September 2009 archive

Sep 30

Inspiration: Activism From Where You Are

Years ago, when I was training for and running marathons, I learned that the best way to perfect form, to have economy of movement, and a smooth, fluid style, was to watch others who ran beautifully and just imitate what they were doing.  It was basic, monkey see; monkey do.  Similarly, when I see somebody who has seized the moment to make the world better, I wonder about what I could do that would imitate what s/he did.  I’m inspired when I see people nourish their activism.

Here’s today’s example from the New York Times:

Playwrights and producers have used scathing commentary, heartbreaking drama and sharp satire to score political points about war, torture, presidents, AIDS, race relations and women’s rights with New York theater audiences. Now the Broadway musical “Hair” is expanding the concept of stage activism by taking to the streets and urging audiences to follow. The producers canceled a Sunday matinee so that the cast and crew could attend and perform at a march for gay rights in Washington on Oct. 11.

That unusual – and expensive – decision to skip a popular weekend performance at the beginning of the theater season originated with the show’s star, Gavin Creel.

“I said, ‘My God, we have to go, we have to go,’ ” Mr. Creel recalled when he first heard about the rally late last spring.

Although Mr. Creel, 33, stars in a show that is associated with ’60s-style activism and sexual liberation, he personally wasn’t much interested in politics before Barack Obama ran for president. On Election Day last November, he said, he was ecstatic that his candidate won, but was crushed by the victory of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. So he decided to help create the activist organization Broadway Impact to mobilize the theater community.

Then in May Mr. Creel met Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, when he came to see “Hair” with Dustin Lance Black, author of the Oscar-winning screenplay for “Milk.” At a party afterward for the release of the cast recording, they all talked about the Oct. 11 National Equality March that Mr. Jones was helping to organize. The rally’s organizers say they are seeking “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states” for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

And so, to make a longer, interesting story more concise, Gavin Creel and the tribe, the cast of “Hair”, are going to DC for the Equality March.  And they’re closing a Broadway Sunday matinee to do so.  With the full support of the producers of the show.  Because, and this is the important part, because Gavin Creel thought it was a good idea and he decided to try to make it happen.

I just love this story.  It’s inspiring.

It’s a reminder, a beautiful reminder that even seemingly impossible ideas can be brought into reality, and that you and I and everybody else who is passionate about something can make a difference.  It’s surprisingly simple. When we have a good idea, we can decide to try to make it happen.

Here’s to Gavin Creel with thanks for being a great example.  One I happily will copy.  Please join me in that.

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simulposted at The Dream Antilles

Sep 30

More Help On The GI Bill Education Funding Problems

This Press Release, from General Shinseki and the VA, is just coming out and hitting subscriber in-boxes as well as being posted on the VA site:

Sep 30

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the Number of Earth’s species known to scientists rises to 1.9 million, “according to the world’s most comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals. The new figure has been boosted by 114,000 new species discovered since the catalogue was last compiled by Australian researchers three years ago – a 6.3% increase.”

    The ‘Number of Living Species in the World’ report compiled ford the Australian government claims to be the world’s “only comprehensive catalogue of plants and animals in the world”. The report estimates the actual number of species on earth is closer to 11 million.

    Elsewhere, Wired reports Megafauna extinctions were not entirely humans’ fault. “Studies that have mostly blamed the arrival of humans for die-offs among Australia’s large mammals 50,000 years ago missed the role played by a changing climate, new research suggests.” The “long-term drop in diversity also appeared among small creatures, and the types of species that disappeared suggest climate change played a role”.

  2. Nature News reports China’s Three Gorges dam may be a methane menace. “Marshland created when China’s Three Gorges Reservoir is partially drained during the summer may be a significant source of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, researchers say.”

    “Scientists have become increasingly concerned about the greenhouse gases released by submerged grass and trees when land is flooded to create dams. When such organic matter decays, it releases methane and carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming. Methane is particularly troublesome as it has more than 20 times the warming impact of CO2.”

    While in Canada, the Globe and Mail report that Researchers seek a ‘preheater’ for oil sands. As early as five years from now, Canadian and German researches plant to use geothermal energy in northeastern Alberta “as a sort of ‘preheater’ for major oil sands mines, which use 40-degree Celsius water to separate oil from sand.” Seven percent of Canada’s natural gas output is now used to heat the water and the demand is expected to “grow substantially”.

  3. The Guardian reports an Increase in sea levels due to global warming could lead to ‘ghost states’ “with governments in exile ruling over scattered citizens and land that has been abandoned to rising seas”.

    “As independent nations they receive certain rights and privileges that they will not want to lose. Instead they could become like ghost states,” said Francois Gemenne, of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. “Industrialised countries have a duty to provide adaptation funding to make sure the costs of migration do not have to be met by the countries where the migration will happen.”

    Nature News adds Climate change will hit developing world harvests the hardest. “Developing countries could see large drops in crop yields by 2050 if climate change is left unchecked, according to a US report, potentially leaving as many as 25 million more children malnourished compared to a world without global warming.”

    “The results show that southern Asia will be hit particularly hard by climate change, with some of the largest losses in crop production. In a worst-case scenario, the models show that farmers in this region could see a nearly 50% drop in wheat production by 2050 compared with potential production with no climate change.”

  4. The LA Times reports census data show falling income in the U.S. and the Percentage of people living in poverty has reached an 11-year high. “In 2008, the median household income in the United States plummeted 3.6% from the year before… In 2007 it was $52,163. A year later it dropped to $50,303, the lowest level since 1997. The nation’s poverty rate, meanwhile, rose to 13.2%, the highest level since 1997.”

    “The new data also cast a spotlight on the recession’s principal victims: children, minorities and those who weren’t born in the United States. The number of children younger than 18 living in poverty increased from 13.3 million in 2007 to 14.1 million in 2008, the census says, with minority children more likely to be poor. Last year, 34.7% of black children and 30.6% of Latino children lived below the poverty line, compared with 10.6% of white children.”

    Elsewhere, the Globe and Mail reports Deflation may be taking root in global economies. “Fuelled by continuing overcapacity, shrinking credit, reduced corporate spending and falling consumer demand, deflation is on the rise in its old stomping ground of Japan and taking root in the battered U.S. and European economies.”

Sep 30

More police abuse of power — woman calls for help, gets forcibly strip searched by male deputies

Wow.  So this is what can happen if you’re a woman, you get assaulted, and you call the police for help.   The police come and arrest you, then hold you down while male cops forcibly strip search you, and someone videotapes the whole process.

From Cleveland Ohio.  

Cops in this country are absolutely out of control.  They’ll taser anyone, mothers in front of their kids, grandmothers, they don’t care, a cop with a taser is a fucking menace to society.  

And now male officers forcibly strip searching women?  This is in direct violation of the Sheriff Department’s own official policy on strip searches.  

Videotaping this was fuel on the fire of this woman’s humiliation, but at the same time, it’s the only evidence we have as to what really happened.   According to the news report, the police are holding back other video, not providing it to the woman’s lawyers.

Sep 30

Arianna Huffington: Warmongering neo-con

So you can now add Arianna Huffington to the line of people who have jumped the shark and have now jumped on the “let’s go to war with Iran because Iran is evil” bandwagon.

Fortunately, Glenn Greenwald absolutely kicked her ass in this videoclip from MSNBC.

I find it very dismaying that Arianna Huffington would find herself in a pro-war-criminal, pro-Israeli, pro-neocon position of advocating the “evil” that is Iran.

Anyone with half a brain can see that Iran has every reason in the world to defend itself any way possible, seeing as how both of its immediate neighbors have been invaded by the United States, that the President of the United States called Iran one of the “axis of evil” and now even Barack Obama is 100% backing the right-wing Israeli desire to stigmatize Iran as some sort of WMD promulgating, crackpot, irrational and dangerous regime.  

It most certainly is not.   This whole bullshit about Iran is coming 100% from Israel, and can someone remind me again why America is Israel’s bitch?

Anyway, here’s Glenn Greenwald, a small voice of reason in the media cacophony of the bloodthirty insane:

I cannot express the disgust I feel at Arianna Huffington for taking Israel’s side in this.  Israel is the greatest threat to world peace on the planet.  Bombing Iran could easily start World War III.  

Let’s hope Russia keeps things under control by saying it will back Iran.  If it weren’t for Russia, we probably would have already bombed the shit out of Iran and killed untold thousands of innocent people, unleashed god knows what kind of radioactivity into the world and started the biggest war since WWII.

Sep 30

Loyalty to the Party, The President, and The PEOPLE

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Will Democrats stand up and filibuster their own Party’s proposal?

Will they stand up and filibuster a Public Option that their President wants?

Will they stand up and filibuster a Public Option that 65% of The People want?

Yesterday Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, and Max Baucus, voted against even the weaker Schumer Public Option. Though not on the Finance committee, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and our old fiend Joe Lieberman are also quite suspect when it comes down to siding with a Public Option over the Corporate Option.

Here is where we stand. Once the Baucus Finance Bill clears committee, it has to be merged with the HELP Committee Bill in Senate Conference.

Chris Bowers lays it out for us:

Sep 30

As a young man on Medicare

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted on here (health issues).  But given the recent developments concerning a certain senate committee, I’d figure it was time.  So yes, this is another healthcare reform posting.  I’ve been reading the ones posted on here, and my take is from a different perspective.  You see, I’m disabled and I’m on Medicare.  Frankly, I think you should be on it too.

Sep 30

The beatings will continue until support for a PO improves. Getcher Sticks & Carrots here

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Beatings of a rhetorical sort, of course

    Senator Olympia Snowe all but admitted that a Trigger on a Public Option is total bull yesterday. She basically proved that she is NOT bargaining in good faith, and that if there were any illusions that the trigger she supports is designed to never be pulled, they are totally gone now. How do we know this?

    Because Sen. Snowe VOTED AGAINST a Public Option twice.

    This proves (HELLO! ARE YOU FRAKKING LISTENING DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS?) that Sen. Snowe WILL NOT vote for an actual Public Option, just the idea of one, or rather, the idea of the idea of one.

    And why? What is Olympia Snowe, the Republican Party, the Insurance Lobbyists and at least 5 DINO Republocrat Senators afraid of?

    This quote from yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing sums it up best. . .

    “What are we afraid of? That Americans might actually like it?”

       ~ Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

    Yes. That is EXACTLY what they are afraid of.

    More and a call to action below the fold.

Sep 30

Flu and Gulags

Sep 30

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXVI

Art Link

Mouth

The Mind’s Mouth

After the eyes

look inward

the voice must

speak outward

Introspection begets conception

Reflection instigates creation

The soul must speak

its truth

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 6, 2006

Sep 30

dependent arising

  It’s 2:46 as I begin typing. I should arise no later than four hours from now and return to work for the first time after a number of days off due to a miserable cold, but that is dependent on actually being able to get some sleep.

 I want it all to stop; breathing out long, one last time, and then no respiration again of any sort, not here, not there, not as a bear, not under a chair, just no more. As a consolation prize I would like either a cloak of invisibility or the bus ticket object from The Lost Room. Annoying folk falling out of the sky near an abandoned hotel in Gallup, New Mexico? Better than that, how about I go to Gallup and annoying people go elsewhere, or just remain where they are, finding someone else to annoy?

 The annoyance is, of course, in my head. The one person who calculatedly annoys me I actually really like; this unintended under foot getting, unsolicited opinion having, and making off with things I create which the maker off with does not fully understand? The last bit requires action, intention, but seldom results in completion; running off with something I conceive and build that wasn’t done with others in mind is like breaking into someone’s house and stealing the junk drawer in the kitchen. Yeah, you’ve got it, but all of the loose screws, small knobs, and curious brackets in there are meant for the stuff in my house. All one can accomplish with such loot is making a variety of rattling, clanking noises, gaining my attention and displeasure in the process.

 I’ve had no fewer than three junk drawer burglaries in a row. In one direction the agents of a Fortune 1000 company sell something I half completed, to Google no less, without disclosing the source. A telecommunications morsel that simply wouldn’t work without someone with my background behind it has gone off like a large firecracker in the hands of the would be firecracker fence, ruining the possibility that I might make a living running it and leaving them sniveling to anyone who will listen about the product liability I face for them having gotten all ten digits in the mousetraps I store loaded in that particular drawer, having had prior experience with junk drawer stealers. The third one, well, I signed an NDA so restrictive I can’t even so much as write a humorous sidewise reference to it all, but, HA HA HA, I have experience with telecom project junk drawer stealers and I thoroughly trapped that one at the front end.

 Is it really so hard to agree to do something and then actually follow through? If you get a $100k grant because of something I did and you can’t even bring yourself to recognize the work, let alone share the proceeds do you think that won’t simply explode in your face? If you have an opportunity just sitting in front of you but you didn’t realize it do you honestly think you can ignore the guiding principle behind it, despite my clearly elucidating it, and not have it simply explode in your face? The last one is, alas, far more muddled, and seeing what I have wrought I wish to take it all back, but this is not to be. Intention, action, completion, and my own silent fourth estate – embarrassment at having facilitated it all in the first place.

 Before I thought to get between the human race and the three headed dragon of climate chance, fossil fuel depletion, and economic collapse I would at times amuse myself by posting mediocre erotica in various places are the internet in between games of Civilization II. Perhaps I should have stuck to stimulated admirers and simulated conquest?

Sep 30

Afghan girl killed by RAF leaflet drop

It’s the little things in life that turn out to be the big things.  By that I mean — as the cliche goes — what breaks the camel’s back is usually a mere straw.

I remember realizing one day that I would move back to Los Angeles when I was driving up into the Hollywood Hills after a rain, and smelled the Eucalyptus trees.  I realized I was going to move back there.  It just hit me.

I realized one day that I was finally going to escape from a bad relationship when my girlfriend made a very unusual but weirdly insignificant demand of me that she claimed would “fix” the entire relationship.   Later I was sitting out on the porch watching the sunset and it hit me — I had to get out.  

And in Afghanistan, what do we make of a leaflet drop killing a young Afghan girl?

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