Monday, April 30, 2007

What's next?

Shmuel Rosner, Chief US Correspondent for Ha'aretz, said this morning "The Israeli public stands to learn from the Winograd report what the American public has learned following the Iraq War: Successful leaders require good judgment, moderation and farsightedness. In lieu of these, they must produce victories on the battlefield."

The Winograd Report states that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed "severely" in applying sound judgment, responsibility, and caution in his management of the Second Lebanon War.

"Olmert is responsible for going to war without a proper plan. He is responsible for the goals not being carefully and clearly set."

(emphasis is mine.)

Sound familiar? Yet Olmert, despite the harsh criticism and demands that he resign, refuses to step down. He knows well that if he resigns, he might as well take up gardening because his career in politics will end. If he sticks it out, he may weather the storm. Tragicly, he may remain in power, the will of the people be damned. And this sounds all too familiar to me vis a vis our own situation in the United States. Change the name: Bush is responsible for going to war without a proper plan. He is responsible for the goals not being carefully and clearly set."

The Winograd Report also states: "part of the failures and deficiencies we found were not limited to the Lebanon war or to the decision makers we investigated."

In other words, there is a failure in the system. You can change the faces, but they all play by the same broken rules. If you want real change, the system must change. Every day, an increasing series of embarrassments are revealed in Washington and Jerusalem. Yet, despite the voice of the citizens of both the United States and Israel, Bush and Olmert remain in power. And the system remains unchanged.

We get up, we go to work (or not.) We pay our bills (or not.) We go about our day-to-day business somehow a step removed from the actual events. Yet how removed are we? Really? On Thursday night, I learned that the oldest son of a work collegue was shipped out to Iraq in January. We have a volunteer army - this kid signed up after we went to war, he knew that he'd be sent to Iraq. What does this tell me?

Over the weekend, there were concentrated sets of rallies to set the Impeachment process in motion. There are demands that Bush, and Cheney, be impeached. We're seeing Paul Wolfowitz under fire; demands that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales step down and be investigated. Randall Tobias just resigned abruptly in a scandal involving the DC Madame. In Israel, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was forced to resign a couple of months ago. What changes? What's next?

We do need to change the system, and I am not clear how we go about it. It isn't so much that I believe we need a Revolution, as I believe we need to enforce a system of checks and balances. Our system was designed to prevent absolute power. Our government has become all about creating and enforcing absolute power. This Administration, and the parallel Administration in Israel, are proof positive that Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

(cross posted at The Katrinacrat and The Fat Lady Sings)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

My baba was at a Kiwi Specialist Conference yesterday and today and she's really sleepy because she stayed up late with her friends and she got up early to go to her breakout sessions and I'm visiting my other baba with my daddy but baba said to say she will put up some pictures of me on another day because tomorrow she has to write IMPEACH in public places.

And NEXT Friday my baba is going to be away in another place because somebody is getting married to somebody else and she has to fly there. And she has a cute little black dress.

I'm playing with my cousins this weekend and then next week I start day care with other kids. Its like pre- pre- pre school.

Love from Ellie Bean.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday Topics - 50 Ways

One Million Blogs for Peace hasn't listed a Tuesday Topic, so I decided to make my own topic. And I found THIS wonderful list:

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it.
And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

1. Be a media guerilla. Use e-mail, fax, photocopies, and newsletters to broadcast the message of peace. Spread empowering information.

2. Attend a peace rally. Check out United For Peace & Justice or to find out about marches for peace around the country.

3. Host a peace speaker at an event in your community or at your workplace.

4. Get to know your neighbors. It’s hard to reclaim peace without a sense of community.

5. Make friends with someone of another race, ethnicity, age, ability, or sexual orientation. Appreciating and embracing diversity helps to promote peace.

6. Take an adventure to neighborhoods of your town or country that are ethnically focused to appreciate diverse cultures. Cross-cultural understanding is key to building peace.

7. Travel to learn. Get first-hand experience in how things happen in other places and bring home questions about how you do things at home.

8. Drive with patience and tolerance. Keep the peace on our streets and highways.

9. Listen more. Really listen, without giving unsolicited advice. The validation of being heard is often more important than solving the problem.

10. Learn to say I’m sorry. Learn to mean it. Learn when to say it and use it. These two simple words can prevent violence and save relationships.

11. Be helpful. Random acts of kindness can create more peaceful communities.

12. Spend time with a youngster. This can often remind us of the meaning of a peaceful world.

13. Practice the art of patience. Be careful not to rush to judgment or action.

14. Start peace conversations. Talking peace, and listening, are critical for a vibrant democracy.

15. Involve yourself in community parent workshops and family groups that help parents protect, nurture, and support their children.

16. Peace begins at home. Monitor, nurture, support, and involve your children and family in keeping peace.

17. Explore your prejudices. Find out what’s behind them, how they started, & how they influence your thoughts and actions.

18. Write a peace song. Peace songs are great tools for organizing and inspiring people.

19. Use music, art, stories, and drama to explore themes of peace and nonviolence.

20. Broadcast a peace message using a peace flag, poster, badge, t-shirt, or bumper sticker.

21. If you own a gun, keep it unloaded and locked up. Store the bullets in a separate place and hide the key safely away from children.

22. Find your own inner peace. Set aside a few minutes or more each day of quiet, peaceful time.

23. Join a study circle. Self-education is a fast track to empowerment toward peace.

24. Attend an educational series on non-violence. Look up peace & justice organizations in your state at United For Peace & Justice and call them for information on educational series.

25. Stay tuned to what’s going on in the world through newsletters, periodicals, newspapers, radio, TV, and online.

26. Educate yourself about the violence threatening kids in your community and nationwide. Help bring safety and peace to kids at Children’s Defense Fund and End Abuse.

27. Learn another language. Being able to communicate in a foreign language helps you participate in diverse cultures.

28. Help bring peace to the environment by reducing your carbon load emissions. Learn what you can do at our global warming campaign site at Lick Global Warming (one sweet whirled).

29. Learn how to fight fairly. Fight to resolve differences, not to win.

30. Register people to vote. One reason the political game’s gone sour is that too few of us play. Find out more at Rock The Vote or Project Vote Smart.

31. Become a volunteer on a peace project. Check out Peace Brigades International, Seeds of Peace, and the Peace Corps.

32. Volunteer at your local battered women’s shelter. Learn about the importance of non-violent conflict resolution.

33. Sign-up as a member of a peace organization like Global Exchange, United For Peace & Justice, or Peace Response.

34. Call a radio talk show. The good ones are often the town meetings of the airwaves.

35. Write letters and articles in support of peace and non-violence to the editors of your local media. Published, they can change minds, and even unpublished they can impact the media.

36. Sign a peace pledge.

37. Adopt a politician. Write a monthly letter to your Representative, Senator, or President on peace-related issues.

38. Take social action to support specific legislative peace initiatives. Try the Waging Peace site to get started.

39. Vote. Voting is your hard-earned right and your official voice. For information about the democratic voting process, visit the Federal Election Commission or the Center for Voting and Democracy.

40. Support organizations and/or campaigns that fight for basic human rights for all people. Social justice promotes peace. For a start, visit Global Exchange, or Amnesty International.

41. Run for elective office. Be a voice for non-violent conflict resolution, reasoned sanity, and balance.

42. Learn about nuclear weapons from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Sign an appeal to end the nuclear threat. Visit the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign and Waging Peace.

43. Take part in online advocacy for peace. Some good sites to get started are 20/20 Vision and The Interfaith Alliance.

44. Write to your own government; write to a foreign government. Let them know you care about what they do and hold them to the same standards for peaceful conflict resolution.

45. Call your City Council and attend the next meeting. It’s often through the strength of a group that changes are made and community is built.

46. Encourage peace projects for school classrooms. You can find some great ideas at Celebrating Peace and UNESCO.

47. Teach young people skills for non-violent conflict resolution. Learn about some great strategies from the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program or Images & Education for teachers, classrooms, parents, and students.

48. Teach young people about peace. Let your behavior reflect the values you want them to espouse.

49. Support your community’s efforts to create jobs and training opportunities for kids that help them become productive, contributing adults.

50. Dig deep. Oftentimes, reaching peaceful resolution means understanding what’s at the root of a problem rather than what’s most apparent on the surface.

Cross posted at The Katrinacrat

Impeach Cheney? Not today.

The Swamp reports that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has put his plans to Impeach VP Cheney on hold. Cheney, the man with no heart, and icewater in his veins, has a blood clot. Kucinich is defering to Cheney's health condition in an act of common decency and compassion toward a man who has neither.

The Swamp believes that Kucinich's articles of impeachment will die in committee for a variety of reasons (Nancy Pelosi, for one.) As much as I would like to see both Bush and Cheney impeached, I suspect that they really need to be brought to trial before
The International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity.

Still, Kucinich has brass ones. He speaks more to the heart and soul and less to the intellect. We need his passion, we really do.

Good News for Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic is stepping it up a few notches. In addition to ordering 15 of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, Virgin Atlantic and Boeing are working to develop a new biofuel for commercial jets in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The 787 is the most fuel efficient plane in an industry noted for not being fuel efficient. This is a plane that has big-plane range while being mid-size - sort of like the Honda Civic of flying.
The 787 burns about 27% less fuel than the Airbus, largely due to its use of composite materials rather than metal. It's fast, it's light weight, and it's coming soon to an airline near you. While it will be at least five years before biofuels are available for commercial jet use, at least there are people and companies with money who are working on it! I have hope. Anything to make me not feel guilty for doing my job.

cross-posted at The Fat Lady Sings

Monday, April 23, 2007

Saving the World for Big Oil

NOW I get it. This explains everything.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day 2007

From the Earth Day Website come these strong words:

TAKE ACTION: Each Earth Day - Cut back or go completely without man-made energy!
On April 22 Create benefits to nature and change policy - through your actions
NOTE: 2007 is the last year Earth Day Energy Fast will call for these type of actions on April 22. A unified date for Earth Day needs to be seleced (EDEF has suggested the northern hemisphere Summer Solstice - June 21/22). It is time for much more radical policies and actions to address the coming series of disasters climate change is already manifesting. EDEF had the right approach, but tired and weak Earth Day and environmental leadership failed to use it, and it seems like mere tokenism now given the colossal scale of human behavioral changes needed.

I'm home, doing laundry in cold water. Lights are off. After laundry is done, I need to walk over to the nail salon and get my nails done. Yesterday, I walked to the grocery store for a few necessary items. And I am wondering: since today is the 37th anniversary of Earth Day, and our climate crisis has gotten worse, what will it actually take for people to make the drastic changes necessary? And what am I doing differently?

My light bulbs are energy efficient compact fluorescents; I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid; I recycle. But I'm not going to stop traveling. It's just my passion. So where is my solution?

I can purchase energy offsets. Hey, it's a start!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sol LeWitt at Dia:Beacon

Wall Drawing #273: Lines to Points on a Grid

Sol LeWitt died earlier this month, and I somehow missed reading about it. And it saddens me as much, possibly more, than the death of Kurt Vonnegut. LeWitt was identified as a Minimalist, but that label really does an injustice to him, and his work.

I wish I could go to see this exhibit. I wish I could have participated in making the drawings. That was part of LeWitt's genius: his drawings were/are always made by other people based upon his written instructions. He teased. The instructions for Wall Drawing #273 are simple: Lines to Points on a Grid. No message as to how many lines, or how many points. No instructions as to the length of the lines, or the thickness. So if I were to make this drawing on one of the walls in my home, it would look quite different from the above image. But it would be connected to it as surely as if Mr. LeWitt were standing next to me telling me what to do.

LeWitt's wall paintings are both ephemeral and permanently linked to our past. His use of the wall harkens back to the earliest known cave paintings. Yet when the exhibit ends, the drawings will be painted over to make way for the next exhibit. They will no longer exist in the Dia:Beacon gallery. He understood humor, and resistance. To the comment "that's so easy a child could do it," he said yes, and made work available to several public schools in New York. Those drawings were made by children. He felt art was inaccessible due to high prices, so in the 70s he did a series of drawings (instructions) which he sold for about $10. Each.

Sol LeWitt died April 8, 2007. He was a mystic.

cross posted at The Fat Lady Sings

A28 - Some California actions

Northeast LA Radical Neighbors will be holding IMPEACH signs at the corner of Colorado and Eagle Rock Blvds. from 4pm to 6pm. E-mail for more info. We also have an ImpeachPlane ready to take the message to the skies by flying a giant "IMPEACH!" banner for three hours along the shore between Malibu and Dana Point (as we will be doing in NYC, Atlanta, and New Orleans). This is a great way to reach hundreds of thousands of people with the message but we need to raise more money to cover the costs. Want to see it happen? Chip in below! Every little bit helps! (Note: this is a second round of fundraising for this. If you contributed to the first round, don't worry: that money is going towards the plane!)

San Francisco

Brad, who organized the original Beach Impeach human mural with a thousand people, will be doing it again on April 28--and this time he plans to make it twice as big! Code Pink will then lead a march from the beach to Nancy Pelosi's house. The rally outside her house will feature several prominent speakers and a giant Gandhi puppet.

If you want to find more actions closer to you, click here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Grandbaby blogging

My baba is feeling okay, but she's all sore and grouchy. She was way too busy at work yesterday, and the bandage over the thingyplace made her skin all icky like a burn or something. She thinks she'll have results before Labor Day cause it took four months to get the biopsy scheduled but really it should be Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday. She is too lazy to put up my picture because her hard drive is a mess and this is her laptop and the pictures are still on the camera and her hard drive so she's not putting up my picture today and she probably won't post much for a couple more days but she says not to worry and thank you. I left her a phone message and I sang "Nerdernerder AAAY-GEEE" which was a song I was singing to Elmo.

Bye bye. Don't forget A28, Impeach.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Put a fork in me, I'm done

Well, not yet. But I'm off to have my liver biopsy now. I should not have googled this, not for one damn second. Because this is what I found:

Liver, Liver, it makes me shiver,

It makes my little brother want to quiver.

It's wet and it's slimy,

It's gross and it's grimy,

I hate it so much I cry rivers

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

Kurt Vonnegut, may his memory be for a blessing, was asked in 2003 about the anti-war movements of the Viet Nam era, and the current anti-war movement. He said the following:

"When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high.

"And so it is with anti-war protests in the present day. Then as now, TV did not like anti-war protesters, nor any other sort of protesters, unless they rioted. Now, as then, on account of TV, the right of citizens to peaceably assemble, and petition their government for a redress of grievances, 'ain't worth a pitcher of warm spit,' as the saying goes."

Yesterday, on the campus of Virginia Tech, we witnessed the worst mass shooting in American history. Television was on this immediately, and that was the complete focus of news. Even Olbermann dropped his "Worst Person in the World" and "Oddball" features in light of the tragedy. Gonzo has been put on hold, in light of the tragedy. But it strikes me that the tragedy of this mass murder has developed into the kind of media circus that television loves. Vonnegut was right: television doesn't like anti-war protesters unless they are rioting. As long as there is blood, the cameras are there.

I cannot make sense of a senseless act - a man walks into a dorm, shoots two people; two hours later he walks into another building on campus and shoots as many people as he can before turning the gun on himself. I cannot make sense of this, any more than I can make sense of the hatred and fear that the Bush Administration uses to fuel their own agenda. Is it the climate of our nation that allows a young man to shoot so many people? I don't understand.

I grieve for the families of the victims in yesterday's shooting rampage. I grieve for the families of the victims of our senseless war. I grieve for our nation, as our soul struggles for survival. And in my grief, I pray for peace. I pray that good, and decency, will prevail.

If you haven't yet joined One Million Blogs For Peace, what's stopping you?

cross posted at The Fat Lady Sings

Monday, April 16, 2007

I participated, and I'm proud of it.

Blogs Unite Against Iraq War

"One Million Blogs for Peace" movement began on Iraq War's fourth anniversary with 217 blogs. They hope to have 1,000,000 strong by the fifth anniversary. If you haven't joined already, what are you waiting for?

I was going to write this morning about the Imus shit-storm, but realized that he's only part of a bigger climate of hate. The reality, the reality is that all the shock-jocks out there fuel, and are fueled, by fear: their own, ours, it doesn't matter. I don't think for a minute that this war would have happened in a climate of calm or tolerance. Not for one minute. But we live in a climate of fear, and that makes peace a rare commodity. We can be the change we want to see in the world.

How? Speak the truth. Shine light on the truth. Don't give up, even if it seems like we are at the end of the line. Because even if we ARE at the end of the line, and Bush is our Nero, we can still walk with personal dignity. And the only way I can see us walking with personal dignity is to stand together for peace.

read more | digg story

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What are you doing at 1PM on May 13th?

I will be Standing for Peace at the Korean Friendship Bell overlooking Point Fermin and the Pacific Ocean in San Pedro, California.

Please stand with us for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 13, 2007, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate. We ask you to invite the men who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. If you need to sit rather than stand, please feel free to do so. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world. (Big thank you to Peace Chick Mary for alerting me to this.)
cross posted at The Kommandos Project, The Katrinacrat, and The Fat Lady Sings

Friday, April 13, 2007

Travel Instructions

Go to
Click on Maps
Click on Get Directions
Put in From New York, New York to Paris, France
Read line 23

Seriously, Line 23. And get your water wings ready.

Friday Grandbaby blogging

Baba says I will always be her grandbaby even when I am running for President or even when I am driving a car. But now I have to walk doggie. Do you like my doggie? I love my doggie. I love my Baba too. I hope you have fun today.

The Fat Lady Sings goes group

The Fat Lady Sings has become a group blog and below is TFLS description of the choir:

Missouri Mule has this to say about herself: "You don't have to do diddly-squat to get older---matter of fact, you can't even avoid that; but getting smarter---now, that can be a bitch if you try to go it alone. Life is in a constant state of flux, that's for sure. One day you're a cute girl shyly shopping for your first real plug-in vibrator, and before you know it, your kids are grown, your mother lives with you, and you walk through the kitchen one day and there she sits with your vibrator, working on a crick in her neck.

I don't want to be one of those pitiful old ladies who sit in the corner nibbling on small bits of paper, never joining in any activities, never receiving visitors, never sleeping with the male residents. Nosirree, not me. I plan to be exactly like I am right now---only a whole lot older and smarter. People will be fighting to get into my nursing home, wanting to come before they're even old enough to be there. I think I've learned a thing or two in my sojourn. As usual, I'm just gonna lay it all out here and let you be the judge. I'm I pushing the edge of the envelope? I hope so; but I know, by gawd, I am at least getting to the sticky part! It will eventually come down, as it usually does, to the age-old plea of "’Lordy, help us all!’"

Next let me introduce you to T.B., or Teebs as she is affectionately known. T.B. describes herself as a mid 30s refugee from corporate America whose life is currently changing faster than she can keep up. She and her husband recently relocated to southwest Florida and are expecting their first child at any moment (and she does mean any moment!). Teebs writes about everything under the sun over at her home blog, Soul Gardening. T.B. has one of those special voices – passionate, introspective - dead honest. In laying bare her own soul she speaks to ours – and in profound ways. There’s a poem by Wordsworth that always reminds me of her: “A violet by a mossy stone half hidden from the eye; Bright as a star when only one is shining in the sky.” I think you will all enjoy T.B.’s inherent luminosity.

Oldwhitelady (or O.W.L.) has what I would call a rather wry sense of humor. Intelligent, articulate - she always makes me smile – and I thoroughly enjoy her no frills take on life and politics. A natural artist – O.W.L.’s métier seems to be comedy, entertaining all and sundry writing a series of delightful shorts over at The Practical Press. As a matter of fact, she’s been nominated for several Practical Press awards this year, and I say it’s about damn time! O.W.L.’s home blog is It's Morning Somewhere.

The Culture Ghost and I have been blogging friends almost since I began writing. We share a love of gardening, theatre, film and politics. He refers to himself as anarchic, misanthropic and somewhat scattered – but I see him in more iconoclastic terms. Culture Ghost doesn’t pull any punches. He will make you sit up and take notice – that I guarantee! Expect any and everything. Culture Ghost is a formidable intellect wrapped around a sensitive soul. He always goes straight to the heart of any matter. If you are not now familiar with his work, you are in for a treat!

Sumo is rather a rare bird. She speaks in images as well as words. In fact – her selections of cartoons and photographs are famous for not only their entertainment value – but their cutting edge as well. Along with her own blog Sumo Merriment, Sumo contributes to The Blue Republic. We are lucky she agreed to add her unique voice to our mix. Combining intellects is rather like cooking, you know (an analogy Sumo will appreciate). Adding just the right amount of spice always enhances the flavor. I can assure you Sumo provides the added kick to any combination!

Rounding out our choir is Diva Jood. Jood says she walks a fine line between being reserved and being a bit of a tornado. I would say that describes her right down to a ‘T’. Power and grace all wrapped up in a delightful package of intelligence, intuition and warmth. Journey’s With Jood takes on politics in a very human way – how our elected officials choices and decisions affect all of us – for good and ill. Never strident - Jood speaks truth to power in measured tones – but her passion, heart and commitment to the truth always shine through.

And there we have it – The Fat Lady Sings choir of voices. I am honored to be a part of the choir, especially since I cannot carry a tune if it had handles. But no worries, I'm typing.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Voter Fraud? There Ain't No Voter Fraud.

The Bush Administration's Justice Department is on the J.O.B. Led by everybody's favorite Attorney General, Alberto "Titanic" Gonzales, the Justice Department has determined that there really isn't very much voter fraud, except when the Democrats do it. Democrats, like hardened criminal Kimberly Prude (2nd from the left in the photo below):

Kimberly Prude, a Grandmother, was convicted of voter fraud and has been in prison for over a year. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show. And those people are prosecuted to the full extent of the law as understood by the Decider. They've been quite lenient with Ms. Prude - they've merely kept her in prison, rather than sending her to Gitmo to be tortured for aiding and abetting terrorists because she voted for a Democrat.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department and White House have trouble with their email servers too! Maybe they need to call Geek Squad to recover emails sent on Karl Rove's private email system and used by about 50 other officials. The e-mails were considered potentially crucial evidence in congressional inquiries launched by Democrats into the role partisan politics may have played in such policy decisions as the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Mr. Gonzales, channeling Rose Mary Wood, demonstrates how those emails must have disappeared.

No wonder Kurt Vonnegut gave up the ghost last night. Our Govenrment has become more bizarre than one of his novels. RIP, Mr. Vonnegut.

(a link wasn't working.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bush, Gonzo Gate, Iraq: we need one of these

vomitorium (vom-i-TOR-ee-uhm) noun, plural vomitoria

A passageway to the rows of seats in a theater.

[From Latin vomitorium, from vomere (to discharge).]

Vomitoria in ancient amphitheaters helped the audience to reach their
seats quickly and then, at the end of the performance, leave at an equal
speed (hence the name). Thousands of seats could be filled in minutes.
The suggestion that a vomitorium was the place for the ancient Romans
to vomit during a feast has no basis.

However, given our current state of affairs, it is quite descriptive.

cross posted at The Katrinacrat

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Well, my biopsy is scheduled

On my son's birthday but what the hell. April 18th, I'm having my liver poked.


One Million Blogs for Peace

What does this photo say to you about the War? Will it change anyone's mind?

All I see is wasted lives, heartbreak, and lies.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Is Big Brother watching me?

Photo from Life on the Edge

I want to introduce you to Mojo, an interactive sculpture that has been put in San Pedro, California, which is the Los Angeles Harbor. Mojo, an interactive robot sculpture that beams a spotlight on people walking by. Mojo is the work of German artist Christian Moeller, whose work is internationally acclaimed.

Is this just a little bit Orwellian? Mojo gets its data from two surveillance cameras that are mounted on the roof of the new Centre Street Lofts, with one bedroom lofts starting at $300K. Now, you have to understand: San Pedro has been Los Angeles' best kept secrets. Lots of artists live here. Housing has been much more affordable than the rest of Los Angeles - it is a lovely community and suddenly it is getting gentrified. As a homeowner, this is good news and bad news to me. But Mojo is a little bit creepy.

"It's not a piece of art that's really resonated with the public or the arts community," said Life on the Edge local blog contributor Marshall Astor, an artist and the visual arts director at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro. "There's a percentage of people who think it's ridiculous."

Ya think? In our current political environment, I don't see it as ridiculous so much as I see it as an easy tool to just follow people. I can envision Mojo on every street corner. It feels so damn invasive, I can't begin to describe it. On the other hand, I also think it's hilarious. This is what we've come to.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blogging Against Theocracy

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Reprinted with permission of The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.


What does the Preamble of Alcoholics Anonymous have to do with blogging against theocracy? I'm glad you asked, because it is the greatest example of acceptance I have found anywhere.

Let's start with this line: AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution... No. Let's start with this. Alcoholics Anonymous is the most important spiritual development to come out of the 20th Century. Why do I say that? Because AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution. ANYONE who has a desire to stop drinking can join; ANYONE who says they are a member is a member; NOBODY tells you what to believe.

I stayed away from AA for a long time because I thought it was a cult for white male Christian lowbottoms who wore dirty, torn raincoats and had bad teeth. But one of the first 100 members was an atheist who eventually came to believe in a power greater than himself - he defied religion, accepted a god of his own understanding, and had the founders insert after the word God as we understand him in every reference to God in the twelve steps.

There are days when the God of my understanding is simply Good Orderly Direction. Doing the next indicated thing, like going to work or calling my daughter or son - that is God. God is in the details of my day, not in whether I go to a Church, Temple, or Mosque. God is in how I treat my co-workers; am I tolerant? Am I kind? Do I listen? Or am I a bully, demanding my way or the highway?

The God of my understanding does not involve "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards," as proposed by Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony. (hat tip to Traveling Man of Movable Jewel. I think that Jesus probably doesn't have any involvement with Rushdoony, either.

Here is what the God of my understanding does: this God leads me to meetings with other recovering alcoholics, and there I can hear stories of recovery. I learned how to get divorced without drinking. I learned how to not wake up in bed with a husband belonging to someone else. I learned how to not steal. I learned how to be a good worker, and to give my employer a dime for his nickle.

The God of my understanding has given me a group of friends, many of whom do not share my liberal political view, but who are there for me when I need help just as I am there for them when they need the same. The God of my understanding has taught me to honor the soldiers who have been sent to Iraq because the are not the makers of policy. The God of my understanding has taught me that quality of life and dying with dignity is essential, and that our government denied Terry Schiavo both.

Intolerance is nothing new. Here is a story. Rabbi Hillel, who lived some 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, was approached one day by a non-Jew who challenged him to sum up the Torah - the first five books of the Jewish Bible - while standing on one leg. Accepting the dare, Hillel stated, "What is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor. That is the whole of the Torah; all the rest is commentary. Now go and learn it."

That is the essence of human rights. Look at what various religious prophets have said about it:

Regarding war: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." — Torah Leviticus 19:18

Regarding undocumented immigrants: "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34

Regarding torture: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (c. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — Muhammad (c. 571 – 632 CE) in a Hadith.

"This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you." — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 BCE)

"What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE)

I go to AA meetings because nearly 19 years ago, I reached a state of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. I was a hopeless, helpless drug addict and alcoholic, and an observant Jew who regularly attended Synagogue - I was a drunk with RELIGION. I have been sober since July 18, 1988, and through that time I have gone from being an observant Jew who had no God at all to an unaffiliated Jew who believes in a God of my own understanding. I have come to believe in the existance of this Higher Power because I don't drink or use drugs and was unable to stop doing this on my own. I have little personal use for religion. AA is not a religion. It is not a "self help" group. We are people who normally would not mix, but who wound up in the same lifeboat and there we are. AA has given me tolerance, and some modicum of patience. We have atheists, pagans, Catholics, Liberals, Right Wingers, Christians of many denominations, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, Democrats, Republicans, Doctors, Actors, Welders, thieves, cops, airline pilots, you name it, we've got it.

And nobody demands that I change my belief or faith to be a member of AA. The ONLY thing I need to get right on a daily basis is to not pick up that first drink. All the rest is commentary.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blogging against theocracy

On March 31st, a New York Art Gallery cancelled a proposed exhibit of a sculpture of Jesus Christ, before the exhibit opened to the public. The sculpture was a life-size statue of Jesus made entirely from chocolate, and was to be displayed for two hours each day. Chocolate melts, it goes bad. It was a truly edible body of Christ. And, with contempt prior to investigation, the The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights whipped up a shit-storm.

Founded in 1973 by Jesuit Father Virgil C. Blum SJ, the Catholic League is a lay group funded by individual donations and is outside the control of the Church. The Board of Directors, headed by William A. Donohue, have guided the League towards conservative and traditionalist cultural activism in the manner of groups like the Christian Coalition. You know them, they're the ones who are defending America's Godly Heritage. But I digress. Back to the art exhibit that never was.

Donohue called it "an all-out war on Christianity." That's a pretty strong statement for a big piece of chocolate, in my opinion. To me, all-out war is what we're doing in Iraq, against the will of the American People. But again, I digress. Donohue heads an organization that purports to be about Civil Rights, yet his primary thrust is always toward censorship. The organization vocally protested films like The Last Temptation of Christ and Dogma because they broke with conservative views. Donohue said about the statue: "They wouldn't show a depiction of Martin Luther King Jr. with genitals exposed on Martin Luther King Day, and they wouldn't show Mohammed depicted this way during Ramadan. It's always Christians, and the timing is deliberate."

"It's not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing, to choose Holy Week, is astounding."

Let's review: it's not just the ugliness of the portrayal...

Look at the photo of the piece. It is well-made. It looks like so many statues of Jesus nailed to the cross made from wood, or clay, or bronze, that I am really hard-pressed to get what the flap is about. Oh, I know. It's CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is ugly in a religious context.

Further, there are no sculptures of the prophet Mohammed - Islam, like Judaism, doesn't build statuary because it is too much like idol worship. So Donohue is right at least about nobody building a statue of Mohammed out of anything.

Is the fact of this being made out of Chocolate the problem? Or is it the fact that Jesus is naked? Someone explain this to me, because I don't understand. Art must be challenging, and it must make the viewer have a response, but that is only after the art has been seen. Donohue NEVER SAW IT. He didn't see the sculpture, he simply condemned it outright. Contempt prior to investigation. I gotta tell you, it is really difficult to sculpt using food stuff - I used to know a woman who was a butter sculptor (and she once had to make a butter sculpture of Jesus for a Christening party) - she said working with food of any sort is difficult - butter melts so they make a butterish substance that is not edible; chocolate is brittle AND it melts - just all kinds of techinical problems.

But Donohue protests, and the Roger Smith Hotel which hosts the Gallery caved in, and the Gallery Director, out of consideration for the Hotel cancels the exhibit and is searching for another venue.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is still not rebuilt, and we've spent well over $400,000,000,000 on an illegal war in Iraq. Where are our nation's priorities?

Be sure to visit The Blogswarm Site for links to all the other posters.

(cross posted at The Katrinacrat

Friday, April 06, 2007

Blogging Against Theocracy

We make the strangest assumptions about people. I don't exclude myself from this, I do it all the time. I assume. I have opinions - sometimes they come out of contempt prior to investigation, which I think is what most of us do anyway. In our closed little minds, we assume, we form opinions, we judge, and we offend.

Here is an example of normal assumptions about me. First, I am a Jewish woman living in a predominently Christian area of Los Angeles. I am fair skinned, with strawberry blond hair. Many people think I am Irish. But here's the thing: People assume I celebrate Easter, or Christmas. I have a client who, when he signs his emails, BLESSES me in the name of Christ. He is not a member of any clergy, either. I go to the grocery store and am overwhelmed with all the Easter material, and foods - and a small little section for Passover goods, some of which are not actually Kosher for Passover. It is marked by a condescending sign, "Happy Passover to our Jewish Friends."

Imagine the reaction that client would have if I were to wish him a Happy Passover.

Here's the deal: I am happy if you celebrate a holiday other than what I celebrate. Just don't push it in my face. I HATE Christmas as it is presented in the United States - it is a co-opted Pagan ritual, and has evolved into a consumer frenzy that is designed to make non-participants feel small and left out. I hate the way Christmas music is blared out 24/7. I hate the ASSUMPTION that everyone celebrates it.

On my drive home from work, I sometimes come around the Peninsula, and there is one house with a GIANT wooden cross facing the route. I mean this is one honking big cross. And I have jumped to the conclusion that this person is an angry, judgmental individual who condemns free choice, who believes that our current Administration is right to be fighting a war in Iraq, who hates Gays, or single women. I assume this because he has a giant wooden cross. Would I not be moving toward acceptance if I knocked on his door and said, "I want to have a dialogue with you, I want to understand your beliefs. I want to be open to hear your ideas."

If I don't want people to make assumptions about me, should I not also give up my own assumptions about others?

Please note the graphic that accompanies this post was made by Flaring of Virtual Flaring

Friday Grand daughter blogging

Isn't that funny? I'm not a baby any more so Baba has to make it Grand Daughter Blogging. But I can't talk now, I am listening to an ear of corn.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Breaking sports news

Real estate magnate Sam Zell's recent purchase of Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Cubs, led to the Cubs announcing the franchise will be put up for sale. As a long suffering Chicago Cubs fan, seeing the Cubs on eBay like this gives me hope. There is a "buy it now" price of $650M, not as much as our Government has spent on the Iraq War, but still out of my price range. But the opening bid is $.99, and there are no bids yet. Maybe my buddy Moe Berg will pitch in and purchase the team with me - we might be able to squeeze out Bill Murray.

I'm excited, really.

Blogging against theocracy

My religion, my faith, should have no bearing on matters of state. There is a blogswarm scheduled for this weekend, with Blue Gal spearheading and organizing the bulk of it. There is a link archive at Blog Against Theocracy with instructions, but the goal is to publish at least once over the Easter Weekend about separation of Church and State.

I am not anti-religious. I am opposed to using Religion as a weapon for hate.

Please note the graphic that accompanies this post was made by Tengrain of Mock Paper Scissors

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Supreme Court vs. The Decider - again

Yesterday, The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions. Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said that by providing nothing more than a “laundry list of reasons not to regulate,” the environmental agency had defied the Clean Air Act’s “clear statutory command.”

This is a strong rebuke on the Bush Administration's contention that it has a "do nothing" approach to Global Warming. The EPA must control tailpipe emissions under the Clean Air and Water Act, or face legal action if they refuse.

The four Bush Justices, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., focused on whether the broad coalition of states, cities and environmental groups that brought the lawsuit against the environmental agency four years ago should have been accepted as plaintiffs in the first place. This refers to the requirement to meet a 3-part definition that lets a plaintiff stand: that it had suffered a “concrete and particularized injury,” that the injury was “fairly traceable to the defendant” and that a favorable decision would be likely to “redress that injury.” Justice Stevens said that Massachusetts certainly met the test, because Global Warming has been raising the sea levels along the coast, putting the state at risk of "catastrophic harm."

So what does this mean? Well, the politicized Supreme Court divided along predictable lines, however, the decision fell on the side of saving our home. Our Planet. The decision, along with a second Environmental Case that was heard yesterday (and decided favorably for the Environment) sends a strong message to Congress to act on protecting the Environment. It sends a strong message to the Bush Administration. And it sends a strong message to US, to us, that the Decider is not the Decider after all. We can say "enough."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Green Travel

Hat tip to Betmo for her call to action today about the environment.

Betmo says "it's important to note that travel is blamed for more than one quarter of greenhouse gases. before you think- 'my god- she wants to ruin everything- consider this- you can plan eco-friendly vacations. think about purchasing 'carbon credits.' many companies and non profits are sponsoring programs where consumers can use money to offset investments into eco friendly technologies and what not."

She's absolutely right. My-Climate works with Sustainable Travel International to help offset the impact of travel. They offer a presentation to Travel Agents, and I am going to take this to my boss to make our agency a member of this program. It is essential to be a part of the solution.

Thank you to Betmo for making my day a lot brighter!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happy Sunday

(clicking on the image will make it large enough to see.)