Friday, April 30, 2004

A Long and Heartbreaking List of Names


At 15, I curled on my bed to study the glossy pages of that Life magazine, filled with the faces of every American lost in one week in Vietnam.

Many of the 242 photos, 20 per page, were high school senior pictures. These dead weren't much older than my boyfriend.

My parents subscribed to Life, known then as America's favorite magazine. But in that week in June 1969, it smacked us all in the head with those faces. I looked into their eyes, and I thought simplistically, as children do: "This is so sad and so wrong."

Wrong because I couldn't put into sensible words why so many young soldiers had to vanish from the world or how the world would be better for the sacrifice of their heartbeats.

Half an hour of names

Tonight, "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel will pose the same challenge to Americans with a half-hour recitation of the names of more than 530 men and women killed by hostile fire in Iraq.

Twenty were from Michigan.

As he reads, the screen will unroll their faces, ages and hometowns as a ribbon of whys.

Each of us must choose: to avoid the litany, to watch until we're bored or shattered, or to force ourselves to face all those eyes, imagine those lives and draw what conclusions we will.

Koppel's producer contends the show, without even background music, isn't meant to boost ratings. It isn't a political statement, he says, although conservative editor William Kristol slammed it as "a statement with a capital S, and . . . a stupid statement." Its timing falls smack at the end of the worst month of the war and fails, Kristol said, to name the dead from Afghanistan or those killed in 9/11's terrorism.

I'd add that it also neglects the Iraqi dead. Naming them would require a long series of "Nightlines."

Koppel's producers can't predict whether people will watch for 20 seconds or 20 minutes or not at all. But we know from experience that the reading of the names of the dead from any tragedy is compelling and hypnotic.

Continue reading article at Link

Urban renewal - Albuquerque style

Greenspan's Choice: Scylla or Charybdis?
by Nelson Hultberg

In Homer's famous epic, the Odyssey, its hero Ulysses must endure a long series of dangerous adventures in his journey home from the Trojan Wars. He and his men come under fire at every turn, as some new, death-threatening predicament is thrust upon them in their efforts to find their way back to their wives and families. The one-eyed monster Cyclops imprisons them in his cave, while the beautiful seductress Circe turns Ulysses' men into swine. The Sirens force Ulysses to tie himself to the ship's mast so as not to be lured to his death by their irresistible songs.

Only the blind cannot see Scylla and Charybdis looming up ahead -- waiting to consume us. As Richard Russell so sagely puts it, "What the Fed and the US government have done is to build the greatest edifice of debt ever seen by one country in history. And this debt continues to build. For the US government, the debt build-up is continuing at the rate of over $13 billion a WEEK. The current rising trend in interest rates will bear down on this ocean of debt. This pits the forces of deflation directly against the forces of inflation.

"This impending battle of inflation vs. deflation is going to be one of the most critical economic confrontations seen in decades. Frankly, I don't know how it's going to turn out -- and neither does anyone else. In fact, I'd say 99 percent of the US population is unaware that it's even happening." [Dow Theory Letters, April 13, 2004]

Obviously to those of us who are aware of the impending battle, knowing which of these two scenarios awaits us would be most advantageous. Will America explode into hyperinflation, or will she collapse into all-consuming deflation? If that could be known, then one could direct his investments accordingly and reap considerable profit in the markets. If only he knew for sure.

In the long run, collapse of some kind is coming. That is the unavoidable nature of a boom-bust Keynesian economy. But which will come first, Scylla or Charybdis?

Read entire article at Link

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My Feathered Friend

I've been asked to post this story again, since my writing website
Tales From The Land of Entrapment has been down for awhile....
This is a tale from our former home of twenty years. Apparently the
new owners moved in and started pissing off everyone, not realizing
they now live in a hornet's nest--a family of warring neighbors that goes
back hundreds of years. The neighbors are not happy that the newcomers
are dealing out some of their own medicine - bulldozing, cutting down
trees, replacing beauty with rocks and gravel, noise and traffic -
just like they did all those years!
So it is with some nostalgia and no regrets I present this...
Tale from the Land of Entrapment:

(This is also a post for May 1 - Sound and Place on the collaborative weblog/wiki
for Writing About Place, Ecotone Wiki)

My Feathered Friend

In the '60s we protested for peace--now?--we'll settle for some peace and quiet.

Our home in Corrales may seem peaceful, yet with the whizzing traffic up front at the road and the barnyard cacophony in back, it is hardly ever quiet. A houseguest emerged from his slumber one morning with a puzzled look on his face, asking, "Is there a zoo around here?" The cows' mysterious mooing is like a cross between a rusty gate hinge and an elephant mating call.

Our second-story bedroom opens out onto a deck facing west towards the irrigation ditch and the rising escarpment. You can hear everything at once from up there?those cows, horses, burros, goats, sheep, yowling tomcats and howling coyotes, literally. Bullfrogs and crickets throb through summer nights occasionally pierced by the eerie feline cries of peahens. Church bells bong on Sunday morning, while hot-air balloons hiss and drift over the field, accompanied by a chorus of barking dogs.

Mornings we awaken, depending on the season, to honking geese, raucous crows, chortly finches and sparrows squabbling; the strange and wonderful sandhill cranes cruising by; woodpeckers working at the eaves, or comedic roadrunners chattering, challenging a watchful cat.

Sometimes I lie semi-awake in bed listening for my favorite bird, so small I?ve never seen her, yet she returns each spring with her distinctive song?a long story with a question mark at the end. She arrives with a big voice by the time the apricot trees burst into blossom, alive with an industry of bees.

Other days are less pleasant--rude awakenings to the sounds of my neighbor?s recreational bulldozing, incessant beeping front-end loaders and backhoes scraping, chainsaws, road construction and heavy equipment hitting it hard at 6 a.m.

continue reading at myfeatheredfriend.html
Show Me The Jobs
By Judith Gorman, AlterNet

For the past several weeks, President Bush has been barnstorming the
country to tell us the good news - the nation's payrolls grew by
308,000 in the month of March, the largest one month jump in four
years. "People are finding jobs, and the nation's future is bright.
America's families and workers have reason to be optimistic."

So what are these "new jobs?" Well, 13,000 of them are California
grocery workers returning to work after an extended strike. Another
31,000 represent new government jobs. 71,000 "new jobs" are in the
construction industry, a seasonal upswing independent of the
President's policies. 11,000 "new jobs" are in credit intermediation,
reflecting the surge in home refinancing due to low interest rates.
And 36,000 "new jobs" are in health care or social assistance, jobs
created to help people who no longer have jobs.

What the President fails to mention is the bad news. As New Jersey
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) remarked: "Only in the Bush 'economic
recovery' can our country gain jobs and increase the unemployment
rate in the same month."

......So where does President Bush's good news come from? Corporate profits
have risen 57.5% since the first quarter of 2001, while private wage
and salary income has fallen 1.7%. According to Business Week, the
average compensation for CEO's of large corporations in 2003 was $8.1
million, up 9.1% from the previous year. In the Bush lexicon, that's
called a "recovery."

Read more at link

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Operation Iraqui Liberation -- O.I.L.

Here's another consideration, as we wipe away tears for the
human cost of war in Iraq. What about the economy, stupid?
War is good for the economy, isn't it?

War in Iraq Aims a Bullet at the Heart of the Economy
By James K. Galbraith
Los Angeles Times

There's no indication that Bush thought through the potential for far-reaching fiscal damage

The U.S. had one good economic experience with war. World War II conquered the Depression, reindustrialized the country and built the middle class. But that was special. The U.S. fought WWII with full mobilization, super-high taxes, super-low interest rates, big deficits, price controls and rationing. Iraq isn't going to be like World War II.

Economically, the Iraq war is more like Vietnam: insidiously underestimated, sold to the public and Congress on false premises, improperly budgeted and inadequately taxed. During the Vietnam years, there was also economic growth at first. But then came creeping inflation, followed by worldwide commodity shocks, the oil crisis of 1973, international monetary disorder and a decade of economic troubles.

Could it happen again? Yes, it could.

Did Team Bush think through the economics of a long and costly war? There is no evidence it did. It counted on the war being quick, cheap and self-financing. If it thought about the long-range economics, there seems to have been only one goal: control of oil.


Saturday, April 24, 2004

View Lots

This is what the escarpment over Corrales
looks like now:

The Truth About Breast Implants

Sherrill Sellman, author of Hormone Heresy, interviews Ilena Rosenthal


The Truth About Breast Implants - An Interview with Ilena Rosenthal

by Sherrill Sellman

Ilena Rosenthal is an incredibly courageous and passionate woman who
has been dedicated to raising awareness to the true and serious risks of
breast implants and other silicone products. She is a true inspiration
of the power of the Feminine to create healing and change in the world.
And it has not been easy. What began as a small research project for a
friend with tumors and cysts around her 20 year old saline implants in
August, 1995, has become an amazing adventure for Ilena beyond anything
she could have imagined.

Speaking out on the true dangers of a product so desirable and yet so
potentially harmful, sharing the too real stories of women who made the
fateful decision to have breast implants, almost immediately made her
the target of an unrelenting and incredibly vicious 6 year Defamation
Campaign which continues to date.

In November, 1995, she created the only Usenet Newsgroup,, to provide a place for support and a way for
women and
their families to connect. She obviously got in the way of the Silicone
and Plastic Surgery Industries and their Public Relations Machine well
greased by silicone dollars. Nothing was too personal nor too untrue
for her Enemies to post or email about her. To learn more of her personal
encounter with the forces who wanted to silent her warnings and her
message, visit her website at

Continue reading at The Truth About Breast Implants.doc">Link
The Truth About Breast Implants.doc

....for more on women's health issues, see
Beverly Bushhillies

Okay, I promise, I'll just post this one up and
be done with it...But, let's face it, we all need
a little bit of humor about now!

Sung to the tune of the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES theme song.

(It's funnier when you sing it to yourself)

Come and listen to my story 'bout a boy named Bush.
His IQ was zero and his head was up his tush.
He drank like a fish while he's driving' all about,
But that didn't matter 'cuz his daddy bailed him out.
DUI, that is...criminal record...cover up.

Well, the first thing you know little Georgie goes to Yale.
He can't spell his name but they never let him fail.
He spends all his time hangin' out with student folk And
that's when he learns how to snort a line of coke.
Blow, that is...white gold....nose candy.

The next thing you know there's a war in Nam.
Kin folks say, "Georgie boy, you stay with Mom."
Let the common people get killed, maimed and scarred.
We'll buy you a nice spot in the Texas Air Guard.
Cushy, that clubs....nose candy.

Twenty years later George gets a little bored.
He trades in the booze, says that Jesus is his Lord.
He said, "Now the White House is the place I wanna be."
So he called his daddy's friends and they called the GOP.
Gun owners, that is....Falwell....Jesse Helms.

Come November 7, the election ran late.
Kin folks said, "Jeb, give the boy your state!"
"Don't let those colored folks get into the polls."
So they put up barricades so they couldn't punch their holes.
Chads, that is...Duvall County....Miami -Dade.

Before the votes were counted five Supremes stepped
in, Told all the voters,
"Hey, we want Georgie to win!"
"Stop counting votes!" was their solemn invocation.

And that's how Georgie finally got his coronation.
Rigged, that moral authority.

Y'all come vote, now. Ya hear?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Will Rogers Wisdom
Will Rogers was probably the greatest political sage this country has ever

Enjoy the following:

1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman.........neither works.

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

5. Always drink upstream from the herd.

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in
your pocket.

8. There are three kinds of men:
(a) The ones that learn by reading.
(b) The few who learn by observation.
(c) The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad

10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then
to make sure it's still there.

11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.


"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- Governor George W. Bush

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
- Governor George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
- Governor George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
- Governor George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
- Governor George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
- Governor George W. Bush

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
- Governor George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."
- Governor George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
- Governor George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
- Governor George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
- Governor George W. Bush

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
- Governor George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- Governor George W. Bush

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Oh thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind

Oh thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
And the black elm tops, ‘mong the freezing stars,
To thee the spring will be a harvest-time.
O thou, whose only book has been the light,
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
Night after night when Phoebus was away,
To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge - I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge - I have none,
And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

John Keats, The Complete Poems (Penguin)

This is the opening poem from a terrific ezine, Axis of Logic
which features Jo Wilding's Voices in the Wilderness and many other articles bringing clarity of the issues
and revealing the mediaplex bias and misinformation. It's pretty upsetting,
but it makes me feel better to know someone will take this project on and
hit it hard.

Last year I wrote my "blog-guru" Cory Doctorow of with the "Cost of War in Iraq"
web-counter, asking him to post it on the site...He shot back a one-line email, "I don't
blog about the war." I was shocked at first, How can you NOT blog about the war? What's more important, after all?

On further thought, now that it goes on and gets deeper and more convoluted and
more horrible, there seems little point to belaboring it. But I am grateful for these writers and their courage.

from Axis of Logic:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.
Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've
become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.
Richard Perle 3-29-03

And this -

Our good friend and colleague, Noah Cohen, translated and adapted this poem from Brecht's,
"An die Deutschen Soldaten im Osten" ("To the German Soldiers in the East").

Noah explains the background for the poem and how Brecht might have written it today:

"The original was written in 1941. Germany had invaded Russia, and after an initial campaign
of rapid conquest and little resistance, summer turned winter, and the Russians rallied at
Moscow. Brecht had his poem read over Moscow radio so that the German soldiers would
hear it.

"I've turned winter to summer, ice-fields to deserts etc. Of course there are differences in
relative situation (thousands of German soldiers died just from the winter itself and the
long march to Moscow), but the parallel is mostly here: that the resistance of the people
of Fallujah now,like the resistance then, is what stands between the world and a fascist
military empire bent on global dominion. Perhaps I should stay closer to the original title
and make it "To the American Soldiers in the East."

A Message to the Troops
Brothers, if I were among you
On the eastern deserts, were one of you
One of the thousands
I'd be saying what you're saying: Surely
There must be a road leading home.
But, brothers, dear brothers
Under my helmet, under my skull
I would know what you know:
There is no more road leading home.
On the map on the wall of the schoolroom
The road to Fallujah is short
Like the pinky of the Commander-in-Chief.
But in the desert it's longer,
very long, too long.
The sandstorms won't last forever, only till the turn of the season.
But man too won't last forever. Till the turn of season
He will not last.
And so I must die, I know that.
In the coat of a robber I must die.
Must die in the shirt of an arsonist.
As one of the many, as one of the thousands
Hunted as robbers, beaten as arsonists.


Saturday, April 17, 2004

Today the challenge was: button
Leo showed me where it was.

Friday, April 16, 2004


This is a letter I wrote to the Albuquerque journal last year, in response to a
plea from a North Valley resident for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
to cease scraping the acequias while the ducks were nesting. I have lived on the
ditch for many years, and I am sad to report that the destruction of wildlife and
especially wildflowers has been devastating. I don't know what else can be done,
beyond pleading and prayer.
This is a post to the ecotone wiki, a collaborative
website for writing about place.

I anticipated the standard response from the MRGCD in reply to a recent letter to the editor,protesting the destructive, unconscious mowing of North Valley irrigation ditches, but I suppose this plea will likely be simply ignored.

I am sure the conservancy district employees are hard at work mowing here, mowing there, for months on end, removing the elms, grasses and other unwanted vegetation from the many miles of ditches, with no particular time-table or concern
for the nesting habits of ducks.

In fairness, constant mowing is required to keep pace with the outrageous weeds
that will be towering over the paths after a few summer rains. Russian thistle and
tumbleweeds, goatheads and pretty little ferns that turn to woody thornbushes
are growing quickly, since they have no competition from other plants.

My experience as a ditch-walker over the past twenty years in Corrales is
that the multitudes of native plant species and colorful wildflowers that once
were commonplace along the ditchbank are now gone forever, the result of commitment to a policy of systematic destruction by bulldozers and mowers.

I remember when, from August to October along the acequias, we enjoyed a brilliant display of fantastic, ten-foot multi-headed sunflowers, black-eyed susans, white asters, purple asters, Indian paintbrush and larkspur, gallardia and cosmos, penstemon and hollyhocks and Mexican primrose...until--along came the bulldozers, late in the summer, but too soon for the seeds to have ripened and fallen.

The next year there would be fewer flowers, and fewer the next, and they too were crushed at the height of their beauty, and the ditch was scraped, back and forth.

Eventually the softclay silt of the banks became unstable, and the gophers moved in, so that in many places the dump trucks came to shore up the banks with concrete chunks. The main canal I used to walk was completely cemented, so as to save the water that grasses and wildflowers might drink while doing their job of holding the banks together with their roots.

Now there is not much left out there on the ditches except weeds and thorns, thistles and goatheads. We still have the perfection of a clear blue sky, sometimes, and the mountain’s glory, but down here on the ground where I walk, I haven’t seen a single native sunflower, nor a purple aster yet this season– only the isolated goldenrod, gourd or globe mallow. On a Sunday morning early this spring, I observed two men dump garbage bags full of beer bottles into the water at a shady turn, then run away, jump into a SUV and drive off.

The very next day, I watched a pair of mallards with a family of baby ducklings paddling bravely up the flow, restoring hope and great wonder that they still can do it--in the face of such odds, such lack of respect. How much longer, till we look back through the eyes of memory, and wonder when it happened that all that beauty went away, leaving only a dry concrete channel full of trash, a dusty ditchbank and a wall of weeds?

Thursday, April 15, 2004


I have taken on a new challenge - it's called -
Every day a new word is posted on the site, and the object is to take a
photograph which expresses that word. Today's word is curve
and I took a photo of the lilacs at the gate. Some of the photographers
that post at this collaborative site are coming up with amazing images.
Take a look--take a picture!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

On a Lighter Note

Ariana and Jody sent these photos of the Cherry Blossom Festival
in Macon, Georgia....and Noah dyeing Easter eggs.

"Channel Firing"
by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgment-Day

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into their mounds,

The glebe-cow drooled. Till God called, "No;
It's gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:

"All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do no more for Christ├ęs sake
Than you who are helpless in such matters.

"That this is not the judgment-hour
For some of them's a blessed thing,
For if it were they'd have to scour
Hell's floor for so much threatening....

"Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need)."

So down we lay again. "I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,"
Said one, "than when he sent us under
In our indifferent century!"

And many a skeleton shook his head.
"Instead of preaching forty year,"
My neighbour Parson Thirdly said,
"I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer."

Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

*Rachel Hadas comments:

"Hardy's 'Channel Firing,' written a few months before the outbreak
of World War One, is, alas, perennially relevant and true. It also
commands a mindbending range of tone and scale, from the fearful mouse
and drooling cow and the convivial skeletons to the gruff ("Ha, ha")
voice of God to the far more remote and chilling evocation of places
remote in space and time, but not in their connection to human
violence, at the poem's close. It is somehow characteristic of Hardy,
an unclassifiably great poet, to cram such diverse material into a
short poem whose gesture and overall effect are nevertheless unmixed
in their sheer authority and power."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

For some reason, the cottonwood trees this spring are
sporting long dark red flowers. Quite unusual!
Easter Bunny-cakes

These are really silly, but they cheered me up...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Fallujah Massacre - Easter Sunday

Please read this FALLUJA NOW -

Do what you can to send this information out..

Additional information confirms this report (4/14/04)
Democracy Now with Amy Goodman
features an interview with Rahul Mahajan - who is in Baghdad now. He keeps
a blog called Empire Notes - and his
first-hand experiences are chilling. "Fear is transmuting into anger," says Rahul.

I don't feel the need to post all this information, you can go read it and judge for yourself. As I said before, Read it and Weep.
Meanwhile, our "Fearless Leader" swaggers and smirks, admits no mistakes, makes
no apologies, never looks back and says It's All Good -- Finish the work....
A question of faith: 'Da Vinci Code,' 'Passion,' Jesus action figure: What would Jesus think?April 10, 2004
from the Star

The three divergent phenomena of Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code," Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" and the Jesus action figure reveal a culture that is fascinated with religious themes but prefers to explore them on a superficial level. Though Gibson's film has a maturity to it, Brown's novel (especially given the plethora of blatantly erroneous statements to be found in the mouths of his characters) and the action figure operate on a lower plane. Even given the quality of the film, the media furor it has generated somewhat eclipses the piece itself, and it is this media fascination -- often operating on a rather shallow level -- that is probably the more accurate gauge of popular interest in the religious sphere, rather than the film itself. Were he engaging in his earthly ministry today, I daresay that Jesus would make every effort to tap into this fascination with religion, but I am convinced that he would also seek to draw interlocutors into a deeper dialogue regarding questions of God, faith and religion. These events could serve as a stepping stone or a starting point, but hardly a terminus of any kind.

In lieu of the recent fascination with religion and more specifically with Jesus Christ, it is my belief that Jesus would be highly displeased with the manner in which he is being marketed for profit and not introduced for peace. Indeed as it relates to Jesus, because of the recent media and movie frenzy, many are engaged in the right conversation for the wrong reasons. While we flock in droves to movie theaters and watch in sorrowful disbelief at the horrific punishment inflicted upon Jesus, while we read with heightened curiosity the spiritual nuances lifted in "The Da Vinci Code" or buy a Jesus action figure for our children, those who create these things make the economic discovery that Jesus is profitable. As one movie producer recently stated, "The hottest name in Hollywood right now is Jesus." To answer the cliched question, "What would Jesus do?" Jesus would inform us that he did not come for the financial windfall of moviemakers, authors and toy manufacturers. I believe Jesus would take this opportunity to enlighten us of his divine identity and the purpose of his death, resurrection and imminent return.



David Denby hits the nail on the head with his review in The New Yorker (3/1/04) of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
Having read this, I see no purpose in subjecting myself to the cinematic experience.

In “The Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson shows little interest in celebrating the electric charge of hope and redemption that Jesus Christ brought into the world. He largely ignores Jesus’ heart-stopping eloquence, his startling ethical radicalism and personal radiance—Christ as a “paragon of vitality and poetic assertion,” as John Updike described Jesus’ character in his essay “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew.” Cecil B. De Mille had his version of Jesus’ life, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Martin Scorsese had theirs, and Gibson, of course, is free to skip over the incomparable glories of Jesus’ temperament and to devote himself, as he does, to Jesus’ pain and martyrdom in the last twelve hours of his life. As a viewer, I am equally free to say that the movie Gibson has made from his personal obsessions is a sickening death trip, a grimly unilluminating procession of treachery, beatings, blood, and agony—and to say so without indulging in “anti-Christian sentiment” (Gibson’s term for what his critics are spreading).

For two hours, with only an occasional pause or gentle flashback, we watch, stupefied, as a handsome, strapping, at times half-naked young man (James Caviezel) is slowly tortured to death. Gibson is so thoroughly fixated on the scourging and crushing of Christ, and so meagrely involved in the spiritual meanings of the final hours, that he falls in danger of altering Jesus’ message of love into one of hate.

And against whom will the audience direct its hate? As Gibson was completing the film, some historians, theologians, and clergymen accused him of emphasizing the discredited charge that it was the ancient Jews who were primarily responsible for killing Jesus, a claim that has served as the traditional justification for the persecution of the Jews in Europe for nearly two millennia. The critics turn out to have been right. Gibson is guilty of some serious mischief in his handling of these issues. But he may have also committed an aggression against Christian believers. The movie has been hailed as a religious experience by various Catholic and Protestant groups, some of whom, with an ungodly eye to the commercial realities of film distribution, have prepurchased blocks of tickets or rented theatres to insure “The Passion” a healthy opening weekend’s business. But how, I wonder, will people become better Christians if they are filled with the guilt, anguish, or loathing that this movie may create in their souls?

I read The Da Vinci Code and I thought it was a
real stinker. What a disappointment! The research was quite shallow and the writing
--a "fast-paced thriller"-- was a preposterous chase scene. I am dismayed that excellent books, written with care and attention, transformative and transporting works of art, fall by the wayside - while this tripe earns accolades and millions for
hitting the right note - ka-ching! in the cultural mainstream.

The only thing that interested me was the revelation that Mary Magdalene is
seated at the right hand of Jesus in the famous "Last Supper" by Da Vinci.
Funny, I never noticed her before! That is a woman, undoubtedly...

Saturday, April 10, 2004

From April 5 2003 C Little, No Less

On the subject of tears - This is the message for my birthday,
April 5, which I read every year in Open Mind...
It seems more appropriate this year than ever before....

Shechinah, I pray that Your spirit may pervade
those whose tears will not flow; that they may
experience the release of feeling that connects
us to each other, to the tradition of our ancestors,
to our progeny and to all humanity.
For the blessing of tears,
I thank God that I was born a woman.

--from The Women's Hagaddah

The Haggadah is the special text used for Passover that
includes the story of the Exodus. This prayer is one of
thanksgiving for women's ability to feel and to connect.
We pray that all people may feel this connection, and
know the oneness of all life.

Women's wisdom is the wisdom of connection, but the tears
that can easily flow from our eyes have been used against
us as proof that we are overly emotional, irrational, and
unrealistic. Yet it is this knowledge of connectedness
that is lacking in today's world. When our tears can freely
flow, when we can feel compassion for another's pain, abuse
will stop. As long as we feel separate and disconnected, we can
deny other people's humanity, cause harm to one another and
to the Earth.

The dharma, the law of interconnectedness and love, has the power
to break open the heart. Women have often come to me in tears
after hearing a dharma talk. I once thanked a woman for her tears.
She was quite surprised, never having thought of her tears as a gift.
She deeply received the thanks, and in so doing her heart opened
wider and she felt great joy.

I call this magic horse my "apple-loosa"
Immersed in Sadness for the World

The rain comes and goes, sometimes thrown in a wild dance of drops through
sunlight, whipping into the earth with a rhythmic gaiety, urging seeds to germinate.

Sometimes, like today, it seems more like the tears of our loving mother
Shekinah/Gaia weeping to heal the wounds of the earth and her children.

....from the Gate of Sadness thanks, Andrew

In our culture, sadness is either a sin or a disease. Once, America
recognized it as an inevitable part of a sincere life: Abraham Lincoln's
melancholy was seen as part of his wisdom. Now, it is seen as Unamerican,
indulgent, almost European. Sorrow is diagnosed as depression, and medicated
with drugs; after all, why else would one be sad, unless one were sick?

In Buddhism, that life is suffering is one of the four noble truths. It is said
to stem not from illness, but from the natural human propensity to want the world
to be other than it is. This propensity is essential to our survival as a species --
without want, no neanderthal would ever hunt or build a home. The Talmud says,
--Without the desirous inclination, nothing would ever be accomplished. Yet it
also ensures our unhappiness, since the world will never conform to our desires.

We can still enjoy life’s pleasures, and must still seek to alleviate suffering
in others, but we can only gain happiness by not attaching ourselves to the desire
that the world be different.

One of the most important desires to let go is the desire not to be sad.
Often, when we feel sad, it is primarily at the fact that we are sad. Everyone else
seems so happy -- and they don't deserve it. Why can't I be? What is wrong with
me? Or, perhaps our sorrow turns to anger: How hateful is the world, that some
people are given love, success, and happiness, while I am not. For many people,
the most important step on a path to equanimity is accepting our sadness.

Acceptance of sadness is not the same as immersion in it. Immersion
comes when we repeat the story of why we are sad; what is lacking; what aspects
of the world should be different. We become enveloped by the sadness, wrapped
up in its stories and resultant despair. Acceptance, though, comes from seeing
that we are sad, and seeing that this, too, is God.


Our band-aid culture must "cure" sadness, or depression, by labeling it as
pathological instead of embracing the truth that our sadness can connect us to--
the Saturnine introspection which goes beyond our power to "fix" . This process has a numbing-down effect, so that we not feel so deeply, and cannot therefore
learn empathy or recognize the depth of connection to humankind, so often

How, I ask, how or when did we get so callous and unfeeling that we just nod and turn the page upon reading that our own country dropped bombs on a
mosque, where people are kneeling in prayer? When did such an atrocity become
commonplace or acceptable? Who makes such a decision? What is a war crime, or
have we gone beyond that concept-- as the article The Third World War is Now by Prince El Hassan Bin Tallal--tells us, the conflict only escalates
to include all the earth's citizens - a World War that has gone on since the first shot
was fired in the First World War is still the same war.

Make no mistake that this is a world war, albeit not like any we have seen before. The conflict is not being fought by regimented armies of men, but by individuals and by small terrorist cells on our streets and in our homes. The human race has now reached such a point that we are arguing the merits of killing a half-blind man in a wheelchair on one side, and the blowing up of 200 innocent Spanish citizens on their way to work on the other.

Significantly, neither action has brought us any closer to ending the conflict. Sheik Yassin's assassination has only served to elevate him to martyrdom, and will undoubtedly incite further violence in his name. We must remember the real danger of such an act, which could change the agenda from Palestinian-Israeli confrontation to that between Arabs, Christians, Muslims and Jews.


I am so deeply ashamed, and sorrowful, and I cannot believe that there is not an outcry from the people of the world. I think they are all over-medicated.

This is wrong. This is wrong.
Are we supposed to whisper the truth?
Speak only with tears?

Is this inappropriate immersion in sadness - that we cannot accept the truth, as terrrible as it is, because it is "all from God"? I am having trouble with that concept.
I cannot help but want the world to be different than it is. I guess I am hung up on
that one.

I punched the face on the editorial page the other morning, reading these words
"...I still believe this is a just war."

I told Robert, it made me so angry. A just war!

Robert said, you're missing the point. He says, It's Just War.
It's Just War. Get it?

I still don't get it.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Gate of Sadness
Jewish and Buddhist Teachings on the Broken Heart

The Gate of Sadness is a monograph in progress on the subject of sadness as it is regarded in the Jewish and Buddhist traditions. The introduction and first few teachings are available here.

Sometimes a crumb falls from the tables of joy
Sometimes a bone is flung.
To some people love is given,
To others, only heaven.

Langston Hughes

Sadness and joy are not opposites. They exist as two notes of a sometimes
dissonant, sometimes harmonious, chord of quiet awareness. Learning to
experience and accept one’s sadness as part of the unfolding perfection of Being is
to make the darkness visible, and beautiful. It is a gate into deeply knowing that
all is God.

Denying sorrow, or pretending too quickly that everything is okay, denies
that God exists everywhere, which contradicts the unity and reality of God itself.
If God takes place only when we are happy, it is not God.

Sadness is not the same as despair. Despair is a condition of the ego, in
which the “I” loses confidence that the sad mind state will change. It is part of a
narrative, in which the desired happiness is feared never to come. Sadness is not
part of a narrative; it is simply what is, at this moment. In fact, despair hates
sadness, and seeks to avoid it – even as it believes that to avoid it is impossible.
In this sense, despair and holy sadness are opposites.

When we truly experience, not just merely learn, that sadness is a
manifestation of God, and when we feel -- not just merely theorize -- that we are
not alone in sadness, we can become one with an underlying peace with what is
that lovingly endures even our most painful heartbreaks.

The teachings in this book flow from many voices of Jewish traditions,
and some from Buddhist ones, though hopefully they can inspire any seeker of
communion with ultimate Being. They do not represent the only voices in these
traditions on the subject of sadness, or even the dominant ones. Most importantly,
this path is not a cure for sadness – it is an embrace of it. The gate of sadness will
not make us happy. But it can make us joyful, content, and loving in the midst of
pain. With an open heart, sadness and joy may thus be united.

Read more:
by Jay Michaelson

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Call for an Exit Door from Iraq
by Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Remarks
April 7, 2004

I am posting this in its entirety--
Please read and pass on- from Common

I have watched with heavy heart and mounting dread as the ever-precarious battle to bring security to post-war Iraq has taken a desperate turn for the worse in recent days and hours. Along with so many Americans, I have been shaken by the hellish carnage in Fallujah and the violent uprisings in Baghdad and elsewhere. The pictures have been the stuff of nightmares, with bodies charred beyond recognition and dragged through the streets of cheering citizens. And in the face of such daunting images and ominous developments, I have wondered anew at the President's stubborn refusal to admit mistakes or express any misgivings over America's unwarranted intervention in Iraq.

During the past weekend, the death toll among America's military personnel in Iraq topped 600 -- including as many as 20 American soldiers killed in one three-day period of fierce fighting. Many of the dead, most perhaps, were mere youngsters, just starting out on the great adventure of life. But before they could realize their dreams, they were called into battle by their Commander in Chief, a battle that we now know was predicated on faulty intelligence and wildly exaggerated claims of looming danger.

As I watch events unfold in Iraq, I cannot help but be reminded of another battle at another place and another time that hurtled more than 600 soldiers into the maws of death because of a foolish decision on the part of their commander. The occasion was the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1864, during the Crimean War, a battle that was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Tennyson got it right -- someone had blundered. It is time we faced up to the fact that this President and his administration blundered as well when they took the nation into war with Iraq without compelling reason, without broad international or even regional support, and without a plan for dealing with the enormous post-war security and reconstruction challenges posed by Iraq. And it is our soldiers, our own 600 and more, who are paying the price for that blunder.

In the run up to the war, the President and his advisers assured the American people that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. For a brief moment, that outcome seemed possible. One year ago this week, on April 9, 2003, the mood in many corners of the nation was euphoric as Americans witnessed the fall of Baghdad and the jubilant toppling of a massive statue of Saddam Hussein. Less than four weeks later, the President jetted out to an aircraft carrier parked off the coast of California to cockily declare to the world the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

For those with tunnel vision, the view from Iraq looked rosy then -- Baghdad had fallen, Saddam Hussein was on the run, and U.S. military deaths had been kept to a relatively modest number, a total of 138 from the beginning of combat operations through May 1.

But the war in Iraq was not destined to follow the script of some idealized cowboy movie of President Bush's youth, where the good guys ride off into a rose-tinted sunset, all strife settled and all wrongdoing avenged. The war in Iraq is real, and as any soldier can tell you, reality is messy and bloody and scary. Nobody rides off into the sunset for fear that the setting sun will blind them to the presence of the enemies around them.

And so the fighting continues in Iraq, long past the end of major combat operations, and the casualties have continued to mount. As of today, more than 600 military personnel have been killed in Iraq and more than 3,000 wounded.

Now, after a year of continued strife in Iraq, comes word that the commander of forces in the region is seeking options to increase the number of U.S. troops on the ground if necessary. Surely I am not the only one who hears echoes of Vietnam in this development. Surely, the Administration recognizes that increasing the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will only suck us deeper into the maelstrom of violence that has become the hallmark of that unfortunate country. Starkly put, at this juncture, more U.S. forces in Iraq equates more U.S. targets in Iraq.

Again, Tennyson's words bespeak a cautionary tale for the present:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Like Tennyson's Light Brigade, American's military personnel have proved their mettle in Iraq. In the face of a relentless and seemingly ubiquitous insurgency, they have performed with courage and resolve. They have followed the orders of their Commander in Chief, regardless of the cost. But surely some must wonder why it is American forces that are still shouldering the vast majority of the burden in Iraq, one year after the liberation of the country. Where are the Iraqis? What has happened to our much vaunted plans to train and equip the Iraqi police and the Iraqi military to relieve the burden on U.S. military personnel? Could it be that our expectations exceeded our ability to develop these forces? Could it be that, once again, the United States underestimated the difficulty of winning the peace in Iraq?

Since this war began, America has poured $121 billion into Iraq for the military and for reconstruction. But this money cannot buy security. It cannot buy peace. $121 billion later, and just 2,324 of the 78,224 Iraqi police are "fully qualified," according to the Pentagon. Nearly 60,000 of those same police officers have had no formal training -- none! It is no wonder that security has proved so elusive. The time has come for a new approach in Iraq.

The harsh reality is this: one year after the fall of Baghdad, the United States should not be casting about for a formula to bring additional U.S. troops to Iraq. We should instead be working toward an exit strategy. The fact that the President has alienated friend and foe alike by his arrogance in "going it alone" in Iraq and has made the task of internationalizing post-war Iraq an enormously difficult burden should not deter our resolve.

Pouring more U.S. troops into Iraq is not the path to extricate ourselves from that country. We need the support and the endorsement of both the United Nations and Iraq's neighbors to truly internationalize the Iraq occupation and take U.S. soldiers out of the cross-hairs of angry Iraqis.

And from the flood of disturbing dispatches from Iraq, it is clear that many Iraqis, both Sunni and Shiite, are seething under the yoke of the American occupation. The recent violent uprising by followers of a radical Shiite cleric is by far the most troubling development in Iraq in months and could signal America's worst nightmare -- a civil war in Iraq that pits moderate Shiites against radical Shiites. Layered over the persistent insurgency being waged by disgruntled Iraqi Sunnis and radical Islamic operatives, a Shiite civil war could be the event that topples Iraq from instability into utter chaos.

As worrisome as these developments are in and of themselves, the fact that they are occurring as the United States hurtles toward a June 30 deadline to turn Iraq over to an interim Iraqi government -- a government that has yet to be identified, established, or vetted -- adds an element of desperation to the situation.

Where should we look for leadership? To this Congress? To this Senate? This Senate, the foundation of the Republic, has been unwilling to take a hard look at the chaos in Iraq. Senators have once again been cowed into silence and support, not because the policy is right, but because the blood of our soldiers and thousands of innocents is on our hands. Questions that ought to be stated loudly in this chamber are instead whispered in the halls. Those few Senators with the courage to stand up and speak out are challenged as unpatriotic and charged with sowing seeds of terrorism. It has been suggested that any who dare to question the President are no better than the terrorists themselves. Such are the suggestions of those who would rather not face the truth.

This Republic was founded in part because of the arrogance of a king who expected his subjects to do as they were told, without question, without hesitation. Our forefathers overthrew that tyrant and adopted a system of government where dissent is not only important, but it is also mandatory. Questioning flawed leadership is a requirement of this government. Failing to question, failing to speak out, is failing the legacy of the Founding Fathers.

When speaking of Iraq, the President maintains that his resolve is firm, and indeed the stakes for him are enormous. But the stakes are also enormous for the men and women who are serving in Iraq, and who are waiting and praying for the day that they will be able to return home to their families, their ranks painfully diminished but their mission fulfilled with honor and dignity. The President sent these men and women into Iraq, and it is his responsibility to develop a strategy to extricate them from that troubled country before their losses become intolerable.

It is staggeringly clear that the Administration did not understand the consequences of invading Iraq a year ago, and it is staggeringly clear that the Administration has no effective plan to cope with the aftermath of the war and the functional collapse of Iraq. It is time -- past time -- for the President to remedy that omission and to level with the American people about the magnitude of mistakes made and lessons learned. America needs a roadmap out of Iraq, one that is orderly and astute, else more of our men and women in uniform will follow the fate of Tennyson's doomed Light Brigade.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Perfection in Darkness

It’s a dark, gloomy day. I love it.
It’s my birthday and we are swimming in
April Showers. About three inches of rain
has fallen in the past few days, a third of
our annual rainfall. Hallelujah!

Andrew Nagen called me this morning
with a birthday song:

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you,
May the Angel of Death pass over your house tonight,
Happy birthday to you!

It’s also my son Max’s birthday today. He’s 20.
He was the gift on my birthday in 1984.

It’s also the birthday of poet Richard Eberhart –
He’s 100 years old today. Here’s one of his best-known
poems –from the Philadelphia Inquirer Online –

Perfection in darkness

The Eclipse

I stood out in the open cold

To see the essence of the eclipse

Which was its perfect darkness.

I stood in the cold on the porch

And could not think of anything so perfect

As man's hope of light in the face of darkness.

- From Collected Poems, 1930-1986

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Pink Roses

Thank you David, for taking the time to write to me.
Were you birthed in the house you returned to, that was gone - or
was it the first home of your life?
Just wondering.
I had a similar experience.

Late in May 2003 I returned to a small town in South Carolina, called Glendale, with my husband, my daughter and grandson Noah. It had been 25 years since we left there with our baby girl and two goldens to move way out west.

We drove down Emma Cudd Road, over a raging river - heavy rains resulted
in flooding above--down into the valley, where the rickety old wooden
house we had rented as poor chiropractic students once stood in a clearing,
overlooking a pond ringed by thousands of pink roses on a wild abandoned hedge...

Friends had even thrown a wedding there once - in a tent in the grove,with music, crystal and champagne - because of that riot of roses and the perfume that filled the night.

A lifetime later - 25 years !- we were in town for a reunion - and we wanted to see if the house was still there where Ariana had been born, in 1977.(It was an illegal homebirth and cost $15 for the midwive's kit to be replaced! )

Of course it was gone, and that wasn't such a surprise ... surveyors for
a natural gas pipeline had come through before we moved out and the
understanding was that this old house was in the way.

(I had dreamed once while sleeping there, nestling my infant daughter, that the winds had risen and the whole thing collapsed in a heap of sticks. It was
just hanging there inexplicably, suspended on the chimney.)

We drove up and down the road, measuring the curves, when I saw
a small rose hedge on the edge of a sodden wood. The little pink
wild roses were twining up a telephone pole.

Robert could see it - the turn of the road he remembered. But there was no pond, curiously: it had been filled in years ago, and the big trees were long gone.

Not a trace of that tumble-down memory remained.Now there was a little subdivision of solid brick houses, along a familiar drive. Behind one house was the old barn, still standing.

I didn't feel certain I was even in the same place until we drove in
a little ways--looked out across the slope of the hayfield. Then it was the lay of the land, the old brambles and elderberries, the color of the grass and
angle of light where I used to run - I knew I was back *home*.

A golden retriever came barking at a run over to us, and she looked for all the world like our dog Nell who had given birth to ten puppies back then, in those fertile days.

Noah was asleep in the car, so we turned around and drove out, over the
foaming, red-clay river. I thought about that image and it said to me: water under the bridge.....

I picked a little sprig of pink roses, and they filled the car with a pink aroma --something like Evening in Glendale, Southern-style. Revival, anyone?

Related posts - June 1 2003

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Kids Aren't All Right

It's Saturday night...and I read this article in, of all things,
my alumnae magazine. I was deeply saddened by this article.
Also reassured. I don't feel so alone.
What do you think?

From the Smith Quarterly Online -
The Kids Aren't All Right

A generation of young adults tells their parents: 'We won't grow up.' Why can't they seem to get a foothold, and what's a parent, facing her own retirement, to do?
By Jane Lubchansky Adams ’60

We’re at dinner, at cocktail parties, at college reunions, peers of mine—all of us in our fifties and sixties—sharing the details of our landmark birthdays, our plans for retirement, our health, and even our unions. When, however, the conversation turns, as it always does, to how our children are doing, the answers become pat and predictable: “The kids are all right.”

The truth is that some of those kids, who are in their twenties and thirties by now, are not all right. They’re failing to thrive. Despite having every constitutional and environmental advantage—including healthy minds and bodies and loving and intelligent parents—many of our children are not growing into the independent, generous, kind, happy, successful, law-abiding, contributing citizens we expected them to be.

Where baby boomers took their parents’ values and went on to create secure lives for their families, this new generation of “adultolescents,” as they’ve come to be known, is having a difficult time breaking free from the parental cocoon and starting their own lives. A study conducted among 600 young adults in 1997 revealed that almost a third have downsized the ambitions they had at 18, and half of them believe their goals will never be accomplished. Census Bureau statistics from 2000 indicate that more than half of 21- to 24-year-olds and a third of 25- to 34-year-olds still live at home or have boomeranged back more than once since college graduation. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reports that illegal drugs, especially heroin and amphetamines, have made stunning inroads among middle-class young adults, whose rates of suicide, alcoholism, eating disorders, and depression have tripled in the past two decades. And according to sociologist William Aquilino (in The Parental Experience in Midlife), 40 percent of grown kids are excessively dependent on their parents for financial and emotional support.

The result of all this is a growing population of angry, scared, resentful, worried, embarrassed, and guilt-racked parents who can’t escape the feeling that their children are missing out on life because of something they did or failed to do when they were younger. One woman related her frustration at watching her 27-year-old daughter move home for the third time since college and sit around the house, aimless, depressed, bulimic, unemployed, and in debt. “This is what I expected: for her to finish her education, even if it took her a few years more than it took me; to explore what’s out there, all the opportunities open to her, and choose one that’s likely to give her a rewarding or meaningful career, or at least a decent job; to pay her own way, even if I have to provide a safety net for a while; to be emotionally independent—to own her own feelings and not blame me for her failures; to play by the rules and not take dumb risks that could ruin her life; and, oh yes, find a cure for cancer, give me a few grandchildren, and call home once in a while. Was that too much to ask?”

Apparently, it is. So what happened? Why are twentysomethings and thirtysomethings clinging so tightly to the nest, and why are we as parents so hard-pressed to get tough and give them the push they need to get on with their lives? The answer may have something to do with our own upbringing and how shifting social mores spearheaded by baby boomers helped reshape the culture—as well as parenting styles—during the sixties and seventies.

The baby-boom generation is the largest, richest, and most educated generation in history. Baby boomers reaped the benefit of the economic security that was their parents’ most important goal, and though most knew they were privileged, few felt entitled—at least not the way grown children do today. Even the most idealistic baby boomers didn’t expect to achieve their career goals without a long apprenticeship and a lot of hard work. They didn’t feel entitled to a lifestyle marked by extended dependence, or expect to enjoy the same standard of living at 25 that their parents spent decades attaining. Baby boomers were eager for their independence, and by the time they had the responsibilities that come with it, they were (mostly) ready for them.

Then, in the 1970s, the winds of social change had ushered in a new set of values and expectations. Life structures and relationships began to shift, creating a culture of divorce as well as nine million single parents who by the end of the decade were raising their children alone. People’s attitudes, too, had changed with the sexual revolution, feminism, and the human potential movement. Suddenly, it became important not only to provide for your children but also to pay attention to their inner psychological needs. This may be the biggest legacy of the “me” decade, which popularized the notion of happiness as an entitlement—not the pursuit of happiness, but happiness itself. Parents began paying an inordinate amount of attention to their children’s emotional state, their human potential, their self-esteem, and their overall happiness. As a result, when parents couldn’t provide the “perfect home” for their children, they became consumed by parental guilt, which lingers to this day. As 57-year-old Gloria said, “I couldn’t give my kids what every child deserves—a happy two-parent home. I couldn’t even give them a home where one parent was always there; I had to work. So they started out with two big disadvantages. I guess I feel that it’s up to me to make up for that.”

A recent study that examined how parents evaluate their adult children’s achievements and adjustment—and how those assessments affect parents’ own sense of self-worth—indicated that wanting their children to be personally fulfilled is a goal unique to the baby- boom generation. With parents having gone to sometimes extraordinary lengths to ensure their kids’ happiness, it’s no surprise that their grown children expect them to continue to provide it, forgetting that they need to take responsibility for finding it themselves in the satisfactions of work, love, connection, commitment, and achievement. The fact is, parents can’t make their grown kids happy; only the kids themselves can. But as long as parents think that it’s their job, so will their children. The result: nobody’s happy.


Kicking Out My Son
Spring Storm

Friday, April 02, 2004

In Local News:

Aggravated assault was reported in the xxxx block of xxxx rd. in Corrales
about 1 pm March 11. A woman allegedly approached a man with a stick
because he was cutting down trees on property she believed belonged
to her. The woman told officers the man pointed a chainsaw at her and she
felt in fear of her safety. Officers investigated and found the property belonged to the man. Both were told to stay away from each other.
from the Albuquerque Journal

Air Quality Report a "Cruel Hoax"
Critics on Thursday blasted a state-commissioned report on air quality
near the Intel plant during a meeting of the Corrales Air Quality Task Force.

The report is part of a 15-month long air quality study (by Gradient Corp.) of
Corrales and parts of Rio Rancho that surround the Intel micro-chip-making plant.

It states that the company could not find "any evidence that any of the measured or modeled chemicals are associated with acute or chronic health risks."

Some Rio Rancho and Corrales residents blame strong odors and illnesses on emissions coming from Intel.

...Intel officials say the plant does not cause health problems and its emissions are within "permitted levels". However, one task force member called the report "a sham".

"It's appropriate that your presentation is being made on April Fool's Day,"
said Fred Marsh..."However, instead of a harmless joke, your Gradient report
is a cruel hoax against our community...What you claim is a risk assessment reads like a love letter to Intel."......from the Albuquerque Journal
Ghost Town

Take a trip with Elena on her Kawasaki motorcycle, into the heart of a Ghost Town - that is near Chernobyl : which means wormwood - the site of the world's worst nuclear accident which took place in 1986. Official figures say at least 300,000 people died. Elena's photo-journal is courtesy of her father's occupation as a nuclear research scientist. She gives insight not only into the facts of the accident itself, but the society that produced it. The eerie photos of an interrupted life are stunning. She shows an abandoned high-rise apartment building, and describes the people standing on the roof-top, looking at a "beautiful shining" on the power plant - the shining of radiation.

There are 27 chapters - the last pages are of the kindergarten, untouched since the sudden evacuation.

Here's a snip --go look at the photographs:
Most people had to leave everything, from photos of their grandparents to cars. Their clothes, cash and documents has been changed by state authorities. This is incredible, people lived, had homes, country houses, garages, motorcyles, cars, money, friends and relatives, people had their life, each in own niche and then in a matter of hours this world fall in pieces and everything goes to dogs and after few hours trip with some army vehicle one stands under some shower, washing away radiation and then step in a new life, naked with no home, no friends, no money, no past and with very doubtful future.
The 1960's -1970's were an era of great nuclear enthusiasm. With such slogans as "atom is our friend", they were building atomic plants here, there and everywhere and then in the night of 25 to 26 April 1986 someone pushed a wrong button and launched the biggest nuclear catastrophe in history... The causes of the accident are still described as a fateful combination of human error and imperfect technology.
In keeping with a long tradition of soviet justice, they put imprisoned all the people who worked on that shift - regardless of their guilt..... a man who tried to stop the chain reaction as a last attempt to save the plant and was sentenced to 14 years in prison, he died 3 weeks after the accident.

In theory, radiation will stay in the Chernobyl area for the next 48.000 years, but in reality, humans may begin repopulating the area in about 600 years - plus/minus three centuries. The experts predict that by then the most dangerous elements will have dissapeared - or been sufficiently diluted into the rest of the world's air, soil and water.

If our government can somehow find the money and political willpower to finance scientific research, perhaps there will be someway discovered to neutralise or clean up this area sooner, otherwise we will have to wait this 300 years untill radiation will vanish by itself. That's if we use the lowest scientific estimate of 300 years......some scientists say it may be as long as 900 years. People often accuse me of being an optimist.

at Elena's Chernobyl Journal
Thanks, David

Sunday (March 28) marked the 25th anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident, and 25 years later the nation’s aging fleet of 103 reactors still face nagging questions about their ability to prevent mishaps.

These concerns, worsened by recent findings of massive corrosion at a nuclear power plant in Ohio, have so far kept utilities away from pursuing new nuclear plants for over two decades despite their potential to replace aging, air-polluting coal units.

In a bid to change that trend, the Bush administration has promoted incentives to build new nuclear plants. But the outlook is uncertain because a Republican-written energy bill with some of the administration’s proposals has long been stalled in the U.S. Senate.

On March 28, 1979, Walter Cronkite opened his nightly news broadcast for CBS television, calling the accident at the Pennsylvania plant “the first step in a nuclear nightmare.”

That was the first time that many Americans heard of the mishap, the most serious accident in U.S. nuclear history.

Early that morning, pumps feeding cooling water to the plant’s reactor failed, and 32,000 gallons of radioactive, superheated water spewed from a dodgy valve into the domed concrete reactor housing. Without water to cool them, over half of the reactor’s 36,000 nuclear fuel rods ruptured.

Government scientists said that the 636,000 people living within 20 miles of the plant got only minor radiation doses.

A string of mechanical failures and human errors caused the Three Mile Island accident after operators with Metropolitan Edison Co. switched off crucial equipment that could have lessened the severity of the partial meltdown.

The near-catastrophe at the plant, perched on an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Penn., effectively halted any expansion in the U.S. nuclear energy industry, which generates about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

The resulting cancellation of dozens of planned nuclear plants forced utilities to rely on decades-old nuclear and coal-burning plants for growing electric power demands.

For the last decade, utilities have looked almost exclusively to natural gas plants to fill the gap, which has exacerbated the nation’s shortage of that clean-burning fuel.

And two years ago, massive corrosion found at an Ohio nuclear plant points to lingering safety questions.

“With plants aging and the number of checks dwindling, this is a troubling trend,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

More at MSNBC Environmental News

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I discovered a unique place on the web - thanks to Cassandra - called Ecotone Wiki -- a group participatory weblog discussion site focusing on
*writing about place* - which is something, I found out, I do. I found out it is *something* other people do, too.

Here's my first post, on Smell and Place:

The first year we were delighted by the old apple orchard next door. At least forty huge old trees wore a wild profusion of blossom in the spring. Up close, they were marvelous - white, pink and pale green, multiplied by thousands, adorning the gnarly, unpruned fairy-trees--with a sweetness almost unimaginable.

Our first April there, we had a baby ...our youngest son, Max, was born on my birthday in the upstairs of that house. I remember rocking him by the door open to the deck, enjoying his perfection, and the scent of the apple blossoms wafting in the breezes.

We planted a dozen honeysuckles along a latilla pole fence, and Robert watered them faithfully. While this vine grows like a weed other places, in New Mexico even a weed sometimes needs nurturing to get started. The irrigation ditch ran along the side of the drive, and eventually the honeysuckle and Virginia Creeper and the trumpet vines grew like a jungle, fulfilling a plan and a dream that someday the view of our neighbor's messy yard would be concealed by vines and flowers.

The smell of honeysuckle will always bring me back to my own backyard, and as I stood there inhaling that fragrance, I would remember being a child of about 10 years old, delighting in the honeysuckle in the woods *down the creek* where I grew up in Pennsylvania. Especially in the early evening when the hummingbird-moths would flutter along the fence, the perfume would rise like a dream, and I would nearly swoon with the power of it.

Some sadness wells up with the beauty of these smells, the sense of loss and the memory of family and home that was always mixed with turmoil and pain. It is reflected in the landscape.

We walked the field together our last day, Robert and I and Max. We pondered the empty house, remembering. Twenty years had passed in the wink of an eye. So many stories! In the garden, father and son broke down in tears, we all hugged and the pain seared us; the son said, "I love you - thank you " to his father, who drank the words in like a draught of cool water and wept. As the December sun dropped suddenly behind us, we drove away.

We didn't know, weren't told, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway, that beginning the day after Christmas the huge old evergreens in the front would be chopped down and hauled off, after standing guard at least fifty years on that spot. I was shocked but accepting, as though the sentinels of those dark trees were Robert and I, standing watch, and now we were gone, our shadows never to cool and protect again.

Then, when the fence was taken out, and the roses, the lilacs, the trumpet vines and creeper and the honeysuckle torn from the ditch by the roots, I could only wonder why. It was as if we had held back the inevitable plunder and death by our insistence that beauty was worth something...worth protecting. But we were used to it by now.

Smells that will remind me of that place came to include burning garbage, burning cottonwood, road exhaust, diesel fumes from beeping forklifts and recreational bulldozing. A poignant rush of feeling at home comes with the particular scent of green chile roasting, wafting in the air of late summer as I sit in the shade of the mulberry tree, shucking ears of corn.

The apple orchard, so laden in the fall and reeking of vinegar, as the apples tumbled and rotted on the ground, was mowed down within the first year by chainsaws and replaced eventually by a grey house. The branches were piled high in a summer bonfire, and burned. Several of the trees were so big and their roots so deep, planted by the grandfather of the current owners seventy years ago, that the trees sprang up again from the roots, anew.

Man in Nature - The Fiasco of Suburbia
This piece by James Kunstler, from is the work of "a Curmudgeon in the Wild" - He tends to push buttons on all sides of the fence.
Kunstler says:

As a public commentator on suburban sprawl issues I've been engaged in a low-grade war of ideas with the environmental community. The fiasco of suburbia, so acute and so damaging to our culture in general, has otherwise intelligent and educated people adopting foolish positions on our national land-use crisis. The most common is the idea that nature is the antidote for problems of bad urbanism.

I need to state this broadly -- perhaps too broadly for some -- because it includes a number of views which all derive from the same notion: that human nature is something apart from the rest of nature. Paradoxically, this idea expresses something very similar to the mentality of single-use zoning which underlies the fiasco of suburbia in the first place -- that human nature and the rest of nature occupy separate and irreconcilable zones.

and further--

The confusion out there in America about what is rural and what is urban, what is town and what is country, and what each signifies, has reached an extreme. All the more tragic when you consider that the prime task of people interested in the salvation of any habitat is to answer these questions, and to integrate the human ecology with the larger community of ecologies. We are never going to save the rural places or the agricultural places or the wild and scenic places (or the wild species that dwell there) unless we identify the human habitat and then strive to make it so good that humans will voluntarily inhabit it.

As a formal proposition, the human habitat is the town, the village, the neighborhood, and the city. As things stand now in America, these habitats are so degraded and horrible that anyone with the means to do so has fled, shrieking, to dwell instead in either a rural setting or the mock-rural setting represented by suburbia. This group, it is worth noting, includes a great many "environmentalists" who, due to the blandishments of cheap oil, are able to lead urban lives in distant hinterlands, connected to their needs by large automobiles.

The mentality that views man and nature apart and irreconcilable in terms of land-use is rooted in our culture from the shock of industrial urbanism in the 19th century. American cities are almost wholly a product of that dire process, and the expansion from the period 1830 to 1910 was so traumatic that Americans have yet to recover. Bearing in mind that nothing on the scale of New York or Chicago a hundred years ago had ever been seen before in human history, (not even in imperial Rome, which probably comes closest), the enormity of scale that industry and its accessories assumed by the early 20th century was frightening. Any scholar can see the anxiety and dread of this national experience expressed in the evolution of suburbia, which represents the idea that the remedy for the industrial city is country living, that "nature" is the cure for the awful works of man.