Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gooaaaaall !!!!!!!

I've been following the World Cup in the news, on the internet, and on television when able, and now the biggest sports (or probably any) event in the world has come down to the last 8 teams: Argentina vs. Germany, Italy vs. Ukraine (both on Friday), and Brazil vs. France and England vs. Portugal (both on Saturday). They all should be good, but I'm probably especially interested in Argentina vs. Germany and Brazil vs. France because all four of those teams are traditional soccer powerhouses. I'll probably have to see if they're being televised on the Spanish channels, due to the lack of interest by Americans in the game of soccer.

Anyhoo, with all of the hoopla on the part of those of us who do like soccer, especially at World Cup time, I went out and got myself a soccer ball the other day. Haven't kicked a soccer ball around in like forever. I put it in a bag attached onto my bike, took the traditional ride around, and then found a park in the neighborhood which actually has soccer goals (ok, I knew it was there already). I kicked it around a little, did a little bit of fast paced soccer dribbling, ala Pele or Ronaldo, or maybe Diego Maradona, and kicked a few goals (and even more far wide of the goals). One powerful miss went careening toward the street, so I took off in a sprint after it. For some reason, my body never righted itself out of my sprint crouch, so I began to stumble forward at full speed, after the ball. After a superhuman effort to just stay upright, like a drunken Carl Lewis I eventually crashed into the ground. Actually, I rolled onto the ground like twice, and then rolled to a complete stop (I was really moving). At least I hit the ground in a roll. I have always been pretty good at falling; that is, if I have to fall, I can fall pretty well. The funny thing was though, no one was blocking me, no one pushed me, no one tripped me; no one was there (well, there were a few people in the park at a distance - and they didn't trip me, they just watched me crash into the ground).

Today I took another bike ride, and wound up at the end of it at the same park near my place. Practiced a few more soccer drills, bounced it off my head a few times, kicked some more goals (and more wide to the rights/lefts), dreamed I was Zinadine Zidane, and in my greatest achievment, I managed to stay upright through all of that. Two days, and I've already improved substantially! If I keep this rate up, I just may well be playing in the World Cup in four more years; for Team Brazil of course, the greatest soccer players in the world!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I went to see Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth", yesterday, and it was an excellent piece of work. The title "An Inconvenient Truth" refers to Gore's presenting of the issue of global warming to Congress as a very young member, early on in his career, and soon finding that the evidence for global warming was deemed to be an inconvenient truth, both for Congress as well as for many others who preferred to either deny or turn away from the mounting degree of evidence indicating that our planet was warming at a rate that was far beyond that of the mere cyclical patterns of recorded history, heating up at a rate which showed that some other unusual and highly powerful agent was now having a profound effect. This effect, we now know, is being caused today by man. The film shows Gore trudging around for about the last 30 years, trying to get this message across to anyone who would listen, and as of more recently giving a slideshow presentation which devastatingly illustrates the profound changes occurring as a result of global warming over the last several decades. Particularly striking for me was his information on the polar ice caps, but even more so concerning Greenland, where he showed a fresh water, streaming torrential river, raging in the middle of the ice cap, where one had not existed before. Here's an article just from today, indicating that temperatures are at a 2,000 year high.

When I was a kid (which was not all that long ago, thank you very much), a 90 degree day was somewhat of a rarity in the summer. Today, we can have 90 degree days for sometimes up to 14 days in a row. This was unheard of, if I remember right, when I was growing up. When I was a kid, we used to have a lot of monarch butterflies everywhere during the summer. Now, it's a rarity to see any type of butterflies during the summer. We used to have a rainy season, with torrential downpours which would green up the environment for many weeks. Now, we have a few drops, a hint of lightening and thunder, and a quick evaporation which dries up the potential moisture before it can reach the ground in any significant amount. Things are definitely changing weather-wise, as we know from stories like these, and with the severity of hurricanes like Katrina from last year.

What can we do? We can do things like trying to beome carbon neutral; doing things which balance out the CO2 which we are personally responsible for putting into the environment. Ideas on how to to do this can be found here. However, it really, like so many other things, boils down to how national policy is formulated. And for that, we have to vote in (and make sure the vote is counted) the people who have an interest in the future survival of our planet; smart, intelligent, and most of all moral people. Al Gore states in his film that it is ultimately a moral issue above all else, a decision to begin to take steps to do the right things now for both ourselves as well as for future generations, or, to bequeath to them an environment that has become essentially unlivable for all species of the planet. The choice, it now seems, really is up to us.

I do hope Al Gore decides he going to run just one more time. For us, more than anything else.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Out on a corner
on a cool summer evening
stands an old carousel top
made of stone and concrete
with no horses or children inside,
only a maze upon its floor

Majestically remembering
its one hundred year history
of children laughing and screaming,
of the honking of horns from the street
of the smells of cotton candy and of love
of the flickering light
and of the many, many nights of possibility

Brilliant lights, twirling famously
and vibrantly
round and round
red, green and blue
turning and spinning
through the warm summer evenings
Evenings that might well never end,
as long as a carousel
maintains a singular
and noble vigil
over memories of other nights
now long gone bye

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Leave 'Em Alone

A few nights ago, I was coming home from an evening bike ride, and I ran into one of my old friends. I saw a furry something scurry up a little hill 10 feet in front of me and thought that a cat was hanging out in the bushes there. But no, it was a small fox, whose long bushy tail stuck straight out as it skittered over to the side of a house for protection. I saw the little fox peering at me from the corner of this house, and I began to talk to it very quietly. You see, I know these foxes. Each spring for the last five years, a female has given birth under a garage on the property where I live, and so I've developed a slow but well-formed relationship with many of the fox community who live in my neighborhood. As I talked gently to this one, she (I think I can tell gender now by little things like size, shape of head, behavior, etc). began to walk back up to me until she was a safe 8-10 ft. away, sitting next to a small tree. I asked her how she was, did she remember me ( I bet she did, as I'd been bike riding, and she'd know my scent from when she was born on my property months before) and how she'd been doing. She looked a little thin; they often do once they've left the birthing den and begin to strike out on their own. I spent maybe close to 5 minutes chatting with her, with me talking and she popping her ears up, astounded by the fact a person was talking to her, and then I eventually continued on my way so that no one would spot me, and then her. She had a look of sad wonderment on her face as I rode off; like why are you leaving so soon? Believe me, little fox, I did it for you.

Tonight, I took another late night bike ride, and saw no foxes. However, we had a bad car accident right on the corner, and so a lot of emergency vehicles were in the area, including even an animal control van, being used to block off the street from access to the accident scene (I think someone died; it was a pickup, a small car, and a motorcycle, all crumpled in the street, and they blocked off the scene for more than 6 hrs.). As I began my late night ride, the crash scene was still there, with technicians measuring off distances and so on. The animal control van was also still there, blocking access, and as I rode away, a local neighborhood troll walking her dog walked up to the van. I was almost a block away, but I could here the troll saying to the person in the van that foxes lived over there, pointing to my residence. No, they don't live there anymore; it's no longer spring, and they've disbursed throughout the neighborhood. They don't hurt anything (although I would not leave a small cat or little dog out at night with them about), and they're afraid of people, but they are really very sweet little animals, once you get to know them. Urban foxes are usually considered now just like squirrels or birds, a part of many urban environments these days. If you leave them alone and exercise good common sense, chances are you won't even know they exist, as they roam the night in search of sustenance.

I really hate the people that feel they have to meddle in business that is not their own; and that cannot coexist with nature, especially nature that causes them no harm. With a grandfather who was full-blood Apache, it is still in me to revere nature and our brothers and sisters in the animal world. I feel these urban foxes are being hunted out of existence, like the wolf once was on the plains, or like the Native American was, for that matter, and so I have a strong identification with, and passion for, their defense and safety. So then, like any good Native American, on my way back, I took my bike and circled once completely around the animal control van, with its driver, and the troll, and her dog, taking a good look at all of them. We call that "counting coup", going into enemy territory, unarmed and without fear; and "showing the flag", as the U.S. Army might might state it today (and with many other police types still in the area). All living things have a right to exist, and especially if they cause no harm, and that right should be respected. Mind your own business and go buy something plastic or electronic at Wal-Mart to occupy your time, you damn yuppie troll!!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Loving Arms

Loving Arms
Dixie Chicks

If you could see me now
The one who said that she'd rather roam
The one who said she'd rather be alone
If you could only see me now

If I could hold you now
Just for a moment, if I could really make you mine
Just for a while, turn back the hands of time
If I could only hold you now

I've been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Taking any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
And lying in your loving arms again

If you could hear me now
Singing somewhere through the lonely nights
Dreaming of the arms that held me tight
If you could only hear me now

I've been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Taking any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
And lying in your loving arms again

I've been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Taking any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
And lying in your loving arms again

I can almost feel your loving arms again

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fundamentalism and Da Vinci

I've been thinking lately about the problems of the world (as I often do between work and errands, and life), and I was beginning to come to the conclusion that religion seems to be playing an ever greater role in so many of these problems. Then I began to think though, that the religious impulse is something that also seems to be intrinsic to mankind; as an anthropologist I can think of no culture that has ever been devoid of some sort of spiritual component, with the possible exception of the Soviet Union, but that State Denial of religious experience was both fraught with, and the source of, many future disasters, and also could well be conceived of as just another type of religious experience within itself: a religion of Collective Control.

But being the case that religious experience seems central to the human experience (even for atheists-the religion of no religion-which consists of many pious followers), I then began to question as to whether it is religion that is the cause of so many problems, or is it how religion is conceived of. And then it began to boil itself down for me. Fundamentalism is the problem. It seems to be, as Nietzsche would say, a grab at, or a "Will to Power", disguised harmlessly enough as a wolf in sheep's clothing, in pious beliefs and grand overviews . People who believe, and say that their religious interpretations are the truth, and the sole truth, are grabbing at power through means of exclusion. If my beliefs are right and "true", then by definition yours must be wrong and "false". The interesting thing in all of this, is that these views cannot be proven; they are held in what is called "faith". Some religious traditions,like Buddhism for instance, do not hold to such exclusivisity of truth by means of faith, while others, such as Christianity and Islam, do.

In the drive for the "Will to Power", elements of these religious belief systems find that as they become increasingly oppositional to what their central tenets would profess, they create striking paradoxes which are covered over by ever more appeals to "faith", appeals that can cover over the most amazing inconsistencies as long as one still professes belief and adherence to the central claims of the system. We are living in a world now that seems to be going increasingly backward; as it gets warmer, as conflict between "truth" groups is ever on the rise, people cling ever further to their "faith", which states that they are in the right, and everyone else is therefore wrong, even though paradoxically, all fundamentalists believe this exclusively for themselves.

Jesus was a man who lived in the Greco-Roman milieu of the Middle East. He preached to his people for reform; to prepare themselves for coming times of great turbulence and strife, but with the knowledge that the Kingdom of Heaven is a potential, to be realized individually by one's efforts toward righteousness. His message was to his people, Israel. When he died, his followers, realizing his greatness and special nature, deified him, in the tradition of the time for those who were exemplary, or powerful, within the Greco-Roman world (something unthinkable from within the Jewish perspective). He preached and taught on the ethical and moral life, in a way so profound, that others (the Greco-Romans)wanted to be part of that message, even though the message was only for his people, Israel. And so, a new religion was subsequently born, and a Christ was proclaimed. And people, simply by aligning themselves with this new version of the story, became able to do the most incredible things in the name of this Christ, because Christ became Truth, and anything outside of the Greco-Roman Christ became untruth, and therefore "evil" and worthy of destruction. If you would only just believe, if you would only have "faith".

I still believe in a Jesus, however mine as been stripped of his Greco-Roman veneer, and is probably more Jewish (as he in fact really was) in his outlook; one who preached on the ethical and moral life, and also the one who told the Pharisees that it was in fact proper to pull a man out of a well on the Sabbath (contrary to the proscription against any "work" being done on the Sabbath) because a man is of infinitely more value than any rule, and that the rules were meant to lead one toward the Way. That was the message in a nutshell, and not that the way was to follow all of the rules. That view would be what is called fundamentalism.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

He Walked Off The Show !!!

I don't know how many of you ever listen to Air America Radio (recommended, especially Randi Rhodes in the afternoon), but I was listening to "The Majority Report" show with Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder, broadcast here later in the evening, and it was pretty wild tonight! I drop in to this show from time to time, and it seems that, besides the palpable tension that exists between the two hosts most of the time, that there has been a lot of tension lately regarding Janeane's continuing invitation of this 9/11 support group which assists first responders facing medical issues as a result of the events of that day (from the dust, asbestos, PTSD I suppose, and so forth). The problem, for Sam, is that this group is a Scientology based group, which calls into question all kinds of issues (I've read up on them, Scientology that is - bizarre as it comes!). He questions the scientific validity of their work and approach (appropriately, in my view), and calls in to question their real agenda. Janeane it seems, has been taking his, and a producer's, resistance to continued accomodation of this group (they've apparently been on a few times already recently) personally, saying that she was being "censored" from putting forth her support for the work of this group. Garafalo, as an atheist, claims that all religious-type groups are cults, but that if some are doing some good, she supports them, financially, be they Christian, Jewish, Scientologist, or so on.

Well, tonight it got heated. Janeane went on about how she was being censored regarding this issue, and Sam and the producer kept saying that they just felt that the Scientology backround of this organization really brought into question the legitimacy of their efforts, which have no scientific peer-reviewed support as to the efficacy of their work. This, of course, being combined with Scientology's rep as crackpot quackery at best, and a very dangerous cult at worst. Janeane, in a cheap shot (in both my view as well as other listeners, it seems), stated that if it was a Jewish organization doing this work of aiding 9/11 first responders with medical problems, that Sam would be all for it (Sam is Jewish). This put Sam over the edge, although he responded calmly enough; you could tell he felt it was too much. He told her as much, that the comment was essentially over the line. They went back and forth a little, tried to sweep it under the rug it seemed, but by a commercial or so, and a return back to the show, Sam had walked out of the studio!. They had another junior producer come in to finish up the last half hour with Janeane, and this guy reported that the show's producer had already walked out, even prior to Sam.

These two do have a history of walking out on each other during the show, with I believe Janeane doing the majority (or all?) of the walking out (I like her alot, but you can just tell that she is really on the edge, emotionally, so often during the shows- which makes for very interesting shows I'll admit). She finished out the last half hour, basically babbling about something with the junior producer in that way that, you know, when something very embarrasing has happened, or something very controversial, and people try to cover it over by talking in vague generalities, just anything to avoid the fact of what just happened. You could hear it in her voice though, even she was not convinced by the babbling, that something very uncomfortable had just happened. Anyway, it was great radio, not something that you hear or see often in the pre-planned, generically presented, info-tainment world that we live in today. It was real, and real is something that is ever rarer these days. You probably can get it on a podcast if interested; Air America Radio - The Majority Report, Friday June 2 show.

I'm interested now in what's going to happen on, or with, the Monday, June 5th show. We'll have to stay tuned!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

For Every Haditha...

For every soldier who particpated at Haditha, I think there are 1000 servicemen, like this one, who probably could not even conceive of taking part in what happened there. I've wanted to say something directly on that foresaken place, but I find that I simply cannot.

Haditha is what war is about. It is what happens when you choose to commit war, unjustly, upon innocent people. We, Americans, all share a role in what happened at Haditha. Do something about it. Restore this country back to the one that has always abhorred such things. No more My Lais, no more Hadithas.