Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rock Star of the Space Race

“I see Earth. It’s so beautiful!”
These were the first words spoken by a man in space.

Yuri Gagarin, the first Kosmonaut, made this statement for the press and radio: "Dear friends, compatriots, and people of all countries and continents! In a few minutes a mighty ship will carry me aloft to distant space. What can I say to you in these last moments before the launch? At this instant the whole of my life seems to be condensed into one wonderful moment... To be the first to enter the cosmos, to engage, single-handed, in an unprecedented duel with nature-could one dream of anything more?”

“The journalists who knew him said that if he had not become a cosmonaut Yuri would have been a writer. When asked where his talent came from, he smiled: it was from his mother. There was no end to the songs she knew, the folk tales and the sayings of the people. The words in these songs and stories were like jewels you could string together as if on a thread, to make a beautiful necklace... Several days before the tragic accident in which he lost his life Yuri Gagarin had sent to the publisher a book entitled "Psychology and the Cosmos.”

Credits: Collage by Jay Larsen

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends from the Larsens, Washington State Branch.
Don't accept all the bad news on the TV, and make some good memories with people you love and who love you back. Eat good food. Watch some children play. Breathe some clean air. Inhabit your life--it is the only one you get.
Love and Peace.

Deja Movie

"Suffering ritual-humiliation for the sake of loved ones, these men pawn their dignity for economic survival. Surprisingly bittersweet moments and well-intentioned social commentary imbue this raucous, feel-good comedy "
Oooops. That was the description for the Full Monty, not a description of Obama's latest press conference. But for some reason that line-up and that pose just seemed familiar. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Unattainable Earth

The Unattainable Earth
Lies beyond the borders of Proof
Yet evidence collects in fabrics and skin
Tattooed with faded ink
Hinting at design
Like a history of stains
Bearing testimony to the needle
While leaving the artist unrevealed

The Unattainable Earth
Can be glimpsed in golden frames
Portraits of young men
Made old by worrying guilt
Hung crooked on careless wires
Supported by the pain of nails
Driven not into stigmata
But into moldy drywall

The Unattainable Earth
Can never be burned
By the fires Prometheus stole for man
Lonely ships sail daily
For ports described with glowing praise
In pamphlets crumpled and discarded
By those who have attained
The Earth we all stand on


Credits: Poetry and Collage by Jay Larsen

3 Cheers for Rational Deliberations

A judge on Tuesday overturned a strict Florida law that blocks gay people from adopting children, declaring there was no legal or scientific reason for sexual orientation alone to prohibit anyone from adopting.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."
She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.

Read the Article

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ring Tone Deaf

Coffee filter cigarette
Smoke signal generator
Electric blanket primary
School uniform code
Comic book binding
Ring tone deaf
Lets go shopping
Credits: Poetry and Collage by Jay Larsen

Friday, November 21, 2008

Things that go great Together

Somethings are funny, all by themselves.
Somethings go great together.
1. Sarah Palin's Unintentional Irony Theater

2. Dressing the for the table, salt and pepper shakers:

So realistic! And they dispense flavoring from the nostrils
I just wish the government would get out of my way so I can get to work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Up on God?

Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post, a conservative columnist, has an interesting take on the relationship between the Republican Party and the Fundamentalist Right. An exerpt follows:

"Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.
Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting. "

---Read the whole thing at the Washington Post

The Photo: Has nothing to do with the article but I wanted you to see it because it is awesome.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wheat Thin

Pack it in
Sit and spin
Grow a chin
Has been

IQ Tests don’t mean anything

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being Unfinished

I am an unfinished being
Unfinished is another word for Infinite

Belief is a clumsy articulation of Faith
Faith is a complete openness to the mystery
Faith is security within the unknown
Never a list of answers

I continue to widen my Faith
To accept everyone
And everything
As only a small part
Of a wide and wonderful game

The game is still unfinished
Unfinished is another word for Infinite
Infinite is another word for God
Credits: unfinished poetry and collage by Jay Larsen in part

Quote of the Day

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson: "the very purpose of the Bill of Rights is to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities... Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote, they depend on no elections."

Monday, November 17, 2008

That Little Extra Something...

The "Wall of Death" act was getting stale. It was missing something. The thrill was gone. Until Liz added a lion to her sidecar. Wow! I don't know why anyone watched before the lion...
Credit: Photo

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spinach Showdown

Red Russian
What do we know?
Aperitif vodka
Cherry liqueur
Bolshevik Sovetskaya
Kronstadt Sailors
What do we know?
Sweet Peas
Let’s start the show


Credits: Why do you want credit?

Fighting for the Future

While fighting for the future
Don’t forget the lessons of the past
But please realize
All of us must live in the now

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Polsters say Don't Blame Obama Supporters for Prop-8 have been crunching the CA Prop-8 numbers and report that blaming Obama supporters for the passage of Prop-8, the Anti Gay Marriage Initiative, is not supported by the polling.

New voters brought in by Obama voted convincingly against Prop-8.

Older Voters turned out to be the key demographic:

At the end of the day, Prop 8's passage was more a generational matter than a racial one. If nobody over the age of 65 had voted, Prop 8 would have failed by a point or two. It appears that the generational splits may be larger within minority communities than among whites, although the data on this is sketchy.

The good news for supporters of marriage equity is that -- and there's no polite way to put this -- the older voters aren't going to be around for all that much longer, and they'll gradually be cycled out and replaced by younger voters who grew up in a more tolerant era.

Trends over the years are still moving towards greater acceptance of equal rights for all, but we are obviously not there yet. Personal experience seems to indicate that the biggest impacts are made by individuals talking frankly to their friends and family. Demonstrations are good for the moral of those already convinced, but social change happens one person at a time. Take the oportunity to talk with the people you know already.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hate and Fear Play Out in Prop-8 Aftermath

Two steps forward and one step back.
That is how election night felt. We elected the first black president in America, and then California passed Prop-8 banning gay marriage.
I have been involved in discussions and back and forth with friends, coworkers, relatives (many of them in CA). And I kept thinking I should finally get my best thinking down and post it--One eloquent, convincing piece of prose that would sum up the situation and convince people to open their eyes and hearts to all people.

Well, fuck it. I can’t manage to be eloquent and I don’t know that people want to be convinced. So this is the best I can do for now. Though I still hope for eloquence and convincing argument from somebody if not from me.

This whole Prop-8 thing is really disturbing because of the involvement of the Mormon Church, the church in which I was raised and in which many of my relatives still remain active. I am not a Mormon now; thank god the constitution gives me that right. But I have a fondness for Mormons and my family. And I defend their rights to believe what they believe and to live the way they live. I also defend their rights to advocate their beliefs and to encourage others to believe as they do. So I understand when Mormons tell me that they do not want to be gay, and that they do not want other people to be gay. But there is a big difference between telling someone you don’t like what they do and telling them that what they want to do is illegal and will not be permitted, especially when the action under discussion is marriage.

Evolution and history have been moving in a fairly specific direction when it comes to human rights: more people get more rights all the time, even if we have to fight first. Agrarian societies had slavery. Industrial societies got rid of slavery. Now our society is trying to get rid of racism and sexism. There were people not too long ago who believed that letting people of different races get married was an affront to god and should be illegal. But people expanded their definitions of who was covered by the Bill of Rights and they struck down those laws eventually. History judges those people to be uninformed bigots while those who fought to educate and resist the conservative majority are now seen to have been ahead of their time. History will judge the people who voted yes on Prop-8 in the same way one day. I just hope that day is soon and not decades away.

I have heard a lot of anger from my gay friends and family. I understand. It pisses me off too. But I also believe that the anger needs to be used as fuel to drive resolution and action. That anger is not effective when poured out at the people who voted their beliefs, prejudices and fears. That anger does need to be used to calmly and clearly let people know that gays and lesbians and those who support their rights to choose their own life partners, husbands and wives, are not going away. We need to be clear that the days when gays and lesbians could be driven into the shadows are long over. Things will change. These civil rights will be defended.

The Black Panthers did not do as much for black civil rights as Martin Luther King, Jr. did. Anger and violence cause more fear and retreat into old prejudices. What we need is a combination of resolute firmness, and an invitation to all people to expand their concepts of human dignity, to open their eyes and their hearts, to change their hearts. People need to realize that these are not nameless, faceless fags they are voting against; these are their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, coworkers and church members. These are people just like them, who want to live and love as best they can. Supporting the loving relationships of others does no harm to my relationships, nor will it do any harm to yours.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Test Pattern 23

Thank you for coming here today
I have called this press conference
to make a casual observation
Love Potion Number Nine
has been recalled due to
aspartame contamination
Please proceed in an orderly fashion
Exits have been provided
at the front and rear
Don't be afraid to say
I don't know!
Credits: Poetry and Collage by Jay Larsen

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mute in the Face of Evolution

I have nothing to say
I am mute in the face of evolution
But why does it take so long?
I can spin so fast
One life time
Many revolutions
So why so slow, Evolution?
Credits: Poetry and Collage by Jay Larsen

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Glad I’m Not a Pundit

I’m glad I’m not getting paid to give my opinion about the election. I’m not sure what it all means. I’m not even entirely sure what I am feeling right now. I keep swinging round and round from one thing to another:
I’m afraid it’s all a dream and I am going to wake up to President McCain.
I’m so happy, I want to skip and jump.
I’m really impressed with Obama and his family.
I’m so afraid he will be just another politician after all this.
I feel lots of sympathy for the conservatives that got hosed by Bush & Co. then got disappointed by McCain and Palin.
I’m also afraid that the rightwing media (especially talk radio) will whip up a bunch of hate and anger right when the world could use some cooperation.
I’m so disappointed that all those Anti-Gay-Marriage propositions passed.
We make two steps forward and one step back, but always forward again.
I wish I could see Martin Luther King Jr’s reaction to all this.
I’m so happy my daughters could see this and that I got to see their reactions of delight.
I’m so looking forward to January 20th.
This is what a peaceful revolution looks like.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Polls are Closed, America is Open for Business Again

Excuse me for a second:


Wow! Talk about a home run.
Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama.

I am truly moved.

I watched the returns come in with my girls.
And I feel like we have just helped write a new chapter in the history books.

Did I say Wow?

Now the real work begins for all America and all Americans.

Waiting for the polls to close

I'll be watching TV with a beautiful redhead.
I'll be crossing my fingers.
I'll probably yell at the talking heads.
I'm used to being in the minority on election day.
I'll be hoping for a good outcome.
It would be nice to be on the winning side this time when so much is at stake.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day and Beyond

My Election Day To Do List:
1. Vote! Mail in your ballet. Stand in the huge line. Do what you have to do to cast your vote. It is one of the concrete things that citizens can do in this country. VOTE! If you don’t vote, don’t complain afterwards. Oh, and did I mention, VOTE!

2. Help other people Vote. Drive people to the polls. Cover for coworkers at work. Let your employees go and vote.

3. Don’t fuck with other peoples’ votes! Too many times our elections have been tainted because people have put up barriers and not let people vote, have interfered with the count or the recounting of votes. (Ohio 2004, Florida 2000, and lots of less publicized instances). If people are asking you to actively or passively get in the way of people voting, get the fuck out of the way. Go back to Step Number 2.

4. Watch the results come in. Cross your fingers. Pray. Rub your rabbit’s foot. Hope things go your way. Hope your candidates make it in to office. Hope the Propositions go your way.

5. If the results are unclear or very close, let the system work. We have methods for counting and recounting elections. There is no constitutional guarantee that all results will be in by Tuesday night. Sometimes it takes a few days or a week or two. Nothing bad will happen to us as a people if some districts or states need to be careful and recount things. Be patient.

6. If your candidates and issues lose, be cool, regroup and get busy working on the next election cycle. And make sure the winners represent you as well as those who voted for him/her.

7. If your candidates and issues win, be cool, regroup and get busy working on the next election cycle. And make sure the winners represent everyone, not just those who voted for him/her.

8. Make sure your new representatives at all levels of government are aware of your informed opinions on issues. Make sure your new representatives are representing you and your neighbors.

9. Make sure the people, parties and issues you are supporting are good for the country, the environment, and future generations.

10. Go back to step 1: VOTE!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Snowflake in Hand

I’ve got a handle on this
The situation is well in hand
Welcome to the new world
We dance pretty good for a white world

Everything we do
We do only for you
And by you, I mean we
Because there is no I in you
And I dance pretty good for a white dude

Spread it around
Put it down on the ground
Two in the hand, one in the bush
Let me take a picture, it lasts longer
Like a snowflake in my hand
You dance pretty good for a white girl
Credits: Poetry and Collage by Jay Larsen
Blue mood from Mission Control