Monthly Archives: July 2007

How the Public Library Became Heartbreak Hotel

Another great piece by Chip Ward, well worth a read. With my own family’s history of dealing with mental illness, and my own, this one hits close to home.

Tomgram: Ward, How the Public Library Became Heartbreak Hotel

The belief that we are responsible for each other’s social, economic, and political well-being, that we will care for our weakest members compassionately, should be the keystone in the moral architecture of a democratic culture. We will not stand by while our fellow citizens are deprived of their fellowship and citizenship — which is why we ended racial segregation and practices like poll taxes that kept disenfranchised Americans powerless. We will not let children starve. We do not consign orphans to the streets like they do in Brazil or let children be sold into prostitution as they do in Thailand. We are proud of our struggles to meet people’s basic needs and to encourage inclusion. Why, then, are the mentally ill still such an exception to those fundamental standards?

America is proud of its hyper-individualism, our liberation from the bonds of tribe and the social constraints of traditional societies. We glorify the accomplishments of inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, pioneers, and artists. But while some individuals thrive and the cutting edge of our technology is wondrous, the plight of the chronically homeless tells me that our communities are also fragmented and disintegrating. We may have gained the world and lost each other.

The Penan nomads of Sarawak, Borneo, members of an indigenous and primal culture, have no technology or material comforts that compare with our mighty achievements. They have one word for “he,” “she,” and “it.” But they have six words for “we.” Sharing is an obligation and is expected, so they have no phrase for “thank you.” An American child is taught that homelessness is regrettable but inevitable since some people are bound to fail. A child of the Penan is taught that a poor man shames us all.

Resilience

Please go to the link and read the whole article – this is an important concept our society lacks, and we need much, much more of this kind of thinking. I for one will be purchasing Chip Ward’s books soon.

Tomgram: Chip Ward, How Efficiency Maximizes Catastrophe

Resilience. You may not have heard much about it, but brace yourself. You’re going to hear that word a lot in the future. It is what we have too little of as our world slips into unpredictable climate chaos. “Resilience thinking,” the cutting edge of environmental science, may someday replace “efficiency” as the organizing principle of our economy.

Our current economic system is designed to maximize outputs and minimize costs. (That’s what we call efficiency.) Efficiency eliminates redundancy, which is abundant in nature, in favor of finding the one “best” way of doing something — usually “best” means most profitable over the short run — and then doing it that way and that way only. And we aim for control, too, because it is more efficient to command than just let things happen the way they will. Most of our knowledge about how natural systems work is focused on how to get what we want out of them as quickly and cheaply as possible — things like timber, minerals, water, grain, fish, and so on. We’re skilled at breaking systems apart and manipulating the pieces for short-term gain.

Think of resiliency, on the other hand, as the ability of a system to recover from a disturbance. Recovery requires options to that one “best” way of doing things in case that way is blocked or disturbed. A resilient system is adaptable and diverse. It has some redundancy built in. A resilient perspective acknowledges that change is constant and prediction difficult in a world that is complex and dynamic. It understands that when you manipulate the individual pieces of a system, you change that system in unintended ways. Resilience thinking is a new lens for looking at the natural world we are embedded in and the manmade world we have imposed upon it.

The True Cost of Things

This is an issue I’ve thought about for a long time now. The price of an object no longer includes all of the information we need to make a responsible purchase. If it ever did.

The True Cost of Things- Why Walmart S.U.C.K.S. by Richard Baynton

Every purchase is political.
Every purchase affects the environment.
Every purchase is your conscience.
Every purchase is a vote.
Every purchase is a prayer.
Every purchase matters.
Buy local. Buy little. Buy organic.
Live in the world you want to create.
Create the world you want to live in.

Wonder if this works on cats

Hmm, I wonder if this works for introducing new cats to each other. We’ll probably be getting a kitten soon since Selena seems to be truly gone.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Hampshire | Cold remedy stops meerkat fights

Animal experts from a family theme park have discovered an ingenious new way to stop their meerkats fighting, by using a humble cold remedy.

The staff at Paultons Park near Romsey, Hampshire, were concerned that their two existing meerkats would fight with three new arrivals.

They realised a decongestant rub, normally used to ease cold symptoms, could mask the African animals’ scent.

In the wild, meerkats normally attack newcomers to a group.

The five animals at Paultons Park have had the strong smelling rub applied to their noses to hide their scent long enough for them to get used to each other without any arguments.

I wonder if brown shirts are required….

cbs5.com – Signs Around White House List Dress Code Rules

New signs are posted around the White House indicating a new strict enforcement of the dress code, the Washington Post reported Thursday. The code applies to all visitors and staff members, including tourists.

Some tourists are finding the strict clothing restrictions at the White House un-American.

The forbidden items include jeans, sneakers, mini-skirts, t-shirts, tank tops and absolutely no flip flops.

The motivation for the clothing crack-down comes from the Bush Administration who think some of those who work there and those who visit just don’t dress appropriately.

Surrender

“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.” — Eckhart Tolle

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” — Julia Cameron

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” –Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” — Toni Morrison

The trick is to surrender to the Phlow!” — Trey Anastasio (frontman for the band Phish)

“Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.” –Bhagavad Gita

“I don’t know Who, or what, put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone, or Something, and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.” — Dag Hammarskjold

“We can escape the commonplace only by manipulating it, controlling it, thrusting it into our dreams or surrendering it to the free play of our subjectivity.” –Raoul Vaneigem

“The condition of an enlightened mind is a surrendered heart.” — Alan Redpath

“Prince Humperdink: Surrender! Wesley: You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept.” — The Princess Bride

My gray tabby Selena has gone missing

My little gray girl has been missing all day today. Since she’s an old girl, at least 14 if not older, I suspect she’s gone off by herself somewhere to move along.

Sigh.

A Brief History of House Cats

While 12,000 years ago might seem a bold estimate—nearly 3,000 before the date of the Cyprus tomb’s cat—it actually is a perfectly logical one, since that is precisely when the first agricultural societies began to flourish in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent.

When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and thus were domesticated long before cats. Cats, on the other hand, only became useful to people when we began to settle down, till the earth and—crucially—store surplus crops. With grain stores came mice, and when the first wild cats wandered into town, the stage was set for what the Science study authors call “one of the more successful ‘biological experiments’ ever undertaken.” The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control.

“We think what happened is that the cats sort of domesticated themselves,” Carlos Driscoll, one of the study authors, told the Washington Post. The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today. In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U.S. homes.

Argument

“Observe the attachment to your views and opinions. When you become involved in an argument or conflict, watch how defensive you become, and feel the force of your own aggression as you attack another person’s position. Feel the mental-emotional energy behind your need to be right and make the other person wrong, then let go of the force inside you that is fighting for power.” — Eckhart Tolle

“Don’t take the wrong side of an argument just because your opponent has taken the right side.” — Baltasar Gracian

“Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing” — Oscar Wilde

“I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.” — Dave Barry

“The most important thing in an argument, next to being right, is to leave an escape hatch for your opponent, so that he can gracefully swing over to your side without too much apparent loss of face.” — Sydney J. Harris

“What monstrous absurdities and paradoxes have resisted whole batteries of serious arguments, and then crumbled swiftly into dust before the ringing death-knell of a laugh!” — Agnes Repplier

Take a Number

The other day, Bush said he couldn’t understand why in the world would some people say that millions of Americans have no health insurance. “Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room,” he said.

Said this with the smirk, the insolent smug, contemptuous way he speaks to citizens.

People, particularly these politicians, these frightened beggars in suits, seem petrified about impeachment. It could wreck the country. Ridiculous. I’ve been around this business twice and we’re all still here and no politician was even injured. Richard Nixon lied during a war and helped get some 58,500 Americans killed and many escaped by hanging onto helicopter skids. Nixon left peacefully. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said on television that the Senate impeachment trial of Nixon would be televised and there would be no immunity. That meant Nixon would have to face the country under oath and if he lied he would go to prison. He knew he was finished as he heard this. Mansfield said no more. He got up and left. Barbara Walters, on the “Today” show, said, “He doesn’t say very much, does he?”

The second time the subject was Bill Clinton for illegal holding in the hallway.

This time, we have dead bodies involved. Consider what is accomplished by the simple power of the word impeachment. If you read these broken-down news writers or terrified politicians claiming that an impeachment would leave the nation in pieces, don’t give a moment to them.

It opens with the appointing of an investigator to report to the House on evidence that calls for impeachment. He could bring witnesses forward. That would be all you’d need. Here in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon came John Dean. His history shows how far down the honesty and honor of this country has gone. Dean was the White House counsel. Richard Nixon, at his worst, never told him not to appear or to remain silent in front of the Congress. Dean went on and did his best to fill prisons. After that came Alexander Butterfield, a nobody. All he had to say was that the White House had a taping system that caught all the conversations in the White House. Any of them not on tape were erased by a participant.

The same is desperately needed now. Curious, following the words, an investigator – the mind here sees George Mitchell and Warren Rudman, and you name me better – can slap a hand on the slitherers and sneaks who have kept us in war for five years and who use failing generals to beg for more time and more lives of our young. A final word in September? Two years more, the generals and Bush people say.

Say impeachment and you’ll get your troops home. — Jimmy Breslin

And here is the Attorney General today:

Check out this exchange with Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

S: How can you get approval from sedated Ashcroft?

G: Can I continue?

S: No, answer my question.

G: Obviously there was concern about Ashcroft’s condition. There are no rules governing when Ashcroft decides he is well enough.

S: He had given us AG duties.

G: We knew he was ill…

S: Not making progress. Moving on. Do you think constitution govt can survive if Pres has unilateral authority to reject congress inquiries for Exec Privilege and prevent prosecution of claim?

G: Ongoing matter, I am recused, I cannot answer.

S: I am asking about constitutional law.

G: You are talking about an on-going issue.

S: No. Answer.

G: I won’t answer – it is ongoing controversy and I am recused.

Leahy: Calls for decorum (room is protesting).

S: Won’t pursue. This is hopeless. You are not just AG, you are a lawyer. This is a fundamental issues separate from USA resignations. Other subject. Do you have a conflict regarding the firing of US AGs?

G: Yes.

S: Do you have a conflict of interest about Miers?

G: Yes. I won’t answer.

S: Let’s find one you will answer. How about death penalty case? Charlton contacted your office and said case was not appropriate for dp. Testimony that AG spent 5-10 minutes on the issue…is this accurate?

G: I have no specific recollection of this case. But we have a detailed process for capital case review.

S: I am not interested in that. I want an answer to my question. You don’t remember a case regarding a man’s execution?

G: I have no recollection of the conversation.

S: Do you disagree with the testimony?

G: I can’t agree or disagree.

America no longer has a presidential administration – it has a crime mob in charge.