December 31, 2005



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Since I welcomed 2006 with red berries, I may as well make it a tradition. It'll be easy, since the New Year usually happens in January when, if nothing else, red berries abound. They're often the only flashy color in nature this time of year -- and you know how the Big Baby goes for flashy..

I looked up the first entry of 2004 . Believe me, it's not fluffy stuff. Much of it involves Ganesha and his swastika. Ganesha had carried a swastika among devout Hindus for centuries, before it was commandeered by a villain. By the time Hitler got his paws on it, the swastika had gathered tremendous energy around itself. If you have the patience to read the January 2004 entry, you will see that both Ganesha and the swastika are closely connected to the divine feminine.

It is unfortunate that the energy of the swastika was usurped by Hitler and used for perverted purposes. At this point in time, almost everyone (with very few exceptions) experiences shock, horror and/or shame at the sight of a swastika. In Ganesha's hands, it was the symbol of moving between heaven and earth -- through dimensions. Thanks for obscuring that meaning, Adolf.

Anyway, I am proud to say that I could both read and understand what I wrote on January 3, 2004, which is more than I could do when I wrote it. I also noticed that my erudition has slipped badly over the last two years. I am inspired to meditate more, even if I can't understand what I write afterwards.

Maybe those of us who would like to increase the goddess energy of love and peace around here, need an ancient symbol that is imbued with as much positive energy as was the swastika. (Aside: Have you noticed that, just as Hitler used the massive energy surrounding the swastika, for his own purposes, neoconservatives in the United States are perverting the energy of the American Flag, in the same way. .. not to mention that ubiquitious yellow ribbon.)

So here's a call for an ancient symbol, infused with centuries of spiritual energy, to help us revivify the sacred feminine in our world.... caring for one another, and for the Earth.

I guess this is a New Year's resolution of sorts. Meditate more and exude the feminine as best I can. This means freeing myself from repetitive caretaking routines, that often captivate women , in order to embody the real spirit of the enterprise.

Photo note: Just what I said, red berries, right?

Posted by Dakota at 09:46 AM

December 30, 2005

Happy New Year


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Message: Perfect
Saturation: Festive, if somewhat heavy handed
Location: Storefront
Background check: Gauze, windows, sparkles and, the metaphorically-dual-purpose, white dove, however unrecognizable.

Posted by Dakota at 04:21 PM

Unconscious Metaphorophotography


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Here's Paul Krugman, whom you can no longer read on line at the New York Times, what a shame. I hope I don't get busted for publishing his column in its entirety, but it was such a perfect accompaniment to my photographs -- just oozing with synchronicity:

"A year ago, everyone expected President Bush to get his way on Social Security. Pundits warned Democrats that they were making a big political mistake by opposing plans to divert payroll taxes into private accounts.

A year ago, everyone thought Congress would make Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, in spite of projections showing that doing so would lead to budget deficits as far as the eye can see. But Congress hasn't acted, and most of the cuts are still scheduled to expire by the end of 2010.

A year ago, Mr. Bush made many Americans feel safe, because they believed that he would be decisive and effective in an emergency. But Mr. Bush was apparently oblivious to the first major domestic emergency since 9/11. According to Newsweek, aides to Mr. Bush finally decided, days after Hurricane Katrina struck, that they had to show him a DVD of TV newscasts to get him to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

A year ago, before "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" became a national punch line, the rising tide of cronyism in government agencies and the rapid replacement of competent professionals with unqualified political appointees attracted hardly any national attention.

A year ago, hardly anyone outside Washington had heard of Jack Abramoff, and Tom DeLay's position as House majority leader seemed unassailable. (continued - click below)

Photo note: When I stopped on Christmas Eve Day to take these two photos, I was asked, with a hint of derision, "Why?" as in, what on earth could you be thinking, stopping your bike in the middle of the street and losing tons of aerobic benefits to take a picture of dumb things. I really couldn't answer the question. Something just struck me funny about these two bushes. Today I had the urge to publish both, even though they're pathetic -- Then I realized --- Oh! Two Bushes -- one's slightly out of focus, empty and hollow with the lights out, and the other plump, but losing it's needles with the American flag up its ass and a Christmas bow on its chest to make it look cheerful and optimistic. Ten minutes later, I read Paul Krugman's column.


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A year ago, Dick Cheney, who repeatedly cited discredited evidence linking Saddam to 9/11, and promised that invading Americans would be welcomed as liberators - although he hadn't yet declared that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes" - was widely admired for his "gravitas."

A year ago, Howard Dean - who was among the very few prominent figures to question Colin Powell's prewar presentation to the United Nations, and who warned, while hawks were still celebrating the fall of Baghdad, that the occupation of Iraq would be much more difficult than the initial invasion - was considered flaky and unsound.

A year ago, it was clear that before the Iraq war, the administration suppressed information suggesting that Iraq was not, in fact, trying to build nuclear weapons. Yet few people in Washington or in the news media were willing to say that the nation was deliberately misled into war until polls showed that most Americans already believed it.

A year ago, the Washington establishment treated Ayad Allawi as if he were Nelson Mandela. Mr. Allawi's triumphant tour of Washington, back in September 2004, provided a crucial boost to the Bush-Cheney campaign. So did his claim that the insurgents were "desperate." But Mr. Allawi turned out to be another Ahmad Chalabi, a hero of Washington conference rooms and cocktail parties who had few supporters where it mattered, in Iraq.

A year ago, when everyone respectable agreed that we must "stay the course," only a handful of war critics suggested that the U.S. presence in Iraq might be making the violence worse, not better. It would have been hard to imagine the top U.S. commander in Iraq saying, as Gen. George Casey recently did, that a smaller foreign force is better "because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation."

A year ago, Mr. Bush hadn't yet openly reneged on Scott McClellan's 2003 pledge that "if anyone in this administration was involved" in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, that person "would no longer be in this administration." Of course, some suspect that Mr. Bush has always known who was involved.

A year ago, we didn't know that Mr. Bush was lying, or at least being deceptive, when he said at an April 2004 event promoting the Patriot Act that "a wiretap requires a court order. ...When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.

A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican."

Posted by Dakota at 04:01 PM

December 29, 2005

Moving on


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I saw "Syriana" last night. It was the kind of movie with a plot so complex that one only grasps it hours after viewing. That is, if one has been lucky enough to see it with several smart people who will spend time afterward piecing together loose ends, even though they hated the movie too. Unfortunately, "Syriana" was not sufficiently confusing to leave you baffled enough not to feel totally pessimistic about the depths of evil and corruption in the oily world. Recommendation - if peak oil and the apocalypse are on your mind anyway, there is really no need to catch this film. If you are a neoconservative or a corporate executive in need of a baseball bat to wake you up, I would say it's mandatory, though I doubt it will be your first recreational choice.

On the heels of "Syriana", NPR, which has been awakening me (so to speak) with nice surprises lately - Christmas Eve morning with harpist Debra Henson- Conant, yesterday with my favorite risk communicator, Peter Sandman, and today with Harvard physicist Lisa Randall, author of “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions” . She theorizes that there is a fifth dimension which occupies a separate flat “brane,” or membrane, parallel to the world we experience. She willl be able to test her theory when a new particle accelerator opens in Switzerland two years from now.

Her work is reminiscent of Thomas Banchoff's , Brown mathematician and fourth dimension explorer. He is doing for the fourth dimension, what Edwin Abbott did for the third in Flatland, helping us to conceptualize what might be going on all around us in the fourth dimension as we perceive in three. Take a peek at the animations of a three dimensional cube moving through a two dimensions, and you will get an idea of just what you might perceive about a third dimension if you happened to be flat. Now extrapolate what might be happening around you in the fourth dimension as you kick around in the third. As Banchoff says in his introduction to the Princeton University Press edition of "Flatland", "All of us are slaves to the prejudices of our own dimension".

This gives me hope when I feel that we have trashed this dimension so thoroughly that we'll have to go to another, in order to fix things -- if it isn't too late already.

Ah..... it's almost 2006 - a time to be thinking about thorny questions It's a good thing I have my Ladies Group tomorrow.

Photo note: I was saving this shot for New Year's Eve, but it has a few too many dimensions and triangles to pass up. I'll just have to shoot something else for New Year's Eve.

Posted by Dakota at 06:27 AM

December 28, 2005

The Flaccid Flag


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Robert Steinbeck of the Miami Herald has written a most eloquent accompaniment to my photo. I will be lazy this morning, as I am most mornings, and just pass it on.

I do, however, deserve some small credit for weaving thorough heavy traffic, camera drawn, in pursuit of a plumber with an unfurled 8x12 foot American flag, topped by a golden eagle, mounted on the back of his pick up. I caught up with him at a traffic light, where the wind was out of his sail, and the flag, at rest, bears a distinct resemblance to a dead fish. It's dangerous work out there in the field, but someone has to do it

Other related morsels gleaned from the fertile ground of the internet.
Who is George Bush consulting besides God?

Photo note: see above

Posted by Dakota at 06:29 AM

December 26, 2005

Slipping It Under the Wire


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Before the romance
of the season
is completely
behind us
I'll pop these
into the

and out
of my


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The statues

can you
see them?

Posted by Dakota at 03:45 PM

That's it for Beef Wellington

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Here's the Wellington. Why is it that I can never cook something elegant? My poached salmon has that same third grade masterpiece look.

I doubt that I will ever do another. I forgot that aged beef always tastes a little off to my unsophisticated palate, and the pate, which is spread over the tenderloin to get the mushroom duxelle to stick, just added to its mildly rotting flavor. In chosing such a menu, I was hardly doing my part for deconsumption, so it serves me right.

In the throes of Beef Wellington remorse, I was reminded of Frances Moore Lappe's groundbreaking book "Diet for a Small Planet", and guess what? -- she has a blog (as well as a website and several other books). I spent some time perusing, and found many fascinating things that were only percolating in furthest reaches of my mind, (and probably not even there) -- not the least of which was "Water for Life, Not for Profit" about the corporate water grab.

Now I have sworn off Beef Wellington AND bottled water for 2006.

Photo note: The most flattering portrait I was able shoot, while someone was holding Wellington in the air.
Believe me, it wasn't a looker to begin with.

Posted by Dakota at 01:32 PM

December 25, 2005

Got it! Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah


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On Friday night a dear and close personal relative brought home a scraggly, potted evergreen, which had been received as a gift. No doubt it had been left over at the Stop and Shop, purchased by an adolescent with a big heart, and rejected as pathetic by the staff -- so home it came. Would that I had a "before" photo, but it was too ugly to consider shooting.

On Saturday, I went to get vegies at the farmstand and discovered that there were only about ten trees left, none of which was below seventeen feet. They cried for an extravaganza that I was not prepared to create, especially with the Beef Wellington pending.

The Unitarian church had evidently delivered what was left of their tree lot to the deserving, since it was empty, so, at 1 PM, I turned to our local nursery. They had at least three hundred trees to chose from, and I found a short, plump balsam that looked like a good choice, but it was $49.95, which seemed steep, given that it wouldn't be worth a penny in twelve hours (except to the new owner, of course.) I asked if the trees had been discounted yet, and I was told to come back at five -- which I would have had to do anyway since I am a little old lady with a compact car who needs help (to get a big tree, that is).

Then I checked with the gathering. They told me they considered decorating a large Christmas tree rather like greasing the paper bag in which to roast the turkey for Thanksgiving -- a big messy job, traditional, but odious. Someone remarked that they thought I would have already thought of something much better.

That was the challenge. So I took the scraggly potted evergreen and made it into a Christmas Carmen Miranda, with what I had sittlng around the house -- a considerable assortment of things, I might add. Now we have a Christmas tree - the first in 28 years. It's just the right size, and took just the right amount of time to make.

Since Chanukkah and Christmas fall on the same day this year, something that I never remember happening, I can redecorate my tree in blue and white for the afternoon.

Happy holiday!

Posted by Dakota at 08:25 AM

December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Eve

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I awoke this morning from an apocalyptic dream to the harpist Debra Henson-Conant admitting that she thinks about the apocalypse alot, "I just can't help it!", telling stories and singing Christmas carols to the riffs of her harp. Since my dream involved trying to put together an emergency bag from an unfamiliar closet, in a room with someone who had the flu, while the Boston University Bridge went up in five story flames, and the lights of the city extinguished slowly before my very eyes, it was a comfort to know that someone so jolly as Debra Hensen-Conant perseverates on the same subject.

It annoys Debra that the public always associates the harp with angels alone, and she does her best, during the year, to show that the harp, like everything else, can have a darker side. She believes that people singing together is an antidote to darkness. Tis the season to do so without our usual self consciousness.

Given my dreams, I think I had best do some singing today.

You will probably be able to hear Debra's delightful interview with Tom Ashbrook on the On Point Website soon, though it's not posted as I write.

Photo note: What a relief, no metaphorophoto, no metamorphophoto, just a simple Christmas ornament with the inevitable light and shadow

Posted by Dakota at 06:43 AM

December 23, 2005

Season's Greetings


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Coming down to the wire - I still don't have a Christmas tree, although the artificial sort are half price at the hardware store. I have been both ecologically torn, and seething with the thought of having a permanent Patriot Act, rather than sending cards to the far flung. I can temporairily refocus now that I know it was only renewed for a month. Go Democrats!

I will be whipping up Beef Wellington, inspired by listening to "Appetite for Life". I shall not use Julia Child's recipe, nor her butcher, though he has sent me a notice that beef tenderloin at his place is a steal at only $39.99 a pound.

The least I can do is to begin my Christmas Photo Festival, and join with all the folks at Symphony Hall to send a merry snowflake out into the electronic universe.

Photo note: This is really Symphony Hall.

Posted by Dakota at 06:40 AM

December 22, 2005

What # is the Sin of Omission?


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The same story was published by the York (PA) Daily Record and the New York Times (by the time you read this, you'll probably have to pay for it, so you'll just have to trust me) -- but a little something was missing from the latter..

Here's the quote from the Judge Jones, ruling on teaching intelligent design in the schools -- OMITTED from the Times version:

"They lied.
William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell wanted to bring God into high school biology class, and in the process, they lied.
They lied about their motives.
They lied about their actions.
They lied about what they did or didn't say at public meetings.
They even lied when they claimed newspaper reporters lied in stories about Dover school board meetings.
In his ruling on the Dover case, U.S. Judge John E. Jones III said it was "ironic" that individuals who "proudly touted their religious convictions in public" would "lie" under oath.
Yes, ironic - at the very least. But also sinful according to the 9th Commandment."

Who eliminated that part?

And more. Evidently, Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller were summoned to Washington and asked not to publish the illegal surveillence story by the Great Protector himself. Why did they decide to do it a year late? And why didn't they report the the summons to the Offal Office in their newspaper?

Is The Times taking lessons, as well as orders, from the administration, who omit or distort important information regularly?

We'd better learn to read between the lines.

And while we're on the subject of newspapers, from an email of a dear and close personal friend:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the
country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country
but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like
their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running
the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have
to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the
country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's
running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a
seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running
the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably
while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country
but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure
there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they
oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the
leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheists who also happen to
be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided, of
course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the
grocery store.
12. None of these are read by the guy who is running the country into
the ground.

Photo note: Metaphorophotographically speaking, lines between which to read. In addition, something has been omitted from this picture -- the posts that hold the whole thing together.

Posted by Dakota at 06:13 AM

December 21, 2005

Bird Flu - keeping the topic (and you) alive


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I know, you thought I would give you a bird flu break just because it's almost Christmas. But noooo - I simply cannot shirk my civic duty.

Let's see. I spent much of the weekend preparing emergency "go" packs for my sweeties . They are a little too stuffed (the packs, that is) at the moment -- maybe the dried apricots will have to go, or perhaps the cotton puffs. It's a big job. Here are a couple of lists to work from if you are inclined to shower your loved ones with preparations.

There is disappointing news about the failure of a process for rapid production of flu vaccine. "'This means', says [David] Fedson [founder of the vaccine industry's pandemic taskforce], that “if all the world's influenza vaccine companies were to produce this vaccine for six months, there would be enough to vaccinate only 225 million people". Let's revise our federal state and local pandemic plans with this in mind -- I don't think that Fedson even takes into account that vaccine production itself might be adversely effected by staff illness.

There is a newly named phenomenon called "presenteeism", the opposite of absenteeism, describing the practice of going to work sick, and infecting others. Though we have, in the past, rather encouraged this behavior, and seen it as dedicated, the possibility of avian flu changes all that. The CDC, hoping to remove economic barriers to staying home sick, recommends that "employers look at their compensations and sick leave policies so that they can offer liberal leave when a person needs to stay home when they're sick." Righto. Maybe Starbucks, Patagonia and the Intensive Care Unit will take them up on that.

Speaking of viral transmissions, the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan let's us know how long the H5N1 virus survives on different surfaces -- hands: 5 minutes - cloth, paper and tissue: 8 to 12 hours -- hard surfaces: 24 to 48 hours. Looks like covering and emptying one's trash can and disinfecting one's cubicle should also be introduced into the workplace. We're all washing our hands as we sing the entire first stanza of "Happy Birthday to You" already, aren't we?

Photo note: See the birdie -- it's driftwood and kind of stringy and tangled up, like this entry.

Posted by Dakota at 08:53 PM

December 20, 2005

Cancel Christmas - It's an Emergency, for Christ's Sake


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If I were
a senator

I wouldn't take
a Christmas Break

I'd at least
forgo my feast

to muster
a filibuster

to prevent

of the

Photo note: An overinflated Christmas tree. Apologies to those of you who are sick of metatphorophotography, but we have to decide what's really important here.

Posted by Dakota at 06:35 AM

December 19, 2005



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There is simply no end to virtual creations out there. Scott Bateman has vowed to produce an animated film every day for a year. A particularly fine example of his work is this annotated clip of the President' s speech on December 17. Have you noticed Bush is making an awful lot of speeches lately? I hope Bateman will do the same for many more. I'd love to see an annotation of the speech I missed last night -- was that an apology, perchance?

"Americans can expect some things of me as well. My most solemn responsibility is to protect our Nation, and that requires me to make some tough decisions. I see the consequences of those decisions when I meet wounded servicemen and women who cannot leave their hospital beds, but summon the strength to look me in the eye and say they would do it all over again. I see the consequences when I talk to parents who miss a child so much – but tell me he loved being a soldier … he believed in his mission … and Mr. President, finish the job.

I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss – and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly. I know this war is controversial – yet being your President requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences. And I have never been more certain that America’s actions in Iraq are essential to the security of our citizens, and will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren."

I do hope that impeachment is one of the consequences -- unfortunately, I don't think there are enough votes in congress to initiate the process -- yet.

The bulk of Bush's speech had to do with establishing democracy in Iraq, an ironically feeble excuse for demolishing it in the United States. If he's so excited by their constitution, why is he lukewarm about ours ?

Photo note: English ivy again Festive but insidious

Posted by Dakota at 06:42 AM

December 17, 2005

Update on Fascism in the Homeland


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Lets see, the fascist dictatorship has had an excellent week. Despite concerted efforts by John McCain, our preminent torture victim, the administration essentially won the right to torture, since anyone charged with torture now can be excused, if a "reasonable" person could conclude that they were following an order. Of course it will be the impartial and fairminded folk of the CIA who will decide if torturerers have acted "reasonably". What a comfort.

The president also announced that he has been authorizing surveillence of American citizens without a warrant. For some puzzling reason. this seems to have upset people, and landed on the front page of the newspapers unlike the GAO election report. The New York Times, "breaking" this story, announced that it had been sitting on this information for an entire year-- wouldn't have wanted anything like this to be disclosed before an election, it seems. Here's the quote:

"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it said the N.S.A. eavesdropped without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials." ....

"But some of the administration's antiterrorism initiatives have provoked an outcry from members of Congress, watchdog groups, immigrants and others who argue that the measures erode protections for civil liberties and intrude on Americans' privacy. Opponents have challenged provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the focus of contentious debate on Capitol Hill this week, that expand domestic surveillance by giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to collect information like library lending lists or Internet use. Military and F.B.I. officials have drawn criticism for monitoring what were largely peaceful antiwar protests. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security were forced to retreat on plans to use public and private databases to hunt for possible terrorists. And last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's claim that those labeled "enemy combatants" were not entitled to judicial review of their open-ended detention."

One wonders what else the New York Times chose not to report for Patriotic Reasons.

To finish off an the excellent week, they've hauled off our first activist. We can begin to see the potential of placing right wing judges in the lower courts. I had better learn to shut my big trap.

Photo note: Ivy over bricks and mortar -- it looks attractive, and covers structures, while slowly eating away at them. Oh! Could be a metaphorophoto for the slow erosion of democracy, brick by brick, or simply an excuse to publish a nice picture? -- love those deep shadows.

Posted by Dakota at 07:49 AM

December 16, 2005

Red Door Sans Wreath - working my enthusiasm up for the holidays


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A terrible storm this morning (are we surprised? thank goodness it's only sleet, changing to rain) precludes a long slippery drive north to my ladies group. Thus I am left to my own devices, which rarely happens. They are creaky, to say the least.

I am gathering together all those gifts that must be wrapped and mailed, and putting them in labelled piles for those who can make much better hospital corners than I. Where I dare, I have given preparedness presents -- windup flashlights, festive foil emergency blankets, long underwear, $5 pup tents, contamination suits, a small portable bucket toilet with disposible bags and special enzymes (the scent of which, I fear, will give away the surprize under the tree), sweetly shaped hot water bottles, etc.

A particularly wonderful find was a small paperback book entitled "What Shall I Cook Today; 124 Thrifty, Healthful Test Recipes" from the makers of Spry. The cover is filled with cartoon testimonials from housewives (and hubbies with forks lifted) bubbling dialog like "I got all my recipes from the SPRY Cook Book. The directions are easy to follow and SPRY makes everything taste so good, you MUST try it!" and "SPRY is so white, I just KNOW it's purer" and, in response "Its more economical too,you can fry with it over and over again" (so much for purity).

I am having difficulty finding the "healthful" recipes, as advertised, since the book primarily focuses on cookies, pies, frostings and donuts, with a little deep frying and sauteeing. How is it that this country did not have an obesity problem until recently? I must confess that I bought two big containers of Crisco for my emergency supplies, but I don't exactly know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time -- maybe to smear myself for winter swimming, should it prove necessary. I can xerox a few recipes before I give the book away.

Having just finished "Appetite for Life", I am thinking I should donate this little jewel to the Schlesinger Library's women's history through cookbooks collection rather than just wrap it up. Perhaps I will suggest a donation to the recipient, thus killing two birds with one stone.

I must soon decide whether to launch a Christmas tree in the middle of my semitically-identified household. Since we always spent Christmas with my side of the family, long-lived Christians, way out of town, and recently departed, there was never a need to have a tree here. If I continue all this time consuming fact dumping, the decision will be made for me.

Photo note: No wreath but lots of nifty triangles

Posted by Dakota at 02:16 PM

December 14, 2005

Out There in the Jungle - Update


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There seems to be a slow demise happening at Diebold as its president resigns - What of the fake election results, however?

Although victory is imminent, there are a few pertinent statistics.about the destruction we have wrought after 1000 days in Iraq that bear notice. Our jovial unelected leader finds them amusing.

The propagandists are still at work, and the the liberal leaning press is challenged.

The right of our fascist dictatorship to torture is saved by the bell.

Photo note: It's a little crazy out there - what is that thing anyway?

Posted by Dakota at 09:15 PM

George Clooney for President, Anyway


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As long as we're on the subject of actors and the politic - it seems to me that all the really handsome, smart liberal actors stay in the background doing good works and never run for office. Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, Tim Robbins and George Clooney come to mind.

In an interview for for George Clooney, director of both thinking-person-films "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Syriana" says, among other things:

“I don’t know at what time in history liberals have stood on the wrong side of social issues. We thought that blacks should sit at the front of the bus, that women should be allowed to vote, that maybe McCarthy was a jerk, that Vietnam was wrong and strip-bombing Cambodia was probably stupid. We’ve been on the right side of all these issues.”

His one regret is that the Democratic party he has always supported failed to confront the Bush administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq. As a result, he thinks, some of the party’s leading figures — notably Senator Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the 2008 presidential race — may be in for a rougher ride than they realise from disillusioned Democrat voters.

“The Democrats were scared on Iraq and the truth is they backed themselves into a corner,” says Clooney. “They didn’t have the political resolve to tough it out and now they are paying the price.” .......

I [Tony Allen-Mills] asked Clooney if he felt any sense of vindication that two years after he was denounced as a traitor, his doubts about the war have become mainstream: “You would feel some sense of vindication if 10 of our kids hadn’t been killed the other day just outside Falluja with a rocket-propelled grenade. You don’t see any of us standing up going, hey, hey, we were right. There’s nothing fun about being on the right side of history if the children of friends of mine are being killed .......

Clooney insists that he has no intention of running for political office — he has always described himself as a “yes, I did it” candidate, meaning that he would have to admit to a long list of past misdeeds with wine, women and more besides if ever he submitted himself to electoral scrutiny.

Instead he sees himself as “an irritant — picking at the scab a little — to challenge authority. My father taught me that”.

This is what I call a real heart throb.

Posted by Dakota at 10:20 AM

December 13, 2005

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged


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Well, Arnold has taken one horrible person out of circulaton permanently, stating that "The basis of Williams' clemency request is not innocence. Rather, the basis of the request is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends" (quoting Williams' own clemency reply). But Williams' claim of innocence remains a key factor to evaluating his claim of personal redemption. It is impossible to separate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption." Really, Tookie should have apologized properly-- it might have done the trick.

Besides Tookie was doing alot of damage from his prison cell, (which he never was expected to leave, by the way) just a sociopath manipulating the public with his ostensible good works -- a real meglomaniac "charlatan". Now we've shown young black men how they will be treated if they are bad, and we have appeased all the righteous who support the death penalty in one fell swoop. A dip in one's approval rating is hardly worth sparing a black man's life, after all. Besides, It will help the families of Tookie's victims feel alot better.

We know that people cannot be redeemed. Well, maybe Kurt Waldheim , but he was, after all, a very popular Austrian, and everyone in Austria is related to someone who joined the Nazi party. Besides if you can't change the Consititution in the U.S. so that you can run for President, there's always a smaller venue. Don't alienate the populace and keep your options open.

People need to pay the price for the crimes of their past, and if you're poor , black, disadvantaged and angry, the price is just a little bit higher.

Photo note: One never knows when a shot of an executioner's weapon will come in handy.

Posted by Dakota at 06:14 AM

December 12, 2005

Someday Cafe


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As you can see, I am having difficulty with the muse this morning, as well as with the hypercritical liberal political commentator, and so I have chosen to publish pap (not pretty pap either), rather than not publish at all.

This bumper belongs to the van that belongs to the Someday Cafe. The Someday is a Davis Square hangout -- Davis Square being the new Harvard Square, since Harvard Square has been turned into an upscale mall by the evil ones at Harvard Management Company who take a cut of the profits from retailers to whom they rent, thus making it impossible for the beloved landmark stores of Harvard Square to survive. Some have moved to Davis Square.

You can now buy an Alpha Omega watch at the Alpha Omega Watch Department Store in Harvard Square though, just in case your father is a dictator in a foreign country supported by the CIA, and you are attending Harvard and find yourself yearning for yet another expensive watch. If you are said person, you will prefer the more pristine surroundings at Starbucks to the Someday Cafe, whose overstuffed furnishings were clearly collected at curbside.

Photo note: see above

Posted by Dakota at 07:21 AM

December 11, 2005

Just Being Honest (for a change)


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George W. Bush is finally telling the truth. Of course, he felt he could be himself in front of GOP leadership who had gathered in the Offal Office to discuss renewing The Patriot Act.

Two notable quotes from that meeting were:

"I don’t give a goddamn, I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.” in response to warnings that he might further alienate those archconservatives who are still steamed about Harriet.

and, when told that parts of the Patriot Act undermine the Constititution:

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Goodness gracious, he's sounding more and more like a fascist dictator every day. Someone might catch on.

Photo note: Just a little metaphorophoto that tells you how it is - I'm wondering when the GAO report will emerge in the media.

Posted by Dakota at 07:21 AM

December 10, 2005

Making a Perfect Man


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Ever since I fell for the Beloved Brawny Man on film (I actually BOUGHT Brawny Paper Towels the other day, as a testament to him, but found them scratchy [as in beard stubble], compared to Viva), I have been showing it to others, sometimes as a training film, sometimes as an example of how one might wish oneself to be treated in courtship. Last week a woman, recently moved from limerance to the less comfy differentiation stage in her relationship, cried, "That's how he was the first year of our relationship. Now he says it left no room for him to attend to his own needs He can't sustain it." I can appreciate that.

And here's the blog to go with it -- "How To Be a Better Boyfriend" If you're serious, start in August, and read all the way through.

I found myself wondering what kind of equivalent training tape a man might make for a woman. At my most cynical, I had the thought that the internet is actually full of them --- pornography. Then I softened my sexist stereotyping and tried to call up the name of the book that recommends meeting a man at the door in negligee, with provisions. Of course, I can't remember the name of the damn thing. It horrified feminists in its time.

I also wondered if men were as resistant to the Brawny series, as I (and most of my friends) are to the thought of negligee greetings, in spite of the pleasure it might offer the recipient --" I know that's what you want, but it's just not me/ You have to accept me as I am/ It's not real life./ It's way too corny/ I couldn't do it with a straight face." Really, we all know what to do, we just hesitate to do it.

Just as I was about to publish this entry, five copies of Natalie d'Arbeloff's book "The Joy of Letting Women Down: Secrets of the Worshipped Male" arrived on my doorstep. You can order one yourself, or, if you are a personal friend, you might wait and see if you get one for Christmas.

In her introduction Natalie recommends:

". If you are-- or want to be -- the kind of man who is worshipped, read on.
. If you are a reliable man, look away now before you become corrupted
. If you are a woman in thrall with a Worshipped Male, learn the tricks of his trade
. If you are a casualty of too-close encounters with Worshipped Males, this book will bring back memories
. If you have never met a Worshipped Male, don't worry, sooner or later you will"

They came not a moment too soon.

Photo note: It snowed yesterday, giving some lucky person the opportunity to enter the Make a Perfect Man contest. I found the specimen above both a little chilly and thin of bicep.
There was thunder and lightening during the snowstorm. We are told to expect more extreme weather conditions.

Posted by Dakota at 08:10 AM

December 09, 2005

Avian flu - Two Birds with One Stone


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Just when we didn't need any more reasons to want to immigrate to Canada, Helen Branswell, flu reporter extraordinaire, writes about a new Canadian ethics report outlining the difficult decisions that will have to be considered if there is a pandemic.

"The report lays out four key issues the authors think require an ethics-based debate: the duty of health-care workers; the use of liberty-restricting measures like quarantine; the implementation of international travel bans and the setting of priorities for rationing scarce medical resources such as antiviral drugs."

Although I'm personally of the school that it's better to think about issues that many arise beforehand, Dr. Alison McGreer, head of infection control at Toronto Mt. Sinai is quoted:

"'People know if they get in the situation where the decisions will have to be made, they'll have to be made. But to overtly have a discussion ahead of time about making them? . . . The general response up till now among health-care workers is that people really don't think they can do that.'
She's not certain the public wants to contemplate the scenario underlying the tough choices either, noting a rising chorus of criticism that those warning of the dangers of a pandemic are being unduly frightening.
'It's hard to have these discussions without being scary,' said McGeer."

Yes it is. And the report continues:

"The duty of health-care workers to provide care is a key area that needs clarification, according to the report, which raises a spectre few planners like to acknowledge but many fear - the prospect of some health-care workers refusing to work during a pandemic.
It happened during SARS, Upshur [one of the authors] admitted. While many hospital workers performed heroically, some overtly refused to treat SARS patients or 'distanced themselves from engagement.'
'The distribution of risk was by no means equitable within health-care institutions,' Upshur said.
The report notes that after the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19, the Canadian Medical Association wrote into its code of ethics that 'when pestilence prevails' doctors have a duty to 'face the danger . . . even at the jeopardy of their own lives.'
That code has since been rewritten. And there is a general lack of guidance from the organizations governing the medical professions as to how far the 'duty of care' extends, the report warns. "

On a slightly different note, some enterprising Canadian flu watchers on CurEvents dug up old newspaper clippings from thirteen days at the beginning of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic which show the breakneck speed at which the the illness spread, and the rapid decline of circumstances. If you click and scroll all the way down through bits of discussion to the very end, you will see how profoundly things changed from October 2 until October 15.

In general, Canadians seem to be thinking much harder, and more constructively about this problem than Americans. I have noticed that thinking is quite out of fashion down here -- besides it gives you wrinkles.

Mike Wallace was recently asked what question he would put to our Number One Nonthinker, should he ever be granted an interview. Wallace answered:

" What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military. . . . The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?

Photo note: The birds, the clock, the photo of a dead relative and the church steeple -- metaphorophotographically, we could probably construe it to mean something, if we thought about it..

Posted by Dakota at 06:11 AM

December 07, 2005

A pretty picture - Julia Child


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In order to distract myself from living in a fascist dictatorship, I have been listening to "Appetite for Life", the biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch. Along with French recipes, or at least chat about French recipes, it's chock full of recipes for joyful living, benign childrearing, attuning and waitng for inspiration, developing discipline, staying embodied in full selfhood (even in the face of fame), mentoring, friendship, passion and fun.

Julia was universally loved -- the ultimate extrovert, always the center of a huge circle of friends and family, whom she nurtured well. Really, what ingredients go into forming such exhuberance, gusto, and generous good nature? I personally think it was her untrammeled childhood in Pasadena, under the trustful, benignly neglectful eye of a fun loving mother. She was also the oldest in her family and extremely tall, which must have enhanced her leadership potential as a child. She is described as the penultimate prankster and social organizer in every setting from elementary school to the OSS in China. There is much emphasis on Julia's lack of intellectual discipline until she met her husband, Paul, an artist, self educated scholar and foreign service officer, who is credited with helping her develop rigorous thinking.

This is a story of a woman fully connected to her spirit, though lacking somewhat in purpose and discipline until joining the OSS in WW II, who finds passion, guidance and containment in midlife, and goes on to accomplish much and influence many.

Photo note: A lovely picture for a lovely read. Doesn't this remind you of Seurat , or a least a corner of one of his painting?

Posted by Dakota at 07:35 PM

December 06, 2005

Distorted Democracy - is there another name, perhaps?


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Well we suspected it after listening to NPR's Ira Glass' November 7, 2003 indepth report on Diebold and its voting machines (that cannot print out a paper ballot, lest a jam occurand spoil the results -- even though Diebold manufactures all the state lottery machines which spew tickets like....I'll spare you the analogy), but now there is an official report issued by the Government Accountability Office which locates the dead rat that we've been smelling in the voting system and brings it to us rotting on a stick (this time I won't spare you). what exactly does this mean? It seems that we have had what looks like a fascist dictatorship, just like the nations where Jimmy Carter goes to monitor free elections -- one that has been in power for five years, and we didn't even know it -- exactly.

Let's see, we have a paid mercenary army in the Blackwater Guard, ready to intervene, just in case. The press and the media have been infiltrated sufficiently to create an adequate propaganda machine. Dr. Condi is in Europe, as we speak, selling the off-site gulag idea. We hare holding prisoners without due process and the administration is adamantly defending its right to torture them. Oh, and then there is the financial faucet flowing from the national treasury into the sticky hands of insiders, which can be found in every dictatorship worth its salt.

So does that make John Kerry our rightful President? Maybe Al Gore? How soon can we demand a recount? Before Alito pollutes our Supreme Court? Before avian flu gives them an excuse to declare martial law? Before Paris Hilton spends her enormous permanent tax cut on herself? Not soon enough to save the globe from warming beyond salvation, 2000 American lives, 30,000 Iraqi lives, thousands of severed arms and legs, shattered families and minds, countless ancient treasures, millions of cozy moments in cafes or a nurseries, and far too many people with their NOWs destroyed and their futures hopeless -- except, of course, for retaliation.

I doubt the founding fathers planned for such a contingency in the Constitution, but shouldn't we get on this immediately? Someone call Laurence Tribe, for heaven's sake, and see what can be done.

Photo note: Reflection off of the window of an SUV, what else?

Posted by Dakota at 06:39 PM

December 05, 2005

Other people's windows


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Since the flowers are gone until spring, I have taken to peering into other people's windows looking for something interesting to photograph. (Can you see the handlotion?)

You will be pleased to note that I have spared you all of the pornographic material I gathered this way, (because this is a serious site), and am only posting two of my finer abstracts, leaving you to extrapolate your own fantasies from them, should you so chose.


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And then there are the windows that stare back at you.


I am still in weakened condition from the non avian flu, as you can probably tell from the demented rambling and the paucity of clickies..

Posted by Dakota at 08:55 AM

December 04, 2005

Tis the season


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Last night a dear and close personal relative asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said a crank/ battery powered TV, or a solar panel to charge my computer. He looked shocked. Well... that's what I want for my BIG present.

Then I thought I'd try for the Trite Award, and rewrite The Twelve Days of Christmas from a preparedness point of view.

And a free standing plastic greenhouse
Two water drums
Three crank radios
Four Wonder Lanterns
five golden magnets
Ten Flashlights flashing
eleven sprouters sprouting
Seven masks a filterin'
Six Burpee's burping

But I quickly tired of that, showing my ultimate good taste.

Due to the activiity of making a list, I remembered that two days ago, on my way to finding a clickie for the possible disasters soon to befall us, I realized that they left out a few. Dearest to my heart is of, course, the avian flu, but how about peak oil, global warming effecting the Gulf Stream and icing over Europe, the frozen methane at the bottom of the ocean floor melting and releasing itself into the atmosphere, and of course, retaliation from all of the folks we have alienated by electing the Supreme Bully to protect us.

Photo note: You can make this healthy holiday decoration out of snap peas yourself. Had I planned ahead, I would have squeezed in two strips of red pepper at the bottom. I have the non avian flu, which accounts for at least some of my incoherence.

Posted by Dakota at 06:41 PM