Saturday, September 16, 2006

How Much Is Your Life Worth?

Take this dumbass quiz to find out . . . and don't say I didn't warn you.

Your Life Is Worth...


Seriously, if I were worth that much I'd sell me and pay off my student loans, buy a nice house on the Oregon coast, and take Kira to Scotland. Or is selling myself a paradox of some kind? Screw it -- that's what I'd do.

New Material at Elegant Thorn Review

Here is what's new at Elegant Thorn Review this week:

~ Two Photos: IterAter
~ Two Photos: Diana Micu
~ Poem: Soulless

As always, I am looking for submissions of quality poetry, flash fiction, and photography. Come on, now, don't be shy. Send me your best work.

Meditation: The Dark God

I don't remember anything, especially not the slow crawl of seconds parading through my brain. One day, another, who's to say? I looked through old poetry journals this morning and I did not see a life I recognized. My handwriting, and some of the poems were published with my name next to them, but the life I saw belonged to a young dark-haired girl I once knew. All those words formed a reflection of her reflecting that boy back to the page. I lost the muse when I gave her up for dead and quit killing myself with the bottle. No more reflections to fill the page. No sense of myself without the reflection. No words.

All these years later and I don't remember anything, especially how the slow crawl of seconds brought me to my knees, digging through old notebooks, one day, this day, any day, but no, it is today, right now, sitting with the ghosts of who I never was, arguing amongst ourselves. The ghosts laugh at my sense of being "grown up" now, so mature compared to that boy who thought he loved that girl. They argue that I am as lost as I have always been, only now, sometimes, I have the good sense to look for a map or simply to sit down, here in the desert, and hope someone finds me. Yet, no one else is looking. And only I can find me. But I am the one who is lost. Paradox sucks.

I was looking for something, but I can't remember anything, especially not how the slow crawl of seconds has split me into two separate people, really, identical twins it seems, but so different I am at a loss as to which is me. With clay and damp leaves and incense I breathed life into a self who is everything I value and want to be, an ideal self I struggle to live up to. All the while the other me, the exile, lurks in the shadows, plotting his return, planning my demise, occasionally revealing his presence. One is shadow to the other's light, but the split is more than that. The dark twin is angry and bitter, but he is also creative and passionate and can no longer be denied.

The dark twin seeks a life, but he doesn't remember anything, especially not why he was exiled by the slow crawl of seconds, by the last drop from the last bottle, by the surrender of his soul to the dark-haired girl he never really knew. It's as though Apollo banished Dionysus to the world of dream, and in doing so made barren all the lands of being. The center cannot hold against the ever widening gap, the beast and the angel must learn new steps to revive the dance. They must learn to find balance in each other's reflection and not in seeking their reflections in others. The center must be made to hold. Hidden in shadow is the still small voice of the dark god, waiting to be heard.

Speedlinking 9/16/06

Ah, the joys of sleeping in. I don't do it often enough. Anyway, here are a few good links to waste some of your Saturday with.

Image of the day is by Banksy, who I found through a post by Justin at ordinary extraordinary.

~ Beliefnet has an article with Sex therapist Gina Ogden, who has a new book called The Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection. ISIS stands for "Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality," which seems like a worthy pursuit, and certainly a part an integral relationship model. It's a good article.

~ Paul Salomne wants to redefine astrosexual away from its current limited meanings.

~ P2P Foundation has had three good posts in the last 24 hours:
* The Emergence of Diavlogging, in which they look at video blogs and their evolution.
* CommunityWiki: WikiMusic, in which they look at communal musical composition. This is very cool if you are a musician and like the idea of chaotic intention.
* Free from copyright. No rights reserved. A new kind of book by John Heron 2006, in which they promote John Heron's Participatory Spirituality: A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion provides a link to a new article by David Ignatius. Ignatius got to do a one-on-one with Bush on Iran, and the outcome is clear media manipulation by Bush (to my cynical ear). In all honesty, the proposals Bush says have been made are more than fair, but we also know that Iran's leadership is intent on having The Bomb as a way to solidify its power in the region (on par with India to the East and Israel to the West). Only Israel really stands in harms way if that happens, but no one in our government is willing to let that happen.

~ James at genius of insanity has a great post that shows how far out of line Bush is with his pro-torture stance.

~ Lin Jensen at Tricycle blog has a nice post on why we should never hope to "get it all together." If you look closely, you can find a Buddhist condemnation of integral theory:

Humans are attracted to constructing of their lives mental maps of linear progression aimed at improvement. We draw false and unwarranted assurance from maintaining a ready file of such maps as evidence that we know where we’ve been and where we’re going. We like to think that what we’re doing and where we’re headed amounts to making “progress.” We don’t much like chance events, because they can’t be anticipated or planned for and constitute a kind of messy interference in an otherwise well-designed itinerary. We don’t like sickness, old age, and death at all because these stubborn realities can’t be adapted to our travel preferences.
I sometimes feel that this is exactly how integral theory is at odds with my Buddhist practice, which is probably why I have been reading more Pema Chodron and other Buddhist teachers than I have integral theorists. Anyone else ever feel this way?

~ ebuddha at Integral Practice is still grooving with the integral values exploration.

~ Matthew Dallman posts on his first day in a Great Books class. It appears to be sponsored by the U of Chicago as part of a certificate program. The classes focus on a close reading of the texts, beginning at the beginning of the Western tradition, and they reject the introduction of theoretical models that are not based in a personal reading of the texts. Every university ought to offer a program like this -- I'd be there in an instant. Sounds wonderful -- makes me wish I lived in Chicago, except for the weather, the traffic, and da Bears. No, really, I loved Chicago when I was there way back when.

~ If you'd like a feel-good story, Kira (my partner) posted this email she received (on her Zaadz blog) about a tigress whose kittens died. The mom went into depression, so the zoo keepers tried to find other tiger kittens she could surrogate, but failed. So, with no other options, they put tiger stripes on some orphaned piglets and introduced them to the grieving mom. Tigress and piglets, from the pictures, seem very happy.

~ Go check out Tom's Buddhist roundup at Blogmandu, all the cool kids are doing it.

~ Al at In Pursuit of Mysteries posts a link to a very cool video called We Want Your Soul. This is part of an experiment called

~ Steve Pavlina at Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog posts on People and Subjective Reality.

~ An article on Nationl Geographic argues that humpback whale call are love songs. Everyone together now, "Ahhhh, that's cute." Seriously, though, Kira and I saw some of these beings close-up while we were in Nova Scotia, and I have to say that they have a presence about them that is hard to express. They are certainly as curious about us as we are about them. I have no doubt that if we could experience their songs the way they do, it'd probably be like hearing a Shakspeare love sonnet.

~ How did Michelle Malkin ever get a national audience for her juvenile rants? No link, just a question.

And that's a wrap.

Sogyal Rinpoche: Bodhisattvas

What the world needs more than anything is bodhisattvas, active servants of peace, “clothed,” as Longchenpa said, “in the armor of perseverance,” dedicated to their bodhisattva vision and to the spreading of wisdom into all reaches of our experience. We need bodhisattva lawyers, bodhisattva artists and politicians, bodhisattva doctors and economists, bodhisattva teachers and scientists, bodhisattva technicians and engineers, bodhisattvas everywhere, working consciously as channels of compassion and wisdom at every level and in every situation of society; working to transform their minds and actions and those of others, working tirelessly in the certain knowledge of the support of the buddhas and enlightened beings for the preservation of our world and for a more merciful future.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

Friday, September 15, 2006

Poem: extreme unction

This is an old poem that has been on my mind lately. I thought I'd post it here since I haven't posted any of my own poetry in a while. This is from many years back.

extreme unction

she places the plum,
not yet ripe,
in a small music box
made of oak,
the box scented with a darkness
where meadowlarks come
to sing away death

she closes the lid
and seals herself
into a pact with loss

but the birds do not come, no rain,
no gentle fingers
wipe away the tears

she places the music box
in a drawer
beneath loose photos
of her lover
whose body came undone


three days pass,
a fist-size hole in her belly
whistles when the wind blows

her friends ignore the haunting
sounds, offer glasses of wine,
some bread, a hug,
but never say the words

today it rains,
a meadowlark returns
and she retrieves the box,
sits with it
in front of her on the floor,
powders incense from the sticks
and sprinkles a circle
of black dust
around herself,
opens the lid


darkness sings when she
bites into flesh-colored
meat of the plum, juice
sticky on her lips,
savoring the body
and blood

teeth and tongue clean
the pit of its flesh
and she places the stone
inside the box,
aware only of the brief rustle
of a dress dropped to the floor
long ago, and a fullness
missing these last days

~ This poem appeared in Sheila-Na-Gig, No. 11, 1997.

Warning: Satire that May Offend

If you are easily offended by satire, please do not read this piece from ScrappleFace (and by the way, this one is more likely to offend liberals).

Qaeda Follows Senate Lead on Humane Treatment

(2006-09-15) — Just a day after the Senate Armed Services committee rebuffed the Bush administration’s efforts to allow aggressive interrogation techniques on captured terror suspects, a spokesman for al Qaeda praised the committee’s 15-9 vote and said it would, in turn, make its prisoner treatment protocols more humane.

“We were inspired by the humanitarian infidels in the Senate to update our own procedures,” said the unnamed al Qaeda spokesman in an audiotape released through Al Jazeera’s CNN news division. “We have approved a three-step plan aimed at improving our humanitarian image around the world.”

According to the source, al Qaeda has already issued the following new guidelines to its terror cells worldwide via overnight donkey courier:
1) Avoid taking prisoners.
2) Use a sharp sword and a brisk side-to-side motion.
3) Grant a speedy trial after beheading.

Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, John Warner of Virginia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who spearheaded the effort to block the president’s proposal, welcomed the al Qaeda announcement as “a positive and hopeful step toward full moral equivalency between the warring superpowers.”

Damn . . . I'm not a Slacker

I must be failing to live up to my potential.

You Are 36% Slacker

You have a few slacker tendencies, but overall you tend not to slack.
You know how to relax when the time is right, but you aren't lazy!

Speedlinking 9/15/06

Morning image is from =ibas at deviantART.

Let's get right to it. . . .

~ I posted the other day about how you could view the Gombe chimpanzee reserve through Google Earth. Now the Sierra Club blog reveals that Google Earth is in partnership with " the Discovery Networks, the National Park Service, and, ... the United Nations Environment Programme's One Planet, Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment. " Google Earth is a free download, so check it out -- it's fun. (No, I'm not getting paid to say that, but I'm open to offers.)

~ Two stories from the world of archeology yesterday: (1) Researchers have found what they claim is the oldest example of writing in the New World, attributed to the Olmec people. There is some controversy as to whether or not it is authentic, but if it is, very cool. (2) A new cave find on the Iberian Peninsula—now home to Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar— suggests that that was the last stand of the neandertal before they went extinct. The find adds another 2,000 years to their time on earth, making their demise about 28,000 years ago.

~ For all the theory geeks out there, Edward Berge at Open Integral started a discussion on "Is mixing business & education a category error?" Most of the good stuff is in the comments. The discsussion centers around Ken Wilber's IMP theory.

~ Will at offers a meditation on Awakening to Awakening. This is an interesting post, so go check it out.

~ ebuddha of Integral Practice did a deep reading of KW's Iraq War piece the other day, and it raised a question he has decided to tackle head on: What ARE some integral values? He makes an attempt to answer his own question, but wants input from others. So, what might some integral values be, with or without Wilberian, SDi, Kegan, or other some model being the defining template?

~ Joe Perez at Rising Up reviews -- and likes -- the movie Half Nelson, giving it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

~ Matthew Dallman posts a link to the Euston Manifesto, an attempt to bring "liberalism" back to its roots. He presents the entire manifesto at his site if you'd rather read it there. To my quick reading of it (and I will go back and read it more closely), it seems like an attempt to bring liberalism back from the sensitive, relativist, post-modern quagmire that it currently finds itself in. The authors seem to be promoting a more rationalist, patriotic, and pragmatic approach. What do you think of it?

~ Jeff Meyerhoff's newest rebuttal to Ken Wilber is up over at Visser's site.

~ I posted yesterday on starving artist syndrome, and yesterday also offered a post from Dave Pollard at How to Save the World on Living On the Edge, Comfortably. His posts are more like mini-articles, so they are good reading.

~ Jay at The Zero Boss offers up an experiment in video blogging: Vlog.1: The Mermaid Titty Transfer Protocol.

~ Colmar offers up a link to Michele Malkin (her response to Rosie O'Donnell), in which Malkin quotes Bruce Bawer on the issue of how evil the Islamofascists are (compared to Christofascists). Bawer talks about how the Islamofascists kill women and gay folks, which is horrible and true. But it's also horrible and true that people like Bawer and Malkin want gay folks to live in this country without ALL the rights shared by other Americans, and are working to take away women's reproductive rights, so you might see how O'Donnell might be a little concerned. See this post for a clearer statement on the issue.

And in more political news:

~ Colin Powell spanked Bush on his efforts to legalize torture. Thank god there are a few sane Republicans on that committee. Powell is right -- when we descend to the level of our enemy, we have lost the war.

~ Wired posts a real threat alert system, with terrorism at the bottom, where it belongs. You have a better chance of being shot by a police officer (3,949) than of dying from a terrorist attack (3,147). The real threats over a ten tear period?
Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327
And I would add to that, cigarette smoking and obesity, at around 300,000 each year, times 10 years.

And that's a wrap.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Starving Artist Syndrome

This was the Daily Om from a couple of days ago:
Learn And Let Flow
We Don't Need To Suffer

The idea that we have to suffer or live in poverty in order to be spiritual is an old one and can be found in the belief systems of many philosophies. Most of us carry this idea around subconsciously, and we may be holding ourselves back from financial or emotional well-being, believing that this is what we must do in order to be virtuous, spiritually awake, or feel less guilty for the suffering of others.

While it's true that there can be a spiritual purpose to experiencing a lack of material well-being, it is rarely intended to be a permanent or lifelong experience. What we are meant to find when material or emotional resources are in short supply is that there is more to our lives than the physical realm. Intense relationships and material abundance can distract us from the subtler realm of the spirit, so a time of deficiency can be spiritually awakening. However, once we recognize the realm of spirit, and remember to hold it at the center of our lives, there is no reason to dwell in poverty or emotional isolation. In fact, once our connection to spirit is fully intact, we feel so compelled to share our abundance that lack becomes a thing of the past.

If you find that you are experiencing suffering in some area of your physical life, perhaps your spirit is asking you to look deeper in your search for what you want. For example, if you want money so that you can experience the feeling of security but money keeps eluding you, your spirit may be asking you to understand that security is not to be found through money. Security comes from an unshakable connection to your soul. Once you make that connection, money will probably flow more easily into your life. If relationships elude you, your spirit may be calling you to recognize that the love you seek is not to be found in another person. And yet, ironically, once you find the love, your true love may very well appear. If you feel stuck in suffering to live a spiritual life, try to spend some time writing about it. The root of the problem will appear and it may not be what you expected. Remember, the Universe wants you to be happy.

When I was struggling with issues around money a few years ago, someone told me that the issue was holding onto money too tightly -- in a figurative sense. He wasn't Buddhist, but he was talking about clinging and attachment.

I had poverty mentality, a sense that I wasn't getting enough of anything: money, "things," security, or whatever. The stupid thing is that I had spent several years of my life right out of college cultivating this "starving artist" mentality.

I thought that to be a good poet, I had to be living close to the edge. It wasn't enough that I was drinking and smoking myself to an early grave, or living in an emotionally abusive relationship. I had to be financially on edge as well, so I worked in a low wage, romantic job -- a bookstore. And yep, I was poor.

When things finally shifted for me, it was because I re-aligned my life with sufficiency and purpose, and not with struggle and need. I'm not rich, but I am open to that possibility.

Most of the struggles we face, as the article notes, are lessons for our souls -- if we are willing to relate to them in that way.

Poem: Pablo Neruda

Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays--
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

When Armstrong Falls

It's no longer a question of if, I think, but when. Lance Armstrong, hero to many and still one of the most powerful men in cycling, is inching ever nearer to the day when he will have to offer up a mea culpa.

This saddens me. I've followed Lance's career since before he won any big races in France. I remember when he was a domestique with enormous potential, a powerful cyclist built for speed and strength.

Evidence is beginning to build
that his size and strength (the pre-cancer Lance) might have been chemically enhanced. The Sports Illustrated article I linked to here is pretty damning -- still circumstantial, but damning. The author suggests that the testicular cancer Lance suffered from -- and became a hero for having defeated -- could have been self-inflicted through his steroid use.

Maybe, maybe not. I'm not anti-steroid and I don't buy the scare stories the media likes to trot out.

The newest controversy started when two former teammates, one of whom was his close friend Frankie Andreu, on Lance's team when he won his first tour admitted to EPO use that year. Both say they never saw Lance use drugs and Lance says it's just an attempt by the NY Times to smear him.

It will be a dark day for many people when Lance is brought down by his past. For all the people who look to him as an inspiration, I feel sad.

But this whole thing could be avoided if we simply admit that pro athletes in most sports -- who compete at the highest levels -- are using whatever it takes to succeed, including illegal drugs. Rather than criminalizing drugs that are harmless when used correctly, we should accept that athletes are using them and provide medical supervision to make sure they are not killing themselves.

When steroids and growth hormone are used correctly, they can be beneficial. When used without medical supervision, they can be very dangerous. I'm sure many people will disagree with me, but as I see it, the "drug war" mentality that has made performance enhancing drugs illegal is the real issue here, not whether or not athletes Lance Armstrong are using drugs.

Speedlinking 9/14/06

Image of the day is from ~augustina at deviantART.

Let's start today with some politics:

~ Christopher Buckley, writing at Washington Monthly suggests that we should quit while we are behind. Money quote:
Who knew, in 2000, that “compassionate conservatism” meant bigger government, unrestricted government spending, government intrusion in personal matters, government ineptitude, and cronyism in disaster relief? Who knew, in 2000, that the only bill the president would veto, six years later, would be one on funding stem-cell research?

A more accurate term for Mr. Bush’s political philosophy might be incontinent conservatism.
~ Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post muses on Bush's declaration of a third awakening in American religion, which Bush claims has been spurred by the good vs. evil "war on terror."

~ John Podhoretz at The National Review's The Corner looks at Hillary's chances in 2008 in parts one and two.

~ Some of us just voted yesterday (and it amazes me that the GOP Congressional Committee is already running attack ads on the Democratic winner of yesterday's election in AZ CD8). Many people around the country will be voting in November and in 2008 on Diebold machines, which have been proven over and over to be hackable, and have been proven so again. These machines are made by companies that donate huge amounts of money to Bush and the GOP. How safe is your vote? Did you get a paper receipt proving who and what you voted for?

Meanwhile, in the sane world . . .

~ Steve Pavlina is grooving with the heavies, with a post called Understanding Jesus, Buddha, and Other Mystics. He argues that we should follow their advice as pointing out instructions, and that if we do so, it will fill our hearts with joy. I think it may take a little more work than that, but that's just me.

~ Via the P2P Foundation blog, Amnesty International is launching a campaign to end internet censorship around the world: is a campaign by Amnesty International to stop internet repression in countries like China, Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, where people are persecuted and imprisoned for self-expression. Irrepressible gives three suggested outlets for participation:

1. Sign our pledge on Internet freedom to call on all governments and companies to ensure the Internet is a force for political freedom, not repression.

2. Undermine censorship by publishing irrepressible fragments of censored material on your own site. The more people take part, the more we can defeat unwarranted censorship and create an unstoppable network of protest.

3.Put pressure on companies to protect freedom of information and expression. In China, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are supporting the government’s denial of fundamental freedoms. Act now.

~ David Jon at Zaadz adds part tres of his series on the sensitive man. He's arguing that men have been unfairly made to think (for the last 100 years or so) that they are the cause of all evil in the world. Here are links to parts one and two.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion posts on some of the thinkers he thinks we should all have read in Meaning Meant. Making the list: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, Emanuel Levinas, Martin Buber, Paul Ricoeur and Hans Georg Gadamar, Martin Heidegger, and Jurgen Habermas. Go read the post to see why.

~ Matthew Dallman has added Matt Yglesias to his list of "heavies." MD suggests that Yglesias will be more to the liking of his liberal-leaning readers, so I'll have to check him out.

~ Mike at Unknowing Mind offers his views on "How do you view karma, the thought that your actions in some way determine your experiences, in your spiritual path?" This is Interfaith Blog Event #1: Karma. To keep things fun, he also has links to articles from a Christian and pagan perspectives on the same question. Looks cool.

And with that, I am off to work.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

10 News Stories You Aren't Hearing About (But Should)

From Thomas Kostigen at MarketWatch (via Project Censored):

Ten big news stories you aren't hearing
Traditional media ignore or downplay significant events

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- The San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper has printed a list of stories we in the media seem to have largely ignored over the past year. The story is gleaned from an annual list developed by Project Censored, a media research group out of Sonoma State University that tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters.

It's a provocative and eye-opening list that warrants attention, especially from the media. And each year it usually gets it, as Salon comments, out of "guilt."

In a great example of how certain stories play out, San Francisco Bay Guardian reporter Sarah Phelan opens her article by citing the play two news items recently received on the same day they broke: In Detroit, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Bush administration's warrantless National Security Agency surveillance program was unconstitutional and must end. Meanwhile, somewhere in Thailand, a weirdo named John Mark Karr claimed he was with six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey when she died in 1996.

We all know which story received the most attention.

Here are the Top 10 most ignored stories. I've had to condense them for space considerations, but their headlines should tell enough of a story:

1. The Feds and the media muddy the debate over Internet freedom
The Supreme Court ruled that giant cable companies aren't required to share their wires with other Internet service providers. The issue was misleadingly framed as an argument over regulation, when it's really a case of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress talking about giving cable and telephone companies the freedom to control supply and content -- a decision that could have them playing favorites and forcing consumers to pay to get information and services that currently are free.

Source: "Web of Deceit: How Internet Freedom Got the Federal Ax, and Why Corporate News Censored the Story," Elliot D. Cohen,, July 18, 2005.

2. Halliburton charged with selling nuclear technology to Iran
Halliburton, the notorious U.S. energy company, sold key nuclear-reactor components to a private Iranian oil company called Oriental Oil Kish as recently as 2005, using offshore subsidiaries to circumvent U.S. sanctions. The story is particularly juicy because Vice President Dick Cheney, who now claims to want to stop Iran from getting nukes, was president of Halliburton in the mid-1990s, at which time he may have advocated business dealings with Iran, in violation of U.S. law.

Source: "Halliburton Secretly Doing Business with Key Member of Iran's Nuclear Team," Jason Leopold,, Aug. 5, 2005.

3. World oceans in extreme danger
Governments deny global warming is happening as they rush to map the ocean floor in the hopes of claiming rights to oil, gas, gold, diamonds, copper, zinc and the planet's last pristine fishing grounds. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2005 found "the first clear evidence that the world ocean is growing warmer," including the discovery "that the top half-mile of the ocean has warmed dramatically in the past 40 years as the result of human-induced greenhouse gases."

Source: "The Fate of the Ocean," Julia Whitty, Mother Jones, March-April 2006.

4. Hunger and homelessness increasing in the United States
As hunger and homelessness rise in the United States, the Bush administration plans to get rid of a data source that supports this embarrassing reality, a survey that's been used to improve state and federal programs for retired and low-income Americans.

In 2003, the Bush Administration tried to whack the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on mass layoffs and in 2004 and 2005 attempted to drop the bureau's questions on the hiring and firing of women from its employment data.

Sources: "New Report Shows Increase in Urban Hunger, Homelessness," Brendan Coyne, New Standard, December 2005; "U.S. Plan to Eliminate Survey of Needy Families Draws Fire," Abid Aslam,, March 2006.

5. High-tech genocide in Congo
If you believe the corporate media, then the ongoing genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is all just a case of ugly tribal warfare. But that is a superficial, simplistic explanation that fails to connect this terrible suffering with the immense fortunes that stand to be made from manufacturing cell phones, laptop computers and other high-tech equipment.

What's really at stake in this bloodbath is control of natural resources such as diamonds, tin, and copper, as well as cobalt -- which is essential for the nuclear, chemical, aerospace, and defense industries -- and coltan and niobium, which is most important for the high-tech industries.

Sources: "The World's Most Neglected Emergency: Phil Taylor talks to Keith Harmon Snow," The Taylor Report, March 28, 2005; "High-Tech Genocide," Sprocket, Earth First! Journal, August 2005; "Behind the Numbers: Untold Suffering in the Congo," Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski, Z Magazine, March 1, 2006.

6. Federal whistleblower protection in jeopardy
Though record numbers of federal workers have been sounding the alarm on waste, fraud, and other financial abuse since George W. Bush became president, the agency charged with defending government whistleblowers has reportedly been throwing out hundreds of cases -- and advancing almost none. Statistics released at the end of 2005 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility led to claims that special counsel Scott Bloch, who was appointed by Bush in 2004, is overseeing the systematic elimination of whistleblower rights.

Sources: "Whistleblowers Get Help from Bush Administration," Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) Web site, Dec. 5, 2005; "Long-Delayed Investigation of Special Counsel Finally Begins," PEER Web site, Oct. 18, 2005; "Back Door Rollback of Federal Whistleblower Protections," PEER Web site, Sept. 22, 2005.

7. U.S. operatives torture detainees to death in Afghanistan and Iraq
While reports of torture aren't new, the documents are evidence of using torture as a policy, raising a whole bunch of uncomfortable questions, such as: Who authorized such techniques? And why have the resulting deaths been covered up?

Of the 44 death reports released under ACLU's FOIA request, 21 were homicides and eight appear to have been the result of these abusive torture techniques.

Sources: "U.S. Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq," American Civil Liberties Union Web site, Oct. 24, 2005; "Tracing the Trail of Torture: Embedding Torture as Policy from Guantanamo to Iraq," Dahr Jamail,, March 5, 2006.

8. Pentagon exempt from Freedom of Information Act
In 2005, the Department of Defense pushed for and was granted exemption from Freedom of Information Act requests, a crucial law that allows journalists and watchdogs access to federal documents. The ruling could hamper the efforts of groups like the ACLU, which relied on FOIA to uncover more than 30,000 documents on the US military's torture of detainees in Afghanistan Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, including the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

Sources: "Pentagon Seeks Greater Immunity from Freedom of Information," Michelle Chen, New Standard, May 6, 2005; "FOIA Exemption Granted to Federal Agency," Newspaper Association of America Web site, posted December 2005.

9. World Bank funds Israel-Palestine wall
In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that the wall Israel is building deep into Palestinian territory should be torn down. Instead, construction of this cement barrier, which annexes Israeli settlements and breaks the continuity of Palestinian territory, has accelerated. In the interim, the World Bank has come up with a framework for a Middle Eastern Free Trade Area, which would be financed by the World Bank and built on Palestinian land around the wall to encourage export-oriented economic development.

But with Israel ineligible for World Bank loans, the plan seems to translate into Palestinians paying for the modernization of checkpoints around a wall that they've always opposed, a wall that will help lock in and exploit their labor.

Sources: "Cementing Israeli Apartheid: The Role of World Bank," Jamal Juma', Left Turn, issue 18; "U.S. Free Trade Agreements Split Arab Opinion," Linda Heard, Aljazeera, March 9, 2005.

10. Expanded air war in Iraq kills more civilians
At the end of 2005, U.S. Central Command Air Force statistics showed an increase in American air missions, a trend that was accompanied by a rise in civilian deaths thanks to increased bombing of Iraqi cities.

Sources: "Up in the Air," Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker, December 2005; "An Increasingly Aerial Occupation," Dahr Jamail,, December 2005 SFBG.

Project Censored then compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, underreported or self-censored by the country's major national news media. See

The Only Way Out Is Through

"I learn by going where I have to go."
~ Theodore Roethke
I have been an ass lately -- for at least the last month. I'm not sure what is going on, why I am sometimes harsh or insensitive for no reason, especially when there is never a good reason to act that way. The person who has suffered the most from this behavior is Kira, who I love more than anything or anyone else in the world. For that I feel awful.

It's easy to admit my mistakes.

It's much harder to look within to find the cause without my inner critic adding its voice to the self-loathing. There is no benefit in berating myself -- I can't undo anything by punishing myself.

Nor can I solve the problem by isolating myself, as though I could retire to a cave and simply wait it out, then emerge all nice and soft. Hiding will not solve the problem, either.

What I can do is look within, gently, and examine the behaviors and their sources.

Pema Chodron says:
You may be the most violent person in the world -- that's a fine place to start. That's a very rich place to start -- juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All of that is a good place to start. Just where you are -- that's the place to start.
I added the emphasis on that last part. I am not the most angry person in the world, but I am angry -- and I have been for most of the last 25 or 30 years. That is where I have to start.

When I was young, I celebrated my anger. I wore black, did drugs, hated the world. My life was a raging middle finger raised in defiance. It cost me a lot to be that angry, but I couldn't be any other way at the time. It's only been the last year or so that I could accept that I was doing the best that I could at the time.

When I got a little older and entered the adult world, the anger that was my identity was buried. I manufactured a new identity based on who I wanted to be. Over time, I became that person. But the anger remained, hidden, seething, presenting itself as self-destructive behaviors like smoking and drinking. It also fueled my successes -- the Freudians call it sublimation.

I've somehow made it to midlife without ever healing those old wounds that left me so angry.

Now, despite all the work I've done on myself -- the meditation and introspection, the mindfulness and therapy -- the anger is demanding that it be acknowledged, that it be felt and integrated.

When I am present to it, I literally feel that I will be devoured. It is a vast gaping maw, with sharp jagged teeth, and it only wants to chew me up and spit me out. Mangled and bloody. Broken. Destroyed.

The only way out is through.
The word "surrender" is often interpreted as giving up, as weakness, as admitting defeat. Although this is one way to use the word, we will use it in a different way. Surrendering means letting go of your resistance to the total openness of who you are.
~ David Deida
I learn by going where I have to go . . . .

Report: Majority Of Americans Unprepared For Apocalypse

From The Onion, so you know it's just plain wrong, in so many ways.

Report: Majority Of Americans Unprepared For Apocalypse

September 13, 2006 | Issue 42•37

WASHINGTON, DC—Over 87 percent of Americans are unprepared to protect themselves from even the most basic world-ending scenarios, according to a study released Monday by the nonpartisan doomsday think-tank The Malthusian Institute.

Despite "more than ample warning" for the most likely means of worldwide destruction, less than one million American households have taken even the simplest precautions against nuclear shockwaves, asteroid impact, or a host of angels bearing swords of fire, the study concluded.

Enlarge ImageReport: Majority Of Americans Unprepared For Apocalypse

Millions remain vulnerable to the all-devouring terror of Jesus' wrath (file photo).

"Our survey of households in seven U. S. regions demonstrated that few citizens have bothered to equip themselves with fireproof suits and extinguishers to deal with volcanic upheaval, solar flares, or the Lord's purifying flame," Malthusian Institute director James Olheiser said. "Almost no one is prepared for a sudden shift in the Earth's polarity or the eating of the Sun and moon by evil wolves Skol and Hati during Ragnarok."

Olheiser added: "All in all, America gets an 'F' for end-of-the-world preparedness."

The study examined nearly 1,200 doomsday scenarios and detailed the most glaring gaps in average Americans' ability to survive them. One of the few survival measures that fulfills the Institute's recommendations for most catastrophes—natural, manmade, or spiritual—is a mile-deep, lead-lined subterranean vault built to shield a pre-selected breeding group of humans until they can safely return to the planet's surface. However, only two American citizens, both in Idaho, were found to have begun even the most cursory planning stages of this kind of race-preserving chamber.

"Even assuming someone eventually developed an above-ground super-house able to withstand the 1,200-degree temperature and massive force of lava and ash rain that would result from a globe-shattering asteroid impact, its occupants would be unprepared for the ensuing radical climate change," Olheiser said. "By the same token, the average household lacks the 1.2 million gallons of heating oil needed to withstand the prolonged sub-zero temperatures of another protracted Ice Age—perhaps the most shocking of the public's many oversights."

In the years after World War II, fallout shelters and stocks of canned goods were common in many American homes. However, as Malthusian Institute figures suggest, while public fears of world-ending scenarios grew more sophisticated, the level of preparation inexplicably dropped.

"America is at its lowest level of apocalyptic preparedness since the early 1950s," Olheiser said.

"Naturally, we're very concerned about the safety of our city's residents," said Billings, MT mayor Ron Tussing whose city was faulted in the study for lackadaisical endtimes-response policy. "But people can't expect the government to do everything. In the event of, say, the eruption of the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park, or a torrential rain of boiling blood, citizens realize they're on their own."

Enlarge ImageMajority of U.S. Jump R

However, many Americans consistently point to the same two factors that they say hinder their ability to respond to the end of the world: time and money. The study found that many apocalypse-preparedness measures are cost-prohibitive. With virtually no tax incentives in place, many Americans share the "dangerous perception" that only the richest few can afford to survive the extinction of humanity.

"I just renovated my house with cantilevered leaden cofferdams for increased earthquake and radiation protection, and I'm working on a pantheistic altar to appease the god or gods most likely to return to this world with an insatiable wrath," said Seattle resident Tim Hanson, whose actions were praised in the study as a "highly rare display of prescience and vigilance."

"I installed solar panels and a generator so I could live off the grid for a while. But it cost so much that now

Not only are Americans unprepared physically, but spiritually as well. The study found that fewer than five percent of Americans regularly monitor space for signs of approaching alien attack ships, and only one percent are aware that an all-red bull and an all-white buffalo have recently been born, or that plans are underway to rebuild Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.

"We're advising parents to read this vital information, to take it to heart, and to share it with their children before it's too late," said Olheiser, who also called for the formation of more doomsday cults.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff sharply disagreed with the report's findings.

"This study is inaccurate and misleading," Chertoff told reporters on Tuesday. "Americans are a resilient, can-do people. We are more prepared than ever to survive a gigantic tsunami, a major gravitational disruption, or any other heretofore non-prophesied calamity."

Chertoff added: "As for Armageddon borne out of God's heavenly wrath, I can say with assurance that this nation has never seen a presidential administration that has given more thought to this very scenario."

Sogyal Rinpoche on Attachment

The Glimpse of the Day from yesterday:

Often it is only when people suddenly feel they are losing their partner that they realize how much they love them. Then they cling on even tighter. But the more they grasp, the more the other person escapes them, and the more fragile the relationship becomes.

So often we want happiness, but the very way we pursue it is so clumsy and unskillful that it brings only more sorrow. Usually we assume we must grasp in order to have that something that will ensure our happiness. We ask ourselves: “How can we possibly enjoy anything if we cannot own it?” How often attachment is mistaken for love!

Even when the relationship is a good one, love can be spoiled by attachment with its insecurity, possessiveness, and pride; and then when love is gone, all you have left to show for it are the “souvenirs” of love, the scars of attachment.