Friday, September 30, 2005

Playing Ball

Tonight after dinner, my friend and I were joined by another friend who, to say the least, is a pretty successful baseball coach. Well, he's more than pretty successful, he is at the top.

Unsurprisingly, we were talking baseball.

And we were talking about how his teams are known for being able

to win on the road.

"What is that all about?", I said.

He said that he takes the reward out of the game for his players.

"What do you mean?"

We don't go out on the field to win.

We go out on the field to be our best, to play at our level of genius.

Our concern is that we concentrate on applying our best efforts, our best focus, and our best attention to what we are doing. That way, we are not trying to win the title, the game, or the favor of our fans.

And in an odd way, that takes the pressure off.

We just want to be on the field, to be present, and to do our very best.

If we do that.

We will probably win,

and then we can win anywhere, at home or on the road.

Pretty obviously,this secret to successful play can be applied

well beyond baseball.

Being present,

Being in the moment,

is the door to opening up your full potential as you participate

in the creation.

Like the real estate broker standing next to us said,

"If you are thinking about the commission you are going to make,

You may not close the deal."

It reminded me of this piece from a book called Beyond Windows.

Every moment is precious. Every encounter is full of infinite possibilities. Every second we participate in this great realm of consciousness is a blessing. Granted, it is very, very hard to get there when you have a headache or a heart ache, or even when you feel great.

What ever you do. Do it with consciousness. Cook you dinner thoughtfully. Wait at the red light thoughtfully. Find that place where the magic begins to take over. Because it will, and you will know it when it comes.

Practice, as the Buddhists say, "Mindfulness.”

Practice when you pay the sweet man in the box who is collecting money, at close to the minimum rage, for the multinational corporation who owns the parking garage.

Practice when you order your food. For really good practice, be as “good as you can be” after waiting in line at the Post Office to pick up some kind of awful certified mail for no good reason.

You will fail. We all fail. You will fail miserably. We all do. You will get disappointed.

Then, you will be looking out the window and you will see some birds hopping around on the ground, pecking on the seemingly bare concrete. They will chirp and hop and two more will join them. The wind will move the vine on the fence and a seed pod will drop, hit the concrete, and explode with food. You will suddenly see the perfection, the beauty and breath of it all.

It's like that sack that floated around in front of the brick wall in American Beauty. What is mundane becomes magic. Because, you see, it is magic.

Find that space and breathe with it. Don't think too hard; just be there. Find the tranquility and the peace. Listen to the wind. Feel the beat of the City. Hear the sirens in the city and the grumble of the highway. Hear the rattle of the weighted windows and the chimes on the porch in the apartment across the way. Settle in to the moment. Unleash your potential. Don't think or even plan, just be. Be a human, being.

The moment will stretch like a rubberband. It will grow larger and longer and fuller and more pregnant until you feel like you have taken some kind of mind drug. You will not be anxious. You will not be angry with your boss or your wife.

Imagine the earth turning towards the east. Feel the turning. Know that the moon is moving around the earth but very slowly. Know that you are on this big ball of condensed energy being afforded a complete view of the entire creation every twenty four hours, if you only would only look.

Feel a tingle come up your spine. Move your muscles and give it a channel. Let it settle in the valleys of your muscles and the mountains of you mind. Don't think about it. Feel it.

Relax your face. Feel the tightness dissolve. Forget about the laundry for now. Listen.


Become Still.

Become Alive.

Knock and the Door will open.

Practice being Here. "

Because you are.

Play ball.


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"Here and Now" courtesy of Wis - Wieslaw Sadurski

Thursday, September 29, 2005

To the Moon & Back

We were standing on the surface of the Moon and we saw the Earthrise.

The Story:

NASA's $104 billion vision: return to moon by 2018
New crew-exploration vehicle would be like 'Apollo on steroids,'
Orlando Sentinal
Tamara Lytle
Washington Bureau Chief
Posted September 20, 2005

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Michael Griffin opened a new chapter in the history of spaceflight Monday by unveiling a $104 billion plan to return astronauts to the moon and, eventually, go on to Mars.The new mega-plan comes amid unprecedented pressure on the federal budget, nagging deficits and what is being heralded as the largest peacetime rebuilding plan in history after Hurricane Katrina.

But Griffin was confident that Congress would provide the money, pointing out that the space program employs many people along the Gulf Coast devastated by Katrina.Reaction on Capitol Hill ranged from staunch support to adamant opposition by those who think programs for the needy will be shortchanged.

The blueprint -- touted as the boldest vision for NASA since the moon race in the 1960s -- has been in the making since President Bush announced the idea in January 2004.

It could land four astronauts on the moon in 2018 after several robot missions.

Eventually, astronauts could inhabit the moon for up to six months at a time.The technology will be designed to support a future manned trip to Mars, where scientists have long yearned to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."

The Response:

An other-worldly moon mission
The Virginian-Pilot
© September 26, 2005

Forgive the pun, but on what planet does the White House get its mail?

In the midst of the most calamitous natural disasters in the nation’s history, NASA announced that it wants to spend $104 billion to send astronauts back to the moon by 2018, and on to Mars.

Americans can be forgiven for jumping to their feet and cheering the news with a standing ovation. With hurricanes having made hundreds of thousands of Americans homeless along the Gulf Coast and having left a major American city and a few smaller ones to reconstruct, with an open-ended commitment to make Iraq safe for democracy and the largest-in-history tax cuts and entitlement expansion still to be swallowed, the administration adds a man on the moon program to the pile.

This is the kind of misplaced priority-setting that has convinced many Americans that the Bush White House occupies a parallel universe.

Described by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as “Apollo on steroids,” the new space shot marries the agency’s moon and shuttle eras. The new crew vehicle will be akin to the Apollo crafts, and its solid-fuel rocket boosters are based on space shuttle technologies.

In short, we’re going to spend $100 billion for an encore performance of NASA’s greatest moments. The new capsule could carry six astronauts to the International Space Station or four people plus cargo to the moon. For lunar shots, the craft would link up with a mammoth new cargo rocket in Earth’s orbit before blasting off to the moon."

I remember when JFK said we were going to the moon.

And it was cool.

I did not find it hard to believe that we got to the moon.

I do find it hard to believe that we haven't been back since.

I think it is better idea to peacefully explore space

than it is to violently wage war on earth.

The space program unifies us.

We can look back and see the earth and see that we are one people.

We can see that there are no countries and no religions that divide us.

We can see that we are indeed members of spaceship earth.

As we begin our true battle to right the balance of the earth,

as we begin our epic struggle to replace our declining fuel base,

as we wage the peace to bring each of us to the table of wellness,

as we walk out of our archaic thoughtforms that bind us to the

prisons of our minds,

and as we protect ourselves from those pirates who would fill

their bottomless greed,

we will do well to have a lofty goal,

in a new sea.

For we are all sailors.

If you believed they put a man on the moon
Man on the moon
If you believed there's nothing up his sleeve
Then nothing is cool



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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Magic Village

Over the last 20 years,I have spoken often and sometimes perhaps too passionately about climate change. I have even ruined a dinner party or two with my zeal. In all fairness though, I've seen ruined dinner parties over much less significant issues.

When I went to the United Nations in 1991 as a representative of the International Solar Energy Society, I came back thinking that a Kyoto type agreement would be made reasonably soon, and that the nations of the earth would recognize the clear and present danger that climate change represented to our respective civilizations.

Now, some 14 years later, we finally have an accord, sans USA. But the Kyoto Treaty was just a beginning. It was not meant to be a cure all, but rather, a starting point.

As a senior Utility Executive said to me last week,"I no longer debate climate change". Those who choose to ignore it at this point are simply treating the issue politically-not in a rational or scientific manner. With the National Academies of Science of all major Nations now urging their political leadership to take the issue seriously, only the darkest of intellects can now argue the talking points of those corporations who have a vested interest in its debunking.

I used to speak primarily about the need to implement mitigation policy. That policy is based on the rule of holes. If you are in hole, stop digging. That means we should stop doing the thing that is causing the thing to happen.

But now I am beginning to speak more and more about adapting. For it is now clear that the change that is already in the works is going to require a lot of attention. That means newer and higher dikes, food and water supply studies, and changing the way we work and live.

One way to both mitigate and adapt is to begin to rebuild and transform our cities in a more thoughtful and people oriented way. In affect, we are going to have to transform our cities into a patchwork of villages. We will need to have neighborhood gardens and local stores with real food in them. We will need to have telework centers with day care and parks and places on the street to chat and drink a coffee. We will need to transform our post war car planned cities thoughtfully and economically.

One of the embodiments of this idea is called New Urbanism

"NEW URBANISM promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities. These contain housing, work places, shops, entertainment, schools, parks, and civic facilities essential to the daily lives of the residents, all within easy walking distance of each other.

New Urbanism promotes the increased use of trains and light rail, instead of more highways and roads. Urban living is rapidly becoming the new hip and modern way to live for people of all ages.

Currently, there are over 500 New Urbanist projects planned or under construction in the United States alone, half of which are in historic urban centers.


1. Walkability-Most things should be within a 10-minute walk of home and work.

2. Connectivity-An interconnected street grid network should disperses traffic & promote walking.

3. Mixed-Use & Diversity- We should strive for a mix of shops, offices, apartments, and homes on site with mixed-use within neighborhoods, within blocks, and within buildings. There should be a diversity of people - of ages, classes, cultures, and races.

4. Mixed Housing- There should be a range of types, sizes and prices in close proximity.

5. Quality Architecture & Urban Design- We should emphasize beauty, aesthetics, human comfort, and create a sense of place. The architecture should be of human scale with beautiful surroundings to nourish the human spirit

6. Traditional Neighborhood Structure- There should be a discernable center and edge with a public space at the center.

7. Increased Density- We should design for more buildings, residences, shops, and services that are closer together for ease of walking, to enable a more efficient use of services and resources, and to create a more convenient, enjoyable place to live.

8. Smart Transportation -We should plan for a network of high-quality trains connecting cities, towns, and neighborhoods together. We should strive for a design that encourages a greater use of bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, and walking as daily transportation

9. Sustainability -We should strive for a minimal environmental impact of development and its operations by using eco-friendly technologies. We should promote more local production, with more walking, and less driving.

10. Quality of Life- When we add these principles together, they add up to a higher quality of life, and they create places that enrich, uplift, and inspire the human spirit."

This all actually sounds very much like my village in Mexico.

We don't drive there because the streets are too narrow and they are too full of people walking around. Besides, almost everything you need is never more than a few blocks away. Most of the the restaurants and stores are within a few blocks of my house. As far as the public space, we have a park in the middle of town where everybody meets and Santa Claus shows up. I call it the park of the laughing children.

If you really need something, you know you need to make a road trip, and a trip down the mountain is rarely taken lightly.

Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the economic uncertainty that lays ahead of us will give us the opportunity to do something very right with many things that are presently very wrong.

Bringing life back to our neighborhoods is a remarkably sensible thing to do.

Handing our cities and towns back to the people who live in them,

is a remarkably simple yet profound non verbal statement,

and public expression of a new found urban commitment

to ourselves,

And the magic of the village,

and the sanctity of place.


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*Joan Miro, Prades,The Village

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

They must be Giants

And the big solar beat goes on:

Iberdrola Proceeds with Nine Solar Thermal Electric Plants
Madrid, Spain
September 20, 2005

Spanish utility, Iberdrola is developing nine solar thermoelectric power projects in Spain with combined capacity of 450 MW. The company says that it aims to have 5,500 MW in renewables by 2008, of which 1,000 MW will be installed abroad.

The nine projects consist of thermosolar plants using parabolic trough collectors, which heat a fluid by focusing solar radiation on a given point to produce steam, with the ultimate aim of generating electricity. Solar radiation is concentrated using collectors with a selective surface.

Oil flows through an absorber tube placed in the focal point of the parabola. Radiation is reflected onto this tube, heating the oil inside to around 390ºC. When it is hot, the thermal oil flows to an oil-water heat exchanger, where it generates steam, which subsequently powers a conventional turbine.

Altogether, these solar power plants will have an installed capacity of 450 MW, exceeding the power of a thermal plant, with the added advantage of using an entirely clean technology harnessing a renewable source of energy that is abundant in Spain.

IBERDROLA’s strategy of growing in the RES sector is part and parcel of its commitment to the environment and sustainable development and is also in keeping with compliance with the Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Directive.

The company pioneered the development of clean energies, free of greenhouse gases, starting with its historic commitment to hydroelectric power from its founding over 100 years ago. "

With this announcement, total solar power plant development is approaching

3 Gigawatts.

And that is in the last 3 months.

Interestingly, this kind of power plant has been the most successful solar power plant to date. The plants like this in the deserts of California are still operating since they came on line over 20 years ago. The technology is proven.

The deep solution to terrorism, war, and this dog eat dog world of resource addiction and international aggression is reasonably straight forward. It's really not that complicated. We don't need fuel cells, even though they will be nice someday. We don't need fuel from french fries. We don't need solar that doesn't pay out. We don't need more coal plants and we certainly don't need more nuclear plants. In fact, if the POTUS really has his Jimmy Carter sweater on, he will make the burning of any fossil fuel a crime.

If we build gigantic solar plants that convert the light into energy.

If we erect gigantic wind turbines that convert the energy around us,

If we produce a power paint that makes all structure photonic converters,

If we develop transportation devices that can use this electrical fuel,

If we develop turbines that run on hydrogen created from renewables,

If we make our homes and offices smart and energy efficient,

If we once again build our cities for the human instead of the car,

We can bring the troops home,

We can sign any climate treaty we want,

We can have our crude awakening without killing everyone and thing

around us.

And we can begin to deal with the real enemy,

Which is, as Pogo said,


Such a great people would be giants.


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Monday, September 26, 2005

Cyber Police

Here is a story that merits some attention. It comes from Reuters:

BEIJING (Reuters) - China set new regulations on Internet news content on Sunday, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other Web sites, such as discussion groups.

"The state bans the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest," the official Xinhua news agency said in announcing the new rules, which took effect immediately.

The news agency did not detail the rules, but said Internet news sites must "be directed toward serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests."

Established news media needed permission to run a news Web site, it said. New operators had to register themselves with government information offices.

China has a dedicated band of cyber police who patrol the Internet with the aim of regulating content. Postings that criticize the government or address sensitive topics are quickly removed.

Registration was a feature of rules imposed earlier this year aimed at not-for-profit Internet activities, such as personal Web sites and blogs.

Since March, university on-line discussion groups have been restricted to students, removing a once popular outlet for Chinese keen to publicize their views on sensitive issues. Student users and site managers must register using their real names."

Somehow this seems significant.

I have made jokes and cracks about the cyber police.

And I am often reminded of the presense of minders in this country.

But, this is the first time I have actually seen the words in print.

When you go buy your Chinese whatever tomorrow from your local Walmart, you might remember that that product comes from an environment from which all of their news sites must be directed toward serving the people and socialism.

Even though we generally think that there is plenty of freedom of the press in this country, there are a lot of stories that for one reason or another don't get much attention.

Project Censored features the 25 most important news stories not covered by the corporate media in 2004-05. Government Secrecy, Media Failures in Iraq, National Voter Fraud, Citizen Surveillance, and Environmental disasters are just some of this year's topics.

Here are the top ten.

#1 Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government

#2 Media Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Deathtoll

#3 Another Year of Distorted Election Coverage

#4 Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In

#5 U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

#6 The Real Oil for Food Scam

#7 Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood

#8 Iraqi Farmers Threatened By Bremer’s Mandates

#9 Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

#10 Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy

We talk a lot about freedom.

But talk is cheap.

Censorship is not.


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Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Fourth Reich

Last night at dinner, an out of town friend from the business community told me that what was happening in America was the Fourth Reich.

I was astonished.

This guy reads the Wall Street Journal, so I guess he should know.

I offered that I was amazed that Robert Fisk had been blocked from entering this country. Fisk, a world reknown writer for the British paper, the Independent, writes withering criticism of the War in Iraq and other equally abominable policies that are routinely buried by the American main stream media.

Fisk was told, "his papers were not in order".

I asked my friend if he had made this Fourth Reich business up.

He wasn't sure.

Well, he didn't.

A simple google search revealed lots of stories about the Fourth Reich.

Here is one that tells a story that many thinking people of conscience are beginning to consider as reasonable:

"Everyone likes to say, "Hitler did this", and, "Hitler did that". He was a world class tyrant, but the evil actually done by the Third Reich, from the death camps to WW2 was all done by German citizens who were afraid to question if what they were told by their government was the truth or not, and who because they did not want to admit to themselves that they were afraid to question the government, refused to see the truth behind the Reichstag Fire, refused to see the invasion by Poland was a staged fake, and thus followed Hitler into national disaster.

At the time, Hitler looked pretty good to the German people, with the help of the media. He was TIME Magazine's Man Of The Year in 1938. The German people assumed they were safe from a tyrant. They lived in a Republic, after all, with strict laws regarding what the government could and more importantly could not do. Their leader was a devoutly religious man, and had even sung with the boy's choir of a monastery in his youth.

When the Reichstag burned down, most Germans simply refused to believe suggestions that the fire had been staged by Hitler himself. They were afraid to.

When Hitler requested temporary extraordinary powers, powers specifically banned under German law, but powers Hitler claimed he needed to have to deal with the "terrorists", the German people, having already sold their souls to their self-delusions, agreed.

When Hitler staged a phony invasion from Poland, the vast majority of the German people, their own self-image dependant on continuing blindness to Hitler's deceptions, did not question why Poland would have done something so stupid, and found themselves in a war.

Hitler spent vast sums of money on his wonder weapons, airplanes, submarines, ultra-long range artillery, the world's first cruise missile and the world's first guided missile, weapons that could be used to kill at a distance, so that those doing the killing need not have to face the reality of what they were doing.

The German people were lured into WW2 not because they were brave, but because they were cowards who wanted to be seen as brave, and found that shooting long range weapons at people they could not see took less courage than standing up to Hitler. Sent into battle by that false image of courage, the Germans were dependent on their wonder-weapons.

The American people imagine themselves to be brave. They see themselves as the heroic Americans depicted by Western Movies, the descendants of the fierce patriot warriors who had tamed the frontier and defeated the might of the British Empire.

But in truth, by the dawn of the third millennium, the American people have become civilized and tamed, culturally obsessed with fine details in both science and society.

The American people assume they are safe. They live in a Republic, after all, with strict laws regarding what the government can and more importantly cannot do. Their leader is a devoutly religious man.

As mentioned above, Hitler was TIME Magazine's Man Of The Year in 1938. Stalin was TIME Magazine's Man Of The Year for 1939 and 1942. Both of these men, and many others also celebrated by the media, were unimaginable monsters. The lesson from these facts is that it isn't easy to spot a genocidal tyrant when you live with one, especially one whom the press supports and promotes.

Tyrants become obvious only when looking back, after what they have done becomes known.

The German people did not stand up to Hitler because their media betrayed them, just as the American media is betraying the American people by willingly, voluntarily, even proudly, abandoning its traditional role as watchdog against government abuse.

No citizen of a modern industrialized nation will send their children off to die in a war to grab another nation's resources and assets, yet resources and assets are what all wars are fought over. The nation that wishes to initiate a war of conquest must create the illusion of an attack or a threat to start a war, and must always give their population an excuse never to question that carefully crafted illusion.

America has escaped the clutches of a dictatorship thus far only through the efforts of those citizens who, unlike the Germans of the 1930s, have the moral courage to stand up and point out where the government is lying to the people. And unless more Americans are willing to have that kind of individual courage, then future generations may well look back on the American people with the same harshness of judgement with which we look back on the 1930s Germans."

It's not comfortable to imagine that we are losing our greatness.

Personally, I would rather go to the big concert in the park,

and listen to our own versions of Wagner,

than think about how our media is preparing us for a War in Iran,

just like Hitler prepared his people for War with Poland.

Three hundred thousand marched for peace yesterday.

The press reported that they were peaceful.

It's not so easy to be couragous.

We like our comforts.


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Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is global warming

I rarely watch network TV, but because of the hurricane coming in, I decided to watch the CBS Evening News last night.

And low and behold, should anyone have any doubts, they assured us that Global warming has nothing to do with these 2 top 5 hurricanes in all of recorded history. They interviewed one guy with NOAA and he did the "we are in a 25 year period of intensity bit". They didn't visit with anyone else about it. I guess it was important enough to talk about but not important enough to talk to anybody else about it.

I mentioned it tonight at dinner and our restaurant host said the same thing.

One should never underestimate the power of a mistruth spoken from the seats of power. We just haven't got the hang of this quite yet. We still think that our institutions are honest.

They are not.

Here is a different view from the Independent, which unfortunately,

CBS is probably not.

This is global warming, says environmental chief
As Hurricane Rita threatens devastation, scientist blames climate change
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Published: 23 September 2005

Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes.

The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.

Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."

In a series of outspoken comments - a thinly veiled attack on the Bush administration, Sir John hit out at neoconservatives in the US who still deny the reality of climate change.

Referring to the arrival of Hurricane Rita he said: "If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation."

Sir John's comments follow and support recent research, much of it from America itself, showing that hurricanes are getting more violent and suggesting climate change is the cause.

A paper by US researchers, last week in the US journal Science, showed that storms of the intensity of Hurricane Katrina have become almost twice as common in the past 35 years.

Although the overall frequency of tropical storms worldwide has remained broadly level since 1970, the number of extreme category 4 and 5 events has sharply risen. In the 1970s, there was an average of about 10 category 4 and 5 hurricanes per year but, since 1990, they have nearly doubled to an average of about 18 a year.

During the same period, sea surface temperatures, among the key drivers of hurricane intensity, have increased by an average of 0.5C (0.9F).

Sir John said: "Increasingly it looks like a smoking gun. It's a fair conclusion to draw that global warming, caused to a substantial extent by people, is driving increased sea surface temperatures and increasing the violence of hurricanes."

Asked about characterising them as "loonies", he said: "There are a group of people in various parts of the world ... who simply don't want to accept human activities can change climate and are changing the climate."

"I'd liken them to the people who denied that smoking causes lung cancer."

In the meantime, Rita has now landed,

New Orleans is flooding again,

And Lake Charles was ground zero.


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Friday, September 23, 2005

The Gulf Scream

Jeanelle walked out to the edge of the water and put her toes into the lapping, rushing, wavelets.

"It is so warm", she says in that almost complaining voice that can almost be confused with the "you don't have it in my size" voice.

The water was its customary warm. These days, even in winter, the water rarely cools to where it is actually refreshing. It still makes you wet though.

That wonderful yellow tangled up cord was all over the beach. I used to think that some huge army of drunk fishermen were somehow losing their fishnets every night. I would see this orange string stuff laying all around on the beach and would actually get a little unhappy with the colossal amount of beach litter. Then, one day I realized it was seaweed, Sargasso Sea Seaweed to be exact. A scientist at the University marine lab told me all about it when we bumped into each other many years ago as we were aimlessly walking. I guess now, it is decades.

"Just be glad we are here."

"I am, I am," said Jeanine.

Actually, she hates the beach. I'm the one who loves it. I can sit out on the edge of the water for days and days with my cooler, my bright umbrella, my kite, my super comfortable red chairs with the leg rests built in, my binoculars, several books, and an ocean of sun block.

I can just sit and walk and run and watch the babies, the birds, and the other featherless bipeds for days, if not weeks. I lose myself in the sounds of the blustery wind, in the constantcy of the waves lapping as they come and go, at the radio blaring from the occassional black low rider pickup, and at the seagulls laughing and carrying on with each other, looking for the next sucker to throw them some crackers. I don't care if they are flying rats.

"Just be glad we made it".

"I know, I know. Next you are going to tell me how much you love that haunted hotel that we stay in right"?

"FDR used to stay there."


"And what?"

"And he was old a really long time ago."

She was right, the hotel was old, and a little run down, but that made it even more perfect. It was a bit of a ghost town too, but real fisherman were beginning to come back.

None of us really expected it to happen like this. We all thought that the big event that would bring climate change onto the radar screen of all the politicians would probably be the abrupt slow down of the gulf stream. Then, no matter how right wing, no matter how suspicious they were of anything with the word environment in it, no matter how much they just hated the idea that burning incredibly huge amounts of oil and coal could ever actually do something really bad, such as make a formerly somewhat dependable stable climate, very unstable and very undependable, they would go "Oh my Lord, I have been wrong, oh so very stupidly wrong; we do have a very big problem here indeed."

But who would have thought that the Gulf of Mexico, that pitifully wonderful, generally very tranquil body of water would have turned so ugly... that it would start to scream.

First, there was the year when Florida got hit three times. Some people in the Florida panhandle built there houses back, just to have them destroyed just as they were moving in. Then of course, we had the destruction of New Orleans.

We all were horrified, but many of us took some dark pleasure in saying "I told your so".

But then there was another one. And this time there was no pleasure in any of it. It was horrible. And then another, and another.

The president kept saying we are going to build it back. First it was 200 billion, then another 200 billion, and the storms kept coming. One by one, every major city on the Gulf was hit. We kept talking about rebuilding and so on, but after a few years, it began to feel a little hollow.

And then one day the insurance companies said it. They said "no more".

The government stepped in of course. We love to socialize losses in this country. It's the profits that we must privatize. But even that was impossible with the mounting debt and the foreign loss of confidence in our bungling leaders.

And then it hit us like a ton of bricks falling down from so many wind blown walls.

The Gulf is no longer a place for large concentrations of human settlement. The first casualty of Global Climate Change was not England, not Sweden, and not France. It was Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.

Oh, you can live here alright, but it is more like the north shore of Oahu on the opposite side of the island from Honolulu. Everything is wind blown and beat down. There is just too much weather there for anything except temporary things. Because, most likely, they will be made temporary, whether you like it or not.

The good news is that except for some of their ugly ruins, all of the refineries that cluttered the coast are gone. The majors tried to bebuild them, but it seems that Mother Nature had other plans. Besides, we all knew that we had to stop burning that crap anyway. With time, our poetic sides could see that Mother Nature had come in and wiped out these earth offending industrial petrocarbon complexes with a precision that would have made a former, now infamous Secretary of Defense jealous. The pinpoint nature of these strikes by Mother Nature was the real shock and awe.

Appropriately, now the people who do live here really love the sea, and they respect it. Now that the pollution has stopped, the fishing has returned, and the beaches are actually more lovely than ever. There are people here, but not like before the change.

But the big cities and the luxury homes are pretty much gone. They have moved inland or to other more friendly shores.

The casinos are still here, but they operate out of recycled cruise ships. That way, they can run from the giant storms before they get there.

But mostly, the birds live here now, and they fish these waters just like they did a thousand years ago.

And we come to visit more than ever.

It may be hot.

But it's still very cool.

Still, the gulf has become a very strange and different place.


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*Magritte, the Human Condition, Collective Invention

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Killing a Gulf

As if a nuclear bomb for tiny shell fish
had exploded, the oil spills of the late 80's
devastated the Coquina population
on the Texas coast.

They were verdent as grains of sand.

We used to camp along the Padre Island
National Sea Shore at least once a month.

Even in July
wind from the Gulf would cool us down.

We'd sleep in the afternoon,
catch fish mornings and evenings,
gather tiny pastel Coquina, make a stew
on our white gas-burning Coleman,
make love all night in a tent,
listen to surf pound,
scare ourselves looking at the Milky Way,
Scorpio diving at the night horizon,
moonlight on water,
mosquito coils burning,
or a fire to keep away swarms.

Other people said everything tasted
like sand, but we chilled white wine
and dined on gourmet fresh
pompano, tuna, redfish, trout,
oranges, rice, mangos,
baked potatoes, salad from the cooler.

Our white coyote sheppard, Palamina,
slept in a hole in the sand
under a blue Dodge Dart.

Once a storm blew up so fast
we tore down camp naked and howling
in wind and rain, just making it out
before the beach submerged.

That was the time Palamina ate the
front seat of the car, waiting for us to come out
of a restaurant. We'd parked in the shade,
but she missed us, or maybe she didn't like
the smell of rotting bait, or the round nets
Jay twirled and tossed into the surf —
a flick of the wrist, a swirl.

I took the "D" off the name plate
of the car making it the "ART" car.

We sold it for more than we paid for it
eventually and stopped going to the Texas
Coast regularly, but sweet wind and
the soft warm bath of Gulf waters, campfires,
good company and fresh fish cooked outdoors
clang against the edges of my brain
as we brace for one of the largest hurricanes
in history, right after one of the worst hurricanes
in history hit New Orleans three weeks ago.

George Bush wanted to make a bombing range
out of Padre Island, and turn the National Sea Shore
into an oil field. Red Fish are nearly extinct.
Oil and gas pipelines sit on top of the sand
around Port Aransas and leak all the time.
In Brazoria County they store toxic chemicals
in salt caves underground because they are a natural
barrier — do caves have lids?

Don't light a match along the Texas coast
this week.

Once our son hooked a Tarpaulin on a fly rod
along the jetty in Port Aransas. He ran and ran
to keep up, a sure-footed twelve-year-old,
wasted by a fish, on the best day of his
prepubescent life.

The chemical plants in Freeport are between the
seawall and the Gulf. Most of Houston is a flood plane.
The Gulf is drilled and drilled and drilled
like a mouth full of root canals.

The highway from Houston to Galveston
is wall-to-wall oil refineries.
The Mayor of Corpus Christi says they will not
evacuate hospitals, are moving patients
to higher floors.

If my mother was in a hospital in Corpus Christi
I'd be raising hell tonite.

Traffic from the coast creeps north.

The 50-year-old Longhorn Pipeline has been forced
back into use to speed-blast gas from Houston
to El Paso -- passing within arm's length of schools
crossing creek beds that will flood.

It sprouts a leak every 13 months
in the best conditions and explodes at random intervals.

We're in Austin, 180 miles from the coast.
If Rita holds to any part of the projected path
it's going to smash us with torrential rain,
hurricane winds, and flash floods, possibly
like the ones that pushed thirty feet of
water downtown in 1981.

We're on high ground, so even if one of the
dams holding back Hill Country lakes
breaks, we won't flood, but our bank will,
our trees will blow down, our portable buildings are
only likely to hold up and we'll be without
electricity and phones for awhile.

That's ok.
What isn't ok, what breaks my heart tonite
is that a Gulf will die.

Put magenta tracers in the flow --
poison from Lake Ponchatrain, oil from platforms
with broken arms and legs, toxic chemicals,
sewage, every sort of urban junk will fan out --

Not exactly
at the instant the eye passes over
land dumping a flock of parrots, or raining frogs,
but soon enough.

The dolphins that laugh as ferry boats pass
between the mainland and Port Aransas,
the trout, whitefish, even sharks will belly up--

Once, from the National Seashore,
we saw a whale surface and blow --

The beautiful blue crabs that climb ashore
in the moonlight --

All of them will disappear
as if a nuclear bomb went off.

We're about to kill a Gulf,
and hurricane season in this year
of global warming, is still
warming up.

©copyright, 2005, Susan Bright

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Running Naked

It's often said that history has a not so funny way of repeating itself.

A friend sent me this link to President Eisenhower's News Conference, April 7, 1954

"Mr. President, would you mind commenting on the strategic importance of Indochina to the free world? I think there has been, across the country, some lack of understanding on just what it means to us."

THE PRESIDENT: "You have, of course, both the specific and the general when you talk about such things.

"First of all, you have the specific value of a locality in its production of materials that the world needs.

"Then you have the possibility that many human beings pass under a dictatorship that is inimical to the free world.

"Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the 'falling domino' principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly.

So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.

"Now, with respect to the first one, two of the items from this particular area that the world uses are tin and tungsten. They are very important. There are others, of course, the rubber plantations and so on.

"But when we come to the possible sequence of events, the loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following, now you begin to talk about areas that not only multiply the disadvantages that you would suffer through loss of materials, sources of materials, but now you are talking really about millions and millions and millions of people.

"Finally, the geographical position achieved thereby does many things. It turns the so-called island defensive chain of Japan, Formosa, of the Philippines and to the southward; it moves in to threaten Australia and New Zealand.

"It takes away, in its economic aspects, that region that Japan must have as a trading area or Japan, in turn, will have only one place in the world to go- that is, toward the Communist areas in order to live.

"So, the possible consequences of the loss are just incalculable to the free world."

And then there is this report from the the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Washington, June 1, 1956,

"Viet-Nam today, in mid-1956, progressing rapidly to the establishment of democratic institutions by elective processes, its people resuming peaceful pursuits, its army growing in effectiveness, sense of mission, and morale, the puppet Vietnamese politicians discredited, the refugees well on the way to permanent resettlement, the countryside generally orderly and calm, the predatory sects eliminated and their venal leaders exiled or destroyed.

"Perhaps no more eloquent testimony to the new state of affairs in Viet-Nam could be cited than the voice of the people themselves as expressed in their free election of last March. At that time the last possible question as to the feeling of the people was erased by an overwhelming majority for President Diem's leadership.

The fact that the Viet Minh was unable to carry out its open threats to sabotage these elections is impressive evidence of the stability and prestige of the government.

"Our efforts are directed first of all toward helping to sustain the internal security forces consisting of a regular army of about 150,000 men, a mobile civil guard of some 45,000, and local defense units which are being formed to give protection against subversion on the village level.

We are providing budgetary support and equipment for these forces and have a mission assisting the training of the army. We are also helping to organize, train, and equip the Vietnamese police force.

For our part we believe in free elections, and we support President Diem fully in his position that if elections are to be held, there first must be conditions which preclude intimidation or coercion of the electorate. Unless such conditions exist there can be no free choice."

And, there is another hurricane gaining strength in the gulf as it passes over the super heated gulf waters that are a resultant of climate change. This one is headed for Texas.

Maybe the Christians are right.

Maybe God is unhappy with this great nation that (s)he has so favored.

Maybe He is tired of our silly stupid little ways.

But probably, the gulf is just really really warm from climate change.

Perhaps the real gulf war is in our own backyard.

That war would have us all running naked.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Seeing the Forest

In the last few weeks, there have been two more big announcements on solar energy. Last month, there was the big announcement that Southern California Edison was going to buy energy from a giant power plant composed of the technology from Stirling Energy Systems. That facility could possibly grow to 850 MWs.

Now, there is a second announcement,

Solar Installation To Produce 300-900 Megawatts

PHOENIX, Sept. 7, 2005 – Stirling Energy Systems ( SES ) announced today a contract with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to provide between 300 and 900 megawatts (MW) of solar power, approximately 30 times more solar power than is now being generated in the San Diego region. This contract represents the second record-breaking solar project signed by the company in the past month, which may surpass the earlier contract to become the world's largest solar installation.

This large-scale application of SES technology will provide clean, renewable solar energy to SDG&E customers,” said Bruce Osborn, CEO of SES . “ We believe this is a truly historic moment for the solar energy industry, and we are pleased to be teaming with a progressive and innovative company like SDG&E.”

According to the company, "The SES Stirling solar dish technology is the world's most efficient device for the conversion of solar energy to grid-delivered electricity, nearly twice as efficient as any alternative solar technology."

And then late last week, this story appeared in the Guardian:

Portugal plans biggest solar station
Giles Tremlett
Thursday September 15, 2005

Work on the world's largest solar energy station, which will produce enough electricity to power 21,000 homes, is to start near the southern Portuguese town of Moura next year.

The 62-megawatt plant, which will use 350,000 solar panels spread over an area the size of 150 football pitches, represents a leap forward for solar energy as it moves out of small-scale use into producing electricity in large quantities.

The €250m (£168m) Girassol plant will be 12 times the size of the biggest solar power plant currently in operation near Leipzig in Germany.

Those involved in the project say it will allow solar power to start competing with wind power as a large-scale generator of renewable energy.

"Photo-voltaic power is anecdotal at the moment compared to other power station sources. With this, it can start to become a player," Francisco Conesa, commercial director for BP Solar in southern Europe, said yesterday."

If you add the two California plants and the Portugal plant, and then add the total number of all other photovoltaic installations in the world, you get something close to 2 Gigawatts. That is about how much wind energy will be added in the US this year. Total wind additions for the world will be more than 6 GWs.

Now for those of you who have no idea what a Gigawatt of electrical capacity means, it's a whole f#$king lot. You need 2 or 3 GWs for a million american type users. There is over 600 Gigawatts of electrical generating capacity in the US.

So solar, like the above story says, is begining to compete with wind as a large scale generator of renewable energy.

There are some writers out there who glibly say that wind and solar

cannot possibly match the coming shortfall of energy we face

due to the coming decline of world oil production.

There are some who would have you believe that we can't have

a dynamic bustling economy without pollution and greenhouse gases.

In many ways,

They remind me of the Nascar crowd.

They aren't here to see the race and watch the best guy win.

They are here to see the big crash.

They sell their ideas with a Kookie kind of charm.

They make sentences that are just plain fun to read.

They believe their homeowner flirtations with wind energy or solar energy

and their research qualify them as experts in finding the truth

of the issue.

Like Tammy Wynette,

they feel like shit, and they just want to share that with you.

In truth, their scenarios of poverty, decay, and loss of the middle class,

are important pieces of story telling that should get any thinking,

breathing, caring, lover of life, nature, and the gifts we have been given,

off their butuskis and into the growing groove of green.

But their story is just a story.

If you see the forest.

Then, you can see the light in between those trees.


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Monday, September 19, 2005

Birth of the World

Even though there are many other systems of understanding our minds, and many other ways to understand our personalities and the way we relate with each other and our society, the Freudian system, although frought with inadequacies, is worthy of comprehension.

According to Freud, there are three levels of consciousness:

There is the Conscious part of the mind that holds what you’re aware of. You can verbalize about your conscious experience and you can think about it in a logical fashion.

There is the Preconscious, which is ordinary memory. So although things stored here aren’t in the conscious, they can be readily brought into consciousness.

And then there is the all important Unconscious. Freud felt that this part of the mind was not directly accessible to awareness. In part, he saw it as a dump box for urges, feelings and ideas that are tied to anxiety, conflict and pain. These feelings and thoughts have not disappeared and according to Freud, they are there, exerting influence on our actions and our conscious awareness.

Material in the conscious and the preconscious can slip into the unconscious. That is why, at least in this system, we all need a therapist.

Freud came to see personality as having three aspects which work together to produce all of our complex behaviours: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. All 3 components need to be well-balanced in order to have a good amount of psychological energy available and to have reasonable mental health.

THE ID functions in the irrational and emotional part of the mind. In transactional analysis, Id equates to "Child".

THE EGO functions with the rational part of the mind. The Ego develops out of growing awareness that you can’t always get what you want. The Ego relates to the real world and operates via the “reality principle”. In transactional analysis, Ego equates to "Adult".

THE SUPEREGO is the last part of the mind to develop. It might be called the moral part of the mind. The Superego becomes an embodiment of parental and societal values.

It stores and enforces rules.

It is the superego that tells us that we are part of a nationstate,

instead of a space ship that is traveling through space and time.

It is the superego that tells us we must support a democracy

that is now, at its best, a plutocracy, and perhaps much worse.

It is the superego that tells us that energy comes from fuel,

and that we must find it, and procure it, and defend it.

It is the superego that tells us that we must defend ourselves,

by killing others, and that to die defending your tribe is noble.

It is the superego that tells us that contrived competition between

corporate multinational leviathons

which oddly enough, know very little about true free enterprise,

is superior to the cooperation that we can foster between ourselves,

with a new generation of local and multinational cooperations.

It is the superego that tells us that God is on our side.

In order to truly bring about the Birth of the World,

Our superego is going to need a superectomy.

And a new superego will need to go into its place.

This planetary ego will not support the kind of cruel foolishness

that is passed off as decent, civilized behavior by our institutions today.

No respectable person would abide the violence of "shock and awe",

any more than we honored the Blitzkrieg of Hitler.

The death of a child in Baghdad,

will be as tragic as the death of a child in Boise.

The loss of habitat in the Maldives,

will be as significant as the loss of habitat in New Orleans.

The hope of a young seamstress in Shanghai,

will be as relevant to our human success

as the hope of a young engineer in Caracas.

The love between a mother and child in Tehran,

will be as sacred as the love of the mother and child in DC.

There are some who have called the loss of America's great city

on America's great river,

a Teaching Moment.

Let us make it so.


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*Miro The Birth of the World

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Boogey Man

Here is Bill Maher on exactly who the boogey man is.

And here is Boxcar on the pledge of boogeyness.

And here is the prince of boogeymen,

off the record.

On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...

On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...

On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything...

On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East...

On Judy Miller And Plamegate: Judy Miller is in jail for reasons I don't really understand...

On Joe Wilson: Joe Wilson and I attend the same church but Joe goes to the wacky mass...

Here is TPM on the selection by the POTUS of this same prince:

"Who will be the first and who will be the last to broach the subject of whether the president's chief political operative should be in charge of the largest domestic reconstruction effort since the Civil War. "

And all this for someone who we know lied to a grand jury.

"There comes a time when silence is dishonesty".

If we are not there,

There is no there there.


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