Sunday, April 30, 2006

Create Your Life

The above collage is from

Here is something from "the Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron I read today and that I want to share with all of you:

"Logic brain is our brain of choice in the Western Hemisphere. It is the categorical brain. It thinks in neat, linear fashion. As a rule logic brain perceives the world according to known categories. A horse is a certain combination of animal parts that make up a horse. A fall forest is viewed as a series of colors that add up to "fall forest." It looks at a fall forest and notes: red, orange, yellow, green, gold.

Logic brain was and is our survival brain. It works on known principles. Anything unknown is perceived as wrong and possibly dangerous. Logic brain likes things to be neat little soldiers marching in a straight line. Logic brain is the brain we usually listen to, especially when we are telling ourselves to be sensible.

Logic brain is our Censor, our second (and third and fourth) thoughts. Faced with an original sentence, phrase, paint squiggle, it says "What the hell is that? That's not right."

Artist brain is our inventor, our child, our very own personal absent-minded professor. Artist brain says "Hey! That is so neat!" It puts odd things together (boat equals wave and walker). It likes calling a speeding GTO a wild animal: "The black howling wolf pulled into the drive-in....."

Artist brain is our creative, holistic brain. It thinks in patterns and shadings. It sees fall forest and thinks: Wow! Leaf bouquet! Pretty! Gold-gilt-shimmery-earthskin-king's-carpet! Artists brain is associative and freewheeling. It makes new connections, yoking together images to invoke meaning: like the Norse myths calling a boat a "wave-horse". In Star Wars, the name Skywalker is a lovely artists-brain flash."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

How dumb does Big Oil think you are?

By Daniel GrossPosted Friday, April 28, 2006, at 6:03 PM ET

Ordinarily, earnings announcements are an occasion for shameless executive preening. Exceeding analysts' estimates, by even the slimmest margin, is cause for chest-thumping, back-patting, and high-fiving. Good results are touted as evidence of the management team's brilliant strategy, flawless execution, and unwavering commitment. Any negatives, if not ignored entirely, are generally chalked up to things beyond human control.

But not this week in the oil industry. On successive days, the three largest U.S. oil companies, ConocoPhillips (Wednesday), ExxonMobil (Thursday), and Chevron (Friday), have reported huge, blowout quarters. Among them, the trio earned a stunning $15 billion in the first quarter alone. But rather than blare the news, the firms have tried to soft-pedal their record earnings. After all, the timing is less than optimal. Congressmen in Washington are stumbling over themselves trying to do something—anything, by gosh!—about higher gas prices: calling for windfall profit taxes, proclaiming war on price-gouging, and foolishly proposing a $100 tax rebate to help with gas payments. (In other words, taxpayers would borrow money from foreigners like the Saudis in order to send $100 checks to Americans so they can buy more gas from foreigners like the Saudis.)

So, it's no surprise there's been a concerted—and so far, unsuccessful—effort to downplay the scope, scale, and size of Big Oil's profits. Here's how they've done it:

This business sucks. In an effort to get ahead of the curve, Big Oil has been putting out the message that oil is actually a bad business to be in. The American Petroleum Institute has been running full-page advertisements in the New York Times this week that show where a hypothetical dollar spent on gas at the pump goes: 19 cents for taxes; 26 cents for refining, distribution, and service stations; and 55 cents for the crude oil. The ads also cite a PricewaterhouseCoopers study that shows the industry in 2005 "earned 8.5 cents on every dollar of sales." These figures are intended to elicit sympathy for the poor gas companies, struggling to get by with their 8.5 percent margins. Don't fall for it. Integrated companies like ExxonMobil—which pump crude, refine it, and sell it—capture 81 cents of every dollar spent on gas. And 8.5 percent is a pretty good margin for a capital-intensive, high-volume business like oil. ExxonMobil's profits last quarter were $8.4 billion on sales of $89 billion—about 9.4 percent of sales.

Profits? What profits? Remember the episode of Happy Days when Fonzie, try as he might, couldn't quite say the word "wrong." Today's Chevron conference call was a little like that. Steve Crowe, vice president and chief financial officer, kicked off the conference call by talking about the company's "results." As in: "The company reported results of $4 billion, or $1.80 per diluted share. Our results were up nearly 50 percent compared with the first quarter of 2005 mainly due to higher commodity prices … ." Steve, the word you're looking for is "profits."

Well, we may have good profits results. But it's not our fault! As API head Red Cavaney wrote to Congress this week: "Oil companies do not set the price of crude oil." In this recent corporate op-ed, ExxonMobil, the nation's largest company, portrays itself as a mere waif, tossed about by macroeconomic winds: "Our earnings go up and down with the business cycle." Of course, if oil CEOs like recently retired ExxonMobil boss Lee Raymond are just a bunch of huckleberries with the dumb luck to be in the right place at the right time, you wonder why they deserve nearly $70 million in annual compensation and a $98 million pension.

We're doing everything possible not to report big results! In their earnings reports and conference calls, each of the Big Three emphasized actions taken by the company to reduce net income. ExxonMobil noted that it distributed $7 billion to shareholders in the first quarter through stock buybacks and dividends, up 67 percent from the year before. In its earnings report, ConocoPhillips took great pains to show that while it earned $3.29 billion in the quarter, it spent much more than that on capital expenditures and other items. "During the quarter, the company reinvested 141 percent of its net income into the development of oil and gas resources and its global refining business."

It's not us, it's you! Sure, fat-cat CEOs own plenty of stock and receive options. But in our ownership society, gigantic mega-cap stocks like these are essentially community property. ExxonMobil notes that among those reaping the benefits of the record profits are the "more than 2.5 million people who directly own shares, and the millions more who do through their pension, insurance, and mutual funds."

We feel your pain. This most un-Clintonian of industries has resorted to a Clintonian tactic. Jad Mouawad of the New York Times reported that Ken Cohen, vice president for public affairs at Exxon, held a conference call with reporters this week. "Obviously it was a good quarter for us," Cohen said. "We understand that people are quite upset with the price they're paying at the pump, and we empathize with that." As another oil man once put it: "Message: I care." It didn't work for him, either.

Daniel Gross ( writes Slate's "Moneybox" column. You can e-mail him at URL:

Copyright 2006 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who Said Hippies Couldn't Get Anything Done?

The above is a picture of the staff of Microsoft in 1978. It sure would be nice if Bill Gates (lower left hand guy) actually possessed Hippie Values and used the wealth generated by Microsoft to support the Commons. I heard a joke the other day - "If Bill Gates had gotten laid as a teenager we would never have had Microsoft". The line between Hippie and Nerd seems blurred on the outside. If you want to tune into some real Hippie History and present updates check out The Hippie Museum.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Slava's Snow Show

I went and saw the great clown Slava from Russia perform in his "Snow Show" on Sunday. Some photos of the Slava in the "Snow Show", taken by by Mark Tso, are above. We were offered to move up to the third row so we did. I'm still deeply moved by the experience as I prepare my piece for our upcoming "Lost and Clowned" show on May 12 and 13 in San Francisco. I'll post a copy of our poster when I get it. I hope as many of you who can will come and experience some theatrical clowning. If you have never experienced it you will be amazed. We have 11 clowns at various levels of experience and they are all creating touching pieces.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ignorance and Internet Bliss

April 20, 2006

By Bennett Gordon, these efforts put the internet at serious risk. The only way to preserve the web as a catalyst for innovation is to create a network that doesn't discriminate. In other words, a stupid network.

"Net neutrality," according to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, "is the concept that everyone, everywhere, should have free, universal, and non-discriminatory access to all the internet has to offer." In some ways, that is what we have right now. The internet is a way of sending bits of information from one computer to another. Under the principals of net neutrality, it doesn't matter how important these bits are, all information is going to be sent at the same speed. David Isenberg, author of the prophetic 1997 paper "The Rise of the Stupid Network," calls this a "Stupid Network" because the network doesn't know what the information is or who is sending it.

An intelligent network, on the other hand, is based on assumptions and preferences. The best example right now is AOL's proposed system of "CertifiedEmail." If AOL has its way, customers will be given the "option" to pay a fee in order to ensure delivery of their emails. AOL's network would then discriminate between paying and non-paying customers, starving out the non-paying customers with undeliverable messages and wait times. There already have been abuses that demonstrate the dangers of the intelligent network. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital freedom advocacy group, accused AOL of censorship when it failed to deliver emails containing links to, a website critical of AOL's "CertifiedEmail" plans.

The big telecom companies argue that they have the right to charge customers for internet services. According to this logic, the telecoms already have made a significant investment in wiring the country, so they should be able to charge for usage like email. Internet experts like Bruce Kushnick calls this argument disingenuous. According to Kushnick's organization Tele Truth, the major telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T agreed in the 1990s "to rewire ALL of America with fiber optic wiring, replacing the 100-year-old copper wire." In exchange, the telecoms were paid $200 billion in taxpayer money. The money was paid, but the telecoms never delivered on their promises.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to fall behind in broadband. The International Telecommunication Union ranks the United States 16th in terms of broadband penetration. Countries like Japan and Korea have faster internet connections at cheaper prices, while the telecommunications companies stifle innovation with efforts to protect their national hegemony. Vinton Cerf, widely considered one of the founding fathers of the internet, believes that the discriminatory policies of intelligent networks are a huge threat to the future of the internet. According to Cerf, "Nothing less than the future of the Internet is at stake"

Go there >> The End of the Internet? Net Neutrality Threatened by Cable, Telecom Interests
Go there too >> 'Father of the Internet' Asks for Network Neutrality

Related Links:
David S. Isenberg's
The End of the Internet?
Untangling the Next Telecom Act

Related Links from the Utne Archive:
Why Fie?
Is the Internet the Public Utility of the Future?

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor
Like this? Want more? Subscribe to Utne magazine

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Isn't Drunkeness Cute?

Drunk Will Show You, Everybody
April 19, 2006 Issue 42•16 (satire from The Onion)

YOUNGSTOWN, OH—In response to the shit he knows everyone is saying about him, local resident Todd Stenerud, after a prolonged drinking session, announced his intention to show you and everyone else just minutes before closing time at a local bar Monday.

"You people don't know [what] the fuck you're talking about," Stenerud announced from his stool at Dan's Pub. "You think I can't? Know what? I'll show you. I'll show everybody."

Stenerud, who is frequently drunk, added that if those assembled were opposed to his announcement, they could kiss his "big red baboon ass."

Although Stenerud did not specify what he intended to show, he addressed a number of issues in detail, including the lack of credit he is given "day in and day goddamn out," his endless payment of dues "day after day after day," and a general sentiment of not giving a fuck today or any other fucking day.

"Look, there's me," Stenerud said, pointing out his reflection cast in the bar-length mirror. "That's the guy that's going to kick all of your asses."

Bartender Hope Krzysch said that Stenerud, a regular patron, was served eight bottles of Miller Genuine Draft and six shots of Jim Beam in the four hours prior to making his remarks.

In a statement typified by earnest, strongly worded proclamations, one of Stenerud's most impassioned comments was that the occasion marked the very first time that he had ever spoken the truth to anyone.

"It's all clear to me now. I can see right through you sons of bitches. Too bad you're not me right now. That's just too fucking bad for you."

The announcement was cut short when Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" played over the bar's jukebox, prompting Stenerud to remark, "I love this tune," close his eyes, and silently mouth the lyrics for the duration of the song.

Patrons at the bar reflected on Stenerud's charges of shit-talking. "I don't know the guy," Web designer Steve Dreyfuss said. "But I hope he eventually shows everybody. I wish him well."

Stenerud, known in the area for inebriated, forceful announcements, has in the past shown everyone his ability to lift a table over his head, remove a hard-boiled egg from a glass without touching the glass, and construct a tiny man from a paper match. Still, observers said it was unlikely that these actions were what Stenerud was determined to show Monday.

Though he focused on showing everyone, Stenerud also demanded to know what the fuck everyone was laughing at.

"You think that's funny?" he asked on one of the few occasions he rose to his feet. "I'll show you what's funny. Come on."

After a series of alternatingly aggressive and inquisitive gestures, Stenerud nearly toppled to the ground, narrowly avoiding striking his head on a footrest.

Semiregular Dan's Pub patron and die-cutter Ed Sieves tried to assure Stenerud that nobody was laughing, and, after a brief staredown, the walleyed Stenerud embraced Sieves in an emotional bear hug.

"This guy's like a brother. He's a good fuckin' man," Stenerud said, attempting to lift Sieves off the ground. "You're the best friend a guy could have. No. No. No. No. I mean it. There's nobody I'd rather want to spend time with than all you fuckers. You guys. You guys. I fuckin'."

Stenerud then asked, "Did you see me pick him up?"

After two minutes of a silence described by witnesses as "sullen," Stenerud announced that he had one last fucking thing to tell the audience.

"You'd think? Fuckin'. I want to go call my ex-wife," Stenerud said, apparently concluding the speech.

Stenerud is expected to return to Dan's Pub on Friday, but it is unknown whether he will show anyone anything else at that time.

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

A Rooftop Windmill Of Your Very Own

By Benjamin Sutherland
Newsweek International

April 24, 2006 issue - As projects to build "wind farms" of massive, electricity-generating wind turbines continue to multiply, so do the ranks of "not in my backyard" protesters. The turbines, some with blades that sweep as high as a 20-story building, are increasingly seen as unsightly and dangerous manifestations of the industrialization of the countryside. "The volume is going up higher on opposition to wind farms," says Kathy Belyeu, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association. Although protests have generally failed to nix many farms, they frequently translate into costly delays or relocation to sites with less favorable winds.

Wind advocates thus have high hopes for less obtrusive wind technology: specifically, high-performance, nonpolluting rooftop microturbines. Generally not much bigger than a dish antenna, they hardly mar the skyline. And if wind conditions are optimal, they can satisfy a typical household's appetite for electricity. Although a microturbine produces less than one thousandth the power of a 20-story turbine, the electricity need only be piped a short distance into the house rather than sent over long distances. The microturbine can also contribute to the energy grid via a short power line that connects to utility lines running along the street. Various models of the turbines, which generally range in price from $1,000 to $8,000, have started springing up on top of houses and buildings in Europe and North America.

Demand has risen so quickly—roughly doubling in the past 12 months—that companies are having trouble making the minimills fast enough. Renewable Devices, an Edinburgh-based manufacturer, which is growing at 300 percent a year, priced a popular turbine at £5,000 while it ramps up production (it plans to drop the price by two thirds by December). Many other manufacturers are lowering prices as the growing market provides economies of scale and local authorities expedite use permits. (The turbines aren't much louder than the wind, and birds are no more likely to fly into them than into windows.)

Earlier this year, the Dutch city of Hoofddorp erected a turbine on its town hall "to set an example," says Environment Policymaker Ruud Mesman. The move kicked off a campaign to install enough turbines to cover 10 percent of the city's electricity needs within 20 years (the city now advises builders on the benefits of "small wind" before issuing construction permits). In May, Chicago will begin a turbine test on the Daley Center skyscraper to figure out how to issue permits and whether to promote the technology with tax incentives.

Most rooftop turbines are designed to pay for themselves after about five years of moderately favorable winds—conditions common in temperate climates like those of Europe, the United States and Japan. After that, the juice is free, save maintenance costs, until the motors burn out after an additional 15 or so years. Rising electricity costs are sweetening the deal, as is the proliferation of "net metering" laws that require utility companies to purchase the unused small-wind electricity fed onto the grid. Five years ago half a dozen EU countries obliged energy companies to buy this so-called spill; now 24 countries do. Thirty-nine U.S. states have passed net-metering legislation. Of course, microturbines also make a satisfying display of one's green credentials and self-reliance. In a world of energy turmoil and global warming, personal windmills are becoming fashionable.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2006


Monday, April 17, 2006

In Case You're Wondering What's Happening in Iraq

Excerpts from Democracy Now:

U.S. Broke Human Rights Law By Arming Iraqi Militias

In news on Iraq, an internal State Department review has determined U.S. officials are doling out millions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without ensuring the units are complying with U.S. laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations. The Chicago Tribune reports officials failed to take steps to comply with the laws over the past two years, amid mounting reports of torture and murder by Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy crafted the law in the early 1990s after disclosures of widespread abuse by U.S.-supported forces in Latin America.

Report: U.S. Military is Planning a "Second Liberation of Baghdad"

In other news on Iraq, the London Times reports the U.S. military is planning a "second liberation of Baghdad" in order to try to pacify the city. This comes as a new report by the Inter Press Service found that the morgue in Baghdad is now receiving over 85 bodies on an average day. Scores of family members gather outside the morgue each day to see if their missing loved ones are among the dead.

U.S. Builds Massive New Iraqi Embassy

Meanwhile construction on the massive new U.S. embassy in Baghdad is a third complete. The fortress-like compound will be the largest U.S. embassy in the world. The complex will contain 21 buildings spread over 100 acres. With a staff of over 5,000 the embassy will resemble a small town on the Tigris River. It will contain its own defense force, water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility

This Song Just Makes Me Feel Like Dancing in the Springtime!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Children's Prayer for All Ages

(Painting is "White Rose with Larkspur" by Georgia O'Keeffe)

From my head to my feet,
I am the image of God.
From my heart to my hands,
I feel the breath of God.
When I speak with my mouth,
I follow God’s will.
When I see God everywhere,
In Mother, Father, in all dear people,
In beast and flower, tree and stone,
Then nothing brings fear
But love to all that is around me.

--Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Humor for the Liberals

Friendship With Homeless Man One-Sided

April 12, 2006 Issue 42•15 (Satire from

NEW HAVEN, CT—Yale University junior Steve Hamlin received what he described as a "hard lesson" this week when he realized that he was the only one putting any effort into his friendship with homeless Vietnam War veteran Freddie Paige.

"In any relationship, there's give-and-take, but with this guy, it's all take, take, take," said Hamlin, 20. "I sometimes think he prefers a hot meal and a warm blanket to my company."

"When was the last time he did something thoughtful for me?" Hamlin added. "Never, that's when."

The pair met in late January, when Hamlin approached Paige at a bus shelter and asked if it was all right if he sat down. According to Hamlin, the two immediately hit it off.

"Freddie was really easy to talk to," said Hamlin, who recalled discussing such diverse topics as politics, personal philosophies, world injustice, the weather, homelessness in America, and the meaning of life. "I thought he was just as introspective as I was, but now I wonder if he was even listening to me at all. Sometimes he acts like I'm not even there. Like his mind is somewhere else."

Hamlin began to notice cracks in their bond as early as mid-February, when Paige stopped grunting a half-hearted thanks for the grilled-cheese sandwiches Hamlin would bring him from the campus dining hall. "I'm not saying he had to go crazy with gratefulness, but you know, the grunt was nice," Hamlin said.

The philosophy major also complained about always having to "come to him" to get any time together.

"Freddie is so unreliable—sometimes I'll go to meet him at his usual spot and he's not there," Hamlin said. "Then I'll see him an hour later asleep on the bench near the McDonald's, almost completely covered in newspaper, as if he's trying to hide. When I wake him up, he gets irritated and acts startled, like he doesn't even recognize me."

Hamlin pointed out other ways in which Paige was not "pulling his weight," including never asking Hamlin how his day was, never paying him back, and repeatedly trying to bum cigarettes off him despite the fact that Hamlin has told him "a million times" that he quit smoking a year ago.

"It's like all he cares about is himself and his own basic needs, and that takes precedence over everything," Hamlin added.

The friendship deteriorated further when Paige finally came out of his shell and began talking about his background. "I hoped he would really open up to me and impart some insightful, hard-earned wisdom," Hamlin said. "Instead, he just kept droning on and on about how he hasn't seen his family in 11 years and really misses them, that he's cold and hungry, that he'll never get his life back. It gets a little tiresome. Clearly, he's got issues, and they're getting in the way of our friendship."

Paige also has a tendency to disappear without notice, Hamlin said. "He was gone for three whole weeks once, and didn't even bother to leave me a note," Hamlin said. "When he finally came back, I could tell by the whiskey on his breath and the cut below his eye that he had been out having a good time and hadn't even thought to ask me along. Come to think of it, he never invites me anywhere."

"At least have the common decency to pretend you like me," Hamlin added. "I've introduced him to everyone I know, and I have yet to even meet a single one of his homeless friends. It's like he's embarrassed of me or something."

Although Hamlin is "willing to bet" that Paige wouldn't care, or even notice, if he never talked to him again, he is determined to sustain the friendship at least until he finishes his paper on Paige for his anthropology class.

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Butterfly Beauty

Earth Saving Tips from Earth Share

Butterflies play a critical role in maintaining the health of our environment. They help pollinate fruits, flowers and vegetables; provide food for other animals; and enchant children and adults alike with their beauty and flight. But like many other creatures, more and more butterflies are becoming endangered as the wild places they inhabit are lost to development or as they fall victim to pesticides. Here's what you can do to help bring the butterflies back:

  • Garden for wildlife. Grow plants butterfly caterpillars like to eat. In many cases, these will be plants that are native to your region; they'll attract native butterflies as well. Consult local gardening directories or contact your nearest agricultural extension agent for planting recommendations.

  • Choose nectar-rich plants. Fill your garden not only with plants caterpillars will want to eat, but also with those from which butterflies can drink. Options include buddleia, heliotrope, milkweed, mint, verbena, and zinnias.

  • Build a house. If your yard doesn't provide enough dense foliage to allow butterflies to hibernate and nest, build them a box they can use that offers protection from predators and harsh weather. The interior walls of the box should be rough enough to allow butterflies to grab a foothold. Scatter small twigs and leaves inside to promote hibernation and egg laying, and include thin vertical slats on the front to allow the butterflies to enter and exit. Make sure the box is hung no more than four feet above the ground and has a south or southwest exposure.

  • Put out some water. A shallow dish or birdbath will provide the moisture butterflies need to thrive

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Say Goodbye To My Sweet Solitude

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,
I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness
of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.
As if I didn't exist. Do I have any
share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with
their pure effect? Does my blood's ebb and flow
change with their changes? Let me put aside
every desire, every relationship
except this one, so that my heart grows used to
its farthest spaces. Better that it live
fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than
as if protected, soothed by what is near.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, April 09, 2006

How Do They Do That?

Sometimes when I'm watching people, life seems so easy for them. It's like they are riding through life on a big fantasy bunnie.

But then I see inside them and I realize, "I don't want to be that". I want to feel all of life - pain and joy and all. I strive to know Compassion and Love.

Take a Deep Breath, Stand Up and Dance, Please.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rethinking Adult Learning


Education for adults should provide answers to the difficulties, challenges and questions posed by today’s economic, political, social, cultural and spiritual situation, a situation much changed since the beginning of the twentieth century and likely to continue changing at great speed if only because of the ongoing rapid development of technology, not least information technology.

All over the world in varying degrees technology and economics are more and more coming to dominate daily life. Adult education will therefore have to foster entirely new capabilities to cope with these changes in the world and in life situations. In former times a good basic education, with mostly a vocational or academic training added, was all we required in order to find our own way in life. Not so today. We now need to school quite specific new faculties in ourselves to be able to meet present life situations in a creative way.

A thorough investigation into how the individual human being is determined, conditioned, even blocked, by the pressures and demands of daily living, as well as post-graduate educational systems, will reveal which dormant human faculties are being neglected, conditioned or even suffocated with a specific purposefulness, faculties that will be sorely needed if we are to withstand the pressures as well as find creative answers to them. These faculties remain dormant if not consciously nurtured and developed by the independent adult ego through an adult education that can truly meet the challenges of our time. A good school education up to 21 years is a necessary preparation in that it unfolds the child’s abilities, but it is not enough for today’s challenges.

Here are a few examples: The countries of Europe were totally unprepared for what National Socialism could do to people. The way in which life under a Communist system could condition a people is still scarcely understood. Vaclav Havel and many others have given us vivid descriptions of the inner strengths required if one wanted to remain human under such systems. Both these political models can be expected to return---albeit under different names and with different faces. Will we be prepared when this happens?

Another model of global proportions is that of an economic, technical, commercial determinism which demands that economic prosperity must have priority over everything else. It is a philosophy emanating from the West that has gradually been taken over by the rest of the world, and all education, certainly adult education, will be expected to serve it at all costs, thus placing human needs under the dictatorship of economic necessity. Perhaps this appears exaggerated, yet the creeping trend of increasingly materialistic values can be detected everywhere. It is a trend---relatively unnoticed as yet---which causes economic and technological requirements to gain increasing control over the behavior of human beings by getting them to adjust to and fit in with a global economic system. This may seem logical, but it is not human when given priority over all other values in life. What better control than by means of a vocational training that is determined by economic principles and aims and has to abide by certain worldwide rules? If this succeeds, humanity will have a techno-economic and material future, but not a human future.

Many other conditioning trends can be detected as well. The above are merely a few indications. Healthy adult learning, which schools and strengthens genuine human capacities and the individual’s creativity and ability to develop, will enable people to stand up to the world in a constructive way. It teaches us to regard today’s life and culture as an area that challenges us to seek new developments, thus lending meaning to today’s worldwide problems: they become the arena where a new step in human evolution can be practiced. We thus learn to discern that it is humanity’s problems which show us what ought to be developed. The signs of the times are our teachers! Each of us must find and school the answers independently, while the adult educator’s task is to make this possible, provide the means and show the learning paths.

Adapted from the introduction to Practising Destiny: Principles and Processes in Adult Learning. Published by permission of Temple Lodge Press.
Coenraad van Houten co-founded the Center for Social Development in Europe and the New Adult Learning Movement. He has developed numerous programs and seminars for educating adults.

Friday, April 07, 2006

While I'm on the Topic of Fashion...........

From The Onion


I share this with you as information about the roots of my interest in comedy in general and clowning specificly.


This article was originally published in A Short History of the Drama. Martha Fletcher Bellinger. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. pp. 153-7.

THE title, Commedia dell'arte ("Comedy of Art" or "Comedy of the profession"), means unwritten or improvised drama, and implies rather to the manner of performance than to the subject matter of the play. This peculiar species had a long life in Italy, probably of about four hundred years (from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century); but it flourished especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Of course in actual practice the play was not, in any sense, the result of the moment's inspiration. The subject was chosen, the characters conceived and named, their relations to one another determined, and the situations clearly outlined, all beforehand. The material was divided into acts and scenes, with a prologue. The situations were made clear, together with the turn of action and the outcome of each scene. When this general outline (called also scenario or canvas) was satisfactorily filled out there was left an opportunity for actors to heighten, vary, and embellish their parts as their genius might suggest. The necessity for smoothness, constant surprise, clearness, and wit called forth histrionic abilities which had been unknown to the medieval stage. "The actors had to find the proper words to make the tears flow or the laughter ring; they had to catch the sallies of their fellow-actors on the wing, and return them with prompt repartee. The dialogue must go like a merry game of ball or spirited sword-play, with ease and without a pause." [1] Such parts required actors able to make a serious study of their parts; actors who took pride in their achievements, and were willing to accept the discipline which all professional art demands. These comedians changed forever the standards of acting. The best of them stamped their parts with individuality, freshness and brilliance, and gave value to pieces which, often enough, were otherwise worthless. The Commedia dell'arte introduced the professional actor into Europe.


Like the court comedies of Ariosto and Machiavelli, the Commedia dell'arte was concerned mostly with disgraceful love intrigues, clever tricks to get money or outwit some simpleton. There were the same long-lost children stolen by the Turks, the same plotting maids, bragging captains, aged fathers and wily widows. Each gentleman had his parasite, each woman her confidante. There was considerable diversity of incident, such as night scenes, in which the hero was mistaken for the villain; cases where father and son fall in love with the same girl; and risqué situations--the representation of fire, shipwreck, and the like which served as a pretext for allowing actresses to appear naked on the stage.


An important part of every play, given always to the most expert and popular actors, were the humorous interruptions, called lazzi, which often had nothing to do with the play itself. It might be clever pantomimic acting, acrobatic feats, juggling, or wrestling. For example, three characters meet at a cook shop, where they hear of an accident which has befallen the wife of one of them. While they express their dismay at the affliction, they fall to eating greedily from a huge dish of macaroni; and as they eat, tears stream down their faces. Or again, a servant, disgusted at an order his master has given him, delays carrying it out until he has turned a complete somersault. One famous actor could execute this trick having a full glass of wine in his hand, without spilling a drop. Another was able, in his eighty-third year, to box the ear of a fellow servant with his foot. Elaborate imitations of women taking off their stays, false hair, and crinolines were always acceptable, together with many pantomimic diversions of a less innocent character. These are examples of the lazzi of the Commedia dell'arte.


In the course of the development of the Commedia dell'arte, there grew up certain traditions which held fast for many years. The rascally servant, the old man, the lady's maid, and the like--stock characters which appeared in every play--always wore a conventional dress, with masks. In general these masks may be classed under four or five groups: Pantalone and the Doctor, both old men; the Captain, a young man of adventure; the valet or jester, usually called Zanni; the hunchback Punchinello; and another old man, somewhat different from the first two.
Pantalone was usually a shop-keeper from Vienna, somewhat stupid, fond of food and of pretty women, talkative, gullible, full of temper, the butt of all the jokes--some of them very indecent--yet forgiving in the end. His business was to get deceived by his young wife, or his son, or his servant. The second old man, the Doctor, filled the part of a lawyer, an astrologer, or perhaps a philosopher from Bologna. Sometimes he represented an absent-minded pedant, quoting latin at inappropriate times, and enormously conceited. The bragging Captain, a boasting, swashbuckling officer, often Spanish, dressed-to-kill in cape, feathered hat, high boots, with sword in belt, was always a prime favorite. He told extraordinary tales about how he beat a whole army of Turks and carried off the beard of the Sultain, but when there was a hint of real danger he was the first to run away. He made love to the none-too-innocent servant maid, and got trashed by her Harlequin lover. This character, of course, is none other than the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, called in Italy Il Capitano Spavento della Valle Inferno, or simply Spavento. In time he gained a choice variety of bombastic names in different countries: Capitano Metamoros, Capitaine Fracasse, Captain Horribilicribilifax, Ralph Roister Doister, and Bobadil.
Zanni, the scoundrelly valet or jester, resembled the Greek slave of the Middle and New Comedy. Most plays contained several valets: one each for the Doctor, Pantalone, and the primo amoroso. All were variations of the type of which Pierrot and Harlequin are the most celebrated. They were generally indolent and knavish, sometimes cunning and cruel; always stupid in their own way, first deceiving others and then being duped themselves. Alll made love to the servants, and often imitated the love scenes of their masters in ridiculous parody. Punchinello was a hunchback with a long crimson nose, dressed in a dark cloak and wearing a three-cornered cap. He too was a great rascal, but dry and less talkative than Pantalone.
All these characters had costumes, stock gestures and stage business which could be reckoned upon to create a laugh and put the audience in tune for the knavery that was to follow. In course of time there crystallized about each mask an entire code or repertory of phrases, exclamations, curses, exits, epigrammatic sayings and soliloquies appropriate to the rôle, which could be memorized and made to fill in the blank when the actor's wit could find nothing better. The primo amoroso, the female lover, and the maid servant were not masked, though they were thoroughly conventionalized. The male lover was a perfumed scapegrace; while the girl, rarely will individualized, stood simply as the helpless or ignorant foil for the intrigue. The hero became known as Flavio, Leandro or Valerio; the woman as Isabella, Lucinda, Leonora or Ardelia; while the maid servant was generally Columbine. The importance of these typical stage characters, which enjoyed at least four centuries of popularity on the European boards, lies in the influence which they exerted upon the superior dramatists of a later time. Already one can catch a breath of the Shakespearean comedies in the names of the heroes; and one can see that Molière, both as actor and author, learned much from this branch of Italian art. Its influence passed through Holberg into Denmark, where it became a powerful factor in shaping the romantic drama of a later age.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Are You What You Wear?

TALKING STICK (from Utne Reader)

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."
-- Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Will the Rain Ever End?

I'm having a hard time staying productive. It's been raining here every day for as long as I can remember, it seems. I am moving by next Tuesday, have much to do, but I only want to stay curled up in my cozy apartment. The more inactive I get the more I start to worry about my inability to accomplish anything. Just to help matters I was sick last week, which isn't the most motivating into action experience.

I did get to improv last night, after a week and a half without acting. It was good and I seemed more in the moment and alive than I have for sometime.

I don't know how to live in the "normal" world. I am just going to step off into it and trust God to lead the way. I wish I knew what I'm here to do.

So I'll just fantasize and let my imagination go somewhere like the collage above from scrapiteria. The positive take on things is - I don't think we'll have a drought this year.



Monday, April 03, 2006

I Never Know When I Am Being Of Service To God

A priest and a bus driver arrive at the gates of heaven at the same time.
St. Peter allows the bus driver to go straight in, but the priest is asked to wait.

After a very long wait, the priest asks St. Peter "Why did that bus driver go straight to the heaven, yet I, who all my life have spoken about God, have to wait for such a long time?"

St. Peter replied, "When you were speaking to the people at your church everybody was sleeping, but when that bus driver was driving everybody prayed!"

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bioneers Get Recognition

Bioneers' Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons to Receive Prestigious Global Green Award

Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons, the founder and co-producers of Bioneers, will receive Global Green's 2006 Green Cross Millennium Award for Community Environmental Leadership at the 10th Anniversary awards dinner on April 1, 2006 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Green Cross International was founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union.

Past Millennium Award recipients have included Leonardo DiCaprio, Ted Turner, Joan Bavaria, Paul Hawken, Gary Hirshberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Ray Anderson, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and many more outstanding leaders.

The Global Green Millennium Awards recognize and herald those individuals whose lives and livelihood embody the group's mission of fostering a global value shift toward a safer, more sustainable world. This recognition is intended to inspire, encourage, and celebrate advancements that move others to do the same, or go further. Part of the goal is to further humanity's collective commitment to make these accomplishments the norm rather than the exception. Global Green USA works with governments, industry and individuals. Global Green USA is addressing three great challenges facing humanity: climate change, weapons of mass destruction, and the need for clean water.

Ausubel and Simons founded the Bioneers Conference in 1990 in Santa Fe, New Mexico to highlight practical and visionary solutions for restoring the Earth and people. The conference moved to the Bay Area in 1993. In 2005, well over 3,000 people attended the California gathering, and an additional 8,000 people attended seventeen live simultaneous Beaming Bioneers satellite conferences across the U.S. and Canada. Bioneers also conducts numerous other programs, including an award-winning radio series, television broadcast series, book series, a web site, youth program and food and farming program.

Said Global Green executive director Matt Petersen, "We present this award to you for your efforts through Bioneers, collectively and individually, to create community through the annual conference and connections made through the event, as well as through your ongoing programming. The spirit of humanity you capture is so important to our future, and your gatherings inspire, encourage, and connect. We honor those who are tearing down the walls that stand in the way of a safer, more sustainable world through their innovative designs and leadership."

Said Ausubel and Simons, "We are deeply honored and moved by this award. We will accept it on behalf of our dedicated staff and all the bioneers whose work it is our privilege to represent and serve. At this dangerous moment in human history when we face the ongoing collapse of the planet's life-support systems, it is imperative that we all focus on solutions and roll up our sleeves to solve problems together. The solutions residing in nature consistently surpass our conception of what's even possible. A huge global movement is today arising to restore the Earth and our human communities. We are honored to be a part of it."

Visit Global Green USA.