January 18, 2008 archive

The Sounds of Winter On Our Homestead

Natural, healthy environments radiate wellbeing in every possible way. When we leave the stress of our artificially loud, unnatural worlds and go out into the woods, or to a semi-secluded beach, or to a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, we always breathe a huge sign relief. Modern societies and cities give off so many unpleasant, and in some cases, assaultive vibrations that wreak havoc on our human systems that escaping them even briefly shifts us toward health. Even just electricity gives off a powerful and often destabilizing vibration that negatively affects us all, never mind the rest of what we are confronted with. To cope with these daily challenges of modern life, we tend to become hard and desensitized.  

I experienced a profound overall shift in health in myself and family since returning to the country a few years ago. There are many great sights, sounds and smells out here that have a positive effect on the human system.  After some time of living with them, you find yourself softening and getting stronger all at the same time. Your energy level picks up. Your thought patterns clear.

The idea came to me a few weeks ago to share some of the sounds of winter on our homestead. You can hear them on the videos below.

Crossposted at Pockets of the Future

Four at Four

Some news and open thread.

  1. BBC News reports Canada puts US on ‘torture list’. “The United States has been listed as a country where prisoners are at risk of torture in a training document produced by the Canadian foreign ministry. It also classifies some US interrogation techniques as torture.” While the NY Times notes “The manual appears to contradict the public stance of Canada’s Conservative government, which accepts assurances from the United States that it does not mistreat prisoners, including those at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.”

    The Globe and Mail quotes David Wilkins, U.S. U.S. Ambassador to Canada as being indignant. “We ought to be removed … I just think it’s absurd … and quite offensive.” And Reuters quotes spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Ottowa as saying, “The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances.” More lies. Empty words by now from the Bush administration.

  2. In other lies, the Bush administration claims drilling for oil in the polar bears arctic home will not harm them. Time magazine fills in the details: Polar Bears – Wait-Listed as Endangered. The Arctic sea ice is melting. 2007 saw a record melt and NASA scientists predict the Arctic could be free of ice during the summer of 2013. No ice means no polar bears.

    Now the bears face another threat. On Feb. 6… Minerals Management Service (MMS), also part of the Interior Department, plans to lease 30 million acres for oil and gas drilling in the Chukchi Sea bordering Alaska, where one-fifth of the world’s remaining polar bears live… MMS Director Randall Luthi defended the lease sale, arguing that developing fossil fuels in the Arctic needn’t hurt the polar bear – although an Interior Department study indicates there’s a 33% to 51% chance of an accidental oil spill in the area.

    polar bearThe AP reports Significant impact of oil spill on polar bears. “Dr. Steven Amstrup, a polar bear expert for the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interior Department’s science arm, said if there is an oil spill, the impact on bears would be significant. ‘The polar bears do not do well when they get into oil,’ Amstrup told the committee. If bears in the wild get in contact with oil it’s likely to be fatal, he said.”

    The Bush administration’s Fish and Wildlife Services was supposed to rule if the polar bear was endangered on January 9th, but postponed their decision until after the sale of oil leases. Rep. Ed Markey, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, has introduced legislation forcing the Bush administration to protect the polar bear before any oil drilling in the Arctic.

  3. rainforest destructionThe Independent reports that Destruction of rainforest accelerates despite outcry. “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has surged in the past four months, raising the prospect of 2008 being a disastrous year for the world’s most important eco-system, a senior Brazilian government scientist has warned. Dr Carlos Nobre, a scientist with a government agency that monitors the Amazon said thousands of square miles of rainforest had been destroyed since October, after four years in which deforestation rates had begun to slow…

    “Dr Nobre said 2,300 sq miles of forest had been lost in the past four months. That compares with an estimated 3,700 sq miles in the 12 months that ended on 31 July… [The rainforest is under] increasing pressure from sugar cane plantations to feed the ethanol boom, illegal cattle ranching for beef exports, soybean production and illegal logging operations.”

Four at Four continues below the fold with a story about the planet Mercury and a scientist who loves it. T-minus 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Blast off to below the fold!

WashPost: Wall Street Steals Billions from Shareholders

OK, so the Washington Post article today doesn’t stay “steal.” The headline reads Dire Year on Wall Street Yields Gigantic Bonuses. And how big were these bonuses? Reportedly larger than the GNP of of Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Bulgaria, oar more precisely, $39 billion dollars in year-end bonuses for the top five Wall Street firms. Meanwhile, shareholders in three of these five firms lost $80 billion dollars.

Now I know that economics is supposed to be the “dismal science,” but who knew how dismal? The shareholders of these companies may want to pause and consider the math. The money out of shareholder pockets, much of which comes from institutional investments by union funds, IRA mutual funds, state retirement agencies, etc., goes directly into the pockets of a handful of the super-rich. Meanwhile these same firms plan to ax “at least 4,900 jobs as losses mount from the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.”

Ah, this is capitalism.

Olbermann vs. Matthews

In the last 24 hours we’ve had some very interesting communications from MSNBC.

Yesterday at 5 pm Chris Matthews opened his show with an apology to Hillary Clinton (h/t Atrios).

Was it fair to imply that Hillary’s whole career depended on being a victim of an unfaithful husband? No. And that’s what it sounded like I was saying and it hurt people I’d like to think normally like what I say, in fact, normally like me. As I said, I rely on my heart to guide me in the heated, fast-paced talk we have here on Hardball — a heart that bears only goodwill toward people trying to make it out there, especially those who haven’t before.

If my heart has not always controlled my words, on those occasions when I have not taken the time to say things right, or have simply said the inappropriate thing, I’ll try to be clearer, smarter, more obviously in support of the right of women — of all people — the full equality and respect for their ambitions. So, I get it.

I invite you to read the whole transcript and watch the video.  While it was pretty earthshattering breaking news to get any kind of apology at all, a lot of people, including myself, thought it was just an example of the “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said” variety of non-apology apology.

In fact I still think that.

Also yesterday, at 8 pm, Keith Olbermann had Lawrence O’Donnell, author of this from the Huffington Post, on to talk about the campaign and Lawrence pretty much delivered a hit piece on John Edwards.

Quite a few people over at the Daily Kos were upset enough to diary about it and many more joined their voices in agreement.

So today we get this from second time diarist Keith Olbermann (don’t worry, it’s a storyonly link)-

Those of you complaining about it are right.

His HuffPo piece was news to me.

Shouldn’t have been, obviously, but it was.

I don’t read every blog, nor everything written by my guests. I often don’t know until an hour beforehand who will be a guest on a given show…  Also, to announce, on-air, each guest’s preferences, prejudices, shillings and shiv jobs, would reduce the rest of the show to “Good Evening. Call Me Ishmael. My Boat Sank. The End. Good Night.”

But even with these caveats, the point about this appearance, especially in the wake of such a freshly-written piece, is well-taken and I’m very sorry.

It will be addressed tonight on the show.

As usual I hesitate to editorialize too much, you can think what you want, but in addition to the question of who’s the mensch I invite you to consider if this represents a new direction at MSNBC.

Tech Talk – Building your first web page!

Many of you have noted that you perceive web design as voodoo magic or something completely outside your realm.  I get the same reaction when I bring up Art or people watch me draw.  Well I’m here to demystify things for you.  If you follow the simple steps outlined you’ll create your very own web page.  In the following essay I will tell you how to put it on the web.

There are many reasons that a netroots person may want to create a web page or HTML document.  Single pages can be used as billboards for various topics you are interested in.  They are static, which means they will be easily indexed by most search engines and will help to build interest in long-term issues like the environment, health care etc.

So what makes a web page a web page?   Some very simple coding.  Below the fold you’ll find the bare minimum coding you’ll need to make your first web page along with an example.


Let’s say ALL the dire warnings about an economic collapse come true and a DRASTIC change in lifestyle will no longer be a choice, but a mandate, for all but the richest among us.  

I believe all but the most vulnerable would not only survive it, but would emerge from it incredibly richer than they were going in. Richer in what really counts: the intangible, immeasurable richness of learning how to actually “live together” again. I think the long lost spirit of collaboration and concern for the “common good” would get resurrected from it’s premature grave, and rise up to take it’s rightful place among us.

While I long ago saw the futility of maintaining faith in any of the man made systems and political structures that make up the foundation of this country, the only thing I have never lost faith in is the awesome power of the individual human spirit that is present in all of us, that when called upon, can and does rise from ANY pile of ashes. Always has, and always will.

But sometimes, it takes chaos. Catastrophe. Disaster. Some force outside our control that is  more powerful than all our imbedded illusions and all the perceived security we have accumulated.  We seldom chose to make any drastic or difficult  change, unless our present realities become uncomfortable enough.  

I do not expect the family with the 4 bedroom suburban home and three car garage full of expensive vehicles to ever let that go voluntarily. I know that very few who are used to stopping in for four dollar lattes are going to suddenly start carrying thermos jugs of coffee made at home, while riding public transit to work. Ain’t gonna ever happen. Not in America, where so many honestly believe being able to have all these material comforts is their rightful destiny.

My heart goes out to people like this, if this house of cards does come tumbling down. Especially those who have only known material abundance as a way of life, from childhood on: those who have been taught “entitlement” to all the best, as a way of life. Their learning curve will be very steep and hard.

At the same time, my heart rejoices for them, for when this does happen, they will have a chance to grow into authentic human beings, with access to human values they may not have even been exposed to before: the kind no market forces can ever touch. The kind no one can ever again take away.

Ask any American who once “had it all”, (or at least had way more than “enough”) and lost it all through forces beyond their control. I mean those of us who have not only survived it, but who DID harness the authentic power of the  human spirit, and chose to learn from it all, and then to change whatever needed to BE changed, inside themselves, to create a new and wonderful life outside the “American Dream”.  

Yeah, I know. We’re  kind of hard to find, aren’t we?  Understandable, because most of us are considered part of the “lower class poor”, thus have been rendered completely invisible and voiceless by the powers that control all public information sources.

Those powers TELL you who we are, rather than let US tell you who we are, because then they get to control the color palate of our lives. Of course they choose the darkest, ugliest shades, as they want you all to believe that ending up like US is a fate far, far worse that DEATH! They love to lump us together in boxes with labels written on in big black print: mine has lots of labels! “Poor.” “Old.” “Disabled.” “Woman.”  These are among the biggest ones now, and they completely cover up all the other labels that once made me quite “acceptable,” such as “young,”  “beautiful,”  “health care professional,”  “tax paying, productive citizen”..etc etc.  Gone, all gone. As if they never existed, to most of the world I walk in now.

So it stands to reason then, in a culture with values like this, that Americans who were born poor, not white, or otherwise “disadvantaged”, are stuffed into boxes from the second they GET here, and piled in stacks far outside the public eye, where what happens to them can’t disturb those busily chasing their American Dream.    

That, friends, is the outcome of a society build on false values. It is the outcome of a society that has embraced competition and greed and acquisition of material status and wealth as it’s primary human values.  It is a society clearly based on achieving power over others, at whatever the cost,by whatever means necessary,and then calls this “success”.

So I present you with this question to ponder. If this truly is “success”, and so many of us have “failed” to achieve it, or had it and lost it, how come so many of us are so damned happy? How come so many of us feel like our lives are rich and full and free at last?  

Granted, there are multitudes of us who are suffering terribly from deprivation of basic survival needs, oppression, violence, homelessness, addiction, lack of health care, decent education..all of those things and more.  There are multitudes of us who will die from this, way before our time.

But mixed in with those suffering multitudes are a growing number of Americans like me, and our numbers are increasing every single day. It may not have been our chosen destiny, but it’s the one we got, and somehow, we survived it, and in that process, we’ve rediscovered each OTHER. And a hell of a lot of other things this country seems to have abandoned as “not profitable enough” to bother with.

Like the need (and the immense shared rewards), of taking care of the common good, not just ourselves.

Like meeting the essential human need to feel a sense of “belonging” with others,joined in the shared challenges of life.

Like honestly learning at long last, how to “use what we have”, because when all is said and done, we DO have all we “really need”, once we realize it, and tap into it fully. And then learning how to share these things with each other, rather than hoarding them, or just trying to “sell them” to the highest bidder for more money.

It has always been in the best interests of the power elite in this country, to DIS-EMPOWER the masses. Gotta hand it to them, they’re done a bang up job of it,too, and have done a helluva good job of collecting all the marbles for themselves.

But when this ship finally sinks under it’s own bloat, guess who will sink, and who will survive?  Those marbles are damned heavy.  And there are multitudes of Americans like me, without that ballast, who have learned the long distance swim.

It’s an invisible revolution: a very quiet one, but it is very, very real and the current conditions are recruiting new members every single day.

I love sitting here contemplating the deep satisfaction I know will come, in time, to those who one day look around their simplified lives, and know again, the incredible relief of finally understanding the concept of “enough”. That is, in my view, the beginning phase of reaching for authentic “freedom”.

I love contemplating Americans, at younger and younger ages, questioning, then rejecting the mass hypnosis of the market place and political propaganda, in favor of investing in relationships with others across class, gender, race and age barriers, to see,  and then to claim for themselves, incredible and permanent riches this is certain to give them, that simply can never be lost or taken away from them, ever.

It me over 60 years to understand what FREEDOM really is, and this is it.

It’s being able to wake up in the morning, and know I OWN the choice of how I spend my precious life energies on this day. No. One. Else.  Just me.

It’s the absolute freedom to choose, as I did a few hours ago, to suspend my original plans for this morning, to allow myself the time to write this diary (that seemed to arrive from nowhere,) and know I do not have to account to ANYONE for doing so.

It’s looking around this small and humble abode I share with another, because it makes really good sense to do so, financially and companionship-wise, knowing I have all that I need, and feeling richer than ever, yes, even on this very tiny fixed income.

It’s knowing that when I go out to get groceries today, most people I meet won’t even see me, because lil old ladies with white hair and walkers are pretty much invisable here, unless we slow people down too much in check out lines, but being able to handle this better now, because “I” finally KNOW who I am. (And it’s one hell of a good “undercover” disguise” it’s really fun to put to very good use!)

Don’t let “them” scare you. Don’t bite the bait.  Spit out the crap.

(I know I am preaching to the choir again, but hell, no one else will listen to me!)

Just please trust in your own potential to “become” whoever and however you need to become, to have a REALLY good life. Create your OWN life. As early on as you possibly can. Sure you’ll make mistakes and that’s just fine: mistakes make for a stronger weave in the fabric of each unique life. (Perfection is an over rated piece of dung.)

This is really an incredibly exciting time to be alive, because the biggest paradigm shifts don’t come along all that often. I am no longer worried about the future of my daughters or my grand daughters, because I know what powerful swimmers they are.

The sky isn’t falling at all.

What’s falling is the man made cloud cover.        


Ignoring Iraq for Moratorium Day

If I thought people would get my point, I would, in protest, not write anything on Iraq today. I would ignore it.

That seems to be the approach of our politicians and media, and since I love irony, it would be an appropriate response. Since the “Surge is working” (Bald Faced Lie) the Republicans can now completely ignore the complete horror that we have wrought on these innocent people comfortably. Problem solved.

And since the only issue on Iraq that the Democratic nominees will address  is their variation of plans to get our troops out, they can talk about that and ignore everything else….on the RARE occasion that they are asked about it.

And of course we know that the Democratically controlled Congress HAS to ignore Iraq, lest their complicity in continuing an illegal and immoral war is brought up and discussed.

So today on Iraq Moratorium Day Five, let’s all emulate our leaders….and just ignore the shit out of it, let’s all put on our denial and rationalization caps and pretend, just like the rest of America, that Iraq is just “an issue” that we have to deal with and do our best to forget all of the inconvenient and messy facts….and ramifications, of George and Dick’s Excellent Adventure.

Here is a quick rundown of things to ignore, so that you can play along.

Pony Party, Phone it in Friday

Today, just some songs I really like.  They’re not related in any way, and have become beloved at very different times in my life.  If you can’t enjoy at least one of them…sorry…

You know I had to have some Live in here…..give a listen to “Where Fishes Go”

“Whatcha doin’ in this darkness, baby, when you know that love will set you free…”

New Hampshire Recount Continues: One Big Vote Anomaly So Far! w/poll

The New Hampshire recount is continuing.  The Democratic recount, paid for by the Dennis Kucinich campagin, is further along than the Republican recount.  So far, it looks as though the counting was pretty good, although there are changes in almost all of the wards counted.

Docudharma Times Friday January 18

This is an Open Thread: Transparency Counts

Friday’s Headlines: White House Study Found 473 Days of E-Mail Gone: In Compton, Clinton invokes King’s legacy: Three-way checkmate: Kenya street protests called off after police are accused of killing seven: German gangsta rapper ‘faked shooting to boost street cred’

Fed Chief’s Reassurance Fails to Halt Stock Plunge

WASHINGTON – The stock market plunged again on Thursday on bad economic news, taking little comfort from reassuring words by the chairman of the Federal Reserve or an emerging consensus about a stimulus plan that many worry could be too late.

On a day when stocks were pushed down another 3 percent on reports of more weakness in housing and manufacturing – bringing the decline this year to a stomach-churning 9 percent – all the major players in Washington agreed on the need for putting extra money into people’s hands quickly.

Spokesman: Bobby Fischer Has Died

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) – Bobby Fischer, the reclusive American chess master who became a Cold War icon when he dethroned the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky as world champion in 1972, has died. He was 64.

Fischer died Thursday in a Reykjavik hospital, his spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson, said. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.

Born in Chicago and raised in Brooklyn, Robert James Fischer was a U.S. chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15. He beat Spassky in a series of games in Reykjavik to claim America’s first world chess championship in more than a century.

The event had tremendous symbolic importance, pitting the intensely individualistic young American against a product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union.

H/T RJones

What are you reading?

The regular list

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What are you reading? is crossposted to dailyKos

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

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