Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride and Joy (Acoustic)

The best blues guitarist of his generation, and one of the all-time greats.

The Iconic Poem at The Woodshed

I've added a new installment to the ongoing discussion of poetry and the "iconic" poem over at The Woodshed. For anyone interested in poetry, there is some good food for thought among the posts by Matthew, Dan, Paul, and myself.

And as always, please stop by Elegant Thorn Review to see what is new over there in the last week -- especially some photos and an artist's statement by John Craig of Craig Photography blog fame.

Subtle Humor in the Simpsons

I've always enjoyed that the Simpsons works at the gross level of humor, but that they also slip in some subtle humor that many viewers will miss -- or that just makes fun of things we seldom question. I guess someone else does too, because they assembled a website that collects some of the more obscure humor from the Simpsons.

Here are a few gems.
Apu: I have come to make amends, sir. At first, I blamed you for squealing, but then I realized, it was I who wronged you. So I have come to work off my debt. I am at your service.
Homer: You're...selling what, now?
Apu: I am selling only the concept of karmic realignment.
Homer: You can't sell that! Karma can only be portioned out by the cosmos. [slams the door]
Apu: He's got me there.
Episode: Apu loses the Quik-E-Mart
Lisa: Oedipus is the one who killed his father and married his mother
Homer: Argh! who paid for that wedding?
Episode: Simpsons play tennis with the pros

Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, then sold off piece by piece.
Episode: Another Simpsons Clip Show

Homer to Billy Corgan (of the Smashing Pumpkins): "Thanks to your gloomy, depressing music, my children no longer hope for the future I can not afford to give them."
Corgan: "Yeah, we try to make a difference."
Episode: 3F21 Homerpalooza
Homer: The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let's see. [enumerates them on his fingers] Don't tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you're sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do. What else...
Episode: 7G05 Bart the General
Homer, to Lisa when she builds a perpetual motion machine during a teacher's strike: In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!
Episode: 2F19, The PTA Disbands
Lisa: Dad, why is the world such a cesspool of corruption?
Homer: [sotto voce] Oh, great... [speaking up] All right, what makes you say that?
Lisa: Well, in Sunday School, we learned that stealing is a sin.
Homer: Well, DUH.
Lisa: But everybody does it. I mean, we're stealing cable as we speak.
Homer: Oh. Look at this way, when you had breakfast this morning, did you pay for it?
Lisa: No.
Homer: And did you pay for those clothes you're wearing?
Lisa: No, I didn't.
Homer: Well, run for the hills, Ma Barker! Before I call the Feds!
Lisa: Dad, I think that's pretty spurious.
Homer: Well, thank you, honey.
Episode: 7F13, Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment (when Homer gets free cable TV)
Read the rest.

Poem: Morning Meditation

For the first time in years, I am assembling some poems for submission. This is a revision of a poem I wrote shortly after moving to Tucson, back in 2002. I didn't write much back then, so this poem is a bit of an aberration in my life. But even though it isn't one of my best works, I like it -- the feel of it, the sense of newness.

morning meditation

Awakening to the Sonoran Desert, pale
blue sky morning, already warm.

Orange blossoms of the ocotillo
speak of April, the great flowering,

and coiled in the lowest cleft
of a cholla, a rattlesnake waits.

So early this year, his flicking tongue
a reminder this desert is wild

even in the city. I watch his head
sway elegantly in the morning sun

as I sit on my deck, an observer
of the dance he enacts from instinct.

So new to me, this place,
only two and a half weeks,

yet, the heat is beneath my skin,
the muted greens flavor my breath.

It penetrates, this desert, gets
into my blood, a welcoming.

I have come here to wander,
to find myself in the vast silences,

and I have come here to love:
a woman, the cycles of being, life.

So I sit, watching the magic dance
of the ancient hunter, his subtle charms,

feeling myself the prey, knowing
I will be devoured, whole, still breathing.

I crave that surrender, knowing
something must die to be reborn.

I watch the rattlesnake strike
his prey, a small lizard,

quick, with precision, and with
the fiercest, wildest love.

The Dalai Lama on the Origin of Suffering

From Snow Lion Publications:
Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

In the realm of matter, one and the same object can serve as a cause of happiness for some living beings, and a cause of suffering for others. Certain plants, for example, function as medicine for some creatures, but for other species they can be poisonous. From the point of view of the object itself there is no difference, but because of the physical constitution and the material state of the particular living being, that single self-same object can affect them in different ways. Then, in the sphere of our own experiences, the same holds true. A certain individual may appear to some as very friendly, kind and gentle, and so gives them feelings of happiness and pleasure. Yet to others that same person can appear harmful and wicked, and so cause them discomfort and unhappiness.

What this kind of example points to is that, although external matter may act as a cause for our experience of pain and pleasure, the principal cause that determines whether we experience happiness or suffering lies within. This is the reason why, when Buddha identified the origin of suffering, he pointed within and not outside, because he knew that the principal causes of our suffering are our own negative emotions and the actions they drive us to do.

~ From Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by the Dalai Lama, translated by Thupten Jinpa and Richard Barron, Foreword by Sogyal Rinpoche, edited by Patrick Gaffney, published by Snow Lion Publications.

Anmiated Periodic Table

This is cool, at least for science geeks. It's a flash video presentation, so you can move the cursor around and the element will pop-up, or you can also click on the element for more detail.

Animated Periodic Table

Viral Video

I wanted to stop watching this thing, but I couldn't pull myself away. It's deeply twisted in places, so you've been warned. On the other hand, it's also very inventive.


Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm a B-List Blogger

Uh, woo-hoo!? I think . . . .

This is based on Technorati's authority rankings, by which I am "high authority." You can check your blog here.

B-List Blogger
Groupings Explained:

The Low Authority Group (3-9 blogs linking in the last 6 months)
The average blog age (the number of days that the blog has been in existence) is about 228 days, which shows a real commitment to blogging. However, bloggers of this type average only 12 posts per month, meaning that their posting habits are generally dedicated but infrequent.

The Middle Authority Group (10-99 blogs linking in the last 6 months)
This contrasts somewhat with the second group, which enjoys an average age not much older than the first at 260 days and which posts 50% more frequently than the first. There is a clear correlation between posting volume and Technorati authority ranking.

The High Authority Group (100-499 blogs linking in the last 6 months)
The third group represents a decided shift in blog age while not blogging much more frequently than the last. In keeping with the theme of the maturation of the blogosphere, it seems evident that many of these bloggers were previously in category two and have grown in authority organically over time. In other words, sheer dedication pays off over time.

The Very High Authority Group (500 or more blogs linking in the last 6 months)
In the final group we see what might be considered the blogging elite. This group, which represents more than 4,000 blogs, exhibits a radical shift in post frequency as well as blog age. Bloggers of this type have been at it longer – a year and a half on average – and post nearly twice a day, an increase in posting volume of over 100% from the previous group. Many of the blogs in this category, in fact, are about as old as Technorati and we’ve grown up together. Some of these are full-fledge professional enterprises that post many, many times per day and behave increasingly like our friends in the mainstream media. As has been widely reported, the impact of these bloggers on our cultures and democracies is increasingly dramatic.
I seem to defy the classification in that I have been blogging for about a year and a half, and I post several times a day. So I should be higher, damn it. Naw, just joking. I'm surprised I have as many links as I do.

Marilyn Manson -- Sweet Dreams (Live)

A little angst-ridden fun from the master of bizarre. This music appeals to some of my lowest developmental memes, not to mention some undoubtedly shadow material.

Sogyal Rinpoche on Doubts

Yesterday's Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:
Let’s not take doubts with exaggerated seriousness, or let them grow out of proportion, so that we become black-and-white or fanatical about them. What we need to learn is how slowly to change our culturally conditioned and passionate involvement with doubt into a free, humorous, and compassionate one. This means giving doubts time, and giving ourselves time to find answers to our questions that are not merely intellectual or “philosophical” but living and real and genuine and workable.

Doubts cannot resolve themselves immediately; but if we are patient, a space can be created within us in which doubts can be carefully and objectively examined, unraveled, dissolved, and healed. What we lack, especially in this culture, is the right, undistracted, and richly spacious environment of the mind, which can be created only through sustained meditation practice, and in which insights can be given the chance slowly to mature and ripen.
For me, in the path my life has followed, my doubts have led me into questioning my assumptions and beliefs. As a young person, I doubted the teachings of the Church, which led me into paganism and eventually into shamanism.

Later, I began to doubt that the reality of shamanism was the whole reality, and so I began to explore Buddhism. For a long time, I doubted certain elements of Buddhism, but then I read some of Ken Wilber's later books and found that Buddhism didn't need to have all the cultural baggage in order for me, personally, to follow the Buddha's path.

Not much later, I found Chogyam Trungpa through Pema Chodron's books and discovered a Western version of Buddhism (Shambhala) that appealed to me as an American (with all the baggage that entails).

As I have followed my doubts, I have become more clear and have found my way closer to the no-self that is my true nature.

Rather than seeking to dissolve our doubts, as Rinpoche suggests, I think we can listen to our doubts, learn from them, and follow them deeper into our own experience of truth. Maybe that is what Rinpoche is getting at in this passage when he speaks of meditation, but we each may have our own path to follow when doubts come up.

The important thing, as Rinpoche teaches, is to avoid letting ourselves become paralyzed by doubts as in the picture above.

The Magic Pill -- Resveratrol

I often am critical of attempts by science to come up with magic pills for weight loss, diseases, mental health, or nearly anything else. But every once in a while the find something that seems almost miraculous. This time they have discovered that a natural substance can have a profound impact on health.

Drug Doubles Endurance, Study Says

Published: November 16, 2006

Given that some athletes will take almost anything to gain a one percent edge in performance, what might they do for a 100 percent improvement? That temptation is made somewhat more real by a report today in a leading journal about a drug that doubles the physical endurance of mice running on treadmills. And it could only be more tempting, because the drug in question has also been reported to extend the lifespan of mice.

An ordinary lab mouse will run about one kilometer — five-eights of a mile — on a treadmill before collapsing from exhaustion. But mice given resveratrol, a minor component of red wine and other foods, run twice as far.

They also have a reduced heart rate and energy-charged muscles, just as trained athletes do, according to an article published online in Cell by Johan Auwerx and his colleagues at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France.

“Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training,” Dr. Auwerx (pronounced OH-wer-ix”) said in an interview.

He and his colleagues said the same mechanism seems likely to operate in humans, based on their analysis, in a group of Finnish subjects, of the gene that is influenced by the drug.

Their rationale for testing resveratrol was evidence obtained three years ago that it could activate a genetic mechanism known to protect mice against the degenerative diseases of aging and to prolong their lifespan by 30 percent.

Dr. Auwerx, whose interest is in the genetic control of metabolism, decided to see if resveratrol would offset the effects of a high-fat diet, specifically the metabolic disturbances, known as metabolic syndrome, that are the precursors of diabetes and obesity.

In his report, he and his colleagues say that very large doses of resveratrol protected mice from gaining weight and from developing metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Auwerx attributes this change in large part to the significantly increased number of mitochondria he detected in the muscle cells of treated mice.

Mitochondria are the organelles within the body’s cells that generate energy. With increased mitochondria, the treated mice were able to burn off more fat and thus avoid weight gain and decreased sensitivity to insulin, Dr. Auwerx said. He found that their muscle fibers had been remodeled by the drug into the type more prevalent in trained human athletes.

Dr. Ronald M. Evans, a leading expert on the hormonal control of metabolism at the Salk Institute, said that the report by Dr. Auwerx’s team had “shown very convincingly that resveratrol improves mitochondrial function” and fends off metabolic disease.

Dr. Evans described the study as “very important, because it is rare that we identify orally active molecules, especially natural molecules, that have such a broad-based, positive effect on a problem as widespread in society as metabolic disease.”

Read the rest.

Rather than work directly with resveratrol, however, since it is a natural substance that can't be patented, these "scientists" are trying to find other ways to hit the same protein systems in the body that resveratrol hits, but with a drug they can patent and get rich from.

But if you want to try this wonder chemical, you're not likely to get enough of it from diet alone to have any impact. Some supplement companies are already marketing a supplement based on older research that shows resveratrol lowers estrogen levels, both endogenous and exogenous, limits conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and has a few other nice health benefits.

I have been taking a supplement of resveratrol for a while with seemingly good results, but it's all subjective.

Sophia Lauren Shows She's Still Sexy at 71

Earlier this week, I posted on the Century Project, an effort to show real women exactly as they are throughout the lifespan.

Well, at 71 years of age, Sophia Lauren is no ordinary woman, but she is archetypal evidence that beauty is not a function of age. The Sun (UK) ran a small piece about Lauren posing this year for the annual Pirelli calendar alongside younger femme fatales Penelope Cruz and Naomi Watts.

SCREEN legend Sophia Loren shows she still has what it takes to make men go weak at the knees – as she poses for the Pirelli calender at the ripe old age of 71.

The Italian stunner flashes her luscious curves alongside younger beauties including film stars Penelope Cruz and Naomi Watts in next year’s edition of the famous calendar.

Sophia, who won an Oscar in 1960 movie La Ciociara, was recently voted the world’s most naturally beautiful person.

Once again she beat off competition from younger lovelies, including Catherine Zeta Jones, Cameron Diaz and Charlotte Church.

Parents Freak Out about a Penguin Book

This Is Reason #67,325 that I am often misanthropic. Those reasons aren't ranked in any particular order, by the way.

So, here's the deal: An orphaned penguin egg is given to two males in the Central Park Zoo, who adopt the egg and raise the baby as their own. Some smart person saw that as a good idea for a book, which it is -- an ALA Notable Book, no less. Spread some love and make some money. A few rather ignorant parents have chosen to see this book as promoting the "gay agenda." Freaking' idiots.

Complaining about the book's homosexual undertones, some parents of Shiloh Elementary School students believe the book — available to be checked out of the school's library in this 11,000-resident town 20 miles east of St. Louis — tackles topics their children aren't ready to handle.

Their request: Move the book to the library's regular shelves and restrict it to a section for mature issues, perhaps even requiring parental permission before a child can check it out.

For now, "And Tango Makes Three" will stay put, said school district Superintendent Jennifer Filyaw, though a panel she appointed suggested the book be moved and require parental permission to be checked out. The district's attorney said moving it might be construed as censorship.

Filyaw considers the book "adorable" and age appropriate, written for children ages 4 to 8.

"My feeling is that a library is to serve an entire population," she said. "It means you represent different families in a society — different religions, different beliefs."

Lilly Del Pinto thought the book looked charming when her 5-year-old daughter brought it home in September. Del Pinto said she was halfway through reading it to her daughter "when the zookeeper said the two penguins must be in love."

"That's when I ended the story," she said.

Oh my god, they used the "L" word. I thought only young, single males were afraid of the L word (no, not that other L word, which is not totally out of line with this story).

I know I should show/feel more compassion for people who have such warped and limited thinking, but I tend to see them as simply brain-washed morons. The Bill O'Reillys, Ann Coulters, and Sean Hannitys of the world -- among many others -- have made these simpletons fear anything even remotely gay. Surely this little story about penguins is going to make their kids gay, Gay, GAY!

No, seriously, what really bothers me are the assumptions that (1) being gay is a bad thing, (2) you can catch it like a disease or be persuaded to be gay by being exposed to gays, (3) gay people (or penguins, in this case) are not capable and deserving of being loving, caring people (or critters), and (4) removing any book from the library (or limiting its access) will protect kids from something horrible -- knowledge.

I think these people are taking that whole forbidding them to eat from the tree of knowledge thing a little too literally.

This is the last great frontier for the civil rights movement, but it sure seems slow in coming. Being gay, or lesbian, or bisexual is not a choice or a lifestyle -- it's the way some people are born. They are equally human, loving, caring people who are hurt and degraded by efforts to suggest they have some grand agenda to take over the world. All they want -- all any of us want -- is to be treated fairly and equally under the law and as members of this society.

Strange Statues from Around the World

This blog has a cool collection of photos of strange statues from around the world. I like this one from Toronto:

But they missed at least three from my adopted hometown of Seattle.

First, The Hammering Man:

And then there's Stalin, in Fremont:

Or what about the Fremont Troll?

Speedlinking 11/17/06

Morning image is from Live Science:

Happy weekend! This has felt like a long, busy week. I'm looking forward to relaxing and watching the big game this weekend - Michigan vs. Ohio State. In deference to some friends and clients, Go Wolverines!

~ A New Maternal Diet Study Presented By Children's Hospital And Research Center-Oakland. What moms eat while pregnant will impact their grandchildren.
~ Low Cholesterol Lowers Risk for Aggressive Prostate Cancer. Makes perfect sense -- less cholesterol means less sex hormones, means less estrogen and testosterone, both of which have been implicated in prostate cancer.
~ New Links Detailed Between Diet, Cancer Risk. The link just keeps getting clearer and clearer. See next item.
~ The "Dirty Dozen" Fruits and Vegetables Containing the Most Pesticides: Read the whole article, but here's a teaser.

What's more, an analysis by the EWG estimated consumers could reduce their exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent merely by avoiding foods on their "Dirty Dozen" list. A few members of this year's "Dirty Dozen" list:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach

Conversely, the "Cleanest 12" whole foods you can buy, according to the EWG, only expose you to less than two pesticides per day, a huge difference from the 15 pesticides you'd be exposed to daily on the "Dirty Dozen" list. Among the cleanest fruits and vegetables you can buy at your grocery store:

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
~ Two smell systems in the human brain. "Today's Nature has a special supplement on chemical sensing, including a freely accessible article on smell and the flavor system that is full of surprising facts about one of the most neglected senses.
~ Lower Dementia Risk And Higher Level Of Certain Fatty Acid Linked. Either eat your fatty fish, take a fish oil supplement, or find a plant-based form of DHA (Neuromins), but get some DHA in your diet, NOW!
~ Hormone Linked To Brain's Cravings For Food And Other Energy Sources. This the newest holy grail hormone is seeking the "magic pill" for weight loss. Has been for a while now.
~ Neandertal DNA Partially Mapped, Studies Show. This might reveal a lot about how we have evolved since we split off from the big guys about 500,000 years ago. Very cool.

~ Are You an Emotional Overeater? Take the quiz.
~ Interview with Brain Wansink, author of ‘Mindless Eating’.
~ Occupational Therapy Helps Those With Dementia. "Occupational therapy -- training to do simple things around the house -- improved the lives of people with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, as well as the people who care for them, a Dutch study found."
~ People with vicious dogs may be vicious too. Isn't that just common sense?
~ Dying to Be Thin: HBO Documentary Shows That Anorexia Kills, but Downplays Fact That It Is Possible for Patients to Recover.
~ The "Illusion of Explanatory Depth": How Much Do We Know About What We Know? This is a good question for those of us interested in integral thought.
~ Gratitude Tools: Count Your Blessings.
~ Dealing with Shaming People, from Dharma at Fight The Misery Conspiracy.

~ Study: Condom use increasing in Africa. This is good news in the fight against AIDS.
~ Gender Gap in the Sciences: It's All about the Babies.
~Just what we need, even more incredibly fecund fundamentalists. "Whenever dogmatic, literal, fundamentalist interpretation of whatever holy scriptures someone believes in takes hold, the brain shuts off, and no other interpretation other than the narrow interpretation of the fundamentalist is viewed as acceptable."
~ Food for thought: A short review of Fast Food Nation.
~ Explaining the “23″ Phenomenon, from Pop Occulture Blog.
~ From Matthew Dallman: DEMOCRACY IS BEST BUILT FROM THE BOTTOM UP" . MD's down with Michael Rubin -- seems we should have been doing this from day one. Is it too late now?

~ Taco Bell to stem use of trans fats. I'm not holding my breath.
~ USDA says 12 mln Americans faced hunger in 2005 and by that they mean households-- or roughly 35 million Americans in 2005. The headline is deceiving and is bad journalism. Only one problem with this report: they may remove the word hunger.
~ From World Changing: Wireless Power.
~ Peak Oil Theory faulty: CERA report -- seems maybe there is more oil than some have thought.
~ Google Earth maps history -- "Google engineers have digitized one of the largest US map collections and integrated the information into the Google Earth program. The collection of David Rumsey Historical Maps, dated from 1680 to 1892, includes Cassini's Globe of 1790, Africa in 1787, and a map of Asia from 1710."
~ Best, Worst World Heritage Sites Ranked.

~ Ebuddha on Integral Research, Google Notebook, Wiki's, Time, and Finance.
~ From Joe at Until: Two kinds of criticisms of integral theory: internal and external.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Woman Is Very Brave

In Pakistan, a woman may be raped as punishment for crimes committed by a member of her family. When a woman becomes pregnant from being raped, after the rapists have been acquitted, she is beaten in public and/or sent to prison for having extra-marital sex. When a woman names her rapists, she is considered only a half witness (not a full person), and there must be four male witnesses (all must be Muslim) for a conviction.

According to Amnesty International
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours a woman is subjected to gang rape. The frequency of rape is thought to be much higher but many rapes remain unreported due to a combination of social taboos, discriminatory laws and victimization by the police. Meanwhile, Pakistani law is punishing victims of rape as though they were criminals while the perpetrators go free.
These are horrible, terrible, awful conditions in which these women live. There are not strong enough adjectives to convey my feelings about this.

With so much of the "law" stacked against women who have been raped, it is all the more remarkable that Mukhtar Mai stood up and said she was raped, pressed the case to get a conviction (which was later overturned), and became a spokesperson for women's rights in Pakistan. She nows blogs about her life through a BBC website.

Mukhtar Mai was once an anonymous Pakistani villager - but that was before she was gang-raped, apparently on the orders of local elders in a neighbouring village.

From then onwards she has been determined to bring them to justice, and her fight made her an international figure.

Some of the men she said attacked her were convicted, but then the appeal court in Lahore overturned their convictions, amid an outcry from human rights groups.

Now Mukhtar Mai, who is in her mid-30s, is writing her own internet diary, or blog, about her life and her concerns, as a woman from a remote village in southern Punjab.


Girls in Mukhtar Mai's village have her to thank for their education.

Video of Mukhtar Mai
Mukhtar Mai has become a familiar face on TV around the world

She established the school and others with compensation money awarded to her by the courts in her rape trial.

Mukhtar Mai is exceptional because she defied the shame of the gang-rape four years ago by not only bringing her attackers to justice, but also by fighting for a change in traditional attitudes towards women.

In that role, she hears many of the problems facing the women of her village. And she now contributes a weekly diary or weblog to the internet site of the BBC Urdu Service.

"Mostly I talk about incidents which are cruel and painful. I try to discuss only the most serious things in my blog: the poor treatment of women, sometimes leading to killing," she says.

Mukhtar Mai's blog is unique. Although she cannot read or write, she tells her stories to a local BBC journalist, who types it up as a web diary.

Read the rest.

This woman's courage and strength is outstanding. If we are ever to win this ill-conceived war on terror, it will be because we have raised up women to have power and control over their lives in these Islamic countries. The tribal mentality that allows them to be abused and treated as property must be transformed.

When people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins condemn all religion, they fail to see that authoritarian, punitive, restrictive religion is needed to tame and contain the tribal, egoic, power-driven version of Islamic faith so evident in the rural areas of Middle Eastern nations.

And if this ever happens, it will be because a few brave women stood up and said we will not tolerate being treated this way any longer. It will be because a few brave women got sick and tired of the abuse and the lack of human rights and joined together to stand against the men.

If young women around the world want to rally behind a woman who represents courage and freedom, they should rally around Mukhtar Mai.

Are You a Perfectionist?

You Are 89% Perfectionist

You're a total perfectionist. So go ahead and congratulate yourself on a "perfect" score.
The truth is, everyone is sick of living up to your standards. And you're probably even sick them yourself.

Damn straight -- although I'm a lot easier on others than I am on myself.

Tool -- Aenema

A little morning aggression and rage. And a rather strange video.


Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim I'll see you down in Arizona bay.

Fret for your figure and
Fret for your latte and
Fret for your hairpiece and
Fret for your lawsuit and
Fret for your prozac and
Fret for your pilot and
Fret for your contract and
Fret for your car.

It's a
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.

Some say a comet will fall from the sky.
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves.
Followed by faultlines that cannot sit still.
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits.

Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will cuz
I sure could use a vacation from this

Silly shit, stupid shit...

One great big festering neon distraction,
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied.

Learn to swim.

Mom's gonna fix it all soon.
Mom's comin' round to put it back the way it ought to be.

Learn to swim.

Fuck L Ron Hubbard and
Fuck all his clones.
Fuck all those gun-toting
Hip gangster wannabes.

Learn to swim.

Fuck retro anything.
Fuck your tattoos.
Fuck all you junkies and
Fuck your short memory.

Learn to swim.

Fuck smiley glad-hands
With hidden agendas.
Fuck these dysfunctional,
Insecure actresses.

Learn to swim.

Cuz I'm praying for rain
And I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down.
Mom please flush it all away.
I wanna watch it go right in and down.
I wanna watch it go right in.
Watch you flush it all away.

Time to bring it down again.
Don't just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.

I can't imagine why you wouldn't
Welcome any change, my friend.

I wanna see it all come down.
suck it down.
flush it down.

Is OJ Simpson Confessing?

I have no idea what could possibly inspire OJ to "write" a book called If I Did It. Oh, wait, yes I do -- a $3.5 million advance from Judith Regan. And one other reason -- because he can. He cannot be retried for the crime, although he could lose the money if the families who won the civil suit against him get their way (since they've never gotten any of the $33 million they won).

From Newsweek/MSNBC:
Is O. J. Simpson confessing? That’s what powerhouse publisher Judith Regan teasingly promises from a new book and television extravaganza called “If I Did It.” In them, Simpson describes how he would have murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ronald Goldman—if he’d actually done it. Regan herself is coy about whether Simpson goes so far as to confess to the 1994 murders, but she did say Tuesday that “this is an historic case, and I consider this his confession.” Huh?

It’s unclear whether all of this is clever marketing on the part of Regan, whose roster of celebrity author clients includes Michael Moore, Eminem and porn star Jenna Jameson. But the announcement by Fox TV that it will air a “wide-ranging no holds barred” interview with O. J. (by Regan) rekindled the hysteria of what was called “The Trial of the Century.” Fred Goldman, who has long believed the acquitted Simpson killed his son, says the TV show and book are “even for [Simpson], about as low as you possibly can go.” Goldman is calling for a boycott of bookstores, which will begin selling “If I Did It” on Nov. 30, and of Fox, which will air a two-part special on Nov. 27 and 29. Says Goldman: “It’s morally reprehensible to me … to think you are willing to give somebody airtime about how they would murder two people.”

Without having seen the TV show or the book, many people close to the case were left to speculate on what “no holds barred” items O. J. might have divulged. Lawyer F. Lee Bailey, part of the “Dream Team” that represented Simpson at the 1995 murder trial, says he isn’t so sure that his former client actually confesses to the two killings, even hypothetically. Bailey tells NEWSWEEK that he spoke to Simpson about the project earlier this year, before the news broke, and that Simpson had been “under some severe restrictions about what he could say" to him. “In essence, people pushed him for a book that did not say he was innocent—no one wants to read that,” Bailey says. “So supposedly they came up with a book that says, ‘I'm innocent because if I had done it, I would have done it this way'.” After talking with Simpson, Bailey says he’s convinced “It does not say he did it.”

Read the rest, if you must.

Cool Animation Video: Kiwi

Found this at YouTube:

A lot of people have been emailing this guy and asking questions. He suggests you can find some answers here.

National Book Award Winners

This year's winners of the National Book Award are:

M.T. Anderson
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party (Candlewick Press)

Nathaniel Mackey
Splay Anthem (New Directions)

Timothy Egan
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Houghton Mifflin)

Richard Powers
The Echo Maker
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
I'm actually familiar with three out of four writers (not the young people's lit one), although I haven't read the particular books.

Since I'm mostly into the poetry thing, here is the NBA blurb about Mackey, who is a rather challenging poet for the NBA to recognize.

2006 National Book Award Winner, Poetry

Nathaniel Mackey
Splay Anthem
New Directions

About the Book
Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey’s new collection takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces, forming the next installment of two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years: Song of the Andoumboulou and “Mu”.

About the Author
Nathaniel Mackey is a poet, literary critic, fiction writer, and journal editor whose eight books of poetry include Four for Trane, Septet for the End of Time, Outlantish, and Song of the Andoumboulou. His 1985 poetry book, Eroding Witness, was selected for publication in the National Poetry Series. He received a Whiting Writers’ Award in 1993 and was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001. He is also the author of an ongoing prose composition of which three volumes have been published and of two volumes of literary criticism, Paracritical Hings (2005) and Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing (1993). He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and is a Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Suggested Links

Go read The Washington Post story about the winners.

Poem: Billy Collins

For Bartleby The Scrivener

"Every time we get a big gale around here
some people just refuse to batten down."

we estimate that

ice skating into a sixty
mile an hour wind, fully exerting
the legs and swinging arms

you will be pushed backward
an inch every twenty minutes.

in a few days, depending on
the size of the lake,
the backs of your skates
will touch land.

you will then fall on your ass
and be blown into the forest.

if you gather enough speed
by flapping your arms
and keeping your skates pointed

you will catch up to other
flying people who refused to batten down.
you will exchange knowing waves
as you ride the great wind north.

Speedlinking 11/16/06

Morning image is from Live Science:

~ Nine Mid-Life Risk Factors.
  • Being overweight, defined as a body-mass index of 25 or more
  • High blood glucose levels
  • High triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Low grip strength – unable to squeeze at least 86 pounds of pressure with a handheld device
  • Smoking
  • More than three alcoholic drinks a day
  • No high school degree
  • Being unmarried (sorry singles) -- [Crap, I'm in mid-life and single!]
~ Thursday Marks 30th 'Great American Smokeout'. Just do it! Today. Right now.
~ Long-term pain hits 1 in 10 Americans. We're living longer, but hurting more, finds CDC report.
~ Diet Tips: How To Eat Less (by Jeremy Zawodny).
~ Don't Fight the Fever -- it's good for what ails you. "A fever in mice revs up the immune response by helping white blood cells enter lymph nodes, where they join the battle against microbial invaders."
~ Science Confirms Diet Tactic: Eat Slow, Eat Less. Duh!?

~ The truth about happiness may surprise you. "First, your decision is rooted in the desire to become happy -- or at least happier than you are now. Second, there's a good chance the decision you make will be wrong."
~ Happy people may suffer fewer colds.
~ Testing Strengthens Recall Whether Something's On The Test Or Not. "New research reveals that the simple act of taking a test helps you remember everything you learned, even if it isn't tested."
~ From Mind Hacks: The maze of child psychiatry.
~ Happiness Is Believing in Yourself.

~ Religious observance may keep older people healthy. "A new study adds to mounting evidence that older people who regularly attend religious services are healthier than those who don't."
~ Religion, Mysticism, Spirituality: Towards A Unification of Understanding about Experience of the Divine.
~ Insight into how children learn cultural values.
~ Health Disparities Persist for Men, and Doctors Ask Why.
~ Starbucks' Holiday Viral Effort Doubles as Social Experiment. "Starting today Starbucks is surprising Manhattan commuters with free subway MetroCards and warming Chicagoans with free movie tickets. The catch is Starbucks wants consumers to pass on their benevolence by performing a good deed for another person, say, to hold open a door or buy someone a cup of coffee."
~ A gay Iranian man was hanged in public on Tuesday in the western city of Kermanshah on the charge of sodomy.
~ S. Africa parliament OKs gay marriages. Nice news after the last one.
~ Fashion Columnist Invents New Accessory: The "Hookup Bag". Okay . . .
~ From The American Prospect: Peace Movement.
~ Pakistan votes to end killing and flogging (in that order?) for those found guilty of consensual sex outside of marriage.

~ Obesity could hit economies as hard as malnutrition. "Obesity could knock economic output as severely as malnutrition, which shaves as much as 3 percent off production in the poorest countries, a World Bank specialist said on Wednesday."
~ 'Eco-terrorism': House and Senate pass bill aimed at further criminalizing animal-rights actions.
~ Move Thyself: A roundup of recent pedal-powered news.
~ Lack of Toilets Harming Health of Billions, UN Report Says. It's good to be an American some days.
~ Wal-Mart accused of mislabeling items as organic. Ah. much better, an anti Wal-Mart story.
~ Deep-Sea Trawling Destroying Underwater Mountains.
~ LAND, ART: A Cultural Ecology Handbook.
~ From Peter Craig at Zaadz: Interface and Society, Spimes, Bruce Sterling and Communication.

~ From Clint at KW's blog: BLOG: Adventures in Practice: Beyond Self-Judgement.
~ Ebuddha had some input on how I-I works with salons and meet-ups: Brian at Integral Institute spoke to me the other day.
~ Matthew Dallman responds to Kazlev's "THE DIVERSITY OF THE INTEGRAL MOVEMENT"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And They're Off . . . .

The dust has barely settled from the mid-terms and the race is on for 2008. Already on the Dem's side, two favorites among party insiders have dropped out -- Senator Russ Feingold (Wis) and former Governor Mark Warner (Va). On the GOP's side, two guys are already opting in with "exploratory committees," Senator John McCain (Az) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The Christian Science Monitor has a story about who's who, including the most recent Gallip poll looking at how they match up within each party.
A handful of congressional races aren't quite over yet, but the jockeying for the 2008 presidential contest - going on for months, if not years - has burst fully into the open. For the Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York, have registered committees and signaled they're probably in. By all indications, outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in.

For the Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has money and organization - and just bowed out of a party leadership position, another sign she may be in. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois says he's pondering a run, possibly positioning himself as the un-Hillary. Outgoing Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is definitely in. Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards has shown all the signs.

But as of now, two years minus a few days until America elects its next president, the front-runners for major-party nomination remain Senators McCain and Clinton. Whether either will ultimately occupy the Oval Office is anyone's guess.

"Here's what's interesting: Both parties have reservations about their presumptive nominees," says Cal Jillson, a political analyst at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

While the CSM does give the latest Gallup numbers, Editor and Publisher spells out the results more clearly:

After a whirlwind political campaign and press tour riding a bestselling book, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois now trails Sen. Hillary Clinton by only 12% among Democratic voters (and Democratic-leaning independents) as their choice for president in 2008, in a new Gallup poll.

On the GOP side, Sen. John McCain surprisingly trails former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani by 2%.

The poll was conducted Nov. 9-12.

Clinton leads with 31%, and Obama holds 19%. Former Sen. John Edwards comes in third, with 10%, followed by former Vice President Al Gore (9%) and Sen. John Kerry (7%). Sen. Joseph Biden draws 4%, Gen. Wesley Clark 3% and Sen. Evan Bayh and Gov. Bill Richardson just 2% at this point.

Giuliani tops McCain 28% to 26%, with Condoleezza Rice at 13%. Newt Gingrich has 7% and Gov. Mitt Romney 5%.

Gallup makes this interesting observation: "None of the four current front-runners across both parties appears to be resonating with a particular political wing of their party, at least at this point. Giuliani and McCain are about tied among conservative Republicans as well as among moderate/liberal Republicans. Similarly, there is relatively little difference in support for Clinton versus Obama between self-described conservative Democrats and moderate/liberal Democrats."

Clinton's edge over Obama among women is somewhat greater than the overall tally: it's 38% to 18%. But she also leads among men, 23% to 20%.
While Obama's rise in the polls is interesting, but not at all unexpected considering his recent press tour, the fact that Giuliani actually leads McCain -- who has been very active for the party over the last several months -- is quite surprising. It bodes well for Giuliani that he has even a slight statistical lead at this point, without campaigning. And it suggests that McCain's hard move tot he far right is looked at as a betrayal of his "maverick" persona. Or to some of us, that he has sold his soul to Bush's cabal to be the GOP nominee.

Personally, McCain scares me. I've seen how low he will go to support the party. And it's REALLY low. I'd feel much better with a Giuliani run against any Dem that gets through the gauntlet. Hillary is still the favorite, and in polls conducted earlier this year she would lose to either Giuliani or McCain. Maybe that has changed of late.

It will be interesting to see who else gets official with their run for the White House in the coming weeks.