard industry has fought hard to limit restrictions. Now, anti-billboard activists in LA have mounted a last-ditch effort to derail a proposal before the Los Angeles City Council that would place two 76-foot-tall billboards next to the 10 Freeway as part of an unusual trade-off to create a park in South Los Angeles. Although the double-faced billboards are planned for a gritty stretch of 16th Street near downtown Los Angeles, the proposal has drawn the ire of opponents in Westwood, Venice and Holmby Hills, who fear the decision will set a precedent -- clearing the way for towering signs at other freeway locations. "Once one billboard company gets this, then everybody will want the same thing, and there's no way you can stop that," said Ted Wu, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. In Long Beach, Calif., three neighborhood groups are fighting the construction of six digital billboards along local freeways; each sign would be 40 feet high, with a 30-by-20-foot screen. Members of the North Long Beach Action Group and the Bixby Knolls Improvement Association, believe the flashing signs would affect neighborhoods in North Long Beach, Bixby Knolls, just south of Long Beach Airport, and on the Westside. "Digital billboards of that size can be read from a quarter of a mile off the freeway," Martha Thuente, chair of the North Long Beach Project Area Committee told the Long Beach Press Telegram. "It destroys the visual aesthetics of an area." Though the industry claims billboards are essential providers of important information, polls reveal that they most people see them as ugly, intrusive, and uninformative. Between 1957 and 1977, at least eight polls found 70% or more of respondents to be anti-billboard. In the 1990s, pools found people in Florida, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Texas, Michigan, and Missouri all agreed that billboards are litter on a stick. In fact, virtually every credible poll that's been done reveals one fact: Americans do not like billboards. By a 10 to 1 margin, Floridians prefer reducing the number of billboards over further increases. 64% of the citizens in New Hampshire oppose to billboard advertising on highways, with 53% of total respondents strongly opposing billboards. 62% of Rhode Islanders state that billboards make state roads less attractive, as opposed to 31% who simply felt it made no difference. 96% of Houstonians believe it important to make major improvements in beautification of the city, and 79% of Houstonians support maintaining or strengthening the city's ordinance removing ALL billboards by 2013. 69% of Missourians believe that fewer billboards would make their state more attractive to tourists, while just 26% disagreed. Who likes these billboards anyway. Billboard companies and other advertisers - that's who. Says Paul Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Clear Channel Outdoor, "The more congested the area is, the more effective outdoor advertising can be." With TIVOS and VCRs allowing some of us the option to cut out TV ads, billboards are becoming ever more popular with the industry because even fickle viewers go outside --and find themselves often stuck in traffic when they do so -- so billboards are harder to avoid. There is no button to press that gets rid of them. The billboard companies do not exist nor multiply on their own. They are supported from local and multinational companies who use billboards as a cheap advertising alternative. And don't think the massive amounts of moola the industry puts into the pockets of local, state and national legislators doesn't pay off. Take Dayton, Ohio, for example. On February 6th the local billboard laws were gutted by the city commission. Despite citizen opposition the new changes to Dayton's zoning code regulating billboards means according to the blog Daytonology, "These monstrosities are going to go up as close as 500 feet apart in all these areas they were formerly outlawed: light industrial (I1), business park (BP) and eclectic commercial." Then there is the state of Tennessee. Gene Burr, an architect who serves on the board of Scenic Tennessee, wrote in the News Sentinel that Knox County, through its Board of Zoning Appeals, decided to permit digital billboards in response to a request from the billboard industry in May 2007. There was no public hearing, Burr said, and now there are three digital billboards in the county. Forget about Dayton and even the entire state of Tennessee if you want. You don't live there. Yeah, well, thirty-seven states fail to protect unzoned and rural areas, allowing companies to litter the countryside with signs; and 23 states permit billboard companies to cut down trees to improve the visibility of billboards. Maybe that bothers you. Spreading the News makes an interesting point: "Graffiti is always cast as an "urban blight" - but peeps, an ad where an almost nude 50 foot man in underwear advertising a cologne that I do not wear is an "urban blight" to me. Why would I want to see that? Do you enjoy it? I am sure most don't and like graffiti is to many a nuisance these corporate ads are a nuisance to many. To me at least." Maybe its time for a little more militant, a little more radical grassroots anti-billboard action. I'll leave it to you to come up with your own ideas about that. The following story is from the LA Times. Anti-billboard activists target multi-story 'supergraphics' Anti-billboard activists have a new target: multi-story "supergraphic" signs plastered illegally on about three dozen buildings citywide. A handful of West Los Angeles activists joined City Councilman Jack Weiss on West Pico Boulevard at Overland Avenue on Thursday morning to call for hefty fines against those who post the signs. Their backdrop: a Gap Inc. supergraphic with a blond model reclining across several stories of an office building in the 10000 block of West Pico Boulevard. The ad, which appeared in February, is a 60-foot-by-20-foot vinyl sheet stuck to the building, according to a lawyer for the company that negotiated a lease for the space. That's 1,200 square feet compared with about 750 square feet for a traditional billboard. A few blocks away, another supergraphic advertised "Dirt," the new Courteney Cox show on FX. Others elsewhere in the city tout Washington Mutual and Wachovia banks. "This is taking off because people are finding a way to get around our law," which prohibits new billboards, Weiss said, calling the ads "sneaky" and deriding the "shrink-wrapped buildings" as "urban blight." Companies that post the signs defend them as free speech and say city leaders are discriminating against them by forbidding supergraphics in some areas while allowing them in others, such as Hollywood. A lawyer for the Philadelphia-based company that posted the Gap sign, Worldwide Rush, said the company is contesting the city ban in federal court, arguing that it violates free speech. In areas where the signs are banned, code-enforcement officials typically cite companies, then go to court to have the ads taken down, a process that can take years. While the suits are pending, judges have barred the city from removing the supergraphics, said Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for the city attorney's office. "It's visual blight, a distraction to motorists, just treating the architecture of the city as a canvas," said Dennis Hathaway, a spokesman for the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. Weiss wants the city to enforce a law already on the books that allows it to levy $2,500-a-day fines. The fines apply not only to advertisers such as Gap -- which buy the signs -- but also to the sign companies that post them and the property owners who lease the space. The average supergraphic costs $20,000 to $200,000, depending on the size of the building, location (freeway proximity drives the price up), nearby businesses and other variables, said Matthew Cooper, a spokesman for Beverly Hills-based Skytag Inc. Cooper said all of his company's roughly 20 signs are in areas permitted by the city. "If it's done right, a highly pictorial ad with a nice creative [design] can add to the landscape," he said. "These people who just slap up these ads anywhere are giving us a bad name."
Researchers think they have mapped the traffic patterns of the internet. It shows the ebb and flow of novelty through the medium of the internet. See the article here (fixed!)Typically, websites see low, habitual rates of viewing. That is, there is a steady flow of traffic most of the time. However, interspersed at different times are major spikes of traffic flowing to the site. The spikes occur because the site releases a new attention grabbing article/news bit and thus more connections around the net are made by way of linking back to the site of interest. Each spike represents a consciousness focusing event. Not a mega-ritual sized event obviously, but an attention focusing event none the less. For instance, new articles/videos/interviews from a good synchromystic artist are all attention focusing events that are actually tracking the ebb and flow of universal novelty through the medium of consciousness, using the tools of the internet and media.If one agrees with the Archetypal bend on Novelty Theory (anyone who thinks tarot, astrology, divination arts, etc have something to them) then one could assume that these spikes occur when certain archetypes, using their symbols, have worked their way into the collective consciousness. That is, if a Hero archetype has control, then the posts/websites garnering the most attention will be those that reflect the current overriding Hero archetype. This is why we see cycles in synchromystic research, and why it seems like a lot of us seem to pick up on the same ideas at the same time without knowing it. For instance, many of us recently at the same time seemed to pick up on the moon and its related symbolism.But, with recognizing that we are all perfect HERE and NOW, we find that we have the ability to decide for ourselves which flavor of novelty flows through us. This is why we must learn to trust our intuition (which is just his or her "higher self"). I could write an article right now about the shape of swimming pools and how the shape determines one's emotional reaction to to the experience (I just made that up.. maybe its true?), but if it doesn't resonate with the overriding archetype well enough, or the current collective pool of ideas, then it won't attract as much attention as an article that did resonate. This is where the artistic side of synchromystisism comes into play. A good artist, trusting his or her intuition can start with an obscure idea, but through, practice, dedication, hard work, and an open mind, that artist can make the obscure idea resonate beautifully with the viewer, which is both human and universal at the same time, since it seems as though consciousness is simply the universe's way of exploring itself. The way the synchromystic artist does this is by connecting that original idea, through sychronicities however small or seemingly mundane, to the big idea. But only if you work for it. The universe has the peculiar property of observing you and then rewarding you for dedication and determination.You can't just sit around and wait for the universe to give you want, you have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and work with the universe. Even if it feels like everything is impossible and it won't matter anyway, just choose one of those little dreams or ideas you have in your head and go for it. Get out of your comfort zone, even if its just for the day. Once you get up and start to follow it, things will fall into place and come together. If synchroncities are occurring at faster and faster rates (and if you're reading this you most likely intuitively and objectively, through sychrmoystic research, believe this idea to be true), then get up off your ass and use it to your advanatge, and also to the advantage of the universe as a whole. It's game of balance. You can't just take and take, otherwise karma will bite you in the ass. But, if you learn to recognize and receive the synchromystic energy, then experience it, feel it, nurture it, and then release it back to the universe for everyone to use. Its a cycle!
Charges by a high-school senior and a think tank that a popular college textbook on American government is politically biased have prompted the book’s publisher to change some passages and reconsider others.
The book, American Government: Institutions and Policies, was written by James Q. Wilson and John J. Dilulio Jr., two well-known conservatives. It is used in both college and high-school courses.
According to the Associated Press, Matthew LaClair, a senior at Kearny High School, in New Jersey, complained to the Center for Inquiry, in Amherst, N.Y., about passages in the textbook that cover global warming and school prayer, among others.
“I just realized from my own knowledge that some of this stuff in the book is just plain wrong,” Mr. LaClair told the AP.
In a report it released in late March, the Center for Inquiry — a think tank that studies science — criticized the textbook’s statement that global warming may not be scientifically valid. It also took issue with the book’s statement that the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed all school prayer. First Amendment experts told the AP that, in fact, students are allowed to pray privately in school, or in groups before lunch, as long as they do not disrupt the school day.
Mr. Dilulio, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, worked for the Bush administration as director of faith-based initiatives. Mr. Wilson is a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. Neither responded to the AP’s requests for comments.
Richard Blake, a spokesman for the book’s publisher, the Houghton Mifflin Company, said the it would be “working with the authors to evaluate in detail the criticisms of the Center for Inquiry.” Mr. Blake said some disputed passages already had been excised from the book’s newest edition. —Robin Wilson
by Tom Burghardt
April 9, 2008
Tuesday's Washington Post reports that FBI investigators "with the click of a mouse, [can] instantly transfer key data along a computer circuit to an FBI technology office in Quantico."
Last month I wrote that evidence of the Bureau's massive spying operations on Americans had been uncovered and "that a new FISA whistleblower has stepped forward with information about a major wireless provider apparently granting the state unrestricted access to all of their customers' voice communications and electronic data via a so-called 'Quantico Circuit'."
According to whistleblower Babak Pasdar, a telecom carrier he worked for as a security consultant, subsequently named as Verizon by the Post, said the company maintained a high-speed DS-3 digital line that allowed the Bureau and other security agencies "unfettered" access to the carrier's wireless network, including billing records and customer data "transmitted wirelessly."
Verizon denied the report that the FBI has open access to its network; a denial belied by documents obtained by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation describing the Bureau's Digital Collection System.
When these allegations first surfaced they were stonewalled by major media. Nevertheless, the reports continued and we now have learned that electronic connections between major telecom firms and FBI personnel scattered across the country provide the Bureau with real-time access to who is speaking to whom, the time and duration of each call as well as the locations of those so targeted.
Despite half-hearted protests by Congress, the FBI's budget for these operations have increased significantly. According to Post reporter Ellen Nakashima,
"The bureau says its budget for the collection system increased from $30 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2008. Information lawfully collected by the FBI from telecom firms can be shared with law enforcement and intelligence-gathering partners, including the National Security Agency and the CIA. Likewise, under guidelines approved by the attorney general or a court, some intercept data gathered by intelligence agencies can be shared with law enforcement agencies."(Ellen Nakashima, "FBI Transfers via Telecoms Questioned," The Washington Post, Tuesday, April 8, 2008; A03)
But who's "watching the watchers," or in this case, the listeners?
Since 1994, under rules mandated by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), passed by the "liberal" Clinton administration, federal rules are in place "to make clear a telecommunications carrier's duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for Law Enforcement purposes, and for other purposes." [emphasis added]
These rules specify that telecom carriers and manufacturers design their equipment, facilities and services so as to guarantee they have the necessary surveillance capabilities. This onerous piece of legislative flotsam specifies that common carriers, broadband internet access providers and providers of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service are designated "telecommunications carriers" under federal law and thus, are capable of interception by the state's "security" bureaucracies. (For an historical analysis of CALEA's civil liberties implications see: "Big Brother in the Wires: Wiretapping in the Digital Age," ACLU, March 1, 1998)
The FBI has since created a network of links and electronic hubs for collection purposes amongst the nation's largest telecom carriers and internet providers "and about 40 FBI offices and Quantico, according to interviews and documents describing the agency's Digital Collection System," according to the Washington Post.
These revelations mirror those of AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, who revealed that the super secretive National Security Agency had been given access by AT&T management to install "splitters" for the Agency hard-wired to an NSA "secure" room in the company's central office in San Francisco. According to Klein,
"In short, an exact copy of all internet traffic that flowed through critical AT&T cables--emails, documents, pictures, web browsing, Voice over-internet phone conservations, everything--was being diverted to equipment inside the secret room. In addition the documents reveal the technological gear used in their secret project, including a highly sophisticated search component capable of quickly sifting through huge amounts of digital data (including text, voice and images) in real time according to pre-programmed criteria.
It's important to understand that the internet links which were connected to the splitter contained not just foreign communications but vast amounts of domestic traffic, all mixed together. Furthermore, the splitter has no selective abilities--it's just a dumb device which copies everything to the secret room. And the links going through the splitter are AT&T's physical connections to many other internet providers (e.g., Sprint, Qwest, Global Crossing, Cable & Wireless, and the critical West Coast Internet Exchange Point known as Mae West). Since these networks are interconnected, the government surveillance affects not only AT&T customers but everyone else--millions of Americans.
I also discovered in my conversations with other technicians that other "secret rooms" were established in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. One of the documents I obtained also mentions Atlanta, and the clear inference in the logic of this setup, and the language of the documents, is that there are other such rooms across the country to complete the coverage--possibly 15 to 20 or more." (Mark Klein, "Reject Amnesty for Telecoms," Electronic Frontier Foundation)
As a key networking hub of the national security state's electronic driftnet, the "Quantico circuit" enables the FBI and their CIA and NSA partners in crime to literally target any one or any group with highly-intrusive and silent monitoring of all electronic communications. Under the Bush administration's repressive "public-private" police state architecture, privacy rights join Geneva Convention prohibitions against torture as yet another "quaint" notion, a "phantom of lost liberty," in the memorable phrase uttered by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001.
While the Bureau claims that the content of a phone call or e-mail must be authorized by a court order showing "probable cause," as with other abusive FBI practices such as the issuance of so-called "national security letters" to obtain financial or other private records, the legal bar undoubtedly is set very low.
These latest revelations of FBI abuse of Fourth Amendment protections, follow on the heels of new initiatives undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security to utilize U.S. spy satellites for domestic "law enforcement and counterterrorism" investigations.
"DHS plans to create a new office that would expand law enforcement and other civilian agencies' access to data gathered by powerful intelligence and military satellites orbiting the earth. The National Applications Office [NAO] will oversee who can access such satellite data, which is typically used to monitor climate change and track hurricane damage, among other uses.
DHS still has not laid out legal frameworks or standard operating procedures for the office, according to a letter from three members of the House Homeland Security Committee." (Nick Juliano, "DHS Ignores Civil Liberties in Domestic Spy Satellite Plan, Lawmakers Say," The Raw Story, Monday, April 7, 2008)
First floated last August, then delayed over civil liberties concerns, DHS is now moving full speed ahead with the project. In a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Reps. Bennie G. Thompson, Jane Harman and Christopher P. Carney wrote, "merely mentioning Posse Comitatus and other laws in the NAO Charter does not provide needed assurances that the Department will not transform NAO into a domestic spying platform."
Tepid protests by congressional Democrats who have systematically enabled these repressive measures by granting unlimited budgetary increases to Bushist spymasters, will have virtually no effect on an administration hell-bent on turning the entire country into a "free spy zone."
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.
[Thanks to James Bennett for this link] By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC News
Professor Darvill explains what is happening at the Stonehenge dig
Archaeologists carrying out an excavation at Stonehenge say they have broken through to a layer that may finally explain why the site was built.
The team has reached sockets that once held bluestones - smaller stones, most now missing or uprooted, which formed the site's original structure.
The researchers believe that the bluestones could reveal that Stonehenge was once a place of healing.
The dig is the first to take place at Stonehenge for more than 40 years.
The team now needs to extract organic material from these holes to date when the stones first arrived.
Professor Geoff Wainwright explains why the dig is taking place
Professor Tim Darvill, of Bournemouth University, who is leading the work with Professor Geoff Wainwright, of the Society of Antiquities, said: "The first week has gone really well. We have broken through to these key features.
"It is a slow process but at the moment everything is going exactly to plan."
The two-week excavation is being funded by the BBC and filmed for a special Timewatch programme to be broadcasted in the autumn.
Professors Darvill and Wainwright say that finding out more about the history of the bluestones could be key to solving the mystery of why the 4,500-year-old landmark was erected.
They believe that the bluestones, which were transported 250km from the Preseli Hills in Wales to the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, were brought to the site because the ancient people believed they had healing properties.
Professor Geoffrey Wainwright said the site could have been a "Neolithic Lourdes".
The giant sarsen "goal posts", which came from about 20km away, were thought to have arrived much later.
As well as reaching the bluestone sockets, the archaeologists have also unearthed a whole host of other finds as they have peeled back the layers of the 2.5m-by-3.5m trench.
These include a beaker pottery fragment, Roman ceramics and ancient stone hammers.
Yvette Staelens reveals some of the unearthed treasures
Daily text and video reports on the Stonehenge dig are published at the BBC Timewatch website. A BBC Two documentary will be broadcast in the autumn and will detail the findings of the investigation
Hmm...let's be brief...I don't feel like anything in depth at the moment. I'll put it simply.
I hate you right now, Connie. Your exceptionally ignorant move of sending the cat to be killed.
I hate you right now, Craig. Your fear of being sued, your inexplicable ignorance when all you had to do was ask the health department about the idiocy of those letters.
And mostly, I hate YOU right now, Anonymous. Your ridiculous, know-nothing letters that started it all.
You ALL make me sick. Literally.
Which is why I'm writing this here.
To tell how I feel, because it hurts.
Because of the bureaucrats you've decided to be, we all know that speaking directly to you (again) will not resolve anything.
Seeing today that, yes, our government is psychotic enough to now kill people in Iran has made me see that I live in a world of DUMB-ASS people - (such as yourselves).
I'm just no longer going to allow you to infiltrate my life as I have since November.
When I feel like saying something to you, I will write it here.
Someday I will post all the letters I've written when I haven't been able to sleep at night knowing that you live on the same planet as I do.
I feel somewhat better already.
When you think you hate the race most, you are actually caught in a dilemma of love. You are comparing the race to your loving idealized conception of it. In this case however you are losing sight of the actual people involved.-The Nature of Personal Reality
LET'S MAKE MORALITY FUNAre you turned off by the authoritarian, libido-mistrusting perversity of the right-wing moral code, but equally reluctant to embrace the atheism embedded in the left wing's code of goodness?Are you hungry for a value system rooted in beauty, love, pleasure, and liberation instead of order, control, politeness, and fear, but allergic to the sophistry of the New Age?Are you apathetic toward the saccharine goodness evangelized by sentimental, superstitious fanatics, but equally bored by the intellectuals who worship at the empty-hearted shrine of scientific materialism?It may be time for you to whip up your very own moral code.If you do, you might want to keep the following guidelines in mind: 1. A moral code becomes immoral unless it can thrive without a devil and enemy.2. A moral code grows ugly unless it prescribes good-natured rebellion against automaton-like behavior offered in its support.3. A moral code becomes murderous unless it's built on a love for the fact that EVERYTHING CHANGES ALL THE TIME, and unless it perpetually adjusts its reasons for being true.4. A moral code will corrupt its users unless it ensures that their primary motivation for being good is because it's fun.5. A moral code deadens the soul of everyone it touches unless it has a built-in sense of humor.
Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking, talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonographthe rhythm the rhythm--and your memory in my head three years after-- And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud--wept, realizing how we suffer--And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember, prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of An- swers--and my own imagination of a withered leaf--at dawn--Dreaming back thru life, Your time--and mine accelerating toward Apoca- lypse,the final moment--the flower burning in the Day--and what comes after, looking back on the mind itself that saw an American citya flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed--like a poem in the dark--escaped back to Oblivion--No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream, trapped in its disappearance,sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship- ping each other,worshipping the God included in it all--longing or inevitability?--while it lasts, a Vision--anything more?It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder, Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul- dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant--and the sky above--an old blue place.or down the Avenue to the south, to--as I walk toward the Lower East Side --where you walked 50 years ago, little girl--from Russia, eating the first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?--toward Newark--toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards--Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school, and learning to be mad, in a dream--what is this life?Toward the Key in the window--and the great Key lays its head of light on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the sidewalk--in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward the Yiddish Theater--and the place of povertyyou knew, and I know, but without caring now--Strange to have moved thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on the street, firs escapes old as you--Tho you're not old now, that's left here with me--Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe--and I guess that dies with us--enough to cancel all that comes--What came is gone forever every time--That's good!That leaves it open for no regret--no fear radiators, lacklove, torture even toothache in the end--Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul--and the lamb, the soul, in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger--hair and teeth--and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin, braintricked Implacability.Ai! ai!we do worse! We are in a fix!And you're out, Death let you out, Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with God, done with the path thru it--Done with yourself at last--Pure --Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all--before the world--There, rest.No more suffering for you.I know where you've gone, it's good.No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more fear of Louis,and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts, loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands--No more of sister Elanor,--she gone before you--we kept it secret you killed her--or she killed herself to bear with you--an arthritic heart --But Death's killed you both--No matter--Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and weeks--forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human- ity, Chaplin dance in youth,or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar --by standing room with Elanor & Max--watching also the Capital ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave--lucky to have husbands later--You made it--I came too--Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer--or kill --later perhaps--soon he will think--)And it's the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now --tho not youI didn't foresee what you felt--what more hideous gape of bad mouth came first--to you--and were you prepared?To go where?In that Dark--that--in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the Void?Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream?Adonoi at last, with you?Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull in the grave, or a box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon--Deaths- head with Halo?can you believe it?Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence, than none ever was?Nothing beyond what we have--what you had--that so pitiful--yet Tri- umph,to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower--fed to the ground--but made, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe, shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth wrapped, sore--freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.No flower like that flower, which knew itself in the garden, and fought the knife--lostCut down by an idiot Snowman's icy--even in the Spring--strange ghost thought some--Death--Sharp icicle in his hand--crowned with old roses--a dog for his eyes--cock of a sweatshop--heart of electric irons.All the accumulations of life, that wear us out--clocks, bodies, consciousness, shoes, breasts--begotten sons--your Communism--'Paranoia' into hospitals.You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later.You of stroke.Asleep?within a year, the two of you, sisters in death.Is Elanor happy?Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over midnight Accountings, not sure.His life passes--as he sees--and what does he doubt now?Still dream of making money, or that might have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Im- mortality, Naomi?I'll see him soon.Now I've got to cut through to talk to you as I didn't when you had a mouth.Forever.And we're bound for that, Forever like Emily Dickinson's horses --headed to the End.They know the way--These Steeds--run faster than we think--it's our own life they cross--and take with them. Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind, mar-ried dreamed, mortal changed--Ass and face done with murder. In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut underpine, almed in Earth, blamed in Lone, Jehovah, accept. Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,Father in death.Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I'mhymnless, I'm Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, notlight or darkness, Dayless Eternity-- Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, someof my Time, now given to Nothing--to praise Thee--But Death This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Won-derer, House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping--page beyond Psalm--Last change of mine and Naomi--to God's perfectDarkness--Death, stay thy phantoms!II Over and over--refrain--of the Hospitals--still haven't written yourhistory--leave it abstract--a few images run thru the mind--like the saxophone chorus of houses and years--remembrance of electrical shocks. By long nites as a child in Paterson apartment, watching over yournervousness--you were fat--your next move-- By that afternoon I stayed home from school to take care of you--once and for all--when I vowed forever that once man disagreed with myopinion of the cosmos, I was lost-- By my later burden--vow to illuminate mankind--this is release ofparticulars--(mad as you)--(sanity a trick of agreement)-- But you stared out the window on the Broadway Church corner, andspied a mystical assassin from Newark, So phoned the Doctor--'OK go way for a rest'--so I put on my coatand walked you downstreet--On the way a grammarschool boy screamed,unaccountably--'Where you goin Lady to Death'? I shuddered-- and you covered your nose with motheaten fur collar, gas maskagainst poison sneaked into downtown atmosphere, sprayed by Grandma-- And was the driver of the cheesebox Public Service bus a member of the gang?You shuddered at his face, I could hardly get you on--to NewYork, very Times Square, to grab another Greyhound--Allen Ginsberg
"To change your body you change your beliefs, even in the face of physical data or evidence that conflicts. You each have a body and you each have a consciousness. You can practice with these ideas by applying them to your body. For now we are taking into consideration the fact that, generally speaking, you are not going to make yourself five physical feet taller if you are a grown adult already, because there are certain physical laws with which you must contend."
The Nature of Personal RealitySession 623, Page 83
By RALPH NADER...What can be done about these gigantic runaway sprees?First, pass legislation that broadens individual taxpayers' right to sue in federal court against waste, fraud and abuse, including those receivers of bailouts-the reckless, avaricious corporations who have Uncle Sam in their back pockets.Second, have a voluntary checkoff on the 1040 tax return inviting individual taxpayers to join their own taxpayer defense organization. Such a group would have millions of small dues paying members and an on-the-spot skillful watchdog group in our national capital.Finally, place our public elections off the private auction block and have them funded by well promoted voluntary checkoffs on the tax returns together with a certain amount of free radio and television time for ballot-qualified candidates seeking federal office.These and other proposals, such as giving shareholders more power to restrain their top executives, will give taxpayers some grip on the wide-open spigot of taxpayer dollars delivered to the misfits of the giant corporate world.Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions
"What we perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting for us to draw upon it any picture we want. Anything is possible, from bending spoons with the power of the mind to the phantasmagoric events experienced by Castaneda during his encounters with the Yaqui brujo don Juan, for magic is our birthright, no more or less miraculous than our ability to compute the reality we want when we are in our dreams." Physicist Michael Talbot
Evolution Now! - Quantum Physical message for humanity
"To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour." William Blake
Thanks very much Càm and dedroidify
Area church now home to collective Shepherdstown reaction to group mixed; some members anarchists By DANIEL FRIEND / Chronicle Staff Writer POSTED: April 5, 2008 SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherdstown’s Old Episcopal Church at 113 N. Church St. — arguably the oldest church in West Virginia — is now home to a group of young tenants calling it the Armed Joy Collective House. Naming their home of two months after the 1977 anarchist pamphlet “Armed Joy” by Italian activist Alfredo M. Bonanno, the six collective house occupants hope to foster a sense of community and self-sufficiency in Shepherdstown. Collective house resident Patricia “Trish” Tanksley said the group has been given permission by the town’s Parks & Recreation Committee to plant community garden plots off Mill Street in the area of Cullison Park. The Community Garden Collective is encouraging residents to participate in the organic community garden, Tanksley said. Some of the members of the collective house are anarchists, Tanksley said, quick to emphasize not everyone who lives there is an anarchist. She herself thinks “anarchy is very beautiful.” The “Armed” in Armed Joy does not refer in any way to guns, she said. “Rest assured that we are not of the school of thought of violent uprising,” Tanksley said. “Anarchy is very misunderstood as being a destructive system that breaks everything down ... The idea is taking control of your own life. It’s not like we’re going to go out and force people to be joyful.” The garden plots off Mill Street will be open from dawn to dark. The group hopes for donations of garden tools from the community and has four 4-by-10-foot garden plots tilled and available for $20 for the growing season. If there’s more interest, more gardening beds will be made. The group plans a Community Garden Collective meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Cacapon Room of Shepherd University’s Student Center on King Street. “We want to let people know about ... the option of being self-sufficient by growing your own food,” Tanksley said. Those interested can contact the group at email@example.com The church residents have a five-year plan for making the former worship space into a “community building,” she said. “We are eventually going to use the space for workshops and art shows and music,” Tanksley said. The group also wants to get a fleet of bicycles to loan out from the church as a means of alternative transportation for the town. On April 30, the collective house plans to host author Chris Carlsson during a public talk in the church. Carlsson’s new book “Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today!” is set for publication in May. A rich and varied history Shepherdstown’s Capt. William Morgan presumably is among several Revolutionary War veterans buried at the Episcopal Cemetery on Church Street. Historians can’t say without a doubt that he is there, as there is no known tombstone for Morgan (1723-1788). As legend has it, his grave is under the east chancel of the Old Episcopal Church at Church and High streets. The first church building in Shepherdstown, The English Church built of logs, is said to have stood there about 1745, according to the Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s publication “See Shepherd’s Town III.” In 1769 the log building was replaced by a stone church, Mecklenburg Chapel. Trinity Episcopal Church retains ownership of the cemetery. The Asbury United Methodist Church was the last congregation to worship there and sold the building to Princess Street resident Carlos Niederhauser in December 2006. He then applied to convert the structure to a residence and restore it. In the past year, the church building has been the subject of hearings at the Planning Commission, Landmarks Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Niederhauser is renting the church — which he has divided into two dwellings — to the six residents, who hail from Shepherdstown, Frederick, and Pennsylvania. A lawsuit is filed; planning review set High Street residents Maura and Allan Balliett have filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, saying Niederhauser is renting the house “without the necessary building and use permits and certain agents of the Town appear to have knowingly permitted such violation.” Named in the suit are the Shepherdstown Planning Commission, former planning and zoning officer John E. Mathews III, Carlos Niederhauser and Elizabeth Wheeler (as owners of the property), and “A, B, C, D, E, F, being unknown tenants who unlawfully occupy the premises ...” That the Corporation of Shepherdstown has approved multiple watertaps for the property has facilitated the unlawful use of the premises, the Ballietts contend. They want the Circuit Court to invalidate the building permit and water taps the Corporation of Shepherdstown issued to Niederhauser. Town Councilman Stuart Wallace, also a member of the Planning Commission, said the Commission’s regular April 21 agenda includes a review of “the situation at that property relative to the Title 9 planning ordinances.” Wallace said the agenda item is in response to the complaint that the property is not being used in accordance with the zoning ordinances.But the structure’s residents themselves “shouldn’t be a part of what the Planning Commission will take up on the 21st,” Wallace said. He lives with his family on High Street and said he’s not concerned about the anarchist facet of the collective house. “As long as it doesn’t manifest itself in some bizarre way, I guess I really don’t care,” Wallace said. “I guess you can be an anarchist in America.” Balliett said though the residents claim to subscribe to a benign form of anarchy, the associations with anarchy remain. “It’s like yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded room and then saying ‘I didn’t mean that kind of fire,’” he said.
Nomination to put PSL presidential candidate on Calif. ballot
The Party for Socialism and Liberation in California is hard at work on our 2008 electoral project. California is one of the very few states in the union that has an avowedly socialist party with ballot status, the Peace and Freedom Party.
Gloria La Riva, PSL presidential
candidate, is seeking the Peace
and Freedom nomination.
Barriers set up by the Democrats and Republicans force progressive candidates to jump through ever more complex hoops in California and the rest of the country. Gloria La Riva ran in the February Peace and Freedom primary in California and came in with a virtual tie for second place. The other candidates included environmental and consumer activist Ralph Nader, Brian Moore of the Socialist Party, and progressive former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
Gloria ran very vigorous campaigns for Governor in 1994 and 1998 as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate in California.
Peace and Freedom Party chooses their nominee at an August delegated convention, not through the primary vote. The PSL has been seeking to elect members of the Peace and Freedom Party county central committees around the state who support the La Riva candidacy. Elected members of county central committees will be the voting delegates at the PFP convention in August.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation is also running Nathalie Hrizi, a school teacher and PSL organizer for U.S. Congress in California’s 12th District, which includes the west side of San Francisco and almost all of San Mateo County. Lucilla Esguerra is running for the California State Assembly in District 48 in Los Angeles.
Hrizi and Esguerra will be on the ballot as Peace and Freedom party candidates in both the June primary and November general elections. PSL activists Stephen Hinze and Marylou Cabral are candidates for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
In the PSL's continuing effort to secure Gloria La Riva's nomination for President on the Peace and Freedom ballot in November, party members have circulated petitions in four counties in California. PSL members and friends worked many hours and drove many miles getting supporters to sign petitions necessary to obtain ballot status candidates for county central committees.
Since many of these elections are not contested, La Riva supporters will have a substantial representation at the August Peace and Freedom convention. If La Riva is able to secure the Peace and Freedom nomination in California, the opportunities to campaign for socialist and progressive solutions to the millions of poor and working people in the most populous and diverse U.S. state will be greatly expanded.
One of La Riva's strongest arguments in seeking the Peace and Freedom nomination, is that a socialist party should have a candidate that will run a strong socialist campaign.
By Shane GoldmacherPeace and Freedom Party members Gerald Frink, left, and C.T. Weber both are running – after a fashion – for the Assembly District 9 seat. Frink is on the ballot, but wants voters instead to write in Weber. Their intent is to prompt a change in the state law that makes it difficult for write-in candidates to qualify for a spot in the general election.
Most third-party candidates for office don't expect to win. But Gerald Frink is different. Frink is campaigning specifically to lose.
Frink is the official Peace and Freedom Party candidate for a Sacramento-area Assembly seat on the June ballot. He's urging voters – or at least the 1,756 registered party members in the district – to skip past his name on the ballot and write in C.T. Weber for Assembly.
"Don't vote for me!" reads Frink's official campaign Web site.
It's all part of an elaborate scheme hatched by Weber, Frink and other Peace and Freedom activists to challenge what they call an unconstitutional and idiosyncratic state law that makes it all but impossible for write-in candidates – especially those from minor parties – to win a spot on the general election ballot.
"It's going to be an interesting campaign," Weber told a small group of button-clad party activists on Wednesday, as they talked politics over cheese, crackers and anti-war political paraphernalia.
The party's Sacramento chapter meets monthly in the Hollywood Park home of Debra Reiger, the state party chairwoman, who runs the meetings barefoot, clipboard in hand.
That's where Weber, a former California Highway Patrol analyst and a Peace and Freedom activist for decades, outlined his strategy for the party to win in June by losing.
State election law, he explained, says that whoever wins the most votes in the primary becomes the party's nominee in the general election. But write-in candidates face an extra hurdle – having to win what amounts to 1 percent of the total number of votes cast in the previous general election for that office in order to qualify.
That amounts to an essentially unreachable bar for third-party candidates such as Weber. The registration of Peace and Freedom voters in Assembly District 9 totals 1.03 percent of voters.
Weber said he has tried to get a legislator to change the law, to no avail.
Now, he wants to go to court.
If Weber can outpoll Frink in June, neither man will qualify for the November ballot. Frink will have lost the primary, and Weber won't meet the 1 percent threshold.
With that "straw man" in place, Weber says, he will sue for the right to be the general election candidate.
"We think that is enough," said Weber, 67, a veteran of losing campaigns for governor, state senator, state controller and the Board of Equalization. "We are trying to say this law is unconstitutional."
Richard L. Hasen, a professor who specializes in election law at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, said the chances of Weber's lawsuit succeeding are slim.
Past legal challenges – including the most recent one filed in 2006 by a Republican Assembly candidate in Sonoma County and the Democratic Party – have failed in court.
Hasen said the U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that "the state can require that you demonstrate some serious support before you get on the general election ballot."
Not that the possibility of losing seemed to matter much to the nine Peace and Freedom devotees at Wednesday's meeting. After all, candidates for the party, which anti-war activists founded in California in 1967 during the Vietnam War, have never won partisan elective office.
In fact, Weber never broached the notion of actually winning the Assembly seat currently held by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, who is running for re-election.
Such is life for members of California's smallest – and little known – qualified third party.
There are currently 57,182 Peace and Freedom voters in California – out of 15.7 million registered voters. The party's platform is dedicated to "socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality."
At the meeting Wednesday, talk turned to "rich people" during a discussion of taxes. "They don't have to cheat," blurted out Debra Reiger's husband, John, bearded with a hat full of political pins. "They have lawyers up there to find tax loopholes."
The party nearly ceased to exist a decade ago when it failed to meet the state's registration requirements. But Weber, who talks much like a veteran political strategist, mobilized a voter-registration drive to requalify Peace and Freedom for the ballot – the only party ever to do so in California history.
It was hard, Weber said, because Peace and Freedom voters are often in lower income brackets and "like gypsies in a way – moving every three months."
"I don't feel either the Democratic or Republican party really represent the needs and wants of average people," Weber said.
In an era of multimillion dollar political campaigns (Jones had $491,000 in the bank as of late March), the Weber write-in effort is focused, quite literally, on pennies.
The cost of sending a 250-piece mailer was budgeted at $505.72 (through a union shop, of course). Food for the summer's convention, including vegan fare, is to be bought at Costco (the state party chairwoman has a membership). And they discussed the cost of a stamp, which rose two cents to 41 cents since the last election cycle.
Wearing slacks, a white button-down shirt and pink and purple Mardi Gras beads, the 73-year-old Frink admitted his bid to lose is hurt by the fact that he doesn't have an official ballot statement telling voters to write in C.T. Weber.
"Ballot statements are quite expensive," he said. "Yeah, that would have been nice."
Nine of the Assembly district's 1,756 registered Peace and Freedom Party members met Wednesday in Debra Reiger's Hollywood Park home to discuss strategies for the June primary election. Bryan Patrick / firstname.lastname@example.org
Nine of the Assembly district's 1,756 registered Peace and Freedom Party members met Wednesday in Debra Reiger's Hollywood Park home to discuss strategies for the June primary election. Bryan Patrick /
From: http://dedroidify.blogspot.comA free course with pdf and streaming video lessons on basic hypnosis with free certification too. This is great!The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, HMI, is a non-profit nationally accredited hypnosis training college and clinic of hypnotherapy that has been serving Southern California for more than 40 years.
HMI was founded in 1968 by Dr. John Kappas. Dr. Kappas literally defined the profession of hypnotherapy in 1973, when he wrote and defined the profession of a "Hypnotherapist" in the Federal Dictionary of Occupational Titles. That definition remains in force and unchanged today.
Celebrating over 40 years of excellence, HMI has earned the distinction of being America's first hypnotherapy training institution to become nationally accredited, by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, in Washington, D.C.
HMI's Hypnotherapy Clinic is home to over 50 Certified Hypnotherapists. HMI estimates that it has provided more than 250,000 hours of private hypnotherapy services in its 40 year history. It is this clinical experience that provides the foundation for HMI's Hypnotherapy Certification Training and Internship program.
The Hypnosis Motivation Institute strives to offer the most extensive and thorough hypnotherapy training and internship program available. Become a Certified Hypnotherapist today!
Shel Silverstein’s book The Missing Piece creates a system of relations between beings where the structure of desire is presented without gender, but references a division between beings that resembles gender.
It was missing a piece And it was not happy So it set off in search of its missing piece And as it rolled It sang this song – "Oh I'm looking for my missin' piece I'm looking for my missin' piece. Hi-dee-ho, here I go, Lookin' for my missin' piece."
In the first encounter It has with a pie shaped “missing piece,” It immediately deploys the rhetoric of the demanding “possessor” subject. Without asking any questions or even stopping to see if the piece fits, It sings “I've found my missin' piece." To which the pie-slice immediately objects:
"Wait a minute" said the piece
"Before you go greasing your knees
and fleecing your bees..."
"I am not your missing piece.
I am nobody's piece.
I am my own piece.
and even if I was
somebody's missing piece,
I don't think I'd be yours!"
After the initial rejection by the first piece, It realizes that finding the object of one’s desire will not fill the lack. Instead, It must also ensure that the object of desire wants this attention--is playing the role of the objectified being. Realizing this, a later encounter is different:
"Hi!" It said. "Hi!" said the piece "Are you anybody else's missing piece?" "Not that I know of." "Well, maybe you want to be your own piece?" "I can be someone's and still be my own." "Well, Maybe you don't want to be mine." "Maybe I do!" "Maybe we won't fit..." "Well..."
The weapons business is the big business to make cash. I was a rich man when I was in that kind of business. Now I'm a poor man. The difference is that now I'm an honest man. Before I was a crook.Leo Zagami
Leo Lyon Zagami, ex-member of the Comitato Esecutivo Massonico - the Masonic Executive Committee - of Monte Carlo, was, until recently, a high level member of the Italian Illuminati. He is a 33rd degree Freemason, and a senior member of the infamous P2 Lodge. He was the 'Prince': prepared to take over after the older Illuminati 'King', Licio Gelli. He was born of a Scottish-Sicilian Illuminati aristocratic bloodline, and so has been involved in the Illuminati Order since childhood.
Disgusted with satanic black magic rituals, and with the true intentions of those who regard themselves as the elite controllers of the planet, he has now made the commitment to tell the real story of those who seek to rule us all without our consent.
Quick, intelligent, likeable, passionate, and with a huge amount of information at his fingertips about the inside workings of the Powers that Be, Leo welcomed us into his house in Oslo, Norway, where he lives in what might be called exile.
In our two hour interview we were barely able to scratch the surface of everything he knows, and what we present is a summary for those unfamiliar with the labyrinthine details of one of the most important stories of our time.
However, he seems to have paid a price for talking to us on camera. Days after our interview, his wife Fatma Süslü, of Turkish descent but an aspiring Norwegian politician, left him - accusing us at Project Camelot, in the process, of being agents. Immediately after her departure he was temporarily imprisoned and his cellphone and computers were confiscated by the police. He intends to leave Norway for safer shores as soon as he can make the arrangements.
For more details on what has recently occurred, Leo copied us these letters he wrote to Greg Szymanski and Henry Makow on 8 and 13 March respectively.
Leo is a very brave man, and we wish him well. We spoke with him for 45 minutes a short time ago and he is determined and resilient. The information he presents is extraordinary and detailed, and much more will be found on his own Illuminati Confessions website. We intend to keep in close touch with him, and may visit him again in the near future.
Click herefor Leo Zagami's letter to Greg Szymanski, 8 March
Click herefor Leo Zagami's letter to Dr Henry Makow, 13 March
Here's a short extract from our 18 March 2007 phone conversation with Leo confirming the identity of the Norwegian Politician(who had contacted us about the existence of extensive underground bases and Norway's detailed plans for 2012) and relating details of their own recent conversation.For the entire 30 minute phone conversation,click here[To download, option-click (Mac) or Right-click and Save As (PC)]
SPECIAL "CLOSED SESSION" OF U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISCUSSED A LOT MORE THAN THE PENDING SECURITY SURVEILLANCE PROVISIONS!* This was only the fourth time in 176 years that Congress has closed its doors to the public. What was it that they were discussing that they do NOT want us to know about? Word has begun leaking from last nights special, closed-door session of the United States House of Representatives. Not only did members discuss new surveillance provisions as was the publicly stated reason for the closed door session, they also discussed: 1. The imminent collapse of the U.S. economy to occur by September 2008; 2. The imminent collapse of US federal government finances by February 2009; 3. The possibility of Civil War inside the USA as a result of the collapse; 4. Advance round-ups of "insurgent U.S. citizens" likely to move against the government; 5. The detention of those rounded-up at "REX 84" camps constructed throughout the USA; 6. The possibility of retaliation against members of Congress for the collapses; 7. The location of "safe facilities" for members of Congress and their families to reside during expected massive civil unrest; 8. The necessary _and unavoidable_ merger of the United States with Canada (for its natural resources) and with Mexico (for its cheap labor pool); 9. The issuance of a new currency - THE AMERO - for all three nations as the proposed solution to the coming economic Armageddon. Members of Congress were FORBIDDEN to reveal what was discussed. Several are so furious and concerned about the future of the country, they have begun leaking info. More details coming later today and over the weekend. Source: www.halturnershow.com/
In this new-paradigm classic of scientific research, Dr. John C. Lilly shares his ground-breaking theory of the interaction between the mind and the brain. Using his personal experiments in solitude, isolation, and confinement, he combines these states with LSD, mysticism, and other catalysts to gain a new understanding into the inner spaces of the human consciousness.
Dr. Lilly details his experiences in researching the far-out spaces and demonstrates how he programs such spaces and experiences through his method of self-metaprogramming.
Displaying a frankness that is refreshingly objective, The Center of the Cyclone offers a rational scientific explanation of how the mind works in those special states of consciousness.
Using Gurdjieff's Vibration Numbers which can be compared to Leary's 8 Circuit Model, Dr. Lilly helps us nagivate inner space.
"In the province of the mind, what is believed to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind, there are no limits."
Hmmm... Quantum Physics -- sounds like a bunch of complicated scientific and mathematical formulas, doesn't it? Rest assured, there's no math involved, and even though Quantum Physics is a science, you don't need to be any kind of scientist to make it work for you to bring you the life you desire.
What is Quantum Physics?
Simply put, Quantum Physics details the vibrating frequencies of things. Everything on this earth vibrates at certain frequencies, including our thoughts.
Being the emotional creatures that we are, our thoughts with positive emotions vibrate at a different level than our thoughts with negative emotions. Quantum Physics scientists are now able to measure these different vibrations. In addition, they have made some exciting discoveries about how they affect our health, our wealth, our relationships, and many more aspects of our lives!
Quantum Physics And The Law Of Attraction
In the realm of Quantum Physics, there is a Law of Attraction which states: "Like attracts like." This means that your vibrations attract similar vibrations. Positive emotions vibrate at a higher level and negative emotions vibrate at a lower level.
According to the Law of Attraction, when we are sending out "good vibrations" we are also attracting these same higher level vibrations back to us. For example, when we are happy, we attract more happiness to us. Because of these natural laws of Quantum Physics, we are attracting more good things into our lives to be happy about.
On the other hand, when we are sending out "bad vibrations", or the lower level vibrations of the negative emotions, Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction require that more bad things happen to us. Since like attracts like, we are attracting more bad things into our life to feel bad about.
Quantum Physics Is At Work All Around You
You can see Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction working all around you. Don't you know people who seem to live a charmed life? Why do such good things keep happening to them? It's because of the Law of Attraction: they are attracting these good things with their good, higher level vibrations!
Now think of other people you know. There are those who always seem to be in crisis, or depressed. They seem to have bad things happening in their life constantly. Why? Because their negative emotions are constantly attracting more negative things to be upset about.
Quantum Physics is also the reason these sayings are true for most people:
"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." The rich people attract more riches, and the poor, with worrying about their debt or their poverty, attract more of the same.
"You are what you think." Once again, the laws of Quantum Physics will bring you more of what you think about. The emotions of your thoughts will bring more things into your life to match them. You will attract to you whatever you focus on with great emotion.
Quantum Physics, the Law of Attraction, and YOU!
So this Law of Attraction can bring you both good things or bad things. Which would you prefer? Since it is invariably going to bring them anyway, wouldn't you like to learn how to use it to bring you the things you want?
How can you use Quantum Physics and The Law of Attraction to bring you more money?
Focus on how happy, joyous, proud, elated, etc., you feel when you get money. Reproduce those emotions by remembering the times you attracted money to you, and visualize receiving money right now, in the present. Especially, feel gratitude for having received the money.
Also, give money away, with joy and gratitude for this extra money you have that you can give away. Quantum Physics laws will bring you even more to give away and be thankful for!
How can you use Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction to bring you better health?
Focus, with gratitude, on what is right about your health. Visualize your good health now, and the more good health you want. Avoid focusing on what is wrong with your health.
For example, if you need to reduce pain, don't think about how the pain hurts and how you want relief. Instead, think about the joy of being able to move every which way freely and easily. In the case of disease, you can even visualize the cells in your perfect immune system conquering all the bad cells. You can see the bad cells disappear one by one until they are all gone! Quantum Physics and the law of attraction will bring you more of whichever you are focusing on -- the pain, or the joy. Which do you want?
A good thing to say, and visualize with gratitude, is the generic: "Every day in every way I am getting better and better!" This statement takes your thoughts away from your disease or your pain, and puts your focus, your thoughts, your emotions, and your vibrations at the higher levels -- thus attracting more of the same!
How can you use Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction to bring you better relationships?
If you are single, use Quantum Physics to attract your perfect mate! Focus on feeling the wonderful emotions of being close with someone who has the specific qualities you are searching for. Jack Canfield, author of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series of books, has often commented on how he attracted his perfect wife in this very way -- by focusing on what he wanted!
If you are in a relationship, and want to improve it, use Quantum Physics to bring out what you love about your partner. Avoid any focus on what you don't like about them. Remember, if you focus on what you don't like, it will generate the negative emotions, and that will attract more of the same. Visualize, with great emotion, the things you love about him or her. Feel all the positive emotions of your partner displaying these qualities to you more and more. Since you will attract the same vibrations, the universe and the laws of Quantum Physics will rush to bring you more of what you want to continue these good vibrations! If you and your partner are both focusing on the good in each other, you will find your passion blooming again, and you'll find such joy in your relationship that you never knew could exist! And it's all due to Quantum Physics!
Create The Life You Desire With Quantum Physics
You can use Quantum Physics to bring you almost everything you desire. Practice it, and use it daily. For little things. For big things. Once you bring this technique into your life, Quantum Physics will bring you what you ask for. And it all works by natural laws of the universe. This Law of Attraction has always been here, but only recently have our scientists been able to isolate and measure it. Quantum Physics -- it's for real!
Cream, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" - Clapton playing The Fool...
...a faithful re-creation of the iconic guitar from1967, based upon artwork commissioned by the late George Harrison of The Beatles, for the giant, world famous, mural painted on the wall of London’s famous Beatles-owned Apple Boutique by the Dutch art collective, known as “The Fool”.The art collective went on to re-create the vibe of the Apple Boutique mural, in miniature, on one of George Harrison’s guitars, which Harrison had given to his friend Eric Clapton.The guitar has come to be known as “The Fool” after its creators. The original guitar was used almost constantly by Eric Clapton in Cream (view photo), and eventually ended up in the hands of legendaryUS performer, Todd Rundgren.
"What you are learning is a technique for self-development. You cannot use it, therefore, to attain those things that do not pertain to you own self-development and the techniques will not help you get something that you were not meant to have nor that you have before decided as an entity that you should not have."The Early Sessions, Book 8 - Session 403, Page 232
By Michael AlbertIn discussing parecon and gender relations we have in mind assessing how a participatory economy would impact and be impacted by a good society's procreation, nurturance, socialization, sexuality, and organization of daily home life with a special eye on three dimensions of implications - those bearing on relations between women and men, between homo and heterosexuals, and between members of different generations. Kinship VisionA problem with this discussion, like many others that we will undertake, is that there is as yet very little clarity about what revolutionized kinship relations will be like in a new society. What altered or new institutions will organize procreation, nurturance, and socialization? How will the structures and social roles we fill to accomplish upbringing and home life change?For example will there be families as we now know them? And whatever families we have, what else will exist? Will upbringing diverge greatly from what we know now? What about courting and sexual coupling? How will the old and young interact with what we now call adults and vice versa? Presumably good kinship structures will liberate women and men rather than causing the former to be subordinate to the latter, and likewise for other hierarchical or degrading relations. In these matters we are talking about liberating a side of life where the gain will be removing the features that produce systematic sexism, homophobia, and ageism, plus gaining an array of positive improvements that we can only guess at until we have experimented with more complete proposals for visionary kinship institutions. It isn't that all problems associated with gender will disappear, of course, or that all unmet desires or un-manifested capacities will be righted. Even in a wonderful society, we can confidently predict that there will still be unrequited love. Sex will not lack turmoil. Rape and other violent acts will occur, though far less often than now. Social change can't remove the pain of losing friends and relatives to premature death. It can't make all adults equally adept at relating positively with children or with the elderly or vice versa. What we can reasonably expect and demand, however, is not some kind of utopian elimination of all conflict and pain but rather that new forms of engagement will eliminate the systematic violation of women, gays, children, and the elderly which causes these whole groups to suffer material or social deprivations.We can demand that innovations eliminate the structural coercion of men and women, of hetero and homosexuals, and of all adults and children into patterns preserving such violations.How will all this happen? Not how will we get to this better future, which is a derivative and even more difficult question, but what will the institutions defining a vastly better kinship future look like? Some people have good ideas, no doubt, but I have to admit that I have barely an inkling about this visionary question. Indeed, I can find barely an inkling of a proposed answer in the contemporary literature of the left, though in the past people, mainly women, have attempted to provide some visionary sex-gender insights and I would like to mention some of those attempts as being worth trying to elaborate into a gender related vision. In contemporary societies that elevate men by consigning women to less empowering and fulfilling options, what are the defining structures that intrinsically produce a sexist ordering and therefore need to be profoundly altered to remove that ordering?By sexist ordering we of course mean men dominating women in income and circumstance, in opportunities and quality of life, and in control over social outcomes. Sexism takes overt form in men having dominant and wealthier conditions. It takes more subtle form via long standing habits of communication and behavioral assumptions. It is produced and reproduced by institutions that differentiate men and women, including coercively as in rape and battering, but also more subtly via what seem to be mutually accepted role differences in home life, work, and celebration as well as by the cumulative impact of past sexist experiences on what people think, desire, and feel, and on what people habitually or even self consciously do.If we want to find the source of gender injustice it stands to reason that we need to determine which social institutions give men and women roles that impose on them conditions and circumstances, motivations, consciousness, and preferences that elevate men above women.One structure we find in all societies that have sexist hierarchies is that men father but women mother children. That is, we find two quite dissimilar roles which men and women play vis a vis the next generation, each role socially defined and in only a very minor sense biologically fixed. One conceptually simple structural change in kinship relations would be to eliminate this mothering/fathering differentiation between men and women. What if instead of women mothering and men fathering, women and men each parented children. What if men and women each related to children in the same fashion, with the same mix of responsibilities and behaviors (called parenting), rather than one gender having almost all the nurturing as well as tending, cleaning, and other maintenance tasks (called mothering), and the other having many more decision-based tasks, with one gender being more involved and the other more aloof - and so on? I am certainly not sure that replacing gender defined mothering and fathering with gender blind parenting would alone eliminate all the defining roots of sexism, but I do think this might be a key innovation critical to removing the underlying causes of sexist hierarchies.This particular idea emerged, or at least I first encountered it in the work of Nancy Chodorow, most prominently in a book titled, "The Reproduction of Mothering" (University of California Press). The book made a case that mothering is a role that is socially and not biologically defined and that as mothers women produce daughters who in turn not only have mothering capacities but desire to mother. "These capacities and needs," Chodorow continues, "are built into and grow out of the mother-daughter relationship itself. By contrast, women as mothers (and men as not mothers) produce sons whose nurturant capacities and needs have been systematically curtailed and repressed." For Chodorow, the implication was that "the sexual and familial division of labor in which women mother and are more involved in interpersonal affective relationships than men produces in daughters and sons a division of psychological capacities which leads them to reproduce this sexual and familial division of labor." Chodorow summarized by claiming that "all sex-gender systems organize sex, gender, and babies. A sexual division of labor in which women mother organizes babies and separates domestic and public spheres. Heterosexual marriage, which usually gives men rights in women's sexual and reproductive capacities, and formal rights in children, organizes sex. Both together organize and reproduce gender as an unequal social relation." So perhaps one feature of a vastly improved society vis a vis gender relations will be that men and women will both parent, with no division between mothering and fathering.Another very typical structure that comes into question for many feminists thinking about improved sex-gender relations is the nuclear family. This is hard to even define, I think, but has to do with whether the locus of child care and familial involvement is very narrow, such as resting with only two biological parents or instead involves many more people - perhaps an extended family but also perhaps friends, community members, etc. It seems highly unlikely that a good society would have for its gender relations any rules that required a few typical household organizations and family structures. We wouldn't expect that adults would have to live alone or in pairs or in groups in any single or even in any few patterns. The key point is likely to be diversity, on the one hand, and that whatever multiple and diverse patterns exist, each frequently chosen option embodies features that impose gender equity rather than imposing gender hierarchy. While I don't feel equipped to describe such possible features, I can say that the men and women that are born, brought up, and then themselves bear and bring up new generations in a new and much better society will be full and capable and confident in their demeanor and also lack differentiations that limit and confine the personality or the life trajectories of either - whether to some kind of narrow feminine or masculine mold. The same can be said, broadly, about sexuality and intergenerational relations. I don't think we know, or arguably even as yet have a very loose picture of what fully liberated sexuality will be like in all its multitude of preferences and practices or what diverse forms of intergenerational relations adults and their children and elders will enter into. What I think we can say, however, is that in future desirable societies no few patterns will be elevated above all others though all widely chosen options will preclude producing in people a proclivity to dominate or to rule, or to subordinate or to obey, based either on sexual orientation or on age (or on any other social or biological characteristic, for that matter). We have very little idea what specific sex-gender patterns will emerge, multiply, and continually develop in a better future--for example, monogamous and not, hetero, homo, or bi-sexual, and involving transformed care giving institutions, families, schools, and perhaps other political and social spaces for children as well as for adults and the elderly. But we can guess with confidence that actors of all ages, genders, and engaging in non oppressive consensual sexual relations will be free from stigma.All the above is vague and modestly formulated. Will renovated kinship include the broad structural features intimated above? I don't know. I certainly believe future kinship will be very diverse, at any rate. But even without knowing the inner attributes of new institutions for family life and related interactions and while waiting for kinship vision to emerge more fully from feminist thought and practice, I think we can still say some useful things about these domains relations to economics. Kinship institutions are necessary for people to develop and fulfill their sexual and emotional needs, to organize daily life, and to raise new generations of children. But current kinship relations elevate men above women and children, oppress homosexuals, and warp human sexual and emotional potentials. In a humanist society we will eliminate oppressive socially imposed definitions so that everyone can pursue their lives as they choose, whatever their sex, sexual preference, and age. There will be no non-biologically imposed sexual division of labor with men doing one kind of work and women doing another simply by virtue of their being men and women, nor will there be any hierarchical role demarcation of individuals according to sexual preference. We will have gender relations that respect the social contributions of women as well as men, and that promote sexuality that is physically rich and emotionally fulfilling.It is likely, for example, that new kinship forms will overcome the possessive narrowness of monogamy while also allowing preservation of the depth and continuity that comes from lasting relationships. New forms will likely destroy arbitrary divisions of roles between men and women so that both sexes are free to nurture and initiate. They will likely also give children room for self-management even as they also provide the support and structure that children need. But what will make all this possible? My own limited views, as they currently stand, pending more learning and experience, follow.Obviously women must have reproductive freedom—the freedom to have children without fear of sterilization or economic deprivation, and the freedom not to have children through unhindered access to birth control and abortion. There can be no more compromising on this issue than we can have compromising about private ownership of the means of production. Just as private ownership abrogates the rights of employees to control and direct their laboring capacities, denial of birth control and abortion abrogates the rights of women to control and manage their reproductive capacities and thereby their lives in general.But feminist kinship relations must also ensure that child-rearing roles do not segregate tasks by gender and that there is support for traditional couples, single parents, lesbian and gay parenting, and more complex, multiple parenting arrangements. All parents must have easy access to high quality day-care, flexible work hours, and parental leave options. The point is not to absolve parents of child-rearing by turning over the next generation to uncaring agencies staffed mainly by women (or even women and men) who are accorded low social esteem. The idea is to elevate the status of child rearing, encourage highly personalized interaction between children and adults, and distribute responsibilities for these interactions equitably between men and women and throughout society. After all, what social task could be more important than rearing the coming generation of citizens? So what could be more irrational than patriarchal ideologies that deny those who fill this critical social role the status they merit? In a desirable society, kinship activity must not only be arranged more equitably, but the social evaluation of this activity must be corrected as well.Feminism should also embrace a liberated vision of sexuality respectful of individual's inclinations and choices, whether homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, monogamous, or non-monogamous. Beyond respecting human rights, the exercise and exploration of different forms of sexuality by consenting partners provides a variety of experiences that can benefit all. In a humanist society that has eliminated oppressive hierarchies, sex can be pursued solely for emotional, physical, and spiritual pleasure and development, or, of course, as part of loving relationships. Experimentation to these ends will likely not merely be tolerated, but appreciated.We need a vision of gender relations in which women are no longer subordinate and the talents and intelligence of half the species is free at last. We need a vision in which men are free to nurture, childhood is a time of play and increasing responsibility with opportunity for independent learning but not fear, and in which loneliness does not grip as a vice whose handle turns as each year passes. A worthy kinship vision will reclaim living from the realm of habit and necessity to make it an art form we are all capable of practicing and refining. But there is no pretense that all this can be achieved over night. Nor is there reason to think a single kind of partner-parenting institution is best for all. While the contemporary nuclear family, particularly if it is the overwhelmingly present living pattern or at least the most admired, has proven all too compatible with patriarchal norms, a different kind of nuclear family will no doubt evolve along with a host of other kinship forms as people experiment with how to achieve the goals of feminism.Economics and Women and MenCapitalist economics is more subtle than some critical analysts think vis a vis women and men. There is, in fact, nothing in the defining institutions of capitalism--private ownership of productive property, corporate divisions of labor, authoritative decision making, and markets--that even notices much less differentiates and hierarchically arrays men and women due to a strictly economic dynamic and logic. On the other hand, if a society's sex gender system produces a differentiation between men and women, capitalist economy will not ignore that reality but will, indeed, exploit it. Thus, if men and women are arrayed by familial and other kinship relations so that the former have expectations of relative dominance vis a vis the latter, capitalist economy will operate in light of this situation. Suppose an employer seeks to hire a manager. Even if the workforce is male and a woman and a man apply, and the woman has better credentials and is more suited to the actual tasks involved, nonetheless in a sexist society the man is far more likely to get the job--and this is true even if the employer has no gender biases at all. The reason is because the employer needs the workforce to feel obedient and subordinate to the manager, and needs the manager to feel authoritative and superior to the workforce and it is far less likely for this pattern to emerge against the preconceived sexual orderings of society than it is for the sought pattern to emerge in accord with those orderings.In other words, the corporate division of labor utilizes rather than trying to run against the gender hierarchy established by familial and kinship relations. It places men above women rather than ignoring the instructions emanating from kinship.Similarly, pay patterns will reflect the differential bargaining power that sexism imposes on men and women. Men, all other things equal, will be able to extract more pay for the same work than women, due to owners exploiting the subordinate position and lesser bargaining power of women. These are the minimal accommodations of capitalist economies to sexist kinship relations. Capitalism's hierarchies don't challenge and largely incorporate gender hierarchies. Women disproportionately occupy subordinate positions. Women earn less. There emerge the distressing details including the tremendous incidence of female poverty, ill health, and rape and other violence that we all by now know about.It is important to realize that there is, however, a deeper impact of the field of force of sexist hierarchy on economic relations. The styles and patterns of male and female behavior produced by a patriarchal sex gender system can impose on economic roles so that the latter begin to literally incorporate the features of the former rather than only accommodating or exploiting them. In other words, women's economic jobs can take on attributes of nurturance and care giving and maintenance which are in no sense required by or even entirely logical in light of only economic dictates, and similarly for men's roles taking on male patterns also imposed by kinship definitions even contrary to purely economic logic. In this case we will see jobs in the economy that both reflect and very importantly actively reproduce male and female behavior imposed by a patriarchal sex gender system. The economy then becomes complicit in reproducing sexism. Thus, as Batya Weinbaum points out in the book Curious Courtship of Women's Liberation and Socialism, "Parecon's ImpactIn parecon, however, reproduction of sexist relations emanating from a patriarchal sex gender system disappears. It isn't just that a participatory economy works nicely alongside a liberated kinship sphere. It is that a parecon precludes or at least militates against non-liberated relations among men and women. Parecon is in contradiction to sexism.A parecon will not give men relatively more empowering work or more income than women because it cannot provide such advantages to any group relative to any other. Balanced job complexes and self management need and seek adults able to engage in decisions and to undertake creative empowering labor, regardless of gender or any other biological or social attribution.There is no process of a parecon abiding hierarchies born in gender relations because there are no hierarchies in a parecon that can abide it. Women cannot earn less than men, nor have jobs that are less empowering, nor have less say over decisions. But what about household labor? Many feminists will at this point wonder, "parecon claims to remove the differentiation at work and in income required by contemporary sexism, but is household labor part of the economy? Why or why not?"My inclination is to say that there is no one right answer to this question, just as for most other questions beyond issues of the defining economic relations.In other words, I can imagine a society that treats household labor of diverse types as part of its participatory economy and I can imagine one that doesn't. With my current state of understanding, I would prefer, myself, the latter type, for a few reasons. But neither choice is ruled out or made inevitable, I think, purely by the logic of parecon.Beyond that logical openness, however, I tend to think household labor shouldn't be considered part of the economy to be subject to the norms of productive labor with remuneration for effort and sacrifice, etc. First I think this because I just don't think nurturing and raising the next generation is like producing a shirt, stereo, scalpel, or spyglass. There is something fundamentally distorting, to my thinking, about conceptualizing child care and work place production as being the same type of social activity. The second main reason I think household labor should not be counted as part of economic production is that the fruits of household labor are largely enjoyed by the producer him or herself. Should I be able to spend more time on household design and maintenance and receive more remuneration as a result? If so, I get the output of the work and I then get more income too. This is different than other work and it seems to me that changing the design of my living room or keeping up my garden is more like consumption rather than it is like production. Suppose I like to play the piano, or to build model airplanes, or whatever. The activity I engage in for my hobby has much in common with work but we call it consumption because I do it under my own auspices and for myself. What we call work, in contrast, is what we do under the auspices of workers councils to produce outputs that are enjoyed by people other than just ourselves. Is there a problem in saying that because caring for and raising children is fundamentally different in kind than producing cars or screwdrivers and in saying that maintaining a household is different in its social relations and benefits than working in a factory, and deducing that on these bases we shouldn't count household labor as work to be remunerated and occur under the auspices of parecon's workplace institutions?I guess if we think it is impossible to have a transformation of sex-gender relations themselves then there is a problem, yes. If the norms and structures of households and living units are highly sexist, and if a parecon doesn't incorporate household labor as part of the economy and subject to its norms, then household labor will be done overwhelmingly by women and will as a result reduce their leisure or their time for other pursuits relative to men. But why assume that? Why shouldn't it be that transformed norms for household labor are produced by a transformation of sex gender relations themselves, rather than by calling household labor part of the economy? Take it in reverse. If this were a book about feminism and the rest of society and if I had mapped out a feminist sex-gender vision, I don't think many people would ask whether we can count the workplace as a household so that it gets the benefits of the innovative relations that new families and living units have. We would assume, instead, that there would need to be a revolution in the economy, not just in kinship, and we would rely on the former for the chief redefinitions of life at work even as we also anticipated and required that the economy abide and even abet the gains in kinship, and even as we worked to ensure that the gains of each meshed compatibly with the other. In any event, clearly a parecon militates against sexism because on the one hand it would have no reason to and even could not incorporate sexist hierarchies, and on the other hand it empowers and remunerates women in a manner that precludes there being easily subordinated in any other realm.Economics and SexualityPerhaps it is the paucity of my understanding showing, but other than in direct analogy to the above discussion, I honestly don't see a deeper relation of economics and sexuality. If there is homophobia or other sexual hierarchies in a society, and if the economy is capitalist, then the economy will to the extent owners are able to do so exploit whatever differentials in bargaining power they are handed. Beyond this, the capitalist economy may also incorporate gay and straight behavior patterns into economic roles, consumption patterns, etc. If the economy is pareconish, however, no exploitation of sexual difference is even possible much less enacted because there is one norm of remuneration and one logic of labor definition that applies to everyone and that by their very definition foreclose options of hierarchy. More positively, it seems to me that whatever liberated sexuality will mean in a future society it can only be hastened and abetted by economic relations that bestow on actors self managing power and thereby tend to generate actors expecting to be creative, initiating, and self managing in other spheres of their lives than just the economic.In other words, what healthy sexuality requires of an economy to be consistent and even nurturant of its outcomes a parecon can and automatically does deliver--people prepared to partake of life fully and equally to others, utilizing their capacities, enjoying dignity and equity of conditions, and self managing their options.Economics and Intergenerational ConflictWhereas capitalism will exploit age differentials for profit via remuneration for the young and old reduced due to reduced bargaining power and will take advantage of different capacities related to age differences for exploitative divisions of labor and will rush labor entry or slow labor withdrawal compared to humane choices again for exploitative reasons, a parecon will not only not promote such behaviors but will literally make them impossible due to being contrary to defining parecon norms and structures. Societies will decide the role of the elderly, retirement ages, etc. and likewise for young people's entry into economic responsibility. While familiar and other extra-economic intergenerational relations will certainly not be governed solely by economic impositions and will arise, instead, due to a host of variables including new kinship and gender forms, the fact that a parecon requires developed and fully participatory and self managing actors imposes on life more generally a respect for all potential and actual actors and gives them all material equality and behavioral wherewithal and habits quite contrary to any kind of subordination emanating from any other of society's institutions. More will be said in a later chapter regarding education whose logic applies as well to what is called socialization, but, other than that, it seems the point is made. We don't yet know what liberating gender, sexual, and intergenerational relations will be like but we can say parecon would appear likely to be quite compatible and even nurturing of them. Before long hopefully further kinship vision will exist and this claim and parecon itself can be further elaborated, tested, or refined, as need be.