2.28.2011

We aren't witnessing species extinction, we are species extinction.

The Dodo became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced mammals that ate their eggs. The Dodo is a perfect symbol for ignorance we humans have used to guide us in our short, but brutal, history. The Holocene is the name given to the last 10,000 years of the Earth's history, the time since the end of the last major glacial epoch, or ice age.

Since then, in general, the Holocene has been a relatively warm period in between ice ages. Ever increasing habitat destruction, pollution, and other factors are causing an ongoing mass extinction of plant and animal species called the Holocene extinction. Overall, the Holocene extinction is most significantly characterised by the presence of human-made driving factors, according to some projections, 20% of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct within the next 25 years.

Just as the advert for a satnav system says,"You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic." So too, We are not witnessing species extinction, we are species extinction. We're playing Russian roulette, we're in the game, we're not spectators. As yesterday's post showed we have no idea how much we don't know about the intricate interconnected world we are immersed in. We have no idea which day we'll be the dodos, but just like pulling the trigger in the other Russian roulette, it's obvious one day we will be.

When man interferes with the Tao, the sky becomes filthy, the earth becomes depleted, the equilibrium crumbles, creatures become extinct. Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, ca. 550 BCE

2.27.2011

Emergency warning! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops?

An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance website founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US. The letter, written in February by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”

The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho warn, "This could be the worst problem yet to be seen with genetic engineering. Scientists have been warning for years about the unintended creation of new pathogens through assisted horizontal gene transfer and recombination. This new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock and a threat to human health."

Yikes, of course i hope this story turns out not to be true, but there are dozens of sites running similar versions of it. Its veracity follows logically from our human hubris even in the face of our obvious ignorance about the 'collateral' and downstream effects of our follies. Only money matters, any quackery or flim flam that can seemingly side step the laws of nature are used by the capitalists to inflate their quarterly profits.

In a sane and moral world the Precautionary Principle, which has been simply stated as: "When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm" (UNESCO), would abolish GMO use. But not so much here on planet earth where the planet's plunder continues in the name of progress, where in the short term greed rules, but where in the long term nature bats last.

2.25.2011

Boycott Koch Industry Products

Facebook's Boycott and Defeat Koch Industries page features a list of Koch Industry Products [see below]. It's a great idea, the Koch brothers dance for power and money, the only way to bite them back is through their wallet. They've got their dirty little feet in enough doors that it might be possible to slam a few of them on their toes.

A couple days ago Wisconsin's Gov. Walker got spoofed by an underground reporter's prank call. So today i went searching for the transcript to see what the uproar was about. Read it here. In it Walker says to the prankster claiming to be a Koch brother, 'This is Our Moment' in regards to union busting generally. Walker and his Republican ilk in Wisconsin are emblematic of the TEA Party's refusal to tax the rich who caused every one's financial woes, who instead are using, Shock Dotrine style, these dark days to spread fear and to eliminate any/all opposition to their tyranny.

Boycott Koch Industry Products! « The Fifth Column

Koch Industry Gasoline:
Chevron
Union
Union 76
Conoco

Koch Industry/Georgia-Pacific Products:
Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper
Sparkle napkins
Vanity fair napkins
Zee napkins

Koch Industry/Invista Products:
COMFOREL® fiberfill
COOLMAX® fabric
CORDURA® fabric
DACRON® fiber
POLYSHIELD® resin
SOLARMAX® fabric
SOMERELLE® bedding products
STAINMASTER® carpet
SUPPLEX® fabric
TACTEL® fiber
TACTESSE® carpet fiber
TERATE® polyols
TERATHANE® polyether glycol
THERMOLITE® fabric
PHENREZ® resin
POLARGUARD® fiber and
LYCRA® fiber

Georgia Pacific Building products
Dense Armor Drywall and Decking
ToughArmor Gypsum board
Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood
Flexrock
Densglass sheathing
G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters)-
Agricultural Plaster
Arts & Crafts Plaster
Dental Plaster
General Purpose Plaster
Glass-reinforced Gypsum (GRG)
Industrial Tooling Plaster
Investment Casting Plaster
Medical Plaster
Metal Casting Plaster
Pottery Plaster
FibreStrong Rim board
G/P Lam board
Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing
Blue Ribbon Sub-floor
DryGuard Enhanced OSB
Nautilus Wall Sheathing
Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing
Broadspan Engineered Wood Products
XJ 85 I-Joists
FireDefender Banded Cores
FireDefender FS
FireDefender Mineral Core
Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard,
Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF
Wood Fiberboard -
Commercial Roof Fiberboard
Hushboard Sound Deadening Board
Regular Fiberboard Sheathing
Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

2.24.2011

World’s First Electric Powered Hemp Car to be Made in Canada

This morning's reading turned up The Kestrel. It's the world’s first production-ready hemp car. The electric car made of hemp is being developed by a group of Canadian companies in collaboration with an Alberta Crown corporation. The Kestrel cars will be built with the help of polytechnic schools in Alberta, Quebec and Toronto. The Kestrel will be selling for $25,000 CDN starting in 2012. "You can smoke it, you can wear it, you can eat it… and now, you can drive in it. Is there anything you can’t do with hemp?" - Jack Herer.com

The car's body will be made of an impact-resistant composite material produced from mats of hemp, a plant from the cannabis family. The material is being supplied by Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures, a provincial Crown corporation that provides technical services and funding to help commercialize new technologies. The hemp is being grown in Vegreville, Alta.

The Kestrel is one of five electric vehicles being developed by Project Eve, an automotive industry collaboration founded by Motive and Toronto Electric, an Ontario material handling and electric motor company, to boost the production of electric vehicles and electric vehicle components in Canada.

As a structural material, hemp is about the best as it has about twice the strength of other plant fibres. It doesn't require much water or pesticide use, and grows well in Canada, providing a high yield per hectare. Plus, it's illegal to grow hemp in the U.S., so it actually gives Canada a market advantage. The U.S. does allow the import of processed hemp. Cool eh!

So what happens when the Kestrel finally breaks down and is no longer drivable? Would it be environmentally friendly to invite a few friends over, order a pizza and watch it go up in smoke? - Autoguide

2.22.2011

The Little Fish

This morning my best friend Pancho's barking woke me up very early. She smelled a bear outside the hideout and chased it off as soon as i opened the door for her. She came back in but i never could really get back to a sound sleep. Sometimes during this half sleep-half awake state i have very lucid dreams. This one could be based on a story i read once long ago to one of my daughters or maybe not. Either way, the little story keeps jumping out of my imagination, so...

It's a story about three creatures who meet at the edge of a river one day. There's a little fish who can't find his way out to the ocean. He's hanging near the shore, he's beat and wondering what to do. Next thing you know he bumps into the trunk of an elephant who's having a drink at the riverside. Also flitting about is the elephant's best friend a butterfly.

The lost little fish says "the river has been blocked by an irrigation dam" and asks for suggestions from the unlikely pair. Of course the elephant's advice was to bellow as loud as possible then charge, head lowered, full speed into the damn thing to bust it apart.

The butterfly kinda shook its tiny head is amusement realizing that of course the little fish didn't have the personality or the mass the elephant had, and that the elephant's advice was worthless to the little fish. So the butterfly flew down real near the surface and whispered to the little fish [so as not to hurt his friend elephant's feelings]. "Just flap your little wings real hard and let the breeze blow you over the dam".

2.21.2011

Do Dogs go to Heaven?

 Apparently this actually happened.
These two churches face each other across a busy street.






















 
Kinda makes me proud to have been indoctrinated by the Catholics

2.20.2011

Global Grassroots Protests Focus on Class Struggle

The Facebook-Twitter-Web based protests of the Middle East have spread around the globe. Today's headline 'One World, One Pain': From Egypt to Wisconsin could well include Greece, France, Spain, anywhere in the US outside the gated communities, or the UK. One world, one pain, one enemy.

Well maybe a few. The bankers get bonuses, the corporations and banks get bailed out, the rest of us get austerity programs. Austerity means less spending on education [the rich have private schools anyway], health care, social services, etc. everything that non-rich type people need, especially in tough times. What austerity doesn't mean is higher taxes on the rich, the banks or the corporations.

One exploding grassroots internet movement is UK Uncut. They organize through Twitter what, in non-political terms, is called a flash mob. Right now they're shutting down 100's branches of Barclay's Bank daily. Their basic message is that all austerity programs, including the recent ones in the UK, are a choice. The governments choose to make the poor pay for the mess their rich greedy benefactors made and refuse to tax the rich they are totally owned and operated by.

Along with millions of others, mr. mud is pinning his hopes on a long shot. Hoping that the sheeple near and far will awaken, that the many will rise up against the few, that the flame of revolution will melt the divisions we've for so long allowed to stupefy us. The Internet Revolution is spawning internet revolutionaries especially among the global youth. One world, one pain, one enemy, one revolution.

UK Uncut: protests spread from Wales to Mississippi - Web and Twitter-driven campaign against tax avoidance gains foothold in America with 20 chapters across US

'One World, One Pain': From Egypt to Wisconsin - The great thing about solidarity is that it flows in all directions. You give it, you get it.

2.19.2011

Reductionism only works well on dead stuff, and even then...

My earliest memory of environmental angst came when encountered the statement: 'We can only shit in our nest just so long before we're nesting in our shit.' An oldie, but a goodie slogan wise, projection wise too. The consumer culture hurtles along casting its crap and by-products, externalities, behind them for others to pay. But there's already so much 'by-product' lining our cultural freeway we're seeing the blow back here and now.

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." - Aristotle. Reductionism was another huge pothole on my freeway. Reductionism, the logical basis of all the hard sciences, says that if you incinerate a duck and capture 100% of the gases, ashes and bits, this pile is the same as the duck. To which i answer 'QUACK'. The magic of life is in the quack not the ashes. "We milk the cow of the world, and as we do We whisper in her ear, 'You are not true.'" - Richard Wilbur

Holism understands that it is impossible to isolate and study one individual component in a living-interconnected-evolving system because its one variable dependent on other variables. Holism is an antidote to the illusion at the center of our worldview, the illusion that we are separate from our surroundings. This illusion of separateness allows us to further delude ourselves into clutching onto the delusion of dominion over creation.

The illusion that certain humans have a 'special' relationship with the divine. The illusion that all of creation was created as a resource for the true believers of some anthropogenic creed are at the heart of our abandonment the The Great Mother and the wanton destruction of, and shitting into, our nest. Reductionism only works well on dead stuff, and even then...

"The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees, and flowers." - Marija Gimbutas

2.18.2011

We Are All Egyptians

In Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Syria and beyond the vast majority can barely cover their meager needs, while the elites live lives of excess and greed. In Cairo we saw the people come from the slums into Mahrir Square, we saw the powerful in their luxury apartments overlooking the square having cocktails and lavish dinner parties. The same is true throughout the Middle East, throughout Africa, Latin America...

Same's true for the protesters in Thailand, in Burma, and China too. There is only one war, class war, the faces change from country to country, region to region, but the paradigm doesn't. As Anatole France said, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

The Iranian hypocrites are getting the worst press. Iran's elites supported the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, calling them as an "Islamic awakening" inspired by Iran's Islamic Revolution, but immediately clamped down as soon as their young Internet savy protesters hit the streets to demand freedom from the same archaic ruling mullahs. In Bahrain protesters face the monarchy of King Hamad bin Isa, whose Bedouin family has ruled the country for more than two centuries, i wonder if they tweet?

How different yet how alike our lives here are compared to those of our cousins around the world. Different in that far fewer of us are homeless-yet, far fewer spend half our income on groceries, far more still have dreams for their children. Alike in that the tyranny of the many by the few still forces millions onto the streets and into tent cities. We are all Egyptians, we share a common destiny, either we learn to equitably redistribute the wealth generated by the subjugation of our common birthright or we perish, some sooner, some wrapped in diamonds trying to eat their money a bit later.

"People's expectations have been raised and their tolerance for the old ways diminished. The remaining Arab regimes must now ask not if change will happen but how...The people are saying to their rulers: our countries, our futures, don't belong to you any more. They belong to us." - A Sense of Common Destiny

2.17.2011

Climate Change-Species Extinction-Ocean Acidity, All Symptoms of Same Disease

Materialism, conspicuous consumption, and the worship of 'more' are the disease. Climate change, species extinction, ocean acidity, polluted waterways, feedlots...on and on, are all symptoms of the disease and treating symptoms in most cases is worth less than zero because it just diverts one's attention away from the underlying disease's progression.

What to do? Of course speaking out against the outrageous destruction of our home is a beginning and an acknowledgement of one's understanding the cause of the problem. But doing is harder, doing requires changing and often being different. We live in a culture of fear, fear of the unknown, fear of body odor, fear of being different...fear. Freedom from fear, even for a moment, creates the space and time needed for individual action.

Action can start small and grow. The beginning of the path 'out' for me was the step into the cash economy. Buying local and spending cash is a small way to resist, is an empowering first step. For me it feels good to have less, to want less, to 'drop out' of the capitalist system that is consuming our mother earth, to read, to learn, to live freely through small acts of resistance.

Today Guy McPherson's site Nature Bats Last ran a great, but overly long, anarchist essay in favor of resistance to the machine. It concluded that, "Calculating people would not enter this fight, because we have so little hope of winning.We continue fighting, because we hate all authority, and love freedom, which cannot be given, but must be taken."

2.16.2011

Disambiguity-Clearly Defining Terms-the Road to Reason at Climate Etc.

Today at Judith Curry's blog Climate Etc. i read a fantastic essay by Terry Oldberg titled 'The Principles of Reasoning. Part III: Logic and Climatology' It's about ambiguity in language and semantics, about clearly defining terms from the outset, about how and why we're logically stuck in the climate change mud. It's a great read, but not short.

Disambiguity, or clearly defining the words being used, is key to forming a logical argument. Terry Oldberg's essay focuses on one set of terms about climate models and the projections, but not, predictions they produce. The question of projections vs. predictions is often used to argue that the uncertainty is so huge in the climate change debate we should do nothing. This is a multi trillion dollar decision, any attempt to curb emissions or build alternatives will mean huge financial gains for some and losses for others.

Seems that the pressure to not act, to continue business as usual, is building, in part at least, because those skeptical of human caused climate change say the uncertainty of climate models makes predictions impossible. True enough, but humans can and do act on projections not just predictions. Earthquakes are an example. Here in the lower mainland of BC all buildings are built to withstand big earthquakes. That costs big bucks, we have no absolutely accurate earthquake models either, but we can build projections and we do build reinforcements.

From urban Public Health to rural crop rotation, we rely on projections to inform policy because in the real world, this world full of variables those value is derived from other variables, absolute predictions about the probabilities of naturally occurring events are impossible. The road to reasonable action runs through error bars, projections and uncertainty plus a buncha unknown-unknowns, all of which allow a clear shot by the skeptical bushwhackers. Science is better at making accurate predictions about dead things whereas living things, interconnected things, kinda baffle reductionism into settling for projections.

Following Judith Curry's blog Climate Etc. is often difficult, always interesting.

2.15.2011

Dr. Pancho - My Therapist

Pancho came to live with us just over six years ago. She's been working her magic on us every day since, especially me. Every day begins with our greetings. As soon as my feet hit the floor i hear her tail waging against the side of her bed. Her love and devotion so perfect, her joy so sincere, every day starts on a high point.

"The behaviour of a four-legged friend will bring you peace of mind and joy to your life. Many people owe their lives to these humble creatures. There is no doubt in my mind that pet therapy works. There is much evidence that it works, not only with dogs, but also with birds, cats, horses, and dolphins. There have even been cases where wild animals have been pets. This article touches on how pets, especially dogs, can have a profound affect on your life and your viewpoint." - Pet Therapy - Better Than Drugs!

Science studies consistently show that petting a dog lowers a person's blood pressure, slows heart rate and breathing and lowers stress hormones. A U.S. pilot program for war veterans utilizing hospital therapy dogs as a replacement drugs in therapy for stress is a huge success. Small local volunteer groups like the one in Powell River BC have for years been bringing joy to all types handicapped folks and seniors in their areas. Hopefully i'll be able to join and help out in some manner as soon as i get the hideout moved up to Powell River 'South'.

Pancho always knows how to treat me no matter my mood, happy or sad, rant or rave, as long as i love her, she will always unconditionally love me back. No matter what happens Pancho will give me kisses and tell me in her way that everything will be alright. Pancho and i live our little lives together, and right now it's time for our hike in the park.

Prozac or Puppies? -You’re feeling a little down lately, and no matter what you do you can’t seem to shake it off. When you go see your doctor looking for some feel-good pills… he sends you home with a pug instead. Stanley Coren, UBC Psychology Prof, predicted this in 2006, and he’s starting to look a bit psychic.

2.13.2011

U.S. State Dept. and Pentagon Under Siege From Their Dictator Allies For Reassurance

The phones are buzzing, the emails flying, the planes-well they're flying too. Generals, diplomats and spooks are fanning out around the globe to reassure every autocrat, theocrat and dictator in their post cold war sphere that Uncle Sam still has their back...sorta. Publicly Washington is pedalling reform, but behind closed doors their advice seems to be 'nip it in the bud'.

Algeria seems to be listening, they had 30,000 riot police beat back 3,000 unarmed protesters, they sent the message. But they sent the old message, they tightened the lid on the boiling pot and turned up the heat. A person doesn't have to be a genius to predict the outcome. Suppression favors those resistors most willing to use violence. Violence begets more violence. The message from Cairo is that acceptance favors non-violent expression.

In both Tunisia and Egypt the army refused to fire on the non-violent protesters. This will be the key as the spark of resistance circles the globe. One ember landed in Bangkok's yesterday as many red shirt demonstrators carried Egyptian flags. They organized the flag carrying through...that's right, Facebook and Twitter. McLuhan was right again, the medium is the message.

So, here's the deal, neither the US or their bevy of dictators who've been keeping the world safe for the Corporate Criminals, while taking a cut for themselves of course, have gotten the message of the new medium. Respect-Existence-or-Expect-Resistance.

U.S. foreign policy officials scramble to stay ahead of Middle East tidal wave

2.12.2011

Wendell Berry Personifies Leadership From the Bottom

Wendall Berry walks the talk and always has. He's not afraid to take on the most powerful agribusiness or mining interests nor is he afraid of getting his hands muddy. Berry has spent his entire adult life writing about and working as a small organic farmer. After nearly 30 years of hard work on my own small organic farm nobody has earned my respect more than Wendell Berry has.

Berry has joined other activist,s retired coal miners and residents in a sit-in of the Governor's office in the Kentucky capitol. The mining corporations control the governments through donations and bribery so they can continue to extract resources without paying the true costs of their destruction. That's capitalism everywhere not just in coal country, externalize every possible cost and declare huge short term profits then let somebody else pay for the clean up generations later.

“This is not something we’re doing for pleasure,” said Wendell Berry, who has been active in the movement to abolish mountaintop removal mining for years. “We’re doing it because it’s the next thing to do after all our attempts to attract serious attention to these problems have failed. We’re doing this as a last resort. Our intention is to appeal first to our elected representatives and the governor, and failing that, to appeal over their heads to our fellow citizens.”

Wendall Berry personifies leadership from the bottom. Wendell Berry is the author of more than forty books of essays, poetry and novels. He has worked a farm in Henry County, Kentucky since 1965. "Berry is the prophetic American voice of our day."- CSMonitor. Wendall Berry and his cohorts are fighting the good fight, fighting for real change now and hope for the future.

2.11.2011

The Lotus Revolution Topples Mubarak in 18 Days-Power to the People

History changed today, checkmate. Today a small, non-violent, Facebook and Twitter connected group has seen its numbers grow into the millions, have toppled one of the Middle East's biggest tyrants and partying the night away in Tahrir Square and far beyond. All the way over here in British Columbia Egyptian x-pats are cheering for their victory, for the heroes of Tahrir and for their new hope.

The lotus flower is a perfect symbol for what we're watching from here to Timbuktu. The lotus flower appeared in legends originating from ancient Egypt. It played an important part in ancient Egyptian religion. The pure white lotus flower, the only plant to fruit and flower simultaneously, emerges from the depths of the muddy swamp. Growing from the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the usually white or pink, exquisite, Lotus flower rises above the water.

It's a proud day for the people of Egypt and the immense crowds are roaring their pride. It's a proud day for us all. There will be potholes, the jalopy could still fall apart, but today there's hope of a better world. What better neighbors and allies we all could be if we all were free and strong, all connected by our mutual empathy.

We are far from that glorious night yet, but the road map has been drawn, every two-bit dictator and self indulgent monarch are suffering acute diarrhea tonight. They're probably calling each other wondering who's next. Even outside the Middle East the ground is shaking under the feet of the recently omnipotent. An especially shaky bit of ground must lie under the tents of the Saudi Princes. Autocrats, theocrats and dictators everywhere had a bad day today.

2.10.2011

Trading the Future for a Few Dollars More

Canada, Harper's government especially, will do anything, including sacrificing Canada's future independence in pursuit of greasing the wheels of 'trade'. It's crap basically, the paranoid Americans won't let one extra truck through. The EU Times Online: In a shocking coup d’├ętat the United States this past week effectively took control of Canada creating what is being called by Russian diplomatic officials as the world’s first 21st Century “Superstate”. Wonderful eh.

Canada has resources, but nothing lasts forever-ask the cod fishermen back east, and the same mentality that wiped out a seemingly inexhaustible cod resource is now the mindset of the Harperites on every thing, especially oil. It's crap too, the in the ground will gain in value just sitting there, has to, more humans-more demand vs. limited and even diminishing supply=prices rising.

Ya'd think Conservatives and conservatives would be into conserving, turns out not so much. Conservatives wanna sell now, sell low, roll over short term thinking into shorter term returns, its so dumb. What about Canada's future? As a culture we value financial profit over life. We're trading in future generations of human beings — all of them — for a few dollars more.-Guy Mcpherson

It's like having a paranoid addict wanting to be your best friend. My tea leaves cry out 'danger', hitching one's little boat to a sinking tanker isn't just dangerous it's dumb. The tea leaves say America's depression is set to move north in the next few years. Could be time to re-learn a few lessons from the folks that lived through the last big post-greed collapse. The video below is a great place to start:

Great Depression Cooking - Baked Apples

2.06.2011

Mice Are People Too

Late last spring our old girl Holly died. She lived with us for 15 years. This fall the mice moved in. i'd sorta forgotten about mice. We've had cats everywhere we lived for the last 40 years at least. Time for a trip to the local rescue shelter. i'll be looking for a female for sure, in all cats-lions, tigers and house-the females do the hunting the males watch the Super Bowl.

Basically, mice are people too. i got nothing against mice, but like a lotta other neat stuff, from wasps to walrus, i like 'em better outside. But hey, i'm probably moving soon so it's better to wait for the feline defences until we have a bigger space. So figuring out how to co-exist with my new neighbors for a couple of months seems the best bet.

Been reading about how our new little cousins can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime-Yikes! Pancho and i live in an old motorhome right now and there probably a million little holes in the undercarriage. i guess holly just silently did her job these last few years since we moved in the RV. Been thinking about Holly a lot lately.

i've gotten the new neighbors settled into a couple of general areas, i'm keeping all the food in tight containers and the fridge. been reading up on the various no-harm traps but in reality they kinda come and go freely right now so i'd just keep catching and releasing the dumb ones. Or maybe the smart ones, it'd be like a free lunch with free holiday travel thrown in eh.

"Much like us, mice are highly social creatures. They become attached to each other, love their families, and enjoy playing, wrestling, and sleeping curled up together. Mice are complex, unique individuals with the capacity to experience a wide range of emotions. They are highly intelligent and natural students who excel at learning and understanding concepts. Despite the stereotypes of being "dirty" or "diseased," mice are fastidiously clean animals who groom themselves several times a day." - PETA

2.05.2011

'Free Egypt' Small on Space, Big on Heart

Today protesters are linked arm in arm facing down tanks outside the sheet metal barricade's. Beyond the tanks is a city of 18million descend into anarchy. Inside the barricades is 'Free Egypt', a small space full of men with bandaged heads, limbs and beaming pride. Inside volunteers distribute free meals from a liberated burger shop. More donations of free food, medicine and water roll in every hour from across Egypt.

Foreigners, especially camera carrying media types, are under attack by undercover thugs outside the barricades, inside they are greeted with warmth. Inside 'Free Egpyt' the mood is joy today. "I'll stay here until Mubarak leaves. I'm not afraid. We've broken with the fear we've lived with for 30 years," said Ibrahim El-Hakim, 59, a surgeon.

Aljazeera and CNN reports highlighted a unity in 'Free Egypt' which cuts across religious and ideological lines. It was both heart warming and surreal to see the people on both sides of the barrier agree on at least one thing...prayer. Hundreds of Coptic Christians formed human chains to protect their fellow Muslims from government forces and thugs during Friday prayers. Thousands on both sides put down their stones and iron bars, knelt and prayed. It was the largest prayer gathering ever in Cairo's largest square. What a sight to see, unity, "We are all Egyptians" they chanted.

Egyptians want what all people want, freedom to make their own choices, freedom to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, freedom to bring up their children in a world without the oppression they grew up under, freedom to hope for a better day.

2.04.2011

Animal loyality and labour is there to exploit and then discard.

All the other animals immediately raced back to the farmhouse to give Squealer the news. Only Clover remained, and Benjamin who lay down at Boxer's side, and, without speaking, kept the flies off him with his long tail. After about a quarter of an hour Squealer appeared, full of sympathy and concern. He said that Comrade Napoleon had learned with the very deepest distress of this misfortune to one of the most loyal workers on the farm, and was already making arrangements to send Boxer to be treated in the hospital at Willingdon.

The animals felt a little uneasy at this. Except for Mollie and Snowball, no other animal had ever left the farm, and they did not like to think of their sick comrade in the hands of human beings. However, Squealer easily convinced them that the veterinary surgeon in Willingdon could treat Boxer's case more satisfactorily than could be done on the farm. And about half an hour later, when Boxer had somewhat recovered, he was with difficulty got on to his feet, and managed to limp back to his stall, where Clover and Benjamin had prepared a good bed of straw for him.

For the next two days Boxer remained in his stall. The pigs had sent out a large bottle of pink medicine which they had found in the medicine chest in the bathroom, and Clover administered it to Boxer twice a day after meals. In the evenings she lay in his stall and talked to him, while Benjamin kept the flies off him. Boxer professed not to be sorry for what had happened. If he made a good recovery, he might expect to live another three years, and he looked forward to the peaceful days that he would spend in the corner of the big pasture. It would be the first time that he had had leisure to study and improve his mind. He intended, he said, to devote the rest of his life to learning the remaining twenty-two letters of the alphabet.

However, Benjamin and Clover could only be with Boxer after working hours, and it was in the middle of the day when the van came to take him away. The animals were all at work weeding turnips under the supervision of a pig, when they were astonished to see Benjamin come galloping from the direction of the farm buildings, braying at the top of his voice. It was the first time that they had ever seen Benjamin excited--indeed, it was the first time that anyone had ever seen him gallop. "Quick, quick!" he shouted. "Come at once! They're taking Boxer away!" Without waiting for orders from the pig, the animals broke off work and raced back to the farm buildings. Sure enough, there in the yard was a large closed van, drawn by two horses, with lettering on its side and a sly-looking man in a low-crowned bowler hat sitting on the driver's seat. And Boxer's stall was empty.

The animals crowded round the van. "Good-bye, Boxer!" they chorused, "good-bye!"

"Fools! Fools!" shouted Benjamin, prancing round them and stamping the earth with his small hoofs. "Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?"

That gave the animals pause, and there was a hush. Muriel began to spell out the words. But Benjamin pushed her aside and in the midst of a deadly silence he read:

"'Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.' Do you not understand what that means? They are taking Boxer to the knacker's!"

A cry of horror burst from all the animals. At this moment the man on the box whipped up his horses and the van moved out of the yard at a smart trot. All the animals followed, crying out at the tops of their voices. Clover forced her way to the front. The van began to gather speed. Clover tried to stir her stout limbs to a gallop, and achieved a canter. "Boxer!" she cried. "Boxer! Boxer! Boxer!" And just at this moment, as though he had heard the uproar outside, Boxer's face, with the white stripe down his nose, appeared at the small window at the back of the van.

"Boxer!" cried Clover in a terrible voice. "Boxer! Get out! Get out quickly! They're taking you to your death!"

All the animals took up the cry of "Get out, Boxer, get out!" But the van was already gathering speed and drawing away from them. It was uncertain whether Boxer had understood what Clover had said. But a moment later his face disappeared from the window and there was the sound of a tremendous drumming of hoofs inside the van. He was trying to kick his way out. The time had been when a few kicks from Boxer's hoofs would have smashed the van to matchwood. But alas! his strength had left him; and in a few moments the sound of drumming hoofs grew fainter and died away. In desperation the animals began appealing to the two horses which drew the van to stop. "Comrades, comrades!" they shouted. "Don't take your own brother to his death! "But the stupid brutes, too ignorant to realise what was happening, merely set back their ears and quickened their pace. Boxer's face did not reappear at the window. Too late, someone thought of racing ahead and shutting the five-barred gate; but in another moment the van was through it and rapidly disappearing down the road. Boxer was never seen again.

An excerp from 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell

2.03.2011

We Will Not Rebuild

The best tweet i've read, maybe ever, got forwarded to me today from a friend. It's written by a fellow named Mark Borchiver, it says, "Dear Egyptian rioters, Please don't damage the pyramids. We will not rebuild. Thank you, The Jews" It also might be the best psychological or political statement i've ever heard about the present Arab-Israeli situation. If every Arab and every Jew could have Mark's sense of humor, sense of history, just plain sense, in the Middle East, and everywhere else, what a wonderful world it would be.

History divided these Middle Eastern cousins of ours. Religion has fanned the flames of fear on both sides. Humor might be the magnetic force that could reunite what appears to be opposite poles into the unified whole they could and should be.
Imagine if, through whatever magnetic magic, these two cousins of ours could reunify. Imagine the potential of a united Middle East. Imagine what all we rogue primates could accomplish if we saw through the artificial divisions, if we were to finally recognize that what separates us is our fears. "Imagine", as John Lennon said, "there's no countries, to live and die for, and no religions too."

Who wins from these artificial divisions that so hobble our species? Who wins when we all live in fear of our cousins near and far? Who wins an endless war between cultures, races, or religions? The fear mongers win, the arms dealers win, the powerful, the already obscenely rich, the few all win. The many, us, we the people, are all made poorer because we allow ourselves to be controlled by division and fear.

We live in a world of plenty, we don't need the endless growth delusion and its built in destruction of the planet and our children's futures to elevate us all out of material and spiritual poverty. We need to step into our fears, we need to look up and see that we're dancing the puppet master's two-step. Step one, divide-Step two, conquer. There is no 'other' to fear, as Red Green says, "we're all in this together". The time has come to grab the strings making us dance their two step, to laugh at these foolish fears used for so long to divide us, to see that we dance together as one, that we always have and always will. We will not rebuild that old order, we will build a new order together with all of our cousins, together we will dance.

2.02.2011

There is Good News in the World

There is good news in the world. There are good people and bad people everywhere, in every country, of every color, of every religion. The news from Cairo is terrible. At every moment it seems to get worse. Heavy gunfire now rocks Tahrir Square[Independence Square in English] . There are good people there and bad people too. The smell of war, the smell of fear hangs in the air. The sun will rise over Cairo again soon, as it has everyday for billions of years. It'll shine on good and bad equally, a lesson from a star.

From here in BC, where both good and bad people live, many people are traumatized by the needless slaughter of innocent beings in Whistler. Why did they do it, why did they murder so brutally all those wonderful trusting creatures? Because the light of their empathy for all life was crushed by the pressure of their own expectations of material wealth. Because people, even good people, under enough stress are capable of incredible wickedness. There are many kinds of terror, many kinds of fear but no easy solutions.

As i sit here petting my dog Pancho with one hand and typing with one finger of the other, i realize we all have a choice every minute between our good and bad selves, we are all capable of wickedness. So too are we all capable of choosing to step into our fear, to act out of empathy in the face of terror, it's each person's choice each moment.

Partly it's what we see happening around us, but mostly our choices between good and evil are determined not by external forces but by our own inner view of those happenings. There is good news, there is light, there is love, compassion and empathy in the world. Today my best friend and i did our walk in the park, it's always the best part of our day. It seemed like "everybody and their dog was there" as one lady joked. We laughed and talked, listened to the roaring creeks, breathed the oxygen filled air. We met folks with puppies, folks with older best friends, in the park this morning our life was perfect.

There's other good news too, other good people doing deeds large and small everywhere. Some are the doctors and researchers who are trying and learning everyday just how little we know and trying to learn more. One headline in the western press today says Early bowel cancer detected by dogs in Japan. A Labrador retriever has sniffed out bowel cancer in breath and stool samples during a study in Japan, The dogs sniffed out bowel cancer in more than nine out of 10 cases. "The specific cancer scent indeed exists, but the chemical compounds are not clear. Only the dog knows the true answer”, says Dr Hideto Sonoda Kyushu University. i'd add 'to a lot of things'.

Dogs can show us the true answers to a lot of things, they are our teachers, if we'll listen. Dogs live in the moment as part of the totality, they love unconditionally. We have a lot to learn, as a grandparent, i hope its not to late.

Cancer-Sniffing Dogs, Making Sense of the Research
 
Dogs 'sniff out' bladder cancer