Even in absurdity, sacrament.     Even in hardship, holiness.     Even in doubt, faith.     Even in chaos, realization.    Even in paradox, blessedness

 

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"Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage."    ~Anain Nin

{ Thursday, 28 September, 2006 }

Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!


On 911, 5 years on. Our Murrow.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:00 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!


On dissent and inaction.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:55 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



Viddy Thursday: Olbermannia!


Debunking Condi'd claim that the administration was left "no strategy" for dealing with al-Qaeda.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:51 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



{ Wednesday, 27 September, 2006 }

Free Hugs Campaign


The music is, well, bleh, but the intention is so awesome.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:52 in Art, Music, Theater & Film | | permalink



Monbiot: Pundits Who Contest Climate Change Should Tell Us Who is Paying Them

On the letters page of the Guardian last week, a Dr Alan Kendall attacked the Royal Society for "smearing" its opponents. The society had sent an official letter to Exxon, complaining about the oil company's "inaccurate and misleading" portrayal of the science of climate change and about its funding of lobby groups that deny global warming is taking place. The letter, Kendall argued, was an attempt to "stifle legitimate discussion".

Perhaps he is unaware of what has been happening. The campaign of dissuasion funded by Exxon and the tobacco company Philip Morris has been devastatingly effective. By insisting that man-made global warming is either a "myth" or not worth tackling, it has given the media and politicians the excuses for inaction they wanted. Partly as a result, in the US at least, these companies have helped to delay attempts to tackle the world's most important problem by a decade or more.

Should we not confront this? If, as Kendall seems to suggest, we should refrain from exposing and criticising these groups, would that not be to "stifle legitimate discussion"?

There is still much more to discover. It is unclear how much covert corporate lobbying has been taking place in the UK. But the little I have been able to find so far suggests that here, as in the US, there seems to be some overlap between Exxon and the groups it has funded and the operations of the tobacco industry.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:14 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



An Olbermann must read: "A textbook definition of cowardice"

Our Murrow:

Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence.

He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date, to save our country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush.

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us—then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.

And there it is, Mr. Bush:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

jaybird found this for you @ 08:10 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



{ Tuesday, 26 September, 2006 }

The Stinkbird Enigma

align="left">In South America, in the swamps of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, lives a very unusual bird.

The hoatzin is a pheasant-sized enigma. The official national bird of Guyana, the hoatzin has defied attempts of ornithologists to place it in its proper place among the families of birds. No matter where it is placed, the hoatzin simply does not appear to fit. The hoatzin was given its own family (Opisthocomidae), but since the original designation it has been moved around from being grouped with the game birds (the source of its other name, the Canje pheasant), to grouping it with the cuckoos, to its current, though still speculative placement with the seriema family (most closely related to rails and bustards).

The difficulty is the hoatzin itself. While bearing superficial resemblance to all of these other species in some way, it has many peculiarities that sets it apart from them all. These oddities Include some very primitive traits not seen in most birds since the Jurassic period, coexisting with characteristics which are otherwise unheard of among birds.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:08 in Environment, Ecology & Nature | | permalink



How parachute spiders invade new territory

By casting a thread of silk into the breeze spiders are able to ride wind currents away from danger or to parachute into new areas. Often they travel a few metres but some spiders have been discovered hundreds of miles out to sea. Researchers have now found that in turbulent air the spiders’ silk moulds to the eddies of the airflow to carry them further.

The team at Rothamsted Research, a sponsored institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), realised that the existing 20 year old models to explain this phenomenon – known as ‘ballooning’ – failed to adequately deal with anything other than perfectly still air. Called Humphrey’s model it made assumptions that the spider silk was rigid and straight and the spiders were just blobs hanging on the bottom. It could not explain why spiders were able to travel long distances over water, to colonise new volcanic islands or why they were found on ships. The new Rothamsted mathematical model allows for elasticity and flexibility of a ballooning spider’s dragline – and when a dragline is caught in turbulent air the model shows how it can become highly contorted, preventing the spider from controlling the distance it travels and propelling it over potentially epic distances.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:07 in Environment, Ecology & Nature | | permalink



Living Without Ultimate Moral Responsibility

Imagine for a moment that instead of Timothy McVeigh destroying the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, it had been a mouse. Suppose this mouse got into the wiring of the electrical system, tangled the circuits, and caused a big fire killing all those inside. Now think of the victims’ families. There would of course still be tremendous grief and suffering, but there would be one significant difference. There would no extra bit of resentment, no consuming anger, no hatred, no need to see the perpetrator punished (even if the mouse somehow got out of the building) in order to experience “closure.” Why the difference? Because McVeigh, we think, committed this terrible act out of his own free will. He chose to do it, and he could have chosen not to. McVeigh, then, is morally responsible for the death of the victims in a way that the mouse is not. And our sense of justice demands that he pay for this crime.

There is an undeniable human tendency to see ourselves as free and morally responsible beings. But there’s a problem. We also believe—most of us anyhow—that our environment and our heredity entirely shape our characters (what else could?). But we aren’t responsible for our environment, and we aren’t responsible for our heredity. So we aren’t responsible for our characters. But then how can we be responsible for acts that arise from our characters?

There’s a simple but extremely unpopular answer to this question: we aren’t. We are not and cannot be ultimately responsible for our behavior. On this view, while it may be of great pragmatic value to hold people responsible for their actions, and to employ systems of reward and punishment, no one is really deserving of blame or praise for anything. This answer has been around for over two thousand years, and it is backed by solid arguments with premises that are consistent with how most of us view the world. Yet few today give this position the serious consideration it deserves. The view that free will is a fiction is called counterintuitive, absurd, pessimistic, pernicious, and most commonly “unacceptable,” even by those who recognize the force of the arguments behind it. Philosophers who reject God, an immaterial soul, even absolute morality, cannot bring themselves to do the same for the concept of free will—not just in their day to day lives, but in books and articles and extraordinarily complex theories.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:03 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink



{ Monday, 25 September, 2006 }

New Terror That Stalks Iraq's Republic of Fear

The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday.

"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. "Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report.

The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by theInterior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.

The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says.

One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:20 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



Gay peck on the cheek almost diverts international flight

Twelve days earlier, British police had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up airliners. Heightened security had delayed the flight by about two hours, and passengers, by the time they boarded, were ready to relax. “I had a José Saramago book I was looking forward to reading,” Leisner said. “And then I was going to take some melatonin and have a little nap.”

Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.

“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ ” Varnier recalled the other day.

“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away. Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss—not kiss kiss, just mwah,” Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound... The purser asked the men to describe what they’d been doing, and she acknowledged that their behavior had not been inappropriate. Tsikhiseli then asked if the stewardess would have made the request if the kissers had been a man and a woman. Suddenly, Leisner said, the purser “became very rigid.” Contradicting what she’d told them before, she stiffly said, “Kissing is inappropriate behavior on an airplane.” She then said that she was busy with the meal service and promised to come back.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:16 in Gay, Lesbian, Queer & Free | | permalink



Kennedy: Will The Next Election Be Hacked?

The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it all too apparent to most Americans that our electoral system is broken. And private-sector entrepreneurs were quick to offer a fix: Touch-screen voting machines, promised the industry and its lobbyists, would make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Congress, always ready with funds for needy industries, swiftly authorized $3.9 billion to upgrade the nation's election systems - with much of the money devoted to installing electronic voting machines in each of America's 180,000 precincts. But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries. In Tarrant County, Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast. In San Diego, poll workers took machines home for unsupervised "sleepovers" before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering. And in Ohio - where, as I recently reported in "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" [RS 1002], dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency - a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County.

Even worse, many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions - an omission that practically invites malicious tampering. "Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election," Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida, told me. "Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."

jaybird found this for you @ 08:06 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



{ Sunday, 24 September, 2006 }

I folded this green umbrella...

I folded this green umbrella
Lifted from the lost and found
As the first rain of autumn
Became rivers in the street
Taking the midlight city light
Along with it, in waves, in surprise...

I folded this green umbrella
As I passed the gay bar,
Hot passion music leaking from it
Dulled by the water,
Carried to the sea,
The scent of hundreds hopeful
For a little comfort before close.

I folded this green umbrella
And let the rain make streams
Upon my cheeks, feeling young
As I stepped through puddles,
Careless, swept into a storm of
Passing and surrendering thought
Let it go, I say, and witness only
The sound of these obnoxious shoes
Wet with rain, tap a clown rhythm
To the house, to the self, to the moment.

I folded this green umbrella
And tomorrow, I'll take it back
To its box awaiting reunion
With whomever lost it in the first place
And At least
It got
To see
A
little
rain.

jaybird found this for you @ 01:32 in | | permalink



{ Saturday, 23 September, 2006 }

Autumnal Scribble

I just placed my mood bracelet in the freezer because it seemed too happy.

Yes, today is the first autumnal day, and in a few minutes I will walk into night air which is being changed by the tilt of the Earth, the rays of a neighboring star, and a metaphysical infusion of wonderment and human preoccupation with transformation. We are getting colder, day by day, that we may come inside and light fires and get warmer. And we will do this again for an unknown number of times until the cold penetrates us, and we are finally stone. Thinking that that new cool fall jacket keeps us warm, we are not separate from the natural cycle; we are the natural cycle, and will be absorbed by it in a million different ways.

I am still mentally unpacking from California, and readjusting to life in Asheville. Ten days away can put a whallop on your consciousness. The blog isn't a huge priority right now- much more so is spending time with myself, getting back into this collection of muscle and memory, and playing the definition game. I'll make my best effort, blog as much as I can, but rest assured that after almost four years of this site, I refuse, ardently, to abandon ship.

So, check in when you can, and bundle up (or not), for you are an animal stalking, whether it fits or not.

jaybird found this for you @ 22:41 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Thursday, 21 September, 2006 }

I'm home...

...but right now gears are shifting to adjusting to work. Expect a post sometime over the weekend.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:06 in Misc. Babble | | permalink



{ Wednesday, 20 September, 2006 }

Entry: Re-Entry


Peaceful and Rugged
a moment from moonbird.

The immediacy of blog writing over pure, raw experience has kept me from writing in this format, though I must say that keeping a written journal has been a joy that I'm pleased to re-approach.

It is 6am in the Atlanta airport, and I'm writing after a night passed in the skies, where sleep was impossible and yet, marvel of marvels, I can cross the continent in five hours. The last few days in California was a bit of a blur, though a happy one, including a day passed at a Japanese spa, further forays into the Castro, and just being in that pleasing western light, here at the edge of summer.

It's a little distracting rightnow, and I need some coffee with a quickness. I am re-entering my life, let alone my home region. It may take some time, and there are many thoughts to sort out and articulate, much like unpacking. I've got to unpack this past week, and once everything is folded and in its proper place, I'll write more.

jaybird found this for you @ 06:10 in | | permalink



{ Sunday, 17 September, 2006 }

Approach of the Sea III


Apporach of the Sea III
Originally uploaded by moonbird.
Yes, I know, I fell off the face of the Earth (rather, off the coast of that mythical frontier, California). While I have been journaling my experiences religiously, I've been lax in the electronic format. Whodathunkit? Anyway, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I am having a stellar time, even with the knee getting worse, and having a rather tedious episode of getting lost in the city trying to corner another mythical frontier, The Castro, and all of the emotion and power of that rainbow. We've been to Big Sur, Monterey, and, well, just about everything I can think of. But it's been the relaxation I need, I'm feeling replenished and at peace.

There's much more to say, much more to articulate that cannot yet be attached to words, these feelings of mine for this place and the feelings stirred as I choose to decontextualize myself amid the glittering skylines and emerald waves. Words are forming, like the fog belt, and encroaching, and like it there is no forcing, words appear on their own terms. So, when they do, there'll be more. One joyously lets go of expectation, slips onto the moment like a cable car on Market, cresting the hill, awaiting the next intersection, upon which one disembarks free, timeless, and hopeful...

jaybird found this for you @ 13:35 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Tuesday, 12 September, 2006 }

California Stars: Real Jourrnaling

This time, I'm handwriting my journal entries. I'm really enjoying that as it's muchmore intimiate, more of an interface between myself and I than myself and a computer. So, here's an entry presented in the old fashioned way. Good luck with my handwriting:

cali1.jpg

jaybird found this for you @ 12:49 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



A quick note...

...to say that I've been happily involved with a day that is 25 hours long and 2200 miles wide. All is well in Marin County, California!

jaybird found this for you @ 03:32 in Misc. Babble | | permalink



{ Monday, 11 September, 2006 }

So beginneth the journey west

Undercover of night, the car is packed, the coffee made, the tickets confirmed. While I am very ready forthis, I am also torn, as my mother's situation has become more fragile asshe hasn't been hospitalized yet. Yet thereisonlyso much I could do, even in person. Thus, following advice of deeply respected folks, I'm just having to let go and trust. There's nothing else I can do, but it does add a bittersweet taste to the adventure ahead, to a golden coastline, to the western winds.

Onward and upward.

jaybird found this for you @ 02:27 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Sunday, 10 September, 2006 }

Surprise

Surprises. The fact that they are an essential part of life is reason enough to savor the expectant journey through each minute. Surprises rule.

Twenty four hours from now, I'll have loaded up and car and started the drive to the airport, for soon I'll be singing the verses to "California Stars" under such light. I'm headed to northern Cali for a real, gen-u-ine vacation in the company of one of the better humans on the planet, Gustav.

This comes after an obviously troubling week, in which my mother had to be admitted to inpatient psychiatric care and work (as much as I love it) kicked my tushie. Luckily, my mother is safe, and in the hands of the very professionals she has spent her professional life training. I have proxies activated, and while the decision to continue the trip in lieu of her breakdown was difficult, I have her blessing to go, plus the knowledge that as a fellow adult, she must pursue a path of her own to wellness.

I'll post a final thought later today. For now, it's bed and up in four hours to perform the liturgy at Jubilee, a final push before the west opens up, and the ocean rushes in.

jaybird found this for you @ 02:24 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Friday, 08 September, 2006 }

Mother Update

Thank you,faceless bureaucrat, for keeping my mother away from the help she needs. Thank you for thelimitless red tape and arcane rules against protecting the mentally ill. Thank you for holding off on providing my increaingly frail mother with the safety net she deserves, and forcing her to sleep another night in a house so unlivable that I'm fighting from keeping this episode from the media in order to preserve her dignity. Thank you, faceless bureaucrat, for sitting on your puffy, soft, pink procedural hands while a very special personin my life falls rapidly into despair and mental anguish. You're doing a heckuva job.

Yes, my mother is a cipher in some kind of procedural nightmare. They were unable to get her into the hospital today, despite the advocacy and support of several important community members. Apparently, the admit wil be tomorrow, and I'm afraid that my mother will again get caught in procedural malarkey while she is fighting a major battle- to regain her sanity and dignity. Of course, in protecting herdignity, I won't spill my mothers beans in this venue. Rather, I invite those inclined to send some positive vibes in her direction, especially a resolution to this quagmire preventing her from getting the help and support she deserves.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:03 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Thursday, 07 September, 2006 }

Reality Thursday

I received word yesterday from Delaware that my mother is rapidly deteriorating mentally. She is delusional, hallucinating, and has been off of her psychotropic mediation for an unknown amount of time. Her home was discovered to be in such a deplorable condition that it was immediately condemned due to environmental conditions related to her cat hoarding behavior, unlike anything a police officer attending the inspection had ever seen. Tomorrow morning at 10, she will be evicted and committed to a psychiatric inpatient facility. I knew that she has been decompensating, but not to this extent.

I'm obviously overwhelmed and saddened, and kind of at a point of not knowing at all what to do, other than stand by the phone and wait for news. She does have a limited support system there of concerned friends and fellow church goers, willing to do whatever is needed, which is reassuring. I knew it would eventually come down to this, as she hasn't let me in the apartment for three years.

I just hope that she is treated with dignity today, with love, support, and compassion. I hope she gets the help she needs. I hope she knows how important she is to me and how much I love her.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:04 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Wednesday, 06 September, 2006 }

Katrina is still with us: I Know This Little Boy In New Orleans

I know the little boy in this picture.

No, I don't know him personally. But he is roughly the same age as my small son. This boy is beautiful, innocent, vulnerable and probably very scared in this photo.

I know this young boy.

He doesn't like vegetables. He prefers macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. He watches too much television and loves SpongeBob SquarePants and Yu-Gi-Oh. He used to like Pokémon, but thinks it's lame now.

He tries hard to not cry when he scrapes his knee or bumps his head. But sometimes he does and he feels better when his Mommy holds him. He likes to hug his grandparents and be spoiled when he visits them. He gets to stay up later at their house. He likes that.

He hates for people to know it, but he is afraid of the dark and has a nightlight in his room. He sleeps with a stuffed dog, but doesn't want his friends to know.

He can't really match his clothing yet, and has to be nagged to clean his room and do his chores. But he's filled with pride when he accomplishes his work. He knows his family isn't rich, but his bed is warm at night and his parents make sure he always has good meals.

He doesn't like girls yet, even though his parents tell him he someday will.

He knows a big storm came, with lots of water. And he hates where he is now.

He's embarrassed in public bathrooms and doesn't understand why he is now living in such a bad place. He's glad he doesn't wear diapers any longer so his parents don't have to worry about that. He wants to go home.

He loves Mountain Dew and Gatorade but has been so thirsty that water sounds better than anything he's ever had to drink.

He knows his bedroom, with his stuffed animals and Spiderman poster, is gone. It's under water now, which scares him even more. He hasn't yet learned to swim.

He wonders why his Mommy is crying so much and why his Daddy is so angry. He's worried because he knows his grandmother has been lost. He misses her.

He doesn't understand why it's taking so long for anyone to come and help him and why his family has to stay so long in the scary place where the Saints play football.

He doesn't like the dark or the heat or loud noises or yelling – and for days and days in his young life, that is all he has experienced.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:22 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



Ice core evidence of human impact on CO2 in air

Air from the oldest ice core confirms human activity has increased the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to levels not seen for hundreds of thousands of years, scientists said on Monday.

Bubbles of air in the 800,000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of CO2 changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.

"It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35 percent in the last 200 years," said Dr Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey and the leader of the science team for the 10-nation European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica.

"Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady," he added.

The natural level of CO2 over most of the past 800,000 years has been 180-300 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of air. But today it is at 380 ppmv.

"The most scary thing is that carbon dioxide today is not just out of the range of what happened in the last 650,000 years but already up 100 percent out of the range," Wolff said at the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich, eastern England.

CO2 was close to 280 ppmv from 1000 AD until 1800 and then it accelerated toward its present concentration. Wolff added that measurements of carbon isotopes showed the extra CO2 coming from a fossil source, due to increased human activity.

The ice core record showed it used to take about 1,000 years for a CO2 increase of 30 ppmv. It has risen by that much in the last 17 years alone.

"We really are in a situation where something is happening that we don't have any analog for in our records. It is an experiment that we don't know the result of," he added.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:13 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink



Olbermann: Our new Murrow?

It is to our deep national shame—and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret—that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution—to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 -- without ever actually saying so—the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”

Make no mistake here—the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”

The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.

Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle:

The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word—“media”—the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.

That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American.

Mr. Bush and his colleagues have led us before to such waters.

We will not drink again.

and...

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:59 in | | permalink



{ Tuesday, 05 September, 2006 }

Just why are human beings hard-wired to appreciate music?

The fact that music is universal across cultures and has been part of human life for a very long time-archeologists have found musical instruments dating from 34,000 BC, and some believe that a 50,000-year-old hollowed-out bear bone from a Neanderthal campsite is an early flute-does suggest that it may indeed be an innate human tendency. And yet it's unclear what purpose it serves.

The evolutionary benefits of our affinity for food (nutrition) and sex (procreation) are easy enough to explain, but music is trickier. It has become one of the great puzzles in the field of evolutionary psychology, a controversial discipline dedicated to determining the adaptive roots of aspects of modern behavior, from child-rearing to religion.

Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that music originated as a way for males to impress and attract females. Others see its roots in the relationship between mother and child. In a third hypothesis, music was a social adhesive, helping to forge common identity in early human communities.

And a few leading evolutionary psychologists argue that music has no adaptive purpose at all, but simply manages, as the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has written, to ``tickle the sensitive spots" in areas of the brain that evolved for other purposes. In his 1997 book ``How the Mind Works," Pinker dubbed music ``auditory cheesecake," a phrase that in the years since has served as a challenge to the musicologists, psychologists, and neuroscientists who believe otherwise.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:04 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink



Living Without Ultimate Moral Responsibility

Is it even possible?

There is an undeniable human tendency to see ourselves as free and morally responsible beings. But there’s a problem. We also believe—most of us anyhow—that our environment and our heredity entirely shape our characters (what else could?). But we aren’t responsible for our environment, and we aren’t responsible for our heredity. So we aren’t responsible for our characters. But then how can we be responsible for acts that arise from our characters?

There’s a simple but extremely unpopular answer to this question: we aren’t. We are not and cannot be ultimately responsible for our behavior. On this view, while it may be of great pragmatic value to hold people responsible for their actions, and to employ systems of reward and punishment, no one is really deserving of blame or praise for anything. This answer has been around for over two thousand years, and it is backed by solid arguments with premises that are consistent with how most of us view the world. Yet few today give this position the serious consideration it deserves. The view that free will is a fiction is called counterintuitive, absurd, pessimistic, pernicious, and most commonly “unacceptable,” even by those who recognize the force of the arguments behind it. Philosophers who reject God, an immaterial soul, even absolute morality, cannot bring themselves to do the same for the concept of free will—not just in their day to day lives, but in books and articles and extraordinarily complex theories.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:57 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink



Tuesday's Sleep

Mumbling words between worlds,
Worlds of dreams,
Awaking to the rain, sweet with memory,
The soul is stretched as dock-rope
Between this and that, here and there,
The cadence of bluejay and drizzle
Somehow just enough
To move me through the waters.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:28 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Saturday, 02 September, 2006 }

The Waiting

So, between the low altitude clouds
Gray with memory and humid thought
And the ceaseless voices of unseen crickets,
Low in the grasses
Created in this passing day is a sense of waiting---
An openness that shall be filled
A time that shall succomb to some unknown
Parentheses readied for an onslaught of words yet unwritten
( ).
I've not heard the neighborhood kids conquer some swatch of street
Only crows.
What is it that turns within us
As this sphere twirls in the cold of space?
What is it that makes stories out of the spilt coffee,
That inner machine which demands boundaries of time
To chasten the terror of the limitless, of unrestrained imagination?
Only a few late summer flowers rock in the breeze-
The crows do not answer-
The night edges on.
Rain lightly trickles,
Landing on leaves of destiny
Falling into them, through them
Not even occupying space, senseless water.
The waiting that longs to be filled
Does not abide with wandering words,
Poetical whimsies.
No construction of verbs can cross a chasm.
No dalliance with enchanted vowels
Can dare transmute the black of the night
With luminous knowledge.
These are what they are,
And the waiting, the still point in time
Stretched over a day,
Is merely nature,
Merely the universe,
Merely the void which contains
The fullness of our lives, brimming.

jaybird found this for you @ 14:56 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink



{ Friday, 01 September, 2006 }

A Genteel Abduction

Here's a strange one:

The dream started off with the discovery of a large butterfly which had intentionally buried itself in the sand, with only the top of its head poking out. I grabbed my camera, and started shooting, and I suppose it got shy, bolted out of the sand, and took off.

So, I continued on my hike, and there was a great roar over head. A squadron of blimps were racing through the sky, as if they were more like jets. I know there is some aeronautical discontinuity there, okay, but that was when myself and my hiking party were abducted by the aliens.

We were all "made at home" in their lovely saucer, complete with glowing lights, reclining chairs, and journals to record our thoughts on the matter, which appeared to be generally benign. It also helped to make this abduction more genteel that the aliens looked like your typical Floridian library volunteer. One of them confided in me that they forgot the combination to a rather importnat hatch, and I glibly suggested that they try the Fibonacci sequence. Oh my, that just might be the ticket!

So, I was appointed to make the "group report" to the aliens of our human experience of their saucer. Problem was, the 'saucer' began to revert into a regular ranch house, complete with a sliding glass door for easy escape, and rather drab, tedious furnishings and tchachkes. At this point I had lost all enthusiasm for I thought was an excursion into outer space, but was rather a mild trance taking place in Auntie Mabel's bungalow. I really wanted to get back to work, and the "alien" was going to try to hold my satchel of paperwork hostage. At which point I slugged the bitch, the alarm went off, and it was indeed time to get to work. Fortunately, work today is on the same planet.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:54 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink




 
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Letter Excerpt:

 

Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe

 

0. If you find yourself wonderstruck, don’t forget to return the favor.

1. Always be of service to the whole and the Holy. You’ll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being of service to your becoming Whole.

2. You will be called upon to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in their darkness, and you’ll find that when it’s your turn to be in the night that there’ll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to share .

3. The rewards of being true to yourself  are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met with nothing.

4. You’ll also see that  knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but yours is the power to choose it.

5. You’ll find that some of your choices could’ve been better, or at times were downright stupid. That’s okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I tried it on.

6. Your growth will be a mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing minutes. Don’t count on second chances.

7. In those times when everything collapses around you, and what’s left won’t go right, don’t forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament you’re having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that there’s a little of each one hidden in both.

8. Respond as best as you can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any situation and  being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF, leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in.

9. Whatever you’re doing, celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what you’ve got when you’re done. Magic lives in the action.

9 ½ . All matter is energy. All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short time in this shape until we’re reunited with the expanse from which we came. Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore, why be bored?

9 3/4 . Choosing to live in the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to continue. It’s one of the few risks I’d recommend not taking, right up there with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences.

10. The Universe itself it not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered , butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So, whenever things just don’t make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as best you can, because that’s what you get for choosing this goofy, unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.