Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On Vacation for a week

The family (the whole family) and I are on vacation for a week. So I doubt I will be posting for a while (not that that will be different from lots of weeks).

Having a family reunion in Zion (with all the Mormon overtones that implies).

But a stay over in Las Vegas should balance things out a bit.

Pictures when I return.

Monday, June 18, 2007

You light up my life

The Yes Men have struck again. Pretending to be representatives of Exxon-Mobile and the National Petroleum Council, members of the Yes Men were invited to be the keynote speakers at the GO-EXPO, Canada’s largest oil conference held in Calgary, Alberta on June 14th.

This is from the Yes Men’s press release:
In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.
"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.
"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."
The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

Security Guards took the Yes Men away and were charged with trespassing. No actual janitors were harmed during this prank. But the World Health Organization believes that real climate change caused by burning real fossil fuels will cause 150,000 extra deaths and 5 million extra illnesses each year for the foreseeable future and that those numbers could double by 2030. No oil company profits were harmed by the W.H.O.s scientific data.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Might as well be forever…

Banksy has created a new Stonehenge just in time for the Glastonberry Festival which begins on the Solstice. That is June 21st for you non-pagans. The new Stonehenge is made out of porta-potties, which are made from plastic. Since we do not know how long plastic will last, it is possible that Banksy’s Craphenge will out last Stonehenge. 4 out of 5 druids surveyed agree, they just don't make henges the way they used to.

By the way, I love Banksy’s stuff. You can check some out of his work at his website.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

These are pictures from Fleet Week in New York recently, taken by Nina Berman.

Check out the review by Michael Shaw: Losing Our Anchor in Permanant War

Guns don't kill people, they just seduce young people.

Do these people know what an M-16 is for?

America loves their military. We spend more for military than any other country. We love guns. We support our troops.

But don't show pictures of dead or wounded soldiers on TV.

Where is the glamor in that?
Put the guns in the little kids' hands so they will feel comfortable with them.

Smile for the camera.

PS-Guns are for killing people.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

U.S. Military Spent $529 Billion Last Year

Just in case you have trouble making it through the Reuters article below, the world's governments spent $1.2 trillion on military last year. America spent $529 billion of that. The next closest big spender was China with $49.5 billion.

If only we could have pushed it to $1.5 trillion, then we would all be safe. (That was sarcasm, by the way.)
And if being responsible for spending 10 times as much as our nearest competitor wasn't bad enough, keep in mind that $529 billion is over half of the entire U.S. Federal budget. That is money that is unavailable for other things, like heathcare, Social Security, education, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc...

Published on Monday, June 11, 2007 by Reuters
Global Military Spending Hits $1.2 Trillion, Study Says
by Reuters staff
STOCKHOLM - Global military spending rose 3.5 percent last year to $1.2 trillion as U.S. costs for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan mounted, a European research body said on Monday in an annual study.
The United States spent $529 billion, slightly less than the entire GDP of the Netherlands, on military operations in 2006, up 5 percent over the previous year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its latest year book.
“Taking both immediate and long-term factors into account, the overall past and future costs until year 2016 to the USA for the war in Iraq have been estimated at $2,267 billion,” it said.
Military spending in China, which is modernising its People’s Liberation Army, climbed to an estimated $49.5 billion last year from $44.3 billion in 2005.
“China’s military expenditure continued to increase rapidly, for the first time surpassing that of Japan and hence making China the biggest military spender in Asia and the fourth biggest in the world,” the institute said.
The institute, which conducts independent research on international security, armaments and disarmament, said Japan cut military expenditure in 2006 for a fifth year running and was focusing its military budget primarily on missile defence.
China and Japan, Britain and France accounted for about 4 to 5 percent each of global military expenditure last year, SIPRI said. The five biggest spenders’ share of global military expenses was nearly two-thirds of the total.
The United States and Russia were the largest arms suppliers in 2002 through 2006, each accounting for about 30 percent of global shipments, while deliveries from EU members made up another 20 percent, the institute said.
“Almost 50 percent more conventional weapons, by volume, were transferred internationally in 2006 than in 2002, according to data gathered by SIPRI,” it added.
China and India remained the largest arms importers in the world, while five Middle Eastern countries figured among the top ten importers of arms globally.
“While much media attention was given to arms deliveries to Iran, mainly from Russia, deliveries from the USA and European countries to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were significantly larger,” the institute said.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sort By Descending Order

Hurricane breaths a sigh
Dinosaurs refuse to die
Beauty is in the eye
Behold I

Confidence declines to cry
Pigs build a bigger sty
Beams from my eye
Behold I

Such a wonderful time

Friday, June 08, 2007

Can I buy a Ticket to the Mountain, Again?

The boy used to wander in the fields around his house.
“Don’t go too far,” his mother would cry.
But the boy used to wander in the fields around his house.
One day he followed the teasing of a crow.
Into the dry hills which climbed like steps
On a magic staircase lit by sun and moon
When the crow abandoned the boy
There was no sun, no moon
Just a rocky seat and a cold, cold wind


“Why did I wander so far from home?”
The boy shivered and wondered
“Who do I think I am to wander so far?”
The boy sat and shivered in that dark place
Until a silent explosion of light broke through
Clouds the boy did not know were lurking in the dark
Light blazed forth and the boy beheld that his hard seat
Was the grand pinnacle of a great high mountain.


Eventually the light was shrouded by the clouds again
And hungry for his mother’s sugar cakes, he thought of home.
The boy left the mountain and climbed down the hills
He promised the crow he would not forget the mountain
As he reentered the fields around his house
And was wrapped in the apron embrace of his mother on the porch
He promised the crow he would not forget the light
“Why did you wander so far from home?” mother asked
The boy tried to explain about the crow, the hills,
The rocky seat, the mountain and the light
But the words did not reach her heart


Mother kept the boy close to home
And frowned when ever he talked to crows
Or sang tuneless melodies about alpine light
“You must go to the town and learn your trade”
“You must please the mayor, the banker and the priest”
“You must never, ever let them hear you talking to the crows.”
So with a sack lunch in his hand
The boy put his feet on the hard road to town
And tried not to hear the complaints of the crow
Behind him in the fields around his house


Now the man works in the market square
Buying and selling but never far from his house
He greets the mayor each morning
Gossips with the banker over lunch
Bows his head and accepts the blessings of the priest
Searching for cheap groceries to take to his wife
Buying and selling but never far from his house
The crow sometimes teases him
Calling from the telephone post
The crow leaves him gleaming white gifts
Which remind the man of small mountains
Drying and crumbling slowly in the sun

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The burden of plastic

The picture is a turtle that got caught in a plastic ring when it was small.
Scientists believe small bits of plastic are getting into animals and us and causing a variety of long-term health problems.

This is from the article, Plastic Ocean in Best Life Magazine:

“Except for the small amount that’s been incinerated—and it’s a very small amount—every bit of plastic ever made still exists,” Moore says, describing how the material’s molecular structure resists biodegradation. Instead, plastic crumbles into ever-tinier fragments as it’s exposed to sunlight and the elements. And none of these untold gazillions of fragments is disappearing anytime soon: Even when plastic is broken down to a single molecule, it remains too tough for biodegradation. Truth is, no one knows how long it will take for plastic to biodegrade, or return to its carbon and hydrogen elements. We only invented the stuff 144 years ago, and science’s best guess is that its natural disappearance will take several more centuries. Meanwhile, every year, we churn out about 60 billion tons of it, much of which becomes disposable products meant only for a single use. Set aside the question of why we’re creating ketchup bottles and six-pack rings that last for half a millennium, and consider the implications of it: Plastic never really goes away.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Free Floating Dread

Primal techniques
For the next 5 minutes
What shape is it?
Where is it in my body?

Fighting the urge to flee
Turning to distractions
Shining pebbles
Cast into my pond

Standing firm
Is a brittle exercise
Flexibility generates
More intimate collisions

I forget that the rules
Are only for a game
I wanted to play
Now turned deadly serious

Shaken by these watery winds
Smelling of blood and urine
I find I am more buoyant
Than this free floating dread

Just Now

Watching: The Fountain

I bought and watched the DVD of Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Fountain. It starred Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. It came out last year and did not make much of a splash. I was intrigued at the time of its release that reviewers who loved Jackman as a super hero and even as a magician, hated this film. One of them I remember called it “an artsy-fartsy disaster.” I was also intrigued that so many people who never review films took time to comment on this movie. And I had seen the trailer and thought it looked visually compelling. So rather than wait for the film to emerge on one of the cable movie channels, I purchased the DVD.

I found the film to be a moving, artistically satisfying experience. Every shot in the film was visually elegant and symbolically dense. I am sure there will be many layers to explore on subsequent viewings, and I do intent to watch the film again. The number of actors was paired down to a small core, which kept the emotional focus of the film from wandering. And the thing that confused most of the reviewers, the apparent bouncing back and forth between three different story lines, was really what makes this film such a visceral experience. Many of the reviewers seemed to think that there were three separate stories going on in this film: A modern couple, a Spanish conquistador and his Queen, and a futuristic space man on a quest to a dying star. I read reviews talking about reincarnation and all sorts of things trying to tie these three “separate” stories together. But the clues that bind the stories together were all there in the film.

The only story going on in The Fountain is the story of a modern couple struggling with love and meaning as the wife approaches death and finally dies. There is no reincarnation or time travel. The wife deals with her death by constructing a personal myth, the Spanish conquistador, to symbolically explore her life, her relationship with her husband, and the search for immortality. She shares this myth with her husband and the film maker displays it for us on the screen. The husband deals with his wife’s death and dying by diving within himself in a meditative journey with sci-fi symbology appropriate to a medical researcher, and we get to see his inner journey displayed on the screen as well. Aronofsky does a masterful job of displaying the impact our internal mental, emotional and mythological conflicts have on our external world. The couple’s internal struggles and realizations drive and define the more pedestrian and mundane aspects of their life together. It is their internal adventures and how they share them and fail to share them that eventually give meaning to their time together and how they say farewell.

I understand why so many people seem to hate this movie. It takes you on a very intimate and private journey to a place we all have to go. It encourages you to look at death, your own and the death of those you love. And that is uncomfortable and scary. But ultimately the journey and the film are achingly beautiful and worthwhile. And in the end you feel that you are more able to dwell in the place where life meets death. In the end you feel it is better to be open and sensitive instead of closed and brittle.

Give this film a try. See what your reaction is. I for one found it to be trippy and beautiful, a fine combination of visual design, solid acting, and creative vision.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Debating for Dollars

I watched the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on CNN.
The obvious conclusion is that CNN aligned the candidates by fund raising ability: Hillary was center stage flanked by Obama and Edwards. Kucinich and Gavel were positioned at the extreme edges of the group. Message, the more money you have the more central you are to the debate. The three central candidates got the most on camera time as well: Obama talked for 16 minutes, Hillary for 14:26 and Edwared for 11:42. Kucinich got 9 minutes and Gravel only 5:32.
Wolf Blitzer got 13:42, but he was the “host” after all.

I thought Kucinich did the best job. In a rational America he could be our next president. But in an America ruled by money, Kucinich will never please the corporate capitalists enough to get to the White House.

Of the three candidates the corporate class have deemed acceptable, I liked Edwards the most on the issues. Obama was very smooth, but we don’t have much of a track record to judge him by. Clinton scares me, she is too comfortable with the powerful and she has accepted large donations from News Corp’s Rupert Murdock and associates. But it will probably take a lot of luck and an Obama/Edwards ticket to beat out Clinton at the DNC Convention.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


From the DNC:
In her recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, MonicaGoodling was asked briefly about "caging." Both in her opening remarks andin response to questioning by Linda Sanchez, Goodling said that DeputyAttorney General Paul McNulty knew about the involvement of Acting U.S.Attorney Tim Griffin in "vote caging," a process of systematically removingvoters from the registration rolls. McNulty had previously denied knowingof the scheme. Not mentioned in the testimony is the fact that cagingvoters is a crime.

Goodling told the committee:
-- As explained in more detail in my written remarks, I believe the deputy
was not fully candid about his knowledge of White House involvement in
the replacement decision, failed to disclose that he had some knowledge
of the White House's interest in selecting Tim Griffin as the interim
U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas, inaccurately
described the department's internal assessment of the Parsky Commission
and failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that
Tim Griffin had been involved in vote caging during his work on the
president's 2004 campaign.
[Testimony of Monica M. Goodling before the House Judiciary Committee, 5/24/2007]

Big News--No Coverage

The Rove Political Machine is stealing the 2008 election, there is evidence, and the BBC is reporting it, but there is NOTHING in U.S. newspapers or TV News. Only online outlets seem to be covering this story.

This appears to be what the U.S. Attorney firing cover up was designed to cover up.
I heard Greg Palast talking to Randi Rhodes last night.

Go read about it. I've already written to my "representatives" in Congress and the Senate. Do your part and tell your representatives that you don't like the idea of political operatives manipulating our justice system so that they can deprive Americans of their right to vote. It is especially disgusting that they seemed to be targeting American Servicepeople who were in Iraq and taking them off the voter rolls (only the black military personnel, by the way, who vote Democratic more often than not).

Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television ‘Newsnight’ reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network’s evidence on Griffin’s involvement in ‘caging voters.’ Greg Palast, reporting for BBC Newsnight, obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders.
Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.
Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US Attorneys, met Thursday evening in New York with Palast. After reviewing key documents, Conyers stated that, despite Griffin’s resignation, “We’re not through with him by any means.”
Conyers indicated to the BBC that he thought it unlikely that Griffin could carry out this massive ‘caging’ operation without the knowledge of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rove.

See Also:

You know it's got me pissed off because here I am blogging on the weekend, something I almost never do. How many times do we let this group of neocons subvert our Constitution and steal our Government?
If we keep the Internet chatter going on this story, maybe, just maybe the "mainstream media" will decide to pick it up. But maybe not because it does not fit on a bumpersticker very well.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS: Just not the black Democrats who need to have their voting rights taken away.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It Was 40 Years Ago Today…

It was 40 years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.
The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1, 1967. Happy Birthday to one of the world’s great albums. I was 4 years old when the album first came out and I don’t claim to remember hearing it that year. But by the time I was 8 and I was actively soaking in all the pop music AM radio could provide, the Beatles were a huge part of my musical education and diet. It is hard for me to imagine a world without the Beatles and their music in it. I can imagine all the people living life in peace, but I can’t imagine not listening to the Beatles. So thank you Fab Four.

Just a bit of trivia: Jesus and Hitler were originally included in the photos shot for the cover, but for some reason these two figures were edited out of the cover shot.

Sgt Pepper’s has been a big influence on several generations of artists. Here is an album insert photo from Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention’s We’re Only In It For The Money. They were going to use it as the cover, but for some reason they did not.