Monday, December 06, 2004

Forced Psych Drugging of Schoolkids Banned by Law!

President Bush signed into law on the 3rd of December new legislation prohibiting the forced psychiatric drugging of schoolchildren. We'll see how well it works in application! For now, it's a red-letter day for those who have been active in working toward the eradication of the horrific influence of psychiatry on kids, such as my friends over at CCHR - the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. I've been a member since 1971 - the more you find out about psychiatry and what it actually does in practice, the more outraged you will become. If you know of anyone who has been the victim of psychiatric abuse, contact CCHR now!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Hats Off to a Reporter

This article in the NY Times (free subscription required to view it) brings my respect for the profession up a notch. Confronted with imprisonment for at least six months for refusing to name the source of information he used in a story, reporter Jim Taricani held fast to his principles and told the judge he took the protection of the First Amendment. The judge found him guilty of contempt and away he is going to house arrest.

Painful as it must be to Mr. Taricani, this is a much better thing to see than the demise of Dan Rather's career last month with the obviously bogus documents about President Bush.

Mr. Taricani basically says that naming that particular name would violate the confidence of his source, and since this all revolves around a bunch of racketeering in Providence, RI, would probably put his source at risk.

Tell the truth - go to jail...

My hat is off to Jim Taricani, a man standing on principal.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Foster kids overmedicated

Having been a foster child myself at times (back before the last ice age) this piece by the San Antonio Texas radio station WOAI really resonated with me: Foster Kids on Mind-Altering Drugs.

A three year old boy was given two different psychotropic drugs after a temper tantrum, plus Benadryl "to help him sleep".

Any parent can tell you that a three year old will throw temper tantrums, especially if they are upset at being separated from parents and siblings, in a strange environment with other children they do not know, and in the control of people who do not love them or care (in the long term) what happens to them.

Yeah, they are hard to handle. Even a happy, healthy 3 year old is a handful! Good food, a non-restimulative environment (including no television), no sugar, and plenty of sleep will give them a chance to find their bearings and be themselves.

What kind of deranged doctor would force mind-altering drugs on a pre-schooler?

What kind of doctor would put one child on 17 different medications at the same time?

Doctors with their own drug problems, as it turns out -- here's a brief transcript of the show:

"State records show one of the biggest prescribers in San Antonio is a radiologist. Sure it's legal, but what does a radiologist know about a child's mental health?

The Trouble Shooters also found some of these doctors have documented drug problems of their own. One case is Dr. Charles Sargent, a San Antonio psychiatrist. He's listed as one of the state's top prescribers of antidepressants to kids on Medicaid. The records we obtained show he also prescribes stimulants and powerful antipsychotics.

The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners put Dr. Sargent on probation in recent months because state records show he was busted for prescribing narcotics to himself, his girlfriend and her son. As part of his probation, he must submit to random drug testing.

He declined our request for an on-camera interview, but told me by phone the anti-depressant he prescribes is one that does have FDA approval for kids. He did not return our call questioning his suspension with the state medical board.

Another doctor who shows up as a frequent prescriber on state records is Dr. Benny Fernandez, the medical director at Laurel Ridge Psychiatric Hospital. Dr. Fernandez says his practice is primarily treating foster kids. He says psychotropics are necessary for a lot of these kids.

"I think the way we are moving now is using them as a last resort if we can," Dr. Fernandez tells Tanji Patton. Patton asks, "When you see more than 60% in one month period, that was looked at on medications, do you think it's being used as a last resort?"

Dr. Fernandez replies, "Well, those numbers seem a little bit high."

It's obviously NOT a last resort - it is the first thing the psychiatrists do.

The more you find out about what psychiatry is really up to, the more incensed you ought to become. For breaking news on this, and to report psychiatric abuses that you know about, go here: CCHR. I've been a member of CCHR since 1971 - CCHR has closed down hundreds of psychiatric hospitals for barbarities you would not believe without documents, and has gotten about 1700 psychiatrists jailed over the last 35 years for crimes against their patients. Just this last year they helped expose and pass legislation against the barbaric practice (in Italy) of bed confinement--basically wire cages around beds, in which psychiatric patients were kept for as much as a month straight.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Our Heart's Desire

Someone sent me today this quote from H.L. Mencken (1880-1956):
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Our current President is NOT a moron. Speech-impaired, yes. But I won't call anyone with a degree from an ivy league school, an MBA, and the ability to pilot an F-14 a moron. Now Jimmy Carter - that's another story...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Science and beauty

Interesting article on today.

The paths of most stars in our galaxy have for many years been assumed to be circular orbits around the center of the galaxy. It's not quite so simple, though. Recently some scientists found that there are "streams" of suns that are moving in toward the center, and others moving out away from the center, and one of them is actually headed our way!

It's not quite time to duck, though - it'll be 1.4 million years before it gets to its closest proximity to our sun - and it will still be about a light year away. It will pass through the "Oort Cloud" of icy, rocky debris that orbits our sun at that distance, and it will probably stir it up quite a bit. A few thousand years after that, we may see a lot more comets and asteroids heading our way.

There is a very cool 3D movie that shows the motion of our neighboring stars - you can see it here. It takes a long time to download, even on a broadband connection, so be patient. It's worth it: Star Motion Movie.

For background data, see this page.

And if you ever wondered why the similarity between the spiral shape of a galaxy and the shape of a hurricane, they do a fair job of explaining it here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Order out of Chaos

My schedule has been full with design projects and getting the ranch I live on ready for the winter rains and snow, and building an annex onto our office, so the posts have been few and far between.

I am happy to finally have a few minutes to spend posting to my blog.

As spirits in a material world, we are continually putting order into the chaos of the physical universe. I am constantly amazed at how much order is required to be put in, so that one can merely continue to live the life one has chosen, much less get ahead! We have a fairly big ranch and lots of animals, which means fences to maintain, pens that need cleaning, water lines that break, ponds that leak, and trees that fall down where they shouldn't.

To paraphrase the Red Queen in "Through the Looking Glass", one has to run twice as fast to actually get anywhere.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

No more income tax

I'm glad to see that President Bush is siding in favor of the national retail sales tax. It is my hope that over the next few years we'll see the IRS abolished and not replaced. Sales tax is already being collected by 48 states - one only has to add about 16% to the amount they are collecting and it will cover the income being collected by the IRS at this time.

What's fair about this? I'm already paying 25% in federal taxes. It shifts the burden of collection from me (a self-employed businessman), for one thing. No more keeping track of how something is going to affect my tax picture.

For another thing it taxes the whole underground economy. If a drug dealer buys a new Hummer, he's going to pay 16% federal tax on it. If a corporation buys a new headquarters, it will pay 16% on it.

The only things not taxable will be food, medicine, and perhaps rent. That way this will not impact as much on poor people, who are currently subsidized by me and millions of others like me. If someone buys an old used car from a car lot, they'll pay 16% on the car. But not if they buy it from someone who doesn't normally sell cars.

Think of it - no more temptation to lie on your tax forms!

As Will Rogers said: "The Income Tax has made more Liars out of the American people
than golf has."

No filling in 1040 forms of any kind. No keeping track of your itemizable deductions. The amount of time this will free up will cause a surge in productivity such as we've never seen before in the US.

And there will be an incentive to save money aside.

It's a beautiful concept - support it in every way you can.

Sign up here:

(I've been a member since they were founded years ago!)

Thursday, July 22, 2004


There's a new book that exposes the lies in Michael Moore's documentaries, called, appropriately enough, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, written by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke. It is promoted as "Loaded with well-researched, solidly reasoned arguments, and laced with irreverent wit..."

Book about lies by Michael Moore

You can get a copy here: Book: Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man for $22.95.

Monday, July 19, 2004

St. Pete Times

The St. Petersburg Times yesterday published a fascinating article about the expansion of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida.  Someone actually bothered to research the facts behind the articles instead of simply drawing on the stockpile of tired lies passed around by the Times newspaper chain, in which the St. Pete Times usually deals.  So it was with some surprise I read some real facts in this article:  Scientology in Clearwater.

Nice pictures of the new building in Clearwater, and some interviews of people I know that actually sound like them and don't appear to be taken out of context. 
Good fairly accurate news from the St. Pete Times.  Amazing, and how refreshing! 

Friday, July 16, 2004


The Quran, like the Bible, contains many prophecies and predictions.  This quote from the Quran making the rounds by email is interesting:
Quran (9:11) - For it is written that a son of Arabia  would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle  would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo,  while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.

The verse number seems fitting, too.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Michael Moore--the new Leni Riefenstahl?

Click the link to see a detailed rebuttal from Christopher Hitchens, worth reading if you've seen Michael Moore's latest propaganda film, Fahrenheit 9/11. It'll help set the record straight. The comparison of Michael Moore to Leni Riefenstahl is not misplaced -- as a film, it comes off as the same style of blatant propaganda as Leni's films did praising the virtues of the Third Reich.

It is my belief, from personal experience that Michael Moore's entire premise in his movie Roger and Me, that he couldn't ever get Roger Smith (Chairman of General Motors) to talk to him about various factory closings, was a lie. I had the good fortune to meet and talked with Roger Smith and his lovely wife Barbara, over dinner one evening. I asked Roger Smith point blank if Michael Moore had ever tried to get in touch with him, and he said that the first he heard of him was when the movie came out. He said he checked his records and could find no mention of Michael Moore ever trying to contact him. I have no reason to doubt Roger - when you meet him you learn he's a self-efacing man who would admit to the error of putting off talking to a film-maker like Michael Moore, if he had made it.

So it's no surprise to me that Michael is lying in this movie, too.

Believe what you will - what's true for you is true for you.

But read that rebuttal before you condemn President Bush for his tenuous family connections to Osama Bin Laden.

Here's another link that will open your eyes to more Michael Moore lies. Dave Koppel's List of 56 Deceits in Fahrenheit 911.

Friday, June 25, 2004

SpaceShipOne's First Flight

My old friend Stu Sjouerman of Sunbelt Software, who publishes the popular W2Knews zine for those using Windows 2000 server software, sent out some very interesting links in his newsletter. One of them was to some excellently commented photos of the first space flight of SpaceShipOne, which occurred on Monday, 2004-06-21. The site is published by Richard Seaman, a terrific roving Kiwi photographer. Here are his photos of SpaceShipOne's flight.

Two big problems on the flight got little play in the press - I read about them for the first time in Richard Seaman's comments.

As I understand it, first, the flight was nearly aborted, and the pilot nearly bailed out, when the craft rotated 90 degrees -- it went 20 miles off course in the few seconds it took for the pilot to correct the problem.

Then on the descent, the pilot described a loud bang, which probably happened when the craft re-entered the atmosphere at great speet (but not orbital speed, by a long shot!) which created a sonic boom and apparently did some damage to the rear section of the craft - you can see a crinkle in the shell of the craft just below the nozzle, in one of the pictures.

Live relay of the radio chatter to the crowd was also supposed to be piped in, but was not for reasons never explained.

The gist of it - space flight is a risky business. Even with private funds in great quantity, and plenty of testing, it's still risky.

But when they get the bugs worked out of it--which they undoubtedly will--and it goes through a few more evolutions in size, we'll have an orbital shuttle that will be cheaper, safer, and less prone to the beaurocratic errors that have led to the crash of two of the shuttles. By beaurocratic errors, I mean the beaurocracy that ignored the warnings from the engineers who warned about launching the shuttle with frozen o-rings in subfreezing temperatures, and the other engineers who warned that there could be damage to a wing from falling ice during liftoff.

Much as I hate to admit it, our shuttles are huge, overpriced, over-regulated, and over-engineered in some ways, while under-engineered in others, using antiquated technology. You know the old saw about an elephant being a mouse designed to government specs.

We may not have the technology to do this right, but we're getting there. And private industry will see it done.

Will we have "beanpoles" like those Heinlein described in his sci-fi? Long cables attached to the ground, with the other end attached to a satellite? Will we have ground-based mag-lev launch tracks that simply accelerate something like a boxcar to orbital velocity along an upward-curved track? I don't know. But rockets are risky, complex machines that have too many moving parts to work well ALL the time.

Let's go for something simpler...

Before I forget - here's a salute to the pilot -- no, make that Astronaut! -- of SpaceShipOne -- 63 year old Michael Melvill. Hats off to you!

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Occasionally one is startled by the quiet professionalism of someone who has been patiently working on his passion or "hobby".

What got me thinking about this was stumbling across the works of Russell Croman, an "amateur" astronomer. He has a 14-inch telescope in his back yard, with which he has taken some absolutely stunning photos. Here's one he took of the Orion Nebula:
Orion Nebula photographed by Russell Croman


It reminds me of an essay by L. Ron Hubbard, written in 1954, which is engraved on a plaque in my office:

Don't ever do anything as though you were an amateur.

Anything you do, do it as a Professional to Professional standards.

If you have the idea about anything you do that you just dabble in it, you will wind up with a dabble life. There'll be no satisfaction in it because there will be no real production you can be proud of.

There's more to that essay, which I try to apply to what I do. Russell Croman has certainly achieved professional results of which he can be proud.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"Emotional Lability"

I should stop reading the New York Times - it's just bad for my blood pressure.

Today's NYT insanity: 'emotional lability'.

Definitions of labile:

1. Open to change; adaptable: an emotionally labile person.

2. From chemistry: Constantly undergoing or likely to undergo change; unstable: a labile compound

From the New York Times today

Those children taking Paxil were reported by Glaxo-Smith-Kline's own data as follows:
In GlaxoSmithKline's trials, depressed young people given Paxil fared no better than those given placebos. It was a disappointing result for GlaxoSmithKline but had no effect on its application for the six-month extension. Still, a reviewer at the Food and Drug Administration noticed something strange about the trials: teenagers given Paxil suffered more problems of 'emotional lability,' or instability, than those given a placebo.

The reviewer, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, thought 'emotional lability' was overly broad. He asked the company to resubmit its data, this time using a separate category for suicide.

That report, given in May to both American and British health authorities, was alarming. Teenagers and younger children given Paxil were much more likely to become suicidal than those given placebos. In June, both the British and American authorities warned doctors against prescribing Paxil to youngsters. Worried that the problem could extend far beyond Paxil, the F.D.A. in July asked the makers of eight other antidepressants to submit data from their studies in youngsters.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag on the fact that children given paxil are twice as likely to have suicidal tendencies - and that there is NO BENEFIT beyond the placebo effect for the kids - the drug companies are retrenching. They are asking Columbia University to go through the data again and re-classify the "suicidal tendencies" so the drug will come up "clean" in the revised study.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is not at all convinced this is a good thing - Give 'em hell Charlie!

Some emotional lability is a good thing. One should not be stuck in grief if one is at a birthday party or a wedding. That's mis-emotional. One should not be stuck in cheerfulness when someone close to you dies. One should be able to move on the emotional tone scale, as appropriate. (The sci-fi movie, "Equilibrium" does a good job portraying a society where everyone is required to take their drugs at specified times during the day so they never feel anything.)

Too much emotional lability is a bad thing. One should not slide wildly from exhilaration to despair to grief to apathy to rage because of ingested chemicals--whether those chemicals are angel dust supplied by the corner drug dealer, or those supplied by Glaxo-Smith-Kline and cheerfully handed you by your neighborhood pharmacist.

The kids at Columbine who shot up the school and killed themselves were on psych drugs at the time. And there are many more instances of children NOT ONLY going suicidal on these drugs, but taking their fellows with them.

If you have kids taking Paxil - get them OFF! Re-defining "suicidal tendencies" as "emotional lability" is just the latest attempt of Glaxo to wiggle off the hook.

Related articles:

NY Times (free subscription required)
SF Gate - a well done satire.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A Lament for "Deanotations"

"Deanotations", one of my all-time favorite subscribed newsletters, is putting out its last issue. Dean Blehert has published it semi-monthly for the last 15 or 20 years, and his wife, Pam Coulter, has illustrated each issue with simply amazing line drawings.

The last one is on its way to me, so says Dean. There will be no more.

Dean tells me it is the end but I don't want to believe it.

I've got a file of Deanotations that goes back to the last ice age, or so it seems. It has been growing at glacial speed no matter where or how many times I've moved in the last 20 years. After this, it will be getting no thicker. When I die (some unthinkable time in the distant future) whoever has the task of weeding through my papers will undoubtedly toss the folder, thinking it of no value. How wrong they will be!

Deanotations was usually filled with "light", funny, touching poems - Dean is a master of puns and palindromes, sestinas and limericks - he can do it all well.

I like the space he makes for readers - it is a fun place with wide horizons where people play tricks on you and you can fall down dead and spring up again like the much-abused Roadrunner.

He's moving on, says Dean.

I find I want to stow away with him to wherever Dean is going.

When I was reading more today from The Genius of Haiku, which is a condensed version of the works of R.H. Blyth, this section reminded me of Blehert's gentle humor, so ably expressed in his poems:
The fundamental thing in the Japanese character is a peculiar combination of poetry and humour, using both words in a wide and profound yet specific sense. "Poetry" means the ability to see, to know by intuition what is interesting, what is really valuable in things and persons. More exactly, it is the creating of interest, of value. "Humour" means joyful, unsentimental pathos that arises from the paradox inherent in the nature of things. Poetry and humour are thus very close; we may say that they are two different aspects of the same thing. Poetry is satori; it is seeing all things as good. Humour is laughing at all things; in Buddhist parlance, seeing that "all things are empty in their self-nature", and rejoicing in this truth.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Common Sense Government

My friend John Eberhard of has a new article posted on his website, about the failings of liberalism. John's clear and cogent style is good to read - there's little hype in it and it does make common sense. Not that there's no controversy in it - in fact he's being attacked on one of the lists I belong to for being part of the conspiracy to "re-define" the word "liberal".

That's pretty much already been done, and by the liberals themselves.

The tenets of liberals today would not be recognizable to those who called themselves "liberals" 40 or 50 years ago. Nowadays liberals have boxed themselves into a platform of support for the downtrodden victims of the world. As John explains in his article, when you spend all your time and resources helping victims - you are encouraging the self-creation of whole classes of victims who have somehow gained "rights" to their entitlements. John's article exposes what a crock this is!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Haiku - more insight

I've gained more insight from reading R.H. Blyth's notes on Haiku than I ever expected to get. He says well what I dimly understood, and in clarifying things has made me more appreciative than ever of the beauty of this medium of poetry.
...the art of haiku is as near to life and nature as possible, as far from literature and fine writing as may be, so that the asceticism is art and the art is ascetisism.

That's the minimallist "Zen" concept behind and reason for hauku that is only dimly realized in the West - the reason for its perceived sparseness and discipline.
What distinguishes haiku from (other forms of) poetry is this physical, material, sensational character, and it might be termed what Buchanan called the pre-Raphaelites, 'the fleshly school of poetry', but with no sexual implications.
The self in haiku should be looking out, not in. These are not introspective poems - they are 'exo-spectrive' poems. And for that I am grateful.

Drug companies under investigation - at last!

From the website belonging to the Aliance for Human Research Protection - comes this list of recent and long-overdue investigations into drug companies:

March 25, 2004 - the US Attorney in Pennsylvania announced an investigation of ELI Lilly's marketing promotion of Xyprexa (olazapine), Prozac (fluoxetine) and Evista (raloxifene).

April 19, 2004, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court against Eli Lilly, accusing the company of heavily promoting Xyprexa as a safe and effective drug for psychotic disorders, while virtually concealing the risks of side effects from doctors and from the patients. Zyprexa has been linked to severe side effects including diabetes, hyperglycemia and pancratitis. In 2002, both the Japanese Halth and Welfare Ministry and the UK Medicines Control Agency issued emergency warnings concerning Xyprexa and diabetes-related complications.

May 13, 2004, Pfizer pled guilty to criminal charges and civil liabilities in connection with illegal and fraudulent promotion of unapproved uses of Neurontin and agreed to pay $430 million in penalties.

May 18, 2004, New York City filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline, charging the company with "anticompetitive, frudulent, and inequitable confuct," when it acquired patents for its anti-depressant Paxil, and for obtaining "frivolous" patents to unfairly keep cheaper, generic versions of the drug off the market.

May 26, 2004, Italy's finance police ended a two year investigation of GlaxoSMithKline leading to criminal charges against the company and of 4,440 doctors, including more than 2,500 GPs and 1,700 specialists. It is reported that GSK spent $278 million in bribes whose purpose was to influence the doctors' prescribing. The practice, according to British analysts, is common in the pharmaceutical industry. The doctors have been criminally indicted and could face jail sentences. According to the suit "Glaxo employees in Italy in question had offered cash, gifts and prizes to doctors and other healthcare professionals to encourage them to prescribe Glaxo drugs."

On June 2, NYS Attorney General filed a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline charging the company with fraudulent marketing of its antidepressant, Paxil/paroxetine and concealment of the drug's hazardous adverse effects from physicians.

Fraudulent pharmaceutical marketing practices affect more than economics, they undermine health and cause preventable deaths. Multi-national pharmaceutical companies that engage in fraudulent marketing cause more harm than illicit drug traffickers. Inasmuch as pharmaceutical companies who engage in fraud have demonstrated that they are not deterred even when fined hundreds of millions of dollars, violators should be jailed, not merely fined. Fraudulent drug marketing practices should, therefore, be
criminalized. Pharmaceutical company employees who violate marketing standards should be prosecuted and held liable under the same drug enforcement rules that are applied to those who traffic in illicit drugs.

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Tel: 212-595-8974

At long last, the real drug companies are being looked at for criminal behavior. Remember in the movie "The Fugitive" when the bad guys turned out to be a drug company and his old friend? I think that movie is a lot more representative of what actually goes on in the "testing" of drugs for market than Glaxo or Lilly would like us to believe.

The FDA itself is the next culprit on my list. Now there's an organization ripe for investigation!

How is it that so many ex-FDA employees and directors wind up on the boards of the drug companies? The graft is so deep I can smell it from here...

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Revisions and a pet peeve

I've been busily revising the links to search engine submission pages that I maintain on my Words in a Row website. With the recent changes at Yahoo, Overture, Google, AltaVista, AllTheWeb/Fast, and many others, I've come to the conclusion that the only way to keep these current is to do the changes as they are observed or reported to me. Submission pages have changed in the last few days for AltaVista and AllTheWeb, for instance. They have new addresses, and they don't automatically forward you to the newly named page if you try going to the old page. You just get a not-so-helpful "404 Page Not Found" error.

The pet peeve is that it would be so easy to set up a 301 permanent redirect so that bookmarks, links from other sites, and so on are sent to the new page when the old page isn't found. I do that every time on every site I design or re-design, to help the visitor get where he's trying to go. My own site contains hundreds of such re-directions, as pages have changed over the years. You'd think a company with enough resources to put together a search engine would be able to at least do that right.

Basho Rocks

I'm still fascinated with reading Basho's haiku, and Blyth's notes about them are fascinating in themselves. Here's a selection from Blyth's notes:
...where Basho is at his greatest is where he seems most insignificant; the neck of a firefly, hailstones in the sun, the chirp of an insect, muddy melons, leeks, a dead leaf, -- these are full of interest, meaning, value, that is poetry, but not as symbols of the Infinite, not as types of Eternity, but in themselves. Their meaning is just as direct, as clear, as unmistakable, as complete and perfect, as devoid of reference to other things, as dipping the hand suddenly into boiling water. The mind is roused as with the sound of a trumpet. When you read one of the following it is just like opening a door and being confronted by a tiger. It is like suddenly seeing the joke of something. It is like being unexpectdly reprieved from the sentence of death.
The melons look cool,
Flecked with mud
From the morning dew.

Just washed,
How chill
The white leeks!

The hail-stones
Glance off the rocks
Of the Stony Mountain.

By day-light
The firefly has
A neck of red.

On the mushroom
Is stuck the leaf
Of some unknown tree.

Now that's the way of haiku.

If only the reporters speculating about our forces in Iraq could be so succinct, so truthful. Here's my imitation haiku on the subject (this is the wrong subject to be an actual haiku, which are classically limited to certain themes - this is not one of them):

Talking heads on the TV,
Each pitches his lies;
Chaos merchants, every one.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Day After Tomorrow

A good disaster flick came out yesterday and I was glad to see that the local movie theater was filled on a Friday evening. The movie was "The Day After Tomorrow" and it had some good pre-opening-day-buzz going.

First some complaints:

There were many contrived sequences. It was extremely unlikely that, given the press of circumstances, the characters in New York would have visited the Museum of Natural History and happened upon the Wooly Mammoth and talked about how it was found frozen in ice, with grass in its mouth, as if it had been frozen solid where it stood. Then the very next scene shows someone having this happen to him. As if we couldn't figure it out.

And there was no smoke from the fire they had going in the NY Public library. Big expanse of roof sticking out of the snow, and no smoke coming from any chimneys. In fact, NO CHIMNEYS!

And the wolves seemed ravenous - yet there would have been corpse-sicles everywhere floating around in the water and then in the ice.

And the super-bright kids never once needed to use their intelligence.

And the science was laughable.

They picked an actor who could have doubled for Al Gore to play the president.

So, okay, there were a few outnesses.

But it also has all the right things in a disaster movie. The older guy who gives his own life so that others may be saved. The guy who leads a bunch of the people toward what he thinks is safety, only to have it be the trap that the smart guy pointed out and no one believed. The dog. The bum and the rich kid acting as equals. A little love story. A father and son reunion. The Stupid Government Official who realizes he was wrong and reforms.

This movie also has some awesome special effects. The wave crashing through NYC was paced right, very well done. The other effects, such as the twisters in LA, for example, were quite good too. The only objectionable effect was that wolves looked and acted computer animated.

But to tell the truth, I'm getting jaded with these big scale disaster movies, especially when it comes to seeing NYC destroyed.

I own a bunch of them - "Amageddon", "Deep Impact", "Independence Day" and so on. Seeing the WTC towers burning in "Armageddon" is somehow deeply disturbing.

I thought the political messages were heavy-handed in "The Day After Tomorrow". Global warming is not the given piece of scientific fact that it is assumed to be in this movie or in the media. Just do a search at Google for "global warming myth" and you'll get all the refutation you would ever want to make you extremely skeptical of the claims being presented that we are heading for disaster. If you're too lazy to do that, click on any of these links:

Melting the Global Warming Myth

Myths about Global Warming

Thoughts on Global Warming

The next movie I am looking forward to is "The Chronicles of Riddick". We'll see whether that one can deliver something that was missing from this movie - and that's your basic rollicking good tale. "Armageddon" did that, as did "Independence Day". It's hard to do in a disaster flick because you're stuck with the disaster flick formula.

"I, Robot" looks to be pretty good too, although they should apologize to Isaac Asimov for what they've done to his story. Will Smith can do no wrong as an actor, in my book, and I for one am ready to see him blow up some stuff yet again.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

More on war

Roger Montgomery sent out his newsletter, "The Integrity Journal" today with a thought-provoking quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

There's also been a lot of talk on another list I subscribe to, ThetaNet, about alternatives to war, handling terrorism without resorting to war, and the like.

I was reading a marvelous book full of gems, called Understanding, The Universal Solvent by L. Ron Hubbard when I came upon this quote:
True sanity is that condition wherein one is sufficiently intelligent to solve his problems without physical violence or destroying other beings and yet survive happily and prosperously.
(From a technical bulletin called "Predicion and Consequences".

One uses tools one knows and understands. As a country, the US now seems to know few tools other than diplomacy (war by other means), or war, or threats of war, and in the realm of intelligence seems to know only how to pit others against others.

My conclusion: the US needs more tools to deal with its adversaries and with its allies.

But as Dennis Miller says, "But hey, that's just me."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

No absolutes

There are no absolutes in this universe. There has been a great deal of discussion about the war in Iraq this past week on some lists I monitor and on which I occasionally post. There are two camps - one saying war is always bad, never right. One says this particular war has helped people in certain ways by removing a genocidal tyrant.

And both are right, to some degree.

There are no absolutes in this universe.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Reason Magazine

Reason Magazine's latest issue is mind-boggling.

The cover of the magazine contains a circled aerial photo of my house, which is nestled deep in the woods of southern Oregon. Well - they claimed it was a photo of my house, but upon inspection appears to be a near miss and is actually my local post office, not too many miles away.

And on the inside cover it purports to show a picture of the road to my house; it's also wrong, but only because whatever database they are using is trying to make sense of my PO Box address.

They threw in a lot of specialized info about my neighbors, our median income, age, and people per household, which appears to be about right. One fact they got absolutely correct was the commute time to the nearest town.

They did this to each of their 40,000 subscribers in a stunning feat of targeted marketing, done in order to point out the "databasification" of America, how our privacy has been stripped away, and how we will probably be glad to see it go, as long as we can keep Big Brother from stepping in and using the information against us in the years to come.

The article made some excellent points. When marketers know all there is to know about you and your buying habits, they can send you ads for things you probably will want. And they won't send you ads for stuff you probably don't want or aren't qualified to buy.

But they topped this article with one of the best articles about the gay marriage issue I have seen, written by Jonathan Rauch, author of the book Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. As you might expect from his book, he makes a reasoned argument about the case FOR gay marriage, worth reading even if you have already made up your mind about the issue, either way.

I'm of the opinion that gay marriage will come to pass, despite the protests of those who oppose it as unnatural or immoral, because of well-organized pressure from the highly vocal gay community.

Oddly enough, I don't think anything horrible will happen as a direct result of giving gays full legal marriage rights on par with what we have between men and women. Or "civil unions" or whatever compromise is reached.

But reality will set in amongst gays about what it means to be married to someone.

It will be strange when the first gay divorces are run through the courts. I expect it to happen in the next few months. Someone will want to be the first, just for the publicity it will bring. Maybe Rosie O'Donnell?

In most states, the law is slanted toward the wife in a divorce. If two women get divorced, are they both to be considered wives? If two men are divorced, who will pay alimony? Or is it palimony? It's going to make for some wonderful case law and down the road I think it will tend to even things out for normal heterosexual divorcing men and women, which would be good.

While I'm gazing into my crystal ball, I think it will also open the doors to the legality of polygamous marriages, although there will probably only be the Mormons in that fight. There is plenty of Biblical support for those, however, and I think gay marriage will open the door to polygamy and later, group marriage. Laws against bigamy will go the way of laws against inter-racial marriage.

Will the traditional family fall apart as a result? And our society? Well - hasn't the traditional family ALREADY fallen apart? According to the latest census, 67% of married women with children under 6 years of age are working jobs to make ends meet. And our society is in deep trouble already.

My hope is that this gay marriage issue may act as a springboard toward the simplification and reform of all marriage and divorce laws in the US. In my view it should be as easy to get divorced as it is to get married in Las Vegas.

The state needs to get out of the marriage picture altogether.

We seem to be headed toward more equality in the law for homosexuals compared with heterosexuals, whether we want to or not. But when we have real equality in the law between men and women, then we'll really have something!

Women have been pushing for it for a hundred years, and I think it's time for men to push for it as well and repeal some of the "deadbeat dad" laws on the books. Men are serving time right now for the crime of not making enough money, and the laws used to convict them are terribly biased against them and violate their basic civil rights. They must be struck down, the sooner the better.

It's been proven time and again you can't legislate morality - and whether someone pays child support (or not) is a moral issue.

Below even that level, people are responsible for their own conditions.

Marriage has consequences, as the gay couples getting married are discovering. Marriage is not all lovey-dovey and "let's make a beautiful future together", although the act of getting married seems to be -- it's also "how are we going to make this next car payment" and "whose kids will be here this weekend and what will we feed them?" and "How come your spending money we didn't agree on?" Logistics take up most of the attention of married couples, and they discover to their horror a couple of years into it that every one of those personal attributes and quirks that were once so charming and appealing in their spouses are now driving them absolutely insane.

So when the first gay divorces hit the media this summer, don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

More Money for War

President Bush is asking for another $25 Billion for the war against "Jihadistan", as it is known, curently being fought in Iraq. And of course he will get it. It calls to mind part of the poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Arsenal at Springfield:
Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth, bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals or forts:

Which quote I found today in a book on the life of Geronimo loaned to me by a friend. The book is Watch for Me on the Mountain by Forrest Carter, about the tragedy that befell the Apache for being in the wrong place (their ancestral homeland) at the wrong time -- that of the great westward expansion of the US. Geronimo (whose real name was "Gokhlayeh") wrought terror wherever he went. This book brings to life his fight, his values, as few other books I have read on this subject have done. The systematic attempts at the extinction of Apaches after treaties signed, despite assurances granted, is part of a shameful chapter in American history that we would do well to remember when pointing fingers now at the people running our military prisons.

Those looking with disgust at the recent exposé of American treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib should read our history, and look into the horrific conditions of our own prisons right now in Yuma and Ossining. The depths of degradataion with which we treat Americans show a similar disregard for human rights. And we have done the same thing since at least the days of the Civil War. Conditions in our POW camps on both sides, North and South, were beyond modern comprehension. Prisoners starved to death and were treated like cattle on both sides of the conflict. Not everywhere, but in enough places and in enough volume to make it common practice. Harsh winters with not enough clothing or shelter, and overcrowding created epidemics that untreated among the prisoners. Many thousands died of neglect, malnourishment and disease. The photos of the prisoners from our Civil War POW camps document war crimes that went largely unpunished, unheeded, dismissed as "collateral damage".

I could be mistaken, but I think as a nation during World War II we were acted differently, at least on the home front. I had a friend (Al Crivello) who was a guard at a POW camp, somewhere in the South during that war. He told me that on a Saturday night, the Italian POWs sometimes got passes to go to town to see the movies. You could see them, he said, standing up at the back of the theater in the POW uniforms. They never tried to escape, so he said, because they had nowhere to go. He claimed that the Germans policed themselves - there were thousands of them who had been captured in North Africa and he said they ran strict military discipline on themselves, that it was an awesome spectacle to see them marching around in their camp waiting for the end of the war so they could go home. But that was just one very young man's view of what was going on. Perhaps abuses were as rampant as now, to which a blind eye was turned.

Al was a Scientologist, like myself, but an old man when I knew him as a young man 30 years ago. He was my mentor for a while when I took over his job. He kept an eye on me for months, and made sure I was doing okay on his old job. I lost track of him - he must be 80 by now if he's still alive.

Scientologists tend to be anti-war. I don't think we would make good soldiers. We work too hard at educating people to think sanely for themselves, for us to think that it profits anyone to maim and kill others. Even the crew that works remotely, guiding in a laser-guided bomb on an enemy position, where one can't see the people being killed and hurt. They know what they've done. The "thousand yard stare" of soldiers who have been in combat is the first reflection of what will haunt them after. While counseling will help a soldier recover from what he's done to others, we'd rather not see the need for it.

And when you believe, as most Scientologists do, that we are immortal spiritual beings who will only pick up another body when one is killed, the futility of war sinks home.

I believe I speak for all Scientologists, as a group, when I say that we want this:
A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology. -- L Ron Hubbard

Those aims are worth working toward, and you will find us working hard in Israel and in Russia and the US, wherever we are, to educate, enlighten, and counsel people toward those aims.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Haiku does not aim at beauty --

In his Preface to "Haiku", Volume 1, by R.H. Blyth, he says this:
Haiku does not aim at beauty. Like the music of Bach, it aims at significance, and some special kind of beauty is found hovering near. The real nature of each thing, and more so, of all things, is a poetical one.... Hauku shows us what we knew all the time, but did not know we knew; it shows us that we are poets in so far as we live at all.

If one is familiar with the book Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought by L. Ron Hubbard that paragraph above sounds very familiar:
Any information is valuable to the degree that you can use it. In other words, any information is valuable to the degree that you can make it yours. Scientology, of all the sciences, does not teach you -- it only reminds you, for the information was yours in the first place. It is not only the science of life, but it is an account of what you were doing before you forgot what you were doing.
Which really resonates with me, and makes me want to know more of what I have forgotten!

That awareness of being aware ("so far as we live at all", as Blyth puts it) is well expressed in this haiku by Buson:
Plum-blossoms here and there,
It is good to go north,
Good to go south.
Blyth explains that one to mean:
There is here a feeling of the newness of spring, and yet of the luxury, the beauty, the universality of the season: in truth, anywhere will do in these days of renewed life and beauty.

That renewed life and beauty is evident here on the ranch -- and so I wrote a haiku today, the first in many years for me:
The tiny spiders huddle.
Sensing my presense
down they drop, silken inches.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Michael Moore -- bastion of truth?

There's a controversy now being about whether Disney is going to release Michael Moore's new movie slamming President Bush about his ties to Saudi money and oil.

Moore is claiming it is because of fear of retribution from the powerful Bush family, what with Disney World being in Florida and Jeb Bush being the governor of Florida AND (gasp!) President Bush's brother, and of course the inevitablitily of withholding tax breaks and unleashing other unspecified horrors on Disney if the "truth" of Michael Moore's movie is revealed to the world through Disney's efforts.

A few years ago I had the good fortune to meet and have a lengthy conversation over dinner with Mr. Roger Smith, the target of Michael Moore's first movie, called "Roger and Me". Roger Smith was for 20 some years CEO of General Motors, and although retired now from GM, is still on the boards of directors of many large companies (Citibank, and others). He's a powerhouse who is, polite, social, gracious and is a very effective man who started at the bottom, from the assembly line floor, and worked his way up manage GM.

The premise of the movie is that Roger Smith didn't care about the human costs of the closing of a factory in Flint Michigan, where thousands were layed off, and that he couldn't be bothered to talk to Michael Moore or anyone else about it. He is never interviewed in Michael Moore's movie, and Michael Moore complains that he couldn't find a way to meet with Roger Smith or even set an appointment with him. The inference was that Roger Smith didn't want to talk to him and used his power to avoid being spotlighted by "the media" in the form of Michael Moore's cameras.

I asked Roger Smith about Michael Moore's movie and whether he had ever, to his knowledge, been contacted by Michael Moore. He said he had never heard of the man before the movie came out and he had his staff check back over his phone logs to see if he had ever been called by him. Not once. So far
as he knew, Michael Moore had never tried once to communicate with him.

Shines a whole different light on Michael Moore, doesn't it?

This newest controversy about censorship of his movie strikes me as having been manufactured by him in an effort to increase ticket sales when it is eventually released, ala the controversy surrounding the release of "The Passion of The Christ", which helped drive its viewers through the roof.

You just can't believe everything that you read in the media or see on TV. Much of it is not just misleading, but purposely FALSE.

Is this movie false?

My money is on the "documentary" being carelessly put together by Michael Moore without too much regard for the facts.

Or try this scenario -- an imaginary phone call:

"Michael Eisher? Hi, this is Roger Smith."

"Hi, Roger. Listen, before I ask what I can I do for you, I wanted you to know how much we here at Disney appreciate the GM Pavilion at Disney World. That was your brainchild and I wanted you to know we look forward to GM's ongoing participation in that. Now, what CAN we do for you?"

"Well, I heard through the grapevine that you are distributing yet another Michael Moore exposé movie and I had a word of advice for you..."

"Roger - You're not trying to get me to stop distribution of this movie, are you? We sunk a lot of time and money and energy into backing this ..."

"No, not at all. Go right ahead and release it. I'm sure it will make a lot of money for Disney."

"Then what's your advice?"

"Hire a professional fact checker and check his facts first."

"Now wait a minute, Roger - are you implying that Michael Moore doesn't deal completely in the truth? Didn't he just win an Oscar for his latest documentary about guns in America?"

"Oscar, schmoskar! I'm sure you know that his first movie was about all his alleged difficulties in getting an interview with me. Did you know the little creep never even called my office to try to line up a meeting?"

"Hmmm, you don't say! Maybe a fact checker wouldn't be a bad idea -- I'll get back to you on this one..."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Great Burn

The Great BurnAnd there came upon them in the month of May at the confluence of the rainy times and the sunny times a great burn.

And the great burn was good and relieved them of their burdens.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Poet - Definition #1 & #2

Poet: 1. A writer of poems.

Well -- that was simple! That would include just about anyone who ever wrote a poem, from a gift card message to an advertising jingle to Edna St. Vincent Millay and Robert Frost.

Poet: 2. One who is especially gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful or lyrical.

(Lyrical having many definitions, I believe this one applies: "music-like sensuality of expression")

In my own words for my own use: A person with skills of perception and expression of beauty or song. One could say Claude Monet or Vincent van Gogh were poets with paint. Or Jackson Pollack, if you like something more modern as an example.

Having just received David Ross's poems The Jasmine Papers and read it cover to cover, I am of the opinion he was a terrific lyrical poet. He's the first two stanzas of his Night Letter:
Dear violet personal night
your sky's so mine and ours
jacarandas everywhere

shed petals
purple the ground
sweet must:

The rest of the poem soars and dips like a Verdi aria, piercing the reader with the intricate, finely calculated alliteration for which David was famous. David Ross passed away in 1994. He was notoriously argumentative. I had the pleasure of knowing him for about 20 years and never having gotten in an argument with him in all that time. I truly miss hearing his deep, sonorous voice reading his poems. You can order The Jasmine Papers from Dean Blehert.

Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, who wrote the Tao Te Ching , reportedly said this:
When those who understand me are few, then I am of great value.
For some reason that seems so crass and commercial, assuming that you have something, some skill or wisdom worth understanding. It is somewhat at odds with L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy on holding on to wisdom:
I know no man who has any monopoly upon the wisdom of this universe. It belongs to those who can use it to help themselves and others.
(from Hubbard's article, "My Philosophy")

On the other hand, I realized that what I do (search engine optimization) requires an arcane knowledge of search engines, web design, information theory, cascading style sheets and HTML code, JavaScript, and a host of other subjects, and how they all relate together. It makes me glad that I disseminate everything I find out about my subject through my search engine optimization website. I get a lot of feedback from people who use the techniques that I discuss, and come out on top in the search engine rankings. It's gratifying--almost as gratifying as a fat check...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Poetry Definition #5

Poem - derivation:
Old French poeme, from Latin poema, from Greek poiema, poema, "created thing," work, poem, from poiein, to make, create.
Now that makes sense! Creation is exactly what one does when making one of these.

In the preface to my book of poetry, It's Not What I Thought, I put these paragraphs:
I have read a great deal of the "modern" poetry being published, and I don't care much for it. When I read a poem, my first impulse is to try to understand it, not just to hear pretty sounds or feel some feeling. Most of the poems I've read did not make sense even though there may have been some good "fresh" images. Too often, I couldn't find ONE poem in a poetry book or quarterly that was actually comprehensible. I hope you do not have much of that trouble here.

It occurred to me at an early age that it is not enough to mirror reality in descriptions of it, or to set down impressions of the way people behave, or the look of a thing -- even if it has never been said before. That kind of pointless commentator-ism can go on endlessly.

In my view, poetry ought to pull the attention out--make someone more alive for having shared it with the poet. It should show, wherever possible, how we are at cause and leave one reminded, in some way, that we can be at cause over this world we're in, even in matters of love. We have enough messages already concerning the beautiful sadness of things, and we do not need more poets selling us on hopelessness, apathy, futility and the like. I've made an effort not to do that; whether that effort was successful I leave to you.

Creations are completely caused - there's nothing natural about them. A poem was not secreted by a tree or whelped by a dog. It did not exist. Then WHAM it was created out of nothing by the poet. Whether that took ten minutes of spewing, or ten years of patient editing. As a poet, one IS responsible for the poems one creates.

So an angry, incomprehensible poem says, what? To me, it says that its author was angry and incomprehensible... and not much else.

That's my two bits for today.

That's the end of definitions for the word "poem". Next will be "poet".


In the book The Genius of Haiku, which contains readings from R.H. Blyth, is a lovely paragraph about freedom. Blyth was a practitioner, proponent and promoter of Zen.
What is the essential? Zen is the only essential. What is inessential? All the rest, especially the emotional and intellectual rubbish that hinders our freedom. Just as
Perfect love casteth out fear,
so true Zen casts out every kind of bondage, which includes fear. Freedom is perfect, pure freedom, but Milton said of liberty,
For who loves that must first be wise and good.
Freedom means freedom from error and superstition, freedom to be good. The more freedom, the more truth; the more truth, the more freedom, -- this is a natural law everywhere demonstrated in the history of human thought. Thus the construction of dogmatic beliefs by the highest intellect reduces man to the same state of mental slavery as the crudest and most infantile superstition. The philosopher and the savage are just as distant from the truth.

I used to feel exactly that way, when studying Locke and Hume and other philosophers. The only philosophy I know of which is a workable (not perfect, but workable!) system, in which man is postulated to be basically good and seeking freedom, is Scientology. And I thank my lucky stars (said with tongue firmly in cheek) that I found it and wasn't so cynical and so depressed that I could not recognize it for what it was -- a way to the truths I had been looking for.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Poetry Definition #4

4. Any creation, object, or experience thought to embody the lyrical beauty or structural perfection characteristic of poetry.

In my own words, for my own use: "Anything created or existing or experienced that puts in physical form the level of beauty and perfection you would put into writing poetry."


The Parthenon - even in ruin it is still a poem in stone.

When I scuba'd through an immense cloud of sardines in an undersea cave, guarded by two huge tarpon, that was a poem in light and motion.

The 1976 Olympics, when little Nadya scored a 10 for her gymnastics routine, the first time a perfect score was ever awarded in an Olympic event. That was a poem of effortlessness.

Every Faberge egg I have seen pictures of is a poem of gemstones and whimsy.

Falling Water, the house by F. L. Wright, somehow doesn't quite make it as a poem of architecture, despite his many fans who would argue it does. There's something wrong with it, perhaps the lack of any warmth... (I've toured the house he made in the park in Hollywood -- it's a tourist attraction now -- I found it foreboding, too.)

(Note: Only the derivation is left of the word "poem" -- next time! Then we start on other related words. Isn't this fun!)

Hoist the Blog Flag

My old friend Stu Sjouerman of Sunbelt Software publishes the W2Knews newsletter, which I get because I like Stu's ramblings, not because I use Windows 2000. Today he sent out a quote from H. L. Mencken that I think reverberates well in today's world:
"There comes a time when every man feels the urge to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats."

Stu and his wife, Rebecca Weiss, make a great couple. Rebecca recently published a book called Journeys in Darkness and Light, which I read through in one sitting, staying up most of the night to do it. Rebecca is an internationally renowned applique artist (she makes museum quality work and has won many awards) as well as a good writer with a strong sense of what's right and wrong in the world. The pictures and incidents from her book haunt one long after reading it. The description of her time spent in a kibbutz in Israel, in various schools all over Europe, with her parents, neither of whom appeared to want to actually take time out of their own busy lives to raise a child--these things stick with you months after you finish the book. Her mother was Helga Henschen, a well-known Swedish artist, and her father was the playright and painter, Peter Weiss.

Friday, April 16, 2004

FDA blocked top expert's testimony
on suicide and antidpressant link

The FDA--according to its mouthpiece the NY Times--blocked one of its own top experts, Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder, from giving testimony about his findings that children given antidepressants were twice as likely to become suicidal as those given placebos.

If you have a brain and have been listening, you know that the FDA has obviously been in the pocket of the major drug companies for the last couple of decades.

Nice to see it coming out in such a fashion. Dr. Mosholder should be commended for his bravery in breaking ranks and trying to tell the truth. He is being called an "alarmist".

If there's a fire blazing, what should one do but sound the alarm!

Here's the article - you'll need to sign up for a free membership in the NY Times online in order to read it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Poem Definition #3

Definition #3: Any literary composition written with an intensity or beauty of language more characteristic of poetry than of prose: a prose poem.

Putting that in my own words for my own use: anything written with intense, condensed, beautiful language.

Well known examples:
Now those are some poems that caused something!

Bombshell at 9/11 Hearings

I rarely discuss politics--this article needs little discussion. Attorney General John Ashcroft has squarely laid the blame for the pre-9/11 wall between intelligence agencies and law enforcement on--hold onto your hats--a member of the 9/11 commission, Jamie Gorelick. Jamie Gorelick

Ms. Gorelick, #2 in President Clinton's Justice Department, wrote the 1995 memo which created the wall, and now serves on the 9/11 Commission tring to figure out how the terrorist events of that fateful day could have been allowed to happen. Ashcroft had to de-classify Gorelick's memo to bring it to the attention of the Commission -- she hadn't brought up her own role in the debacle.
This Commissioner should step down--behind that bright smile there is no conscience.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Poem - Definition #2


2. Any composition in verse rather than in prose.

Compare that to Definition 1 - it seems as though this definition widens the parameters of the word "poem" to include such things as greeting card jingles, naughty limericks, verses of the Bible and the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill.
Q: What's a "verse"?
A: Most simply, a line or section of a poem.
So by this definition, this Psalm (which was my father's favorite verse from the Bible) is a poem:
Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me
in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

And per this definition, this would also be a poem:
Nicht be finger-pokin
in der machine-vurkin.

(posted on the access cover of a Xerox machine).

Moscow Court Bans Jehovah's Witnesses

I am not a Jehovah's Witness, but I have many friends who are. To me, they are not obnoxious door-knockers who keep coming back wanting to discuss my religion, they are my neighbors, the guy who works at the local hardware store, and his wife, father and mother. They don't celebrate "normal" American holidays, which is great for me, because I usually travel on holidays and need someone to house-sit. They are not just available to house-sit, they are trustworthy and leave the house cleaner than when they came. And yes, we have had several lively discussions of their views of the Kingdom to come and no, I don't subscribe to their beliefs. But I respect their beliefs and their right to express them freely--it can't be easy to be a Jehovah's Witness.

So I was appalled today to learn this from a newsgroup:

In a disturbing setback for religious freedom in Russia, Moscow's Golovinskiy Court recently issued a decision to ban the religious activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow and to liquidate their legal entity. The Jehovah's Witnesses plan to appeal the decision, and that appeal will stop any immediate action to implement the decision.

The U.S. State Department has urged local Moscow authorities and the Russian Government to honor their commitments to respect the right of all faiths to religious freedom.

The Moscow Court's decision is plainly in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

The International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance continues its work to ensure that every person can enjoy their basic human rights, as listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please visit the Foundation's website to read the Declaration.

If you believe in God, a prayer would be in order, in support of the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses. If you don't believe in God but do believe in freedom of expression, then write a letter to the Golovinskiy Court and let them know you support freedom of religion and that they should too.

Poem - Definition #1

I've volunteered to put up a definition a day for a poetry list of which I am a member.

If you need to clear up any of the words in this definition, please do.

Poem: (noun)

1. A composition designed to convey a vivid and imaginative sense of experience, characterized by the use of condensed language, chosen for its sound and suggestive power as well as its meaning, and by the use of such literary techniques as structured meter, natural cadences, rhyme, or metaphor.

-- there are several more definitions which I'll do in subsquent posts. But there's plenty to chew on here in definition #1.

Putting that in my own words for my own use:

A poem is something written to get across a clearly created feeling or beingness, usually using dense, carefully chosen words that sound right and carry layers of meaning, and possibly using meter, rhyming words, and drawing comparisons that illustrate what you're trying to get across.

Off the top of my head examples of poems that get across a feeling:

Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Once by the Pacific by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Examples of poems that get across a beingness:

My Last Dutchess by Robert Browning (1812-1899)

Many of the hauku by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) convey a beingness:

Winter seclusion:
Once again I will lean against
This post.


The autumn full moon:
All night long
I paced around the lake.

for example.

(More basic poetry definitions soon.)

Friday, April 02, 2004


When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

— Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Helping others blog

Yesterday I helped Angie Derouchie set up her blog. She's very active with the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center of Portland. Visit Angie's blog

Today I helped Barbara Ayash of the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America set up her blog. Visit Barb's blog here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Recommended: a thicker skin

A friend sent me an email with the following line in it a few days ago:

"People are sensitive to language these days."

It was with some dismay I realized how far that was from the truth.

My observation is that because the quality of education has been so lowered over the last 50 years, most people today are actually less sensitive to nuances of language than at any time in the last few hundred years. They have to be educated to more understanding of the words to achieve any sort of "sensitivity" to language.

Most high school graduates know how to use about 600 words more or less correctly. Once you start using words not among those 600, they are in deep water and you must slow down and explain what you mean and demonstrate using your hands.

But it is only certain words, phrases and actions are currently targeted for "sensitivity" in our Western Civilization -- it's more as though the general public is being "sensitized" to -- made allergic and reactionary toward -- certain buzzwords.

Words that used to mean something different have been redefined:

"Enemy" -- most young people have this confused with "opponent", and the
educational system has tried to convince students for the last 50 years that
BOTH sides of any issue are equal, and that if you assume the viewpoint that
someone is your enemy, there is something wrong with you.

None of our ancestors would have understood this modern lunacy, which apparently derives from the tenets of the "Dialectic": Thesis versus Anti-Thesis resolving into Synthesis -- which works great in debate class but not in the real world.

The way that is supposed to work is that you arrive at "the truth" by disclosing the contradictions in the opponent's argument and overcoming them.

But it doesn't actually work that way. One arrives at the truth through a series of smaller understandings that lead somewhere new. Or sometimes one arrives at the truth in a startling moment of clarity, one BIG understanding.

One does not debate the merits of burglarism with a burglar when you surprise him with loot in hand. If you catch one in the act, ought one not shoot first and debate the merits of it later? That makes more sense in the real world.

Does one debate the merits of adultery with one's spouse, when caught "en flagrante delicto" (Medieval Latin for "while the crime is blazing")? Not if one is sane.

Words being redefined:

There are some words (off the top of my head) that have been undergoing that kind of systematic redefinition:

treason - best definition I know is "betrayal after trust". It used to get you shot - now it gets you a job on network TV as a talking head.

patriot - used to mean someone proud of his (or her) country and happy to support it. It did not preclude griping about rationing, bemoaning the stupidity of ones commanders, or voting for the opposition party.

conservative - used to mean "not favoring change" or "seeking to preserve what one has" - now is used to mean "reactionary jingo" and "knee-jerk stupidity".

militia - used to mean a citizen army, such as the Minutemen of Revolutionary War fame. Now it means "violent, organized para-military crackpots" (if you ask a newsman).

assault - used to mean a violent attack. Did not include being yelled at unless modified - that was a "verbal assault". Did not include someone simply touching you. Did not include wearing a cross or turban.

truth - It used to mean things that were self-evident. Now it means whatever the lawyers want it to mean or whatever some group of organized victims agrees that it means. When someone says, "the truth is..." watch out for redefinitions.

marriage - used to mean the union of a man and a woman, recognized by both church and state.

gay - used to mean "happy".

Christian fundamentalist - used to mean a Bible-thumping Christian who believed in the literal word of the Bible. Now it has been subtly positioned with "Moslem Fundamentalist" in the press to imply the potential of violence from those with deeply held Christian beliefs. Notice how those who attack abortion clinics are usually identified as a "Christian Fundamentalist". While our security forces are prevented from "profiling" as even slightly more likely to be a terrorist those who are young Moslem men. So Al Gore winds up being searched at the airport. (This isn't so much funny as it is grossly, criminally ineffective.)

Actions that were once considered normal and acceptable are now objectionable under the new rules of "sensitivity", gradually put in place by the psychs (psychologists and psychiatrists if you are unfamiliar with the abreviation), through repetition in the media, during our own lifetimes as part of their agenda. Don't think the psychs have an agenda? Attend one of their yearly conferences and read their conference notes, or see CCHR.

God help you in England if you use a weapon these days to defend yourself from a burglar, rapist or mugger. You'll be put in jail for taking the law into your own hands, and you'll have to pay damages to the burglar, rapist or mugger if you injure him.

Praying in public in America (for instance with the phrase "God help you" I used in the last paragraph) now puts one in the camp of "Christian fundamentalists" and "conservatives", two groups that are now under constant attack in the media in America. While "hateful" language (including prayer, mind you) is banned in public schools across America. So we have defined secularism now as the new state religion.

In France today, laws are being enacted to prevent your child from wearing to school a cross, a Star of David, or headware mandated by your religion (such as a turban or kerchief). All religious symbols and reminders are forbidden.

The problem for which this is the touted solution is one of being "assaulted" by the beliefs and beingness of others who are somehow different. Reminders of someone's religion through his clothing, which you have to look at every day, has become an unbearable "assault" upon your sensitivities.

Back before the last Ice Age (actually in the 50's and 60's) when I was a young agnostic going to school in Texas and Oregon, we said the Pledge of Alliegance every morning. It contained the phrase "under God", and I always deliberately omitted saying that part of the pledge - I just left it out completely. This made me feel, not "assuaulted" by the beliefs of others in the school and by the Department of Education, State of Texas, but "affirmed" in my own belief. "Let them believe," I thought. "As for me, I do not know, and they cannot make me say something I don't believe." Not once was I ever castigated -- in fact I can't remember that anyone ever noticed.

In those days we used to call someone who blew out of all sane proportion something minor done to him a "cry-baby". I never complained to anyone about being required to recite the Pledge of Alliegance - it would have been "uncool" and I would have been a cry-baby.

We recognized that people who did that kind of thing were "thin skinned", meaning "too easily offended", and we knew it was abnormal, that it was something the person was mainly doing to himself for some hidden reason, an obsessive need for attention, the dramatization of some un-sane impulse.

Nowadays things are different.

Believing that people are created equal and are responsible for their own happiness is now a form of "bigotry" and "prejudice". Just try doing away with race-based admissions policies and see what happens to you. You'll be pilloried for your bigotry.

Crimes committed while thinking a particular thought are now set up to be punished differently from crimes committed while thinking something different. They are called "hate crimes" now but they should have be called what they really are, the "thought crimes" described so well by George Orwell in his book "1984".

"What were they thinking?" is no longer a rhetorical question but evidence used in court.

Actions that were considered abnormal and unacceptable have been redefined as "normal". The entire institution of marriage (the primary building block of our society) is under an attack that would have been unthinkable 50 years ago.

Recently here in the US we have had a spate of "gay marriages" - despite laws to the contrary -- and God help you if you state publicly that this is in some way wrong!

Any attempt to say "Wait a minute! that isn't a marriage if it's between two guys!" is labelled "hateful" and "spiteful" and "hurtful" -- and that's the side that is emphasized by the media and pounced on by homosexuals who are "wounded" by the implication that there is something wrong with their sodomy.

One is bombarded with messages in the media that homosexual activity is normal and acceptable. If you're thinking right now while reading this that gay love isn't completely normal and acceptable, under these new rules, you should label yourself not a normal "moral person" but "hopelessly insensitive" and "homophobic" and "mean-spirited".

Back in the 60's and through the 70's, one of the catch phrases of the day was "let it all hang out", which actually meant "say what you like and act as you will, without regard to what people will think about it." That's the phrase that has been picked on these days as an exaggeration of what the 70's culture was all about.

But there was another phrase that was used in school in those days. When someone claimed (incorrectly) he was being picked on or singled out, you would say, "Don't be a cry-baby!" or "Don't be so SENsitive!" Cry-babies were ridiculed (and yes, we actually used to ridicule people by pointing up or dramatizing in some way the ridiculousness of what they were doing) by screwing up one's face, pretending to suck on one's thumb and saying, "Waa, waa!"

Here in the early years of the 21st Century I'm in favor of growing a thicker skin.

So my advice when you see someone acting with undue sensitivity is to screw up your face and let them have it with that venerable line: "Don't be such a cry-baby!"

If that fails to work, you can always use your thumb.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

H.D. Thoreau, about Chaucer:

We are tempted to say
that his genius was feminine,
not masculine.
It was such a feminineness,
however, as is rarest
to find in woman,
though not the appreciation of it;
perhaps it is not to be found
at all in woman,
but is only the
feminine in man.

Now there's a man who understands
his feminine side.

"Blog no Michi" means "The Way of the Blog"

Have been reading
from works of R H Blyth,
famous for Zen and Haiku,
whose name
in Chinese pictograms means
"You have not come to see me
for a long time"

I mistrust any book with
"genius" in the title, but
profound quotes abound
in the book
The Genius of Haiku,
among them:

When people agree with me
I always feel that
I must be wrong.

from Oscar Wilde

and from Wordsworth in
The Tables Turned:

Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: --
We murder to dissect.

Enough of science and of art;
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

More tomorrow - I can't top that.

Here is today's blog of choice:
  • JM Blog - poems, stories, etc.

  • And thanks to Dean Blehert of
    for recommending the
    Readings of R H Blyth