Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods
THERE is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
poem by Lord Byron
picture by Courtney Harper
Saturday, March 29, 2008
If you love music and can at least tolerate hip-hop artists, then please listen to this - you'll thank me for it.
One note on the video below played with the song: It is from the movie Trainspotting and has some graphic scenes.
If you type "god loves ugly" in youtube you'll find alternate versions that are less offensive so you can still relish in this sublime piece of music without the visual repugnance of a drug-dominated reality.
Here's another song by the magnificent Atmosphere:
Friday, March 28, 2008
I think I would like to call this beautifully original structure home. As long as it is surrounded by lakes and mountains and trees like this one.
"Ever dreamed of owning a completely self-sufficient home that produces its own energy, water, and is completely customizable? New York architect Scott Specht has the answer to all of our zero-energy prefab dreams with the new ZeroHouse™. This completely self-sustaining prefabricated house generates its own power, collects its own water, processes its own waste and is 100% automatic. Versatile, durable and site-sensitive, ZeroHouse can be erected in almost any location in one day with steel frame components and a helical-anchor foundation system that requires no excavation."
Read the rest:
PREFAB FRIDAY: ZeroHouse Shows Nothing is Everything
by Cate Trotter.
Stearns was to become the next victim of the "credit squeeze," which has resulted from pervasive predatory lending by countless sub-prime mortgage lenders across America.
The investment banking giant was bailed out by the FED, the US federal bank. The FED in a plan to help JP Morgan Chase, once Bear Stearn's greatest competitor, acquire Bear Stearns, offered to buy up to 29 billion dollars of its debt if necessary.2
In fact, yesterday, in a sign that hope for an upswing in Bear Stearn's stock value is at abysmal levels, James Cayne, Chairman of Bear Stearns Cos Inc., sold "5.66 million shares" worth a total of "$61.3 million."3
If the captain abandons the ship, things are most certainly not good.
However, perhaps the most abysmal, and illustrative, part of this story is that just one year ago, Cayne could have sold the same amount of stock for "about $1 billion."4
He must be livid.
And who did this dreadful financial development surprise the most (other than Cayne)?
Watch the clip below to find out (and to have a good laugh):
Jim Cramer: "Bear Stearns is Fine!" Tues, 3/11/08
4 see footnote 3
Renewed Fighting in Basra
"American-trained Iraqi security forces failed for a third straight day to oust Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra on Thursday, even as President Bush hailed the operation as a sign of the growing strength of Iraq’s federal government," reported the New York Times today.
The stated reason that Iraqi security forces are in Basra and other Mahdi Army strongholds in the south is to restore order and peace there. The central Iraqi government cites increased levels of criminal activity and violence, purportedly caused by people splintering from those loyal to the Mahdi army, as having significantly destabilized the region.
It's worth noting that provincial elections are coming up in Iraq and many Iraqi citizens see this move by the central Iraqi government as a means to undermine one of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's most potent political rivals, the head of the Mahdi Army, Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Battle for Basra: A Turning Point
It is important to recognize that this mission in Basra is the Iraqi Armed Forces' first major solo mission. Iraqi soldiers are not backed by US or other Coalition troops.
It seems, however, this precedent of the Iraqi government standing up on its own to face its own foes is becoming mired in its failure to achieve the mission's clearly stated goals as each day passes.
The New York Times underscores the crucial nature of this Iraqi-force-led mission in determining if the reduction from abysmal to excessive violence throughout Iraq this past year will remain much longer. It will likewise dictate if US troops who currently have an average of a 15 month tours of duty in Iraq, get to see any reduction in their elongated stays.
"The violence underscored the fragile nature of the security improvements partly credited to the American troop increase that began last year," the Times reports, "Officials have acknowledged that a cease-fire called by Mr. Sadr last August has contributed to the improvements. Should the cease-fire collapse entirely, those gains could be in serious jeopardy, making it far more difficult to begin bringing substantial numbers of American troops home."
So it seems, the battle for Basra may mark a substantial turning point in the situation for those on the ground in Iraq.
What will it mean?
Is the Post-Surge Honeymoon Over?
With at least 100 dead and 500 wounded after only a few days of somewhat restricted fighting (Madhi Army soldiers are under orders by al-Sadr to fire only in self-defense), is it fair to say that Basra may tip the scale back towards abysmal, rather than excessive levels of bloodshed?
Is this flair up fighting in Basra the cold reality of the post-surge honeymoon ending?
One sign the answer may be yes, comes from the oil pipelines in southern Iraq.
The oil lines in Iraq's southern regions, as in the rest of the country, have become chaos barometers.
That is, when the pipelines in a particular area in Iraq are constantly being shot at, blown up, and rendered non-functional - it is fair to say the area is not stable. Whereas, when oil pipelines in a specific enclave can go weeks or months functioning without issue - it is reasonable to claim such places are controlled.
That said, the New York Times reports, "a major oil pipeline near Basra was struck with a bomb around 10 a.m. on Friday [March 28th], igniting a huge fire, said Sameer al-Magsosi, a spokesman for the Southern Oil Company. Before the recent security gains, the southern pipelines had been frequent targets of insurgents, smugglers and militias, but few strikes had been recorded in the past year."
Another indicator the Iraqi government is losing more influence in the Iraqi south, rather than cementing control as was the aim of their mission, is the rising number of American deaths even in the robustly fortified Green Zone.
The Times reports, "In Baghdad, where explosions shook the city throughout the day, American officials said 11 rockets struck the Green Zone, killing an unidentified American government worker, the second this week."Moreover, the battling seems not to be limited to the city of Basra, though Iraq's Prime Minister intended for their mission to be staged there only.
According to the Times, attacks also occurred in the cities and towns of "Kut, Hilla, Amara, Kirkuk, Baquba and other cities."
What is Plan B?
At this point one must ask, what does the US and the Iraqi governments plan to do if the relative achievements of "the surge" disintegrate and violence again reins obscene?
The slim mention, let alone response to this question, is troubling. It gives reason for anyone whose fates are intertwined with the welfare of Iraq (the majority of the world) to be ominously concerned.
Militias Resist Iraqi Forces in Fighting for Basra
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Scores of Tibetans Killed Protesting
According to an Associated Press (AP) article, "exiled Tibetan rights groups say 140 Tibetans have died in the crackdown across western China." This crackdown was in response to what Chinese State television is calling the "3-14 beating, smashing, looting and burning incident," but it was really just Tibetans responding to decades of pervasive repression by the government of China on the 49th anniversary of a failed but memorable uprising.
The same article points out that the Chinese government website claims only 22 Tibetans have died since the largest freedom protest staged in Tibet in over two decades took place. The Chinese government also claims that the majority of those 22 killed were "innocents" attacked by who they call "rioters."
These stories couldn't be more different. But deciding who to believe is pretty straightforward.
The Chinese State is not known for its freedom of the press, while it is infamous for its disinformation campaigns and streamlining of information resources. Indeed, there are very few media and news outlets that aren't significantly censored or influenced by the central government and its "version" of China's history (see Internet Censorship of the People's Republic of China, and Media Censorship in China) .
A relatively recent example of this is when Google agreed to filter out the search results for certain key terms entered by users in China. This was after the Chinese government offered Google an ultimatum: censor with our guidelines or get out before we sue you for breaking our domestic information laws.
China's legal argument was that the results a user, say in the US, would get for keywords such as "Tiananmen Square," may display information which could be considered anti-government propaganda and potentially riot-inciting. Such information is illegal to create or distribute within China's borders. (In defense of Google, if Google just decided to pull out all together the flow of information in the country would have become significantly more restricted than it already was).
A BBC story on the Google censorship also points out, "the BBC news site is inaccessible [to Chinese internet surfers], while a search on Google.cn [the Chinese version of Google] for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement directs users to a string of condemnatory articles."
If this is not blatant and unjustifiable censorship I don't know what is.
Foreign Journalists Allowed a Brief & Rare Peek
Lhasa saw the first group of foreign journalists in almost two weeks after the large protests occurred on its streets. It was only for a brief visit that was supervised by state officials nearly the entire time.
It is such an extremely rare event for foreign journalists to be allowed in Tibet that it is clear China was only trying to cover up its grave human rights record while it continued to commit rights abuses. This was backed up by the personal testimony of two Lhasa residents interviewed by the foreign press.
"Two Tibetan teachers drinking in a nearby bar said they were enjoying a first night out after nighttime curfews kept them at home eating mainly tsampa — roasted barley — since the day after the March 14 riot." The AP continues, "One reason the curfew was loosened, they said, was the foreign media visit."
China Delisted from Rights Abuse List while Arming Genocide
The US State Department recently took China off its primary human rights violator list, though China has displayed no particular changes in policy nor any new good will towards addressing the heap of legitimate grievances leveled against it. However, the timing is suspiciously close to the 2008 Olympics, exactly 123 days in fact.
If anything, China's place on the US human rights abuse list should have worsened.
A recent report published by a U.S.-based nonprofit group, Human Rights First, states, according to Reuters, "Chinese sales of assault rifles and other small arms to its ally Sudan have grown rapidly during the Darfur conflict despite a U.N. arms embargo." The report also said that "China sold Sudan $55 million worth of small arms from 2003-2006 and provided 90 percent of Sudan's small arms since 2004 when a U.N. arms embargo took effect."
So it is clear. China stepped in to fill the weapons gaps created by a UN embargo on arms to Darfur for the specific purpose of slowing the mass murdering taking place there. Though the numbers are not particularly accurate (since few are counting the dead consistently), the Janjuweed and other militias are responsible for displacing over 2.5 million Darfurians and killing over 200,000 people, most of whom are innocent women and children.
China arms Darfurian genocide and yet they are taken off the US human rights transgressor list?
Image Above Freedoms & Fates
It seems that whether a Darfuri woman mowed down by AK-47 fire while fetching drinking water, or a Tibetan monk beaten to death protesting for the right to protest - China only cares about the freedoms and fates of those who can influence their image before the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.
Unfortunately for them, more and more of those with such influence are becoming the very people China abuses and whose abuse they profit from.
Foreign Reporters Watched on Tibet Tour
Google censors itself for China
US Delisting of China Upsets Rights Activists
US report links China arms sales to Darfur Carnage
Not only are the fences along the US-Mexican border like putting a band aid on a shotgun wound, but they are going to separate the only male Jaguars in North America from the females who lie in the northern mountain ranges of Mexico.
The Jaguar is likely the rarest creature on the North American Continent.
The Jaguar is American Wilderness.
I wish the gods would step in and tell the US Gov NO - NOT this time.
How many times makes too many times?
They don't listen - and I am left to wonder:
How will America speak of its Natural Splendor
when it lies on the other side of the fence?
See the full story here.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
And I will continue flipping the pages at 4 in the morning semi-interested in the written words & woes of other men - but I will really just be passing time waiting for another one like this.
Is this not life? Is life just not years and years and years of traveling on a lone fast train through a deep fog, accidentally stumbling upon transient moments where the greatest poetry of god and life read clear like laughter?
too much too little
strangers with faces like
the backs of
armies running through
streets of blood
bayoneting and fucking
an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of M. Monroe.
there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock
people so tired
either by love or no love.
people just are not good to each other
one on one.
the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.
we are afraid.
our educational system tells us
that we can all be
it hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.
or the terror of one person
aching in one place
watering a plant.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
I suppose they never will be.
I don't ask them to be.
but sometimes I think about
the beads will swing
the clouds will cloud
and the killer will behead the child
like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.
more haters than lovers.
people are not good to each other.
perhaps if they were
our deaths would not be so sad.
meanwhile I look at young girls
flowers of chance.
there must be a way.
surely there must be a way that we have not yet
who put this brain inside of me?
it says that there is a chance.
it will not say
I found this crazy story through StumbleUpon at Flickr.
The following is the tale from the person who posted the picture.
"The armor stopped the bullet.
The iPod was how Kevin Garrad found out he was shot. This is the real story.
Kevin said he got into the fight with the insurgent and afterwards he did not know he was even shot. He said he returned to his bunk after the patrol, put on his earbuds and began to clean his weapon.
He said: “you get into a ritual out there.”
No music came on. He dug around in the pockets where he kept the iPod and pulled out the twisted hunk of metal that is in the pictures. He said that was how he found out that he had been shot during the fight. He was happy that his armor worked.
He said the upgraded armor he was wearing could stop the AK-47 round. It was not the newest armor that is in Iraq now, but it was an upgrade. This was his second iPod that he had brought to Iraq. The first had been damaged earlier and the store would not replace it, even with the additional warranty he purchased.
The pictures are what happens when an AK-47 bullet hits an iPod.
He’s talked to Apple and is happy that they sent him another iPod. He’s gone through two already. If any others send him iPods he’ll put them in care packages back to friends in his unit who don’t have them."
Monday, March 24, 2008
Unfortunately, the trailer was considerably better than the movie (watch it below).
The particular failings are too numerous and would be a waste of time to expound here. But the key flaw in The Good Shepherd was that there were really three plots going on simultaneously, .i.e., the history of the CIA, the story of Edward Wilson - both retrospectives - all the while pieces of a current plot were unraveling.
I understand the idea was to show different perspectives of the CIA at different times in its evolution and tie them together with Edward Wilson. However De Niro did not achieve this effectively.
The plots instead of supporting each other and flowing together to create a multi-dimensional tale, clashed with one another, fragmenting and ultimately canceling out the most interesting and potent aspects of the movie. It lacked a much needed constant from which the meandering events could resolve themselves into an intelligent whole.
If De Niro tried to tackle just the history of the CIA, or just the life of Edward Wilson, or just a cutting-edge spy tale - something more valuable may have come from the Good Shepherd project. But De Niro was overambitious. He overextended the limits of the story. He overextended the normal human tolerance for a lengthy non-sequential motion picture (it was about 3 hours long).
If you haven't seen this movie don't look at the following quotes. They are better heard than read.
These were my favorite lines in the movie.
Richard Hayes: I remember a senator once asked me. When we talk about "CIA" why we never use the word "the" in front of it. And I asked him, do you put the word "the" in front of "God"?
Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something... we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the niggers, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?
Edward Wilson: The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The story goes that a crew of slaughterhouse workers were out on their lunch breaks and while they were shooting the breeze a cow now named "Cinci Freedom" leaped over a six foot fence in a remarkable attempt to spare its existence from the chopping block.
As if this was not a curious enough feat in itself, Cinci was able to elude capture for eleven whole days. Imagine - a cow on the lamb? One has to wonder what that liberty-crazed cow was doing to shirk its bounty hunters and what was going through its head during the whole ordeal.
Saved by the Hippie's Hippie
Upon hearing the story of Cinci Freedom, the artistic paragon of 1960s and 1970s psychedelia, Peter Max, proclaimed, "This little girl's will—facing the end of her life, being so frightened, then taking the risk of all risks to live, to be free—touched me so deeply. It was so inspiring. I knew I had to try to preserve that wonderful spirit."
Max then donated over $180,000 worth of his paintings and artwork to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His contribution ensured a spot for the bodacious bovine at one of their New York sanctuaries where it now lives out its days.
I believe this extraordinary cow provokes a rather interesting ethical consideration concerning the determination of a living creature's rights and the moral implications such judgments bear.
If a cow is able to make the decision to jump a six foot fence to save itself from execution, and also evade capture for almost two weeks - thus seemingly demonstrating a recognition of liberty and life as preferable to captivity and death - what legitimate moral claim can one make to defend the detention and butchery of such a creature?
How can one credibly justify the slaying of a being that possesses the capacity and the propensity to free itself from the slaughterhouse?
I am not a member of PETA and I do not consider myself an animal rights activist.
However, I do think this story pushes the inquisitive amongst us to a closer examination of why the basic ethical principals of humankind are accepted as self-evident truths, and yet, are not so when it comes to other species even when some of those species demonstrate discernible levels of higher-intelligence.
When it comes to recognizing what entities possess the rights to life and liberty - why doesn't Cinnci make the cut?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Of all things, this picture is of the exterior of a parking garage!
Why aren't there more original buildings like this?
Why have beautiful and intelligent structures become more and more a minority in an ocean of eyesores and blase buildings, boring the optics of the masses, making the insipid destinations of man's routines all the more feckless?
A result of Capitalism, unfortunately, is the degradation of art, culture, and novel ideas. Because if it isn't economical and lucrative, it does not get thought of, and even if it makes it that far, it is not manifested for fear of it becoming another failed investment.
Such work relies on patrons, as has a lot of great art throughout human history.
My question is, when they are needed perhaps more than they have ever been in human history, where are the wealthy patrons of the Arts?
If I were to become wealthy (see Chris Rock's distinction between "rich" and "wealthy") I would spend my days traveling to exotic libraries, temples, mountains, springs, parks, breweries, restaurants, help One.org eliminate starvation and poverty, and fund projects like the creation of this building.
That's what I want to be - Patron of the Arts/Traveler/Philanthropist.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Unfortunately I was unable to embed this awesome video.
It takes you from hundreds of millions of light years away to the quarks inside a tree leaf on Earth, step by step, frame by frame, with a clear visual of everything in between.
It makes one wonder:
Where does the universe end and where does it begin...or is it ever expanding, growing infinitely bigger on the macro scale and infinitely smaller on the micro scale as you read this...?
Either way, isn't it spellbinding to think that our 3 lb. universes (brains) are able to exist in this vast space and realize with absolute delight, the supreme significance that they can come to such a realization?
You can blow your mind by clicking the link below...
Saturday, March 15, 2008
one of the most fascinating websites I have seen in recent years.
The following is an excerpt from a post by rene entitled,
"SpaceCollective’s Grand Narrative."
"According to Kahle [Brewster Kahle runs the Internet Archive], there are roughly 26 million books in the library of congress, the largest print library in the world. This may seem like a lot of books, but in the digital age it doesn’t represent that many data. On the web, for example, an equivalent amount of information as is printed in the total number of books is posted online every two months.
When you consider that at the moment it takes one person a year to scan 3000 books, it means that all 26 million titles can be scanned by the population of Detroit in the course of one long weekend. In terms of computer storage the entire content of a book on average takes up only one megabyte. Twenty six million megabytes translates into 26 terabytes, which can easily be stored in a box that comfortably fits on one small shelf.
Thus, the Wisdom of the Ages which was once verbally passed on from one campfire to the next, then copied in long hand, published in print and now made available online, is bound to lose some of its mythical aura, just like Paul Brooks’ [neurologist and author of Into the Silent Land] speculations about the detrimental impact the mapping of our brains might have on the sacred myth of our selfhood and souls."
The Hyper-Evolution of Knowledge
This Space Collective posting makes it abundantly clear that the amount of information at the fingertips of anyone with internet access far surpasses the capacity of even the most exhaustive house of knowledge planted in physical-reality.
In fact, this ever-growing power of cyber-reality has thrust mankind into a kind of epistemological overdrive, what one could call, The Hyper-Evolution of Knowledge. For there is now a very real possibility for anyone at any time and in almost anyplace to know virtually anything he or she so desires. And as access and usage spread, more and more people are fulfilling this Grand Potential.
This is a quantum leap in human evolution.
Such premises entail the only limitation remaining between human beings and mass superintelligence as the circumscriptions of our imaginations. Giving credence to the idea that the human imagination appears unbounded, it seems fair to say we are already in a period one could call the Hyper-Evolution of Self-Evolution (though this is just the beginning).
Questions of Consequence
This Hyper-Evolution of Self-Evolution is set to shatter the bones and frames of everyone and everything we know today.
This is good because to exceed one's own expectations of themselves as well as the human race, to propel each other to even greater glories, past perceptions/inclinations/realities must be dispelled. Old and decrepit branches of the Tree of Man must break off for the trunk to support the crown as it extends into the heavens.
But will we become mired in billions of terabytes of data, losing sight of the blade of grass in the prairie - will each piece of information become less important as the pool of knowledge floods the human world?
Or will the average person become capable of understanding more about that blade of grass in a matter of minutes, than even the great Walt Whitman himself was able to comprise in an entire lifetime of brillance (see Leaves of Grass)?
The Question Answering Itself?
Interestingly, as man's greatest tool, the Internet brims with galaxies of data that address this very phase in human evolution. And so, the understanding required for mankind to maximize the potential of this evolutionary upswing is likely to come from the very thing that triggered the evolutionary upswing.
In a sense, the Internet seems to provide both the question and the answer - both the challenge and the resolution.
In conclusion, as we hyperspeed into a world where human advancement will grow by leaps and bounds at an ever-increasing pace, transforming everything known, we remain as we have, self-evolving creatures limited only by our minds.
See the full post Space Collective post here.
See an updated version of this post here.
I found this picture through stumbling upon at Flickr.
So apparently this guy legally changed his middle name to Megatron...hilarious.
Here Jason Megatron's caption:
It's official. My name has been changed from Jason Michael Burrows to Jason Megatron Burrows, effective today.
Here's the story of my trip to the courthouse:
The Judge came in about 15 minutes late & apologized, then said that she'd be hearing name changes first, The first lady got up & changed her last name to honor her birth family. Next, a family went up, and the mom & dad both said that their daughter would like her name changed to Jessica, so the judge signed that order.
Then it was my turn... I walked to the front, where she had me raise my right hand to swear that I would tell the truth, whole truth & nothing but the truth. She asked if my name change was to defraud creditors, I said no. She asked if it would be detrimental to anyone else, I said no. She Then asked if I was indeed changing my middle name to that of my childhood hero, I smiled & said "Yes Ma'am." She said, "Then I do order & decree that your name be changed from Jason Michael Burrows to Jason Megatron Burrows" with a HUGE grin. There were quite a few chuckles from the courtroom... I was handed the paperwork & I split. =)
I just watched Darren Aronofsky's masterful film "The Fountain."
This was my second viewing and I appreciated its depth considerably more this time around. Though optically sublime, on the first viewing of the film I left the theater somewhat puzzled, wondering what exactly was the primary assertion or epiphany.
Moreover, I think the first time I was so consumed by the unbelievably stunning cinematography that I had minimal mental capacity left for insight.
Let me precursor any thoughts here by saying one of the most attractive parts of this film is it's interpretational multiplicity.
That said, I think it presents three roads to eternal salvation. In fact, the most common ones pursued by man, i.e., honor/bravery, pure faith, and modern science. However, I think it makes clear that the only legitimate road to the eternal life is through acceptance of death.
Once dead, one is free to be reborn.
Death is itself a piece, a division, a branch of the Tree of Life. And like any tree, some branches must eventually decay, break, and fall so that the trunk can remain healthy. Then, the tree is able to grow a new branch of life. The death of a branch is a small sacrifice for eternal existence of the tree.
When people pass away, their life energy released in death goes back into the Tree of Life and it is precisely that energy which produces new creations and beings.
According to the characters of The Fountain,
"Death is the road to awe."
Friday, March 14, 2008
I've heard of the notion anthropomorphise before, or to ascribe human form or attributes to non-human things.
But this picture seemingly shows the inverse.
That is, non-human things imitating the human form or its attributes.
After looking up the Greek word for nature, "physis," I came up with a term for this interesting phenomenon.
I would like to make this some kind of theme if I discover more evidence of such rare events.
I am the stone that the builder refused
I am the visual, the inspiration...that made Lady sing the blues
I'm the spark that makes your idea bright.
The same spark that lights the dark so that you can know your left from your right.
I am the ballot in your box,
the bullet...in the gun,
the inner glow that lets you know to call your brother son.
The story that just begun.
The promise of whats to come.
And I will remain a soldier until the war is won.
Congress Holds Secret Sessions
Last evening, if you happened to be watching C-Span, you would have seen something unexpected, something troubling take place.
You would have seen nothing.
That is, the window which is an essential component of making American "democracy" what it is, i.e., transparency of legislative proceedings in Congress, broadcast 24/7 on the C-Span channels, had a shade over it.
Apparently, if there is a vital matter of national security at hand that must be dealt with exigently, and would disclose sensitive information, Congress can declare a "secret session" take place.
Such secret sessions of Congress have only occurred five times in 183 years.
Being that such an event is so rare - what was the grave national security concern triggering this cloaked meeting?
Should the American people be scared?
The former democratic presidential candidate and Ohio Senator, Dennis Kucinich, explained, "one of the Republican leaders said that he had some secret information that he had to communicate with rest of Congress, and so he asked the Congress to go into secret session."
The Senator continued, "I went to the floor of the House in that preliminary session and pointed out that this hasn’t happened but five times in 182 years, and I said that there should be a very high bar that has to be passed before we go into secret session. As soon as I said that, the member of Congress who asked for it started to backpedal."
Why would the members of Congress call such a drastic and rather undemocratic measure to be taken, and then proceed to backpedal in their justification for it?
If this really was as important as to call a secret session of Congress wouldn't its rationalization be unquestionable?
If it wasn't a burning security issue, what was it?
Secret Session Employed as Political Tool?
Was this secret session really just political positioning?
Sen. Kucinich answers, "I’m thinking that yesterday there really was an attempt to try to basically use the procedure of a secret meeting to ratchet up the pressure to pass FISA."
FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, had been recently expanded by the Bush administration to allow warrantless wiretapping, email monitoring, and internet traffic surveillance of the American public.
FISA has been expired for weeks now as President Bush added to the bill a clause that grants full and retroactive immunity to the telecom companies who have greatly helped the FBI, CIA, and NSA spy without court oversight on Americans.
According to the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith,"Ninety-eight percent of America's communications technology is owned by private sector companies," and so he warned, "without immunity telecommunication companies may stop helping defend the United States."
It seems Congressional Democrats foresaw the real intent of this secret session. Most Republican members attended the secret session while there were very few Democrats.
This is interesting because it is the Republicans in Congress pushing for telecom spying immunity, and it is the Democrats that are preventing it from being passed.
In fact, House Democrats passed a bill today, though it will be vetoed by the President, reserving the right of private citizens to seek legal redress against telecom companies for a violation of their right to privacy.
Repercussions for abuse of secret meetings?
Sen. Kucinich says, "we’ll see if anything was produced in that meeting, because, actually, at any time Congress can vote to release the transcripts, make them public."
Assuming this happens and it is exposed what can happen?
"And if that happens and it wasn’t a serious enough matter, there could be really extreme political repercussions," Kucinich continued, " because we shouldn’t be going into secret session. I mean, there’s a reason why you don’t. You have a House of Representatives; it’s the people’s House. Transparency, it’s essential for a democracy. It’s very dangerous to have these things."
"I think democracy functions much better in the sunlight than in the dark" he said.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Is a new and promising music scene actually brewing in the Elm City?
It very well may be. And if this thing does take off, as I suppose it might, it is not likely to mimic any local music/art culture development I have seen here before.
I'm looking forward to the first show which is actually this coming Saturday, the 15th.
Here is some info from Hell's project website:
Located on 325 East Street New Haven, CT Hell has been around for 11 years and is currently gearing up for a new series called "Go To Hell!!!" Saturdays featuring the best local indie talent and guest DJ's.
Hell has until this point been a lounge and is now establishing itself as a new music venue for people of the open-minded arts community.
On the first, third, and fourth saturdays of every month, Hell will feature inspiring local talent and DJ's that don't spin your average records. This is a place that welcomes all people who are open-minded and want to expose themselves to new music and meet like-minded people.
Our goal is to bring people together through new music and art.
Stay tuned for band info and information on our upcoming summer festival that will be held outside the club in a fenced in area. There will be many bands over a two day festival which will also feature a graffiti wall and local visual artists.
If you would like to contribute to our summer festival, send your ideas.
Spread the word.
Kick off party Saturday March 15, come out and see what happens here for yourself!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Never before could one so easily help to alleviate the unjustifiable
suffering that is so rampant throughout the world.
With just a few clicks one can give power to one of the most
effective philanthropic organizations to ever exist.
The following is a One.org email I received today.
Please read it and then go to www.one.org.
The momentum around the international affairs budget has shifted in the last 24 hours. Now, rather than fending off a devastating cut to poverty-fighting funding in 2009, we are poised to achieve a huge victory. But we need your help.
Late last night, Senators Biden (D-DE) and Lugar (R-IN) introduced a new amendment.
This amendment would restore the $2.6 billion we have been working toward, but also would add an additional $1.5 billion to the international affairs budget.
It is worth noting that the Bush administration has requested, and is likely to receive, $647 billion for the defense budget.
It's going to take everything that we've got to get this amendment over the top. If there was ever a moment to pick up the phone and call your senators, this is it.
Call your senators today and tell them to support this critical amendment.
To find out your senators' contact information click here or call 202-224-3121.
While speaking to your senators' staff, make sure to tell them:
1. You are a constituent and a ONE member.
2. You want them to support the Biden-Lugar amendment to restore $4.1 billion to the international affairs budget, to match the president's budget request.
Budgets are written through a series of choices, and those choices have consequences. When they vote on this amendment, senators will be making a choice that can mean life or death for millions of people around the globe. Call your senators and urge them to make the right choice [bold & added].
THANK YOU FOR BEING A GOOD HUMAN.
and well I've been saved
yes by music,
music is the beauty that numbs sadness,
music is soulfood,
music is the oar
when you are in an open ocean
music stands more epic than
and even the egos,
yes music has been there for me
more than I've been there for me,
you could say I am the music I love -
but this time it was not entirely music
that ebbed the madness -
it was the holiest thing I know -
and if there are gods
it must be what they're made of -
Here's a piece of the good stuff, the best stuff, the stuff good lives are made of and the stuff that makes good lives.
RIP Mitch Hedberg.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Reuters reports, "The top
The senior official explained, "Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the CENTCOM region."
However, the likelihood that one of the most respected military figures in the country would resign because of "press reports" - and not because of the "disconnect" those reports addressed - is highly unlikely.
In reality, it seemed that Fallon was actually saying, 'let's agree to disagree and I'll do the honorable thing (since you won't) and retire.'
For all one has to do is remove the modifying clause in his statement, "recent press reports suggesting" - to reveal what is likely a more forthright statement. Namely, "a disconnect between my views and the president's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the CENTCOM region."
Fallon strategically used the press to allow him to convey his real reason for leaving without directly critiquing executive policy. Though such a tactic is somewhat unusual, it is most fitting for someone often labeled as being "a man of strategic brilliance."
What's really interesting is the straw that broke the camel's back really was an article in Esquire magazine on the commander. The article's title itself was exceedingly blunt and perceivably difficult for the general to face. It was called "The Man Between War And Peace."
How did congressional democrats respond to all of this?
"Democrats in the U.S. Congress charged,” says Reuters, “that Fallon's departure was another sign the Bush administration did not tolerate military commanders who spoke their mind."
This resignation appears to have an undoubtedly negative effect on the best interests of the American people.
Esquire reports, "If...we go to war with
If this is true, it is hard to imagine the possibility of war in
Fallon’s political importance in ebbing the tide of war rhetoric
That is to say, the best US intelligence report in existence, the National Intelligence Estimate, concluded
Labeling the Iranian National Guard a "terrorist organization," continually placing sanctions which are bound to be ineffectual, and making it a requirement to settle the main reasons for having talks, before such talks occur, all support how factless this war-machine continues to be.
In addition, this whole occurrence shows the Bush White House, again, as driving some of the best and brightest military officials out of tolerable government positions and into private lives.
Are we really safer with more and more of our most seasoned officials, both civilian and military, retiring as a result of myopic and woefully agenda-based executive pressure, leaving the good and obedient to take their place?
I discovered this band from watching the news! No not just any news, from the wonderfully uncorporate and uncensored Democracy Now! If you've never heard of it you really need to go for at least a few minutes now.
Can you imagine this music on any news, even on PBS? CNN, no way, MSNBC hell no, CNN Headline get the fuck out, Fox News, when God comes down and tells the world he'd vote for Nader if he could!
Just discovered these guys fifteen minutes ago, but I'm impressed. The muscianship and politically-indictive lyrics are searing.
Here's the some bio:
When a pair of intelligent, visionary emcees joins forces with a battle-hardened, groove-fusing rhythm section, a classically trained violist, and a jazz trumpet player, the result is a sound that explores and expands the frontiers of live hip-hop. Progressive in both style and message, the band's ability to drop from symphonic rock-infused crescendos into stripped-down string-laden breakbeats has earned Flobots a reputation for both originality and authenticity.
After originally forming as a side project in 2005, Flobots brought together Emcee’s Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit with violist Mackenzie Roberts, guitarist Andy Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker, trumpet player Joe Ferrone, and drummer Kenny Ortiz. By the end of the year, it was clear that the band's refreshingly positive message and nontraditional instrumentation gave it both a universal appeal and a marketable buzz factor. Whether sharing the stage with jam bands, indie rock acts, or hip-hop groups, Flobots connected with audiences and quickly reached a tipping point to became one of Denver's most influential bands.
After selling over 3000 copies of their first recording, Platypus (October 2005), the band released its first full-length record, Fight With Tools (October 2007). Representing a year's worth of writing and recording, the record is a fire-breathing rallying cry for all free-thinking individuals fed-up with the violence and apathy that have thus far defined the new millenium. The record debuted at #1 on Twist and Shout's best seller list and has been in the top 10 for eight consecutive weeks.
The strength of these records and a relentless performing schedule has enabled the band to open for acts like Public Enemy, The Coup, Lyrics Born, and Immortal Technique. Even Multi-platinum recording artist The Fray took notice, inviting the band to open the last night of their North American Tour at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Armed with musicianship, intelligence, and an ingrained sense of rebellion, Flobots are looking to engage a new musical culture, one mind at a time.
Go to their site: www.flobots.com
There are usually 3 main categories or themes in each issue - always interesting ones.
These are some images contending to make issue 16 of JPGMag I liked best.
This site really is probably my favorite for online photography (and than Flickr of course).
Monday, March 10, 2008
So is he just another hypocrite, preaching green rhetoric with hands blackened from oil?
Actually no, he is not. Setting a supreme example for the planet, Reuters explains, the Vatican "has installed photovoltaic cells on [its] buildings to produce electricity and hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change."
In addition, the Pope has "made several strong appeals for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race," writes Philip Pullella of Reuters.
This is a welcomed example and decree from a religious powercenter that commands the "world's largest single religious body" and has a following of about 1.13 billion people (wikipedia.org).
One could imagine that if all of the Roman Catholics really heeded the plea of the Vatican and followed its lead, they would be able to make as big an impact as if India with close to the same population became sustainable eco-friendly humans.
This is a most powerful proposition.
Unfortunately, this was undermined by the Archbishop's remarks to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, wherein Reuters reports, he claims that "that the greatest danger zone for the modern soul was the largely uncharted world of bioethics.
I understand the philosophical morass and moral quandry Biotechnology presents to the Vatican's ideological structure - to many ideological structures - is serious.
But, shouldn't they be more concerned with events that are currently taking place, Climate Change, rather than developments like human cloning which has not happened?
Furthermore, which is more likely to have a greater impact on the live of the 1.13 billion Catholics, or the 6.8 billion humans:
That a man is cloned, a primordial embryo is lost,
That grand glaciers melt, sea levels rise, flooding redoubles, extreme weather like tsunamis is provoked, drought and crop failures escalate (especially in the most impoverished nations on the planet), world hunger intensifies, and breathing becomes a health hazard (as is the already the case in Mexico City where breathing the air is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day) - to name a few?
Read the Reuters article.
I have started engaging in discussions on what is basically an online bookclub, arguably the largest bookclub ever, called goodreads (check it out).
The first piece of fiction I has been discussing is American Pastoral by Philip Roth. He won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize for this. Also, the NYTimes said it was one of the best American novels written in the past 25 years.
Roth himself is the first three-time winner of the coveted Pen/Faulkner award, given only to books of exceptional caliber - sometimes it is decades or more before a book wins this award (though he did not win it for this book, see Human Stain).
Noting novels often defy life as they make order, system, and sense of out its chaotic madness - one of the exceptional things about this book is that Roth is able to intelligently execute an eloquent plot which spins on the very axis of this madness.
Here is a quote:
"What was astonishing was how people seemed to run out of their own being, run out of whatever the stuff was that made them who they were and, drained of themselves, turn into the sort of people they would once have felt sorry for. It was as though while their lives were rich and full they were secretly sick of themselves and couldn't wait to dispose of their sanity and their health and all sense of proportion so as to get down to that other self, the true self, who was a wholly deluded fuckup."
Some thoughts on the quote:
Having seen people seemingly run out of whatever it is that makes them them, I guess as many do, the quote struck home for me. It's a fascinating phenomenon worthy of study in and of itself.
I would purpose, however, a question.
Does one really run out of their "essence" or do they simply forget to water the flower, purposely shove it in a dark corner, or actively pick its petals in some sort of self-destructive pleasure?
Does this "stuff" really just disappear, or is it hiding, lurking underneath other layers of ego and self, while we have convinced others as well as ourselves it is gone?
Can we really discard ourselves without, even unconsciously, keeping enough to know who we still are, that it's still us in there?
To read my review of the book go here and go to the posting by James.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
To begin, it is essential to ask the first question:
What drives the world's Economy?
It's materialism stupid.
Unquestionably, it is mankind's insatiable greed for things that directs world economic markets, their patterns fluctuating on what is bought, how much of it, and how likely or unlikely such a trend is to continue.
By and large, Americans are the most acquisitive creatures in existence and are thus at the heart of the global economy. With an omnipresent network of commercialism and materialism woven into every stripe and every star of American life, it's no wonder America has been dubbed the "economic engine" of the world.
(One could surmise if a poll was taken, shopping would be listed close to the top of favorite American pastimes, competing with baseball and American Idol.)
If the world economy is impelled by excessively object-focused peoples, then what is war impelled by?
War is often driven, if we're faithful to history, not to fight tyranny or proliferate liberty, not to halt atrocities or dispense global justice, though these are the guises, but by threats to economic interests and by efforts to reach Hegemony.
Paradoxically, to go to war to protect economic assets or cement geopolitical primacy, an entity has to already have substantial economic assets and geopolitical potency to fund and fight such a war.
That said, according to the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, "the total 2008 [US] military budget request is a whopping $647 billion." This includes the supplemental requests for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, in December of 2006, with already 687,000 active-duty troops, US President George W. Bush stated, "we do need to increase our troops — the Army, the Marines," costing he failed to mention about 1.2 billion dollars per 10,000 new recruits.
At that price, to bring the US troop census up to about 1970s levels (800,000), it would cost the US about $14.76 billion, and to bring them up to Korean War levels (1.6 million) from their current status it would cost about $110.76 billion.
Adding the cost of raising the US Military to 1970s levels to Bush's military budget request, one finds the price of US extravagant wealth and political prowess to total approximately $662 billion. There are not any plans to build up troops to the 1970s levels right now, but if current trends continue with military budget increases and incremental soldier boosts, we very well may exceed this figure in the next decade or so.
When a state requests almost two-thirds of a Trillion dollars to maintain its economic interests and hegemony, it requires an army of rapacious citizens dedicating their days and desires to the acquisition of goods, goods, and more goods. Without economic capital, military and political capital is nonexistent. The American government's faith in its people's addiction to consumerism is quite tremendous. It has to be. The hole system is based on it.
And so for me, it now clicks.
America's materialistic fanaticism is married to American's insatiate hegemony in what is most certainly a match made in Hell for everyone.
American Economics, War, and Hegemony
Do we really want this to be the last chapter in the book of Mankind?
Saturday, March 8, 2008
just lead to
we all know
this is farce -
and I demand
are the ones
that lead to such answers.
The never knowing
lost and floating
day to day
moment to moment
has become reality.
to a new
These men face it.
They face it
They face it
They face it
They face Life
at every turn.
We face Life
Do we have the whole thing backward?