Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Catholic Church Recruits The Speaker Of The House

Marwa-The Young Sudanese Poet

In Sudan, the systematic rape of girls like Marwa and of women is a widely-practiced method of warfare.

In March a shaikh told the UN that, in Mornei in Western Darfur, up to 16 women per day were being raped as they went to collect water in the river bed (wadi). Women had no choice but to continue to go to collect water despite the threat of rape, because they feared that their men would be killed if they went instead.

The extent of the problem has yet to be fully established, as one refugee woman in Chad told an Amnesty International researcher in January: "women will not tell you easily if such a thing happens to them. In our culture, it is a shame, and women will hide this in their hearts so that the men do not hear about it."

Women make up a disproportionate number of internally displaced people, who have sought refuge in urban centres in the region. There they come under the control of the Janjawid and government forces and are at continued risk of sexual attacks. They also suffer chronic food shortage because of the Sudan government’s delays in allowing humanitarian access to the region. Currently only an estimated 50 per cent of internally displaced people have access to humanitarian assistanc
Wish You Were Here

Would the humans on this plant just stop this shit right fucking now?

Saturday Goddess Blogging

There's the "Story" of Cerridwen:

Once there was a witch named Ceridwen, and she had two children. The one, her daughter, was as beautiful a child as you could ever hope to see; the other, her son Morfran, was so ugly, ill-favored and stupid that he sickened everyone who saw him.

Ceridwen was grieved that Morfran was so horrible, and resolved by her magic arts to make him into such a great bard that no-one would mind his ugliness. She began to cast a great spell. Many were the plants that she cast into her cauldron, many the incantations said over it. An old blind man named Morda was set to keep the fires burning beneath it, assisted by a young boy, Gwion.

The Cauldron of Wisdom and Inspiration must be kept boiling for a year and a day, and then the first three drops from it would impart ultimate knowledge to the one who drank them. But the rest of the liquid would be deadly poison.

Long labored Ceridwen, roaming far to find the rare and exotic herbs she required, and so it chanced that she fell asleep on the last day of the spell. The boy Gwion was stirring the brew when three drops flew out onto his thumb, and they were scalding hot, so that he thrust it into his mouth to stop the burning. Instantly, he had the wisdom and inspiration of ages, and the first thing that occurred to him was that Ceridwen would be very angry.

He ran away from the house of Ceridwen, but all too soon he heard the fury of her pursuit. Using his new magical powers, he turned himself into a hare. She turned into a greyhound bitch, and gained ever more on him. He came to a river, and quick as thinking became a fish. She became an otter. He leapt from the water, and in the middle of his leap became a bird of the air. The witch Ceridwen became a hawk. In desperation, he looked down and saw a pile of wheat. He dived, landed, and as it scattered he turned into a single grain. Then she landed and became a hen, and pecked at the grain until she had swallowed Gwion.

Soon after, Ceridwen found herself with child, though she had lain with no man. When she realized that the baby was Gwion, she resolved to kill it, and Morfran wanted her to also, in revenge for his not becoming a bard. In due course, the babe was born, and Morfran would have slaughtered him on the spot, but the mother said no, because it was the most beautiful child ever seen. But she took him and, sewing him in a bag, set him adrift on the ocean.

And, Then, There's The Mythology of Cerridwen:

Cerridwen ("White Sow", or "White Crafty One") is the Welsh grain and sow-goddess, keeper of the cauldron of inspiration and goddess of transformation. Her son Afagddu was so horribly ugly [that] She set to making a brew of wisdom for him, to give him a quality that could perhaps overcome his ugliness. Every day for a year and a day She added herbs at the precise astrological times, but on the day [that] it was ready[,] the three magical drops fell instead on the servant boy, Gwion Bach, who was set to watch the fire. Instantly becoming a great magician, the boy fled from Her wrath, and as She pursued him they each changed shape--a hound following a rabbit, an otter chasing a salmon, a hawk flying after a sparrow--until finally the boy changed to a kernel of wheat, settling into a pile of grain on a threshing-floor. Cerridwen, becoming a black hen, found him out and swallowed him down.

Nine months later she gave birth to Taliesin, who would be the greatest of all bards.

Called "the White Lady of Inspiration and Death", Cerridwen's ritual pursuit of Gwion Bach symbolizes the changing seasons. Her cauldron contains awen, meaning the divine spirit, or poetic or prophetic inspiration. Her link as the Mother of Poetry is seen in Her reborn son Taliesin, and in the Welsh word that makes up part of Her name, cerdd, which also means poetry.

Cerridwen signifies inspiration from an unexpected corner. Plans may go awry; projects may change. Do not be too quick to hold a project to its course--instead let it take its shape as it will.

The name, itself, is pronounced ke-RID-wen. It is of Welsh origin, and its meaning is "fair, blessed poetry." [In] Celtic mythology, [it is the] name of the goddess of poetic inspiration [and] the name of the mother of the legendary sixth-century Welsh hero Taliesin. . . . Ceridwen is a rare female first name

So, ok, it took me all of two weeks to get to focusing on a goddess of poetry. Shoot me, pursue me as a hawk, swallow me up as a piece of grain. You knew that when you picked me up and warmed me at your breast.

To modern Wiccans, Ceridwen is She who stirs the cauldron of birth, and life, and death, and rebirth, and life, and death, and rebirth and life and, well, I think you get it. Her cauldron, symbol of her womb and precursor to the Romanticized/Anglicized Holy Grail, is where everything dead goes to be cooked down to its essence, which then, like the herbs in a bubbling cauldron (think soup pot if you don't have a cauldron), blend with the essences of everything else in the pot in order to create something completely new. A mere three drops of the wisdom contained in an understanding of that process is enough to impart wisdom that can overcome any handicap, wisdom that can transform a kitchen-boy into the greatest poet that the world has ever known.

We Wiccans chant, "One thing becomes another/In the Mother/In the Mother. One thing becomes another/In the Mother/In the Mother."

Now, as the year itself begins to die, as leaves fall from trees and are transformed into the earth from which new trees will grow, is a good time to think about Ceridwen. What parts of your life need to die and return to the cauldron, to the womb of the Mother? What change do you hope to see in the next year-and-a-day (the traditional training period before a new member could be initiated into a coven)? What transformations might wisdom work within you when it splatters, hot and unexpected, on your thumb? Who will be so angry to see you acquire new wisdom that they will pursue you mercilessly, changing, themselves, as they pursue you? Are you still willing to stir Ceridwen's cauldron?

Much, much more on Talesien here.

Compare And Contrast

In the reality-based universe.

In the Republican bizzaro make-our-own-reality universe.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Scared Of Xians

Wow. Check this out from the Huntsville Times, via Witchvox. That's Huntsville, Alabama, BTW

The woman who called me was concerned that I had given mention to a group who lets a group of Wiccans sometimes use their facility.

"Do you know they are witches?" the lady asked me.

"Yes," I said. "And Wiccans are hard to find because they're scared of the Christians."

The woman was silent for a long minute.

"And you're the Faith & Values editor?" she asked, sounding like she hoped I wasn't.

Yes, Ma'am," I told her, "but I don't write just about Christian values."

She was silent a long time more. I tried to think of something to make her feel better.

"They're good witches," I said.

The caller hung up.

The article, which I'm prejudiced enough to be surprised to see in an Alabama paper, goes on to note: In "The Cost of Certainty: How Religious Conviction Betrays the Human Psyche," Jeremy Young, a former priest who is now a family therapist, traces the worst sins of the faithful to their beliefs. Whether the Crusades for us Christians or the bombing of civilians by Muslims, the impulse to destroy or to limit others based on their beliefs seems to spring from obeisance to an inflexible, judgmental God, and from the believer's personal desire to know this God beyond any doubt.

Knowing God beyond any doubt, Young points out, puts the believer outside the bounds of faith.

Sam Harris, an atheist, wrote "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason," an exploration of how religious certainty leads to attacks on humans. His latest, "Letter to a Christian Nation," responds to the hundreds of letters he received after his first book, letters he found to be "murderously intolerant of criticism." He has written his letter-book to answer the worst of those missives. He diagrams how every religion, including Christianity, holds in it the seeds of intolerance and argues for a culture based on provable facts, not religious myth.

These books and the concerned caller brought to my mind the wisdom of Islam: "O people!" God says in the Quran, 49:13. "We made you into nations and tribes so that you may come to know one another and not to despise one another."

I suppose the lack of certainty, with some unfortunate exceptions coughwitchwarscough, is one of the things that I love about Wicca. So often, when some either/or question comes up, my answer is, "Yes." Is divinity immanent or not? Yes. Are the gods and goddesses real or are they representations of divinity in a form we can comprehend? Yes. Is everything relative or are there moral absolutes? Yes. My prayer every morning says "It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more. I'm off to add both of these books to my wish list.

The Party Of Hurting Children

Rosa Brooks explains that Foley was just taking the Republicans' policies to their logical extreme:

This combination of irresponsible tax cuts and out-of-control spending guaranteed that there would be little left over for the crucial social programs American children need, such as meaningful spending on healthcare, job-creation and anti-poverty programs.

The result was predictable. From 2000 to 2005, the number of American children living in poverty went up by 1.3 million, and the likelihood that any given child is poor increased by 9%. (Incidentally, Washington, D.C. — the one region of the United States under the direct control of Congress — had higher child poverty rates than any state in the nation, with 32.2% of children living under the poverty line in 2005.)

Why I Love Twisty

Twisty is particularly good at catching the bullshit notion that male=normal. My own favorite example of this phenomena occurs at my firm every time they have to define "business casual." They basically say that it's slacks, dress shirts w/o ties or sweaters or polo shirts, and an optional blazer. Then they say, "Women should wear something comparable." I've been begging them for years to say that business casual is either some nice slacks with a blouse or sweaters or polo shirts and an optional blazer and that men should wear something comparable, but, so far, no luck.

Once In A While, A NYT LtE Hits The Nail Directly On The Head

To the Editor:

“A Complex and Hidden Life Behind Ex-Representative’s Public Persona” (news article, Oct. 5) is a treatise on the nature of the closet, where pretense becomes a way of life.

The risk is that deception becomes normalized, artifice takes the place of reality, and the ability to discern legitimacy is compromised.

Mark Foley is a particularly extreme example, but the closet is a dangerous place — for everyone.

Russell Granger
Brooklyn, Oct. 5, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ninety-Eight Point Six Is Likely Gone Forever. Welcome To The New Normal.

How many different ways are there to keep saying the same thing?

The Earth is dying. Did you ever see anyone die of a fever? Once, when my little brother was a baby, he got a fever that climed too high, too fast. He had convulsions from it. My parents got him to the hopsital at the last minute where they immediately submersed him in an ice bath. I believe that he's still seriously emotionally and physically scared by that experience. Well, Mother Earth has a fatal fever. We've run out of good options; the time to administer baby Tylenol and wipe brows with a cool cloth are all over. The only choice that we're left with is that terribly startling ice bath that saves the patient, although at quite a cost. Or, we can ignore the fever all together and watch the patient convulse and die. Oh, we depend on this patient for every breath that we take.

Today's LAT reports that: Rising temperatures in the 11 Western states from global warming will cause more pervasive droughts, a four-fold increase in wildfires and extensive die-offs in regional plant, fish and game habitats, according to a report Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation.

"The American West is truly on the front line," said Patty Glick, the federation's global warming specialist. "The latest science is painting a bleak picture."

To avoid the consequences of climate change, the 1 million-member wildlife organization urged national limits, following those recently adopted in California, on the greenhouse gases responsible for rising temperatures, such as carbon dioxide and methane.

The national appetite for energy, fed by carbon-rich coal, oil and natural gas, imposes a double penalty on the ecological health of the West, the group said. The search for fossil fuels -- drilling permits on public lands have tripled in six years -- disrupts fragile habitats, even as the rising levels of carbon dioxide alter the regional climate in ways that will make it impossible for many species to survive.

The federation report, called "Fueling The Fire," brings a regional focus to climate research findings from federal agencies, academic reports and science journals.

The researchers offered growing evidence that rising regional temperatures already have had an effect, causing warmer winters, earlier springs, less snow and more rain. That, in turn, has raised the risk of floods in winter and the likelihood of diminished water supplies in summer.

The winter snow pack, the source of 75 percent of the water supply in the West, has declined by almost a third in the northern Rocky Mountain region and more than 50 percent in the Cascades since 1950, the federation reported.

As the Western landscape becomes ever more desiccated, wildfires consequently become more common, more widespread and harder to control, experts said.

This past wildfire season was the most severe on record, said ecologist Steven Running at the University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation.

Keith Olberman Calls Bush A Liar

Just go watch.

Hiding Inside A Dangerous Cloak

Keith Olberman's prose often speaks better than it reads. Not tonight. Damn! I wish that I'd written this:

But if we know one thing for certain about Mr. Bush, it is this: This president — in his bullying of the Senate last month and in his slandering of the Democrats this month — has shown us that he believes whoever the enemies are, they are hiding themselves inside a dangerous cloak called the Constitution of the United States of America.
Minutemen Protest

Man, this does my heart more good than almost anything has in thirty-some years. This was how we used to do it back in the sixties. HatTip to pigboy at Eschaton
Ode to the Kilt

Oh. My. I need a moment, here.
Republican Traditional Values

Strange Fruit on George Allen's Trees
The Gods of Devastation


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

There Really Is A Flying Spaghetti Monster, May His Noodley Appendages Be Blest Forever

David Corn writes:

What's interesting about The List--which includes nine chiefs of staffs, two press secretaries, and two directors of communications--is that (if it's acucurate) it shows that some of the religious right's favorite representatives and senators have gay staffers helping them advance their political careers and agendas. These include Representative Katherine Harris and Henry Hyde and Senators Bill Frist, George Allen, Mitch McConnell and Rick Santorum. Should we salute these legislators for being open-minded enough to have such tolerant hiring practices? After all, Santorum in a 2003 AP interview compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and polygamy. It would be rather big of Santorum to employ a fellow who engages in activity akin to such horrors. That is, if Santorum knows about his orientation.

I have no problem with outing gay Republican staffers. You can guaran-damn-tee I'll be calling Allen's office(s) tomorrow. The one negative result of FoleyGate has been that it's taken the heat off of G. Felix Allen, Jr.

But, But, But, But, But . . . Clinton Got A Blow Job! In The Oval Office!

Harold Meyerson talks sense to power:

[T[he larger purpose of the Republican Congress has been to enrich the rich and to cling to power by all means necessary -- with the financial assistance of the grateful rich. Purging Hastert, like dumping DeLay, does not signal any shift in these priorities. Democratic candidates challenging Republican incumbents are well within their rights to note that their opponent voted to give control of the House to Hastert and DeLay in January of 2005 and to ask why anyone would think he or she would make a better choice next time. What would be different? After all, in not sharing what he knew about Foley with Kildee, Shimkus was merely following the Republicans' practice of cutting the other party out of all legislative deliberations and running the House of, by and emphatically for themselves.

And who are the Republican members of Congress who've opposed this? Who has voted for rules that allow Democrats to offer amendments to key bills from the floor of the House? Who among them would consider not just defenestrating Denny but also changing the way the Republican Congress does business? Nobody springs to mind.

Hillary Steps Up To The Plate For Webb

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed Democratic Senate candidate James Webb yesterday as he and Republican Sen. George Allen intensified their efforts to woo female voters in the Virginia campaign's closing month.

The high profile appearance by Clinton (D-N.Y.) at a fundraising lunch in Old Town Alexandria provided a needed boost to Webb, whom Allen has criticized for his past attitude toward women in the military.

While the former first lady was announcing her support for Webb, Allen was attending a similar function in Fredericksburg held by his wife, Susan, and Cecelia Howell, the wife of House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).

The Senate candidates' views toward women have become a central character issue of the campaign. Allen, who has had problems with questions about his racial sensitivity, has sought to shift attention to Webb's opposition 27 years ago to women in combat.

Further, Webb has said he was not wrong for participating in a national debate in the late 1970s about whether women should serve in the military. He has said he is "fully comfortable with the roles of women in the military today."

The most recent polls show the Allen-Webb race tied. Advisers for both camps said the winner Nov. 7 could be the candidate with an advantage among women, who account for 3.7 million, or slightly more than half, of Virginia's population.

Female voters helped Timothy M. Kaine (D) beat former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore (R) last year in the governor's race after Kaine offered messages about preschool, traffic and faith that were tailored specifically for church-going women in the suburbs.

WaPo goes on to note that:Webb campaign manager Steve Jarding dismissed Allen's appeal to women, noting that the senator opposes abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research -- two issues that Jarding said put Allen at odds with most women in Virginia.

"This is not a champion of women's issues," Jarding said of the senator. " . . . One of the Naval Academy graduates who initially joined Allen in criticizing Webb has now accepted his apology and endorsed the Democrat.

Clinton, who raised about $75,000 for Webb, praised him as a decisive leader who would stand up to the Bush administration. She said it was important to "replace subservient Republicans who are unwilling to ask the hard questions with Democrats like Jim Webb, who will."

Webb once called President Bill Clinton's administration the most "corrupt" in history. He has said his animosity was fueled by Clinton's attempts to get out of serving in Vietnam, where Webb was wounded and received several medals and commendations.

As for his support of women, Webb said yesterday that "probably the most important thing I can say about that entire issue is that there's a term in law, res ipsa loquitur , the thing speaks for itself"; he then introduced his top campaign staff members, five of whom are women.

. . .

When Susan Allen was asked whether she agreed with her husband's opposition to abortion rights, she said: "Labels are not necessarily a good thing. I believe George's record looking at that particular issue is excellent. He's represented Virginia values."

Hil gets a lot of flack for playing things too safe. She's put her money (bless her, because Webb needed it) and her star power behind Webb, who still is only even with Allen in a state w/ Diebold voting machines. She deserves credit for this.

I'd love to have someone other than Webb, who was a total pig about women in the military, to vote for. I don't. My choices are Allen, who's a disaster, and Webb, who's at least better than Allen, wants to get us out of Iraq, and will caucus with the Dems. I'm supporting Webb and so's Hil, which, given what Webb had to say about the Clinton administration, goes to show you that the woman can put personal grudges behind her.

You Need To Read This

(Tim Ream) TR: What has the reception been out there in the "War on Terror" America? What's it like being a radical speaker, and how do you assess the mood of the country as far as your audiences are concerned?
(Derrick Jensen) DJ: Well, I've just gotten back from one tour. I'm leaving on another one in a couple of days, and I'm pretty much speaking to standing-room-only crowds in venues that are both big and small.

One of the things I say that has been very well-received is that the most common words spoken by any environmentalist I know are, "We're fucked." People will say, "Well if that's the case then why don't you just kill yourself," and the answer to that is that "life is good." There are so many people out there who refuse to acknowledge how terrible things are because they think that means that their own life is going to be bad because life is going to hell on the planet. Those are the people who are at the periphery. The people who are actually working on these things say, "Well, of course, that just makes us work all the harder."

The other thing that is being received very well, that I'm actually a little surprised about, is that the next-to-last chapter in my book is called "Holocausts," and that arose because my publisher said that if you are going to write about hate you need to write about "The Holocaust." I objected to that very strongly for two reasons. One because there has been so much good stuff written about it, that I'm not sure what I could write about it.

The second is that I objected to the word "The" because at the same time Nazis were killing six million Jews, they were killing Romani, Slavs, homosexuals, intellectuals and Russians. At the same time, Japanese were killing Chinese. Twenty years before that the Turks were killing Armenians, and 20 years later the Americans were killing the Vietnamese. It's all kind of exemplified by a friend of mine who is a great activist, a Jewish woman who was down in Florida when Schindler's List came out. She went to it, and she said as she walked out that there were all these elderly Jewish women shaking their fists and saying "never again." What my friend said is that these women have never heard of the U'wa. I mean they've never heard of the Seminole, and they are living on Seminole land.

So I've been saying this, and I sort of expected that there would be some sort of a backlash for going after that sacred cow -- capital "The" capital "H" -- Holocaust and saying that this is the endpoint of civilization: assembly line mass murder. Instead, at one place the audience interrupted me with applause -- everyone is generally nodding in total agreement. This is one of those things we don't talk about.

So to finish this story about the way I tried to write about the Holocaust... I remembered something a friend of mine said about 10 years ago, which was that Hitler's big mistake was that he was about 100 years ahead of his time. The endpoint of a utilitarian worldview is what we see around us: the final turning of the living into the dead. Hitler didn't have a national identity card system like social security cards, he didn't have facial recognition software, he didn't even have fingerprints for the most part.

TR: Let me ask a couple of questions from what I would consider a more mainstream audience's point of view. They would be something like, "Well, you are only looking at the bad stuff, and gosh there has been so much amazing stuff from civilization. What about all the great art and miracle cures and so on? Why is it that you only want to focus on the bad?"

DJ: You know, I love Beethoven. I love baseball, except for the designated hitter and the New York Yankees. However, as much as I like the Seattle Mariners and Beethoven, they are not worth killing the planet. At the very least, I think we can be honest about the fact that our way of life from the very beginning has been unsustainable. I asked a friend of mine years ago, "If you could live at any level of technology that you wanted, what would it be?" He said, "That's a really stupid question, Derrick. We can fantasize about whatever we want but the only level of technology that is sustainable is the Stone Age. And the only question there is, really, is: What will be left when we get there?"

Any way of living that is based on non-renewable resources and -- as you know from my work -- any way of living that is based on the perception of the world as resources is by definition unsustainable. The central question of my work from the beginning has been, "If the destruction of the natural world isn't making us happy, then why are we doing it?" All these things are not really making us happy. We can go with whatever statistics you want on suicide, valium use or anything else.

TR: What about the argument that would say, "Can't we find a way to keep some of the good aspects of civilization without returning all the way to the Stone Age?"

DJ: Well I have two things to say. The first one is that if your way of living is based upon non-renewable resources, it's not sustainable by definition. What this means is that if you are going to have solar photovoltaics you've got to have copper wire, which means you've got to have mining which means you've got to have the infrastructure. You can't separate one piece of technology and hope that things are going to work.

I ask people all over the country -- and I think this a really important thing -- if they think we are going to undergo a voluntary transition to a sustainable way of living, and everybody laughs. I had one person raise his hand and say "yes" and everybody looked at him, and he said, "Oh, voluntary? Of course not."

It would be so wonderful if we weren't crazy and if we could actually try for some sort of soft crash. Yes, we'll be at the Stone Age, but we could sort of throttle down and come for a soft landing where we do things smart.

That's one of the things that's really central to my work. Most of the individuals in our culture are crazy, and the culture as a whole is certainly crazy.

One of the theses of A Language Older Than Words is that we have an entire culture suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder. We're incapable of forming relationships on both personal and social levels. If you've been traumatized, you come to believe that you've got to control your surroundings. You come to believe that all relationships are based on power, based on atomized individuals acting selfishly, as our economics would have us believe. Our culture has a fundamental death urge, and unless it's stopped its going to kill everything on the planet.

It would be wonderful if everyone was acting reasonably. If suddenly everyone woke up, we could throttle down and realize that instead of giving money to timber companies to cut down forests, we could give money to timber companies to reforest. Sure, but it ain't gonna happen.

I certainly fantasize about a soft landing, but I think we need to face what's going on. We need to look at history. What happens to communities that live sustainably? They get destroyed every single time by the dominant culture.

TR: With such a huge concept to relate to people, what advice do you have about how we can articulate this and bring it home to the much wider audience that needs to hear it?

DJ: I don't believe in arguing with people. If somebody says, "You know what? You are full of shit." Then I say, "OK, talk to you later." There is not enough time for me to waste. I'll present my position, and if they don't agree then that's fine.

One thing that I feel very strongly about is to approach people where they are. You can always find an angle. It's like a friend of mine says, "A lot of environmentalists begin by wanting to protect a piece of ground, and they end up questioning the foundations of Western civilization." But it's not true that that is the only place you can start. You end up at the same place by asking the questions deeper and deeper. If you start questioning race issues you come down to the same place.

One of the reasons I ended up questioning the foundations of Western civilization was my father&emdash;if his violent behavior wasn't making him happy, why was he doing it? But another part of it was that I didn't want to enter the wage economy. I would go to a job I hated every day, and I would see my dogs lying on the grass. I'd come home from a job I hated, and they were still lying on the grass. I realized then that the entire reason for evolution was collies. They're the apex. I recognize that evolution is not hierarchical, but that's the apex. We all think that we're the top, but we're miserable. Ninety percent of the people I ask say they hate their jobs. That's a perfectly appropriate way to dive in, to say, "OK, so why do we have to have jobs? Why do we have to have a situation where so few people control so much land?" You find out where people's concerns are, and then you see if you can relate the question of civilization to their concerns.

When they finally get the big picture, that the Stone Age is the only sustainable endpoint, the implications seem so overwhelming to most people that they seem to have a hard time coping. They just want to shut that off right away as some sort of wild-eyed, ridiculous fantasy. It's not that they don't agree with the logic that got them there, it's just that they can't handle the implications.

Well it's really hard to take in. I certainly sympathize with that position. The implications are huge. It's 6,000 years of history. It's big.

We're painted into a hell of a corner, and I don't see any good options. If I saw good options, I would take them. That's what a lot of the Europeans that came over here did. They saw the good option and became "Indians." That's really not an option anymore.

It takes big people to admit that we made big, big mistakes and to try to set them right.

TR: One of the high points of the book seems to be the realization that our collective liberal dream -- that we would be able to make some adjustments here, better laws there, enforce them differently, and all of a sudden we have a healthy, happy, sustainable Earth free from genocide, slavery and rape&emdash;is completely ridiculous. Trying to work with that point and with the paradox that life is still good, how do we begin to take on dealing with things as particulars? What's the direction or the process that allows us to actually start bringing this down?

DJ: When I ask how many people believe we are going to undergo a voluntary transformation and nobody ever answers yes, the next question should be, "What does that mean for our tactics?" The truth is we don't know because we don't talk about it. That's one of the things I want to do. We need to ask, "What do we want?" Do you want simply a place with fewer clearcuts, a place where the grizzly bears last another three generations before they go extinct? Do you want salmon to last another 20 years? Do you want to have three square feet of glaciers on the planet? What is it that you want? So one of the things I want to do is shift discourse.

The second thing of course is that I want to bring everything down. One of the things I think we need to realize is that the whole government-corporate entity, the whole culture, has been a culture of occupation. The first thing we need to do is to recognize and fully internalize the seriousness of the situation. Then we need to talk about it.

I think we need to talk our way through accepting that it needs to come down, and then we need to start making it happen. How do you do that? I don't know. I need to write my next book. I do know that I have a friend whose brother demolishes buildings. One of the things he says is that when you take down a building you try to put the charges in just the right place to avoid taking down the surroundings. I think that's a wonderful metaphor. I've got three metaphors for you here. That's the first one. We need to figure out where the charges go to take down a place.

Another one is Albert Speer, the armaments minister for the Third Reich, who said that the US carpet-bombing program of Germany in World War II was not as effective as it could have been because they didn't look for bottlenecks. The example he gave is that they would blow up a tractor factory, which meant that they couldn't build tank engines. However, they didn't hit ball bearing plants, which would have meant that they couldn't have rebuilt the tractor factory. So I think we need to look for where the bottlenecks are in our culture, and we need to try and hit them.

The third thing is that every morning I wake up, and I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam. So in the next book I'm going to write about how to take out a dam or even whether it's a good idea. There have been some salmon activists who don't encourage anybody to do that, because there's so much silt behind that it will destroy the river below, scour it out. I was saying this on a radio program, and some guy called in. He said that the Toutle River near Mount St. Helens was not only scoured by silt, it boiled, but in 10 years it came back. I need to write about that.

It's a really important metaphor because no matter how you look at the future, it looks really bad. The options are that we continue with this destruction of the planet and the destruction of individual liberties, peoples and everything else. The people 50 years from now will say, "Where the hell are the salmon. I'm starving to death because you wanted cheap electricity for aluminum cans."

Another possibility is that we effect some sort of a breakdown which is going to be really nasty. There's no denying the fact that a breakdown of the US infrastructure will be unpleasant for many.

I used to have this metaphor: We're locked in a room with this psychopath, and what are we going to do? But I don't think that's accurate. I think it's much more accurate to say there are five or six of us locked in this room with about 15 psychopaths who have guns, and there are about 150 people who are asleep. What are you going to do? I don't know what to do, but that's the question.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Educational Aids And Artistic Devices

You must go read The Swan Song of the Rubber Dong at Twisty's Place and you must go do it right now.

Qui Bono?

There's been quite a bit of speculation over who may have turned over sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to ABC's Brian Ross. The mentally-retarted intellectual midgets in the Republican Party and on Fox "News" say that it must have been the Democrats, trying to embarass the Republicans by leaking this information shortly before the November elections. Of course, that makes no sense. Had Hastert, Boehner, et al. done any investigation of this matter when first informed of it A YEAR AGO, and taken responsible steps to address the problem, it would be old news by now.

However, our crack reporters have done a bit of snooping and have discovered Ross' source. They actually didn't have to look too far. They simply asked themselves: QUI BONO? Who had the most to gain by putting Foley's Follies and Hastert's cover up on the front page? Once they asked themselves that one, simple question, the answer was obvious

Re-Enactment Of Foley E-Mails

Click here

Wingnut Heads Asplode! Boom!

Remember how upsetting it was to the wingnuts when Clinton got a blowjob in the Oval Office while talking on the telephone?

Boom! Boom! Asplode! Boom! Pow! Boom! Asplode!

Ovaries! Some's Got 'Em And Some Ain't

While Harry Reid sits in his office not listening to Bush and apparently unable to exert ANY discipline over the Democrats, ineffective and doddering, and John Kerry issues infrequent and ineffective letters in an attempt not to become completely forgotten between now and 2008, Nancy Pelosi continues to demonstrate that she's one of the few Democrats on Capitol Hill with any ovaries at all. She also appears to recognize a gift when the gods give her one and to be able to do something with it. She was on the floor Friday afternoon, while everyone else was packing up their offices for the recess, demanding an investigation of Foley's Follies and insisting that the votes be recorded.

Now, Roll Call is reporting that she's calling for Republican leaders to be forced to testify. No, not stand up and proclaim Jebuz K. Riest as their lord and savior. Stand up, raise their right hand (subtle sexism in that requirement, but we'll leave that for another day), swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and answer questions. Since Hastert, et al. wouldn't know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth if someone kerned it onto their backsides, that would be a fascinating episode and would likely lead to perjury charges (if not the delicious spectacle of watching, say, Hastert and, hell, let's bring him back, DeLay invoke the Fifth Amendment). I guess the reason they haven't repealed the right against self-incrimination, as opposed to, say, habeas corpus, is that they knew they were going to need it.

Simple Math

Someday, the 13 are going to beat the crap out of the 6. Stands to reason. They are many. We are few.

My Favorite Frederick Church Painting Ever

It doesn't reproduce well, but I've spent hours sitting in the National Gallery adoring this painting and, if the Goddess lets me, I hope to spend many more.

This Old Crank Is Seriously Deranged

Sweet fucking Kali on a calliope. Guess where they're going after Iraq?

It is funny as fucking hell how the WMDs always seem to follow the oil.

This, my friends, is the war that never ends.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Wall Street Journal Is Just Phoning It In

TWSJ (I'd link, but it's subscription-only because, well, because they are cocksuckers) says: in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails.

RIght. We've all seen how very cautions the Republican Party has been to never say anything that might upset teh Gay. Why, they're so politically correct, that it must have been some other party CYNICALLY BASHING ON GAY MARRIAGE FOR THE PAST TWO ELECTION CYCLES FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN RILING UP THE CHUMPS WHO COMPRISE THEIR "BASE".

TWSJ needs to pack it in if that's the best they can do. Come on, guys, it's as if you're not even trying.

What Athenae Said

I'm going to start a new blog. It's going to be called What Athenae Said. It will be a compendium of posts that say: "What Athenae said" and that link to, well, what Athenae just said. I think it will be brill.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Take The Test

You might be a fundamentalist xian if . . . .

Pride In The Old Ways

Kudos to the Baltimore Sun for a completely respectful and informative article about Pagan Pride Day in Baltimore. I was honored to join with some of these Baltimore Pagans, as well as many DC Pagans, at a Pagan ecumenical ritual earlier today (our coven was the good looking one!).

Sherry Martz and Eldridch did a nice job of leading the ritual, and Angela did, as she always does, a fantastic job of organizing the call to deity. (My coven did, as we always do, a great job of looking amazing.) I don't know the names of the drummers, but they were very, very good.

Lots of Pagans -- I'd be willing to hazard a guess that at least half of all Pagans -- practice by themselves, as what we refer to as Solitaries. It's wonderful to come out of the broom closet and spend an afternoon with all kinds of Druids, Witches, Asartru, and various other Pagans.

We chanted:

Take the gift of life and breath.
Take the gift of blood and bone.
Weave the magic, step by step.
Build the vision, stone by stone.

Check out Witchvox to see what Pagan Pride activities are being held in your area.

Call G. Felix Allen, Jr.

Thanks to Vicki, I see that Virginia's junior Senator, G. Felix Allen, Jr. (aka Mr. Maccacastein) took campaing donations from disgraced pedophile Republican Congressman Foley.

Call G. Felix Allen Jr.'s office first thing tomorrow and ask if he's given the money to charity, with interest. Ask him how long he's kept this tainted money, knowing that it came from a pedophile, preying on children who come to DC to serve as Pages. Let me know what his office tells you; I'm going to blog this like a sumabitch.

Washington D.C. Office:
204 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Main: (202) 224-4024
Fax: (202) 224-5432


Central Virginia Office:
507 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Main: (804) 771-2221
Fax: (804) 771-8313


Hampton Roads Office:
222 Central Park Avenue
Suite 120
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Main: (757) 518-1674
Fax: (757) 518-1679


Northern Virginia Office:
2214 Rock Hill Road
Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20170
Main: (703) 435-0039
Fax: (703) 435-3446


Central Virginia Office:
507 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Main: (804) 771-2221
Fax: (804) 771-8313


Western & Valley Office:
3140 Chaparral Drive
Bldg. C, Suite 101
Roanoke, VA 24018
Main: (540) 772-4236
Fax: (540) 772-6870


Southwest Virginia Office:
332 Cummings Street
Suite C
Abingdon, VA 24210
Main: (276) 676-2646
Fax: (276) 676-2588


Western & Valley Office:
3140 Chaparral Drive
Bldg. C, Suite 101
Roanoke, VA 24018
Main: (540) 772-4236
Fax: (540) 772-6870

Thanks to Vicki for the research!

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

I wrung my hands beneath my veil...
"Why are you so pale today?"
- Because I forced him to get drunk
On sorrow's sour wine.

How can I forget? He lurched outside,
His mouth was twisted up in pain...
Not touching the banister, I ran down,
I ran after him to the gate.

Gasping, I cried: "It was but a joke
All of it. If you should leave, I'd die."
He smiled a calm and horrible smile
And said: "Don't stand out in the wind."

8 January 1911, Kiev