Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Daily Quote

“Only that which does not cease to hurt remains in memory.”

He was elected President of the U.S. in 2000 Posted by Picasa

He probably was elected President in 2004 (due mostly no doubt to that great slogan---wonder who thought that up?) Posted by Picasa

He became President and kept being President, so now he's set a presidential record... Posted by Picasa

President Gore, President Kerry and the Great Vacationer

If you thought Bush wasn't the best at anything, and especially if you thought he was actually elected President, you really ought to read this...


Random Notes

In Dreaming Up Daily News, Captain Future's essay on the European Dream was a front page feature on the European Tribune blog, receiving many thoughtful comments and several compliments.

That was the Captain's second front page in a week. His "No Place to Hide" on climate crisis news was featured at the Booman Tribune under the title, "Today's Story That Will Be Remembered in 50 Years," or something like that.

The Vigil: At our Arcata CA vigil supporting Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday, some 200 people gathered with candles (another vigil was held in Eureka six or so miles away.) There hadn't been much publicity, most people seemed to have learned about it on the Internet. A woman stamped money for you with the words "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," while her friend stood nearby, smiling sadly, wearing a small sign about the size of a nametag that said, "When Clinton lied, nobody died." And he was impeached for that. Does anybody remember that? What a country.

Candles look great at twilight---everybody should carry them around every evening. There were children, a few students (Humboldt State doesn't start up till Monday, and Arcata' s population will double overnight) and lots of the Vietnam generation. One veteran (of the Coast Guard and the Vietnam antiwar movement) said something I've been quoting ever since: "Cindy Sheehan is the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement." Think about it, read the
Captain's take on it, and listen to what's changing in this country...

Note to U.S.: Look out. Up here in far far northern CA we usually have the highest gasoline prices in the contiguous states. But when a gallon passed $2 (not so many weeks ago) and the rest of the nation followed, we may have traded our title of anomaly for that of bellwhether.

So fair warning: a gallon of premium is $3.13 (yes, that's US dollars ), "plus" is $3.03, and regular is hovering just below the Big Three Buck barrier. Only a question of time (like tomorrow probably) before the price rises, the barrier falls and...who knows what? (Hint: Wal Mart profits are down.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Eagles, tree, by Flo Shepard Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"If nature is not a prison and earth a shoddy way-station, we must find the faith and force to affirm its metabolism as our own---or rather, our own as part of it. To do so means nothing less than a shift in our whole frame of reference and our attitude toward life itself, a wider perception of the landscape as a creative, harmonious being where relationships of things are as real as the things. Without losing our sense of a great human destiny and without intellectual surrender, we must affirm that the world is a being, a part of our own body."
Paul Shepard

Re-Wilding: Welcome to Pleistocene Park

When I saw this, I couldn’t help thinking of Paul Shepard, and the Ghost Dance vision of Leslie Marmon Silko.

Cornell scientists have come up with a wild idea. The Guardian describes it:

A bold conservation plan dubbed "Pleistocene Park" could see lions, cheetahs and elephants roaming America's Great Plains, it was revealed today.

Scientists have put forward a serious proposal to repopulate parts of North America with modern ancestors of wild animals that became extinct there about 10,000 years ago.

During the Pleistocene era, between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago, North America's ecosystems were far more diverse than they are today.

Big cats such as the American cheetah (Acinonyx trumani) and American lion (Panthera leo atrox) once roamed the plains, as did mammoths, mastodons, wild horses and the first camels.

The plan envisaged by scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, would see these lost creatures replaced with present-day counterparts, including Asian and African elephants, lions, cheetahs, Bactrian camels, feral horses, and wild asses.

Harry Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell, said: "If we only have 10 minutes to present this idea, people think we're nuts. But if people hear the one-hour version, they realise they haven't thought about this as much as we have.

"Right now, we are investing all of our megafauna hopes on one continent - Africa."
The "rewilding" scheme, outlined in the journal Nature, would unfold in several phases. To start with, small numbers of animals, including elephants and lions, would be released on private land.

Each step would be carefully guided by the fossil record and scientific assessments of the environmental impact. Ultimately, one or more "ecological history parks" covering vast areas of economically depressed parts of the Great Plains would be opened up.

As in Africa, perimeter fencing would limit the movement of elephants and large carnivores that might endanger human settlements.

It’s an amazing idea. I’m not sure if the late human ecologist Paul Shepard would have approved of the specifics, but he’d have to be smiling at the general intent and the boldness of it.

Shepard believed that our species not only became human in the Pleistocene, but that we are still Pleistocene beings, and we need what they needed. Moreover, so does the planet.

Except for collections of essays, Paul’s last book was Coming Home to the Pleistocene, edited by his widow, Florence Shepard. We later collaborated on a web site dedicated to his work, which you can find here.

“Coming Home” was something of an updating of the first of his prophetic and earth-shaking trilogy (as I think of it) The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game, after which followed Thinking Animals and Nature and Madness. All are available in new paperback editions from the U. of Georgia Press.

“Tender Carnivore” was published in the early 1970s, a time of big ideas, and part of what Shepard proposed as an ecologically and psychologically sound future for the US was to keep most of the human population on the coasts and allow the interior of the continent to return to wildness.

Towards the end of Leslie Marmon Silko’s great novel, Almanac of the Dead, a contemporary Native scholar talks about the Ghost Dance vision of a continent returned to its pre-conquest state. Although this is usually interpreted as a vain dream if not a kind of sacrilege against progress, he pointed out that in many ways it’s already happening. Vast areas of the American west are depopulating, and the landscape that hasn’t been severely damaged is returning to wildness.

I'm sure there are reasons not to do it this way, but Pleistocene Park has a ring to it. (Why do I hear Freddie Cannon singing the theme?) As the Guardian points out, it sounds a lot like “Jurassic Park” and so this is probably a selling name. But maybe there’s a part of it that could be named the Paul Shepard Prairie, and another the Ghost Dance plains.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Sheehan meets the farmer and veteran who donates land for relocated Camp Casey---right across from Bush's church in Crawford Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

“Political consciousness isn’t only in the political world. Doesn’t it have to begin with soul?”
James Hillman

It Takes A Mother

Cindy Sheehan began as a news item, was speedily inflamed into a controversy, and is fast becoming a phenomenon, maybe even a legend.

Before all of that, she was a mother---the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. That seems to be the center of her power over the American imagination at the moment.

The American penchant for the cult of personality can be disquieting, contending forces inflating virtues and flaws with equal vehemence. But even with that caution, that sense of unease, this phenomenon is amazing.

This is not a celebrity. This is not another pretty face. But this achingly real person is becoming the central symbol in a still expanding national drama.

She is the center of a storm of strong feelings on both sides, and despite contending pundits and bloggers, the real difference right now is that the usually anonymous American public is becoming part of this.

Just the past 24 hours illustrate this: a presumably angry opponent of her protest drove over a number symbolic grave markers with a pickup truck---wooden crosses with the names of Americans killed in Iraq---that was part of the Camp Casey protest site outside Crawford, Texas. And shortly after that, a farmer who owns a larger piece of land nearby offered its use to Cindy Sheehan so Camp Casey could be relocated. He is a veteran and had supported her silently, until the crosses were run down.

Materials for shelters there are being supplied by renegade soldiers at nearby Fort Hood, apparently where Casey Sheehan was trained or posted. Dealing with the heat as well as the growing corps of media is the constant challenge.

Meanwhile the number of protestors in Crawford grows every hour, and George Bush is stuck a few miles away at his ranch, because to leave before the scheduled end of his vacation several weeks from now would be to admit defeat.

Among the expected arrivals is another Gold Star mother, whose son was killed in Iraq. More may follow. Those reporting from the scene say that many participants have lost loved ones in Iraq, or have loved ones there now.

Demonstrations in support of Cindy Sheehan have occurred already in New York, San Francisco and elsewhere. Move On is sponsoring candlelight vigils in cities and towns all over the country for tonight (Wednesday). Information can be found

Code Pink, which is a principal sponsor of this rolling event, is involved in organizing antiwar demonstrations in Washington in late September.

This is an unprecedented event, awesome if for only that reason. Nothing like this happened all the years of Vietnam. Whether the Rabid Right sensed this might happen, or their quick barrage of vicious character assassination helped create this phenomenon, the fact is that one American mother has become the symbol for the revolt of the usually voiceless, united with others heartfelt in their opposition to this war.

But as much as the Bushhead apologists would like to shift the focus onto favorite targets, what they must fear about this is the participation and leadership of families who have so far silently given up their young to a war begun by the arrogant and powerful, who sacrifice nothing and expected to reap the spoils.

Time to Wake Up to the European Dream

Americans as a rule know little about Europe, possibly even less than Europeans knew about America a half century ago, when Europeans seemed to think Al Capone was still running Chicago and cowboys roamed the West....On the other hand, maybe they were onto something.

Today’s American ignorance is less innocent. Along with the smug complacency and disbelief that we Americans could possibly learn anything from foreign lands, our ignorance of today’s Europe consists of holdover imagery carefully nurtured by big business Repubs, neocons who don’t want their delusions of empire spoiled by the hard-earned insights of Europe, and rabid rightists who certainly don’t want Americans to see European economic successes, particularly the vibrant manufacturing coupled with strong labor unions, universal health care and other social support---and workers with greater job security, shorter work week and more vacations!

Consider this: the nation with the highest labor costs in the world is also the world's champion exporter. And it's in Europe.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Captain Future returns to the Past to revisit hair Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

“Something in us pursues information and data with some passion, but the soul is always eager to hear another story.”
Thomas Moore

To the Privatization Elite: Prove It, or Get Out of Town

They’ve gotten away with this for far too long, living off the fantasies of their snake oil slogans, as well as their lies. Now is the time to call them on it all. If privatization of everything—-from prisons and schools to energy and water, and from health care to Social Security---is so great, let’s see you prove it.

There are enough examples out there now, some running for decades. Show us the money you saved. Show us the efficiency of the private sector, the magic of the marketplace in providing better and more affordable health care, cheaper energy, better schools at lower costs. Spare us the platitudes. Prove it. Prove that privatization works.

The policy of privatization emerged as one of the major mantras and most destructive changes that began in the 1980s and still threatens America’s future today. Privatization is another way that America turned itself inside-out, reversing what had been public with what had been private.


The Story of the Future is a Story with Soul

Star Trek is the example, but the future is the story. Why is it that stories like Star Trek (made by coffee shop novelists and Hollywood producers) are the visions of the future we remember, and not the considered forecasts of scientists and professional futurists?

Stories in general were denigrated as fancy lying, until recent decades, when a prominent psychologist and a philosopher found they could unlock empathy and inspire moral imagination, even in medical and law students.

Others began to see even more basic functions for story. Neuroscientists realized that human memories are stored in stories, and soon, that all thinking involves stories. "Narrative imagining-story-is the fundamental instrument of thought," writes Mark Turner, a neuroscientist, cognitive scientist as well as a Professor of English. " Rational capacities depend on it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining."

"Knowledge is stories," wrote Roger C. Shank, former director of Yale's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Narrative is explanation, and explanations are narratives. So in the age of science, writes William Irwin Thompson, "Science is the storytelling of our time. By telling stories about our origins, from the big bang to the African savanna, science is really telling stories about what and where we are and where we want to go from here."

But not all stories are created equal. As we know, some stories are better than others. That becomes clear when we go back to the future.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey, as the Bush motorcade goes by...
photo from Booman Tribune Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

What is imagination? Perhaps it is a shadow of the intangible truth, perhaps it is the soul's thought!"
H.Rider Haggard

It's Tipping---But Which Way?

The “tipping point” terminology has been used significantly for the second time in a week---first in regard to the climate crisis, and Sunday in a column by Frank Rich entitled “Someone Tell the President the War is Over.”

Rich makes a pervasive and persuasive case that a tipping point has been passed, leading to a US withdrawal from Iraq. But that's counting on GW Bush to act like a more or less rational politican and leader. The ship of state may be tipping---but towards peace, or towards even greater danger?


What Would Jesus Do?

It’s not yet Sunday morning in Crawford, Texas, but when it is, will the Bush motorcade rush to church past the growing tent city of war protestors, now called Camp Casey? It’s named after Casey Sheehan, the young Marine, a Catholic altar boy, Eagle Scout and camp counselor, who died in Iraq, and whose mother’s futile attempt to meet with President Bush has led to the Crawford encampment, as well as demonstrations in sympathy in New York and elsewhere.

Cindy Sheehan continues to be vilified by the Rabid Right, who give new meaning to the term “self-righteous.” It naturally suggests a question one would expect the right wing Christians among them to ask, at least on Sundays. They are moral questions about the morality of acts which they apparently justify as being within the political realm, and somehow exempt from moral judgment. At least that’s the best guess.

To sharpen these questions for those who tend to blend their politics with their religious beliefs, let’s put them in their terms: what would Jesus do?

This is often a rhetorical device meant to provide authority to support an argument apart from its merits. But when we’re dealing with those who use piety as a weapon, as the ipso facto proof of their claim to truth and greater virtue, then it’s fair game to ask them to ask themselves that question.

To honor the generally accepted words of Jesus Christ for what they say, one doesn’t have to believe that every word of the Bible as translated and interpreted by a self-appointed elite is sacred truth and a literal description of reality. One doesn’t have to believe that Jesus was more divine than the rest of us to take his teachings seriously as wisdom, as applying an ethic.

But shouldn’t those who invest the Bible and Jesus Christ with even more authority, be expected to take this question even more seriously? What would Jesus do?

Would Jesus vilify the mother of a young soldier who died in war, because that mother questions the justifications made by those who sent her son to die?

Would Jesus vilify those whose conscience is inflamed by the starvation and suffering of fellow humans, as “bleeding heart liberals”? The phrase, after all, refers to the heart of Christ, bleeding for such suffering.

Would Jesus even ignore starvation and genocide as it occurs in Africa right now?

Would Jesus excuse the torture of innocent captives, or even the torture of captive enemies? Would he vilify those who say such treatment is immoral and destructive, that it violates what few civilized rules we have for our savage conflicts?

Would he defend turning young Americans into barbarous and sadistic oppressors?

What would Jesus say about a society that wastes enough food and energy to feed and light much of the needy world, but self-righteously refuses to share its abundance?

Would Jesus vote to enrich the few at the expense of the many?

Would he advocate that a few enrich themselves from the suffering of the sick, and cause hardship to many who want only that their children have medical care? What would he do when treatment is even denied, so that some suffer and die because they cannot pay the usurious few?

If the fate of humanity, the health and perhaps the existence of life on earth in the future were threatened by practices that leaders refuse to change because their friends, already wealthy beyond belief, might not reap as much wealth and power, what would Jesus do?

Maybe a pastor somewhere in Crawford has the answers.