Saturday, September 02, 2006

James Fallows: Declaring Victory (and More)

The Atlantic has a great article by James Fallows on the "war on terror": "Declaring Victory."

Fallows argues, persuasively because of the sources he cites, that we have effectively won the war on terror and that most of what we now see as the war on terror is actually the Iraq War and the fallout from that horrible tactical mistake.

He shows in the article that al-Qaeda has been rendered incapable of launching a serious attack anymore -- that its sole power now derives from our reactions to its existence. Al-Qaeda cannot hit the US with any real attack to rival the 9/11 attack, but it can goad us into acting in ways that give it continued stature in the Arab world.

From the article:
There is only one thing keeping them going now," [Caleb Carr] added, "That is our incredible mistakes." The biggest series of mistakes all of these experts have in mind is Iraq.
Fallows argues that bin Laden had always intended to bleed the US financially as his greatest effort in "defeating" the "Great Satan." Our response to the 9/11 attack has given him exactly what he sought. We have spent willy-nilly on the wrong war, on "homeland security" that is largely symbolic in the ways it impacts our lives and largely futile in that it leaves thousands of targets vulnerable, and in losing our moral authority around the world.

The Iraq War is the greatest source of al-Qaeda's current strength:
So far the war in Iraq has advanced the jihadist cause because it generates a steady supply of Islamic victims, or martyrs; because it seems to prove Osama bin Laden's contention that America lusts to occupy Islam's sacred sites, abuse Muslim people, and steal Muslim resources; and because it raises the tantalizing possibility that humble Muslim insurgents, with cheap, primitive weapons, can once more hobble and ultimately destroy a superpower, as they believe they did to the Soviet Union and Afghanistan twenty years ago.
The solution to this whole mess, argues Fallows, is to declare victory in the "war on terror" and completely reframe the debate on the world stage. As long as the US continues to respond to every threat and every taped message from al-Qaeda with increased security and increased paranoia, al-Qaeda will be achieving its goal of disrupting American life.

If we move from a war footing to a diplomatic footing we can still make inroads into the "hearts and minds" of the Arab people. According to polls Fallows cites, Muslims do not support the Taliban as much as they support attacks on America, which they view as oppressing Islamic people. They point out, as bin Laden has, that al-Qaeda does not attack Finland -- it attacks the US, Great Britain, and Germany (which is seen as aiding the US).

Fallows does not offer a solution for the Iraq mess, which is a serious flaw in an otherwise brilliant article. But he is clear in separating the "war on terror" from the Iraq War.

Let me float an idea here:

We cannot "cut and run" in Iraq, but we also cannot continue to make the same mistakes over and over. We need a new strategy. [Warning: SDi/Gravesian approach to follow.]

What if we take the same approach in Iraq that Iran has taken in Lebanon? What if we begin to identify and support Islamic clerics who are progressive, who do not hate economic freedom, and who do not think that the West is essentially evil? These men are more common than are the radicals who want to wage war on the US.

What if we find these clerics and give them the resources to meet the basic needs of Iraqi citizens who are disaffected by the occupation and their ineffectual government? They could create the same kind of loyalty that Hezbollah has created in Lebanon. They could essentially provide a container for egoic, tribal Islam that is friendly to the goals of democracy and capitalism.

This is how we can solve the Iraqi quagmire. No one else is floating a reasonable solution at this point that allows the Iraqi people to retain their dignity and allows the US to extricate itself -- over time -- without the failure that seems inevitable under the current approach.

Not to mention the lives that will not be wasted, both Iraqi and American.

This is not the only element of a successful strategy, but it seems to me to be essential to creating a peaceful resolution.

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New Poetry at Elegant Thorn Review

I'm pleased to announce some new poetry at Elegant Thorn Review.

* Poem: Katie Ceas
* Poem: Soulless

Katie is 15 years old and very talented.

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Gone on Vacation

Kira and I will be on that beach at the Bay of Fundy in a couple of days. Nova Scotia, here we come.

In response to Tom's wondering about the speedlinks while I'm on vacation -- sorry, I'm taking a break. I'll be posting from time to time while I'm gone, including photos. Posting will be lite and infrequent for the next 9 days or so, but will get back to the usual rhythm on or around September 11.

There might be more posts today while I am waiting in airports.

Here is my Daily Om horoscope for today -- seems fitting:

Take A Global Perspective
Taurus Daily Horoscope
September 2, 2006

You may notice that your awareness of the world around you may take on a global perspective today, which could make you feel as if your consciousness is expanding. It might be that you realize that you can make a contribution to the world by thinking more deeply about the issues that affect you. Perhaps you could use this heightened sense of awareness to learn more about an issue that is meaningful for you. A good way to do this today can be to find a cause you believe in and study more about it. That cause might be something such as current environmental or social issues. After becoming familiar with the issue, you may even wish to get involved by volunteering to help at a local or national organization. You might find that this helps you expand your knowledge about the world and maybe even the role you feel you play in it.

Learning more about the issues that affect our lives increases our understanding of the world around us. Sometimes we may feel that there is too much information and could perhaps even feel inundated by it. Making the effort to engage ourselves and focus on an issue that means something to us, however, allows us to develop and change our perspective. In doing so, you will open yourself up to a greater part of the world, be able to think more deeply about what affects you, and be motivated to take action today.

Make-A-Wish Recipient Now Wishes Macho Man Randy Savage Would Go Away

Satire from The Onion:
Make-A-Wish Recipient Now Wishes Macho Man Randy Savage Would Go Away

September 1, 2006

PHOENIX—9-year-old leukemia patient Tyler Blashock was initially ecstatic to learn Monday that the Make-A-Wish Foundation was sending Macho Man Randy Savage to meet him at the Phoenix Children's Hospital. But after spending half a day Savage, Blashock said he wished the 44-year-old wrestler would "just go."

Enlarge ImageMake A Wish R

Blashock views Savage's muscles again.

Tyler, who was diagnosed with for the last six weeks has undergone chemotherapy through painful cerebrospinal injection, said the the two-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion was physically and mentally demanding.

"I really only wanted him to give me an autograph and tell me what it was like to fight the Ultimate Warrior," Tyler said. "Not read me bedtime stories and try to feed me."

"Crying hurts," Tyler added.

Tyler's father Frank said he and wife Helen were "thrilled" that their son would finally have a positive experience, "especially after his hair started falling out."

"But in Tyler's weakened state, it's all been too much," Frank said. "Far too intense."

According to Helen Blashock, Macho Man, who arrived wearing dark sunglasses and matching leather hat and vest, burst into Tyler's hospital room and shouted, "Hey there little dude, I'm here to make you feel gooooood!"

"You could just see the confusion in Tyler's eyes—he didn't understand why this was happening to him," Mrs. Blashock said. "He's been so brave."

Savage, who told Tyler his acute lymphocytic leukemia reminded him of the time he wrestled Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "crushed that pip-squeak's larynx," said that he enjoys helping less-fortunate fans.

"I do what I can to pump the kids up," Savage said. "I'm still on their team even though they can't tag me in for this fight."

Savage also brought old Wrestlemania videos to watch with the boy.

"My eyes and my bones and everything aches," Tyler said. "I just want to sleep."

Earlier in the afternoon, Savage lifted the boy's arm in the air to show that he had won a mock wrestling match, then ran circles around the room, slapping his own face.

"Tyler's bone marrow is so damaged there is almost no blood clotting, so the slightest touch will leave substantial bruising," said Tyler's doctor, pediatric oncologist Suri Prendesh. "It's also best that Tyler avoid any more playful Savage Elbows or Scoop Slams."

Though Tyler had been showing signs of improvement, doctors feared Macho Man's "unending" boasts and product plugs were trying the boy's already-weak immune system.

"Tyler's still worn out from his biopsy, and this man will jump right in his face and scream, 'Snap into remission!'" Helen said. "When will my son have some peace?"

"I don't like when he sings his songs," Tyler said, referring to Savage's impromptu performance of songs from his rap album Be A Man. "They make me sad."

The Blashocks said they were initially relieved when Savage sprinted out of the room at 10 p.m., but his absence was short- lived.

"We thought it was the end of the ordeal," Mr. Blashock said. "But sure enough, 15 minutes later, we hear, 'All right, Tyler, let's clothesline this cancer,' and we knew tomorrow was going to be another day that our son wouldn't be able to swallow any food."

Savage also used the occasion to issue a challenge to rival Hulk Hogan.

"Dig it, Hulkster: If you're not afraid, we'll throw down right here for the kid," said Savage, who has never defeated Hogan in a professional match. "Then he'll see once and for all that the Macho Man truly is the greatest wrestler that has ever lived."

"Oooooh yeaaaaaahhhhhh," Savage added.

The overwhelming sensory assault has left the Blashock family wondering how they will ever be able to "beat this thing."

"When Dr. Prendesh politely informed Macho Man that the high fat content in Slim Jims was really too much for Tyler's sensitive digestive system, he threatened to introduce her to a 'world of pain,'" said Mr. Blashock. "I guess all we can do at this point is just wait, and pray, and hope he has to visit some other sick kid tomorrow."

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In Week Before Labor Day, Pointless 'Filler' Columns Abound

Satire from Andy Borowitz:

In Week Before Labor Day, Pointless 'Filler' Columns Abound
Lazy Columnists Pad Out Stories by Quoting Experts, Experts Say

In a phenomenon that occurs every year in the week before Labor Day, national columnists across America file pointless, content-free “filler” columns, enabling the lazy scribes to hit the beach earlier, according to observers who have been following this trend.

The “filler” columns are churned out in a matter of minutes with no loftier goal than meeting a deadline and filling up space -- meaning that columnists will often resort to using the same words or phrase again and again and again and again and again.

And rather than doing any original writing, the slothful columnists will rely on so-called “experts” to supply them with quotes to fill up space, experts say.

“They'll often quote people you've never heard of,” says Harold Crimmins, an expert in the field of filler columns. “It's pretty shameless.”

The typical “filler” column is often a reprint of a previously published column, but the writer will later plug in one cursory reference to current events, such as the arrest of polygamist Warren Jeffs, to disguise this fact.

And in order to fill up space even faster, Crimmins says, the lazy beach-bound columnist will compose his summer “filler” columns with short paragraphs.

Many of these paragraphs will be as short as one sentence, he says.

“Or shorter,” he adds.

There are other telltale signs a reader can look for in order to determine whether a writer has, in fact, filed a so-called “filler” column, according to Crimmins.

One of these is a tendency to repeat information that the reader has already read earlier in the article, with columnists even stooping to using the same quote twice.

“They'll often quote people you've never heard of,” Crimmins says.

Another tip-off is if the column ends abruptly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Vacations, Terrorists, and Paranoia

Kira and I are leaving early tomorrow morning for our vacation in Nova Scotia. Just to make sure everything was cool, she checked with the airline to see exactly what is now banned on flights.

The list includes all liquids and gels, chapstick, eye drops, nasal sprays, and vitamins or supplements that contain gels, ice packs, and god knows what else. When Kira told them that she needs the eye drops, they told her, and I quote, "Safety comes first."


Safety comes before possible eye damage to their customers?

All this is due to a largely exaggerated plot to blow up some airplanes by a bunch of guys with no passports, airline tickets, or actual bombs.

The terrorists don't even have to actually do anything to achieve their goals -- disruption of American life. The mere thought that there might be a "plot" creates so much paranoia that the government can convince its citizens that surrendering their freedoms is in their best interest.

The day that I can't take a factory-sealed Advil gel-cap on an airplane is the day we have totally and completely lost the war to the terrorists.

Festival of the Trees

The newest Festival of the Trees - #3 is up at Burning Silo.

Among the many fine posts you will find Rivers of Bark from Find Me A Bluebird, Sequoia gigantea from Dharma Bums, Pear Economics from Via Negativa, and Resilience and Change from this here blog you are now reading.

Thanks to Bev for a nice selection.

Next festival of the Trees (#4) will be at Cindy Mead’s wonderful WoodSong blog.

Looking at the Walls of Future, Bang, Bang, I am the Oracle . . .

Bill at Oaksong's Nemeton made me take this personality test. It's based on Greek mythology. Here are my results:

The Oracle

33% Extroversion, 66% Intuition, 44% Emotiveness, 100% Perceptiveness

Heuristic, detached, and analytical to a fualt, you are most like The Oracle. You are able to tackle any subject with a fine toothed comb, and you possess an ability to pinpoint nuances and shades of meaning that other people do not have and cannot understand. Accomplishment and realization of ideas are, for you, secondary to the rigorous exploration of ideas and questions -- you are, first and foremost, a theorist. You hate authority, convention, tradition, and under no circumstances do you accept a leadership role (although, you will gladly advise leadership when they're going astray, whether they want you to or not). Abstraction and generalities are your interests, details and particulars are usually inconsequential and uninteresting. You excel at language, mathematics and philosophy.

You are typically easy-going and non-confrontational until someone violates one of the very few principles that you deem sacred, at which point you can fly into a rage. Although you possess a much greater understanding of process and systems than the people around you, you are always conscious of the possibility that you've missed something or made a mistake. You don't tend to become attached to particular theories, and will immediately discard mistaken notions once they're revealed to be incorrect (but you don't tolerate iconoclasts who try to discredit validated theories through the use of fallacies and bad data). Despite being outwardly humble, you probably think of yourself as being smarter than most other people. That's because you are. In fact, in your dealings with people your understanding of their motives is so expansive that you know what they're going to say before they say it, and in world affairs, you usually know what is going to take place before it actually does. This ability would make you unbeatable in debates if only you were a little less pensive about your own conclusions, and a little more outgoing.

Famous people like you: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, John McWhorter, Ramanujan, Marie Curie, Kurt Godel

Stay clear of: Apollo, Icarus, Hermes, Aphrodite

Seek out: Atlas, Prometheus, Daedalus

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 17% on Extroversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 52% on Intuition
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You scored higher than 27% on Emotiveness
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You scored higher than 90% on Perceptiveness
Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Sogyal Rinpoche on Monkey Mind

Rigpa Daily Glimpse:

When people begin to meditate, they often say that their thoughts are running riot and have become wilder than ever before. But I reassure them and say that this is a good sign. Far from meaning that your thoughts have become wilder, it shows that you have become quieter and are finally aware of just how noisy your thoughts have always been. Don’t be disheartened or give up. Whatever arises, just keep being present, keep returning to the breath, even in the midst of all the confusion.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

Speedlinking 9/1/06

Welcome to September.

~ Picture of the day comes from National Geographic: this is a supernova captured by the Hubble telescope.

And . . . they're off . . . .

We begin today with an environmental theme:

~ ENN reports that a Green Wave Surges onto Pop Culture's Shores. The article looks at the rise of environmental messages in England.

~ Another ENN story looks at the continuing mystery of tropical fish in
Rhode Island waters. What global warming? There ain't no stinkin' global warming.

~ National Geographic offers a video of strange creatures living under the Antarctic ice.
Go beneath the surface and witness some of the world's oddest creatures: fish with "antifreeze" in their blood, giant-legged spiders, thousand-year-old sponges—perhaps even a new species.
~ Truthout has an article on the recent revelations of genetically modified plants having "escaped" their containment. Mostly, these events have been harmless, but most of us know what can happen when non-native species invade a new area. Many GM plants are designed to be hard to kill, so one mistake could be catastrophic.

~ The Nation asked some very smart people to think about how we might change our relationship to food. Wendell Barry is as direct as always, as is Eliot Coleman.

In other news . . . .

~ Mumon at Notes in Samsara posts a link to Keith Olbermann's recent commentary on the Donald Rumsfeld speech. This should be essential viewing for anyone who wants to live in a free and democratic America.

~ David Jon at Zaadz went to a Mankind meeting and left early. He raises some serious questions about these types of groups. In the comments, Siona also raises some good points about David Jon's response to what we experienced.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion has a post on structuralism (in the philosophy sense), continuing his thoughts from a previous post. Matthew Dallman responds in the comments, and then posts a slightly longer response on his own site. Chris responds to MD later in the day with a counter-argument. This is largely a "doctrine" fight, but for geeks like me, it's a chance to learn and see two different sides of the issue.

~ Will at thinkBuddha writes on Life Without Free Will, a post inspired in part by his week at Sharpham. This is a really interesting post with some challenging thought experiments. Give it a read.

~ Steve Pavlina of Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog is launching a forum on his site for readers to discuss the articles he posts. Good idea -- and sure to be active. In this post he lays out the structure of the forum -- drop him a note if you have ideas.

~ Mike Jay has a new post on Domains, Noise & Effectiveness (Misjudging Leadership Ability) over at his blog. Mike is a brilliant man, so you might want to add him to your feeds (he doesn't post that often).

~ Joe Perez of Rising Up is coming back to blogging -- where and when is yet to be determined. He has been missed.

~ spiritofnow at where do you want to go, my heart? posts on the ban of certain blog hosts in Pakistan, and how Pakistanis get around that ban. A voice of freedom from our "free and democratic ally in the war on terror."

~ P2P Foundation posts some more links.

~ Over at the Ken Wilber blog, they have posted his forward to the new book by Carolyn Myss, Entering the Castle. Myss appears to be riffing on St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle. Wilber uses the forward to restate his vision of the Witness and then tries to relate his own stuff to Myss's book.

~ Harper's has a good article on the Bush administration's adoption of the "fascism" buzzword to make their "war on terror" somehow relevant to anyone but them. Just goes to show that Bush's people must be watching Fox News and scanning some of the conservative blogs. It also goes to show that they don't know what their new buzzword actually means.

~ Think Progress reports that Fox News is pushing a preemptive war with Iran. Because it worked so well in Iraq? This is cause for concern because Fox News gets it talking points from the GOP leadership each day. Not a good sign for those of us who think war with Iran is a rather stupid idea.

~ The UN has voted to create a Darfur peacekeeping force. Way too little too late. How many tens of thousands of people had to die before the UN acted? The force can't even be deployed unless the Sudan agrees -- don't see that happening. The lack of response by the UN, the EU, and the USA on the Darfur issue is criminal. But hey, there's no natural resources we want, so why should we care?

~ Finally, a little humor to begin your weekend. Here are the Top 100 Funny Pictures -- seems a lot of them feature Bush.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Learning How to Fight

[This is cross-posted from the Integral Relationships pod at Zaadz.]

I hope that Kira won't mind me sharing this, but I think it's a crucial part of relationship growth.

When we first got together, we had disagreements and they sometimes even got heated, but we didn't fight. And by fighting I don't mean screaming at each other in some kind of blind rage or calling each other names. That's not fighting so much as it is regression and abuse.

I mean being able to passionately disagree and stay with the fight until resolution emerges. There might be yelling, but no name calling, statements of feelings but not ad hominem attacks.

Whenever Kira and I actually fight instead of pussy-footing around each others feelings, we tend to break through the impass and find resolution and a new ground to our relationship.

Do any of you have experience with this? What are your feelings about fighting and intimacy? Do partners need to have reached a certain developmental level to fight fairly ansd productively, or is this possible for everyone?

New Content at Elegant Thorn

Just posted at Elegant Thorn Review:

~ Two Photos: Ruth

~ Birth of a Poet: First Meditation (a repost from IOC)

As always, please send me your best spiritually-inclined poetry, flash fiction, and photography.

Last Day of Be Kind to Humankind Week

Be Kind to Humankind Week began last week on Friday, so it ends today.

Happy “Be Kind to Humankind Week”! Today we celebrate “Thoughtful Thursday”! Thoughtful Thursday is a day to focus on other people and their needs rather than allowing our own troubles or thoughts to take up the space in our minds. Even if it is simply listening to another and being a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen…that simple act of kindness can mean so much. Never underestimate the simplest acts of kindness. For additional ideas and suggestion for this day, please click the Thoughtful Thursday link below. This day ends “Be Kind to Humankind Weeks” 18th celebration! It does not end our attempts at DAILY acts of kindness 365 days of the year! Thank you for helping to make 2006 a BIG SUCCESS for BK2HK!!


Thoughtful Thursday is the perfect time to be mindful of those around you, at home and at work who may have thoughts, concerns, or needs which you may not be aware of. Try a little harder to get out of yourself and your own busy world and plunge into trying to be more thoughtful as to others feelings! It’s a wonderful thing when you can more thoughtful and considerate towards others. It will help those who may just need an ear, and it will be a rewarding experience for you.

Please visit our Thoughtful Thursday page to view some suggestions to make your day better also, download a positive news story.

View our previous days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

And Thanks again for being a part of BK2HK!

And here are the suggestions for today:

Thoughtful Thursday is the perfect time to be mindful of those around you, at home and at work who may have thoughts, concerns, or needs which you may not be aware of. Try a little harder to get out of yourself and your own busy world and plunge into trying to be more thoughtful as to others feelings! It’s a wonderful thing when you can more thoughtful and considerate towards others. It will help those who may just need an ear, and it will be a rewarding experience for you.

Here are some suggestions to make your Thoughtful Thursday better:

1. Pick up the phone and say hello to a friend who’s in need of a little conversation.

2. Invite a friend/relative over for lunch.

3. Get involved in volunteer work in your community.

4. Hold doors for people behind you.

5. Give up your seat on a bus/train to a person who could use it more; pregnant women, elderly person etc.

6. Allow a person with fewer groceries than yourself to cut in front of you on line.

7. Try to be more conciensious of others feelings.

8. Send a person who is depressed a little note to lift their spirits, or a little gift (trinket) of some sort. Just letting them know that you are thinking of them helps so much.

9. Please do not forget to say “Please, Thank You, Excuse me”, ect. So often we do forget to say these simple but important courtesies!

Speedlinking 8/31/06

~ Image of the day, "Restriction," by Niekie000 at deviantART.

This will just be the highlights today -- not enough time to give you all the full treatment. But this is just a warm-up for me being out of town all of next week. Blogging will be lite and intermittent.

~ Dashh links to a discussion between Andrew Cohen and Tom Clark ( on "Evolutionary Enlightenment . . . ." He laments the fact that Ken Wilber never really engages with anyone who disagrees with him as Cohen does here.

~ Dave at Via Negativa takes note of the passing of Naguib Mahfouz, a brilliant novelist.

~ Alan Cook at Milinda's Questions posts some text by David Chalmers in explaining consciousness as one moves from humans down the complexity scale.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion gives us some background on who he is and what he's up to these days. Do go read this, CJ is an interesting man.

He also has a great post on Consciousness: Ultimate Mystery and semi-understandable form -- check it out.

~ ebuddha at Integral Practice notifies us that we can now download public domain books for free from Google. This is very cool, and sure to piss off publishers. I'm sure that within a few years, most everything not in copyright will be available online.

~ Humergence has an interesting post regarding a new social psychology study. I haven't had time to look into the original material, but it looks like it fits within accepted in-group, out-group models, which tend to support Clare Graves' theories.

~ Intent Blog posts an article by DK Matai on the Buddha's Eightfold Path. It's a good introduction.

~ Also from Intent Blog, you can watch a trailer of Deepak Chopra's new film, How to Know God.

~ Alexis at Zaadz has some more humor, this time of the Zen variety.

~ Eddie K from Live will be joining Ken Wilber on his NYC trip next week. I'd love to see Eddie K perform.

~ Brian at Zaadz posts an email exchange between Michael Strong and John Mackey -- it gets all integral and stuff.

~ Looks like McCain faces a serious challenge if Giuliani decides to run -- in fact, he trails Rudy in the most recent polls.

~ Cigarette companies can't trick kids into smoking in the same way, and more people want to quit, so they are raising the nicotine levels in their products -- a lot -- to make them more addictive. So why is this crap still legal and cocaine, pot, and LSD aren't? The NY Times has en editorial on it.

~ In case you thought there was pay equity in this country, think again. The oil company executives averaged $32.7 million in earnings in 2005. That's for one person, not an African nation. As long as we pay people that kind of money, we will never be a truly democratic nation.

That's a wrap.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is Bush an Idiot? Some Evidence . . .

A lot of people get bent out of shape that so many others think George W Bush is an idiot. I don't know if he is really that stupid, but when he opens his mouth and gibberish comes out, I begin to wonder.

I watched this interview with Brian Williams and cringed the whole time.

Part One:

Part Two:

On Work and Purpose

[model of vocation - click image to enlarge]

This was the Daily Om from a day or so ago. I decided to post it because it's about work -- about creating work that makes your soul happy and not just your your bank account. Until a couple of years ago, I was miserable in my work life, but then I decided to "follow my bliss," as Joseph Campbell would say. The more I surrender to my path, the more options become available and the more expansive my life becomes. I've been lucky and blessed. Maybe this article will be the kick in the rear you need to follow your bliss, if you aren't already doing so.
Blessed With A Purpose
Your Life's Work

Many people are committed to professions and personal endeavors they never consciously planned to pursue. They attribute the shape of their lives to circumstance, taking on roles they feel are tolerable. Each of us, however, has been blessed with a purpose. Your life's work is the assemblage of activities that allows you to express your intelligence and creativity, live in accordance with your values, and experience the profound joy of simply being yourself. Unlike traditional work, which may demand more of you than you are willing to give, life's work demands nothing but your intent and passion for that work. Yet no one is born with an understanding of the scope of their purpose. If you have drifted through life, you may feel directionless. Striving to discover your life's work can help you realize your true potential and live a more authentic, driven life.

To make this discovery, you must consider your interests in the present and the passions that moved you in the past. You may have felt attracted to a certain discipline or profession throughout your young life only to have steered away from your aspirations upon reaching adulthood. Or you may be harboring an interest as of yet unexplored. Consider what calls to you and then narrow it down. If you want to work with your hands, ask yourself what work will allow you to do so. You may be able to refine your life's work within the context of your current occupations. If you want to change the world, consider whether your skills and talents lend themselves to philanthropic work. Taking stock of your strengths, passions, beliefs, and values can help you refine your search for purpose if you don't know where to begin. Additionally, in your daily meditation, ask the universe to clarify your life's work by providing signs and be sure to pay attention.

Since life's journey is one of evolution, you may need to redefine your direction on multiple occasions throughout your lifetime. For instance, being an amazing parent can be your life's work strongly for 18 years, then perhaps you have different work to do. Your life's work may not be something you are recognized or financially compensated for, such as parenting, a beloved hobby, or a variety of other activities typically deemed inconsequential. Your love for a pursuit, however, gives it meaning. You'll know you have discovered your life's work when you wake eager to face each day and you feel good about not only what you do but also who you are.

Poem: Galway Kinnell

The Cellist

At intermission I find her backstage
still practicing the piece coming up next.
She calls it the "solo in high dreary."
Her bow niggles at the string like a hand
stroking skin it never wanted to touch.
Probably under her scorn she is sick
that she can't do better by it. As I am,
at the dreary in me, such as the disparity
between all the tenderness I've received
and the amount I've given, and the way
I used to shrug off the imbalance
simply as how things are, as if the male
were constituted like those coffeemakers
that produce less black bitter than the quantity
of sweet clear you poured in--forgetting about
how much I spilled through unsteady walking,
and that lot I threw on the ground
in suspicion, and for fear I wasn't worthy,
and all I poured out for reasons I don't understand yet.
"Break a leg!" somebody tells her.
Back in my seat, I can see she is nervous
when she comes out; her hand shakes as she
re-dog-ears the top corners of the big pages
that look about to flop over on their own.
Now she raises the bow--its flat bundle of hair
harvested from the rear ends of horses--like a whetted
scimitar she is about to draw across a throat,
and attacks. In a back alley a cat opens
her pink-ceilinged mouth, gets netted
in full yowl, clubbed, bagged, bicycled off, haggled open,
gutted, the gut squeezed down to its highest pitch,
washed, sliced into cello strings, which bring
an ancient screaming into this duet of hair and gut.
Now she is flying--tossing back the goblets
of Saint-Amour standing empty,
half-empty, or full on the tablecloth-
like sheet music. Her knees tighten
and loosen around the big-hipped creature
wailing and groaning between them
as if in elemental amplexus.
The music seems to rise from the crater left
when heaven was torn up and taken off the earth;
more likely it comes up through her priest's dress,
up from that clump of hair which by now
may be so wet with its waters, like the waters
the fishes multiplied in at Galilee, that
each wick draws a portion all the way out
to its tip and fattens a droplet on the bush
of half notes now glittering in that dark.
At last she lifts off the bow and sits back.
Her face shines with the unselfconsciousness of a cat
screaming at night and the teary radiance of one
who gives everything no matter what has been given.

Be Kind to Humankind Week: Wednesday

It's “Willing To Lend-A-Hand Wednesday”:

Happy “Be Kind to Humankind Week”! Today we celebrate Willing-to-Lend-a-Hand-Wednesday! If you are blessed with good health, energy and hands in working condition… then reach out and help someone in need!!! Any small favor is appreciated! Plus you will feel a joy and satisfaction in having been made useful to someone! Help out a friend moving by going over and offering to pack up a few boxes, cook a pot of chicken soup for a sick neighbor, offer to pick up a couple of items from the grocery store for someone who can’t get out. Below is the link to this great day and those we have just celebrated. I encourage you to read on and act out in a kind manner towards others.


Willing To Lend-A-Hand Wednesday is a special day of effort on our part to help others. It does not have to be anything grand or large as far as the help part goes, although we would not discourage that, just the smallest help to someone is great!

Please visit our Willing To Lend-A-Hand Wednesday page to view some suggestions to make your day better also, download a positive news story.

View our previous days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

And here are their suggestions for how to celebrate the day:

Willing To Lend-A-Hand Wednesday is a special day of effort on our part to help others. It does not have to be anything grand or large as far as the help part goes, although we would not discourage that, just the smallest help to someone is great!

Here are some suggestions to make your Willing to Lend-A-Hand Wednesday better:

1. Take the initiative to go out and help a sick person you know with yard work, housekeeping etc. Don’t wait for them to ask you for the help, they usually won’t.

2. Offer to help a friend move, or at least pack for the move.

3. Take an elderly person out food shopping or to the doctor’s office if needed.

4. Offer to pick up groceries for a homebound person.

5. If you know a family that is going away for a vacation, offer to keep an eye on the house or feed and help out with their animals. If they offer you money-refuse it. These are things we wish to do just for the sake of helping out, not to make money.

6. If someone you know has their car in repair and needs a lift somewhere, offer them a ride. Especially if it is a co-worker who might live near you, and needs a ride to work.

7. Keep an eye and ear out for any community projects that ask for volunteer work. Even one day a month is very helpful to them!

8. If you attend a certain church, and you know of someone who does not have a ride to the service but would love to go - offer to take them.

Speedlinking 8/30/06

~ Image of the day is from ohhhsunshine at deviantART. I'm a sucker for colorful textures, especially in nature. [That's a hint to any of the five or six people (besides John, whose amazing work I already know) who read this blog and also happen to be photographers.]

~ ProBlogger has some tips for those of you who want to become professional bloggers -- and there are people hiring in this growing field.

~ Matthew Dallman posted a Camille Paglia quote from the first issue of Wired. She advocates using film to teach everything from sex ed to sex roles, to Lacan and Foucault. Again, I am reminded why I stood in the rain for an hour to see her at Elliot Bay Books way back when.

~ MD also posts a link to an article my partner Kira wrote back in December: Art as Mindfulness. Major thanks to him for the kind plug.

~ Chris Cowan and Natasha Todorvic at Humergence conduct an interesting interview with Geoff Falk on gurus. I really don't much like Falk, but this is interesting history on the man behind the rage.

~ ~C4Chaos posts a link to a YouTube video of Ken Wilber talking about staging a 2nd-tier revolution.

~ For those of you who enjoy pointless vulgarity (not safe for work, or for children, or for those who are sentitive to swearing, rock star behavior, mysogyny, or drug and alcohol references), The Zero Boss posts a link to a drunken Kelly Clarkson - Uncensored.

~ ebuddha of Integral Practice offers some of his finds at YouTube. Among them you will find some Wilco videos.

~ Bush is closing public access to all the EPA libraries -- this according to This is simply insane. It's being explained as a budget move. Uh-huh. Couldn't possibly have anythingt to do with global warming, environmental pollution by industry, or anything else Bush and his corporate buddies want to keep hidden.

~ On a similar topic, Washington state's glaciers are melting. This sucks:

At Mount Rainier, which has more glacial ice than the rest of the Cascades combined and is among the best studied sites in the nation, the area covered by glaciers shrank by more than a fifth from 1913 to 1994, and the volume of the glaciers by almost one-fourth, the National Park Service says. From 1912 to 2001, the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier retreated nearly a mile.

Since the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago, glaciers in the northern Cascades have shrunk by 40 percent, and the pace is accelerating. The South Cascades Glacier, one of the most studied in the nation, has lost roughly half its mass since 1928.

In the Olympic Mountains, glaciers have lost about one-third of their mass.

~ Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld lives in an alternate universe where criticizing the failed war in Iraq -- which was just plain wrong from day one -- makes one complicit with the terrorists, who were never even in Iraq until we destabilized the country and created the best training ground for terrorists on the planet. He "likened critics of the Bush administration's war strategy to those who tried to appease the Nazis in the 1930s." Sure, Don, whatever you say. Thank god for karma.

~ In what may be a somewhat, tengentally related story, Fox News ratings are down -- a lot -- while CNN and MSNBC are up. Could it be true? Is America waking from the trance it has been in since 9/11?

~ P2P Foundation posts on Celebrating participatory culture, which means open access music in this case.

~ ~C4Chaos quotes Michael Strong on how Zaadz might be the re-emergence of tribal mind in a post-industrial world. I'm extrapolating here, but as some post-modern, relativist groups have to deal with those who are not sufficiently socialized, they might seek the safety of tribal mind, and possibly even the revolutionary energy of egoic power-drives. This simple realization that not all views are equal and the need to act on it might be what generates the push into integral thinking.

~ Finally, if you want to what GenNext is all about, "a professor and public affairs director at Beloit College in Wisconsin [has] prepared a "Mindset List" for the school's professors, clergy and other faculty so they might understand the "world view" of incoming freshmen." Here are the first ten:
1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
10. Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
And that's a wrap.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Video: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the Emmys

For those of you, like me, who do not watch awards shows, here is Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the Emmys:

Cool 3-D Image

This was found at Mighty Optical Illusions:

Morning Meditation: Time

My Zen page-a-day calendar says this:
The trouble is that you think you have time.
~ Jack Kornfield
This is another topic that has been on my mind lately. I have been in the general habit of thinking, "As soon as X happens . . . I'll be where I want to be." Or, "As soon as I do X, I'll be ready to do my life's work." Or, whatever.

I'm beginning to get that if I can say, "I'll be happy when . . . ." that I am standing on the dock with my hands in my pockets and the boat is sailing away without me.

I already tend to avoid planning too much for the future (other than general intentions), and I don't really live in expectation of what tomorrow will bring, but I do tend to think that I can do whatever needs to be done tomorrow. And as we all know, there is no such thing as tomorrow.

Every day is today.

Productive people who do not like to put things off can be heard to say, "There is no time like the present." I think we need to revise that a little bit, to say, "There is no time BUT the present."

When I sit on the cushion and watch my breath, there is only now. But my mind will try to wander off into the past and relive some perceived injustice, or begin to worry about something, or whatever. Ego likes time because it keeps me out of the present moment, a place in which ego immediately recedes. So as I bring my attention back to the breath, over and over again, I return over and over again to now and ego fades away.

Ego likes to manage time in the macro world, too, because it keeps me distracted with goals and cravings and desires, none of which serve me in being present to my life. But I need ego to get anything accomplished -- the brutal truth so many New Age folks miss.

My particular ego likes to put things off until tomorrow so that it can chase its cravings today. Whether those cravings are food, prestige, pleasure, or whatever, they do not serve me in serving Spirit.

I'm not sure where to go with this, other than to keep working on being present in my daily life. But I do know that I can no longer live my life with the intention that I'll start REALLY living when . . . .

There is only one time that is important-NOW!! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy

Be Kind to Humankind Week: Tuesday

Happy Be Kind To Humankind Week, Today Is “Touch-a-Heart Tuesday” :

Happy “Be Kind to Humankind Week”! Today we celebrate Touch-a-Heart Tuesday! Tell those you love “I love you”….Write them a note if you have trouble saying it! Send an uplifting card to a down-hearted friend…Give an elderly relative a call, she or he will be thrilled to hear from you!!!! Please click below for additional suggestions…and remember “WE LOVE YOU”!



Touch-a-Heart Tuesday is your time to practice patience, consideration towards others, and safe driving habits every single day!

Please visit our Touch-a-Heart Tuesday page to view some suggestions to make your day better also, download a positive news story.

View our previous days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Here are their suggestions for Touch a Heart Tuesday:

Touch-a-Heart Tuesday is a great day to take the opportunity to show your love towards others. Just like the old 60’s tune goes “Put a little love in your heart” stands very true even to this day. After all, love is eternal and a little bit of love goes a long way!

Here are some suggestions to make your Touch-A-Heart Tuesday better:

1. Tell those that you love, “I love you”.

2. Mail an uplifting card to someone down in the dumps.

3. Show your care and interest in a person who’s pouring out their guts to you.

4. Be a good listener. Don’t jump to offer advice- just listen.

5. Make a pot of homemade chicken soup for someone who is too sick to cook.

6. Don’t hesitate to offer a compliment.

7. If you find it difficult to actually say the words “I love you” to someone you love, try writing them a letter.

8. If you have small children, do not miss out on the opportunity to tell them how much you love them! So often as parents of young children, we are so busy correcting them and things of that sort, that we forget to enjoy them and show our love in verbal ways. Building up their self esteem and their image of themselves comes directly from you. They see themselves as you project them to be. You are their mirror, so mirror love, kindness and encouragement towards them and a sincere interest in their lives!

9. Give a call to an elderly relative to just say “Hi”. They will be so happy to hear from you!

10. Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. There are also many sick children in hospitals who would love to receive a card or letters to brighten their day and let them know that people care.