March 13, 2010 archive

Removing the Bushel and Revealing the Light

With the passage of time, fellow Friends at meeting have come to me with helpful suggestions.  They insist I should read this book, or this epistle of George Fox, or this collection of essays by one of our Society’s notables.  Obligingly I have read these one by one and am certainly fortunate that I now have a better understanding of Quaker history and how everything came together in space and time to make the faith the way it exists today.  It is always helpful to see the intersections and make the connections throughout time that link the past with the present.  Indeed, as history was my major in college and has been a lifelong passion, my interest already leans towards such pursuits.  Certainly nothing I read was ever taught in any history class I took, even in graduate school.  Each have been fascinating reads, but as I dug deeper and deeper into them, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why have we hidden our light under a bushel?”

Beyond spiritual functions, I’ve gotten the same treatment from people who feel as though I need to do my homework first before I step any further into any activist group, association, or organization.

If you’ll forgive the archaic sexism of the passage, the King James Bible renders Matthew 5:15 as

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

This passage has given rise to a familiar idiom, the act of hiding one’s light under a bushel.  It doesn’t matter what gathering of believers I attend nor whichever secular group that receives my membership that I don’t see something along these same lines.  Assuming you talk to the right person or persons, you’ll uncover much that is inspirational and fascinating.  Yet, why not extend full understanding or full comprehension to all without the need for intermediaries?  Is that which I speak merely an oversight of habit that must be corrected by whomever speaks up loudly enough?  Or, is it some deliberate distrust of those who have yet to suitably prove their mettle or commitment?  The intentions may not be sinister, but they are certainly detrimental, regardless of why or how.    

As always, I find the beginning of any movement the most fascinating—the first efforts where, in this case, one man’s vision became adopted and advanced by other believers.  This initial flowering appeals to my senses most keenly.  Likewise, my favorite musical songs are appreciated for the moment at which the opening chords and melody blossoms into the hook.  I am drawn to the instant at which the attention of everyone is drawn to this new creation.  I am also drawn to the promise of wholesale fulfillment and with it the incredible possibility of that of that which might lie beyond.  I extend this same interest to a desire to build from the ground up in my own life and by my own example.  The passage has particular resonance with a Quaker audience, particularly with our belief that the Light of God exists within each of us.  

To provide some contrast, in my activist work, I keep a close eye on the issues in debate within Feminist groups, particularly those issues which pertain specifically to Young Adults like me who wish to contribute to the movement.  A week or so ago, an articulate and intelligent voice wrote a highly pertinent but also very critical essay taking aim at The National Organization for Women, known to most as NOW.  The post took the organization to task for its failings to stay current to the existing political debate while expressing no small frustration that it seemed like there was nothing the author could do personally to make the internal changes necessary.  Even from within, the author’s voice had fallen on deaf, or at least uncomprehending ears.    

The essay was, I am happy to report, received in the spirit in which it had been intended, and a response by NOW was drafted and posted.  In it, the reader was greeted to a very well-researched narrative detailing how the organization had been founded, providing the names of the people instrumental in putting it together, and documenting well the great struggles of those who expended the time and energy to build it up from the roots.  It was a fascinating read, but as I dug deeper and deeper into it, bouncing from the story and contribution of one largely unknown person to another, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why have they hidden their light under a bushel?”  Certainly nothing I read was ever taught in any history class I took, even in graduate school.    

If it be modesty or shyness on the part of those who have the strategies and wisdom, then this can be corrected.  If it be to avoid attention, others more comfortable can vocalize that which needs to be shared with a larger audience.  Friends and friends alike, what if the solution existed within us?  What if that solution could be realized and put into place so that we could best attack a lingering problem?  What if we didn’t we didn’t hide our lights under a bushel—all of us?  What sort of world would we live in then?

Feeding The Harbinger

    As a young man I read Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Convenent series. Convenant, a leprosy victim, experiences brief, periodic meetings with a character he refers to as the harbinger. These events always presage his transition from an ill, socially isolated man in the mundane world into a healthy anti-hero catapulted into The Land, a place of magic and mystery.

   I’ve seen these creatures in my own life; the shapes of men, silent and strange. The harbinger, he’s an outsider’s outsider, alone on the path, even when in a crowd.

  I encountered another one today and the experience has left me a bit shaken.

Here Comes the Debt Commission – Part II

The Republicans have now named Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire), Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Mike Crapo, Representative Paul Ryan, Rep Jeb Hensarling, Rep. Dave Camp.

The Democrats have named Senator Kent Conrad, Senator Max Baucus and Sen. Richard Durbin.

Note the numbers – Republicans have six members and the Dems have 3.  I presume Reid will name will name 3 more Democrats.

Obama has named: David Cote (a Republican) CEO of Honeywell

Alice Rivlin – former Fed Reserve vice chair.  Now at the Brookings Institute.

Ann Fudge – a former CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands.  Worked on Obama brand in election.

Andrew Stern of the SEIU

Erskin Bowles, former Clinton staff member. He started his career at Morgan Stanley and now President of University of North Carolina.  

Alan Simpson – former Republican Senator  

Here’s the DCCC talking points & plan for h/c vote

Since the Democrats intend to actually vote on the health insurance bail out next week, now that Speaker Pelosi has repeated that the Public Option is Off of Our Table, and said,

 “I’m quite sad that a public option isn’t in there. ”  


Sad in the Baby Seal Syndrome way, as she also said she was for single payer, herself  (eyeroll icon ΓΈΓΈ),

….   they’ve sent out a memo with the schedule (try not to laugh too hard at the thought of the them sticking to one) and some talking points for Congresspeople to take back to their districts during the Easter vacation.   They also told the members to just shut up on reconciliation:……

“At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote – up or down; yes or no?” the memo said. “Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL.”

“People who try and start arguments about process on this are almost always against the actual policy substance too, often times for purely political reasons.”

I take it they are going to do everything in their power to prevent just that – an up or down vote – from occurring with the Senate and the Public Option, so look for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed amendment to mysteriously and quietly vanish into the ether.  

The World They Set On Fire

The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty used to say, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Now it says, “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.”

Why did everything go to Hell so fast?    

driftglass knows why, we ll know why . . .

We got the Bush Regime, arguably the most incompetent, corrupt and outright-treasonous Administration in American history. A regime so reckless, savage and gleefully bestial that it made the career-Nixon-hating Hunter Thompson actually pine for the good old days of Tricky Dick: “I miss Nixon.  Compared to these Nazis we have in the White House now, Richard Nixon was a flaming liberal.”

And, like Nixon, it is more than likely that not a single one of the smirking traitors who nearly wrecked this country will ever spend a day in jail.  Instead they remain lodged in our flesh like so many ricin pellets, oozing their poison into our national bloodstream, waddle from one fawning audience to another, worming their way into major media outlets, or dispatching their degenerate children and underlings out into the world the keep their poison pumping.

They soiled our good name, bankrupted the country, shredded the Constitution and kicked the crutches out from under the global economy on their way out the door, and while it is sometimes hard to focus on them through the flames of the world they set on fire, we must.

America could have had justice.

But America didn’t get justice.  

America got Hopey McChange, who said he wants to look forward, not backward.  Who said there must be no “retribution”, no “vengeance”, no “payback”, who said the era of “divisive partisanship” must end.  

Will you still love me tomorrow?

I am left off-balance by the contradictions.  Winds of change are blowing.  Creating a Facebook page for the Union of the Unemployed Thinktank was a wrenching experience.  It grew quickly to 183 members, and now it is pretty quiet.  Little leverage, and the main Union of the Unemployed acting director Rick Sloan can have a wonderful article in Huffington Post that mentions his position with the IAM but not a single peep about the Union of the Unemployed that he ostensibly heads.  I carry two things with me from the experience.  First, jobs CREATION, not jobs ENCOURAGEMENT, is what we have to be demanding at every point.  Second, I am a lot less patient with bullshit.  Perhaps that is a character flaw.  I am very far from being okay.

Oh yeah, I mention contradictions.  Winds of change.  Demonstrations for jobs are starting to pop up like springtime daisies.  New organizations are forming.  The Bull Moose Movement in New York.  An unemployed council in Oregon.  Bart Stupak and Blanche Lincoln are being challenged.  The emperor has no clothes, details at 11.  There is now a steady patter of “primary them all.”  Contradictions.  The Full Court Press is not benefiting from this.  That’s okay.  We are starting to see something like movement.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tuna, tuskers, tigers headline wildlife trade meet

by Anne Chaon, AFP

28 mins ago

DOHA (AFP) – Atlantic bluefin tuna is in crisis and meets the criteria for a total ban on international trade, the head of the UN wildlife trade organisation said on Saturday in opening a 13-day meeting.

The 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), convening for the first time in the Middle East, is the only UN body with the power to outlaw commerce in endangered wild animals and plants.

Besides the sharply disputed proposal on bluefin, the Convention will debate the status of African elephants, polar bears and tigers.

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

Scientists find why “sunshine” vitamin D is crucial

(Reuters) – Vitamin D is vital in activating human defences and low levels suffered by around half the world’s population may mean their immune systems’ killer T cells are poor at fighting infection, scientists said on Sunday.

The findings by Danish researchers could help the fight against infectious diseases and global epidemics, they said, and could be particularly useful in the search for new vaccines.

Vitamin D Pills May Prevent Fractures in Older Adults

Vitamin D supplements may help prevent fractures in people over 65, provided they take enough of the right kind. A new review of clinical trials appears to show a strong dose-dependent effect for vitamin D in lowering the risk for nonvertebral fractures in the elderly.

Aging: Vitamin D Levels Tied to Dementia Risk

Low blood levels of vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk for dementia, a British study has found.

The Claim: Sunscreen Prevents Vitamin D Production

Dermatologists routinely talk of the need to wear sunscreen. But the body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, a crucial nutrient.

So is it possible that wearing sunscreen might interfere with the synthesis of vitamin D?

Yes. Studies have found that by blocking ultraviolet rays, sunscreen limits the vitamin D we produce. But the question is to what extent.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the body’s fatty tissue. It aids in the absorption of calcium and regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. The few food sources for Vitamin D are cheese, butter, cream, fortified milk (all milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D), fish, oysters, fortified cereals and margarine.  Anyone remember cod liver oil?

Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body manufactures the vitamin after being exposed to sunshine. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times weekly is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D. However, many people living in sunny climates still do not make enough vitamin D and need more from their diet or supplementation.

Too much Vitamin D can cause an increase of calcium in the blood that can result in an increase of calcium deposits in soft tissue such as the heart and lungs that reduces their ability to function. It can also cause kidney stones, muscle weakness and vomiting.

Too little Vitamin D can cause osteoporosis in adults and Rickets in children.

The tables for taking Vitamin D supplement can be found here

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. However, before taking a Vitamin D supplement you should consult your doctor and or a nutritionist.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Kucinich tells his side of the story on Democracy Now!

In a lengthy interview on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, Congressman Dennis Kucinich explained why he would not vote for the present health care bill and defended his position against attacks from people on the left like Markos Moulitsas.  He also spoke about the subjects of Afghanistan, campaign finance, and the passing of activist Granny D.

I mean, I have a responsibility to take a stand here on behalf of those who want a public option. There’s about thirty-four members of the Senate, at least, who have signed on to saying they support a public option. If I were to just concede right now and say, “Well, you know, whatever you want. All this pressure’s building. Just forget about it,” actually weakens every last-minute bit of negotiations that would try to improve the bill. So I think that it’s really critical to take this stand, because without it, there’s no real control over premiums. Without it, we have nothing in the bill except the privatization of our healthcare system.

Crack And Powder: A Drug War Reform That Preserves Inequality

This seems to be progress. The Senate measure is an initial, timid step in the right direction.  But it doesn’t end a decade’s long, offensive, racially based inequality in federal drug sentencing.  It just makes it a fifth as bad as it was.

The United States at this moment imprisons more than 2 million people.  7 million additional people are under supervision of some sort.  Seventy percent of US prisoners are non-white.  Approximately one-quarter of all those held in US prisons or jails have been convicted of a drug offense. “The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.”  Forget the statistics for a second.  US prisons are disproportionately jammed with non-white people who have been convicted of drug crimes, and non-whites serve longer sentences than whites for possession of drugs.  

on the edge

one of our friends is on the edge of an abyss in the pitch dark with a solid wall in front of him

he needs our help.


Open for Breakfast… (Warning: Vikings)

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