Saturday, December 02, 2006

What Tarot Card Are You?

You are The Hierophant

Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.

All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.

The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.

What Tarot Card are You?

Take the Test to Find Out.

Pearls of Wisdom

Here are a few pearls of wisdom I found at Digital Karma.
"Remember this; that very little is needed to make a happy life."
~Marcus Antonius

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another."
~Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860—1937)

"God made my body and if it is dirty, then the imperfection lies with the Manufacturer, not the product."
~Lenny Bruce

"Self-examination is usually a half-hearted, spontaneous thing we do when we're either scared or bored."
~Jonathan Carroll

"Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid only of standing still."
~Chinese proverb

"If I were reincarnated, I'd want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything."
~William Faulkner

"When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding, even one word is too much."

"I don't like obscurity because I consider obscurity to be a form of despotism. One must expose oneself to pronouncing errors. One must expose oneself to possibly saying things which are probably going to be difficult to express, and which obviously are going to make one fumble for words."
~Michel Foucault

"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."
~Hermann Hesse

"Great trees are envied by the wind."
~Japanese proverb

"The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough."
~Bede Jarrett

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."
~Carl Jung, psychologist (1875—1961)

Mazzy Star - Flowers In December

One of the best Mazzy Star songs, featuring Hope Sandoval.


Musicovery is another online radio system, but this one allows you to choose the music based on mood and energy level. You're bound to see familiar songs, but you'll also get stuff you might not have thought fit into the style you selected. I like this one for the randomness of it.

Keith Olbermann Responds to Newt Gingrich

The other day I posted a link to Newt Gingrich's comments suggesting that we must limit free speech in the war on terror. Many of us cringe at that thought. Keith Olbermann did more than cringe, he offered up a rebuttal, which is posted at MSNBC. The post also has the video of Olbermann giving this speech.

Free speech and the delusion of grandeur

Keith Olbermann responds to Newt Gingrich’s comments about free speech

Here, as promised, a special comment about free speech, failed speakers and the delusion of grandeur.

“This is a serious long-term war,” the man at the podium cried, “and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country.”

Some in the audience must have thought they were hearing an arsonist give the keynote address at a convention of firefighters.

This was the annual Loeb First Amendment Dinner in Manchester, N.H. — a public cherishing of freedom of speech — in the state with the two-fisted motto “Live Free Or Die.”

And the arsonist at the microphone, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an “on-off button” to free speech.

He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death, of Americans, in America, possibly at the hands of Americans.

But updated, now, to include terrorists using the Internet for recruitment. End result — “losing a city.”

The colonial English defended their repression with words like these.

And so did the slave states.

And so did the policemen who shot strikers.

And so did Lindbergh’s America First crowd.

And so did those who interned Japanese-Americans.

And so did those behind the Red Scare.

And so did Nixon’s plumbers.

The genuine proportion of the threat is always irrelevant.

The fear the threat is exploited to create becomes the only reality.

“We will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find,” Mr. Gingrich continued about terrorists, formerly communists, formerly hippies, formerly Fifth Columnists, formerly anarchists, formerly Redcoats, “to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech.”

Mr. Gingrich, the British “broke up our capacity to use free speech” in the 1770s.

The pro-slavery leaders “broke up our capacity to use free speech” in the 1850s.

The FBI and CIA “broke up our capacity to use free speech” in the 1960s.

It is in those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich.

Read the rest.

German Expressionism at the Met

We don't get real art shows in Tucson -- certainly not the traveling exhibitions of great European art that visit the bigger cities. So it is with envy that I read about new exhibits from time to time. Newsweek has an article on the new German Expressionism exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The exhibition “Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s,” on view through Feb. 19 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, displays 100 works—40 paintings and 60 drawings—by Beckmann and his peers. They’re all portraits of one kind or another, but except in a few instances, they disembowel rather than flatter their subjects. The amazing thing is that in so many cases artistic savagery arises more out of empathy than anger. Otto Dix’s tall, blood-red picture, “The Dancer Anita Berber” (1925) looks like the portrait of a septuagenarian plastic-surgery queen caked in makeup and trying to disguise an arthritic hip with a sexy pose. Berber—whom the exhibition’s catalog describes as a “notorious ... dancer and nude performer, an actress, a seductress of men and women, and a cocaine and opium addict”—was only 26 when Dix painted her. Three years later, she died of the effects of cold-turkey withdrawal. The lesser-known artist Rudolph Schlichter’s “Margot” portrays a rather plain, ordinary-looking woman, dressed demurely in a white blouse and black skirt, standing in a dreary urban courtyard. But she’s got a cigarette dangling from one hand, the other on her hip, and a “What’s it to ya, buster?” expression on her face. Turns out she’s a prostitute, taking a break between customers.
If you get a chance to see this, it sounds great. If not, the rest this article is pretty good.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

This was yesterday's Daily Om:
Wherever You Are
Home Is Where The Heart Is

The word "home" has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day. However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are.

The process of evolution can require you to undergo transformations that uproot you. Moving from place to place can seem to literally divide you from the foundations you have come to depend on. Since your home is so intimately tied to the memories that define you, you may feel that you are losing a vital part of yourself when you leave behind your previous house, city, state, or country. And as it may take some time before you fashion new memories, you may feel homeless even after settling into your new abode. To carry your home with you, you need only become your own foundation. Doing so is merely a matter of staying grounded and centered, and recognizing that the pleasures you enjoyed in one place will still touch your heart in another if you allow them.

Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within.
In March I will have been in Tucson for five years. Yet so much of me resists thinking of Tucson as my home. I dream about moving back to Seattle, or to Portland, or trying a new place -- maybe Boulder, or Durango, or even going to the East Coast and trying Vermont or New Hampshire. All the while my body and my life are here in the Sonoran Desert.

My tendency is to look to the landscape for a sense of home, to identify with trees and rivers and mountains and wildlife. I believe that we are drawn to archetypal areas of the continent that connect with some aspect of the psyche. And I believe that this is shaped in large part by where we grew up.

My family moved to Southern Oregon when I was nine years old. At first I was devastated that I could no longer ride my bike to the 7-11 to get baseball cards with my allowance. The nearest 7-11 was now 21 miles away.

But I quickly learned to enjoy the wildness, the freedom. When I think of that landscape, what I remember are the trees I climbed, the creeks and rivers I swam in and fished, the mountains I explored. I don't think about the people, the culture, or anything else -- it's the primal nature that shaped that part of my life.

When I finished college and moved to Seattle, it was still the land that I felt connected to -- the nature so present in the midst of the city. Lake Union borders downtown, and from Wallingford's Gasworks Park the lights on the water could be amazing. Then there is Lake Washington separating Seattle from Bellevue and Kirkland, a vast lake with many coves and bald eagles fishing the cold waters. And near the University is the arboretum, where thousands and thousands of crows gather each night to share the days events.

But my sense of Seattle as home also include the people and the places. In Seattle, I could be myself -- as weird or as quiet or as geeky as I am -- and no one cares. The culture up there encourages a certain degree of being different, as long you are still hip and ironically detached. Even so, I felt at home in the city because there were other people like me. And because the city has cafes and museums and bookstores that feel so comfortable.

I feel none of that in Tucson. Not the land, not the people, not the culture. But strangely, my life is working better here than it ever has at any other point. There are still areas that need improvement, like meeting peers with similar interests. One of things I have found here is that my relationships are ghettoized to a degree. I have a racquetball friend, a Buddhist friend, an integral friend, and so on. I haven't found anyone who shares multiple interests with me -- which makes it hard to have actual, real friends. On the other hand, my social anxiety makes it hard to meet new people. But my job is helping in that area, teaching me how to get along in social settings to a certain degree.

As I step back and look at the trajectory of my life from a geographical stance, I had been moving continually north on a vertical axis -- Los Angeles, Southern Oregon, Seattle -- until coming to Tucson. Looking back, I tend to see the time in Oregon at the pre-egoic stage, the time in Seattle as the egoic, and this time in Tucson as "the regression in service of ego" that is necessary to move beyond the egoic.

Much of my inner work here has been about identifying and healing old wounds and poorly navigated developmental stages. My relationship with Kira certainly offered many lessons in reclaiming my emotional life, setting boundaries, and learning more about who I am in relationship and, now, out of relationship.

In a large sense, my life in Tucson is about reclaiming my heart. I have thought at various times in my life that I had accomplished that task -- with Celeste in college, in the shamanic work I did in Seattle, and with Kira here in Tucson. But each time it seems there are deeper and deeper layers of the work. So it's not about where I am or who I am with -- it's about me and my life.

Wherever I am, that is where the heartwork will be -- and that's where I will be at home for that time in my life. Right now, Tucson is my home.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Satire: Bush Twins Invade Iraq

From the demented mind known as Andy Borowitz:

Bush Twins Invade Iraq

Sunnis, Shiites Unite Against Hard-Partying Duo

Just days after their hard-partying antics made headlines across Argentina, the twin daughters of President George W. Bush arrived in Iraq today, determined to continue celebrating their twenty-fifth birthday as only the Bush twins can.

After the American embassy in Buenos Aires reportedly urged Barb and Jenna Bush to leave the country, many at the White House had hoped that the two spirited young women would “take it down a notch,” one insider said.

But those hopes were dashed today when their plane touched down at Baghdad International Airport and an exuberant Jenna Bush announced, “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes!”

Declaring that they were on a search for “weapons of mass consumption,” Barbara and her sister set off on a night of adventures, accompanied by several nervous-looking Secret Service agents.

To this war-torn nation, the sight of the twin daughters of the U.S. president cruising through town, their car’s audio system blaring, raised more than a few eyebrows.

Within an hour of their arrival, the twins were summoned to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who reminded them that Baghdad remained under a strict curfew.

“Curfew?” Jenna reportedly replied. “Whatever!”

The Bush twins’ surprise visit has already had one unintended consequence, as Shiites and Sunnis in the usually fractious Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to expel them.

When told that they had managed to heal the decades-old rift between Iraq’s warring sects, Barbara offered a succinct assessment: “Like, mission accomplished!”

Elsewhere, wines from southwestern France and Sardinia have the highest concentration of complex compounds that may promote greater longevity, according to a study published today by Danny DeVito.

Poem: Heather McHugh

With Due Respect To Thor

The dog has shrunk between the brake and clutch.
His shaking shakes a two-ton truck. From a God

so furious, he cannot hide his hide. Outside,
in the world at large, black hours are being

pearled and shafted. A tree stands out
spectacularly branched; the mind's eye

grows alert. This thing can hurt.
It had us once, it's having volts

of big idea again—about
thirteen a minute. Do we need

to know more? Are we sure?
Just wait—a brain this insecure

may need another bolt be driven in it.

Richard Dawkins - The Big Question: Why Are We Here?

Richard Dawkins has been in the press and the blogs a lot of late, mostly as a result of his new book (The God Delusion), but also because the media seems to be obsessed with atheists all of a sudden. Even my little local free paper, The Tucson Weekly, has a story on atheists. Here is piece where Dawkins tells the scientific creation story that explains why we are here.

Old Humor -- Sh!t Happens

This old piece has come around again, but I hadn't seen it in a while so here ya go. What can I say -- it's Friday and it's been a long week.
Religion Differences

Taoism: Shit happens.
Hinduism: This shit happened before.
Confucianism: Confucius say, "Shit happens".
Buddhism: It is only an illusion of shit happening.
Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Islam: If shit happens, is it the will of Allah?
Jehovah's Witnesses: Knock, Knock, "Shit happens".
Atheism: There is no such thing as shit.
Agnosticism: Maybe shit happens, maybe it doesn't.
Protestantism: Shit won't happen if I work harder.
Catholicism: If shit happens, I deserve it.
Judaism: Why does shit always happen to me?
Televangelism: Send money or shit will happen to you.
Blackism: Fuck all this shit.

... and ethnic diferences:

A man is taking a walk in Central park in New York. Suddenly he sees a little girl being attacked by a pit bull. He runs over and starts fighting with the dog. He succeeds in killing the dog and saving the girl's life.
A policeman who was watching the scene walks over and says:
"You are a hero, tomorrow you can read it in all the newspapers: 'Brave New Yorker saves the life of little girl'".
The man says: "But I am not a New Yorker!"
"Oh then it will say in newspapers in the morning: 'Brave American saves life of little girl'" - the policeman answers.
"But I am not an American!" - says the man.
"Oh, what are you then?"
The man says: "I am a Pakistani!"
The next day the newspapers say: "Islamic extremist kills American dog. Connections to terrorist networks are being explored"

IOC Traffic Stats

Well, it appears that getting the tag issue fixed with the Blogger folks has seriously increased my traffic. Around mid-month (when they fixed the problem), my traffic jumped from an average of 100 unique visits a day to nearly 200 for the last week of the month. On the downside, the average visit length has fallen from nearly 4 minutes to just over 2.5 minutes, so many people are getting here through searches and not staying long.

On the Monday after the Michael Richards story broke, IOC had its biggest day ever with more than 450 visits (thanks Technorati!). This isn't much for some sites, and even at Raven's View I had several days with 1,500 or more visits. Still, it's nice to see IOC continue to grow.

The month of November in 2005 saw around 1,080 visits. This year that number has jumped to around 5,300. My previous best month was around 3,150 -- during the Wyatt Earpy mess and the Gafni problem. So things have certainly been hopping.

Thanks to everyone who visits on a regular basis. I know a lot of my visits are Google searches and Technorati searches, so I value the loyal readers who come back often and leave comments.

[image source]

Speedlinking 12/1/06

Happy December! This morning's image is suitably wintry:

~ Louisville official seeks trans fat ban. The tide is turning.
~ Workouts Help Ward Off Cancer's Return.
~ You Got General Relativity on My Protein Folding!
~ The Pain From Fibromyalgia Is Real, Researchers Say. My clients could have told them that.

~ Rote Learning Improves Memory In Seniors.
~ Ecstasy Can Harm The Brains Of First-Time Users. Crap . . . .
~ Laughter yoga no joke for fad's followers. If you're not feeling funny? Fake it, instructors say.
~ Measuring Brain Activity For Emotional Markers That May Indicate Risk For Developing Alcoholism.
~ Study Of Language Use In Children Suggests Sex Influences How Brain Processes Words.
~ Successful Goal Setting. Four critical questions to answer before you set goals for personal development and growth.
~ Preteen daters more likely to take up smoking: study.

~ Startling Discovery: The First Human Ritual. Very cool.
~ Uh Oh: US Official Criticizes Bush's Foreign Policy.
~ Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Huge Victory on Gay Parenting.
~ Marie Antoinette Pelosi? The GOP is already planning to portray her as an elitist liberal who is out of touch.
~ Peddling Poison: "The polonium 210 used to kill a former Russian spy is allegedly available on a U.S. Web site. How scared should we be?" Or is this another case of being scared of dumb things?
~ The Meaning Behind the Pope's Trip. "Analysis: Benedict's words and gestures in Turkey, including a visit to a mosque, reveal a man who is finding his footing but still has a long way to go."
~ Why Tom Vilsack is Starting So Early. "Winning the 2008 Democratic Nomination will require taking down a giant, but the Iowa governor is eager to take the challenge." Make that two giants.
~ From Mike at Unknowing Mind: Cultural Adaptation of Buddhism.

~ The Hot List. "Now that we've uncovered the most popular business trends for 2007, it's up to you to strike while they're hot."
~ Microscopic Barcodes Identify Biological Weapons Quickly.
~ Mild U.S. Hurricane Season Defied Predictions. Meanwhile it's snowing in Seattle in November. Go figure.
~ "Alchemy" Was the Secret to Making Stradivarius Violins, Study Says.
~ A bird's eye view of econometrics.
~Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hillary Clinton Is Standing in Barack Obama's Shadow

I linked this morning to Tom's post on Barack Obama and his "mindful politics." Today, MSNBC posted an article about how Hillary Clinton's possible plans to delay an announcement until the fall of 2007 might be undone by Obama's visit to New Hampshire next week.

While Clinton still leads in all the polls of likely Democratic voters, Obama has jumped into second place in the race without much effort. Granted, his book tour helped fuel speculation he would run, which he did not deny (more salesmanship than ambition, I think). But now Hillary is standing in Obama's shadow at this point -- not where she wants to be.

The trip to New Hampshire next week changes everything for Clinton. It tips Obama's hand to an extent. And with the popular support he has (more like Bill Clinton than Hillary will ever be), she has to rethink her plans. Some believe she won't do anything different because of Obama -- I think that would be a mistake. But then I'm just a blogger.

I think that if Obama wants to run, he will easily catch and surpass her in popularity -- and fundraising. He is already a party leader sought by the media for comment, and he is able to raise enormous sums of money for candidates. Add to that the perception that he has heart and integrity (see Tom's post above), something most people would never say about Clinton, and he has a real shot at the nomination -- if he wants it.

You can compare their records here. So far, they are pretty close, but I think Obama is more liberal without alienating the faith-based crowd, and Clinton is trying to be more centrist (which feels like playing against type).

What Makes You Not a Buddhist?

This is from the article by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche in the current Shambhala Sun, "What Makes You a Buddhist?" The article focuses on the acceptance of the four seals as the defining characteristic of being a Buddhist, so this is how to not be a Buddhist:
If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or essence that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty, if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist.

And if you think that enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space, and power, then you are not a Buddhist.
It seems to me that he is speaking in terms of absolute reality, where all of this may be valid. But few of us live in that space and can hold those beliefs as we go about our daily lives.

I'm actually cool with 3 out of 4 on a daily basis. But from this body, right now, I know that the universe exists independent of my mind creating it. If I die at this moment, the universe does not cease to exist exactly as it is. So maybe I'm not a Buddhist.

Tom Waits - What's He Building?

Tom Waits is a poet first and foremost, as this video proves.

Naomi Wolf - The Porn Myth

I found this old Naomi Wolf article on one of the social networking sites, from 2003 in New York Magazine.

She is arguing that porn has reduced the desirability of actual flesh-and-blood women. Personally, I can't comprehend her argument, but then unlike the young men she is talking about, I was not raised on internet porn. When I was a kid, Playboy just made us want to know what a REAL woman was like. The mystery of her presence was what we dreamed of, not the variety of sex acts she might perform for us.

Here is some of the article:

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market. If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up. Your boyfriend may have seen Playboy, but hey, you could move, you were warm, you were real. Thirty years ago, simple lovemaking was considered erotic in the pornography that entered mainstream consciousness: When Behind the Green Door first opened, clumsy, earnest, missionary-position intercourse was still considered to be a huge turn-on.

Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer. Our younger sisters had to compete with video porn in the eighties and nineties, when intercourse was not hot enough. Now you have to offer—or flirtatiously suggest—the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene. Being naked is not enough; you have to be buff, be tan with no tan lines, have the surgically hoisted breasts and the Brazilian bikini wax—just like porn stars. (In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.) Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up. By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale. All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices.

Since I am the same age as Wolf when she wrote this, and essentially of the same generation for the most part, I don't feel that I am one of the men she is talking about. But I can see her point, how she is viewing the problem.

I am certainly no prude and would never dream of saying men or women should not be allowed to watch or do anything they want as long as it does not harm anyone. So I generally see this as a developmental issue, and/or a result of the puritanical stance this culture has taken on sexuality. The more taboo it is, the more it becomes something to devour in as many ways as possible.

In a developmental sense, when a person moves beyond the egocentric stage, where fulfilling personal need or desire is predominant, the expression of sexual interest will become more about the sharing of erotic experience with an equal, and the emotional context will become as important as the physical. Eventually, assuming a person continues to develop, the spiritual or soul-level experience will also become an important context for sharing.

This might sound stuffy to those who are still at the egocentric stage, but you can still have a down-and-dirty quickie with soul, or a spiritually exciting animal-like encounter with your partner. But that is the key word, partner -- you're not likely to have the trust and safety with a stranger that you have with someone you love and have a connection with. You might have some great sex, but it probably won't be the rich and deep experience that is possible when it is more than physical gratification.

That is the argument Wolf should be making.

The Winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction Prize Is . . . .

First-time author Iain Hollingshead. The finalists were discussed in a post a couple of days ago.

Hollingshead beat established writers including Irvine Welsh, Will Self, David Mitchell and American literary maverick Thomas Pynchon to the prize, which aims to skewer "the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel."

Judges were moved by Hollingshead's evocation of "a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles." His description of "bulging trousers" sealed the win, the judges said.

"Because Hollingshead is a first-time writer, we wished to discourage him from further attempts," the judges said in a statement. "Heavyweights like Thomas Pynchon and Will Self are beyond help at this point."

Hollingshead, 25, who received his award from rock singer Courtney Love at a London ceremony, said he was delighted to become the prize's youngest-ever winner.

"I hope to win it every year," said Hollingshead, who receives a statuette and a bottle of champagne.

Now in its 14th year, the award was established by the Literary Review to celebrate truly cringe-worthy erotic writing.

"It's mixed metaphors, embarrassing fumbling. It's the redundancy of the scene in an otherwise good novel," said assistant editor Philip Womack.

This year's runner-up was Tim Willcocks's medieval action novel The Religion, for a scene in which characters grapple passionately in a forge "across the cold steel face of the anvil."

"In the pit of his stomach a cauldron boiled and some seething and nameless brew rose up through his spine and filled his brain with the Devil's Fire," Willcocks writes.

There's a bit more to read here.

Speedlinking 11/30/06

This morning's image is called "Misty Morning:"

~ From T-Nation, 50 Tips for Serious Athletes.
~ New Advice: Don't Sit Up Straight. Looks like a 135-degree angle is better than 90 degrees.
~ Why French red is best for the heart.
~ Are Organic Foods Better for You? Industry mis-uses the word to trick consumers.

~ Brains Respond Better To Name Brands, MRI Shows. We've been brain-washed.
~ Analyzing Body Language.
~ Heart Attack-Related Depression Puts Patients At Risk For Further Cardiovascular Emergencies.
~ Problems with Workplace Stress Continue to Grow.
~ Genes, Experiences Determine A Person's Ability To Bounce Back. The whole mind-body thing is more complex than we had ever imagined.
~ Churchgoers Breathe Easier. Faith might improve health.

~ Sam Harris and Dennis Prager are going at it -- and they've taken off the gloves by the second day -- over atheism and faith, one email a day. Harris is rocking it.
~ Transcending Death: An interview with Darren Aronofsky, director of The Fountain.
~ 10 films the US Government would rather you not see.
~ Is Iraq Headed for Genocide? Civil war or not, some human rights experts say Iraq is showing precursor signs of genocide.
~ Merry Christmas, Bill O'Reilly! The annual war on x-mas is back.

~ Living in an Urban Cactus. Cool looking building.
~ Can Energy Efficiency Be as Sexy as Solar?
~ Global Warming Already Causing Extinctions, Scientists Say.
~ Global Warming Could Disrupt GPS Satellites, Study Says.
~ What different parts of the world eats in one week.

~ Updates on the I-I CEO fluff up: ~C4Chaos weighs in, Paul Salamone is no longer at I-I, check the comments from an earlier post at Paul's blog for some reaction.
~ From Tom at Thoughts Chase Thoughts: The Emergence of “Mindful Politics” and the Candidacy of Barack Obama for President.
~ At Ken Wilber's blog: HERE AT LAST! INTEGRAL POLITICS. . . Is anyone else not looking forward to another Wilber "novel"? Fiction ain't his thing. What ever happened to the clear clean writing of Eye of Spirit or Integral Psychology?
~ Integral Theory into Integral Action, Part 1; Integral Theory into Integral Action, Part 2; A conversation with Mark Edwards & Russ Volckmann.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poem: Wang Wei

In Reply to Su, Who Visited My WheelRim River Hermitage When I Wasn't There to Welcome Him

I live humbly near the canyon's mouth
where stately trees ring village ruins.

When you came on twisted rocky paths,
who welcomed you at my mountain gate?

Fishing boats frozen into icy shallows,
hunting fires out across cold headlands,

and in all this quiet beyond white clouds,
wild gibbons heard among distant bells.

Has America Become a Fascist State?

That is the question troubling RU Sirius over at 10 Zen Monkeys.
I thought it would be interesting to ask a few folks representing a variety of views whether they think America is now a fascist state. Somewhere in the back of my mind, was the auxiliary question, “Does it matter?” In other words, certain levels of repression and intolerance are being manifested in various public, political, and legal spheres. If we can legitimately label it all fascism, will that help to generate a successful opposition? I always wonder when I see some protester carrying one of those (relatively rare, actually) “Bush = Hitler” protest signs: How do they think that’s helping? Do they think somebody walking down the street who is sort of neutral is going to see this sign and say, “Oh, Bush equals Hitler! Why didn’t you say so? I’m going to revolt now.”
So he asked a few of the "big" thinkers in the cyber world and beyond. Here are a few bits of the answers. You'll have to read the whole article to see the rest of each answer.

Douglas Rushkoff
Media theorist; author; host of Frontline documentaries “The Merchants of Cool” and “The Persuaders.”

Yeah, for sure we do. I’m actually just starting a book on this subject. The weirdest part, though, is that it’s not all bad. That’s what’s so pernicious about it. The corporatism envisioned by Ford and Mussolini came to pass, but without the starkness of the racial purity sought by Hitler. It’s more of a Borgification — assimilation of all. Even the work of folks like us who call it what it is.

* * * * *

Howard Rheingold
Digital culture legend; author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs.

I don’t think that it is useful to reduce complex issues to simple answers.

* * * * *

John Shirley
Science fiction author; script writer (“The Crow”); occasional Blue Oyster Cult lyricist

Is the first gust of wind from a hurricane itself a hurricane? It is not. And like a hurricane, this storm of right-wing extremism may “change direction” and pass us by, blow itself out. But also like a community in the path of a hurricane, we’re in serious danger.

* * * * *

Ken Layne
West Coast Bureau Chief, Wonkette

Fascism is such a twisted, loaded and abused word. We need a completely new term.

Humorless liberals yell “Fascist!” at anything they don’t like: NASCAR, Wal-Mart, or especially somebody enjoying a nice hamburger.

The Neocons have made the bizarre decision that Fascism is actually a 1,400-year-old Semitic religion from Arabia, even though that religion is virtually indistinguishable from the monotheistic Semitic religions they claim to follow. Of course, the Neocons are the closest thing to a purely Fascist party in America.

There are more to each of these answers, and more respondents, including Rabbi Michael Lerner and Susie Bright. Check it out. Then tell me what you think in the comments.

The Power of Mean -- An Integral Look at Bullying

With the seeming failure of identity-based politics, Robert Fuller's new book, All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity, looks to rankism as a powerful opportunity to organize around social justice and equality. But In These Times writer Lakshmi Chaudhry argues that Fuller misses the point in her article, The Power of Mean.

The concept of rankism, on its surface, seems like a new way to deal with issues of power imbalance. Rather than identifying people by race or sexual identity, rankism looks to power relationships to clarify issues of bullying and abuse of those lacking power by others who have power.

A quote from the book:
Someone can hold a high rank in one setting (for example, at home) and simultaneously be low on the totem pole in another (at work). Likewise we can feel powerful at one time and powerless at another, as when we … experience the loss of a job, a partner, or our health. As a result, most of us have been victims and perpetrators of discrimination based on rank.
Fuller argues that recognizing these patterns can lead to a movement to create a dignitarian society, where all people's dignity is honored and respected.

Chaudhy disagrees:
Yet Fuller’s concept of rankism—which invokes our capacity for empathy as individual human beings—fails to address the darker side of our relationship to authority. Our everyday responses to abuses of power within the hierarchies that structure our lives, from the schoolyard to the workplace, are far more complex and muddied than Fuller acknowledges.
She goes on to cite a variety of studies that reveal just how pervasive bullying is, especially in kids. We are hard-wired, the studies argue, to identify with power so that those who are bullies are consistently seen as more popular than those who are victims. Even in our reality TV shows, Chaudhry argues, we like Simon Cowell and admire Donald Trump.

She also refers to studies that suggests adults are no better than children in this regard:
Kids will be kids, but as it turns out, so will adults—both in politics and in the workplace. Bullying is as common on the job as in the schoolyard. According to Bennett Tepper, a professor of managerial sciences at Georgia State University, 50 percent of workers say they’ve had an abusive boss at some point in their working career. Women may be more likely to be targets, but they are just as likely to be bullies.
Tepper also suggests that this behavior does not hurt productivity because employees feel they have no other choice, so they respond to the bullying with high performance. But not without cost. Apparently, a bullied employee will over time adopt the behaviors of the bully. This sounds like the same principal at work in passing along child abuse -- the abused becomes the abuser.

Chaudhry concludes:

Dividing the world into somebodies and nobodies does little to capture the complex dynamics of power within social groups. Unlike racism or homophobia, the underlying causes of rankism are rooted in the ancient hardwiring of our brain that associates aggression with status. It is why so many of us instinctively kowtow to our bullying boss, partner, peer, or even our president. In this, we are no different than our fellow primates.

Unlike chimps or gorillas, however, we do possess the ability to overcome our most primal impulse. “Is it natural?,” Juvonen asks. “Yes. Is it inevitable? Absolutely not.” Moral principles can indeed override the basic instinct for cruelty, but we first have to be willing to acknowledge the power of mean.

The book and the article raise important points. When in our bio-psycho-social evolution do we develop the ability to move beyond our biological hardwiring and act with morality?

Clearly we are unable to do so as kids, and as teens the overt bullying of the playground becomes in-groups and out-groups (clear ranking) in high school where there is still bullying, then becomes "motivational techniques" in the workforce. The ethnocentric developmental stage is dominant at this point in our evolution, so we are predisposed to rank us vs. them in a variety of ways, not only by ethnic group.

Simply recognizing rankism is not going to change our drive to engage in the behavior, either to become bullies or to identify with them as a means of not being bullied ourselves -- that's a "sensitive self" approach to change that simply cannot be effective when confronted with biology and with the current developmental stage of human growth.

The socialization process of many children creates an inner voice that says that bullying is wrong (assuming good parenting, which is a big assumption) -- what Freud called the superego, but in more recent conceptualizations might be considered an introjection of the parental voice, becoming over time an Inner Critic or another variation of a subpersonality. Still, that same creation is why we identify with power -- to gain its favor and avoid its wrath in the same way we do as kids with our parents. It's projection of a disowned self or a shadow element of the self -- we are drawn to those who embody traits we have disowned (even when we find them reprehensible).

Clearly, some of us can do shadow work to reclaim those disowned parts (thereby reducing their "charge") -- and most of us probably have already. But many more people cannot. So how do we deal with that reality? Do we impose behavior controls from the top down in the form of laws? Do we offer incentives for acting "morally" within power relationships?

I don't know what the answer is. As a former bully, I can say that the single greatest deterrent for me was introspection and reflection, combined with reading. When I was 18 I entered a self-imposed exile period where I read a lot of Plato, Shakespeare, and other thinkers while at the same time spending a lot of time looking at past behaviors and developing an inner moral compass that serves me to this day (although it continues to evolve). It wasn't a conscious choice as much as it was a inner need, but I think that's an important age for that type of work to occur.

Maybe the answer to ending the cycle is to create some form of year-long "ethics" class for high school students that is integral in nature, combing study, introspection, volunteer work, and whatever else might help kids to become more reflective, to act with morality from an inner place rather than have it imposed upon them.

What do you think?

Satire: Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution

Fun news from The Onion:

Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution

November 28, 2006 | Issue 42•48

TOPEKA, KS—In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.

Enlarge Image Kansas Outlaws R

Lawmakers decried spontaneous genetic mutations.

"From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God's intended design," said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. "This is about protecting the integrity of all creation."

The new law prohibits all living beings within state borders from any willful adaptation to changing environmental conditions. In addition, it strictly limits any activity that may result in enhanced health or survival beyond the current average lifespan of their particular species.

Violators of the new law may face punishments that include jail time, stiff fines, and rehabilitative education and training to rid organisms suspected of evolutionary tendencies. Repeat offenders could face chemical sterilization.

To enforce the law, Kansas state police will be trained to investigate and apprehend organisms who exhibit suspected signs of evolutionary behavior, such as natural selection or speciation. Plans are underway to track and monitor DNA strands in every Kansan life form for even the slightest change in allele frequencies.

"Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flaunting God's will are over."

Human beings may be the species most deeply affected by the new legislation. Those whose cytochrome-c molecules vary less than 2 percent from those of chimpanzees will be in direct violation of the law.

Under particular scrutiny are single-cell microorganisms, with thousands of field labs being installed across the state to ensure that these self-replicating molecules, notorious for mutation, do not do so in a fashion benefitting their long-term survival.

Anti-evolutionists such as Hellenbaum have long accused microorganisms of popularizing "an otherwise obscure, agonizingly slow, and hard-to-understand" biological process. "These repeat offenders are at the root of the problem," Hellenbaum said. "We have the fossil records to prove it."

"No species is exempt," said Marcus Holloway, a state police spokesman. "Whether you're a human being or a fruit fly—if we detect one homologous chromosome trying to cross over during the process of meiosis, you will be punished to the full extent of the law."

Although the full impact of the new law will likely not be felt for approximately 10 million years, most Kansans say they are relieved that the ban went into effect this week, claiming that evolution may have gone too far already.

"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."

Some warn that the strict wording of the law could have a deleterious effect on Kansas' mostly agricultural economy, since it also prohibits all forms of man-made artificial selection, such as plant hybridization, genetic engineering, and animal husbandry. A police raid on an alleged artificial-insemination facility outside McPherson, KS on Friday resulted in the arrest of a farmer, a veterinarian, four assistants, one bull, and several dozen cows.

Agribusiness leaders, who rely on evolution science to genetically modify crops, have voiced concerns about doing business with Kansas farmers.

"If Kansans want to ban evolution, that is their right, but they must understand that we rely on a certain flexibility in the natural order of things to be able to deliver healthy food products to millions of Americans," said Carl Casale, a vice president with the agricultural giant Monsanto. "We're not talking about playing God here. We are talking about succeeding in the competitive veggie-burger market."

Speedlinking 11/29/06

This morning's image is from The Fairest:

~ From T-Nation, Muscle Revolution: An interview with Chad Waterbury. Waterbury's training programs aren't for beginners, but they rock.
~ Yesterday I posted a link to a dumb article by Gabe Mirkin on creatine. To make up for that mistake, here is an article from T-Nation that tells the truth about creatine, the most widely studied sports supplement ever. Creatine Update, 2006 -- Featuring David Barr and Dr. Lonnie Lowery.
~ Also from T-Nation, 27 Nutrition Facts
~ Scientists develop male birth control pill. Single dose, hormone-free drug prevents ejaculation of sperm.
~ Tension headaches eased with acupunture, exercise.

~ Mindless Eating Is A Nourishing Read.
~ Violent video game effects linger in brain. That explains why after nearly 20 hours of Asteroids as a kid I often felt a need to go outside and shoot rocks with a rifle.
~ Stress showdowns: Let the most frazzled win! More hassles, less sleep take the prize for competitive stressers.
~ Emotional Blogging. This is actually blogging about emotions, not quite how it sounds.
~ Are you normal? Are you mad? Yes.
~ On testing the dead. "The Financial Times has an article on recent research into Cotard delusion - a firm unshakable belief that you're dead - which can occur during mental illness or neurological disturbance."
~ The Freakonomics Of Food.

~ Measuring The Speed of Meme: An Experiment in which You Will Participate, Or Else...
~ Hunting the Illuminati: Ruling Elites: Facts, Falsehoods and Mystery. A fun little read, whether you take it seriously or not.
~ Rolling Stone reviews Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, three stars out of four. I have to admit, it looks interesting.
~ MoveOn Pushes Democrats to Tackle Its Agenda. Feeling powerful, are we?
~ The Pope Tries to Mend Fences in Turkey. "On the first day of his historic trip, Benedict softens his stance on Turkey's push to join the European Union and tries to put the controversy over his notorious speech about Islam to rest."
~ Tombs of Pre-Inca Elite Discovered Under Peru Pyramid.

~ Al Gore Interview: "It Is Not Too Late to Stop This Crisis".
~ Study: Single Meteorite Impact Killed Dinosaurs.
~ Sustainability in world politics, too.
~ Science a la Joe Camel. "So the company that made [An Inconvenient Truth] decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer. The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said." Read why.
~ Earthshakers: the top 100 green campaigners of all time.

~ The mutuality of emptiness and form from Mystery of Existence.
~ From David Jon at Zaadz: A Map For The Lost Among Us?