Monday, November 26, 2007

Bumper Stickers #1

The first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of bumper stickers from the citizens of Ontariario.

OK, technically this is not a bumper sticker, since it's on the window. But how can you resist this? Don't you just want to get on your knees and thank the driver profusely for being so thoughtful?

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Song of the Day

Led Zeppelin: Hots on for Nowhere
-- because I happened to be listening to it last night on Finetune.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Iran & World War Three? Pt.II

I hope the NY Times don't mind. I'm including this image of its front page from Nov. 15, 1969:

As you can see, on this day 38 years ago a quarter of a million people gathered in Washington to protest against the Vietnam war.

Oh, how times have changed!

Now, I ask myself, what's the difference between then and now.

I come up with really only one answer: fear.

The quarter-million Murricans (and many others) of 1969 feared neither the Vietnamese nor the Communists nor their own government. Such is not the case today. Murricans now fear Muslims (and that's a whole lot of the world's population these days) whether they live in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. They fear Mexicans. They fear their own government.

It's possible that this is not simply paranoia, I admit. Sometimes fear is the "rational" response. But if you allow the fear to rule you, then the logical consequences of that response become irrational.

There is some reason to fear the government. The Bush administration has made a concerted effort to feed that fear, to restrict the rights of US citizens (all in the name of security...and is there any as a result?...) I think most westerners (and that includes the Murricans) believe that they live in freedom. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Most, gazing off into the distance of the Middle East or Africa or China, don't recognize the repression in front of their noses.

Of course there is government repression in the US. In western Europe. In Canada. We may admit that it is relatively milder than so-called dictatorships in other regions, but it is repression nevertheless. Just ask those who do attempt to protest or demonstrate their opposition to unwarranted or unrepresentative government actions. Ask the people who protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership right here in North America. (And some of these people are not even saying "Don't do it!" They're just saying, "Tell us what the hell's going on, tell us what your plans are!" Is this not anti-democratic? Is this not repression?)

The usual response to demonstrations and protests in the West is not so far different from what has outraged us recently in both Burma and Pakistan. The police (let's call them "security forces" as the media like to do for other countries) let it go on for a while (as long as it's not too rowdy) and then at some point determine that things must be shut down...for security. If anyone objects to being shut down, they are pepper-sprayed, tasered, arrested, beaten, charged and convicted. But of course, that's OK, because they're our police. They're not those brutal riot gangs in Rangoon.

A few years ago, former Premier Mike Harass of Ontariario put up barricades outside the Legislature. He didn't like the idea of people protesting there. At the figurative House of the People! He essentially instigated riots by trying to suppress the voice of the citizens of Ontariario. I had a hard time convincing some of my friends that the sight of police on horseback with riot sticks in front of our Legislature was something to be alarmed about...that the state was committing violence against its own citizens.

The people of 1969 may have been hippies and so-called radicals. But there is no doubt they had courage. They pushed back against a regime that did not seem to have their best interests at heart. Of course, many of those people are still around. But I wonder, have some of them become the people who need to be pushed back against?

As for the rest of us, I fear too. I fear that we have become hypnotized by technology, by media, by bland repetition of the Big Lie, by trivial pursuits, the latest iPod, the latest iPhone, the latest XBox, the latest celebrity scandal, the latest Hummer. And I lament. I lament that we have been cowed by fear. By complacency. By surveillance. By corporate power. By government power.

And I dread. That we have become sheeplike in our acceptance of authority.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Iran & World War Three?

OK, I'm a little behind here, but I see by the NY Times of Oct.17/07 that President Bush warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III. Of course, Mr. Bush referred to wild and threatening statements made by Iran's Prime Minister Ahmadinejad. As if the Resident of the Excited States of Murrica hasn't ever made wild and threatening statements.

But let me get this straight. Which nation's leader is talking World War III? Which nation actually has nuclear weapons? Which nation's leader has adopted a policy of pre-emptive war? Which nation's leader only took the "nuclear option" in Iran off the strategy table at the insistence of his own military advisors?

Quoting the NY Times: "Mr. Bush sought in the news conference to make clear that his pressure tactics, including economic sanctions, were aimed at persuading the Iranian people to find new leadership."

Does this not sound eerily familiar? Is this not déjà vu all over again?

Ordinary Murricans wouldn't fall for this again, would they?

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The Buddha On My Coffee Cup

pretends to be a hippo
"I have the body of a god" it says.

But Buddha is not a god.
He's something you kill
when you meet him on the road
                                                      to Damascus.

How would the world be now
if Saul had plucked out his eyes
in answer to that blinding flash
                                                      of insight?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mingyur Rinpoche's Compassion Exercise

Chapter 13 of Mingyur Rinpoche's book The Joy of Living is called Compassion: Opening the Heart of the Mind. At the beginning of it he suggests a short exercise to demonstrate how a compassionate heart can be, not boring, but diligent and active.

He writes:
If you really want to see how active a compassionate mind can be, here's a very simple exercise that probably won't take more than five minutes of your time. Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of ten problems that you'd like to see solved. It doesn't matter whether they're global problems or issues close to home. You don't have to come up with solutions. Just write the list.
So I did. Here's my list. For today.
  1. the fossil fuel/energy crisis
  2. poverty
  3. the enslavement/oppression of people by their governments
  4. war
  5. road rage
  6. my income tax bill
  7. my obsessive anger over situations that don't really matter much
  8. becoming a two-handed keyboard player
  9. clutter--both physical and mental
  10. my tendency to procrastinate
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MyBlogLog Stats

I'm sure other members of MyBlogLog have noticed this when they check their stats. Somebody does a Google search and Google calls up one of their blog posts as a relevant reference.

Sometimes the associations are weird. Today someone did this Google search: can body lice drown in the bathtub.

Google served up several sites, but also listed Mental Blog sixth with this entry: What's Bugging Me Now.

The words "lice" and "drown" are mentioned in the comments. Go figger.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer

January 31, 1923 - November 10, 2007

I've been reading Norman Mailer since I was a teenager. Since, according to my Blogger profile, I'm over 200 years old, that's a long time. The first book of his that I read was his first book, The Naked and the Dead. His war novel. Everybody needed a war novel in those days. I don't remember much about it, but it must have been good enough for me to want to read more.

When I heard that he died, I did a quick inventory of the books that I've read. Not all of them, by any means, nor even the majority of his output, but enough to get a good sense of what kind of writer he was. The Naked and the Dead. Armies of the Night. Of a Fire on the Moon (a curiously self-absorbed account of the moon landing). The Executioner's Song (a masterpiece of detailed journalism). Ancient Evenings. Tough Guys Don't Dance. Portrait of Picasso As A Young Man.

Mailer is probably better known for his non-fiction than his fiction. But one of the best books I ever read by anybody was Ancient Evenings, a long, rich story of ancient Egypt and a man who, through several reincarnations was general to Pharaohs and many other things. Fabulous writing.

I speak not about his private life -- much of which was public -- nor his persona, nor his image. His writing ranks with the best that the USA has produced.

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Song of the Day

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes: I'm So Anxious

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Does Beckham have Buddha-Nature?

According to the monks at Pariwas temple in Bangkok, he most certainly does. They're all football (soccer) crazy there, and included an image of him in their altar statuary.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

HHDL Rocks Hawgtown

Security measures at the Yoni School are similar to those found at airports. They are porous and whimsical. It is, after all, not a maximum security reform school, but rather a halfway house of sorts. Halfway between po-tic anarchy and grammatical orthodoxy. The electronic arches at the Yoni school invariably let pass anyone carrying a fountain pen. A volume of Charles Bukowski, however, sends alarums through the system that register several points on the Richter scale as far away as Ottawar, that paragon of political connivance. Do you understand me? Probably not. I scarcely understand myself.

However, what I am trying to convey here is that under certain circumstances, one may leave the environs of the Yoni School, with a pass authorized by Nurse Ratchet and various under-secretaries of literary health, and partake of the doings of society at large. Therefore, I was permitted to go and pay homage to the modern-day Chenresig, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama yesterday in Hawgtown.

He started off by saying that altho he's visited Canada several times, this is the first time he has come to this country as an honourary citizen. That drew an appreciative round of applause.

Here are a few of the themes on which he spoke:

We must realize that the world is not composed of isolated, more or less self-sufficient villages anymore. Everyone is dependent on everyone else now...for food, for energy, for clothing, for shelter. Therefore, we must begin to develop a concern for the welfare of people all around the world. The kind of concern we must develop is like the feeling of love and affection that a mother feels for her child.

If we think of the 20th century as an age of violence and bloodshed, we should work to make the 21st a century of dialogue.

NATO should move its headquarters to Moscow to help bring Russia into the community of European nations, in a unified force.

We treat our animals little better than vegetables. So, in addition to developing concern for the 6 billion humans on our planet, we must begin to change our attitudes towards the animals.

It is time to begin teaching our children in a way that develops not only their brain power, but the power of warm-heartedness.

He praised the US as a beacon of democracy, but strongly suggested that the billions spent in Iraq would have been more useful educating, training, and feeding Iraqis. The money spent on armaments, he said, was a complete waste.

When all is said, His Holiness is an optimistic kind of guy. Where I, for example, often see the world going to hell in a handbasket, he sees progress being made. In fact, he said that the 21st century, so far, has been less violent than the previous spite of Iraq, in spite of Darfur, in spite of terrorism.

And when he uses the word "dialogue" you can be sure he is thinking of China.

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