Monday, May 31, 2010

The Puzzle Palace

James Bamford (born September 24, 1946) is an American bestselling author and journalist who writes about United States intelligence agencies. He was raised in Natick, Massachusetts, spent three years in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst during the Vietnam War, and used the GI Bill to earn his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

His first book, The Puzzle Palace (1982), was the first book published about the National Security Agency (NSA). The book was researched through extensive use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a super-secret agency, NSA was quite concerned about their unveiling to the world and accordingly, the government reclassified certain documents in an effort to stop publication.
(read more)

Fight Club


You Do Not Talk About Fight Club




(fight club trailer)

Double Edged Sword


They go to fight for freedom,

but they are dying for conquest !!!



(War Is a Racket)

(the arms industry)

(permanent war economy)

(list of arms manufacturers)

(military industrial complex)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pompous Oil

Nationalize responsibility for resources. Seize all assets that have raped Mother Nature & give her a Bill of Rights!

Every country that has nationalized oil has something to teach us. Obama had practice with Auto and Bank bail-outs, NOW it is time to TAKE-OVER the OIL CONS-Piracy! Our national resource demands that govern-mental regulation seize the assets with the troops being trained to monitor every stage of waging peace with the earth. Power over energy is the only job market that can save us now and it must be part of a social assurance policy. Corporations have made the public foreign to their own resources. We, the people, were given rights to be equally enabled to participate with credit for our local efforts. The Gulf is an example of suffering for its endowments.

When Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, there was an understanding developing (FreeMasons knew) that Monarchy was a pompous standard of government since the king thought he owned everything. Kings created the Gold Standard (that just may need to lose all its value) since we can't eat it. The oil standard has become the most pompous hoarder of money since it fueled The Industrial Revolution's demise. The profit motive seems to be imposing a toxic idiocy. The distraction of making money has allowed us to ignore the state of balance needed to sustain life.

The whole value of BP isn't enough penalty for the environmental damage and reminding us what Exxon is getting away with as court manipulation proves that the military should be educated to be the power protection reflex for a nationalized foundation of energy management or next we'll deserve to be outraged by water!!!! Isn't the Bush family already developing their monopoly on aquifers in land investment? Could that be why they are so invested in developing the power of BlackWater?

Dennis Hopper

"You want to hear about insanity?
I was found running naked through the jungles in Mexico"
...Dennis Hopper...


Dennis Lee Hopper (May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1955, and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). Over the next ten years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer. Film critic Matthew Hays notes that "no other persona better signifies the lost idealism of the 1960s than that of Dennis Hopper." (read more)




(watch original trailer)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Did He Know

(photograph by Oberon)


Stranger than fiction

that's what the truth is

she remembered me

she found me

she healed me

she loved me

i'm a lucky, lucky man

stranger than fiction

Memory

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The World's Oldest Profession


One of the most serious problems associated with prostitution is the fact that the sex trade is surrounded by illegal, abusive and dangerous activities. One view insists that such situations occur because prostitution is kept illegal and the industry operates on the black market. Another, however, believes that legalizing and regulating prostitution does not improve the situation, but instead makes it worse.

Today, human trafficking is primarily for prostituting women and children. It is described as "the largest slave trade in history" and is the fastest growing criminal industry, set to outgrow drug trafficking.

Establishments engaged in sexual slavery are the highest priority targets of law enforcement actions against prostitution. It has been suggested that human trafficking is the fastest growing form of contemporary slavery and is the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

"Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors," reports the US Department of State in a 2008 study. Due to the illegal and underground nature of sex trafficking, the exact extent of women and children forced into prostitution is unknown. (read more)

Legalize it !

Protect minors.

Fight organized crime.

You can't legislate morality.

I Will Always Love You





(watch Whitney Houston version)

Is God A Mathematician?


Albert Einstein once wondered: "How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?" Indeed, Newton formulated a mathematical law of gravity which he himself could verify (given the observational results of his day) to an accuracy of no better than four percent. Yet, the law proved to be precise to better than one part in a million! How is that possible? Or take the example of knot theory – the mathematical theory of knots. It evolved as an obscure branch of pure mathematics. Amazingly, this abstract endeavor suddenly found extensive modern applications in topics ranging from the structure of the DNA to "string theory" – the candidate for an ultimate theory of the subatomic world.

And this is not all. The famous logician Bertrand Russell argued that logic and mathematics are really the same thing. "They differ as boy and man", he said, "logic is the youth of mathematics and mathematics is the manhood of logic." So how can we explain these incredible powers of mathematics? How come that stock option pricing and the agitated motion of pollen suspended in water can be described by the same mathematical equation?

At an even more fundamental level, are we merely discovering mathematics, just as astronomers discover previously unknown galaxies? Or, is mathematics simply a human invention? These (and many more) are the questions that Mario Livio is attempting to answer in "Is God A Mathematician?" The book reviews the ideas of great thinkers from Plato and Archimedes to Galileo and Descartes, and on to Russell and Gödel. It offers a lively and original discussion of topics ranging from cosmology to the cognitive sciences, and from mathematics to religion. The focus on the scientific and practical applications of the fascinating insights of great minds will appeal to a wide audience. (read more)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Endings and Beginnings


Endings and Beginnings
At any point in time, I suppose, we could say that we are both finishing and beginning.  This moment is the end of the moment immediately preceding it and the beginning of the one following it.  This year 2010 is for me the end of thirtieth academic year since I qualified as a teacher - and I have gone through 30 of those endings.  Each one of those endings saw the beginning of the Summer months and of freedom.  I often find myself returning to that great poem by T.S. Eliot - Four Quartets which rates as one of the greatest modernist poems bar none.  Therein you hear the voice of the emptiness of the modern age speak to you.  It is a treasure trove for anyone on a spiritual quest in the desert of the modern age.  In the first section, called Burnt Norton, we read, and these words are replete with meaning and bear a fruit that is nothing less than the observation of a Buddhist mind before that fruit's fall to the ground:

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.


And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with precision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

 In section four of that same poem, called Little Gidding we read, in stanza five of that section:

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right...
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them...

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning...

In the above quotations the italicization is mine alone.  This is a noble poem, a poem which does not yield up its fruits, its insights very easily at all.  It is a poem which must be pondered like a scriptural text, and, indeed, it does not matter what religion that scriptural text is from.  Indeed, it could also be from an agnostic or even an atheistic text for that matter.  However, it would be a spiritual text in the broadest sense of that term.  To my mind, at least, this is a poem that rattles around in my mind, in my heart and in my soul and quite often I find myself remembering snatches of lines.  It works on one's mind rather like a brilliant piece of music, one that has incantations and the rhythms of great prayers in its very musical strains.

And so we bid farewell to this years sixth years, who, in that bidding of farewell, become by a strange benediction last year's sixth years.   And now the present fifth years are ready to replace their predecessors in the chain of life or in the chain of being.  Often, I think the ancients got it more correct than we people of the line.  Let me explain.  For the ancients their world was circular - night preceded day and day preceded night, the sun came up in the East and set in the West, day after inevitable day.  The seasons came and went in their turn, and so onwards the circle turned.  Life, like nature, sometimes erringly called inanimate nature, was always cyclic.  There was birth and death and then birth and death all over again.  Then these pre-moderns swallowed the myth of linearity, by this I mean the myth of inevitable progress, that life could only get better and better and better, that humankind could only improve and improve and improve.  However, Nietzsche and his likes sounded a warning for that ridiculously naive belief.  Then, the First World War sounded the death-knell for the myth of indefinite progress.  Naive humankind had come of age in the bloodbath that was No Man's Land.  Humankind was very much a flawed entity which had written its nature too large, which had overestimated by far its importance in the scheme of things, which inevitably thought it had the answer to life's mysteries...

Indeed, it would seem to this writer at least that all of life can be boiled down to observing it, to observing the very breath that enlivens the body wherein the psyche dwells, let us call this phenomenon the Body-Mind or the Mind-Body.  It would seem that things come and go and that we can add this or that bit to it, give the world this or that little push, alter it a little, compose this or that, build this or that, sing this or that, play this or that, even invent this or that, but yet the world goes on as it must and we will all eventually be dust, for we are only a small part in the overall chaos, significant only in our insignificance.

Above the famous alchemical symbol, the ouroborus!

When did we forget ?

Rags make paper

Paper makes money

Money makes banks

Banks make loans

Loans make beggars

Beggars make rags

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Miracle of the Sun


The Miracle of the Sun (Portuguese: O Milagre do Sol) is an alleged miraculous event witnessed by 30,000 to 100,000 people on 13 October 1917 in the Cova da Iria fields near Fátima, Portugal. Those in attendance had assembled to observe what the Portuguese secular newspapers had been ridiculing for months as the absurd claim of three shepherd children that a miracle was going to occur at high-noon in the Cova da Iria on 13 October 1917.

According to many witness statements, after a downfall of rain, the dark clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the shadows on the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, frightening some of those present who thought it meant the end of the world. Anecdotally, some witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became "suddenly and completely dry."
(read more)

(It was noted that the "object" was not at the correct elevation to be the sun and some have speculated the object witnessed was a UFO)

Shadowland


Let me ask you just one question...

why haven't we gone back to the moon for 38 years???

We went to the moon and discovered a new world...

we went to the moon and discovered something amazing.

The answer is in the question...

Tiburcio Vasquez


Tiburcio Vasquez was allegedly the inspiration for Johnston McCulley's fictonal character "Zorro".

Tiburcio Vásquez (August 11, 1835–March 19, 1875) was a Californio bandit who was active in California from 1857 to 1874. The Vasquez Rocks, 40 miles north of Los Angeles, were one of his many hideouts and are named for him. He was probably the most notorious bandit California ever saw.

In January 1875 Vásquez was sentenced to hang for murder. His trial had taken four days and the jury deliberated for two hours before finally finding him guilty of two counts of murder in the Tres Pinos robbery.

Visitors flocked to Vásquez's jail cell, many of them women. He signed autographs and posed for photographs. Vásquez sold the photos from the window of his cell and used the money to pay for his legal defense. After his conviction, he appealed for clemency. It was denied by Governor Romualdo Pacheco. Vásquez calmly met his fate in San Jose on March 17, 1875. He was 39 years old.

He stated..."A spirit of hatred and revenge took possession of me. I had numerous fights in defense of what I believed to be my rights and those of my countrymen. I believed we were unjustly deprived of the social rights that belonged to us." (Dictated by Vásquez to explain his actions)

Vásquez was asked just before his execution, "Do you believe in an afterlife?" He replied, "I hope so... for then soon I shall see all my old sweethearts again". The only word he spoke on the gallows was..."pronto"...soon. (read more)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Auntie Mame


"Life is a banquet...

and most poor suckers are starving to death"

"Auntie Mame"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Antidepressants

I think I like this guy! He certainly makes a convincing argument. He's saying that medication for depression (SSRIs, MAOIs and Tricyclics) may actually be turning single/acute episodes of depression into chronic conditions. I wonder what this means for children who are medicated for, what may only turn out to be, a rough period of adolescence ..that they would eventually outgrow.

Killer On The Road

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Tribute to Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn was born on August 29, 1927 and died on January 27, 2010. His parents were Jewish immigrants. His father, Eddie Zinn, left Austria-Hungary with his brother, Samuel, for the U.S. before the outbreak of World War I. They settled in Brooklyn. His mother, Jenny, emigrated from the Eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk.

His parents were factory workers when they met and married. Although there were no books in the house where they raised their son, to literature by sending 25 cents plus a coupon to the New York Post for each of the 20 volumes of Charles Dickens' collected works. He pursued a study of creative writing at Thomas Jefferson High School in a special program established by the poet Elias Lieberman.

As a young man he served in the Air Force during World War II. He volunteered for service in the Air Force even though he was working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the time and was eligible for an exemption since his work was considered essential to the war effort. He felt strongly about the war against the fascists. He became a bombardier during that horrific conflict, and was involved in the bombing of Royan, a small town on the Atlantic coast of France. It was known that German troops were bivouacked there. The bombs that he dropped, including napalm, resulted in the deaths of many German soldiers and innocent civilians as well. Twelve hundred bombers flew over this small town and destroyed it. It was a role that he would later regret; the devastating impact that the bombs wrought on the civilian populations of the enemy had a dramatic impact on his view of warfare in general and the politics that drove the decisions made by the government of his country in particular. This highly personal experience would inform his thinking and his activism for the rest of his life.

Later in his career, he was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to a Memorial Day celebration at which he was invited to speak. In his address he said, “World War II was not simply and purely a good war. It was accompanied by too many atrocities on our side – too many bombings of civilian populations. There were too many betrayals of the principles for which the war was supposed to have been fought. I don’t want to honor military heroism; that conceals too much death and suffering. I want to honor those who all these years have opposed the horror of war.” He was surprised to hear applause at the end of his provocative presentation. Another personality of note, Kurt Vonnegut, was present following the firebombing of the German city of Dresden. He was so appalled by what he witnessed that he was inspired to write an anti-war novel entitled, Slaughterhouse-5, a book that received critical acclaim.

Following the War, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill of Rights and attended New York University. There, he received his bachelor's degree in 1951. He went on to do graduate work in political science at Columbia University. He finally received his PhD in political science in 1958. Zinn’s doctoral dissertation was on New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's congressional career; it was published in 1959 with the title, LaGuardia in Congress. LaGuardia was a well-loved Mayor of New York City. Zinn depicted him as a liberal Republican who fought for pro-labor legislation and criticized the upper-class bias of his party's economic policies. LaGuardia’s political career had an impact on Zinn’s own viewpoint. In 1965, Zinn published an anthology of New Deal Thought. In his introduction, he argued that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his leading advisers prevented a possible American social revolution by pursuing the goal of restoring the American middle class to prosperity and, thereby, rejecting a more radical social reform.

Zinn became very active in the Civil Rights Movement. This was inspired, in part, by his position as Chairman of the Department of History and Social Science at Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia. Spelman College was a school for African-American women. He was there for seven years beginning in 1956. While he was there, Zinn became acquainted with the brutal reality of Jim Crow and was dismayed by the federal government's failure to protect the civil rights of African-American citizens. He felt that the federal government should actively protect and defend the civil rights of all its citizens. He challenged the Kennedy Administration in this regard.

Zinn's book entitled, SNCC: The New Abolitionists (1964) was an in-depth examination of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and its similarity to the pre Civil War abolitionist movement.

As a result of his studies and as a cumulative result of his personal experiences, he became convinced that the conventional telling of history left out many crucial events and precluded a broader spectrum of viewpoints and interpretation. He felt that history was ordinarily told from the perspective of the winners and did not serve the vast majority of individuals and their personal struggles. For this reason, he wrote a history that is now widely acclaimed – A People’s History of the United States (1980). Within this tome, Zinn presents historic data that represents pivotal events as seen through the eyes of ordinary people and differs substantially from what is normally portrayed as the truth.

Over the course of his adult life, his passion for the truth and his belief in pacifism was unwavering. He became convinced that nonviolent action was the only reliable path to real change. According to him, “Nonviolent action is not utopian; it is practical as well as moral. It builds on what already exists. It starts not with change in government, but with civil society, with the hearts and minds of people, which is where John Adams said the American Revolution was won. The people can bypass the government and tackle social problems themselves, as has been demonstrated by Havel in Czechoslovakia, Solidarity in Poland and the indigenous in Chiapas, Mexico.”

Zinn became deeply involved in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War and again during the two Gulf Wars. He was deeply disturbed by the fact that following World War II the United States had become involved in major conflicts all around the globe.
He was openly critical of the United States government’s response to the September 11, 2001 attack by terrorists on the World Trade Center in New York – an horrific event that left over three thousand people dead. He strongly believed that the Afghani people suffered terribly in America’s retaliation against the Taliban, who controlled Afghanistan at that time. He felt that the wrong people were targeted.

In order to highlight the devastation wrecked upon the people of Afghanistan as a result of the United Stated military assault on that country following 9/11, Zinn provided concrete examples of the people directly affected in his book entitled, A Power Governments cannot Suppress. The following example illustrates that point.

“In the sprawling mud-brick slum of Qala-ye-Khatir, most men were kneeling in the mosques at morning prayer on November 6, 2001 when a quarter-ton of steel and high explosives hurtled from the sky into the home of Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver. The American bomb detonated, killing Ahmed, his five daughters, one of his wives, and a son. Next door, it demolished the home of Sahib Dad and killed two of his children.”

An additional insight into Zinn’s worldview can be readily found in the following statement, “In my teaching I never concealed my political views: my detestation of war and militarism, my anger at racial inequality, my belief in a democratic socialism, in a rational and just distribution of the world’s wealth. I made clear my abhorrence of any kind of bullying, whether by powerful nations over weaker ones, governments over their citizens, employers over employees, or by anyone, on the Right or Left, who thinks they have a monopoly on the truth.”

Howard Zinn has left behind a substantial legacy of thought and action that reveals the character of the man and his passionate pursuit of peace and social justice.

Fee


The Banks made

38 Billion dollars

from overdraft fees last year...

...balance your checkbooks people !!!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For The Love Of Money


If you tell

a big enough lie

people will believe you



investigate 911

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marvin the Martian


" You are making me very angry! "



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Extraterrestrials

Stephen Hawkings recently said that any space aliens we are likely to encounter would be nomadic in nature. They will be traveling through interstellar space, going from one galactic replenishment opportunity to the next. He says it’s best we avoid contact with them. Extraterrestrials, arriving on Earth, would lead to a scenario not unlike Christopher Columbus landing in the new world. As I recall, it did not go well for the indigenous people of the new world. Apparently Dr. Hawking believes that self-preserving behaviour is selected for by evolution throughout the universe, as it is here on Earth. I, on the other hand, do not have a clue.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

joker


A buddhist walks up to a

hot dog vendor and says...

make me one with everything

Muhammad Yunus - Banker to the Poor

Muhammad Yunus is known as the “Banker to the Poor” and founder of the Grameen Bank. Yunus was born in Bangladesh during the beginning of the Second World War. He was born on June 28, 1940. He grew up on Boxirhat Road in Chittagong, the largest port in Bangladesh and a commercial city with a population of 3 million. Bangladesh is a densely populated region with a population of about 150 million people. His family was relatively prosperous; they lived in a two story house with his father’s jewelry shop on the ground floor.
His family was Muslim by religion. His mother exerted a powerful influence on the young Yunus; he was particularly influenced by her strong sense of compassion and concern for the poor. According to Yunus, his mother dominated his early years. She gave birth to fourteen children; five of them died.

Early in Yunus’ life, the subcontinent was freeing itself from British domination. In 1947 the Pakistan movement for partition reached its peak. Bangladesh was expected to be subsumed by Pakistan. His parents were deeply committed to partition. On August 14, 1947, the Indian subcontinent was granted independence. This was a period of great turmoil and uncertainty. In addition, when Yunus was nine, his mother was stricken with mental illness, a disease that ran in her family. She suffered for some thirty-three years before her death. His father’s reaction to his wife’s chronic and debilitating illness was a model of love, graciousness and perseverance for all that time, and in 1982, his mother passed away.

In 1961 Yunus set up a successful business; until, 1965 when he received a Fulbright scholarship and went to the University of Colorado at Boulder. There he became a student of economics, and was deeply influenced by Professor Georgescu-Roegen, a Rumanian. Yunus described his mentor in the following way, “He also taught me that things are never as complicated as they seem. It is only our arrogance that prompts us to find unnecessarily complicated answers to simple problems.’”

During his stay in the United States, he was married. In addition, in 1971, the Pakistani army attempted to brutally suppress the Begali Declaration of Independence. Yunus was committed to independence of his homeland from continued Pakistani rule. He became Secretary of the Bangladesh Citizen’s Committee and its chief spokesperson. Finally, on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh won its war of independence – a conflict that resulted in the catastrophic loss of three million Bengali lives. Ten million citizens fled the country during this time of upheaval. Yunus felt duty-bound to return home and participate in the immense task of rebuilding his war-ravaged country.

He became head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University. There he soon became disenchanted with traditional economics, for he felt that economic theory did not coincide with the majority of Bengalis living in dire poverty – a country where the illiteracy rate was seventy-five percent. In categorizing his feelings about the role of education, he stated that, “A university must not be an island where academics reach out to higher and higher levels of knowledge without sharing any of these findings. These economists spend all their talents detailing the processes of development and prosperity, but rarely reflect on the origin and development of poverty and hunger. As a result, poverty continues.” Furthermore he felt that, “Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me. How could I go on telling my students make-believe stories in the name of economics? I wanted to become a fugitive from academic life. I need to run away from these theories and from my textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person’s existence.”

One of the historic factors that greatly influenced Yunus’ decision to facilitate economic change in his country was the famine that had become pervasive throughout Bangladesh. He therefore took it upon himself to visit poor villages and discover firsthand the nature of their living conditions and real causes for their poverty.
From this study, he came to realize that many Bengali households attempted to increase their economic standing by creating their own small businesses and provide products that are in local demand. He was to discover that one of the main obstacles that faced these individuals was the common practice of usury where unscrupulous lenders would lend money with such exorbitant interest rates that their clients could never free themselves from seemingly endless cycles of indebtedness. The traditional banks offered no relief in this regard.
Yunus summarized his findings in this way - “This is the beginning for almost every Grameen borrower. All her life she has been told that she is no good, that she brings only misery to her family, and that they cannot afford to pay her dowry. Many times she hears her mother or her father tell her she should have been killed at birth, aborted or starved. To her family, she has been another mouth to feed, another dowry to pay. But today, for the first time in her life, an institution has trusted her with a great sum of money. She promises that she will never let down the institution or herself. She will struggle to make sure that every penny is paid back.”

These data inspired Yunus to organize an institution to lend directly to these industrious entrepreneurs. What started with humble beginnings ended with the state-sanctioned Grameen Bank that has a presence all over the world including, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa and even the United States. The Grameen Bank officially began operations in January of 1977. The operating assumption of the Grameen Bank is that every borrower is honest. Borrowers are required to adhere to a regular repayment schedule. In addition, borrowers are encouraged to enter into groups with the idea that as a member of a group, a borrower will have additional incentive to behave responsibly. Membership in a group also affords each member additional support and encouragement. The bank suffers less that 1% of bad debt. Prior to the bank, less than 1% of borrowers were women in a society where women typically bear the brunt of poverty.

On October 2, 1983, the Grameen Bank was recognized by the government as a separate bank that could also issue home loans. Currently 75% of the shares in the Grameen Bank are the borrowers themselves. As of 1999, 190 million dollars has built 560,000 houses with near perfect repayment. In the 1980s, one hundred branches were added each year. In 1985, a Grameen Branch was set up in the state of Arkansas during the governorship of Bill Clinton. It was called the Good Faith Fund. Branches have also been set up in Oklahoma and Chicago, Illinois. Today the Grameen Bank has about 8 million members (some 40 million individuals counting family members) and has loaned about 8 billion dollars to the poor in Bangladesh. Grameen America is a growing organization in the U.S. that uses the group lending and savings model pioneered by Yunus.

As a result of his monumental efforts, Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006. The following is an excerpt taken from his acceptance speech -
“If we consider ourselves passengers on “Spaceship Earth,” we will find ourselves on a pilotless journey with no discernible route to follow. If we can convince ourselves that we are actually the crew of this spaceship, and that we must reach a specific socioeconomic destination, then we will continue to approach that destination – even if we make mistakes or take detours along the way.”

In my mind, Yunus demonstrated by his actions the remarkable power of an idea. His solution to the endemic problem of poverty that surrounded in him in his native country of Bangladesh was a simple one, yet it had profound beneficial consequences for many thousands of individual lives and families. In his mind, the primary goal of the Grameen Bank was and continues to be economic development. Its obvious success is a testimonial to the validity of his thinking. His brainchild, has spread beyond the borders of Bangladesh and has found worldwide application.

Zardoz Speaks


"The gun is good.

The penis is evil.

The penis shoots seeds,

and makes new life to poison

the Earth with a plague of men,

as once it was, but the gun shoots death,

and purifies the Earth of the filth of brutals.

Go forth . . . and kill!"

...ZARDOZ...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time


They say...time

is the fire

in which we burn

...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso 1932


Art is a lie...

that makes us realize the truth



...Pablo Picasso...

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso
(25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spinning Lifeboat


We are spinning around on earth at 1,000 mph...

while we are orbiting the sun at 67,000 mph...

while we orbit the milky way galaxy at 483,000 mph...

are you dizzy yet?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Problem of Good and Evil

The problem with the concepts of good and evil is not related to their existence in the world of humans; the issue relates to how they are perceived. This is of vital importance for so much of the system of jurisprudence that we rely upon, as an allegedly civilized society, is predicated on our collective beliefs surrounding good and evil, especially the latter.

If evil is defined as an action with the intent to do harm, or an action whose primary intent might be for some other reason but whose implementation would knowingly result in causing harm to others, then evil certainly lives amongst us. Defining an action as evil does not provide any explanation as to what prompted a person(s) or government or group to act in such a way. It is not enough to simply label the perpetrator as evil; that is no explanation at all.

The CEO of a tobacco company who pushes a product that is known to be lethal cannot be put into the same category as a clearly mentally disturbed psychopath suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who has committed a murderous act. It is very convenient to color a perceived enemy, or a foreigner as evil, for they can then be treated without regard to their inherent humanity. It seems that human societies need their demons as well as their heroes to maintain the illusion of cohesiveness. It is expedient to bundle all our inner fears and perceptions regarding evil into demons such as Osama Bin Laden, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, etc. In this way, we don’t have to consider the person, or, more importantly, the fact that each of us is capable of extraordinarily evil acts under the right set of circumstances.

Adolph Hitler has become the symbolic arch-villain. This is understandable given that he was the architect of the horrific plan to exterminate the Jews. Six million individuals died under devastating circumstances as a result of his policy. However, if we proceed to count the bodies – some fifty million individuals – who died violent deaths during World War II, and analyze how they died and under whose hands, the picture of good and evil becomes a bit more murky. When we proceed to count the bodies of civilians including women and children that died excruciating deaths at the hands of Allied (the good guys) bombings, it paints a less than flattering picture of the real nature of human behavior. How many civilians died in a fiery caldron in the city of Dresden Germany as a result of relentless fire-bombing from the sky; how many hapless citizens of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died of severe radiation exposure that left their skin literally hanging from their limbs – a radiation dose so extreme that it literally wiped out their bone marrow and eviscerated their immune system. Ten thousand children in Hiroshima alone died such a death. How many citizens of Japanese and German cities died as a result of thousand of sorties of Allied bombers? Why don’t we sum up the total of these deaths, or are they irrelevant because we perceive ourselves as being on the side of good. Are these acts not evil acts; if they are not evil, then why not? The answer to me is quite obvious – we were the winners. War has an insidious momentum that pushes the envelope of reason and rational judgment, that shreds our inner sense of humanity and compassion, and that ultimately leads to human depravity and degradation.

The plethora of cop shows and the violence-based video games that provide so much of the cultural backdrop in our society perpetuate this view of the world – as populated by the forces of good and evil. Our prison system (with one of the largest per capita prison population in the world) is, in fact, inhabited by thousands upon thousands of individuals who are mentally disturbed either as a result of genetic disease or of childhoods in which they were horribly abused. We have been known to imprison and execute those who have been shown to be severely mentally compromised. This system of jurisprudence continues in spite of the remarkable breakthroughs currently being made in the area of neuroscience, especially in regard to mental dysfunction and illness.

True justice, in my mind, incorporates a real perception of the human condition and must, by its nature, be responsive to the truth and responsible for its own missteps. In this way, real human progress is possible.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Choice


Fifty years ago (1960) the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive. In a world that is clearly overpopulated, it would be in our best interests to offer birth control for free, especially in poor third world countries where the greatest growth in population is occurring.

The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), often referred to as the birth-control pill or simply "the pill", is a birth control method that includes a combination of an estrogen (oestrogen) and a progestin (progestogen). When taken by mouth every day, these pills inhibit female fertility. They were first approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1960, and are a very popular form of birth control. They are currently used by more than 100 million women worldwide and by almost 12 million women in the United States. (read more)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Four Dead In Ohio


John Filo's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot dead by the Ohio National Guard.

The Kent State shootings – also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre – occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion – at an already socially contentious time – over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War. (read more) (Four dead in Ohio)

The Watchers

Sarcophagus lid of Pakal the Great


Genesis Chapter 6, verses 1-4

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (the Watchers)

In the Biblical Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel tells of a flying object seen as a fiery whirlwind which when descended to the ground gave the appearance of being made of metal. It is described among other things as a wheel within a wheel containing four occupants, living creatures, whose likeness was that of man. The passage goes on to say that wherever the wheels went the creatures went, and when the living creatures were lifted up the wheels were lifted up. (read more) (see more)

Pigs In Space




Deepwater Horizon begins gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How Dumb are We?

I have become quite unsettled by the destruction of a deep sea oil rig off the Louisiana coast and the resulting catastrophic oil leak that is occurring as I am writing this. Thousands upon thousands of barrels of oil are pouring into the ocean from the bottom up fouling the habitat of so many marvelous creatures with no apparent end in sight. It seems that this rig and others were built with no allowance made for a catastrophe such as this one. We are more than foolish to expect that corporate policy – dedicated to the accruing of endless streams of profit – is going to accommodate the interests of humanity in its calculations.

Are we as a species really that monumentally stupid and short-sighted? Are we that intent upon destroying the natural environment on which we depend? It’s not like we live on a disposable planet and when we use up all its resources and begin to reap the reward of our own imbecility we can merely pack our bags and move to another heavenly body and ravage it in due course.

Do we really intend to continue to allow petty and narrow corporate interests to determine public policy? Oil seems to be more important than our long term survival; than the well being of the marvelous creatures that live right along with us. Our incessant need for stuff made of plastic, for cheap travel, for convenience, for personal self indulgence seems to trump intelligence, thoughtfulness and reason. This, in my mind, makes us dumber than dumb. Dumbness as a concept needs to be redefined in light of human behavior.

Some of us are quite convinced that we are all doomed; because, our fate has been determined for us. Those who passionately profess such a mindset are eagerly expecting some white-frocked messiah to descend upon us, blow his whistle like an irate football empire, cry foul and stop the show. In this way we will be saved from ourselves. It seems that the excesses of the industrial age are converging upon us, and we are faced with some difficult choices. An insistence of maintaining the status quo is no solution at all.

We have pulled the cork out of the genie’s bottle; the wishes that have come true are literally killing us. It is time to engage reason and actually begin to apply the knowledge that has already been gained from science and truly join the twenty-first century.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Love Sweet Love

The Waking Dream


You are what you think...

think good things.

You create your own reality...

what will you create?

You are completely responsible...

for every person on the planet.

There are no victims...

there are no excuses.

Heaven And Earth


(photograph by Oberon)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May day

May 1st 2009
Los Angeles, CA
An immigration rally began peacefully. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. When police in riot gear arrived and attempted to deny people that right, some took a stand to protect their rights. Then it turned less peaceful ..giving police the authority to forcefully disperse people.

Macarthur Park, Los Angeles, May 1st 2009
A police helicopter hovers above ..a voice over the loudspeaker gives the order to ‘disperse or be arrested’. Police in riot gear charge ..unarmed citizens flee ..some are trampled and beaten ..a peaceful assembly turns into chaos ..bullets fly. This was the scene at Macarthur Park in Los Angeles May 1st 2009 ..but my mind is also receiving images from 1969 ~ People’s Park, Berkeley ..and they don’t look much different. Furthermore, I’m experiencing the same feelings of revulsion that I felt then ..and I'm not the only one ..those early images were burned into the psyche of nearly all the school-age children of my generation. It occurs to me that the ‘class of 2010 is graduating next month ..after attending all four years of high school ..during wartime. Experiencing a culture at war, at this age ..is something you never forget. It becomes part of you ..like the Vietnam War is part of me. I have a built-in mistrust of government ..ongoing problems with authority ..and an uncertain career in ‘conspiracy theory’. History repeats itself, not only when government leaders ignore it ..but also when their minds become so scripted by it ..they can’t do anything different.
People’s Park, Berkeley ~ 1969

Paranoid visions

Undocumented, as in undocumented immigrant, means unknown. Unknown is scary. So we react out of fear of the unknown by building walls, discriminating and incarcerating undocumented immigrants. In other words, criminalizing what we don’t know. I believe that, what we don’t know, or can’t see ..we fill in with our worst nightmares dreams. Pretty soon we’re seeing illegals everywhere .. suffocating us ..overrunning our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. So, we start encoding these paranoid visions into law. My question is, if undocumented workers are so productive, don’t they deserve some of the same benefits as working citizens ..? Instead of wasting so much energy battling the unknown, I say we get informed. I suggest that we actually document them at the workplace, kind of like an information-only social security number, then start collecting statistics. I’m not talking about legitimizing or prosecuting anyone, I'm talking about getting informed and seeing if it's really as bad as we fear. I suspect not. But I also suspect this may not be so easy to do ..they are just as afraid of us as we are of them.