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Below are the 15 most recent journal entries recorded in turtlevert's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
11:27 pm
Trail Mix ^_^
My sweetie packed homemade trail mix for me tonight. It has white chocolate chips, Craisins, golden raisins, and almond slivers.

She knows I have been wanting trail mix but not wanting to buy it cuz it's 'spensive.

Thank you, Babeheart--you made my night. ^_^
Monday, January 7th, 2008
4:41 pm
I am endorsing Mike Huckabee for the NH Primary, McCain is my 2nd choice
I am endorsing Mike Huckabee for the 2008 New Hampshire Primary election. (Voting takes place tomorrow: Tuesday, January 8th, 2008.)

I have to assume that Americans are well prepared to vote for another Republican president as they did in 2000 and 2004. On the Republican side, the candidate I like the best is Mike Huckabee. And he has already proven that he is likable and viable by winning the Republican caucus in Iowa.

I have been paying attention to the races for both parties for several months. I watched the latest Republican debate last night, and my feelings on Mitt Romney were confirmed. He is another rich man who sees no problem in painting things black and white--yes or no--"you're with me or you're against me", just like the current president. He badgered Mr. Huckabee about raising taxes as governor of Arkansas, challenging him to say "yes or no" and talking over him as Mr. Huckabee began explaining why the taxes were raised and what was accomplished. (And I would also point out here that legislatures raise taxes--not governors--this did not happen in a vacuum.) Talking over another person so forcefully is a dead giveaway to me of Romney's view of the world and his entitled place within it. When I listen to Romney, I hear a man who is a politician through and through, and who knows, understands, and concerns himself mostly with the situation of the rich and entitled. I don't hear him speaking genuinely. I hear him speaking strategically in order to win the presidency. He also presumed to speak for the other Republicans on the stage, saying more than once that they all felt or thought certain things. To me, that is inappropriate. One should only speak for oneself in a situation like that.

I'm not saying that Romney is incompetent or that he has never accomplished anything. He has accomplished things. What I am saying is that I don't see him as being a reasonable, level headed, GENUINE man with a truly caring heart. His ambition overrules his heart.

Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, is a man who came from modest origins. When the governor's mansion was being renovated when he was the governor of Arkansas, he decided to live with his family in a manufactured home rather than renting an extravagant house.

Whenever Mike Huckabee speaks, it is with a genuine honesty that is quite obvious to me. He is eminently respectful and level-headed. He doesn't see the world as black and white--he is more sophisticated than that. He doesn't start fights, and he doesn't butt in. At the same time, he expresses and defends himself well and with class. Here is a man, in my view, who is highly respectable and presidential.

That's why I'm voting for him.

Rudy Giuliani is much like Romney, and would represent a continuation of "you're with me or you're against me" presidential mindset. He is dangerous, probably even more so than Romney.

John McCain is a decent man who tells a few too many poorly thought out jokes and whose temper runs just a bit too hot, but, like Mike Huckabee, he also does not see the world as black and white and I believe he would make a good president. As a former prisoner of war, he understands that war is not something to be entered into lightly. John McCain is my second choice for the presidential nomination.

I encourage you to think very carefully about your choice in this election. Personally, I am not looking forward to a potential continuation of the current administration's viewpoints with a choice of Romney or Giuliani as president. That could represent eight more years of presidential depression for me, and vast damage to the country as a whole--and to the health and happiness of the people living in it (that's you and me and 300 million other souls). This election is serious business when it comes to our mental and physical well being. And I don't say that lightly.

I see great hope in Mike Huckabee. But I worry that the most conventional and the loudest will win. There is a lot at stake, just like there was in 2000. Like then, there is probably more at stake than we currently realize.
Saturday, December 29th, 2007
10:08 am
Recommended book: Break Through
When I originally read the book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn back in college in 1997, it helped throw me into a huge depression as I realized the huge problem we have as a culture.

Recently I read a book called "Break Though" by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. I wish I had had this book available to me then.

The basic message of "Break Through" is that people who are concerned about environmental/social issues spend so much of their energy complaining about what is wrong with the dominant culture that they have lost virtually all impact on actually making anything better. ("Conservatives" complaining about "liberals" who complain about everything and who are not willing to work for anything is one thing you'll hear.)

The authors of "Break Through" point out that at the beginning of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, he had told of all the oppression and all the hurting he had witnessed--it started as an "I have a nightmare" speech. Then, someone said to him, tell us about the dream! And of course, that is the part of the speech we all know today.

The authors of "Break Through" also say that most of us misunderstand the motives of Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubber tapper who was assassinated in 1988. In fact, they talk about Brazil as a symptom of the dominant culture's problems.

The authors want to start a new Apollo project to get the United States on track with new energy efficiency technology with a $30 billion annual investment. (Compare that to the spending in Iraq....)

Daniel Quinn said we can choose to stop participating in what he calls Mother Culture by simply walking away from it. There seems to be a strong idea in those of us worried by the track of Mother Culture that "technology won't save us" and hence there is a push for organic farming and self-sustainability and local community self-sustainability, which I think is wonderful. At the same time, we as human beings are such creatures of habit that those of us who have had access to technology in the "developed" world are going to want to keep it. And those who don't have it are going to want it (in places like China and India).

Knowing as an engineer that there is so much incredible amount of waste that doesn't need to be there, and that we can do so much better with some carefully selected new energy technology along with the mindset to go with it, the new Apollo project seems to make a lot of sense to me.

But agree with that or not, "Break Through" is well worth a read in my opinion because it speaks to the core of our attitude, as those who care about making life more livable for ourselves and all the inhabitants of the Earth. Read this especially if you have ever been massively depressed about environmental/social issues--and especially if you're just now entering college.
Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
1:23 am
Wingless flight

I want one of these. Finally, here is a vehicle that gives some real miles per gallon. The Prius is nice, but it still gets significantly less than 100 MPG.

The Aptera is set to change that. It has a horizontal teardrop shape with a very low drag coefficient. It is optimized to be the best aerodynamic shape to house two people side by side. It has three wheels, so there is no friction associated with a fourth wheel, and it allows air to slip easily underneath the vehicle as well as over the top of it.

It's promised to cost about $30,000 for the hybrid version and a bit less for the electric only version, with a fuel economy rating between 200 and 300 MPG--not bad at all.

Monday, December 10th, 2007
11:52 pm
So Much for my Happy Ending
You know that song Avril Lavigne sings in which she says "All this time you were pretending, So much for my happy ending"?

Every time I hear it I have this personal music video go through my mind in which I see the poor girl in numerous scenes at Friendly's (a New England restaurant) who was looking forward to her Happy Ending sundae at the end of her meal, only to be thwarted again and again. You know, she's fighting with her boyfriend and she throws it at him and the glass shatters in slow motion. Or it's the middle of summer and the waitress left it sitting around too long so it melted. Or she's about to take a bite and her friends drag her off somewhere while she angstily looks back toward it.

That's too bad, chick.
Friday, September 7th, 2007
11:19 am

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Sunday, May 27th, 2007
9:12 am
Another reason I am a vegetarian and don't eat seafood
The journal entry that follows refers to this article:

Discovery.com articleCollapse )

It is wrong to hunt a species so much that it is threatened with extinction. The ability of modern fishermen to deplete the oceans of their life is devastating. These species have a right to exist all their own. If you want to argue anthropocentrically, then the phrase, "we are only hurting ourselves" comes to mind. All too often we think we know it all when it comes to whether a species is harming us economically. In this case the shark that supposedly eats so much cod is probably actually helping increase the population of that species by eating jellyfish. And another few strands in the interconnected web of the marine ecosystem links fewer of these sharks with fewer scallops, oysters, and clams, all of which are seen on the menus of seafood restaurants.

How many fishermen do you think care about any of this while they happily reel in nets full of female spiny dogfish sharks? How many of you care about this when you order fish and chips? Did you even know about that time you were really eating shark and chips?

Oh, and Ben Stein... I think it is shameful how you have accepted money to help make us believe the oceans have an endless supply of fish.

Marine biologists should be given wide powers when it comes to deciding how much sea life should be taken out of the oceans, what kind, and when. In addition, the largest fishing vessels should be banned and retired from service. If you want to make a living catching fish, use a smaller boat. Fishing companies should be limited in size and in number of vessels. I'm sorry for all the fishermen who will lose their jobs. If we want to be sane as a culture, then we have to stop running rampant on the oceans. That's all there is to it. Let the biologists, the ones without any corporate fish company connections, take the lead and set the limits.

Do I expect us to act in a logical way when it comes to harvesting ocean life in the near future? No. I expect us to do so much damage that more species go extinct. It is so sad, but it is also what drives us as a culture--total dominance no matter what the consequences.

It will be our undoing.
Friday, April 20th, 2007
1:36 pm
I don't recall remembering that...
The Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, is either lying or utterly, totally incompetent. It's probably both.

No fewer than seventy-one times in hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Gonzales claimed a faulty memory. He did not recall meetings during which the firing of eight federal prosecutors was considered or in which the decision was made. The latest such meeting in which he gave the final approval to the firings, according to his aides, was on November 27, 2006.

The contention by Democrats, and the likely truth, is that Gonzales fired the federal prosecutors because of political reasons, which would have been unethical. Decisions made by federal prosecutors are supposed to be made based on the extent of the violation of the law, not because of the political leanings of the defendants involved. Most likely Gonzales and his Republican cohorts fired the federal prosecutors because they refused to go hard on Democrats or easy on Republicans who were in hot water. One allegation is that some of the prosecutors, who have the authority to decide which cases to try in court, refused to try Democrats in court for voting fraud, and this lack of cooperation with Republican strategists has led to their termination.

In any case, Gonzales communicated a deeply profound disrespect for the United States Senate and most definitely the people of the United States. Either that or he has severe memory problems, in which case he is clearly incompetent to lead the Justice Department of the United States. If he cannot remember what happened in a meeting in November of last year, how can he remember other policies, procedures, or cases?

I don't honestly believe that he can't remember what happened. I do believe that he is a liar who believes that he is immune from accountability and that it is unfair for anyone to question his motives. He believes he holds unlimited power and that the power flows from his friend, President George W. Bush. After all, he has seen Bush lie and cajole us into war and resulting atrocities in Iraq with no apparent negative consequence to himself, and firing United States district attorneys is small potatoes compared to that.

These people are in control of our government and they are dangerous. They lack morals and they lack any genuine accountability to anyone but themselves. They routinely engage in magical thinking about the world around them. They genuinely believe that the rules do not apply to them--that no rules apply to them. I suspect that the psychological development of these individuals (that include Gonzales, Bush, Dick Cheney, Carl Rove, and many more) has been very much different from the development that happens in non-rich, non-powerful, non-privileged, non-entitled citizens. I also suspect that they are massively frustrated with the existence of the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and its annoying tendency to get in their way. I have zero faith that, if left to their own devices, any of these people would choose to keep these founding documents of the country in place if they could choose otherwise.

If this is what we have to look forward to for government in the coming years, the United States of America is very much on a collision course with disaster. We the People will be crushed under the feet of those who have no moral comprehension of what their role in government is supposed to be.

By the way, President Bush said he was "pleased with the Attorney General's testimony" in a White House press release on Thursday. It is obviously "pleasing" to President Bush to praise bullshit.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
1:56 pm
I am depressed and angry. And I have been that way for a long time--ever since I took that course my freshman year of college at RPI. In particular ever since I read the book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. That was when I realized for the first time that things are seriously wrong with the world. Do you all realize what deep shit we're in? Now, most of us are pretty smart, at least on some level. (When I say us, I mean those of us living entirely within the confines of this culture--the one that Quinn would call the Taker culture--those of us who buy the majority of our food or grow it using agriculture). We know there is a problem. We know that things don't feel right. Hell, they feel downright awful, don't they? Sure we can find some comforts in our day to day lives. For most of us, there are people each of us love dearly--spouses, significant others, children, parents, friends. For me the person I love most dearly in the whole world is Kim. I also love the members of my nuclear family dearly, followed by others of my closest friends. I love Nature. To me, Nature is God. That is where the expression of God is strongest. I love being in the forest in particular, because that has been my strongest personal connection with Nature.

There are many people who would tell me that I am misguided. They would tell me that I am deifying nature, and that nature is not God. God, they would tell me, is separate from us. He is in Heaven. He knows that each of us is here and he can hear our prayers to Him, they would say, but He is definitely not in Nature. The earth [sic] is too imperfect for Him to be a part of. That's why He sent his so-called "only begotten son" to save us all. Furthermore, they would tell me, the Bible is the end all and be all. It contains everything we need to know about Life and God. The Bible is the thing. Without the Bible we would all be lost. The Bible, the Bible, the fucking Bible. Bible this, Bible that. If I can't find it in the Bible, then it didn't happen, it isn't true, or it isn't worth worrying about, they would tell me.

I have NEWS for you, Bible thumpers. The Bible is a BOOK, written by PEOPLE. It is an INTERPRETATION of God's wishes that has been written down by IMPERFECT AND FLAWED HUMAN BEINGS. The perfection of the Bible is the stuff of legend. A legend is a story that a culture promulgates about itself from generation to generation. How many legends do you know that are absolutely true in every way?

At this point, most of the people who consider the Bible to be their own personal God will tune me out because they can see even more clearly now than before that I am a hysterical heretic who is now in even more dire need of being saved by God. That is, those who didn't tune me out as soon as they saw the word "angry" at the beginning of this passage.

A lot of people in this culture who call themselves "Christians" believe that the Bible is an absolutely perfect book. I suppose they believe that because it says somewhere in the Bible that it is the Word of God. If George W. Bush wrote in a book that "everything in this book is absolutely true," I suppose these people would believe that absolutely too. But why? As I see it, people believe in the purity of the Bible because they have been scared into believing it somehow, or simply because they want to. It sure is convenient, wouldn't you say? Absolute belief in the Bible is an excellent way to avoid actually thinking about any problems. Something come up in life? Problem with the kids at school, perhaps? Just open your trusty Bible to find all the answers you need. Gay people in your neighborhood? The Bible will tell you everything you need to know about them. Drain clogged? Open up your Bible for inspiration! But whatever you do, don't actually put any of your mental energy toward thinking about the reasons for the way we live our lives now, or why there are gay people. Just know that they are evil because it says so in the Bible. What an excellent reason not to have to deal with them! What an excellent reason to condemn them as heretics! What an excellent way to avoid dealing with your fear of them.

Have you ever thought about the nature of the Bible? Have you ever considered, to start easy, that the mere fact the Bible is written in English means that us English speakers have a humongous advantage over those people for whom the Bible has to be translated?

OH WAIT, DAMN! The Bible WASN'T written in English!!! But we tend to read it as though it were. You know those italicized words in the King James Bible? How many people do you know who read them as though they are words that require extra emphasis? That's what italics are for, right? Those are the words you're supposed to emphasize when you speak them. But hold on: In the King James Bible, those words were added in from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in order to clarify the original language. But I'll just bet you that millions of people pick up a Bible and start emhpasizing all those italicized words in their minds as they read. I personally know people who have done it.

If they make that mistake, what other mistakes are they making? Perhaps they are making the mistake of going to church so they can hear an expert pastor/priest/minister/holy man explain the true meaning of the Bible to them. After all, he went to seminary or Baptist college or some other place to learn the secrets, didn't he? (And hmm, it's always a he, isn't it? Women obviously have nothing important to say about the Bible.) So, tell me about this man who is interpreting the Bible for you. Where does he come from? What does he know? What is his perspective? The first thing I personally would want to know is whether he has taken the time to be in and among Nature and appreciate it. Do you think the perspective of someone who took lots of camping trips that lasted weeks at a time in the wilderness with canoes and campfires and other people who appreciated his surroundings might have a little different take on the world than someone who went to daycare as a child and watched television for most of the day and whose most intensive exposure to nature has been in a city park? How about the pastor whose father (with a small f) raped him and his siblings almost every night, showed him pornographic videos on a regular basis, and drank himself silly with alcohol hidden from the mother but not the son? The same pastor whose mother was unavailable to him and his siblings when they needed her the most? Does that pastor's view differ from the one who had a father who beat him bloody with a belt when he discovered the boy had masturbated? Does his view differ from the pastor whose parents believed strongly that women are worth respecting and that children should be seen AND heard and should never be spanked?

Does it make any sense to you that a pastor/priest/minister/holy man who has suffered child abuse would be more likely to believe in a vengeful God who punishes his subjects than a pastor/priest/minister/holy man who was not overtly abused as a child? Does it make any sense to you that a man who is trying to teach the Bible and who has been raped himself is going to be a lot more hateful toward homosexuals than one who has not been raped? Does it make any sense to you that he would emphasize passages of the Bible that reminded him of his horrible childhood experiences? Is it possible that he would allow his personal hurt to shine through in his sermons plain as day if you knew where to look for it? Is it possible that he would paint his words about the Bible and God, just a little bit, with an angry brush? How about a male-privileged brush? No?

Presumably the Bible was passed down from God directly into their minds in Hebrew and Greek and written down through people who God could trust. There is zero chance that any of those men (hmm... men again... women weren't among this elite group of people who received the Bible, were they? God must really adore women. They're so homely and cute, aren't they?) were suffering from abuse or trauma in their own lives. Right? And the translators of the King James Bible were also perfect people, free of personal biases, right? They had to be the most perfect people on the planet at the time. I mean, King James approved of these people, right? And he was perfect, without any personal biases. For heaven's sake, they translated the original text by committee so there wouldn't be any mistakes. There is no chance that they would have chosen a word here or there that they thought their king might have liked better than another word. There is no chance that some event that brought stress to the kingdom--something like September 11th for us--happened in their kingdom, and they made the translation after that instead of before that. In any case, that wouldn't have affected how they saw the world anyway, and even if it did, their translation of the Bible would have been unaffected, because they were the most perfect translators available. The fact that they were all prestigious scholars and not, say, artists, or soldiers, or peasants, wouldn't have affected the way they looked at the world or translated the Bible either.

Here is one that may throw you for a loop. (Oh yeah, that was wishful thinking on my part again. Your mind is already made up. Why are you still reading?) Written language is flawed and limiting in and of itself, for a whole lot of reasons. As one of my favorite authors points out, all writers are propagandists. That means that they have an agenda they are trying to push, even when they don't consciously realize that is what they are doing. One of the more popular agendas the writers of the Bible like to push is that women should naturally be controlled by men. Another is that slavery is permissible. A common theme here is that it is natural that some class of powerful people should control other classes of people who are not inherently powerful. Do you think the people who were being controlled at the time the Bible was written were the ones who were inspired by God to write that down? Or was it the ones doing the controlling who miraculously received God's word directly in their minds so that pen could be put to paper? And so it follows from this that the Bible makes it abundantly clear that hierarchy is the natural state of humankind. And if it is natural that one man has every right to control another, then it is obviously right that God should be at the head of the hierarchy. It is natural for God to be the big boss in control of everyone and everything. The Catholics believe He has a direct line to the Pope. To suggest otherwise is heresy.

This may not surprise you, but I am about to suggest otherwise: The natural state of humankind is for people to live free without being controlled or having to submit to other people. Human beings in their natural state are free in the truest sense of the word. Human beings in their natural state do not pay taxes, do not pay rent (and do not have a "landlord"), do not buy food, do not trade their life energy for something called a "job" (and do not have a "boss"), are not harassed and killed by police, and are not limited and punished by something called a "government. Oh, and females are valued just as much if not more so than males.

Why else is written language flawed? I'll give it to you straight: Human beings in their natural state do not use written language.

I just lost most of the rest of the people who were still reading this. Their minds instantly seized up with the mantra that the last sentence in the preceding paragraph does not and cannot make any sense whatsoever. May I make some small attempt at an explanation?

Can you begin to comprehend the enormous platform that we are standing on as members of this culture? We are at the top of a cultural skyscraper, built floor by floor on the ideas of our relatively recent ancestors. At ground level, we have the Earth. The Earth is our Mother. She is the one who gives us Life. She is the one who sustains us. If we are honest with ourselves--if we are still capable of being honest at all--then we know this to be true on a visceral level. The Earth provides everything we need. She provides everything we are. If we love and cherish her, then our needs will be fulfilled. Human beings in their natural state are one with the Earth, what you and I might call the Environment. But there is more to it than this cold, disconnected word "environment" implies. All the plants, animals, and natural features of the world are the sisters and brothers of the human beings. The four elements of air, fire (sunlight), earth, and water are inherently known to be precious and are revered by human beings who live in this reality (the only true reality--in other words I imagine it does not get any more real than this). Soil is beautiful. Water is beautiful. Air, with its currents of water vapor, is beautiful. Sunlight is beautiful. Human beings who grow up in a culture on the ground floor outside of the skyscraper know how to live in the truest sense of the word. Their spirituality is virtually never lacking; their needs are all met. They know where to get what they need and how. Food is there for the taking--they know where to find it. Other people, along with other beings that inhabit the world, are there to be profoundly appreciated and understood and to share in the joys of Life. Their cultural legacy is passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. Songs and stories are painstakingly memorized, and entire festivals are held for the purpose of completely retelling and celebrating those stories. The stories are intimately connected to the land where they live. Without the land, the stories do not make sense. There have been human beings living this way ever since there have been human beings. There is no better, more genuine way to live.

The first floor of the skyscraper came when some group of human beings decided that plants and animals are there for the purpose of being dominated, or brought under their control. These people are the ones who put up the first fences around their gardens. They were the very first to come up with the concept of ownership. Other beings that tried to take away the crops that these people planted were declared fair game to be destroyed for the first time. This was naturally confusing to the other beings, because up until now, they could always eat whatever they could find. Now, if they ate from the wrong patch of land, they would be killed themselves simply for having eaten.

The second and third floors of this cultural skyscraper of ideas were built as the idea of private property began to take an even stronger hold, and the ones who declared the land to be theirs exclusively, along with all the sunlight and water that fell upon that land erected fences and expanded their land holdings. To build fences required cutting down trees.

The obsession to control more land grew. As the food was created from the bounty of the Earth, it was stored away for the first time as a surplus. Never before had humans kept a surplus of food beyond what they needed for themselves. The next floor of the skyscraper was the idea of enslaving not only the land, water, and sunlight, but other humans as well. These were the humans who little by little found themselves without land to live on. They needed food because they didn't have ready access to land that was fenced off, and they didn't have ready access to the food the people who had fenced off the land had stored away. In order to get at that food, the people who controlled the fences and the food stores agreed to give them some if they would work the land. Here we see the first landlords in history. Why should the people doing the planting do it for themselves when they can force others to do it?

Since the bounty of the land was being directed solely to the human population and the populations of animals that those humans had hand-picked to serve their needs, the human population began to grow. About now we see a specialization start to happen, in which the landlords who are having their needs attended to by others and no longer having to gather their own food can take up other pursuits. Let's add a few more floors to the skyscraper: Here we have the first military people, who could specialize in acquiring more land. Here we have the first priests who could specialize in numbing the souls of the increasingly unhappy population. Because the villages were getting too large for people to know every other person face to face, and because there were now people who needed to be controlled by the ruling landlords at increasingly great distances, the specialization of written language also began to develop. With this significant development, it became possible for the landlords, now elevated to royalty, to issue decrees far and wide to control what happened in their developing kingdoms. With written language, stories no longer depend on a particular context of place. Stories can be told about faraway lands and realms just as easily as they can about common everyday experience.

More floors: Science began be used as a way to control the resources of the Earth. Better ways to grow crops were constantly sought. And as the food was harvested, burgeoning populations required ever increasing access to resources. And understanding of physics led to the development of increasingly complex and powerful military machines so that the resources of neighboring kingdoms could be controlled. Economics developed too and you no longer had to know how to make the things you needed to support yourself as a human. Someone else could make them and you could barter and eventually use something called money in order to get those things that you needed, and if you could afford it, those things you simply wanted. Increasingly complex systems of transportation added important layers to the skyscraper. The simple interconnectedness of the people who were making and selling stuff furthered the wants of the royalty and the people and their need for written communication in the form of military and economic communiques.

The obligations that people had multiplied with incredible speed. Not only did people start to have to pay rent to their landlords by the use of labor, but they became beholden to their own property. They could no longer pick up and leave whenever they felt like it, but they had to drag all their stuff with them if they wanted to move anywhere. And so they began to stay in one place and collect more and more items. Highway robbery became more and more commonplace. If a person wanted what someone else had, all he need do would be to steal it.

Among all this, the exploitation of people with less power became more and more frequent. Physical and sexual abuse and assaults grew more and more commonplace as the perceived rights to have more things spurred the drive to take them by force. Children were no longer cherished creatures to be respected and taught. They were competition for resources and also tools to be used to gather those resources. Children made perfect laborers because of their boundless energy and their inability to care for themselves. When their labor became competition they were warehoused for the first time in schools to isolate them from the economic system for a time and to inculcate them with the directives of the ruling members of their societies. Above all they were taught to be inferior and to accept their lot in life, and to never fight back or try to be more than they were taught they were, which was cogs in a grand machine.

Out of this tradition, the Bible was eventually written to assist the priest class in the task of teaching the children to be submissive to authority, most of all God, who was very much in favor of the landlords, kings, and priests in power spreading His word to the poor unenlightened souls who so desperately needed His guidance through them.

Hypocrisy and fear became the reality of the people. You will suffer because God loves you, they were told. God hates our enemies, they were told. We are the ones who are just and right. God wants us to kill our enemies because they do not believe in Him. The people over there, who just happen to have the resources we want, are EVIL. They are definitely not sacred. Make God happy by destroying them. Only in this way can you show Him your Love.

Among the top floors of the skyscraper we have the idea that it is proper to use tools like computers, jet fighters, pesticides, and nuclear weapons, all with the potential to profoundly destroy the basics of life, and all by remote without ever having to look the beings we are killing in the eye.

I would argue that in the very top floor of this skyscraper are the people who say and absolutely believe when they say them, things like "America stands for freedom." And maybe, just maybe once or twice in their lifetimes, they look through the gun portals on that top floor of the skyscraper and they just barely make out something down below--hundreds--thousands--of floors down--that looks like land, maybe.

I guarantee this: Anyone who lives in this skyscraper is not free. Not on the first floor, or the ten thousandth.

I guarantee this too: This skyscraper cannot stand for very long. It is based on exploitation, and denial of reality.

When someone points out to us that we are living in a skyscraper, it seems all we can do is get angry with them and kill large numbers of them, and do our best to block our ears and stomp out their ideas.

The only true way to live is as an integrated part of Mother Earth.

~   *   ~   *  ~   *   ~   *

The way I see it as I write this, the people of this taker culture, particularly those of us living in the United States of America can be divided into three basic groups. When I talk now about the people of this culture, I mean the ones who have passed the discovery phase of their lives, and who now have a generally good idea of who they are. Let's say beyond the age of around 25-30.

The first group are the ones who believe that we have an absolute right to kick some butt around the world. In other words, the ones who think like and generally agree with George W. Bush. Has it ever occurred to you that President Bush has an extremely juvenile approach to international policy? It can be summed up as "Might makes right", or, "If I want it, then I deserve it, and I'm gonna take it," or, "If you hit me, I'm gonna hit you back a hell of a lot harder. If you didn't hit me, I'm just gonna pretend you did." Does this remind you of anyone? It reminds me of a 6-year-old bully on the playground who desperately needs some parenting.

This type of person believes that God is exactly like them, and that He wants exactly what they want. They don't read too much into the Bible. Indeed, they don't tend to use their God-given ability to think very much at all. These are some of the most insidious Bible thumpers, and their Bible thumping is a free pass to power among everyone who perceives the Bible as having important ideals that are threatened in this society. These Bush-like individuals are the ones who believe that God wants us to rule the world, and that anyone who doesn't agree with their views about God deserve to be silenced, subjugated, and/or killed. Included in this group are large numbers of evangelicals and people who spread the so-called word of God among their nearly soulless churches, full of intolerant, scared, jittery individuals who are extremely unhappy with their lives and are seeking some solace and panacea to make their bad feelings and other problems go away. Ironic that they call their recruitment soul-winning. These are the most fearful and paranoid among us, and the ones who are most disconnected from Mother Earth. The most fearful among us are the most likely to use force. And the most fearful among us are the ones who are the least likely to care what people who don't agree with them think, or what rights they have, or what they are.

The second type of person are the ones who understand on a personal level the reality and essence of Mother Earth. These are the Native Americans who are struggling to maintain their own cultural identity. These are the organic farmers and gardeners and activists. These are the people who recognize strength and beauty in diversity. These are the people who recognize the ability of every individual to contribute something very important to the lives of those around them. These are the people who recognize the power and profound beauty of women, which runs counter to the cultural messages we are all bombarded with. Most especially, these are the people who are doing something--the ones who recognize the problem and who are taking definitive action, large and small. Rachel Carson, who wrote "Silent Spring" in 1962, a book about the disastrous effects of the pesticide DDT, is one famous example. She did something. Al Gore's drive to get out the word about global warming is a more recent example. Like him or not, you have to admit that he is indeed making an impact on those around him.

And then there are the rest of us--the fence sitters. The ones who complain about the world yet are afraid to take very much action. Fear is real, and it is important, but it is so frustratingly paralyzing at the same time.  We feel like we have little power, and so we allow people like Bush to run roughshod over us. We feel like we can't do very much about the problems of the world, and so we watch while others lead the effort to make the world better.

Sorry, Bible thumpers, but I recognize you for what you are: dangerous. And I want to be among the Rachel Carsons and the Al Gores, not among the George W. Bushes.
Monday, March 26th, 2007
10:33 pm
On Vegetarianism and Compassion
Last week, Kim and I went to Subway in Rochester, as she mentioned in one of her posts. He made a comment when I got a second sub using a coupon that it didn't have to be the same kind that Kim had gotten, which was a vegetarian sub. So I said that we were vegetarians. He said they didn't get many vegetarians there, and he didn't understand how someone could be a vegetarian. So, I replied in my usual minimalist way that, "it's all about compassion." And he said, "I'm compassionate too."

When I talk about compassion in relation to vegetarianism I'm mostly talking about the industrialized animal industry that raises animals for food in our modern culture. Industrialization by its very nature is not compassionate. Industry means factories. Factories means turning raw materials into products. This is done by taking healthy people and putting them inside buildings surrounded by machinery for 8 or more hours a day in order to work the factories. That's bad enough by itself. Working in a plant making some gadget or gizmo or product on an assembly line--the same thing day in and day out--is a soul-killing activity for the people involved. It turns people into cogs in machines. People have to deny their innate desire to be outside and be joyous. I've worked in factories. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't aspire to it. The only reason I did it was to earn some money. I don't know anyone who enjoys working in a factory. Am I speaking Greek here or can anyone else see what I mean by this?

So in the modern animal factory, what happens? You have what amounts to an assembly line of raw materials in the form of live animals. Let's take chickens as one tragic example. You have chicks that are born and that are sexed so the males can be rejected and ground up (killed, to be explicit), and the females can be sent into their lifelong servitude as egg laying machines. Now, some people would argue that chickens are machines. I, on the other hand, would argue that they are living, breathing beings with their own purposes for living, and with the desire to live in a group and have a social pecking order and breathe clean air and drink clean water and search for grass and grubs and crickets and other bugs. As a compassionate human being, that is what I would like the chickens to have. Instead of that, they get put into the factory setting. First all the males are culled and ground up. Then the remaining females are debeaked with a machine that has a hot knife and resembles a miniature guillotine. And guess what? Chickens have nerves where their beaks attach to their faces. They can feel it, just like you would feel it if someone cut off your nose. Imagine that. They get put into cages with the most economically efficient arrangement, so they get stuffed into a cage where they have less than a square foot of space per chicken. Because of this stress they develop behaviors like pecking each other or rubbing themselves raw. That's why they were debeaked... so they won't peck each other. Economics dictate the level of crowding. Some loss of chickens is acceptable, but too much loss means slight relief of the overcrowding until a balance is found. Then the egg laying begins. And you'd better lay eggs, otherwise you're removed and killed. No ability to live a natural life, no personhood, no chance to develop and express a personality. They experience forced molting, a process that keeps them in bright light 24 hours a day for 7 days straight and then are starved for two weeks, which causes them to stop egg production and lose all their feathers. This prepares them to start laying all over again, instead of having a break at the onset of winter as chickens would in the wild. When the feeding starts again the air in the building becomes so thick with ammonia that workers can barely stand it and have to wear masks to go in.

And that's how you get eggs that cost half a dollar a dozen.

Industrial animal production means removing compassion from the situation. Doing what needs to be done economically speaking. Human beings look the other way while the animals suffer. Human beings lose touch with their own souls. Human beings are not meant to abuse and hurt and mistreat any other beings. When they do it, they become unhappy. They become cynical about the world. They laugh at the suffering of the animals so they don't have to face the hurt they have caused.

Some people say that animals have no rights. Some people say that it's entirely proper to put animals in confined spaces where they have no access to fresh air or water and where they can't move enough to turn themselves around. Hey, no problem, right? They're only animals. We have dominion over the bastards. God wants us to abuse them. Oh, I'm sorry, God doesn't see abuse as abuse in the case of animals. They're different. They're dumb, or something.

Well, I would say you've thrown away your humanity. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. That's what I say. The best test of your humanity--your compassion--is how you treat those who are helpless to stop you, be they children, elders, or animals. If you know they feel pain (Yeah, you can tell when an animal feels pain--the very same way you can tell when another human is feeling pain--by watching them and knowing how you would feel if the same thing happened to you.), then as a human who is alive with an intact soul and compassion, it's up to you to keep them from being exposed to pain.

Some people then say, well plants are alive too. Why do you eat them? The reason is that plants do not feel pain in the same immediate way that animals do. It's as simple as that.

Some people make a connection between vegetarianism and abortion. They think it's ridiculous that a vegetarian would be for abortion.

Guess what: anyone who is "for" or "pro" abortion is nuts. Abortion is a horrible, horrible process for everyone concerned. It ain't pretty. And the more advanced the pregnancy, the worse it gets to abort. Its only place should be as a last resort. Every effort possible should be made to avoid abortion by avoiding unwanted pregnancies. That's the very best thing to do. If you're not ready for a child, then don't conceive a child! Once the unwanted pregnancy has started, many women do choose to give birth to and raise children they aren't fully prepared for, and it can be rewarding even as it is difficult. Putting babies up for adoption is of course an option that many women also use, and that's great.

At the same time, there is no compassion in raising a child that will not have a good life. A mother who is totally undesiring to have the child--who is going to resent him or her--is one who should have the last resort option of abortion. A mother who is going to go into massive depression because she has brought a child into the world who she feels she has abandoned or who she knows she cannot care for and who giving up the child for adoption would bring no emotional relief should have the last resort option of abortion. There is no sense ruining the mother's life so the child can exist. The most important thing for a child to have is a loving mother. In some cases, that is known ahead of time that it will not be the case.

A child conceived by rape at an enormous disadvantage. To be conceived in an act of hate rather than an act of love is abominable. So much of a child's positive development happens in the womb. To force a mother to bear such a child--to take over her life and override her goals and dreams and to sap her life energy emotionally and physically because a rapist made a decision to rape, is one of the highest forms of undeserved male entitlement and misogyny, and will only result in an emotionally disadvantaged child. To force a woman to have a child when she is married to a man she knows is going to molest the child is also abominable. I don't believe that mere existence on this planet is worth it if the child's life is predictably going to be full of suffering. And so, I argue that there are some cases where terminating a pregnancy is the most compassionate act.

And I would argue that the child who is aborted, especially early on, suffers much much less than the chicken who lives day by day in the industrial setting I described just now. I don't buy the argument that just because you're not born human that means your suffering is not as significant as that of a human being. That doesn't make any sense to me.
Saturday, December 9th, 2006
10:15 am
Mad Blanks is published!
I recently published the website component I have been working on for so long. It is called Mad Blanks and it grew out of the code I wrote to put paper games on the RK website. Mad Blanks is used with website software called Joomla, which is used to make and manage complete websites. Joomla is extensible with components, modules, and plugins. Mad Blanks is a component and it has three modules that interact with the component. It can be used to make... a paper game! And along the same lines, it can be used to make Mad Libs. It can also be used for quotations, quizzes, and other things I haven't even thought of--it's designed to be flexible. I've had 63 copies of the component downloaded so far, so that's cool to see.

Here's its listing in the Joomla extensions directory:

Here's its listing on JoomlaCollection.com:

And here's the website I made for Mad Blanks:

I've started work on a website that will have Mad Libs for people to fill in and have fun with. I'll post again when I have something to share there.

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, October 13th, 2006
12:58 am
Here's an interesting variation on the concept of snail mail. The idea is to use RFID tags attached to live snails. http://www.boredomresearch.net/forceFrame.html?/realsnailmail/index.html
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
9:30 am
I took a quiz this morning from, of all places, Scott tissue. I wound up on their mailing list after I entered a sweepstakes online. In any case...

Your strongest sense is Right and Wrong

Doing things by the book. That's your style. Not one to rock the boat, you know that there is a time and a place for everything like how much to tip a server or when to keep your opinions to yourself. It's that keen awareness of right and wrong that helps you make a decision quickly and efficiently so you can move on to the next issue of the day.

Friends probably admire your ability to think on your feet and have confidence in your choices. And that's what makes you a good leader. So keep moving smoothly down the road of life. You're sure to go places!


Interesting that they got this result from this particular quiz, but I do think it fits me. I know my sense of right and wrong doesn't coincide with everyone else's, but there it is, all mine.

I think I am a good leader. In any given situation I can step up to the plate and make a decision that I think is in the best interest of a group. I do this all the time among my group of friends. I get frustrated when it seems that I am making decisions because no one else will... or when no one seems to want to give input. Everyone needs to give input for the best decisions affecting a group to be made. I love input! It seems to be a largely male/female thing, I think. Women in this culture in particular tend to not feel comfortable saying what they want. They may even suppress their own wants so much that they don't even know what they are. I'm not blaming them for it.... I know that's what the culture promotes. Even in these modern times... it seems like women should have a lot more say than they actually do. I have come to see that women really are in a bind when it comes to being leaders. It's very hard for a woman to lead without being seen as snobbish or bitchy. And so I all-too-willingly step up to the plate as a male to be a leader. And then when I try to let the women in a group lead more, if I even hint at my opinion on what to do next, they seem to roll over to let me get it.

I really do wish it wasn't that way. It would probably be quite an eye-opener to me to find out what real leadership by women would be like. I'm sure it would be a shock to my male-privileged self to truly be in a situation where women were really calling the shots. But I have faith in womens' ability to make good decisions. I imagine that no one would be better at taking the needs of everyone into consideration. They ought to be far better at that than men are. I have this fantasy about women being the only ones to choose who can go into public office. That used to be how some Native American cultures chose their leaders. The women chose who the male leaders would be. I wouldn't want there to be only male leaders in our culture, though. But that worked for them. The women chose the most reasonable and fairest men to be the leaders. And if they started doing stupid things that hurt the tribe, the women could remove the men as leaders. I would love to see how quickly W would be out of office if women were the ones in control of that and they could make an honest decision about it without fear of retribution.

I do enjoy being a leader, but I regret that some people are very reluctant to bring up their concerns and to make known what they think and what they want. I know it's hard, but I would encourage those people to try and speak up as best they can. I do very much want to hear what you have to say. If I'm the one leading, I especially need to know when I'm saying or doing something stupid... something that hurts someone. Because I really don't want to do that.
Thursday, July 27th, 2006
6:22 pm
You Are Sunshine

Soothing and calm
You are often held up by others as the ideal
But too much of you, and they'll get burned

You are best known for: your warmth

Your dominant state: connecting
Monday, August 15th, 2005
4:26 am
Hi mom
I'm a turtle. Hear me rawr!
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