June 30, 2006

Off to the Seashore


View larger image

I'm off to the seashore for the lo...o..o...ong weekend. Maybe I won't toss (or catch) any morsels into cyberspace until next Tuesday, given the wireless wasteland that is my village. With that in mind, I wanted to remind you of this week's juicy tidbits, now that you might be able to savor them fully at your leisure. Enough of the feeding analogy.

You might turn your attention to the two moving pictures -- Adam Curtis' "The Power of Nightmares" and Richard Dawkins', "The Root of All Evil" (all three parts)

If you've already watched both films, may I introduce a new subject on which to while away your time. It is of particular interest since Gnostic Gospels are surfacing all over the place (so beautifully popularized by The DaVinci Code) -- "The Ten Major Priinciples of the Gnostic Revelation from Exegesis by Philip K. Dick. And his Gbiography, "The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick" by R. Crumb. In case the name sounds familiar, he's the author of "Blade Runner".

Oh my, someone just sent me an email about Thorstein Veblen . What the heck! I'll throw him into the pot, just in case it rains.

To reiterate, if you chose to accept the assignment above, you will have examined the development and containment of spirit (by the church), evidence of what happens when powerful energy is contained without allowing creative flow, (the dogma, corruption, darkness, evil of organized religion), as well as some lessons from those who were inspired by the example of Jesus, wrote about it, but were suppressed by those who sought power rather than flow. No doubt you will find some useful tips on how to live in the spirit, rather than the institution. Lord only knows what Thorstein has to do with it.

I, personally, am going to the beach.

Tata. Gonna miss me?

Photo note: Boat at dawn, overcast


View larger image

Posted by Dakota at 07:54 PM

Important Training Film


Since it's the start of a holiday weekend, when police presence is more in evidence on our highways, I thought it timely to direct you to a a training film from the American Civil Liberties Union, entitled "Busted: the Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" (part of the Flex Your Rights Project). Not that you would ever do anything illegal, but one really doesn't have to these days, to attract unwanted attention from emboldened authorities.

Maybe the film is a little out of date, since the New and Improved Supreme Court (with hardly a whimper from the press) struck down the fourth amendment to the Constitution last week with a flick of their Federalist fingers. (Thank you, Dakota, for maintaining your ladylike demeanor and avoiding tasteless alliterative adjectives).

There are a number of helpful techniques in this movie that bear mastering, in case should you encounter an authoritarian bully. You might as well know how to exercise your rights while you still have some.

Photo Note: Not perfect, not pretty, but it will have to do.

Posted by Dakota at 06:32 AM

June 29, 2006

Hidden Consequences


View larger image

Recently there was a fatal automobile accident in our town. It happened on quiet serpentine road that winds through the woods into the center from the highway -- a head on collision in which a Corolla veered into oncoming traffic, hitting a Porsche, and killing its two occupants. The driver of the Corolla survived, and later told authorities that he was trying to kill himself.

What could this man have been thinking? I can only specutate.

If you watch the local news video of his arraignment until the end, you will see some brief interviews with his neighbors, who speak of him fondly. He is a 64 year old engineer who had been unemployed for the last year and a half. I suspect he falls into the category of The Disposable American

Publisher's Weekly says of Louis Uchitelle's book

Devoting a book to the necessity of preserving jobs is perhaps a futile endeavor in this age of deregulation and outsourcing, but veteran New York Times business reporter Uchitelle manages to make the case that corporate responsibility should entail more than good accounting and that six (going on seven) successive administrations have failed miserably in protecting the American people from greedy executives, manipulative pension fund managers, leveraged buyouts and plain old bad business practices. In the process, he says, we've gone from a world where job security, benevolent interventionism and management/worker loyalty were taken for granted to a dysfunctional, narcissistic and callous incarnation of pre-Keynesian capitalism. The resulting "anxious class" now suffers from a host of frightening ills: downward mobility, loss of self-esteem, transgenerational trauma and income volatility, to name a few.

The suicidal engineer was 60, which means he lost his job at 58, and with it, probably his pension . Maybe he's been jobhunting for along time, and lost hope. Maybe his unemployment insurance ran out, as did his severance package. Maybe he thought he'd find something much sooner, and maxed out all his credit cards. He lives in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, which might be becoming financially overwhelming. Maybe he has kids in college. Maybe he thought that a suicide made to look like an auto accident would allow his family to collect his life insurance. Maybe he felt he was worth more to them dead than alive.

Causing the death of two others, radically compounds this tragedy. If only he had chosen a larger car with which to collide, the consequences may not have been so grave. Since he was an engineer, one would assume that he might have thought of that. Depression affects your ability to think clearly.

And what of the younger engineers who are out of work. The dean of health sciences at a state university told me that his nursing program is full of engineers, retraining for a job that can't be outsourced..

Photo Note: Bent shadow of a garbage can -- metaphorophotographically speaking.

Posted by Dakota at 08:12 PM

June 28, 2006

Helping the Elephant in the Livingroom


View image

I am taking the lazy girl's way out this morning, and probably violating copyright regulations while I'm at it (so sue me for doing a public service) by publishing a piece from the Modern Love series that appears in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Ordinarily I'd just throw the clickie at you and trust that you'd read it, but this is important. Besides, newspapers make articles vanish overnight, and I think this should be on permanent record. I have xeroxed a stack of copies, as well, and am making them available to all who seek my counsel this week.

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage. By AMY SUTHERLAND

As I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset.

In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.

Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer.

I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.

We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right — our union was better than most — and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.

Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard.

I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.

I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn't so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He's an omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.

Once I started thinking this way, I couldn't stop. At the school in California, I'd be scribbling notes on how to walk an emu or have a wolf accept you as a pack member, but I'd be thinking, "I can't wait to try this on Scott."

On a field trip with the students, I listened to a professional trainer describe how he had taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground. This, he explained, is what is called an "incompatible behavior," a simple but brilliant concept.

Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. The birds couldn't alight on the mats and his head simultaneously.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.

I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

In the margins of my notes I wrote, "Try on Scott!"

It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a mackerel.

Now he's at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, "Found them."

Without turning, I call out, "Great, see you later."

Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.

After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault." When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.

PROFESSIONALS talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn't resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn't offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.

Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.

One morning, as I launched into yet another tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn't say a word or acknowledge my rant in any way, not even with a nod.

I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, "Are you giving me an L. R. S.?" Silence. "You are, aren't you?"

He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He'd begun to train me, the American wife.

Amy Sutherland is the author of "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers" (Viking, June 2006). She lives in Boston and in Portland, Me.

Many of these techniques are derived from the behavioral theories developed by B.F. Skinner, and they still work beautifully. In this little vignette, we see that positive reinforcement changes the Trainer as much as the Trainee, given that the Trainer has to seek out and pay close attention to the tiniest bit of positive behavior on the part of the Trainee in order to reinforce said behavior. That, my friends, is a real Esther Hicks vibration changer; I also love the fact that the Trainer is responsible for finding creative ways to elicit desirable responses. Failure in any department is never the Trainee's fault, rather an impetus for a more inventive solution from the Trainer.

Photo note: An elephant in my face. (my hair could use a little conditioner) -- pretty good for having to find an image for this tale.

Addendum: The Sultan's Elephant

Posted by Dakota at 06:53 AM

June 27, 2006

Outside Help


View larger image

After my Ladies Group last week, my shaman and I went to the new bakery in the village (Heaven, the old one, closed) for a coffee to go. The proprietor appeared from the kitchen, and chatted with us a bit. She was an attractive woman, but there was something strange about her face. Her skin was unusually taut, slightly flattening her nose and creating an oriental shape to her eyes. I thought she might have a syndrome of sorts.

As we went to milk our coffee, my shaman whispered with delight, "The owner is sooo ET."

I said, teasingly, "Are you?"

"Well', she said, "I'm from another planet, but I'm human"

I must have looked a bit surprized because she clarified ."I'm of the human species, I'm just from Pleiades."

She has told me before that there are beings here from Pleiades and other planets who understand how to care for everything as one, and they are here to teach us. She just never came out quite so directly and said it about herself.

Unfortunately, I forgot to ask her how to spell the name of the planet, so google has failed me.

No it hasn't! Google is always so helpful to the misspeller. Just look what I found when I tried "extraterrestrials here to save the planet". And then there's the Pleiades mythology of the Seven Sisters, and, of course, Wikipedia has something to say.

Do I believe this? Wel...lll...lll, I put it to the test that Esther Hicks always suggests -- does it make you feel better? do you experience relief with that thought? Yes indeedy! I do believe that we're going to need a hellava lot of help to reverse this environmental situation, and it's certainly not coming from the current administration. Rather than feeling hopeless and angry, a vibration that does nothing to improve things around here, it behooves me to feel supported by ETs, whether or not there are such things, as I change my lightbulbs, ride my bike, and vote for a individuals who uphold the principles of democracy in every election.

Posted by Dakota at 11:55 AM

June 24, 2006

God, etc.


View larger image

Listening to Esther Hicks, channeling Abraham, always jacks up my vibration a notch or two. She commutes with me regularly, although sometimes her influence is hard to find here at Dakota.

Yesterday, I listened to a tape in which she, channeling Abraham, addressed a religious man -- I transcribed this section, with great effort, I might add, because I found it to be an excellent explanation of God, or at least one that I prefer. Unfortunately, I cannot reproduce Esther/Abraham's delightful inflections in all their glory.

We [Abraham is a clump of nonmaterial beings that takes a bit of getting used to, pronoun-wise. at the very least] are, in no way pushing against religion, at all, because there is a wonderful thing that happens sometimes within religion. Our only discomfort is that anytime anyone looks outside of themselves for guidance, they always get less than when they are looking for it within. And there are many people that look for guidance within religion and find it. You have found guidance there. You have found clarity there. You weren't making the wrong choices.

He replies: " I'm confused. Who is God? Who is Jesus? What's Heaven and Hell?"

"God is source energy, and the culmination of all that you are. God expands each time you live something unwanted, and prefer something more. Even if you were the one-celled amoeba in the ocean, God expands in that too.

Jesus is a physical human --like you -- who came forth into this environment --like you-- to understand who he is, and how he fits into all of this. And he banged around --like you-- for a long time, also, and then removed himself from the chaos of all that, and went away where he was taught by others to meditate and get inside himself. Where he closed that vibrational gap, and connected with Source in the way Esther is doing here, and in the way that every one of you can too

And he said that to all of you. "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," It is not that which is outside of you. When he says "Turn the other cheek", he's talking about turning your canoe into the flow, he's talking about not pushing against. In other words, he is not different from that which you are.

Heaven is the illusion that physical man has about what it will be like when he no longer has resistance. Heaven is an illusion in the sense that it is not a place, but it is certainly a state of being, and heaven exists right here on earth, or exists here where we are. Heaven is the state of nonresistance, you see, and Hell is the ficton of man's disconnected mind. There is no such thing as Hell.

You knew it! Think about it. Everytime somebody tried to teach you about it. You got your knot in your stomach -- and what was that knot telling you? That knot was telling you that you were activating a vibration about a subject, and your source was not going there. In other words, source says, "There's no such thing, there's no such thing, there's no such thing" , and, as you are trying to teach yourself that there is, you create a crevass between you and you.

And when we said that just now, it felt to us as if you just said, "Hell, yes!"

I am struck by the similarities between Abraham's messages and Carlo Suares' Eight Propositions

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21). And this would be the keynote of the New Era. Here are the eight propositions:

1. Seek your total individuality. Don't write it down anywhere. Don't give it a name. Any definition of yourself is a deceptive hideout.

2. You will not find your total individuality. It is your total individuality that sees you, that witnesses your doings. It acts in our space-time continuum but is not restricted to it.

3. Your total individuality is your soul. It abides in the indeterminate plurality of universes. Because it is alive, it is evolving. Because it is outside of time, its evolution is only the time that you need to permit it to find you. Because it is multidimensional, it contributes to the composition of an Ecclesia. It is one and innumerable.

4. Your soul will not find you as long as your consciousness is made of the stuff of false evidences created by your mind: as long as you do not feel a sense of suffocation in those space-time false evidences.

5. The death of false evidences is a psychological death, announcer of resurrection. Each false evidence denounced opens a window in the inner space where the measurable dies.

6. This death of the measurable in the inner space is a personal experience. All that is said to you about it will prevent it from occurring. Do not listen to the professionals of any religions.

7. Beyond this death, our infinitely multiple individuality reveals to our present person that we are only one of its multifarious manifestations. We then meet the other manifestations of our soul spread out through history, still present and alive.

8. So this consciousness emanating from our soul integrates its earthly past and also its future. It knows itself continuous, without limits. It is all-consciousness, it penetrates every consciousness, it understands every consciousness, and that understanding is love.

To be politically incorrect for purposes of emphasis -- put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Richard Dawkins on evil

Photo note: It seems that Buddha, like Jesus, had the same idea.

Addendum: Isn't it wonderful that, after all these years, I have finally learned to indent?

Posted by Dakota at 07:20 AM

June 23, 2006

Something Bugging You?


View larger image

Something bugging you? Yes. Your friendly government is at it, once again. This time they have their noses deep into your bank records. May I make a suggestion? If you were planning to contribute to Al Quaeda, don't write a check. That probably holds true for any contributions you make to the Democratic National Committee and The American Civil Liberties Union as well .

It's a comfort to know that they take such good care of the data they already have.

In all, five government agencies have reported data theft, including the Veterans Affairs Department, which on May 22 acknowledged losing data on up to 26.5 million veterans. Among them:

- At the Agriculture Department, a hacker who broke into the computer system, obtaining names, Social Security numbers and photos of 26,000 Washington-area employees and contractors. Victims will be offered free credit monitoring for a year after the break-in in early June.

- At Health and Human Services, personal information for nearly 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries may have been compromised in April when an insurance company employee called up the data through a hotel computer and then failed to delete the file.

- At Energy, Social Security numbers and other data for nearly 1,500 people working for the National Nuclear Security Administration may have been compromised when a hacker gained entry to its computer system last fall. Officials said June 12 they had learned only recently of the breach.

On Thursday, a House panel was cautioned that credit monitoring alone may not be enough to protect Americans whose names, birth dates and Social Security numbers were compromised at the hands of the government.
"The worst-case scenario is that the veterans file finds its way to a public distribution source, such as the Internet," said Mike Cook, a co-founder of a company specializing in data breaches.

"If this happens, the stolen identities will lose their connection to the VA data breach and groups of fraudsters might actively trade that data among the fraud community," he said. "More people might have access and could misuse those identities on a grander scale."

Let's see, they have records of our phone calls, our banking transactions, our internet searches, and, just in case they haven't covered all the bases, they have greater access to our homes. (Notice how much press coverage that Supreme Court decision got)

But I don't have to worry because I'm not doing anything wrong. Am I?

Photo note: Courtesy of the creative folks a PaperSource who filled their windows with bugs, in honor of spring.

Addendum: Cheney's displeasure We must be onto something.

Posted by Dakota at 07:59 AM

June 22, 2006

What's in a Shadow


View larger image

Check this out. On 9/10/01 Donald Rumsfeld announced that the Pentagon couldn't find 2.3 trillion dollars. It cannot be accounted for.

Factoid: Bad news out of the Bush Administration is ALWAYS delivered on Friday, where it can float away into oblivion while the nation watches sports. 9/10/01 was a Monday, the day before you know what. Quite the distraction. Fabulosa timing.

As one commenter said about the Bushies, "They shout their lies outloud and whisper the truth if they have to, much later on..."

Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, will be to read all the comments in the clickie (even I haven't done that), and then watch a movie entitled "The Power of Nightmares". If you don't have an hour or so to do that right now, here's the precis:

"This film explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today. From the introduction to Part 1:
Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives] were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful. " The Power of Nightmares, Baby It's Cold Outside."

Or, if you're like me, you'll just look at the picture and extrapolate --you'll probably feel better afterwards.

Photo note: Whaddya know, a metaphorophoto. It's not exactly black and white, there's light and shadow, reflections, reflections of shadows, projections, reality, illusion, transparency, opacity, vegetable, mineral
and it's damn hard to tell what's really going on. Shot in Al Pesso's new digs.

Posted by Dakota at 09:48 AM

June 21, 2006



View larger image

While we're on a sign roll, as an American Patriot, I am always eager to document the latest magnetic car ribbon for posterity. I am also distressingly myopic. I can definitely see the big stuff, like pedestrians, but I can't always read a bumper sticker.

I was following a van the other day with two magnetic ribbons on it's behind, one a Support our Troops, which had faded to pink and baby blue, and a new one. Aha!! I recklessly chased the van, camera poised, until I could get close enough to shoot the mystery message.

For the five minutes that I was hot on the trail trying to bring the ribbon into focus, I thought it said, "Herpes Live Forever". What a message. That van owner, I thought, is on the cutting edge -- bringing a shameful subject into the light. Displaying his or her affliction openly as a support and caution to others.

It's true, genital herpes live forever, and it is epidemic -- one in five American adults have it. In my day, I have known a number of people who have contracted the disease, and have had to deal with the shame, (particularly if they are single and must disclose to every potential partner) discomfort, and long term consequences (inadvertently passing it on to a spouse after many years of a monogamous partnership, having to have a C-Section to avoid exposing a baby). It's traumatic.

As I drew close enough to shoot, I realized that the ribbon said, "Heros Live Forever". Oh. Maybe. Bet the kind of hero to whom they're referring, actually has a good chance of being blown to smithereens. Dead, not alive. In my opinion, not one American soldier should have been required to act heroically in this trumped up war about greed and power, its the architects behave heroically by sitting smugly behind their desks, showing us their determination and fortitude. I'm waiting for the Swift Boat Veterans to complain.

Herpes Live Forever, on the other hand -- now there's a truth. You can imagine my disappointment when I focused enough to see "hero".

It's catchy though. I think I may have some magnetic "Herpes Live Forever" ribbons printed. I can hit parking lots and affix one to every fifth car.

Photo note: I made the picture teeny tiny, so that you could imagine how I could make this mistake.

Field Guide to magnetic ribbons

Posted by Dakota at 06:58 AM

June 20, 2006

The Truck Infused


View larger image if you are compelled

This photograph is a wonderful example of how reactive I have become. No wonder. Louisiana governor, Kathleen Blanco, woman, democrat, and traitor, just signed a Louisiana abortion ban into law, doing her part to kiss Fundamentalist ass. She must need the votes because things aren't going so well in her state. Maybe God will help Louisiana now that abortion is banned. Halliburton certainly isn't.

It was in under this shadow of creeping dominionism and burgeoning theocracy that I spotted the truck above. Hence, I grabbed my camera aggressively and popped off three shots as it stopped at a traffic light. I was all huffed up. What next, I thought, Christian bandaids, Christian safaris, Christian computers. I did like their web address though, clever for fundamentalist Christians, whom I find to be an unusually humorless group.

Today, mid rant, I visited www.intents.com. Heartfelt apologies to The Gould Family who bought their business from Arthur Christian in 1980. Talk about intents.

Photo note: see above

Addendum: In this age of regression to the primitive, I am heartened by the Presbyterians' attempt to find a non sexist Trinity, however hysterical.

Posted by Dakota at 06:58 AM

June 19, 2006



View larger image

I just came back from two days with my Psychomotor Group. I'm tired, have alot to think and write about, without the energy to put it out to page at the moment. Suffice it to say that issues raised were love, passion, faith, expression, satisfaction, disappointment, life's purpose, meaning, money, food, health, illness, duty, giving and receiving, and the conditon of our world -- you know, the usual.

What's unusual is that we have been exploring these issues for twenty five years together with the intention of not passing on our lunacy to the next generation. as well fulfuilling our own lives in both selfish and altruistic ways, without getting Tal Ben-Shahar. and here are the Cliff Notes.

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

From the Guardian: "The goal is not constant ecstasy or gratification," Ben-Shahar says after the lecture is over. "It's a deeper, more lasting, more meaningful flourishing. Pleasure and ecstasy can be part of a happy life, but they can also be part of a very unhappy life. A happy life will have the usual vicissitudes, and trying to avoid those, or hoping not to experience those, inevitably leads to unhappiness and frustration. This deeper kind of happiness has tangible benefits. One famous study, of a group of nuns, found that those with an optimistic outlook on life lived up to a decade longer than the pessimists."

Here's a little Old Dakota on the subject. And of course there is always Esther Hicks, channeling Abraham, who is the best teacher of optimism I know.

Photo note: With gratitude to the Big Baby part of me that loves those beeeeautiful flowers, and insists on taking their pictures-- this being an earl;y summer rose. You just can't help but take a moment to appreciate it's beauty. Done? Feeling any happier? .

Posted by Dakota at 11:14 AM

June 15, 2006



View larger image

It's "structure" time again. I am off to spend the weekend with Al Pesso and my long term, dear, diminishing psychomotor group. This is my 25th year, for others I think it's the 28th. We are only six, having lost one member to politics (internal, not right wing, you will be relieved to know) and another to failing health.

I have oft written about my experiences with psychomotor, and once in awhile, I actually read something that I wrote. So as I read about the work I did last year in the group, and the entity that appeared, it occurred to me that I have been wrestling with that bugger ever since.

To quote myself -- I'm not sure I have to do this - "Al has a theory (very loosely stated by an abject amateur) of how an entity develops, just in case you're interested. When a child feels compassion before he or she has had sufficient nurturing, that compassion bulges out from the self, herniating, as twere, and then gets stragulated. Once strangulated, the hernia of compassion can no longer receive input, nurturance, and, as a result, begins to think of itself as omnipotent (probably has something to do with the developmental stage at which the entity pops out, since omnipotence is very popular among small children). In any case, what started out as compassion from the child, turns into quite the little monster."

In an attempt not to unleash my entity onto others, I am bringing a salad in a bag and dressing in a bottle, rather than my usual homemade three part peasant luncheon extravaganza. Someone has volunteered to bringi cold cuts instead. This, you can imagine, does not please the entity.

Photo note: Lord knows what they're doing at Town Hall, but it seemed a perfect illustration for something entitled "Structure". The shot almost looks out of focus due to the complexity of the scaffolding, but if you make it bigger, I think it's quite clear. My eyes are not what they used to be though.

Addendum: If you think you're going to miss me or my entity while we're away, save these two clickies for Saturday and Sunday. There are many cleverer than I in cyberspace.

Be careful though, if you're doing something bad like reading a subversive blog, or private, like having an intimate moment, they don't have to knock on your door anymore, they can just make themselves at home. We KNEW that Sam and John were antiabortion, but we are just beginning to get the pro police state part. It's all legal!

Posted by Dakota at 08:12 PM

June 14, 2006

Peek a Bu


View image

struggle to

maybe if
I were
of stone

it wouldn't
be so hard

Photo note: The Buddist version of the Virgin Mary in an overturned bathtub, which presides at my neigborhood garden center. I've never seen the Blessed Virgin giggle.

Posted by Dakota at 06:31 PM

Clothespins, Femininity and the Age of Aquarius


View larger image

Some mornings I just want to block out the horrors of the daily and turn my thoughts to larger spheres.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about the coming of the Age of Aquarius. Although I am of the generation that anticipated the Age of Aquarius with great relish, I never paid much attention to what is actually meant by the phrase beyond the cliches,of course, of getting high and getting naked.

"Aquarius draws from the pool of unstructured energies / sum of all possible probabilities provided by the previous letter, Pay/Phay to create new structures in service of life, in process destroying the obsolete.

The key to both personal and societal development is the transformation of the feminine in both the individual psyche and women's roles and choices in society. Both depend on liberation from (often very primitively) conditioned patterns and repressive and exploitative environments. Female conditioning, resulting in the repetition of the same structure, must develop into feminine wisdom and choice."

Right. Did you know that?

Catya Plate, creator of the clothespin tarot says "The clothespin is generally associated with the woman's task of doing the laundry and hanging the clothes out to dry. By allowing the clothespin to serve more exotic and whimsical purposes our contemporary existence is scrutinized; a life, which overwhelmed with technology, has lost its appreciation for the small and unassuming."

Not to mention, the clothespin as a symbol of the sacred feminine trapped in the mundane and repetitive, transformed into the tarot, which is, when unscrambled, the pictorial version of the energies of the Hebrew Alphabet. There are those who say that the Hebrew Alphabet is the key to understanding the structure of cosmic energy, through existence into trancendence. But that's a subject for another day.

There are higher uses for the clothespin as well, both in symbolic representaton and dental analgesia.

Photo note: Notice that the clothes line of a dear friend has inspired many the loose association.

Posted by Dakota at 06:34 AM

June 12, 2006

Information is Power


View karger image

Robert G. Kaiser, former managing editor of the Washington Post has written a most eloquent piece, entitled "Public Secrets", about the role of the press in democracy.

Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, is to read this clear, illuminating essay yourself, and then email it to all of your friends, especially the disinterested, the corporate and the fundamental. You may include this admonition for inspiration, "If you do not forward this to ten people within twenty four hours, you will have the bad luck of living in a police state in the near future".

As long as you're doing a mailing, please include this form and evidence.

No snappy smart talk here this morning, there's work to do.

Photo note: The American flag rent, tattered, collapsed in upon itself, over exposed..... still waving though.

Posted by Dakota at 10:24 PM

June 11, 2006

What a comfort


View image up close

Just a couple of litttle things that should help you soothe yourself to sleep.

A sweet birthday greeting reminiscent of the pizza order brought to you by the ACLU.

And the Ku Klux Klan is back! Once again working openly, right here in our national parks, for the preservation of American values. It must be great to shake out the old hood .

For those of you who are worried about the future of your children in this world, Child Training Resources has a plethora of tools to assist you . All of us here at Dakota find the Chastening Instrument an especially good buy. There's a quantity discount, so, as they suggest, you can get one for every room.

Stop bothering your heads about those acts of war perpetrated by the Guantanimo prisoners, kick back and smell the forspacious skies and amber waves of grain.

I love it when I feel safe and protected .

Photo note: As I was shooting a further addition to my wiretap series, I noticed the surveillance camera looking directly at me. I took the shot anyway, brave girl that I am.

Posted by Dakota at 09:19 PM

June 10, 2006

As Yet Untitled


View larger image

I'm vowing to get more efficient over here. I am clarifying my purpose. What is the intention of this blog? To expand my conscousness by exploring the small corner of the internet that interests me with my unique little sensing organs, and to be explicit about the process of learning to think, through using the internet (it's pretty good at teaching you to type too).

I see I have already failed at increasing efficiency.

Believe me, the internet did not sing to me when first I played upon it. Like everything else, I had to wrestle my resistance about learning anything new, (exhausting), master a (very) few basics, (ardous), and bat it around a little (easier) before anything that was any fun happened.

So here are two interactive destinations that will provide a window into the delightful diversity of human experience. The first, Overheard in New York, a completely hilarious eavesdropping experience -- more hilarious than you can imagine.

"Little Boy, running towards pigeon on sidewalk: RAWWWWWR!
Mother: Sweetie, they're not afraid here. This is New York.
--39th & 3rd
Overheard by: erin"


"Hipster girl: Hi, how are you?
Dressy-casual guy: Hi, you look great!
Hipster girl: Thanks. You look like you're from Oklahoma.
--Makor/Steinhart Center, W 67th St
Overheard by: Alex

The second destination, the missed connections section on Craig's list is quaintly romantic. You must know about it so that you never again see any strangers across any crowded rooms, make electric eye contact, recognize a good vibration and pass it up because you're shy -- or, even worse, later get stuck in an idealization of the phantom stranger, when what you really need is a real relationship..

A little service like missed connections gives you a second chance. That is, if the person with whom you share a romantic destiny is saavy enough to know that missed connections exists on the internet. Now you too can play the game, should it be ever be necessary. For example:

"paradise lounge - m4m - 21
Reply to: pers-170315674@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-06-11, 3:15AM EDT
you were wearing a hoodie w/ short almost buzzed hair, i was wearing a brown shirt w/ shaggy brown hair..
we kept looking at each other the whole night...
i was standing by the bar, and dancing.... and we still kept looking at each other..
before i left i tried to find you, but couldn't :( "

Good luck kiddo! I personally was never brave enough to try out my electric eye contact mechanisms. I would say I operate more on "approachable" energy

Quite enough, thank you.

Photo note: The snowy white swans (swan sacred meaning: grace, beauty, emotional, soul, love, mystic, ability to see one's own beauty and goodness) swimming into the unfamiliar -- do you think it matters if they're plastic? Probably not, it's the idea that counts. They just haven't come to life yet. And what does this photo have to do with this entry again?

This is how high I got my vibration this morning -- swans did not make me associate to bird flu, at least til now.

Posted by Dakota at 06:55 PM

June 09, 2006

Chair with Chicken


View larger image


Ah synchronicity. I wanted to post this photograph today because I just published a retrospective of chair shots two days ago, and thought it flowed along quite chairishly. You can guess, because of the prominent chicken, that I shot this picture in anticipation of an avian flu information entry.

In my quest for trustworthy, thoughtful up-to-date flu information, I went directly over to Effect Measure, only to find that Revere has changed his address. Here's a short summary of my visit there, while I'm on the subject. Revere reminds us of the problems in dissemination of accurate scientific information about the progress of H5N1. He wrote a five part summary about WHO's sluggish internal issues, but that's not all. A heartbreaking example of the difficulty of information dissemination are the conditions under which the cluster of flu deaths in Indonesia are occurring. People are impovershed and ill served anyway, and now have suffered terribly from the effects of political corruption, the tsunami, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Oh, and tourism, a major industry, will suffer if there is bad public health news. In the ensuing chaos, opportunities for distortion and miscommunication abound. In China, even though the government is trying to strictly reinforce bird flu containment measures, small farmers hide infections because their livelihood depends on their chickens.

Al Gore quoted Upton Sinclair in "An Inconvenient Truth", "It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary [in the case of the poor, his life] depends upon his not understanding."

Then, in search of Herman van Bon's poem about solar umbrellas (which I never found, by the way, see comments in chair entry), I explored the new and elaborated Soekershof: Mazes and Botanical Gardens website. In reading about the values and intentions of the project, I understood a bit more. This is a sacred enterprise, based on an appreciation of nature, humor, play, creation, expression and respect for the land, and the growth and development of the people and plants who participate-- employees and visitors alike.

Corporate team building is now being offered in the mazes. "A maze can be very confronting; especially for very ambitious people who prefer to take short cuts. At Soekershof Walkabout they discover, in a pleasant manor (sic, wordplay), that a long way around or a dead end also have their charms." A true ecobusiness.

Although it is never explicitly stated, I suspect that Herman and Yvonne, the proprietors of Soekershof, are probably early environmental expatriots. I bet they searched the world for environmentally sound locations (upstate New York is one of the areas I know they considered), before deciding to emigrate from "'the lowest wetlands' in The Netherlands to a 'high and dry' Klaas Voogds in South Africa in April 2000". Holland, according to Al Gore's movie, is one of the countries that will not fare well if sea levels rise precipitously.

Environmental immigration is going to be an emerging phenomenon. I know a woman from Mexico City who cannot live there because of her asthmatic response to the poor air quality. As the weather becomes more severe, and the climate changes, some populations will have to shift inland, and drought will drive others to move in search of water.

So that was my journey this morning, full of delight, and as well as concern for the state of the world.

Then, when I checked my email, I found this amazing tribute to the extravagance of nature --- one that involves a bird. I actually can't tell if it's real, or a most wonderful spoof. It really doesn't matter does it?

Let's hear it for coming full circle.

Photo note: Like I said, a chicken on a chair.

Posted by Dakota at 06:34 PM

June 08, 2006

Cautionary Tales


View larger image

This time Arlen is really mad. He wrote a letter to Dick (maybe he didn't want to worry W. OR maybe he knows who really runs the country from the crusted bottom of his black bionic heart)-- which begins

"I am taking this unusual step in writing to you to establish a public record. It is neither pleasant no easy to raise this issues with theAdministration of my own party" .......

and ends

"We press this issue in the context of repeated stances by the Administration on expansion of Article II power, frequently at the expense of Congress's Article I authority. There are Presidential signing statements where the President seeks to cherry-pick which parts of the statute he will follow. There has been the refusal of the Department of Justice to provide the necessary clearances to permit its Office of Professional Responsibility to determine the propriety of the legal advice given by the Department of Justice on the electronic surveillance program. There is the recent Executive Branch search and seizure of Congressman Jefferson's office. There are recent and repeated assertions by the Departmentof Justice that it has the authority to criminally prosecute newspapers and reporters under highly questionalrble criminal statutes.
All of this occuring in the context where the Administration is continuing warrantless wiretaps in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is preventing the Senate Judiciary Committee from carringing out its constitutional resoonsibility for Congressional oversight on constitiutional issues. I am available to try to work this out with the Administration without the necessity of a constitutional confrontation between Congress and the President."

Arlen dear, if we wait much longer there will be no constitutional confrontation, because there will be no more constitution. You have worked yourself up into a constitutional confrontation frenzy several times, then fizzled out like an alka seltzer. Come on Arlen, and all you men of conscience in the Senate, it's time for a Willed Moral Achievement.

Oh, I forgot, we got Zarqawi last night. What wonderful news! That changes everything. The administration was right all along. In appreciation of their successful effort to drive evil from the face of the earth, we will now be expected to celebrate their tactics, rather than challenge them.

In "The Fog of War", Robert McNamara outlines eleven life lessons, many gleaned from his experience as an architect of the Vietnam War. Lesson Number One is:

* 1. Empathize with your enemy.

I might as well print the other ten while I'm at it.

* 2. Rationality will not save us.
* 3. There's something beyond one's self.
* 4. Maximize efficiency.
* 5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
* 6. Get the data.
* 7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
* 8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
* 9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
* 10. Never say never.
* 11. You can't change human nature.

Well, maybe our empathy is developing. "Condolence payments", money we pay Iraqi families whose members we have maimed and killed wrongfully, have soared from 5 million dollars in 2004 to 20 million. I personally would rather have my husband or child than a check from the USofA, but I'm no 9/11 widow.

Sadly, most of the people we have labeled insurgents are Iraqi nationals who believe that their country was been invaded by folks who have no right to be there. Ordinary citizens, as well as the entire Iraqi army, have lost their jobs, their homes and their families. With little else to lose but their homeland, they are, understandably putting up quite a fight. Often a despot will take advantage of a situation like this, and emerge as a leader. The "insurgents", given renewed purpose, will fight forever with all their might. I think we saw that in Vietnam, but I could be mistaken.

Having a despotic leader has proven useful to this administration as well. When a single individual can be demonized and then eradicated, like Zarqawi, (notice Bin Laden's name hasn't been mentioned much lately) a major victory is declared in what is really an amorphous, neverending, complex conflict. It is easy to discount, at least for the moment, the 9000 little field units made up of disenfrancised citizens who have lost everything, and now have a cause for which they are fighting to the death. It is no wonder that the attempt to shower them with "freedom " blows up over and over again.

Cautionary tales for photographers, for poets, for twenty somethings and to the objects of right wing Christian projections

Photo note: I couldn't decide whether to publish a wiretap shot, an American flag shot or the pansies. This is not to say that there are any pansies in Congress, of course -- certainly not the gay kind.

Addendum: Dan Froomkin says everything much better than I did, but I missed his piece before I went on and on.

Addendum #2: Here's an on the scene report from Baghdad Burning a girlblog written by an Iraqi.

Posted by Dakota at 06:06 AM

June 07, 2006

It Seems To Be An Obsession


View larger image

there's nothing
like a chair leg
that makes me
want to shoot

rightside up
or upside down
I don't give
a hoot

just flash
a little leg
my way
and I'm in
hot pursuit

like a paparazzi

Photo note: Other photographs from the Fabulous Feinstein Fine artChair Collection

Posted by Dakota at 07:35 PM

June 05, 2006

Poodle and Polls


View larger image

Our esteemed leader is, once again, kowtowing to his discriminating (not in the tasteful sense) voter base -- the folks that think fascism is a family value. He's out there whipping up fear and loathing toward gays, although he'd never say that directly... yet.

For once the American people, according to a poll taken by the Center for American Progress do not seem to be in adoring agreement, a least until the next terrifying event happens and they need a strong man to protect them. Thank god, everyone's favorite cowboy kicked off his boots last week.

The excellent news from the masses is that only 3% of those polled feel that homosexuality is "America's most serious moral crisis". ( murder and torture were not included in this poll)-- here are some of the results:

. 71% of voters strongly agree that "Americans are becoming too materialistic" including 71% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 72% of Republicans (92% total agree)

. 68% of voters strongly agree that the government should be committed to the common good and put the "public's interest above the privileges of the few" (85% total agree)

. 73% of Democrats, 62% of Independents and 67% of Republicans strongly agree with a common good focus for government. A similiar percentage of voters (68%) strongly agree that government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America (89% total agree)

OOOh , as we speak, the results a Gallup poll of American's greatest concerns have arrived:

. Situation in Iraq/war: 42%
. Fuel/oil prices/lack of energy sources/the energy crisis: 29%
. Immigration/illegal aliens: 23%
. Economy in general: 14%
. Poor healthcare/ hospitals; high cost of healthcare: 12%

And there's Pew too.

I guess take back what I said about murder and torture.

In the meantime, the war against science continues to take apart important initiatives that can never be reestablished, like the longitudinal study of how the environment is affecting children's health. After all, the suffering of children is such an emotional issue, that any proven correlation between injury to children and pollution of the environment could be econocidal.

While the administration is attending to the horrors of gay families, globalization is doing its part in the morality department. The Russians have taken the lead in the child pornography business.

Photo note: A metaphorophoto -- the orange poodle (as in red herring) draws attention from the underlying complexities. This shot, I must say, has everything I love, light and shadow, triangles, 50's campiness -- reminiscent of a time when values were not as complicated

Posted by Dakota at 10:37 PM

A Sensible Response from Canada


View larger image

I was so pleased to hear a Canadian official correct Steve Inskeep of WBUR, when Inskeep asked if the arrest of 17 suspected terrorists in Toronto would affect the way Canada monitors its citizens. The official was VERY emphatic when he said that Canada does not monitor either its citizens or immigrants. He said that law enforcement in Canada focuses on criminal activity, and that Canada is committed to community policing which relies heavily on neighborhood residents to report suspicious activity.

How quickly we have come to take routine "monitoring" of citizens for granted here in the USofA.

Photo note: How could you tell if you were being monitored anyway?

Posted by Dakota at 06:31 AM

June 04, 2006

Very Inconvenient, But By No Means Hopeless


View larger image

Al Gore sees the big picture, and he shows it to us -- so that we can bear to see it. He leaves us with urgency and moral determination, informed, but still hopeful, primed for action. No mean trick. Al Gore is surely the King of the PowerPoint presentation.

He is very psychologically sophisticated. In fact, he tells us that for many years he has been studying ways to communicate this information so that others can hear it. He, himself, was very impacted when he first learned about climate changes in college (he doesn't, of course, mention WHICH college-- Harvard, Vanderbilt Divinity School [no kidding], and Vanderbilt Law School). He was also stunned by the indifference with which he was met when he presented the information to Congress in the 70's. (Must have been before PowerPoint.) Ah, the dilemma of a true visionary.

Since his loss of the presidential election in 2000, (or should we say the coup d'etat?), Gore has sharpened his down home skills His southern accent is a bit more pronounced than I remembered, and, in the film, he shows lots of pictures of growing up on the family farm, as well as the small apartment in a Washington hotel where his family stayed for eight months out of every year when his father was in Congress - (making it seem more torturous than privileged).

In "The Inconvenient Truth" , Gore provides examples of people making difficult changes, in the light of new scientific information. His own father stopped growing tobacco when Gore's only sibling, Nancy, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Without flaunting his own, Gore shows us how scientific knowledge and education can offer guidance. He provides us with an inspiring example of a "willed moral achievement" with the regeneration of the ozone layer after the ban on fluorcarbons in aerosol products. He consults with experts. He labels the use of fossil fuels and war "outdated", rather than "bad". HE THINKS, and he does it right in front of us. What's more, he makes us yearn for leadership that thinks.

The image that came to my mind after watching the movie was one of children scrapping, and jumping from trees on top of a minefield that is threatening to blow up from the impact -- it's right on the verge. The kids want to continue playing, even though they have been warned that it is very dangerous to do so. They need to be called to attention, organized, and helped to tiptoe quietly off the minefield.

Gore is able to show us how we have participated in the creation of global warming without shaming or blaming. We are left with the feeling that we can participate in a positive solution to our current dilemma. Environmentally sound actions are cleverly embedded in the credits, accompanied by the inspirational music of Melissa Etheridge, so that you find yourself eagerly playing a game of searching the credits for ideas about how to take action. Since you can't quite absorb everything as it morphs before you, you simply have to run home and look it up. And then, at the very least, change lightbulbs like crazy.

Just so that you don't have to wait to see the movie, here are 30 actions you can consider taking in the meantime. If you can, that is.

Really, Al Gore has done everything that Peter Sandman recommends on his wonderful risk communication website. Gore's wise, informed, empowering style of leadership is a welcome relief to the fear mongering, hysteria frothing tactics that have been used by our leadership for malicious purposes since 9/11.

Photo note: A thing of beauty , withering, but not quite gone.

Addendum: Just in case you missed this story about Gore's activity during Katrina

Addendum: Roger Ebert's review even though he spoils the plot, which I tried not to do.

Addendum #2: Global warming means more ticks, mosquitos and poison ivy too.

Posted by Dakota at 06:10 AM

June 03, 2006

Absolute Power, Just Doing Its Thing


View larger image

I awoke this morning to an interview with David Brion Davis, historian, Yale professor emeritus, and author of "Inhuman Bondage: the Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World". His book credits much of the successful establishment of the United States to it's extensive use of slavery. I only listened to a snippet, in which Professor Davis called the abolition of slavery a "willed moral achievement" that was brought about in less than 100 years. I also heard the word "econocide" for the first time. (Evidently, it refers to something fairly specific in British abolition, but I think it could be put to excellent use right now.)

The inspiration for abolition did not simply come from those who could see the hypocrisy of living in a "democracy" founded on the principle of liberty for all, it came in response to the Fugitive Slave Act in which aid to runaway slaves would have been felonized-- even in the North -- (akin to the government's current attempt to felonize aid to illegal immigrants). The Fugitive Slave Act was itself a terrified reaction by slave owners to the success of abolitionists in England. The abolition of slavery spelled "econocide" to the South.

Professor Davis reminded us that when one person has absolute power over another, it almost inevitably leads to corruption and dehumanization. He traced the orgins of slavery to the domestication of wild animals, and examined the question "Which comes first the ideology or the act?"

Here we are again folks, in the middle of a power grab extraordinaire, in which absolute power is, once again, rearing it's ugly head -- sadistic torture in the prisons, major election fraud , the stripping of rights from women and minorities, the loss of privacy in every sector for the average citizen, the siphoning off the treasury to the very rich, the rape of the environment by corporate interests -- you name it, we got it.

As for the ideology, take a peak at the Federalist Society's goals to make abortion illegal (oppression of women) banish affirmative action (keep women and minorities in their rightful place). Dominionism and Fundamentalist religions, now rising in popularity, famous for their apalling treatment of women and children, and for the exclusion or marginaliztion of non believers. Ye Ole Absolute Power is at it again.

And this adage doesn't only apply to the corporatacracy and the fundamentalists. I spent part of yesterday reading (online) "Stripping the Gurus" by David Falk who looks at the effect of absolute power in the ashrams. Guess what? Absolute power seems to have the same effect on the holy easterners as it has had on the holy westerners.

Alice Miller, the Swiss psychologist, argues that traditional childrearing practices that make use of power to control children are at the root of abuses of power in society. I would argue that conscious childrearing might begin to include educating our children to understand their own darkness, and the wish to project it onto others, like slaves, gays, Jews, Iraqi civilians, Muslims, illegal immigrants, even Saddams, rather than examining their own dirty little psyches, and learning to sublimate their primative impulses.

The inspiration for the "willed moral achievement" of abolition, was provided when those in power overstepped their authority, and threatened the liberty of ordinary citizens. Perhaps it helped those ordinary citizens to appreciate their relative freedom, and identify with those who had no rights, lending impetus to a "willed moral achievement" in spite of the threat of econocide.

We are ready for an immediate "willed moral achievement". The greed and corruption of this adminstration, the current political system, organized religion, and large corporations have been laid bare, so that we can see the hideous effects of absolute power, right here in the USofA, as well as in Libya and Iraq. More and more civil rights of ordinary American citizens are being compromised and violated. I'd say we have the perfect conditions to inspire an immediate "willed moral achievement", even though it may effect our economy negatively. The preservation of our environment, our consciousness and our humanity are much more important.

That's quite enough thinking for a Saturday morning.

Photo note: Oh, I don't know. Something about the light and dark, the shadow of the light flamingo, and the contrasting head positions inspired a loose association. Let's face it, this doesn't meet the standards of a metaphorophoto.

As Desmond Tutu said , in relation to witnessing the abuse of absolute power, "If an elephant is standing on the tail of a mouse, and you declare your neutrality in the dispute, the mouse will not thank you for your neutrality."

Posted by Dakota at 06:40 AM

June 01, 2006

The Poppy


View image

from behind

symbol of the veteran
the poppy is a crop
that grows the kind of pollen
with which to blow your top

From upstate to Afghanistan
they're so ubiquitous
what's a little opium
no need for
such a fuss

When they're ripe for harvest
what do you do next
put a little in your pipe
and write a sacred text

Oh Please.

If you can earn over $10,000 per year on your property in New York State, it is classified as a farm --thus making you eligible for lower property taxes. As a result, I have been mulling over some possibilities for this place, upon which a die is almost cast.

Raising alpaca and making goat cheese have both floated through my fantasies-- raising something soft and snuggly, or soft and delilcious is most appealing. And then there's energy farming -- selling electricity produced by windmills, solar or geothermal energy on the property.

It was in this contemplative state that I noticed that the poppy seems to thrive in upstate New York, as you can see from the glorious example above. Here's my idea. Let's move the poppy market from Afghanistan to the USofA -- reverse globalization. We can subsidize the Afghani farmers to grow organic vegetables, farm our own poppies, legalize drugs, and collect taxes on them, which will help with the deficit. If drugs were legalized, we could stop "the war" on them too, and save a pretty penny.

More importantly, a large percentage of our prison population here in the USofA is incarcerated for some involvement with illegal drugs. Those convicts who are serving time on drug charges, but have not committed violent crimes could be released, also saving the federal and state government big bucks.

This, of course, would severely handicap the fastest growing industry in the US -- private prisons, to the disappointment of some. Maybe the punishment entrepreurs could redirect their energies into early childhood education, or alternative energy.

Or, I could just market poppy tea without having to change a thing.

Photo note: See how inspiring a flower picture can be?

Posted by Dakota at 08:04 AM