July 29, 2006

Separation Anxiety


larger and lushier

Since I am
going on vacation
for two weeks,
I am trying to be
conscious of the fact
that you will have to
look at a picture
for a loooong time
as you pine away
for my return.

Last year I believe
that I left you
languishing with the Hassidim.


Bigger and more beautiful

This year I let
the Big Baby
have at it,
and she has slathered
the screen with roses
that she has been
pleading to post


life sized and lavish

More sophisticated aspects
of myself
thought you might enjoy
a written scent
to accompany
all the damn flowers


up close and personal

the whole flower

and my etherial self
felt that you could
use a full screen
meditation on beauty
for the purpose
of healing your soul
in this troubled world

Go for it

full screen meditation version

Au revoir
Sensuous sentiments
I'm unplugging now

Posted by Dakota at 06:47 AM

July 28, 2006

Only Four Stars?


Throwing up

a few entries
before departure


the chickenhawk flag
for the bird brained

quite a sassy

Photo note: One more for the desecrated American flag collection

Lots to click while I'm on vacation for a fortnight -- almost.

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Posted by Dakota at 07:19 PM

July 27, 2006

Reporting the Apocalypse,


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Mercy, CNN has just brought us NINE full minutes of Apocalypse Coverage.

And the precipitating news occasion? The surfacing of an ancient gospel from the depths of an Irish bog. The early medieval book of psalms is thought to have been written, in Latin, between 800 to 1000 A.D. Fine. An interesting scientific discovery -- those ancient texts are turning up all over the place lately.

Now here's the part where CNN goes Dakota on us. There was a perceived "message" involved in the discovery. Wouldn't you just know it, the mucky little book was open to Psalm 83, the one where god hears complaints that other nations are trying to smite the state of Israel.

The science and anthropology department over at CNN got busy fleshing out the story, and what experts did they chose to interview? Ann Coulter? (Oh, I forgot, this blog is shunning her).


Authors, and we use the term loosely, Jerry Jenkins and Joel C. Rosenberg -- "who share the view that the Rapture is nigh" -- Kyra Phillips, the CNN "reporter", throws her whole self into it.

ROSENBERG: Well, this is -- this is about -- this is the prophecy that says that God is going to cause the nations of the world -- the leaders of the nation almost get drunk with the dream of recapturing Jerusalem. Now, the Bible says that Jerusalem will come back under Jewish control in the last days. That'll be one of the indicators. Well, that's where we are today. But, what are we watching? Saddam Hussein or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hezbollah leader [Hassan] Nasrallah, they're all drunk with the dream of capturing Jerusalem. That's what The Copper Scroll novel is about, which is this battle, this intense battle to liquidate the Jewish people and liberate Jerusalem. I mean, are we seeing that happen? It's hard not to say that we are. I mean, that's why I've gotten invited over to the CIA and the White House and Capitol Hill, because people -- it's not that they necessarily believe the prophecies, but they want to understand the prophecies in the Bible in light of what's going on right now.

PHILLIPS: Do you think they're taking what you're saying and incorporating it into foreign policy?

ROSENBERG: I wouldn't go that far. But I would say -- I would say that Bible prophecy is an intercept from the mind of God. It's actually fairly remarkable intelligence, and that's why my novels keep coming true, because mine are on this side of the Rapture, leading up to Jerry and Tim's books, but they suggest events that the Bible does lay out that will get us closer to those events. And, in fact, one by one in The Last Jihad, my book The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, and now The Copper Scroll, have this feeling of coming true. I think that's why a million copies have sold. They're New York Times best-sellers, because they're based on Bible prophecy, and they are coming true bit by bit, day by day.

PHILLIPS: Jerry, what do you think about what Joel wrote, about watching the Russian-Iranian alliance seeking to wipe out Israel?

JENKINS: Well, I find it very fascinating, and of course, Joel is a real geopolitical watcher. You know, compared to him, I'm just a novelist. But as he said, we're talking -- you know, Dr. LaHaye and I are writing about things that are yet to come in the far future. But one of our takes is that nothing else has to happen before Jesus returns. He could do it at any time. And regardless who's in charge or what the state of the temple is, we feel all the prophecies have been fulfilled leading up to the return of Christ, which means it could be today, tomorrow, next week, or a hundred years from now. I'm fascinated by all the stuff that Joel is watching and seeing and just love hearing him talk t it.

PHILLIPS: Joel, do I need to start taking care of unfinished business and telling people that I love them and I'm sorry for all the evil things I've done?

ROSENBERG: Well, I think that would be a good start. I mean, Jesus loves the people of the Middle East. Matthew 15 -- Jesus was in southern Lebanon. Why? Telling the people of Lebanon that he loved them, that God loved them. What's interesting is I was just at the Iraqi prime minister's speech today. You know, the Bible taught in Jewish theology and Christian that Iraq will be reborn as a country and be phenomenally peaceful and prosperous, and then a huge dictator known as the Antichrist will arise. Watching this speech today in the House of Representatives, the first speech by an Iraqi prime minister to a joint session of Congress, bit by bit we're watching Revelation and the other prophecies get closer and closer to fulfillment.

Ah, CNN, just puttin' two and two together again to better serve the public. As Alexander Hamilton warned us years ago, the masses are asses (47% of Americans approve of how Bush is handling the Israeli- Hezbollah conflict), and CNN is actively contributing to their ignorance.

I know, I know, all of us here at Dakota do this kind of stuff alot, but we promise to stop when we become a national news source.

As a summer reading alternative to the Left Behind Series, so that we can all develop a little more critical paranoia, may I suggest "The Zombie Survival Guide: Compete Protection from The Living Dead. I wonder if Max Brooks will get an invitation to the White House.

Photo note: An apocalypticesque shot of a chimney brush

Addendum: Real wisdom

Posted by Dakota at 06:24 PM

July 26, 2006

Bird Watching


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Since I leave on my cyberdeprived vacation shortly, I cannot possibly do so without a bird flu update. Could you tell by the photograph?

The good news is that a promising new vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Since it will cost about $7.50 a dose, it will be impossibly expensive to administer in poverty stricken countries where a human to human virus is most likely to occur. GSK is talking to Bill and Melinda, who might come through with the cash -- the privitization of government responsibility at work.

God forbid GSK should disappoint their voracious stockholders by making the vaccine more affordable. After all, things like this cost money to develop, even though most of the bird flu budget from the US Treasury has gone to big pharmaceutical companies to fund just such projects, at the expense of public education and public health measures. (To be fair, this may not be true in Britain, but Tony usually plays follow the leader quite precisely.)

The emerging organization of a "waiting list" for Tamiflu, administered by its manufacturer, is an prime example of corporate interests, once again, superceding the greater good.

While we're on the subject of birds, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent essay on the chickenhawk; a species found in the muckiest swamps of Washington D.C. and in the air all over the central regions of this country.

Photo note: Unnecessary

Posted by Dakota at 09:37 PM

Beach Bride


View the shoes

I know
I know
I gave up
long ago

but she
was such a
beachy bride
I couldn't resist
although I tried

had a thought
that's not
worth sharing
that there
are other
she's wearing

Photo note: Another wedding on the boardwalk. The limo chauffeur held my bike while I snapped this shot.

Posted by Dakota at 09:29 AM

July 25, 2006

Poster children


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Here is the iconic picture that should be on the front page of The New York Times, and every other self respecting newspaper in the country.

But it isn't. It's much too "terrible".

Reality is much too terrible.

We shouldn't have to look at something like this, nor would we want to expose our children to it, although it's perfectly fine to expose Lebanese children to worse.

William Sloane Coffin said that evil is the lack of imaginative sympathy for others. We are seeing it here.

Although Condi doesn't think it's so bad. She took her own sweet time, but of course her favorite cowboy is calling the shots with a little help from his friends. Meanwhile thousands have died, lost their homes, are permanently maimed and traumatized. The economy of a democracy is devastated. Perhaps there are a more than a few Lebanese who have developed hatred toward the USofA. Just what we had in mind.

It is said that with the publication of Nick Ut's photograph of Kim Phuc, the napalmed Vietnamese child, public support for the Vietnam war began to wane.

What images do we need to see this time to understand the what we have wrought, to put a stop to the lizard-brained behavior of our leadership -- or are we much too busy saving the frozen fetus.

Photo note: Recognize the lizard?

Addendum: Now that you looked at the horrors, you could probably use a shot of breathtaking beauty

Posted by Dakota at 07:19 AM

July 23, 2006

Oh Dear, Another Sign from The Universe


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Almost forgot to publish what I nearly stepped on last Sunday morning. This photo is as I originally saw it. I included my toe for size perspective ( painted with month-old, Sally Hansen Opalescent, "a multidimentional pearl formulation").

Of course, I took it as a sign. The reptile rests on top of the hologram, whose foundation is shadow, darkness, unconscious. Haven't we just been talking about this? Isn't it a metaphor for the state of of the world?

My further interpretation -- if you can bear it. The lizard, known for its strange beauty, rather than its intellect, represents the amygdala, a primitive brain structure, that gathers sensory information, and decides whether or not any particular external situation is ordinary or dangerous. If ordinariness prevails, the amygdala compiles incoming sensory signals into a complete experience, and sends the compiled information to other brain structures for cognitive polishing, finding words for the experience, filing it appropriately for retrieval, having feelings about what happened, and folding all of that into the crevices of the brain as an experience that might be remembered or not. In an emergency, the amygdala skips all that and signals the adrenals instantly, thus producing a quick shot of adrenalin. Cognition, compilation and storage functions are overridden, and the body shifts into fight, flight or freeze mode.

The amygdala is the reptilian brain. It is primitive. It is responsible for survival under dangerous circumstances. Very handy in the olden days when predators wanted to eat you for dinner. The amygdala doesn't think, it acts, and it acts to flee from, fake out, or destroy a perceived threat. Acting solely from signals from the amygdala, unmitigated by the higher brain functions of thought or empathy, causes wars, cruelty and abuse in "civilized" society.

The black bat covered with holographic paper represents the more complex part of our brains. A bat, considered spooky in our culture, is, in fact, a most helpful, benign animal. The sizeable black area of this bat represents the unconscious mind, the part of ourselves which we have not brought to the light. It's substantial , and underlies everything. More often than not it holds information gleaned directly from the amygdala, which is raw, difficult to examine in oneself, and painful to contain. There are some, nay many, who prefer to project all that they hold in their unconscious onto others. Mentioning names at this point would only be projection on my part.

The holographic paper, covering the bat represents the complexity of the frontal cortex, it's many layers and interactions - what we know in many dimensions -our conscious cognitive process. Comparatively, it's pretty thin.

To summarize the message (you may think I'm making a little too much of this, but I shan't let that deter me). Right now many of the horrors of the world are caused by the unthinking actions of the reptilian brain. Underlying, and supporting the actions of the reptilian brain, is the darkness of the unexamined unconscious. When denied parts of self are projected onto others, others are perceived as dangerous.

The holographic paper is our multidimensional cognitive awareness -- a very thin layer indeed.

For heaven's sake, tell those children to keep better track of their toys. We don't want to be subjected to many more of these sign-from-the-universe entries.

Photo note: Not a particularly pretty picture.

Addendum: Some thoughts from the enlightened Wiliam Sloane Coffin, who is an exemplar for mutlitdimensional cognitive awareness.

. Evil is the lack of imaginative sympathy for others
. Nothing is more dangerous than the misunderstanding of evil as something outside yourself.
. Self righteousness destroys our ability for self criticism.
. We need to recognize our complicity in the things we abhor.

. We get so caught up in defense that we lose the things that are worth defending
. The United States is not a melting pot, it's a pressure cooker
. Bush is popular because people prefer certainty to truth
. People want the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought
. Some people need enemies to tell them who they are

. Biblical mandate is to pursue justice and search for peace
. When religion and politics are mixed the questions is, "Who is the god that tells them who they are?".

. People are drawn to decisiveness, but it's more important to have the right decision
. Faith is not believing without truth
. Faith is defined by rigid doctrine which is often erroneous and can divide, love can only unite

. Hell is truth seen too late

Posted by Dakota at 06:33 AM

July 22, 2006



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better photos of the spectacle

For the last twelve years, several times a month between May and September the center of Providence, Rhode Island is transformed into a sacred space. WaterFire , created by artist Barnaby Evans, is a series of 100 lighted braziers floating in the converging rivers of downtown Providence. Until I was immersed in the experience last weekend, I really didn't understand why it was interesting at all. It is transformative public art, and it is wonderful.

The atmosphere is medieval and romantic. Fires blaze on the water, the primordial scent of burning wood, and the sounds of mystical music permeate the air. The center of the city, though teeming with people of all ages, nationalities and classes, is sublimely quiet. WaterFire is free, accessible to anyone, at any level. Every part of it is intentional. It is a citywide sacred ritual.

The number of floating braziers has grown from eleven in 1994 to a hundred today. It takes a monumental cooperative effort to transform the municipal space. The preparations for the fete are assembled, disassembled and reassembled each time. I suspect that the intentionalityof the preparation contributes greatly to the power of the ultimate experience. Each event requires the active participation of municipal employees, permanent FireWater staff and as many as 250 volunteers.

This summer each of the seventeen presentations of Firewater are corporately sponsored. Sponsors are treated royally, given gondola rides on the water and special tents in which to their entertain guests. What an ingenious way to remind those caught up in corporate culture of the sacred. Perhaps there is even some healing taking place.

The ongoing expansion and elaboration of FireWater, it's universal appeal, in spite of the many resources it absorbs, speaks to an unmet need for authentic sacred experience outside of stifling institutions.

Photo note: The prettiest picture I took that evening - a sound stage close to the water. As usual, I took many blurry shots with my poor little handheld camera.

Addendum: more transformational art

Posted by Dakota at 08:14 AM

July 21, 2006

Fine lines


make it larger, so you can read the tattoo


a living

quite uncanny

Photo note: Snapped at the pizza parlor -- I did not even see the tattoo until I downloaded the picture. A message for our time?

Posted by Dakota at 04:52 PM

July 18, 2006

Bit of a Scare


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Had a bit of a scare today. The electricity went off in a machine somewhere in the subterranean bowels of the organization that that brings all of us here at Dakota into your personal computer, and almost erased everything. A lesson in being conscientious about backup , I suppose.

I thought about Teju Cole (aka Abdul-Walid of Acerbia) who has removed most of his eloquent essays from cyberspace, and Arthur Silber, who almost did the same. Intentional deletion. Gee Whiz. I do hope it is because they have both received book contracts.

As Esther Hicks, channeling Abraham, ever the optimist, said (and I paraphrase) to an artist who was devastated because she lost all of her work when her car was stolen ---Your work isn't you. It is a manifestation of your creation in a particular time and space. You are now who you have become from participating in the process of creating. Whatever you manifest next will reflect that which you have become, and it will be even more wonderful because you have been practicing intentional creation for some time. You have never before created from the place of who you are now.

That just reminded me of an artist acquaintance who, when asked how long it took her to paint a particular picture. said "Forty seven years"-- her chronological age..

Although I would be sad to loose my archives because they trace my developmental path, from a terrified wreck of a being who had always been negatively scrutinized, and projected those critical eyes out onto all the world, to a rather surprised narcissist, who realized that the world hardly notices what she's doing, to a more or less adult person who has found a voice, and likes going on (and on) about what she sees. I'd still do that, even if I were erased.

Photo note: A Fourth of July leftover found lying on the street, looking rather frightened. One in the collection of the exploded fireworks series.

Posted by Dakota at 07:50 PM

July 17, 2006

More Outsider Art


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My neighbor,
has created
yet another
piece of
outsider art
for our perusal

notice the
in stark
white tape

the naive
use of toy

it was

I liked it

Photo note: as above

Posted by Dakota at 10:34 PM

Torture and me


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So last week, for those of you who follow my every word, you may remember that I was inundated by references to torture, which I wrote about as synchronicity, just as if it had nothing to do with me.

I also neglected to mention that I sat with a woman last week who had been brutalized by a lynch mob as a child, while her family looked on. Since she was probably only three at the time, she had no ability to understand the experience, no language with which to frame it's horrors, and no way, but dissociating from her body, to tolerate the terror and helplessness she experienced. In one way or another she has been reliving the experience (sadly, one of many) her whole life. Sitting with me, she finally felt what had so shocked and terified her. She heard herself scream the most blood curdling screams. At last, she understood that she was tortured, and to what degree she was tortured. This week she is much more able to be present in her own life, with empathy.

Did I ask myself what was resonating inside me to be attracting so much material on the same subject? Of course not.

I have had a lifelong struggle with continence in the area of feeding myself. I find it especially hard when I'm tired, and my will is weak. I saw my nutritionist on Friday, and she thought my difficulty has some relationship to sucking. That made sense, since whatever the problem is, it has been exacerbated since I stopped smoking-- the ultimate in wonderful sucking experiences. We have already addressed my mother's repulsion for breast feeding (even though she did it). So we moved on to thumbsucking.

The story of how my thumbsucking habit was "broken" . You must remember, I was quite a wreck as a child, eager to please and appease a mother who was dissatisfied with the imperfect child whom she had birthed. She worked relentlessly to correct the situation. Thumbsucking, mine in particular, wasn't her thing. I can imagine tha it was mine, a much needed comfort in a disapproving environment.

Now that I'm writing this I remember that I always had a great deal of difficulty getting to sleep as a child, and would lie awake for hours, flailing myself with trangressions of the day. I was ultimately saved by learning to read, and reading myself to sleep. A thumb would have come in really handy.

Here's the method my mother used. At age three or four, I was introduced to a pair of leather cuffs, that extended from my wrist to my upper arm ( I couldn't find a good picture of them on the net, even on James Dobson's website). They were brown, laced on, and had decorative little holes in them for ventiation (like old fashioned kid's shoes). I can still smell them. I remember having them laced over my elbows before bed, so that I couldn't bend my arms and suck my thumb. Later in life, when I questioned my mother about the cuffs (I can't even think what to call them), she said that they were recommended by my pediatrician.

Even though it seems almost inconsequential to me as I describe it, when I tell the story, others seem horrified. I am definitely dissociated from my own experience. As I imagine trying to get my thumb in my mouth, straining around the cuffs, I can duplicate much of the body tension that plagued me for years.

In contrast, a dear and close orthodontist I know has a thumbsucking secession program that involves a complex interview with the child (never under age 6), in which the child is asked of he or she wants to stop, what the current stresses are in his or her life, whether he or she is still finding comfort in the habit, or feels embarassed to suck thumb in front of friends. If the child wants to try to stop, a chart and a list of suggestions and reminders is provided. The child is asked to call the orthodontist daily for a month and chat about his or her progress for a few minutes. A material reward awaits at the end of the month.(no, not the chair that goes up and down, but something neat). The orthodontist also shares with them that he sucked his thumb until he was twelve.

Another dear friend spent several excrutiating hours the other day searching with her nine year old son for "William", the special rock he holds in his hand when he sucks his thumb. He was completely despondent without William. Fortunately after a thorough search, which included the baseball diamond (you can imagine how many William look alikes were out there), William was located, to everyone's relief.

So was that my torture? I must say that I have felt more able to be continent after acknowledging how hard it must have been for me to give up thumb sucking in that way. Maybe it did have an effect on me. Maybe it wasn't torture. Maybe it was.

Petit torture for a sensitive child. Why is it important? Because when the pain of that little child is split off from my consciousness, it repeats the original trauma, in one variation or another, over and over again, until I understand how much it hurt. Now that really sucks, so to speak.

Oh I have gone on and on.

Photo note: Shadows and decorative holes -- a shot of my unconscious

Posted by Dakota at 10:11 AM

July 14, 2006

July 13, 2006



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I want yours
it was mine first


boom boom
boom boom boom

I hate you
I hate YOU

I'll teach my children to hate you
I'll teach MY children to hate YOU

I'll annihilate you
I'll annihilate YOU


we'll all
be annihilated

I get it now
we are one

if I die
you die

well what do we do now?

I know

let's start
all over

I hate you
I hate YOU.....

Photo note: Primitive

Addendum: Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

Posted by Dakota at 07:40 PM

July 12, 2006

Torture Pays a Call


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Sometimes the synchronicity message flashes neon and I know I'm supposed to write about something. I hate to tell you this, but yesterday's theme was torture.

First, a friend directed me to a series of excellent, no, superb, essays on torture its ineffectiveness, and its consequences, by Arthur Silber (who may have paid a heavy price for his excellent work). While you''re visiting, don't miss his essays on Alice Miller. She is a Swiss psychologist known best for linking German childrearing practices to the rise of Hitler.

Then, someone that I see brought in a new book entitled"Victims of Cruelty: Somatic Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" which I have ordered but not read.

Someone else gave me a video documentary of Stanley Milgram's famous social science experiments at Yale. in which he showed that otherwise decent people could be influenced by authority to inflict a great deal of pain on others.

Finally a friend called looking for a referral. She had been contacted by one of the spooky Federal agencies and asked to treat a victim of, guess what, torture. She uses something called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensatization) which is a most effective for post traumatic stress disorder.

I think I said yesterday that synchronicity was my favorite thing. I do prefer light synchronicity to shadow synchronicity, but I'll be more specific when I ask next time.

I heard a snippet of George Soros on Terry Gross' show. She wasted a good five minutes repeating vitriolic names he is called by the right wing, including "Satan". Actually, I thought she confronted the dignified, thoughtful Mr. S. rather stridently, and I finally got it -- Terry isn't unbiased and shy. She never confronts any of her right wing interviewees. I thought that was because she wasn't confrontational . I changed my mind. Mr. Soros believes that the more one starts a war on something, the worse the problem gets, as in drugs and terrorism. He is concerned about the neverending cycle of violence. Tortureis part of that cycle..

Photo note: a ferocious dog, the bricks and an electric wire -- as close as I could get to torture equipment imagistically. I am proud to say I haven't (and won't) stalk torture photos, so it's lean pickings in the archives.

Posted by Dakota at 02:44 PM

July 11, 2006

Through the Curtain


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My supervision group met yesterday after a two month hiatus. We noticed that, at almost every gathering any of us has attended lately, there is talk of impending doom. How do we live with that?

One of us subscribes to YES! Magazine, a publication of The Positive Futures Network and finds it quite uplifting.

The Positive Futures Network (PFN) and its publication YES! magazine start with the belief that we need deep change if we are to avoid the breakdown of society and the natural world. Our hope lies in the fact that millions of people around the world are creating the needed changes in their homes, communities, work places, and nations. Powerful innovations are taking hold within agriculture, businesses, criminal justice, schools--virtually every sector of society. This work is barely visible in the media and the prevailing political discourse – yet holds the promise of transforming the foundations of our world.

You can get a little flavor by perusing the content of back issues and reading about the interesting conferences editor, Sarah van Gelder is attending this summer.

While trying to keep one's psyche out of the toilet, it is important to remember to focus on solutions rather than problems, as the things we don't want cascade down upon us. Deepak Chopra (not my favorite spiritual leader) has a very nice piece to that effect.

Another lovely group member had just finished reading, and recommended. "On Desire" by William B. Irvine

Our evolutionary past, Irvine claims, has wired us for endless dissatisfaction since, from an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn't matter if we're miserable as long as we survive and reproduce. Early humans who basked in contentment, he argues, were less likely to survive than ones with a nagging itch to better their lot. Given this treadmill, how can we lead happy, meaningful lives? Irvine shares the advice of those who claim that "undesirable desires arise because we care what other people think of us." Examining teachings of Zen Buddhists, the Amish, the Hutterites, Hellenistic philosophers (the Stoics, Epicureans and Skeptics) and others, he concludes, "the best way to gain... lasting satisfaction... is to change not the world and our position in it but ourselves... we should work at wanting what we already have."

Personally, I am a great proponent of cultivating desire. As far as I'm concerned it's what makes life worth living. I do think we need to broaden the content of our desires, so that they are not exclusively limited to having material goods and bigger boobs, (not that it's wrong, just fleeting). I am trying to expand my desires to encompass areas that might prove more satisfying, and take up less space --- You know, like community, friendship, learning, psychological growth, spiritual awakening, beauty, peace, creative expression and, my personal favorite, synchronicity.

Esther Hicks channeling Abraham, says that we get in trouble with desire, when we desire something that doesn't manifest quickly. We forget to enjoy what we have, and begin to focus on what we don't have, thus making ourselves miserable along the path. She says that you hardly ever hear anyone complaining in August that Christmas isn't here yet.

The trick is to stay in eager anticipation, like many of us do with Christmas (not me, of course). When you can stay curious along the way, it's not necessary to give up desire entirely, like the gurus tell us (just ask Deepok) -- bujust don't get all twisted and embittered while you're waiting.

And then there was a highly enthusiatic recommendation of "A General Theory of Love", which I need to read before I write about. Check back next year.

Photo note: You are left to make your own associations.

Posted by Dakota at 06:31 AM

The Fairy Roses


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a revived morning
fitness ritual
may lead to
shorter entries
and more
flower pictures

or maybe
I'll just
give up
my day job

Photo note: All abloom at the cottage-- the fairy roses at their most spectacular, in addition to milkweed, yucca and, mid right, hydrangea -- topped by the blooming eucalyptus tree--- all red white and blue for the patriotic. Fairy roses, though wild and ubiquitious around here, are extremely difficult to cultivate -- I've been trying to get them to grow on the other side of the front path for thirty years. My neighbor who is an avid gardener, doesn't have a one, and it's not for lack of trying.

Posted by Dakota at 06:05 AM

July 10, 2006

Tiger Lilies (Grrrrrr....rrr)


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I just wanted to publish a pretty picture or two this morning, and when I pushed my usual button, I found that my publishing platform, Moveable Type, had changed its format. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to put up a new entry. I have a rigid learning style, no doubt a compensation for some undiagnosed learning disability of yore. Something like this makes me want to take an ax to my computer.

I already awoke unhappy at 3 AM this morning, having been bullied by a contractor yesterday into boxing in beautiful hand hewn beams in a very old house that's in the middle of restoration. The decision was reversed this afternoon, you will be glad to know, but not without angst.

My cellphone died too. They told me it was fixed at the Verizon Store, but it wasn't, and I need a new phone which they didn't have in stock. I have to run around town tomorrow, in blogging time, to pick up a new one at another location.

The spokes on the front wheel of my new bike started to pop, (the back wheel has already been replaced for a similar flaw). Yesterday I was riding the three speed "English racer" I had in high school, leaving the bike path, when I crashed into a bespandexed bike jock , whom I was trying to avoid, thus providing a lesson to a nine year old whose mother used our collision as a warning to him not to enter said path at breakneck speed. I fell off the old clunker in front of a rather large audience, and smashed up my knuckles (not punching him out, unfortunately).

I am told that Mercury is in retrograde.

I have three wonderful friends who are having health crises, all of whom thought their problems were resolved, only to find that they need further treatment. Now that's something to complain about.

Shut your mouth now, Dakota, and put up the pretty pictures.


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Photo note #1: A day lily posed before my neighbor's tipped over blue garbage can. Excellent prop.
Photo note #2: A day lily with milkweed in full bloom

Posted by Dakota at 05:27 AM

July 07, 2006

Uncanny Valley


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Once again, unplugged, so to speak, for the weekend. Thought I'd provide some educational entertainment, so you wouldn't pine away for yours truly.

Ever hear of the Uncanny Valley? According to Wikipedia

The Uncanny Valley is a principle of robotics concerning the emotional response of humans to robots and other non-human entities. It was theorized by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. The principle states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes strongly repulsive. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being's, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-human empathy levels.
Emotional response of human subjects is plotted against anthropomorphism of a robot, following Mori's results. The Uncanny Valley is the region of negative emotional response for robots that seem "almost human". Movement amplifies the emotional response.....
This gap of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely-human" and "fully human" entity is called the Uncanny Valley. The name harkens to the notion that a robot which is "almost human" will seem overly "strange" to a human being and thus will fail to evoke the requisite empathetic response required for productive human-robot interaction.

The manufacturer's and users, of prosthetics are aware of their aesthetics as well as the uncanny valley. I am told, though I cannot find much about this issue, that instead of trying to perfectly duplicate a body part, and landing smack in the uncanny valley, manufacturers consider going the other way, making a limb obviously artificial, in order to avoid repulsion.

Some examples of uncanny valleyness are The Philp K. Dick Android Project (remember Philip?) and the robots over at Hanson Robotics. Really, watch all the movies and see if you drop into a valley or two.

On the more artificial side of the robotics curve we have the The Sultan's Elephant and The Little Girl Giant street performance projects by the Royal de Luxe.

If you don't have QuickTime Player, here's a free download. The Little Girl Giant is mandatory -- and I never say that, now do I?.

Photo note: The only android I ran across this week -- so what if he's got lobsters in his belt. Beggars can't be chosers.

Posted by Dakota at 07:02 PM

Ann Coulter is Bad for America


At the risk of becoming a hatemonger myself, (oh, well, what the hell), I am more than pleased, nay, I am positively ecstastic, that Ann Coulter has been nailed to the "Godless" cross for plagiarism.

On Sunday, I was shocked to note that her stale collection of fascist rantings had reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, in spite of the fact that I buried a whole pile of the putrid texts under Scott Turow at Costco the other day. Please do your part when you are able.

As Jon Stewart said about "Crossfire", I would say about Ann Coulter. She's bad for America. We have seen the horrible consequences of generating needless hatred in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. Let us not give anymore airtime or attention to this narcissistic, anorexic plagiarist. She's also bad for women with eating disorders.

As Ismail Serageldin so eloquently states in his essay on the Muslim cartoons, "Accumulated Fuel and Dangerous Sparks"

I do not seek legislation, but social consciousness. For it is social consciousness that establishes the norms of acceptable behavior. Freedom of expression remains our most precious right, and how we practice it tends to be conditioned more by social consciousness than by legislation. In the US, where stereotypes were widespread, and epithets for the various ethnic groups that make up the American population were commonplace, it is no longer admissible to mock the Jews or to make racist remarks about the blacks, or to show native Americans as bloodthirsty savages. Movies and shows that featured “Steppin Fetchit” and “Amos and Andy” have given way to shows like “Roots” and to films that show blacks as well-rounded human beings. Gradually, every group is allowed to keep its dignity, and children are taught to exercise mutual respect when talking of or to others. Stereotyping and derogatory remarks based on race, religion, or national origin are rejected by society as unacceptable.… when will the norm of unacceptability of such behavior towards Arabs and Muslims become widespread in Western societies?....

In these redoubled efforts, as we drain the cumulated combustible fuel, we should be wary of the sparks, especially when they have no socially redeeming value commensurate with the harm that they do … We should look at those who initiate the sparks, those who would light the fires, recognize them for what they are and use the words of the Prophet Muhammad when he was being stoned and insulted by the non-believers, “God guide them to the right path, for they know not what they do”… almost the same words that Jesus used before him.

We should move from confrontation to dialogue, and from dialogue to understanding, and from understanding to a working alliance for the common good of all humanity. Let the constraints on our speech be those of self-imposed civility and honesty. Let us dismiss and ignore those who will not adhere to that minimum of decency that all societies demand towards their minorities. Let us together “fashion those wise constraints that make people free”.

Unfortunately, Ismail Serageldin is not a skinny, hair flipping blonde, with an inflammatory style, and, therefore, is unlikely to appear on Fox News.

Let us hope that the despicable Coulter person has been sufficiently discredited, and will henceforth be ignored.

Photo note: The best I could do for a blonde in patriotic regalia with her mouth open. I didn't publish a big version, in hopes that you would mistake the photo for a candid of Ann Herself in one of her outfits. You didn't? Right, Annie doesn't wear a hat, since it would interfere with that hair flipping/blowing in the breeze thing. Is cowboy still in style since W. apologized?

Addendum: I found a better illustrative photo for this, but I already published it.

Posted by Dakota at 09:24 AM

July 06, 2006

Support our Troops


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"The Stars and Stripes", the daily newspaper of the military, was given an exclusive interview with the President on July 4th, aboard Air Force One, in full mufti. (Does anyone remember Bill Clinton getting dressed up like this? Oh. I know, it must be the Fidel Castro look.)

The S&S thought our troops might have a couple of questions for their Commander in Chief. As always, a straight shooter, W. answered them honestly. Frankly, it was shocking. A summary:

. He's never been to a soldier's funeral -- on principle, of course. There are so many dead soldiers, how would he be able to pick and choose?

. When asked about special benefits for those who have served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan "He said he had already worked to increase military benefits but he had nothing specific in mind for troops who had deployed many times. 'I will work with Congress if people bring up good ideas,' he said. " How is it that this man can change the Constitution so breezily, and must rely on stingy old Congress to approve things like bonuses? Why, having a Congress to use this way is like having your police state, and eating it too.

. He couldn't guess how many times folks would be required to return to the war, but he could be fairly certain that the length of a tour of duty would not be reduced from a year to six months.

. Nope, can't pinpoint an end to this war -- completely depends on the ground situation.

But things are going very well in Iraq, so I'm sure this left the guys in an upbeat frame of mind. Wonder if I can get to the Letters to the Editor over at Stars and Stripes? Funny thing July 5 and 6 are missing.

Photo note: Hey wait a minute, all the stars are missing too.

Posted by Dakota at 06:25 AM

July 05, 2006

Some Cookie


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The Fourth of July provides a plethora of photo ops for the amateur, particularly one interested in metaphorophotographically documenting the distortion and/or bastardization of the symbol of democracy.

Let's see, who has had his hand in the cookie jar, grabbing giant cookies from the U.S. Treasury, besides the Dick from Halliburton. Oh goodness, it's our new Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson , although he might just donate his purloined proceeds to the charity of his choice. I wonder if there is such a thing as a born again Christian Scientist? I dunno, that scientist part.........

In any case, they will undoubtedly need plenty of napkins on which to wipe their sticky fingers.


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On the bright side, the Supreme Court, for some unfathomable reason, (perhaps because Chief John recused himself [only to have his original decision reversed]), nipped at the Bushie balls by insisting on (over)due process for the folks at Guantanamo -- you know, the ones who try to get attention by killing themselves. Impressive. Maybe the justices are thinking about their legacies, and remembering Stalin's.

Photo note: The cookie, by the way, is a foot in circumference, and of the flavor chocolate chip. I forgot to shoot my thumb to give you a sense of scale. Both pictures were taken at Stop&Shop, whose managers aren't nearly as touchy about a person taking photographs on their premises as those at Whole Foods. But then again, they don't stack their oranges into perfect pyramids either.

Posted by Dakota at 09:17 AM

July 04, 2006

Fourth of July


BOOM boom

out there.
I'm back.
And maybe
I'm not alone

Just kidding.

The village
fireworks show
was scheduled
for Saturday night
July the first



to give
me time
to siphon
shots to


zzzzzeeeee BaBOOM

and pop them out
to cyberspace
upon the fourth

independence day


pop, pop, pop, pop,pop

Alas they
are not
the classic
firework art
you see
in magazines


hiss hiiss hiss double hiss booom

when will
I ever
learn not
to lean



on others
and trees
and use
the tripod

Photo note: Weren't we just talking about ETs?

Posted by Dakota at 09:05 PM