Monday, February 27, 2006

We've Been Given Everything We Need


It's been quite strange lately. I have experienced a radical shift in my inner being. My manic thinking has subsided. I am no longer in constant fear and anxiety. I feel a presence in me that is much bigger and stronger than the me I've lived with all my life. I am comfortable in the present, not anxious about what is to come. I see how my destiny knows where to go and what to do. God and the spiritual world is all to happy to take care of me when I am willing and unattached to the outcome.

Consequently I've had very little to say. I've always had an opinion on everything, but I am now aware not of how much I know, but how much I don't know. So I have become more of a journalist. I do have much experience to share, but I realize I can't convince anyone of the truth. They have to experience it. I can share my experience, strength and hope when asked or when it just is there as a part of me being me in the moment.

So today I want to share another Tarot Card. It is Today's card from Osho.com.


Zen Tarot Card
The Creator


There are two types of creators in the world. One type of creator works with objects - a poet, a painter, they work with objects, they create things. The other type of creator, the mystic, creates himself. He doesn't work with objects, he works with the subject; he works on himself, his own being. And he is the real creator, the real poet, because he makes himself into a masterpiece.

You are carrying a masterpiece hidden within you, but you are standing in the way. Just move aside, then the masterpiece will be revealed. Everyone is a masterpiece, because God never gives birth to anything less than that. Everyone carries that masterpiece hidden for many lives, not knowing who they are and just trying on the surface to become someone.

Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it. God himself has created you; you cannot be improved.

Osho Ah, This! Chapter 1
Commentary:

The Zen master in this card has harnessed the energy of fire and is able to use it for creation rather than destruction. He invites us to recognize and participate with him in the understanding that belongs to those who have mastered the fires of passion, without repressing them or allowing them to get destructive and out of balance. He is so integrated that there is no longer any difference between who he is inside and who he is in the world outside. He offers this gift of understanding and integration to all those who come to him, the gift of creative light that comes from the center of his being.

The King of Fire tells us that anything that we undertake now, with the understanding that comes from maturity, will bring enrichment to our own lives and to the lives of others. Using whatever skills you have, whatever you have learned from your own life experience, it is time to express yourself.


Copyright © 2006 Osho International Foundation

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Don Knotts 1/21/24 - 2/24/06

Don Knotts was a comedic genius. He was a true Clown. His ability to portray the vulnerable fool, with a golden heart inspired and informed me to pursue clowning and comedy. Peace be with you Mr. Knotts and thank you for your inspiration.




The Genius of Don Knotts

December 1997 By Michael McClelland

The Beatles claimed that all you need is love. Frankly, love has never done much except get me into a lot of trouble. In fact, after a strong bout of love, what I really need is laughter. There are many people who have dedicated their lives to making others laugh. There's that guy that you work with, there's all those stand-up comedians, and then there are the handful of people who have managed to tickle our funny bone so effectively that they have wedged themselves into our psyches deeply enough that they can make us laugh on the spur of the moment when we suddenly remember their antics, be it on an elevator, driving in the car or in that crowded restaurant. Finally, there are a very select number who can make us laugh in the most dire of times, i.e., when we are afraid, embarrassed, heartbroken or defeated. We can remember the hilarious way that they portrayed these tough situations and, that humor can make our own trouble seem a bit less serious. When I think about someone who can do this miraculous feat, someone who can truly make me laugh at myself and my trouble, the foremost person who springs to mind is Don Knotts.

Born July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia, Don Knotts is the impossibly skinny, big-eared, rubbery-faced comedian possibly most famous for playing Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show." He won Emmys for an unprecedented five years in a row during his five years on the show (1960-1965). He played a character who masked his insecurity with grandiosity, who hid his fear with false bravado, and who covered his embarrassment with a swaggering smugness. Of course, Don Knotts's talent is for externalization. He could physically show you exactly what was in his characters mind without any dialogue. One look at his expression or posture and you knew exactly what Barney was thinking and feeling. His ridiculous and overblown attempts to cover up those feelings were doubly hysterical. Few actors have been gifted enough to convey such complexity through comedy.

Don Knotts possesses a gift for pathos. He could make you feel sorry for Barney even as you laughed at his bumbling inanity. He could make you laugh at Barney and wince at the aspects of the character that you saw in yourself. Best of all, Don Knotts is capable of physically portraying the embodiment of our most powerful emotions. When scared, Don can make his entire body quiver, his eyes bug out, his voice tremble. When scared out of my wits I might not actually look like Don Knotts, but that is sure how I feel, and he SHOWS you that. He gives you a picture of what is going on inside during your most dire moments and somehow seeing it there in front of you makes you realize how hilarious it really is.

Another quality that made the Barney Fife character so hilarious is that he seemed more afraid of looking nervous or insecure than actually being so. That is, he tried so hard (even while terrified) not to look tense that he ended up looking ten times as absurd. This keys right into the audiences' psyche. Most of us are so concerned with appearances and with looking cool that sometimes we end up looking ridiculous. No one ever tried so hard to look cool and ended up looking more ludicrous than Barney Fife.

Don Knotts met Andy Griffith while making "No Time for Sergeants" in 1958. It was a fortuitous meeting because on "The Andy Griffith Show" the two would have a rapport that has yet to be topped. As Andy Taylor, Griffith made the perfect straight man for Knotts and served as a foil for his outlandish antics by keeping things firmly grounded in reality. Somehow if the Andy Taylor character could see something worthwhile in Barney Fife, then it had to be there. It helped the audience to look more deeply at Barney, who in a lesser comedic environment might have been merely a jackass or a buffoon. There was a bit of pain in the Barney character, a bit of nobility. Barney had some finer points, hard to see perhaps, but there. Barney had many qualities good and bad. But even more important we have a bit of Barney in us. He was one of the best developed television characters ever (especially for a comedy). When you consider the other popular TV comedies of the time ("Gilligan's Island," "Hogans Heroes," "Beverly Hillbillies," "The Munsters," "Bewitched," "Dobie Gillis," "The Patty Duke Show," etc.) the depth is staggering.

After an all too brief five years Don Knotts left "The Andy Griffith Show" and went on to make some of the funniest movies ever including: "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1965), "The Shakiest Gun in the West" (1968), "The Love God?" (1969), "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975), "The Prizefighter" (1979) and "The Private Eyes" (1980). These movies don't have the intellectual sting of a Woody Allen or Monty Python film, or the deft parody of Mel Brooks. They aren't irreverent like "Saturday Night Live" and they aren't rapid fire gag fests like the movies inspired by "Airplane!" To the contemporary movie-watcher these movies might seem naive or simplistic, and indeed there is a gentle innocence to them. However, they affect the viewer on a gut level. Don Knotts perfects his mastery of taking you through the gamut of negative emotions and making you laugh your head off at them. Again, he doesn't show you what someone scared or embarrassed or broken-hearted might look like; he shows you what they FEEL like. Don Knotts shows us our demons in their underwear and by doing so he gives us the ability to laugh at them when they beset us. His comedy is cathartic. It cleanses and purifies us of our anxieties and woes--and that is exactly what comedy was intended to do. That's what makes laughter the best medicine.

In "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (probably the quintessential Knotts film) Don Knotts examines cold raw terror inside and out. He plays his typical nebbish character (Luther Heggs) with big aspirations and little nerve. In this outing he must spend a night in a haunted house. Each second he spends in that house is a study in hysterical hysteria. I believe Knotts runs the gamut on every possible quiver and contortion of externalized fear. He leaves no stone unturned. Once having seen this movie you will never look at being scared the same way again. I could try to describe this sequence, but it truly must be seen to be believed.

He made a string of hit comedies over the next seven years, each spotlighting the pathetic but lovable character he had mastered. They examined anxiety, embarrassment, dashed dreams, heartbreak, and stress. And they couldn't be funnier! In the 70's he appeared in a line of movies for Disney which were perhaps not his best movies, but they did result in his teaming with perhaps the only comedian of the time who could hold his own on screen with The Don, the one and only Tim Conway. Conway was a veteran of television comedy ("The Carol Burnett Show") and a master of slapstick. The two made quite the on-screen comedy team. "The Prizefighter" (1979) and "The Private Eyes" (1980) are not to be missed. They complement each other marvelously. Where Don Knotts is frenetic and shaky, Tim Conway is slow-moving and barely cognizant. Everything puts Knotts in a frenzy; nothing phases Conway. Both movies give Don Knotts plenty of opportunity to be scared. "The Private Eyes" is my personal favorite among the films of Don Knotts. He combines the law-official posturing of Barney Fife with the haunted house terror of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" with the slapstick of "The Apple Dumpling Gang." It's fitting that this was his last major picture, as he combines all the elements that makes him a great comedic actor into one tour-de-force performance.

The end of the 70's brought Knotts back to television in a role for which many people will remember him, Ralph Furley from "Three's Company" (1979-1984). Here, he mostly gets to show wide-eyed shock and amazement at the goings on of Jack and Chrissy and Janet and occasionally mortification at being zinged by one of their clever retorts. But even here Knott's talent for pathos shines through as you find yourself rooting for the outlandishly garbed Mr. Furley at times even though there would be little reason to do so if the character were played by another actor.

Unfortunately Don Knotts faded away for the most part after "Three's Company," but he left a great legacy of films and TV shows for us to enjoy forever.


Filmography:
Chicken Little (2005) (voice)
Cats Don't Dance (1996) (voice)
Big Bully (1995)
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987)
Cannonball Run II (1984)
The Private Eyes (1980)
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979)
The Prizefighter (1979)
Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978)
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)
Gus (1976)
No Deposit, No Return (1976)
The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
How to Frame a Figg (1971)
The Love God? (1969)
The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968)
The Reluctant Astronaut (1967)
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1965)
The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
Move Over, Darling (1963)
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
Wake Me When It's Over (1960)
No Time for Sergeants (1958)

TV-ography:

Step by Step (1991)
Return to Mayberry (1986)
What a Country (1986)
Matlock (1986)
Three's Company (1979-1984)
The Muppet Show (1977 & 1978)
I Love a Mystery (1973)
The Don Knotts Show (1970 - 1971)
The Andy Griffith Show (1960 - 1965)
The Steve Allen Show (1956)

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Mark of the Beast has Arrived


Once again those who would control and direct have not thought their plans through. The purpose of this action would make it easier for the "bad guys" to get "secure" sites. Cut off the arm of the tagged person and use his arm to get in.

Ohio Company Implants Workers With ID Chips

And in Ohio, a private video surveillance company called CityWatcher has embedded radio transmitter ID chips into two of its employees. It is believed to be the first time U.S. workers have been electronically tagged for identification purposes. Privacy activist Liz McIntyre said "There are very serious privacy and civil liberty issues of having people permanently numbered." The company has planted the electronic chip into the upper right arms of two employees. The implants ensure that only those two employees have access to a room where the company holds security video footage for government agencies and the police. The "radio frequency identification tags" are made by the U.S. company VeriChip. The technology allows a company or government to permanently track anyone embedded with an ID chip.

(from democracy now)

Make Peace Not War


Events in my life in the last few weeks have caused me to look more closely at my motivations and state of mind in my efforts to bring peace into the world. I am currently studying "Change of Heart - The Bodhisattva Peace Training" by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche.

I want to share this excerpt from the book:

"Such compassion--the desire to alleviate the suffering of all beings equally--is part of the meaning of the Sanskrit term "bodhisattva." Bodhi refers to wisdom mind, which is completely selfless. Sattva can be translated as "hero". A bodhisattva is someone who has taken on the sole task of meeting the needs of others, no matter how difficult that might be. His self-centerdness has been reduced to the point where wisdom, love and compassion arise naturally, benefiting any situation..............."

"For the spiritual power of peace to touch every person on this earth, it must radiate out from profound peace within our own mind: across political and religious barriers, and across the barriers of ego and self-righteousness. To this end, we should seek an inner peace so pure and stable that we cannot be moved to anger by violence or to selfish attachment and fear by those who view or confront us with contempt and hatred. We can achieve such stability only by purifying mind's poisons--ignorance, anger, attachment, jealousy and pride; then we can clearly see that war and suffering are but their outer reflections. The essential difference between true peace-makers and those who wage war of any sort is the presence of extraordinary patience and discipline in the minds of the peacemakers as they work with these pervasive poisons. If we truly understand this, we will never allow ourselves to be defeated from within or without."

"In Tibetan Buddhism, the peacock symbolizes the bodhisattva. A peacock is said to eat poisonous plants, transforming their toxins into the radiant colors of its feathers. It does not poison itself. In the same way, we who advocate peace must not poison ourselves with anger but regard with equanimity those who perpetrate violence, remaining constantly aware of our own state of mind. If we become angry in our efforts, we must pull back and regain our compassionate perspective. Without anger, perhaps we will penetrate the terrible delusion that gives rise to violence and hellish suffering."

Peace,

SpringWind

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Hope I Die Before I Get Old

THE MIND WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS


CAN YOU READ THE FOLLOWING? EMAIL ME WITH THE RESULTS.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs rpsoet it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

To All my Relations


Life in Relation to Death
by Chagdud Tulku

Introduction

Death and dying is a subject that evokes such deep and disturbing emotions that we usually try to live in denial of death. Yet we could die tomorrow, completely unprepared and helpless. The time of death is uncertain but the truth of death is not. All who are born will certainly die.

People often make the mistake of being frivolous about death and think, “Oh, well, death happens to everybody. It’s not a big deal, it’s natural. I’ll be fine.”

This is a nice theory until one is dying. Then experience and theory differ. Then one is powerless and everything familiar is lost. One is overwhelmed by a great turbulence of fear, disorientation, and confusion. For this reason it is essential to prepare well in advance for the moment when the mind and body separate.

There are many methods, extraordinary and ordinary, to prepare for the transformation of death. The greatest of these results in enlightenment in one’s lifetime. In enlightenment, death has no relevance to one’s state of being. Enlightened realization is deathless, but it requires flawless meditative practice.

If deathless enlightenment is not accomplished during one’s lifetime, the transition of death itself offers another supreme opportunity to attain enlightenment. But again, realizing the potential of this opportunity depends on having mastered certain meditative skills.

Enlightenment is the highest attainment of the death transition, but it is not the only one. If meditative realization is incomplete yet one has developed the power of prayer, there can be liberation into an environment of perfect bliss, free of suffering, by invoking the blessings of enlightened wisdom beings.

To accomplish the meditative skills and power needed to direct our mind at death, we must learn about the relationship of life and death, about the process of dying, and about the transitions from the moment of death until rebirth. In this way we become familiar with death and are not caught by surprise as the process begins to unfold.

Warned of a hurricane, we don’t wait until the storm pounds the shore before we start to prepare. Similarly, knowing death is looming offshore, we shouldn’t wait until it overpowers us before developing the meditative skills necessary to achieve the great of the mind at the moment of death.

Death as well as birth, sickness, and old age are the four basic afflictions of the human condition. They are obvious and inescapable, in our personal experience and the experiences of other people. Yet these four afflictions fall within the larger categories of suffering that are experienced by all beings, human and nonhuman alike.

One of the greatest sufferings of sentient beings is the pain they experience from not getting what they want—or getting what they think they want, then finding it is not enough or that it is not what they really want. These constant frustrations are intrinsic to the impermanent, changeable nature of cyclic existence.

Then there is suffering atop suffering, which means that no matter how bad it is, it can get worse. On the day you lose your wallet, your tooth begins to ache and you get a furious call from your boss. Or on a larger scale, countries plagued by famine are also wracked by war.

Suffering pervades cyclic existence like oil pervades sesame seeds. Like the oil, the complete pervasiveness of suffering is not always apparent, especially in phases when pleasure predominates and things seem to go well. Yet, just as oil becomes obvious when the hard little seeds are ground and pressed, so latent suffering is directly experienced when our layers of egotistic assumptions crack under the oppression of cyclic existence.

Why is it like this? The answer is that we are subject to karma, the inexorable law of cause and effect. The question that follows logically is: What causes karma? The root cause is the poisons of the mind. Our mind is basically confused, because we do not recognize its absolute nature. Lacking this understanding, we slip into an erroneous framework, which is duality.

We first grasp at a “self” who perceives and an “object” that is perceived. Seeing the object, we define its size, shape, and color. Then we judge it: “It’s pretty. It’s ugly. I like it. I don’t like it. It makes me happy. It makes me unhappy.” Finally, we feel either attachment or aversion: “I want it. I don’t want it.” This is where suffering begins.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

When is Free Speech not Free Speech?




I WAS GOING TO PUBLISH THE CARTOON THAT CAUSED ALL THIS, BUT THIS HAS GOTTEN SO INSANE, I DECIDED NOT TO CONTRIBUTE, EVEN IN THIS TINY WAY.


Cartoon Debate
The case for mocking religion.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at 4:31 PM ET on Slate Magazine.


As well as being a small masterpiece of inarticulacy and self-abnegation, the statement from the State Department about this week's international Muslim pogrom against the free press was also accidentally accurate.

"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief."

Thus the hapless Sean McCormack, reading painfully slowly from what was reported as a prepared government statement. How appalling for the country of the First Amendment to be represented by such an administration. What does he mean "unacceptable"? That it should be forbidden? And how abysmal that a "spokesman" cannot distinguish between criticism of a belief system and slander against a people. However, the illiterate McCormack is right in unintentionally comparing racist libels to religious faith. Many people have pointed out that the Arab and Muslim press is replete with anti-Jewish caricature, often of the most lurid and hateful kind. In one way the comparison is hopelessly inexact. These foul items mostly appear in countries where the state decides what is published or broadcast. However, when Muslims republish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or perpetuate the story of Jewish blood-sacrifice at Passover, they are recycling the fantasies of the Russian Orthodox Christian secret police (in the first instance) and of centuries of Roman Catholic and Lutheran propaganda (in the second). And, when an Israeli politician refers to Palestinians as snakes or pigs or monkeys, it is near to a certainty that he will be a rabbi (most usually Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the disgraceful Shas party) and will cite Talmudic authority for his racism. For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows.

Therefore there is a strong case for saying that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and those who have reprinted its efforts out of solidarity, are affirming the right to criticize not merely Islam but religion in general. And the Bush administration has no business at all expressing an opinion on that. If it is to say anything, it is constitutionally obliged to uphold the right and no more. You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken.

Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." ( By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.

As it happens, the cartoons themselves are not very brilliant, or very mordant, either. But if Muslims do not want their alleged prophet identified with barbaric acts or adolescent fantasies, they should say publicly that random murder for virgins is not in their religion. And here one runs up against a curious reluctance. … In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can't even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege. Of course there are many millions of Muslims who do worry about this, and another reason for condemning the idiots at Foggy Bottom is their assumption, dangerous in many ways, that the first lynch mob on the scene is actually the genuine voice of the people. There's an insult to Islam, if you like.

The question of "offensiveness" is easy to decide. First: Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? On Saturday, I appeared on CNN, which was so terrified of reprisal that it "pixilated" the very cartoons that its viewers needed to see. And this ignoble fear in Atlanta, Ga., arose because of an illustration in a small Scandinavian newspaper of which nobody had ever heard before! Is it not clear, then, that those who are determined to be "offended" will discover a provocation somewhere? We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

Second (and important enough to be insisted upon): Can the discussion be carried on without the threat of violence, or the automatic resort to it? When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against "all those involved in its publication," which led to the murder of the book's Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.) The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.

For my friend of 50 plus years, James Baker----

James shared with me his opinion that my posting of Natalie Merchant and her emotionless, safe pretty voice wasn't cuttin' it. After further consideration I agree. I was feeling a need to be safe since I was in a groundless awareness in my own life. I do have more than a pretty "Thank You" with clowns to say. I am immeasurably grateful to all of you who have loved me and encouraged me and believed in me. But my gratitude has a bit more fire than pasturized milk, if you catch my drift. Therefore I have removed the Natalie Merchant video and replaced it with this important update on the continuing lack of recovery support for the Katrina victims. This just scratches the surface of the problems.









Thousands of Katrina Victims Evicted
Wed, 08 Feb 2006 11:43:26 -0800

Summary:
Where are these people to go? What are they to do? Where are they to turn? The streets? In many cases, they are being forcefully kept from returning home. The gentrification of 'Nawlins is almost complete. And as the bulldozers and developers come, some are resisting.

[Posted By ShiftShapers]
By Rukmini Callimachi
Republished from AP via Newsday.com

Hurricane Katrina refugees were evicted from their hotel rooms across the country Tuesday.

NEW ORLEANS - Hauling everything he owned in a plastic garbage bag, Darryl Travis walked out of the chandeliered lobby of the Crowne Plaza, joining the exodus of Hurricane Katrina refugees evicted from their hotel rooms across the country Tuesday.

The occupants of more than 4,500 government-paid hotel rooms were ordered to turn in their keys Tuesday, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays.

Far more people - the occupants of at least 20,000 hotel rooms, many of which housed entire families - were given extensions by FEMA until at least next week and possibly until March 1, said FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney.

FEMA said it gave people every possible opportunity to request an extension.

"We've bent over backward to reach out. We've gone door-to-door to all of the 25,000 hotel rooms no fewer than six times. And there are individuals who have refused to come to the door, refused to answer. There are people who have run when they saw us coming - those are the ones that are now moving on," Kinerney said.

FEMA maintains that as many as 80 percent of those being forced to check out this week have made other living arrangements, ranging from trailers to receiving federal rent assistance to living with relatives.

While many of the evacuees leaving the Crowne Plaza said they had found other housing, several said they were now homeless.

Travis, 24, and his five childhood friends - all in their 20s - had been living on the floor of another evacuee's hotel room, never having registered.

"All I got is a couple pairs of pants and some shirts. The pressure is on," said Jonathan Gautier, 26, one of the six, who was also carrying a single plastic bag filled with clothes.

Wheeling out her boxes of belongings, 20-year-old Katie Kinkella and sister, Jennifer, were heading back to their ruined house in heavily flooded St. Bernard Parish. The sisters had stayed first at the Marriott, and later at the Crowne Plaza as they waited for FEMA to deliver a trailer. Then they waited for FEMA to hook up the electricity at the trailer.

"They just connected it yesterday," Kinkella said as she loaded bags, boxes and suitcases into the back of a pickup on the curb outside the hotel.

In Houston, where 4,000 evacuees were staying in hotels, around 80 percent had received permission to extend their stays until at least Monday. The remaining 20 percent either failed to contact FEMA or made other housing arrangements, said Frank Michel, a spokesman for Mayor Bill White.

"People need to begin to take responsibility for themselves," Michel said.

In New York, around 50 protesters including both evacuees and activists gathered at the steps of City Hall to protest the evictions.

In Oakland, Calif., demonstrators carrying signs and chanting "Evict FEMA" tried to present an eviction notice to employees at a FEMA branch office.

When the more than 50 protesters were turned away, they posted large eviction signs in the front and back of the building. The demonstrators left the property when threatened with arrest.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco complained that FEMA was pulling the plug on the hotel program before securing other housing.

Outside the Crowne Plaza, protesters held up signs that said: "No trailers. No eviction."

Brittany Brown, 21, wept as she explained that although she had been given an extension, eviction was now looming next week. She applied for a trailer in October and, although she keeps calling, her trailer has yet to show up.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Step Right Up. Get Your Ethics Right Here.


Please enjoy the following satire from The Onion.

Senate Ethics Committee To Meet In New Ethics Committee Mansion
February 15, 2006 Issue 42•07

WASHINGTON, DC—In the wake of several major lobbying scandals, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics announced Tuesday that it will hold a special series of intensive sessions inside its recently completed 200-room Ethics Mansion.

"In this time of rampant corruption, it is essential that we have a sufficiently lavish setting in which to enforce laws that ensure the integrity of public officials," said committee member Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), wearing a gold-lined cashmere robe donated by pharmaceutical lobbyists.

The mansion, a sprawling neo-Gothic manor located on 4,500 acres just off Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, was completed last month. Adorned with gold plumbing fixtures and 16th-century Flemish tapestries, the estate boasts three tennis courts, two Olympic-size swimming pools, nearly a dozen hot tubs, both dry and wet saunas, a massage center and day spa, an 18-hole golf course, a helipad, and the only erotica-themed topiary garden on the East Coast.

Committee members say the isolated environment allows them to tackle weighty ethical issues without the distractions, temptations, and conflicts of interest that pervade Washington culture.

"When one needs to ruminate on, say, improper gift-giving to government officials by corporations or corrupt foreign officials, it's in the public interest to do so in a quiet retreat," said chairman of the ethics committee Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), sitting in an overstuffed leather armchair provided by the Ohio Beef Council. "Ideally with an 83-year-old scotch and a good Cuban cigar in hand."

Due to the rigor of the extended sessions, several members of the ethics committee have sequestered themselves in the Ethics Mansion's private suites, where they are isolated from their families and assisted only by the mansion's staff of well-trained servants.

Certain wings of the mansion were designed to remind senators of the significance of their duties.

"If we want to contemplate the role of religion in secular politics, we have a beautiful, gold-trimmed private chapel in which to do so, kindly provided by the Boston diocese of the Catholic Church," Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) said.

The thorny question of lobbyist gift-giving is posed in the Evidence Wing, where lobbyists have voluntarily come forward with hundreds of millions of dollars in ethics-violation-related evidence, including ermine coats, Aston Martin sports cars, and attaché cases filled with cash.

The committee, which is currently addressing allegations that individual senators have been unduly influenced by the Recording Industry Association of America, has been debating the question at length in its fully equipped library and home theater.

"It's crucial that we be able to review all the evidence in Sony's bribery case in a grand theater with high-definition 5.1 surround-sound, the Ethics Girls, and state-of-the-art digital projection," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). "Here on Ethics Hill, we spare no expense in the fight against ethics violations."

Funds for the ethics-deliberation facility were provided by a broad coalition of K Street lobbyists and special-interest groups, which the committee has fined a staggering $920 million since 2002, of which $375 million was used to build and outfit the estate.

Surprisingly, the fines were not levied through court order but donated voluntarily.

"For us, it's an investment in the public trust," said tobacco lobbyist Clayton Dempsey, whose years of experience with ethics-committee investigations related to influence-peddling and involvement in campaign-finance improprieties were of great value to the committee.

In January, the committee subpoenaed embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for an aggressive interrogation and golf outing on the estate's course.

Although some government watchdog groups opposed the construction of the lavish mansion, committee members say it is vital to their work.

"An ethics case involving, say, a major South African mining interest can be very complex, with many facets—like this beautiful diamond," Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) said, holding a plum-size diamond aloft.

He added: "You need to take the time to turn it over in your hand and pore over its every exquisite detail before you can ever hope to understand it."

© Copyright 2006, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cherish and Honor the Heart of All Creation.


AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM CHIEF ARVOL LOOKING
HORSE, OF THE LAKOTA,
DAKOTA, & NAKOTA NATIONS

Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations),

I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota,
Dakota and Nakota
Nations, would like to ask for this time for you
to understand an
Indigenous perspective in reflection of what has
happened in America,
what we call "Turtle Island."

For the past six years, my work has
concentrated on an effort
on uniting the Global community, through a message
from our sacred
ceremonies in recognizing a day of World Peace and
Prayer on June 21st
as a time to unite spiritually, each in our own ways
of beliefs in the
Creator.

We have been warned from the messages, passed
down from Ancient
Prophecies of these times we live in today, but also
a very important
message of a solution to turn these terrible times
around. To
assist you in understanding the depth of this message
involves the
recognition in the importance of Sacred Sites.

It is important that you realize the
whole
interconnectedness of what is happening today, in
reflection of the
continued massacres that are occurring on other lands
and our own
Americas.

I have been learning about these important
issues of Sacred
Sites since the age of 12, upon receiving the Sacred
White Buffalo Calf
Pipe Bundle and it's teachings.

Our people have strived to protect Sacred
Sites from the
beginning of time. There needs to be an understanding
in the concern
of the protection of Sacred Sites that goes deeper
than just the issue
of Shrines built by humans.

Our people have built similar objects and
Shrines to identify
and to remind the significance in the power of the
Sacred Site. We
have also witnessed them being destroyed for many
decades, but we also
realize it is what is underneath them that is
important.

These places have been violated for centuries
and have brought
us to this predicament that we are in concerning the
unstable Global
Level thus far. Look around you, our Mother Earth is
very ill from
these violations and we are at a brink of destroying a
healthy and
nurturing survival for generations to come, our
children's children.

Our ancestors have been trying to protect our
Sacred Site from
the continued violations called the Sacred Black Hills
in SD, "Heart of
Everything that is".

Our ancestors never seen this site from a
Satellite view, but
now that those pictures are available with modern
technology, we see
that it is in the shape of a heart and when fast
forwarded it looks
like a heart pumping. The Dine have been protecting
Big Mountain,
calling it the liver and now that the coal is
depleting, we are
suffering and going to suffer more from the
extraction of the coal and
poison processes used in doing so.

The Aborigines has warned of the contaminating
effects on the
Corral Reefs from Global Warming, which they see as
Mother Earth's
blood purifier, our sacred water is being polluted.

The Indigenous people of the Rain Forest relay
that the Rain
Forest are the lungs and need protection and now we
see the Brazilian
overnment approved the depletion of 50% of this Sacred
Site.

The Gwich'in Nation has an issue of oil
drilling in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, also known to
the Gwich'in as
'Where the life begins!' . The coastal plain is also
the birthplace of
many other life forms of Animal Nations. The death of
these Animal
Nations will destroy Indigenous Nations in this
territory.

As these destructive developments continue all
over the world,
we will witness many more extinct Animal, Plant and
Human Nations,
because of the misuse of power that mankind has made
and their lack of
understanding the "balance of life".

The Indigenous people warn that these
destructive developments
will cause havoc globally. There are many, many more
Indigenous
awareness's and knowledge of Mother Earth's Sacred
Sites, connections
(Mother Earth's Chakras) to our spirit that will
surely affect our
future generations.

These people are still suffering from this
contamination and
their livelihood is being destroyed as I write this to
you.

There needs to be a fast move toward other
forms of energy
that are safe for all Nations upon Mother Earth. We
need to understand
the whole picture in the type of minds that are
continuing to destroy
the spirit of our whole Global Community.

Unless we do this, the powers of destruction
will overwhelm
us.

Our Ancestors foretold that water would
someday be for sale.
Back then this was hard to believe, since the water
was so plentiful,
so pure, and so full of energy, nutrition and spirit.
Today we have to
buy pure water, and even then the nutritional minerals
have been taken
out; it's just empty liquid.

Someday water will be like gold, too expensive
to afford. Not
everyone will have the right to drink safe water.

We fail to appreciate and honor our Sacred
Sites, ripping out
the minerals and gifts that lay underneath them, as if
Mother Earth
were simply a resource, instead of the Source of Life
itself.

Attacking Nations and having to utilize more
resources to
carry out the destruction in the name of Peace and
elimination is not
the answer!

We need to understand how all these decisions
affects the
Global Nation, we will not be immune to it's
repercussions.

To allow continual contamination of our food
and land, is now
affecting the way we think.

A "disease of the mind" has set in World
Leaders and many
members of our Global Community, with their
understanding that a
solution of retaliation and destruction of peoples
will bring Peace.

In our Prophecies it is told that we are now
at the
Crossroads, either unite Spiritually as a Global
Nation, or be faced
with chaos, disasters, diseases and tears from our
relatives eyes.

In times of disasters it is sad to say, that
it is the only
time that we unite spiritually, but we must not taint
it with anger and
retaliation. We are the only species that is
destroying the Source of
life, meaning Mother Earth, in the name of power,
mineral resources
and ownership of land, using methods of chemicals and
warfare that is
becoming irreversible, as Mother Earth is becoming
tired and can not
sustain any more impacts of war.

I ask you to join me on this endeavor.

Our vision is for the Peoples of all
continents, regardless
of their beliefs in the Creator, to come together as
one at their
Sacred Sites at that sacred moment of what is known as
the Summer
Solstice of June 21st, to pray and meditate and
commune with one
another, thus promoting an energy shift to heal our
Mother Earth and
achieve a universal consciousness toward attaining
Peace.

As each day passes bringing us to this day of
concentration
together, I ask the Global Nations to begin a Global
effort, in
knowing that each and every one of us are making a
daily effort in
waking to a gratitude of another day, that is gifted
to us and begin
to remember to give thanks for the Sacred Food that
has been also
gifted to us by our Mother Earth, so the nutritional
energy of medicine
can be guided to heal our minds and spirits.

This new millennium will usher in an age of
harmony or it will
bring the end of life as we know it. Starvation, war
and toxic waste
have been the hallmark of the Great Myth of Progress
and Development
that ruled the last millennium.

To us, as caretakers of the heart of Mother
Earth, falls the
responsibility of turning back the powers of
destruction.

We have come to a time and place of great
urgency.

The fate of future generations rests in our
hands.

We must understand the two ways we are free to
follow, as we
choose the positive way or the negative way... the
spiritual way or
the material way.

It's our own choice--each of ours and all of
ours.

You yourself are the one who must decide.

You alone-and only you--can make this crucial
choice.

Whatever you decide is what you'll be, to walk
in honor or to
dishonor your relatives.

You can't escape the consequences of your own
decision.

On your decision depends the fate of the entire
World. You must
decide. You can't avoid it.

Each of us is put here in this time and this
place to
personally decide the future of humankind.

Did you think the Creator would create
unnecessary people in a
time of such terrible danger?

Know that you yourself are essential to this
World.

Believe that!

Understand both the blessing and the burden of
that. You
yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of
this World.

Did you think you were put here for something
less? In a
Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no beginning and
no ending!

Mitakuye Oyasin,

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo
Calf Pipe

I'm One Year Old and Want to Come Out to Play!






Tuesday, February 14, 2006 I am one year both clean and sober. Feelings are a bitch but they're better than numbness, hopelessness and terror. God is Great.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Universality of the Golden Rule in the World Religions


Christianity

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:1

Confucianism

Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.
Analects 12:2

Buddhism

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Udana-Varga 5,1

Hinduism

This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
Mahabharata 5,1517

Islam

No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
Sunnah

Judaism

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
Talmud, Shabbat 3id

Taoism

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien

Zoroastrianism

That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.
Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5



Adapted from "The Christopher Newsletter"

Peace and Joy






Photos from my first visit to the Vedanta Center Garden, since Springlike weather began. Posted by Picasa

I'm trying to move more toward dressing like this girl from Japan. I think life would be so much more fun if we were all dressed colorfully and playfully. There would probably be less conflict also. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Osama Bin Laden Has Been Found


Here is a satirical article from The Onion that is just as relevant today.


Osama Bin Laden Found Inside Each Of Us
February 18, 2004 | Issue 40/07

WASHINGTON, DC - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced Tuesday that Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has "at long last been found."

"For more than two years, we combed the Middle East looking for bin Laden," Rumsfeld said. "Frankly, it was starting to be an embarrassment. You can imagine our surprise when we finally found him hiding deep inside the darkest recesses of each and every one of our souls."

Since toppling the Taliban regime in 2001, U.S. forces in Afghanistan had searched for bin Laden primarily along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, but overlooked that place inside every one of us that has ever raised his voice in anger or turned away from someone in need.

"We were so busy tracking the remaining members of the Taliban regime and freezing al-Qaeda assets that we missed what was right in front of us all along," Rumsfeld said. "Osama bin Laden wasn't hidden in a cave in the mountainous Pakistani province of Waziristan or huddled in the back of a Chitral meat-market stall. He was lurking in the blackness within us all, right there with the laziness and the jealousy."

"It just goes to show that sometimes it's easier to look for the man in the FBI dossier than it is to look at the man in the mirror," Rumsfeld added.

In addition to FBI intelligence reports, the military's search was aided by eight Ultra-High Frequency Follow-On communications satellites, submarines, aircraft, ground units, and global ground stations. But in the end, all they needed to do to find bin Laden was a little soul-searching.

"We used heat-sensing equipment to search in underground tunnels and studied aerial photography for evidence of movement in the desert," Rumsfeld said. "But did any of us ever stop and listen to a child's cry - really listen to it?"

Rumsfeld said efforts to find bin Laden, who was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list after the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, were seriously misdirected for years.

"He evaded us for so long because he had such an ingenious hideout," Rumsfeld said. "Only someone as evil as bin Laden would think to crawl down into that hole inside every one of us, the one that makes us hate instead of love, forget birthdays, and ignore alternate-side parking rules."

The breakthrough that led to the discovery of bin Laden came Jan. 4, when CIA Director George Tenet realized he'd forgotten to send a Christmas gift to his son in Los Angeles.

"It was bad enough that I couldn't find the time to visit Dale over the holidays, but to fail to send a token of my affection?" Tenet said. "Well, it made me ask, 'What kind of terrible person does that?' I was telling [CIA Deputy Director] John McLaughlin about it, and he said that, earlier that day, he'd seen a teenager push past an elderly woman at a bus stop. John asked me, 'What kind of terrible person does that?'"

"The answer hit us like a ton of bricks: Osama bin Laden," Tenet said. "Just like that, we had the clue that convinced us to expand the parameters of our search."

Tenet presented his discovery to the U.N. Security Council the next day.

"There is a part inside each of us that makes us throw recyclable items in with the rest of our trash, let Mom go to voicemail, and eat coworkers' food out of the refrigerator," Tenet told the council. "It is a dark, dank, shameful place, and it is my belief that the man responsible for the events of Sept. 11 lurks therein."

In light of the new counter-terrorist intelligence, Attorney General John Ashcroft has urged lawmakers to expand the Patriot Act to allow federal investigators to search within the hearts of all Americans.

"Finally, we know to look inside the ugly part of ourselves that makes us under-tip waitresses and cut people off in clogged traffic," Ashcroft said. "But now, we need the authority to enter this desolate place and flush the terrorists out."

President Bush spoke in support of Ashcroft's vision for the new front in the war on terror.

"I know this classified information may be hard to hear," Bush said. "But I urge each and every American to perform a covert search of his or her own soul. Join me in quiet self-examination and self-interrogation. Ferret out the terrorist inside you and bring him to harsh and swift justice. Together, we can topple the last major stronghold of terror in this world: our own doubts and fears."

Bush added that, even though we know where bin Laden is hiding, drawing him out is largely beyond the power of Washington.

"There is only one way to defeat Osama bin Laden," Bush said. "The way to eliminate this evil man is for each American to love just a little bit more, see your brother's problems as your own, always look on the bright side, and leave every place a little better than you found it."

© Copyright 2006, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Unforseen Wilderness


"And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of
miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual
journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and
humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground
at our feet and learn to be at home."

-Wendell Berry, "The Unforseen Wilderness"

Now


Sitting here wondering what to post.

I've been becoming more aware lately of all I don't know and how incomplete what I do know is. I want to do what I can to strive for peace and justice, but how do you do that?

I do know that violence asks for a violent response and usually escalates. I am contemplating the use of force, in defense and out of compassion, relative to force exerted out of hate and fear. It's obvious to me the damaging effects of the latter, I'm uncertain about the former. I guess anything done from a place of love, compassion and humility can't be "wrong". The challenge comes in knowing when one is acting from that place.

I just saw my youngest son leave home and move to Maui. The youngest of four leaving is a milestone. What a long, strange trip it's been. You would think I would reflect back and be proud of our accomplishments. I do think we raised some very incredible, aware children. But what I see is my short-comings. I especially have become more aware of the harm I have caused in bringing up children having my obsessive, addictive patterns permeating their environment. I don't feel guilt or shame though. I know I did the best I could with the consciousness I had. I know that life and it's human participants are not perfect. I believe that my children chose me as their father to receive what I had to offer, and that by facing their shortcomings, they will grow stronger, wiser and move closer to God. I know that I have taught them love, in my clumsy, self-centered way.

I have had an inner shift over the last couple of weeks. My ego has notably deflated and I have been filled with the Spirit. I feel a presence that is guiding and teaching me. I have relaxed into the faith that everything is perfect, right now.

I heard a story of Ram Dass sharing the following, paraphrased, "The pain and suffering in the world is as it's supposed to be. Ones desire to eliminate the pain and suffering and bring relief is as it is supposed to be also. If one has that desire one should act on it. The one who fails is the one who has that desire and does nothing".

Peace and I Love You,

Alan

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

When do words mean what the words mean?


Bush Administration Says Mideast Oil Pledge “Purely an Example”

(Reported by Democracy Now)

Just one day after President Bush drew headlines for pledging to reduce the country’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent by the year 2025, two top administration officials said Bush’s promise was not meant literally. In a conference call with reporters, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters the President was giving “purely an example” when he spoke about making dependency on Middle Eastern oil “a thing of the past." Bodman, speaking alongside Presidential adviser Dan Bartlett, said President Bush really meant that alternative energy could take the place of the amount oil the US is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025. An administration official told Knight Ridder the President used the words “the Middle East” only so he could illustrate the issue in way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kermit is lucky he didn't kill someone


Alcoholics come from all walks of life. Don't be fooled by outside appearances, especially if your the alcoholic. Murder and manslaughter are the easiest crimes to commit when one is drunk or loaded. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

WHY IS THIS MAN SMILING?


2005: Halliburton's Most Profitable Year Ever
In other business news, Halliburton has reported it made a company-record $2.4 billion last year - making 2005 the company's most profitable year in its 86 year history. The company - which was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney - has seen its stock value double over the past year. Last week Halliburton subsidiary KBR won a $385 million contract to build and operate new detention facilities in case of a "emergency influx of immigrants" into the country.

(From Democracy Now)

The Good Old Days (click arrow to play)