Saturday, October 13, 2007

Collage: Neck Deep in the Nigredo

The parts work I did last weekend and early this week has stirred up some stuff. For a few days, I thought I was getting depressed again. But after having coffee with my friend Susie this morning, I realized that I am neck deep in the alchemical process of the nigredo. That's a very different thing than depression.

Using the Big Mind process to access and work with some of my lesser known parts has left me with a cacophony of voices in my head. Some of them are familiar, like the critic. He sometimes sounds like this:

That voice doesn't like anything I do, or anything about who I am. But I am familiar with that voice. Fortunately, he doesn't have as much power anymore to affect my life.

It became clear this morning that I was neck deep in the shit when I recalled a dream from last night involving an ex-girlfriend I haven't seen in many years. In the dream, many of the dysfunctional elements of our relationship played themselves out. This is the shadow stuff that Jung talked about as the alchemical nigredo:

If a patient is in a state of deep depression, Jung would say that it corresponds to the alchemical stage of nigredo, or blackness. Just as the prima materia (the substance being worked on) must be washed and distilled before it is purified, so also the individual must undergo a process of cleansing and distillation before achieving wholeness (individuation). The purified state is known as albedo, or whiteness. The process, according to Jung, usually begins at the nigredo stage, which is characterized by self-reflection and a state of dissolution. In alchemical literature, the procedure moves through various stages of distillation and purification. To Jung, this means that a patient will gradually gain sufficient knowledge of the unconscious until one's inner life becomes integrated and balanced (all projections are withdrawn). When this occurs, one enters a state of great peace and tranquility. Jung claims that this is the pure gold spoken of by the alchemists.

It doesn't have to be depression, that's just a useful example. It can be any number of things, including parts work disturbing the balance. We can't escape this shadow work if we want to be whole and healthy. The prima materia is the self (small s, not the Self, big S), and it is the base material for all psychological work.

This is one artist's version of the alchemical image of the nigredo:

Crows are often pictured in images of the nigredo. I wrote about this once in an essay on Raven as a shadow guide. Following the shadow, in whatever form it shows up, is equivalent to following a guide -- it will lead us into the muck from which we can emerge purified.

Other crucial parts of this image are the angels and elements. Jung believed that we have inner guides (in the form of archetypes) who shepherd the therapeutic process. He felt we never undertake this work alone. From an integral perspective, this amounts to magical/mythical thinking, but it's still a useful metaphor.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my parts are going nuts.

At the IFS conference last weekend, in every session that involved inner work, I chose to work with my Kid. This has been an on-going project for me. The problem is that whenever an exile is brought into a closer relationship with the Self, the system of inner selves gets disrupted. Many of my selves are heavily invested in keeping the Kid exiled. They fear the vulnerability that allowing him a more prominent place in my life might entail. Protectors and Firefighters avoid being vulnerable at all costs. Their job is to keep the system safe from any kind of threat, and in my life being vulnerable has often resulted in pain.

So I've got one Firefighter (the one who likes to use food to bury feelings) trying to talk me into ordering a pizza and drowning myself in a carb and fat feast. Another Firefighter (the one who kept me drunk for two years following the breakup with above-mentioned ex-girlfriend) wants me to dive into a bottle of vodka.

All the while, there are Protectors (who are generally Manager types and want nothing more than to maintain balance) are fighting off the Firefighters and trying to make me productive as a way to keep the Kid buried. Maybe they are succeeding, because here I am being productive and blogging about this whole process.

And then there's some maudlin part that misses the rain and gloom of life in Seattle. He's been craving Mark Lanegan songs, like this one:

Ah, yes, loving the gloom.That song takes me back to the days I lived with Celeste (the ex) in Seattle. The rain, the city, the despair. Neck deep in the muck.


Strangely enough (or not so strangely, depending on how familiar you are with this stuff), when shadow work is up for me, life brings me synchronicities to keep the process going. Last weekend I saw Kira at the IFC conference, whom many of you no doubt remember as my partner up until September of last year. We have agreed to get together and clear the air of any leftover stuff that needs to be cleared. Doesn't that sound like fun?

When it's time to dig in the dirt, my psyche doesn't mess around.

Peter knows the truth about inner work.

When shadow work is on the agenda, psyche wants to get as much done as possible, which can feel overwhelming at times. But we never get more than we can handle.

Over the years of doing this, however, I have come to see this as a valuable process that can't be ignored or swept under the rug. If I can simply stay with the process, and be right where I am, however challenging that may feel, I know that it will pass, and I will be happier and more whole for having surfed the wave.

Until we ferment, we shall not escape from this vat of the
world- how then shall we become intimate with the lip of that
flagon and bowl?

Listen to the words from a madman: do not suppose that we
become true men until we die.

~ Rumi

Being in the nigredo is a kind of fermentation, a purification. We must die to the shadow selves, in a metaphorical way, if we hope to be whole in the Self. And there is no better way than through purification.

There is still much work to do, but I know I will come out the other side a better person.

* * * * *

1. Three Days Grace: I Hate Everything About You
2. Jung and Alchemy
3. Nigredo, JungLand
4. Mark Lanegan, Ugly Sunday
5. Peter Gabriel, Digging in the Dirt
6. Rumi, The time has come for us to become madmen in your chain
7. Peter Gabriel, Washing of the Water

Eddie Izzard - Circle

I stumbled upon Eddie Izzard's Circle today and had to buy it. It's some good laugh therapy.

Here are a few bits available on YouTube.

Stoned Olympics

Monkey with a Gun

World Series


Rush - Three Videos

I've always been a bit of a closet Rush fan, at least in recent years.

Closer To The Heart (live - 1998)

Tom Sawyer (live)

Far Cry - Official Video

Satire: Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

From The Onion:

Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

October 13, 2007 | Issue 43•41

HAZELWOOD, MO—Twenty-six years after Ronald Reagan first set his controversial fiscal policies into motion, the deceased president's massive tax cuts for the ultrarich at last trickled all the way down to deliver their bounty, in the form of a $10 bonus, to Hazelwood, MO car-wash attendant Frank Kellener.

Enlarge Image Reagon

The late President Ronald Reagan clearly had people like present-day car wash attendant Frank Kellener in mind when articulating his "trickle-down" economic theory in the early 1980s.

"Back when Reagan was in charge, I didn't think much of him," Kellener, 57, said, holding up two five-dollar bills nearly three decades in the making. "But who would have thought that in 2007 I'd have this extra $10 in my pocket? He may not have lived to see it, but I'm sure President Reagan is up in heaven smiling down on me right now."

Leading economists say Kellener's unexpected windfall provides the first irrefutable proof of the effectiveness of Reagan's so-called supply-side economics, and shows that the former president had "incredible, far-reaching foresight."

"When the tax burden on the upper income brackets is lifted, the rich and not-rich alike all benefit," said Arthur Laffer, who was a former member of Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board. "Eventually."

Frank Kellener

Frank Kellener

The $10 began its long journey into Kellener's wallet in 1983, when a beefed-up national defense budget of $210 billion enabled the military to purchase advanced warhead-delivery systems from aerospace manufacturer Lockheed. Buoyed by a multimillion-dollar bonus, then-CEO Martin Lawler bought a house on a 5,000-acre plot in Montana. When a forest fire destroyed his home in 1986, Lawler took the federal relief check and invested it in a savings and loan run by a Virginia man named Michael Webber. After Webber's firm collapsed in 1989, and he was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, he retained the services of high- powered law firm Rabin & Levy for his defense. After six years and $7 million in legal fees, Webber received only a $250,000 fine, and the defense team went out to celebrate at a Washington, D.C.-area restaurant called Di Forenza. During dinner, lawyer Peter Smith overheard several investment bankers at an adjoining table discussing a hot Internet start-up that was about to go public. Smith took a portion of his earnings from the Webber case and bought several hundred shares in, quadrupling his investment before selling them four months later.'s two founders used the sudden influx of investment capital to outfit their office with modern Danish furniture, in a sale brokered by the New York gallery Modern Now! in 1998. After the ensuing dot-com bust, Modern Now! was forced out of business, and Sotheby's auction house was put in charge of liquidating its inventory. The commission from that auction enabled auctioneer Mary Schafer to retire to the Ozark region of Missouri in 2006. Last month, while passing through Hazelwood, she took her Audi to Marlin Car Wash, where Kellener was one of the employees who tended to her car. She was so satisfied with the job that she left a $50 tip, which the manager divided among the people working that day.

"This money didn't just affect one life," Laffer said. "It affected five."

Prior to joining Marlin Car Wash in 2005, Kellener worked for nearly two decades at a local Ford assembly plant that is now defunct. Before that, he was employed by the FAA as an air traffic controller until his union went on strike and Reagan fired him, along with nearly 13,000 others. This is the largest tip he has received in his professional life.

"I thought Reaganomics was nothing more than a mirage that allowed President Reagan to reward his wealthy support base," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said. "But two generations later I am seeing Reaganomics in action, and I like what I see. It just took a little longer than I thought it was supposed to."

The tip has not gone unnoticed by the economic team in the current administration.

"Had Mr. Kellener received that money in 1981, like the Democrats wanted, it would only be worth $4.24 today because of inflation," Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. said during an official announcement of the economic policy's success at a press conference Monday. "Instead, Kellener has a solid $10 to spend right here and now. The system works, and our current president intends to keep making it work."

Kellener, who has cared for his schizophrenic sister ever since her federally funded mental institution was closed in 1984, said that he plans to donate the full $10 to the Republican presidential candidate who best embodies Reagan's legacy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Income Disparity

In this week's GOP debate, nearly all of the candidates praised the economy, as did George Bush in a series of speeches this week. I call bullshit on this analysis.

The most recent numbers on income disparity are from 2005:

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

* * * *

The analysis by the two professors showed that the top 10 percent of Americans collected 48.5 percent of all reported income in 2005.

That is an increase of more than 2 percentage points over the previous year and up from roughly 33 percent in the late 1970s. The peak for this group was 49.3 percent in 1928.

The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and more than double their share of income in 1980. The peak was in 1928, when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent of all income.

The bottom line is that the bottom 50% of Americans earned about 13% of the total income in 2005.

Yeah, the economy is doing great -- if you're wealthy.

Mark Lanegan Performing Resurrection Song

A great Mark Lanegan song from the Field Songs album.

Mark Lanegan Performing Resurrection Song


From Op-Ed News:


In a stunning reversal, but true to their core beliefs, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that Al Gore cannot accept the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded him.

The court, in an unsigned finding (as are all Gore decisions) responded to George Bush's anticipatory plea for a restraining order based on the fact that "it's not all that hot out anyhow and what in the hell has that got to do with peace?"

Naming the Nobel Committee "just a bunch of Norwegian troublemakers," the court held that Gore cannot accept an award from "those who live too far north to know what warm really feels like." The ruling came within twenty minutes of the announcement and caught Nancy Pelosi, uncharacteristically, in a brown dress.

Dana Perino said the White House would have no comment other than an unconfirmed report by a source that declines to be identified, that the president called Chief Justice John Roberts, effusing "this is the second time that bum has had his ears trimmed by this court and you'd think he'd have finally learned a lesson."

According to a source close to the president, this is only the second time in his career that he has effused.

Speedlinking 10/12/07

Quote of the day:

"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
H. L. Mencken

Image of the day:

~ Making fitness fit -- "People are always on their way to something and in this environment, it’s hard to strike a balance between work, school, internships and a social life, let alone find the time to sneak in a workout."
~ Link Discovered Between Enzyme, Fat Formation And Appetite -- "The enzyme TPPII may contribute to obesity by stimulating the formation of fat cells, suggests a study in EMBO reports this week. The enzyme, TPPII, has previously been linked to making people feel hungry, but Jonathan Graff and colleagues now show that it may be even more deeply involved in causing obesity.The team found that TPPII actually stimulated the formation of fat cells in worms and mammalian cells and that by reducing it, fat stores decreased."
~ Pricey Running Shoes Not Worth It: Study Confirms -- "When it comes to picking footwear, runners should follow Prince Charming's lead and consider a shoe's fit, not its price tag, new research suggests. Using high-tech methods, a team of Scottish scientists found no differences in either comfort or shock absorption between $80 pairs of running shoes and pairs made by the same companies costing more than $150."
~ Meditation a Quick Fix for Stress -- "Meditating for just 20 minutes a day for five days helped to increase energy and decrease anxiety and stress, as measured by levels of stress hormones, a small study found. Using the so-called integrative body-mind training method, which comes from traditional Chinese medicine, the study participants reported better attention and control of stress than those relying on relaxation training, which is popular in the West."
~ Bacteria Cause Chocolate Cravings -- "Dying for some chocolate? Blame colonies of bacteria in your gut."
~ Skip household chores — for your health! -- "Housework might be bad for your health, according to a study suggesting that tidying up as little as once a week with common cleaning sprays and air fresheners could raise the risk of asthma in adults."
~ Commentary: There's hope in alternative healing -- "In a recent column, Emily Breidbart, a second-year medical student at New York University School of Medicine, expressed concerns about her medical education and the frustrating health-care system she will soon enter."
~ Statins reduce loss of function, keeping old lungs young - even in smokers -- "Statins are known to be good for lowering cholesterol and maybe even fighting dementia, and now they have another reported benefit: they appear to slow decline in lung function in the elderly— even in those who smoke. According to researchers in Boston, it may be statins' anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help achieve this effect."

~ Does birth order matter? -- "The question's been around forever -- and so have the myths surrounding it. But the debate over the impact of birth order gained new urgency this summer when the results of a new study were announced: Firstborns' IQs tend to be higher than those of their younger siblings."
~ Reality and Perception -- "Our shared physical reality is the most common state of reality we experience, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Our nighttime dreams are another state, as are astral experiences, near-death experiences, and out-of-body experiences."
~ Your Brain is Not Your Friend -- "A mind is a terrible thing. Whether because of the brain’s internal structure or the way social and cultural pressures cause our minds to develop and function, in the end the result is the same: minds that are not only easily deceived and frequently deceptive in their own right, but when caught out, refuse to accept and address their errors." This is why shadow work and meditation are so important to mental and spiritual health.
~ Health Tips: Anger to Sleep Deprivation -- "Manage your anger, the sleep deficit, and no bones about it."
~ Accomplish More By Doing Less -- "The 'Einstein Principle' is very simple. It basically states that we are most productive when we have fewer projects to devote more of our time on. Common sense, right?"
~ 15 Ways to Reclaim 2 Precious Hours Every Day -- "Time management is really about managing yourself. It’s about making a commitment to be more organized, maintain your focus and use your time to your best advantage. You probably know that effective time management will help you get more done each day. But it has important health benefits, too. By managing your time more wisely, you can minimize stress and improve your quality of life."
~ Add Excitement and Diversity to Daily Life with the Yin Yang Philosophy -- "We have become so enamored with the quality of balance that we sometimes miss out on the beauty of opposing forces in our lives. Periodically shaking things up can be extremely healthy and provide us with a wonderful sense of renewal."
~ Stanislav Grof I: Race For Consciousness -- "This video, where you will hear Stanislav Grof speak at the Omega Institute, is just over 5 minutes long, and is about the race for consciousness in our current society. Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist with over forty years experience of research into non-ordinary states of consciousness...."

~ Evangelical Leaders Perkins, Bauer Back Away From Threats To Back Third-Party Candidate If Abortion-Rights Supporter Wins GOP Nomination -- "Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and American Values President Gary Bauer on Wednesday "backed away" from previous threats that religious conservative leaders would consider running a third-party presidential candidate if the Republican Party nominates an abortion-rights supporter, The Hill reports."
~ Before Nobel Award, Public Support for Gore Presidential Bid Limited -- "Gallup polling on Al Gore shows that U.S. public opinion of him prior to his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize was slightly more positive than negative. There has not been a large groundswell of support for him to run for president so far this year, and if he were to enter the Democratic primaries, he would place no better than third in Gallup's national polls of Democrats' presidential nomination preferences." Rumors are swirling that he may run now.
~ David Sirota: Confronting the Anti-Tax Hollow Men -- "That's how revolutions end - not with a bang, but with a whimper. And that goes for the Republicans' 30-year anti-tax revolution. As my new nationally syndicated column today shows, the public is finally turning away from the me-first economic darwinism of the anti-tax movement, and at least some Democrats are getting out in front of the fight to change the tax debate for the better."
~ Hitchens was right. Now will Gore run? -- "Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to educate the public about global warming. In a "Fighting Words" column last month, Christopher Hitchens argued that a Nobel Prize would boost Al Gore's chances of winning a presidential bid and wondered eagerly if Gore would run."
~ A refugee from Western Europe -- Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie -- "As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world."
~ Mr. Conservative 2.0 -- "Last night Rep. Ron Paul made a wistful kind of trip to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia for a speech to the Robert Taft Club, a paleoconservative salon launched in 2006. Planning began long before news broke of Paul's $5.1 million summer fundraising haul. That news turned a small event into a monster lecture, around 300 people lining up and around stairs to get into a small, oak-panelled room at a chop house."
~ Study: Youth See Christians As Judgmental, Anti-Gay -- "Majorities of young people in America describe modern-day Christianity as judgmental, hypocritical and anti-gay. What's more, many Christians don't even want to call themselves "Christian" because of the baggage that accompanies the label."
~ Vatican publishes Knights Templar papers (AP) -- "It's not the Holy Grail, but for fans of "The Da Vinci Code" and its tantalizing story line about the Knights Templar, it could be the next best thing."

~ Titan's drizzle made of methane -- "Cassini craft reveals rain on the Saturn moon and a cloud bank thick with the smog-like compound."
~ Understanding mysterious continental intraplate earthquakes -- "A new volume published by the Geological Society of America sheds light on mysterious earthquakes in the interiors of continents. These earthquakes, like those that occur in the central U.S., are what the book's editors describe as "an embarrassing stepchild of modern earthquake seismology." Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard, and Policy Issues provides a comprehensive overview of these rare but very real global hazards."
~ China Censors Ratchet Up Web Monitoring -- "At first, Liu Xiaoyuan just fumed when his online journal postings disappeared with no explanation. Then he decided to do something few if any of China's censored bloggers had tried. He sued his service provider."
~ 'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible with Invisibility Technology -- "The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the "invisibility cloak" announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an 'electromagnetic wormhole.'"
~ EPA not enforcing Clean Water Act, says report -- "The U.S. EPA is not so much enforcing the Clean Water Act, says a new report from green group U.S. PIRG. According to EPA data, 57 percent of the country's industrial plants and municipal wastewater facilities dumped more than the allowable level of pollutants and sewage into waterways at least once in 2005, the most recent year that records are available."
~ Rare Chinese tiger spotted for first time in decades -- "A rare South China tiger has been spotted in the wild for the first time in decades, surprising researchers who feared the subspecies was extinct outside of captivity, state media said Friday."
~ Ants Corral and Tranquilize Victims -- "Ants footprints hold chemicals that tranquilize food-producing aphids."

~ Peripheral vision logic “a”perspective -- "In the last meeting of Santa Rosa Integral Salon we used as a loose organizer the phrase “the integral periphery.” A few of us had in mind that by that we’d discuss those persons/ideas on the periphery of Ken and/or I-I. But I intentionally planned to allow the discussion to go “peripheral,” i.e., where it wanted to, and not to hold on to the above direction/focus. Part of this is because peripheral vision is itself like vision logic, in that PV doesn’t focus on specific objects but takes in the whole field of vision and observes it as a gestalt."
~ Women’s Intellectual Abilities -- "Some of us have lately been having a discussion on gender and sexism at the Open Integral (see here and here). After my horrible experience with organized religion, which nearly — nearly! — convinced me of men’s superior intellectual abilities compared to women (how Life got me out of this nonsense will be the subject of a detailed post in the future), I was an agnostic with pretty much zero tolerance for sexism."
~ An enlightened politics -- "The monks are calculating that any mistreatment they receive will only increase their public support; they are using their status as a means to mobilise people against the regime. And all the time the monks have insisted on the unconditional Buddhist principle of non-violence and urged their lay colleagues to do the same. We are witnessing one of the most extraordinary demonstrations of religiously inspired courage and political engagement for the benefit of others."
~ Western Funerals and Buddhist prayers -- "Earlier this week my monastery got a call from someone who’s mother had past away and they wanted a monk to says some prayers at the funeral. The mother was a Buddhist sympathizer and had recently been to Burma to participate in the protests there."
~ Buddhist Churches of America Statement on Burma -- "As the situation in Burma continues to deteriorate, it seems worthwhile to highlight the efforts that Buddhists in other countries are undertaking to keep the plight of the Burmese in the public eye. A good example is the recent statement released by Koshin Ogui and Gordon Bermant, the Bishop and President, respectively, of the Buddhist Churches of America."

Daily Om: Fragments Of The Self

Today's Daily Om looks at the parts that live within us, our subpersonalities. They take a rather shallow look at the issue, but it's still good to have others talking about this important area of who we are.

Meeting Of The Minds
Fragments Of The Self

Sometimes it feels as if we have many different people living inside of us, expressing themselves in voices that seem distinct from one another. There is the inner child with its wants and needs, the angry voice that expresses its opinion and probably several more as well. With all these different parts of ourselves express differing desires and needs and opinions, we may begin to feel as if we have no clarity. It is difficult to know which voices to pay attention to and which ones to ignore or dismiss. Even if we manage to move forward amidst the confusion, doubts and concerns may linger in our psyches simply because they have not been fully expressed and examined. As a result, we may have trouble being at peace with the decisions we do make.

One way to handle this dilemma is to consciously make time for a meeting of the minds within our psyche. This can be done as a guided meditation or as a journaling exercise. In both we can summon the many fragments that make up the whole of who we are and give them each a chance to speak. This can be a helpful tool in the face of a decision we need to make, and it can also be a fruitful path to take in the interest of self-exploration and self-care. When we gather the many fragments of our psyche together, the health and power of the whole is greatly increased.

We can imagine a roundtable in which we gather all the various representatives of our being, allowing them to name themselves and giving them a chance to speak. We allow each one to weigh in, fully expressing the perspective they represent, and we listen without comment. As we listen, we may be amazed at the wisdom and energy stored in these fragments of our self. This gathering brings the fragmented pieces of our psyche into a closer relationship, enabling us to move forward as a unified whole.


As Buddha said: “What you are is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now.” Padmasambhava went further: “If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition; if you want to know your future life, look at your present actions.”

Atheists Spreading the Word

A rather interesting look at the rise of the "new atheists" from the CBC. Of course, they spend some time with Sam Harris, but rather than only featuring extreme religious views, they talk to some moderate Christians.

They also look at morality and religion -- and the fact that we can be moral human beings without religion.


Abolishing the Electoral College

A while back I posted some ideas for political reform, one of which was ending the electoral college. This morning an article at Salon makes the same point better than I could.

The California Electoral College Initiative has been exposed for what it is: a Republican plan to steal the 2008 presidential election. The idea was to divvy up the electoral votes of the nation's biggest state by congressional district rather than give all 55 to the statewide winner -- who would almost certainly be a Democrat. But a mysterious $175,000 contribution heightened suspicions that the Rudy Giuliani campaign was behind the initiative, and prompted two key staffers to leave their posts with the group pushing it.

The collapse of the effort seems to represent a Florida-style cooked-election bullet dodged. But our democracy won't be safe until we disarm the weapon intended to fire such bullets.

It's time to abolish the electoral vote system. We should do it now.

Other nostrums only go halfway. Maine and Nebraska already split their electoral votes. Maryland has a law ordering the state's electors to vote for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. Wisely, the legislators also mandated that the law would not take effect until states representing a majority of the nation's electoral vote adopt similar laws. But there are two problems with this approach. First, state laws directing electors how to vote are unconstitutional; and second, they leave in place the skewed distribution of votes in the electoral count, which award disproportionate influence to states with small populations.

Even in 1787, the electoral system was the Framers' single worst idea. As time has passed, it has become less and less defensible. It can't be reformed or tamed. It has to go.

Americans revere their Constitution but don't understand it. Every year my students at the University of Oregon law school, channeling their 11th grade civics teachers, tell me that the Constitution is a brilliant document, conceived in near perfection more than two centuries ago. Virtually everything these students -- and bright high-school graduates everywhere in America --"know" about the Constitution is wrong. That ongoing mystification is nowhere more glaring than in the justifications offered for the "Electoral College" (a phrase, by the way, that appears nowhere in the Constitution).

Consider the arguments most often advanced in the so-called "Electoral College"'s favor: The Framers distrusted democratic elections; the system prevents candidates from ignoring small states; it maintains the two-party system; it recognizes the vital role of the state governments; without it, we'd have to have a national voting system; it has served us well.

These arguments are all sophisticated and sincere. But they're wrong.

Read the rest.

Al Gore Shares Nobel Peace Prize

From CNN. The article says Gore intends to use the Nobel as a springboard to running for president.

Former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their work to raise awareness about global warming.


"An Inconvenient Truth," a 2006 documentary featuring Al Gore, won two Academy Awards this year.

In a statement, Gore said he was "deeply honored," adding that "the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

The former vice president said he would donate his half of the $1.5 million prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a U.S. organization he founded that aims to persuade people to cut emissions and reduce global warming.

The White House offered an initial reaction to the Nobel win by President Bush's 2000 opponent. "Of course, we're happy that Vice President Gore and the IPCC are receiving this recognition," said deputy press secretary Tony Fratto.

During its announcement, the Nobel committee cited the winners "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

The award ceremony will be held December 10 in Oslo, Norway.

In recent weeks, Gore has been the target of a campaign to persuade him to enter the 2008 presidential race.

A source involved in Gore's past political runs told CNN that he definitely has the ambition to use the peace prize as a springboard to run for president.

But he will not run, because he won't take on the political machine assembled by Sen. Hillary Clinton, said the source. If the senator from New York had faltered at all, Gore would take a serious look at entering the race, the source said. But Gore has calculated that Clinton is unstoppable, according to the source.

Gore repeatedly denied he has any plans to run again, but this week a group of grass-roots Democrats calling themselves "Draft Gore" took out a full-page ad in The New York Times in a bid to change his mind.

"Your country needs you now, as do your party, and the planet you are fighting so hard to save," the group said in an open letter.

"America and the Earth need a hero right now, someone who will transcend politics as usual and bring real hope to our country and to the world."

Read more.

Hugh Laurie Interview with Craig Ferguson

Funny stuff.

Part One:

Part Two:


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gratitude 10/11/07

While I was at the IFS conference last weekend, I was in a session in which we did some inner work. During that session, my Controller and my Kid made an agreement to allow more play in my life. What is frustrating is how easily something like that can be derailed by the muck of daily life.

I haven't been feeling too grateful the last couple of days, but I am grateful to know that this is temporary -- this too shall pass.

It's far too easy to get bogged down in the rut of work and other obligations, and to let the best of intentions get swept aside. I don't want to let that happen, but it's hard to undo old patterns. So my plan is to ride out this adjustment and keep the goal in mind -- and to find simple ways to honor that agreement.

So, today I am grateful for the awareness that even hard stuff is transient.

What are you grateful for today?

Lewis Black on Petraeus/Limbaugh "outrage(s)"

I like Lewis Black a lot.

Lewis Black comments as only he can about the Republicans' bitching about the "General Betray Us" ad, the Democrats' bitching about Rush Limbaugh's "Phony Soldiers" quip, and Fox News' bitching about Barack Obama's lack of an American flag on his lapel.


Speedlinking 10/11/07

Quote of the day:

"Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand."
~ Kurt Vonnegut

Image of the day:

~ Most Adult Steroid Users Seek Muscles, Not Medals -- "The majority of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users are not cheating athletes or risk-taking teenagers. According to a recent survey, containing the largest sample to date and published in the online open access publication, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the typical male user is about 30 years old, well-educated, and earning an above-average income in a white-collar occupation."
~ The Round-Up Interviews: Eric Cressey -- "In honor of the League Championships that start tonight, we present a look at how baseball has pretty much abused weight training and sports preparation in general. Hell, listening to Eric Cressey, it's a wonder any of them can throw a ball."
~ Exercise of the Week: Blitzkrieg Triple Dumbbell Press -- "To win the war on der chest, we must attack it, Blitzkrieg style! We shall crush the pectoral enemy, see it driven before us, and listen to the lamentation of the vimmen!"
~ Entrepreneur seeks condom size variety (AP) -- "As the world's top condom experts convene this week to update international standards, one American entrepreneur has a simple message: Size matters. It's shaking up an industry that has generally taken a one-size-fits-all approach."
~ Many arthritic adults suffer work limitations -- "About a third of U.S. adults with arthritis say the chronic condition — the nation’s leading cause of disability — has limited their ability to work, the government said Thursday."
~ Breast Cancer and Your Diet -- "Does diet affect breast cancer treatment?"
~ How much is a life worth? -- "Fighting cancer has always been one of the most expensive prospects in medicine — in part because the drugs that treat it are among the most costly on the market. But biotechnology treatments such as Herceptin are pushing prices into a whole other realm — one that may be out of reach for many people."

~ Build Your Self Esteem: A Starter Guide To Self Improvement -- "In today’s fast-paced, difficult environment, it can be tough to keep your self-esteem intact and to stay calm. Here are some things you can do in your quest for self-improvement and to build your self-esteem."
~ How to Increase Self Esteem and Self Confidence -- "Having a high self-esteem is essential to happiness, success and fulfillment. Having self esteem simply means to appreciate yourself, to regard yourself as worthy and important . How you esteem yourself is reflected in your self image and it is your conception of your beliefs about yourself."
~ Rejection sets off alarms for folks with low self-esteem -- "Few can tolerate such romantic or professional rebuffs as "It's not you, it's me" and "we regret to inform you that your application was not successful." But while a healthy dose of self-esteem can absorb the shock of rejection, poor self-esteem can trigger the primal fight-or-flight response, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley."
~ The Strength of Optimism -- "With the advent of the Positive Psychology movement, there has been a great deal of interest in the topic of optimism. Voluminous and robust research has brought wonderful news indeed. Not only does an optimistic approach provide amazing benefits, but it can be learned by anyone… yes, even by dyed-in-the-wool, lifelong pessimists!"
~ 8 Powerful Ways to Release Pressure from Your Life -- "Now I don’t how your mind works but personally I perform better without a lot of pressure. It’s easier to focus on your task and not second-guess or hold yourself back when you feel light and relaxed."
~ The 7 Energy Sinkholes (and How to Avoid Them) -- "Energy sinkholes are situations that repeatedly drain your energy and stress you out. There are plenty of good reasons to invest your energy, so don’t waste your attention on a sinkhole. Unfortunately, it is often hard to see sinkholes since they rarely cause a drain all at once. Instead they slowly leech away at your lifeforce until your stressed, depressed and apathetic."
~ Music: Fine Tuning The Brain -- "How music lessons may strengthen verbal skills."
~ Studying Self Control -- "Drug abuse, crime and obesity are but a few of the problems our nation faces, but they all have one thing in common -- people's failure to control their behavior in the face of temptation. While the ability to control and restrain our impulses is one of the defining features of the human animal, its failure is one of the central problems of human society."
~ Dream Symbols and Meanings -- "Dreaming reveals a language all its own, lush with images and symbols which seem perplexing in the conscious realm. Here are some keys to interpreting them."
~ Self-help treatment for social anxiety will ease burden on mental health services and for sufferers -- "New research from Macquarie University suggests certain self-help treatments for social anxiety disorder may be just as effective as more traditional, therapist only treatments."

~ "You are no longer monks," Myanmar prisoners told -- "Hundreds of Buddhist monks rounded up by Myanmar's junta were beaten and kept in animal-like conditions without toilets or drinking water during days of interrogation, one of those freed said on Thursday."
~ Adam Hanft: When Doris Lessing Become Jane Somers and Tricked the Publishing World (And Possibly Herself In the Process) -- "To demonstrate the struggles that unknown writers face in the brand-name obsessed publishing Coliseum, Ms. Lessing submitted two novels for publication under the name of Jane Somers: Diary of a Good Neighbor and If the Old Could."
~ Bill Maher: Idiocracy -- "Have too many Americans become gullible, ill-informed idiots who have elevated feelings over facts and replaced critical thinking with a blind sense of trust for authority? I'm not trying to be insulting here...." Despite the way the article begins, Maher has a good point.
~ Do the Indians have the guts to dump Joe Borowski? -- "No one would be shocked if Indians closer Joe Borowski, he of the 5.07 ERA, costs the team the World Series. Why does one of the best teams in baseball pin its ninth-inning hopes on its third- or fourth-best reliever?"
~ Short Stories for Real Men -- "This week, Jim Shepard's short story collection was nominated for a National Book Award. And rightfully so."
~ Who Will Be Punished for Haditha? -- "Coming up with a prosecutable case against the Marines responsible for the alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians has turned out to be more difficult than anyone expected."
~ Antihunger help misses 3 million in big cities: study -- "Nearly 3 million poor Americans in 24 big cities do not receive food stamps despite being eligible for them, an antihunger group said on Thursday, at the same time food prices are up sharply."

~ Yellowstone Wolves: Embattled Again -- "The once vanished gray wolf has made a comeback in the Northern Rockies. The fight is over whether to remove them from the Endangered Species list and let hunters have at them."
~ 50 Quick, Painless Ways You Can Help the Environment Today -- "In theory, most of us would like to help the environment, preserve the world’s natural beauty, and generally make this planet a better place to live. In practice, we don’t necessarily have the time or energy to get involved in major projects, join Greenpeace, protest the corporate polluters, or make sweeping lifestyle changes. We want to help, but with all that’s going on in our lives, it gets put on the back burner."
~ Comcast Rollout of TiVo Box Begins -- "After more than two years of promises and delays, Comcast Corp. has finally begun the commercial rollout of its first cable set-top boxes that run TiVo's digital video recording technology."
~ Study of bacterial communities may provide climate-change clues -- "As part of the world carbon cycle, bacterial communities in freshwater lakes break down carbon in decaying organic matter, converting it into carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere."
~ Astronomers find most powerful supernova -- "Astronomer Robert Quimby has again found the most luminous supernova. Quimby discovered the current record holder, supernova 2006gy, last year as part of his Texas Supernova Search project. Now he has announced that a supernova he has discovered earlier in the project is actually twice as luminous. Using follow-up studies to pinpoint its distance, supernova 2005ap peaked at more than 100 billion times the brightness of the Sun."
~ Tyrannosaur Footprint Found in Montana -- "The giant footprint was made by either T. rex or Nanotyrannus."
~ Ice age not a global phenomenon: study -- "If the Earth is heading for a new ice age, Australia may not be as affected as countries in the Northern Hemisphere, according to new research from The Australian National University published today in Science."

~ Secret Worlds -- Sort of cool drawing.
~ Clarence Thomas on 60 Minutes/Thoughts on Integral Judiciary -- "As to his judicial philosophy—controversially called The Constitution in Exile, more neutrally perhaps originalism or the one I prefer strict constructionist. I think the latter term is actually correct but that it interestingly undercuts the understanding that those who typically espouse such a belief understand it to mean."
~ Backing Out -- "In Clarissa Pinkola Estes' live recording Theatre of the Imagination, she re-tells of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story; this time under the name of "Little Red Cap". Unlike the more familiar children's version (wherein the little girl is rescued in the nick of time by the woodsman), Estes' version has the little girl realizing that she is in bed with the wolf (dressed as Granny) and trying to find a way to sneak out before she is attacked."
~ My God Can Beat Up Your God -- "I wonder, as I looked for healthy amber/blue aspects of the writing, how later stage consciousness communicates with this thinking? It's certainly not a matter of telling them they have a limited perspective. That would just be preaching at them while they're preaching at me."
~ Teaching -- "Best described, perhaps, as an introduction to the understanding of the self as an integrated whole, it challenges students to look into themselves and their relationships—with friends, with families, with life partners—and to find ways to heal those areas that may be broken. It treats such matters as pain, grief and anger seriously, as they deserve to be treated, and invites them to be brought out into the open rather than repressed, allowed to fester, and destroy lives."
~ Bush to Honor Dalai Lama -- "Risking heightened tensions with China, President Bush will attend a ceremony to award Congress' highest civilian honor to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing reviles as a separatist."