Friday, March 31, 2006


The reality of Peak Oil is even making it to the heart land.

Here is an example from Twin

Geopolitics of oil
Declining production, surging demand and global instability will keep petroleum prices high for years to come, energy forecasters warn.
By Kevin G Hall
St Paul Pioneer Press
March 31, 2006

WASHINGTON — Oil prices inched Thursday toward last summer's record high amid concerns of supply disruptions, and energy forecasters think that volatile geopolitics and declining oil production will keep prices up for years.

Oil reached $67.15 a barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 70 cents to a two-month high, amid concerns over disruptions in Nigerian oil production and a possible political showdown over the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the second-biggest exporter in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil cartel.

Oil prices are approaching last year's all-time high of $70.85 a barrel, which came the day after Hurricane Katrina's landfall on the Gulf Coast, and U.S. consumers again are feeling the shock at the gas pump. AAA said Thursday that the nationwide average for a gallon of unleaded gas stood at $2.51, which is 36 cents higher than a year ago and 27 cents higher than a month ago, but well below last year's inflation-adjusted all-time high of $3.05 a gallon.


Global oil production is straining to keep pace with demand, which makes oil traders fear supply disruptions and bid up prices for assured future delivery. The balance between supply and demand will remain tight for several years, and that is expected to keep fuel prices high, experts at the Energy Information Administration's annual outlook meeting predicted Monday.

Michael Cohen, an EIA economist, said oil production was expected to drop over the next two years in stable production areas such as Mexico, the North Sea and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the demand for oil, particularly in rapidly developing nations such as China, India and Brazil, is expected to grow.

That means more oil must be discovered and produced, not only to keep pace with surging demand, but also to replace the declining output.


The world will look to OPEC to make up the shortfall, which makes oil traders nervous. Two of OPEC's biggest players, Iran and Venezuela, are openly hostile to the Bush administration, and vice versa.

Iran has hinted that it might withhold oil from global markets to provoke a supply crisis if Western powers thwart its nuclear programs. Venezuela has threatened to divert its U.S. oil exports to other countries.

Venezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, told state television Wednesday that ExxonMobil, the world's biggest private oil company, was no longer welcome in his country.


Joseph Stanislaw, a leading expert on global oil, said oil-consuming nations including the United States would depend increasingly on supplies from a corridor along the Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea, Siberia and northwestern North America. Of nations in that zone, only Canada has an established democracy and a history of open markets.

"The bulk of the world's resources lie along this corridor," he said.

The implication: The United States will have to adapt to the new geopolitics of oil or develop alternatives such as biofuel, high-mileage diesel and hybrid battery-powered automobiles and renewable-energy sources such as wind and solar power.

"Are we at a tipping point? Are we at a major turning point in the world? I think we could be," Stanislaw said."

So, we have a leading expert from the Energy Information Agency

saying we could be at a tipping point.

Yet, today the news air is full of undocumented workers,

and do we arrest them or wall them off or both?

It is full of Iran and the shaping of their nuclear ambitions,

not their non nuclear resources that we need

to propel our own ambitions.

Meanwhile the POTUS speaks from his pinnacle,

"Tight borders make good neighbors",

he says from the Mayan Ruin.

They were once a great Civilization too.


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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Real Security

Yesterday was a day of pictures.

First, there was the so called picture of Baghdad posted

by another mendacious Republican with that special

cavalier disregard

for their constituent's intelligence, as well as their own self esteem.

The story developed during the day at Kos, at TPM, and Atrios.

The new picture is totally hillarious.

Then there is the picture of Nancy Pelosi.

She is putting "the close" on the Democrat's New Thang.

Real Security is their new bright idea.

The image I saw was Nancy Pelosi holding up a prop

that said "Real Security" up in front of the cameras

with a tight two button shot.

Problem was...the prop was upside down.

Does real security from the Democrats mean a move away

from our dangerous dependence on foreign energy supplies?

Does real security from the Democrats mean a real plan

to deal with climate change and how we will adapt to it?

Does real security from the Democrats include a plan

to protect our civil liberties from an unified executive

that openly breaks the law and the Constitution with impunity?

Does real security from the Democrats include a plan for justice?

Does real security from the Democrats include a plan for health?

Does real security from the Democrats include leadership that leads?

or is real security,

unreal politics?

Picture this then.

In my book on Climate Change and the Human Potential,

I write about a time when Climate Change and Resource Depletion

become part of the American and Global Gestault of Consciousness.

And I write that the Titans of Government and Commerce will not

respond by moving away from carbon and big poisonous fires,

but instead will begin to regulate and control our lives

and restrict our freedom,

with gas allocations, carbon allotments, and other controls.

"When the World Leaders announce that, unlike our agreement in 1992 in Rio which we disregarded, this time we will adopt CO2 limits that must be honored and that such compliance will be prosecuted with a system of national, state, and local quotas, such a plan should be rejected.

Instead, we should embrace the heroes path. We should embrace the development of technologies that will allow for the massive deployment of light to energy technologies that can be deployed by individuals who are committed to this deployment. Farmers, ranchers, oilmen, and other businessmen and businesswomen should see that within this crisis lies a great opportunity.

The Crisis will give us an opportunity to examine our communities and how they are built. It will give us the opportunity to examine our system of transportation and our need to express our freedom through mindless mobility. It will give us the opportunity to step back and look at our consumer society, its ethics and the natural repercussions of the philosophy of materialism that presently permeates our current world view.

It will give us the opportunity to view the Gross National Product as a measure of inefficiency and waste instead of a measure of our success.


The Olympian response to the realization that we are indeed involved in an epic struggle to right the balance of the earth will call for a radical and meaningful departure from the world view of the Titans. It will involve the ethics and virtues found in the Olympian Pantheon.

The Olympian response will embrace the belief that this calamity in the making can forge a refining of the human spirit and the human condition. It will postulate that a world of courage and justice is ours for the making.

It will state that our emphasis should be on wisdom and beauty; that fine arts, music, and the pastoral arts should be developed to the utmost of the human potential. It will stress refinement of the law. It would make medicine an art instead of a business.

The Olympian response will seize the opportunity presented by our own ignorance and seek to transform that ignorance into a mechanism of human transfiguration.

It will seek to bring man from the age of fire to the age of light."

Picture that.

That would be real security.


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*"real security" courtesy of Amnesty International

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Plan Alpha

Lester Brown, the author of Plan B, has recently published a story about the potential of Wind Energy and about a particular electric utility in Texas.

Here is the story.

Cost Dropping Below Conventional Sources Marks Key Milestone
in U.S. Shift to Renewable Energy

© 2006 Earth Policy Institute
Lester R. Brown
March 22, 2006

When Austin Energy, the publicly owned utility in Austin, Texas, launched its GreenChoice program in 2000, customers opting for green electricity paid a premium. During the fall of 2005, climbing natural gas prices pulled conventional electricity costs above those of wind-generated electricity, the source of most green power.

This crossing of the cost lines in Austin and several other communities is a milestone in the U.S. shift to a renewable energy economy.

Austin Energy buys wind-generated electricity under 10-year, fixed-price contracts and passes this stable price on to its GreenChoice subscribers. This fixed-price energy product is quite attractive to Austin’s 388 corporate GreenChoice customers, including Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, IBM, Samsung, and 3M. Advanced Micro Devices expects to save $4 million over the next decade through this arrangement.

School districts are also signing up. Round Rock School District, for example, projects 10-year savings to local taxpayers at $2 million.

Facing a Texas-style stampede of consumers wanting to sign up for the current remaining supply of green electricity, Austin Energy has resorted to a GreenChoice raffle that will be held on March 23. All its customers—both residential and business—were invited to participate in the drawing.


Overall, U.S. wind-generating capacity expanded by 36 percent in 2005, reaching 9,149 megawatts. This year it could expand by 50 percent. At the end of 2005, there were commercial wind farms in 30 states. (See data.)

Wind power generation would grow even faster if it were not constrained by the availability of turbines. General Electric, now supplying 60 percent of the U.S. wind turbine market, is sold out through 2007.

Clipper Windpower, a startup turbine manufacturer, is planning to produce 20 of its 2.5-megawatt Liberty turbines per month by mid 2006 and a total of 250 turbines in 2007. Its production is also committed well into the future.


Wind energy is emerging as a centerpiece of the new energy economy, because it is abundant, inexpensive, inexhaustible, widely distributed, clean, and climate-benign. Three of the 50 states—North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas—have enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs.

The cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen from 38¢ per kilowatt-hour in the early 1980s to 4¢ to 6¢ today, offering an almost endless supply of cheap energy.

Beyond that, these wells will never go dry.

No one can cut off the supply or raise the fuel cost.

And wind can supply our energy needs without disrupting the earth’s climate. "

Wind Power combined with ultra caps or converted to hydrogen

to be used as an additive to already existing boiler and turbine fuels

can provide the bridge energy we need to truly move into

a time where we begin to use the energy that surrounds us.

Wind Power can be used to power plug in hybrid vehicles, electric mass transit, Segways, electric scooters, electric lawn mowers and it can even quiet those awful blowers.

And the result will be healthier air and levelized electric rates.

Imagine a transportation device that slips through the moment,

using only the energy of the creation.

Imagine a home or an office that lives and breathes

as efficiently as a flower or any other living thing.

Imagine all of our creations becoming one with the creation.

Imagine our settlements and communities,

as living, breathing beings.

Because they are you know.

How else could a town die?

If it had not been alive.


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illustration courtesy of Python

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's Time Now

Not two weeks ago, I posted these words in Break Out,

"When I return, I hope to begin with some new direction on earthfamilyalpha. For anyone paying the least bit of attention, there is no need to communicate the pressing issue of Climate Change,

The truth of it has outed."

Now, Time has outed the truth of it too in their April 3 edition.

And clearly this is no joke, even if we are fools.

Earth Is at The Tipping Point
The climate is crashing and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon -- and what we can do about it.
Time Online
By Jeffery Kluger

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry -- a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h. -- exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation.

It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage of New Orleans continues to molder, while the waters of the Atlantic gather themselves for a new hurricane season just two months away.

Disasters have always been with us and surely always will be.

But when they hit this hard and come this fast -- when the emergency becomes commonplace -- something has gone grievously wrong.

That something is global warming."

If you read earthfamilyalpha, none of this is news to you.

And if you read earthfamilyalpha, the coming reality of Peak Oil,

will not be news to you.

But as some readers have pointed out,

If you read earthfamilyalpha, there is no easy solution given,

no single, one stop shopping mall where you can get your solutions

on sale

in a handy gift wrapped package that you can get your hands around.

Yesterday, I showed a bike enthusiast who rides to work everyday,

that there are hundreds of thousands of people, just like him,

who do the same thing in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam may or may not be the future.

But it is clearly "a now" that provides a strong and workable example.

There are electric trams every 2 minutes on their streets.

There are pedestrian highways and roads throughout.

There are even transportation "stops" on the canals.

There is a metro deep down below.

And make no mistake city planners,

Bike lanes are not 3 feet wide afterthoughts

on the sides of car infrastructure.

Bike lanes are serious 8 ft. mini-highways with a specifically designed

surface for bike tires.

Any city, state, or nation serious about climate change and peak oil

needs to send all of their planners to Amsterdam.

And while they are at it,

They should send their law enforcement officers and their legislators.

So they can see what a free society looks like.

I watched as church goers in the hundreds safely walked after midnight

through narrow streets lined with bars and coffee/smart shops.

I watched as young mothers safely rode their bikes in traffic

with their children, cell phones, and their groceries,

while powerful businessmen moved from house to office and back

on a broad matrix of public convenience,

in temperatures that approached 0 C.

On the outskirts of town,

Giant wind turbines were gracefully towering over the oil and industry

complex that lay below them.

In the hotel, the lights only went on after you inserted your card key

into the little slot.

If there was no person there, there was no light there.

It's time now.

It's time to build new inventions of social contract,

to use the tools we have

to change the world we have known.

It's time now.

While we still have it.


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Monday, March 27, 2006

Planetary Essences


Transportation in our time
is miraculous, swift --
a trip.

Today, for instance
I flew from Austin to San Jose,
from one high tech hub
to another
in the time it takes
to have a good nap
edit a few pages
look out the window
as Earth changed from cold grey
snow capped mountains
to light green valleys
to the verdant green of
Northern California
in March.

On the blue bus
that goes from the San Jose
Airport to the Rental Car Island,
I sat across from three people
who were emailing each other
on Blueberries until one
looked up, startled,
and said, "I crashed."
She turned to her colleague,
exasperated, "Did you just
get a message from me?"
"No," he said.

Somewhere between San Jose
and Palo Alto I passed
an Air Museum.

Later, after getting happily lost
in San Francisco, which I always
do when I try to follow 101
through the city, I crossed
the Golden Gate Bridge,
dialed Pacifica and settled
into a drive made even
more pleasant by the voices
of people I agree with --

Soon the program changed
to one I'd not heard before --
"The Herbal Highway."

A mellow throated person
rolled out a catalog of flower
remedies to celebrate
the beginning of Spring --
Bells of Ireland are good
for opening the fantasy mind,
you can see wee fairies dancing,
and certain Alaskan essences are good
for grounding people and plants
to the Earth, put a drop
in the watering can.
She talked about energetic
effects, you don't need much.
Other essences open the heart,
or let out pain, heal old anger,
connect us to the earth,
combat shyness, fear, make
us happy. There were essences
to help people who think too much --
"Thinking isn't bad," she crooned,
"but sometimes we have to simply
be --"

Too late.
I was already questioning --
"Connect plants to the Earth?"

By the time she intoned
a series of planetary essences,
and their properties --

"Essence of Venus will
open your heart to love,"
for instance and,
"Essence of Jupiter is recommended
for the smooth energy you will need
for success in new endeavors,"
I was wondering how one gets
planetary essences --
"Essence of Uranus?"
Did I hear that, or make it up?

Transportation in our time
is miraculous, swift --
a trip.

©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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*picture courtesy of Fairy Moon Spirit

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What the Bleep?

van augustina

We were having a light snack with my friend

who lives on the third, fourth, and fifth floors

of number something or another

at Concertgebouw Plein,

just a few blocks away from the American Embassy

and the Van Gogh Museum.

The wet shimmering view to the north from his spacious,

and thoroughly modern home

reveals a brightly lit Concert Hall, bounded by trolley tracks,

with The Rijksmuseum Park just behind.

We are eating and drinking and talking about the United States,

about Europe,

about the strength, (or weakness) of the dollar,

about the debt of America vs. the debt of Europe.

We talked about the rather grand military expenditures of the US,

in comparison to the rather modest expenditures of Europe.

We talked about the percentages of the US budget that come from

Income Taxes,

from Corporate Taxes (all time low),

and from the money that is borrowed from Payroll Taxes.

We mused how the US government runs a 1/2 trillion dollar shortfall,

every year.

We talked about Bush.

And our host wonderered how long such leadership could continue?

He is no radical.

No, he is a modestly wealthy international businessman,

who invests in real estate in Europe and the US.

The art on the walls is well chosen.

His kitchen feels more like a small restaurant kitchen.

The giant gold lighting fixture over the circular marble dining room table

could just as well be in some chic lobby of the most boutique of hotels.

My Dutch friend's mother joined us as we drank good French Wine

and savored two types of fish, and perhaps five cheeses.

She was a grand lady, I think he said that she was 83.

She had lived all over the world and traveled over more of it

than most of us will likely ever have the chance to.

With a charmingly fluent english voice,

she offered that perhaps it was very wrong for the Americans

to spend so much money on war.

She thought that it would be better if the money was applied

to helping the poorer nations of the world to help themselves.

She said that when her generation helped put an end to the

Second War,

that they hoped with all their hearts that such a calamity

would not befall their own children.

Then, after her son tried to explain why the Americans

must have a war machine in order to execute their will

with the World's economy,

She offered that her favorite movie was

What the Bleep Do We Know?

Have you seen it? she said.

Soon afterwards,

she graciously excused herself,

And we made our way down to the Taxi,

and back to the center of a town

where bicycles, cars, people, trams, and buses

move freely and efficiently and

almost anything goes.

What the bleep do they know?


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bring Our Soldiers Home

Photo: Grandbaby, copyright 1976, Alan Pogue

The baby took solid food, just now.
Americans don't want an empire.
One side of the bed is cold.
The Patriot Act has gutted what
our soldiers are fighting to protect.
Grandmother's eyes grow distant,
as if she could see angels.
Depleted Uranium is poison.
Sister says we have been betrayed,
as does the world.
The secretary of defense says Baghdad
looks like Chicago.
Just now, three grackles flashed blue black
feathers at a laughing wind.
Our leaders are incompetent.
Barton Springs is clear, emerald and cold.
Military health benefits have been cut.
Father stares into the refrigerator,
seeing nothing.
Andy and Gen and Freddie and Jaun and Mary
and Maria and Pablo and Lilly are out of work.
The president lied.
Our congressional district has been redrawn
to eliminate your vote.
Autumn light has shifted golden.
Occupation is an imposible form of government.
We can't find the orange cat.
The ravages of body and soul that war inflicts
will be a long time healing.
Irene graduated from Nursing school.
Grain is ripe, the harvest moon is round and fat.
We honor your sacrifice, weep that it’s been squandered.
Brother had your old Chevy truck painted midnight blue,
paid for it himself.
The neo-cons are rolling in money.
Mother is frantic, pale and wants you home.
We need the courage and stamina of our soldiers here --
to take back America.

Boy in a Red Shirt

lying back on a stretcher,
three or four years old,
crying out
the way a child cries from pain
he doesn't understand --
because until just now
he trusted adults
to protect him.

One small hand
the rest of him charred
in the fire wind of our bombs
that turned his torso
into raw meat --
the red shirt of a small

Send this photo,
and the one of someone's head
cracked like a white china bowl,
or the man in blue robes
lifting a child who is just
a red and cinnamon rag
to the president, his wife,
send it to their twin girls
so they can be proud of America.

Send this photograph,
which American media
will not allow us to see,
to every legislator who gave
permission to President Bush
to create the horror
of this boy --
this boy in a red shirt.

No one may do this.
No one can permit anyone to do this,
for any reason.
Stop this war machine,

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, March 22, 2006

The Velvet Revolution

It was 1989 and for several weeks, thousands upon thousands

gathered between Mustek and the Muzeum.

The wide boulevard, lined with department stores and hotels,

would become known around the world.

Wenceslas Square

would be packed by a half a million souls,

who no longer would allow the occupation of 40 years to continue.

Vaclev Havel, a playwright, would lead them.

It would be called the Velvet Revolution.

Here is the story from Wikipedia

The "Velvet Revolution" (Czech: sametová revoluce, Slovak: nežná revolúcia) (November 16December 29, 1989) refers to a bloodless revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the communist government there.

On November 17, 1989, a peaceful student demonstration in Prague was severely beaten back by the riot police. That event sparked a set of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December.

By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million. A general two-hour strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.

With other communist regimes falling all around it, and with growing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 they would give up their monopoly on political power. Barbed wire was removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December.

On December 10, the Communist President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29 1989.

As one of the results of the Velvet Revolution, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June, 1990, and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechoslovakia in over forty years"

Today there is no Czechslovakia, it is now the Czech Republic.

But as I walked through this famous square on this sunny afternoon,

I imagined the energy that occured here not two decades ago.

In these few short years,

a few KFC's and more than a few Yellow Arches have found root,

but the character of the city is virtually untouched.

Praha is a gem.

When we arrived,

We stamped our passports, picked up our bags,

and walked out on to the street to catch our cab.

There was no police state waiting to go through our things,

ask us why we are here, where we will stay,

and who we will see.

Perhaps the Velvet Revolution sent it somewhere else,

Where the people there are ruled with fear.

Perhaps they too will someday pack their squares,

and hold democratic elections,

and elect a playwright president.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sweet Music


Goin’ down on Alyce

(for Jesse Guitar Taylor, 1951-2006,
written several years ago after a cool birthday party
for Alyce Guynn)

Upstairs, in the back room, at Threadgills
where someone, sometime before 1971
spray painted "Janis sang here" on the cement front
of an old gas station cafe, there’s a Texas
Music Museum now, a bar and a party room --
where you can buy a country turkey
dinner for Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

Alyce held her 61st birthday party there tonite
and invited her musician friends to play --
music legends like John Reed, and Jesse Guitar Taylor.
Mandy Mercier played and belted out song after
song. It was hopping and Alyce was in heaven
or thought she was --

We are proud of our musicians here, the ones who
stay up all night, work all day, fill our rooms with
virtuosity, delight our hearts, make us laugh, cry,
sing along. There are three John Reeds Butch Hancock
explained after I met one's grandmother
in Amarillo -- which one I never figured out,
and he wasn’t there tonite.

There is one Jesse Guitar Taylor, one winding complex
guitar lick that's danced around every West Texas singer/
songwriter for 30 years. We call him Mr. Guitar. He sings
like Wolfman Jack, a deep growling sound I'm not sure
he can still hear, after years of standing next to
rock and roll speakers. But he can play --

There is one Mandy Mercier, finger picking and wailing
on the violin, deep blues voice belting out rich tones,
brilliant songs. Mandy is a friend of mine, reminding me
why we have voices and like to tap our feet. I met
her through Alyce, who was on cloud nine, having
her picture taken with her children, listening to music
with her friends, at least she thought she was.

But it wasn't until the end of the show, when the
flajitas and queso were almost gone and the iced tea
in the container marked lemonade was half full.
It was about the time the chocolate cake was replaced
by mysterious and delicious brownies. The room was
still full, old friends hanging on to the moment
and the music, when Jesse stepped over to the table
right up front where Alyce held court, and reached
to touch lightly one finger on her left hand.

And then he played. To Alyce -- he bowed down,
let that old guitar wail out the most beautiful riffs
I've heard him do, this musician who can stop
anyone mid-step, hold our attention in a swell
of embroidered melody, which he did, for Alyce
who thought she was in heaven, honored,
knowing she was part of a new piece of Texas
music history, on her birthday. But she wasn't
there yet.

And she didn't care, or even know it because the
ride was wondrous, all those notes, weaving
us into a rich Alyce fabric, silky and fine --
which was about the time Jesse knelt down,
bending again sweetly, gray hair tied back,
a thinner, aging face that might end up
beautiful, odd, because Jesse has always looked
like a prize fighter. But tonight, as he knelt down to
play for Alyce, as the most delicate guitar
sounds possible laughed around us,
Jesse was a melodic angel.

And when he let go of the last exquisite note --
he reached out and again softly touched her hand.
And bowed. And turned back to the band, turned
again, spread out his arms and called out,

"We love you Alyce."

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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art courtesy of Eng Tay

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Respect. Others. Self. Place.



Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"I have never truly published, and have advertised anonymously only rarely, but I have sent various individuals various essays on the importance of recognizing respect as a meta-issue since the late 80's."

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Pasted above is a clipping of rare advertising placed anonymously in the Austin Chronicle on page 22 of the April 21, 1995 issue. Not having yet heard of a "meme", my mind-video was that of dandelion flower seeds stepping onto the wind. The text of the advertisement is in the block below, or you may read the clipping by clicking it twice to enlarge.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships, the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world at peace..."

Franklin D. Roosevelt


Respect is the challenge facing us all. As spiritual leaders and others have said for centuries, human beings should respect one another and themselves. Rape, racism, pollution, addiction and war are all failures of respect, but they are reported and discussed separately as though unrelated. The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis. The crisis is local and global.

We can recognize central problems. "Environment" is a single term symbolizing earth, air, water and vital connections between living things. Transportation, recycling and pollution are all "environmental" issues. When child abuse, terrorism, mean poverty and caring for the planet are all seen as "respect" issues, then we can begin a respectful society.

Moving toward a respectful society will mean building cooperation and understanding in every part of society. The foundation of understanding is listening, problem-solving dialogue. Good listening is key. It is a learned skill, which allows mutual understanding necessary for cooperation. Refusal to listen requires no skill and is common to housefold fights and stalled peace talks. We should hope to become a world of good listeners, people who value difference with understanding, peaceful negotiation, and mutually agreeable compromise.

If a respectful world seems like an idealistic fantasy, please ask yourself, how will our species survive without changing our behavior towards one another? Extraordinary cooperation is needed to save ourselves from nuclear disaster and our own waste. No one knows exactly how we will create a respectful society, anymore than the inventors of the first flying machine could have imagined a space shuttle. We must start performing countless experiments in respect, if we are to survive. We should start now.

A respectful society depends on respect from each person towards all others as mcuh as possible. A respectful society respects each person as much as possible and encourages self-respect. Members of a respectful society are not afraid to say out loud that love is the soul of respect, and that respect is the language of love. Members of a respectful society guide their experiments in respect and their lives with a simple rule: Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, respect yourself and respect others. R.Y.R.O.

R.Y.R.O. "ryro," may seem like a simple idea, but imagine living in a world where we all believed in an idea such as this. Please pass this message on if you agree. Thank you. Day by day, the gardener allows the plant to grow.
Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Others are inspired to write books. I was inspired by the kindergarten essay, the "begin it now" essay, the random kindness bumper sticker, and Tracy Chapman's observation that revolution starts with a whisper.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

As I recall, someone wrote a letter to the Chronicle in reply, asking how they could possibly run an essay on respect while running sex industry ads, and then someone wrote a reply to that letter. The Chronicle regretted not clarifying that the essay was paid advertising. There was no other discussion.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Various editions of the same essay have been sent by post-card and e-mail to politicians, writers, editors, and others over the years. Apparently, the writing does not fire the imagination. There were few responses, and as of this writing, if you google the first sentence, "Respect is the challenge facing us all" in quotes, there are no entries.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

In 1999, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot published Respect: An Exploration. She profiled six individuals who displayed aspects of respect: empowerment, healing, dialogue, curiousity, self-respect, and attention.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

In 2001, Susanne Slay-Westbrook published A World of Respect: A Guide to Making it Happen. The link takes you to her website.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Both authors argue for the importance of making respect a central value in society. Unfortunately, neither has become a household name. Even more importantly, the silence on respect as an issue remains deafening.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

If I were to pick the most important sentence out of the 1995 essay, it might be: "The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis." In earlier drafts, I actually repeated that sentence twice for effect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"The failure to recognize respect as central political issue is a crisis." If you have read this far with me, I implore you to join me in reading the next sentence out loud: "The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis."

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

We still treat "rape, racism, pollution, addiction and war" and countless other failures of respect as though they are unconnected. We are running out out of time.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

About twenty years ago, I sat through a lecture on chronic pain where the doctor repeated every few minutes this simple message: "Never tell a chronic pain patient, that the pain is all in his head." His theory, that a simple message randomly repeated in a lecture again would be remembered indefinitely, has proven true for me.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Of course, randomly repeating a message often enough to become unforgettable is the beating heart of all advertising. I would suggest that what we have here is a failure to advertise respect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

And a question still worth asking: "If a respectful world seems like an idealistic fantasy, please ask yourself, how will our species survive without changing our behavior towards one another?"

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

If I had known in 1995, what I know now, I would have mentioned the importance of keeping predictably abusive people away from power. To some degree, the fate of our world may hinge on improving our ability to easily recognize and reject the leadership of sociopaths and narcissists among others.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

I was talking to my father recently. He has heard many times about the importance of recognizing respect. He confessed to glazing over. It seemed to him like all these years, I was talking about the Golden Rule.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

I agreed that I was saying nothing new. It's just that the whole respect thing's become really, really, really, really, really, important now. We're about to kill ourselves off. The need for respect among people, for oneself, for the environment, has taken on a certain practical urgency. Getting along should be the new Manhattan Project.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"Extraordinary cooperation is needed to save ourselves from nuclear disaster and our own waste." We won't get to cooperation without figuring out the respect thing. We are still at the addict's famous first step. We have not admitted that we have one problem to be solved, before any of our other problems can be solved.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

We need to learn from the AK-47, the rugged automatic weapon copied the world over, often for use by child soldiers. Let us build a simple indestructible, universal understanding on respect that can be owned and operated by all adults and any child over the age of three.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

By the way, the inventor of the AK-47 regrets not having invented a better lawn mower instead.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Let us build a new code based on respect for others, self and place. Let us start our countless experiments in listening, problem-solving dialogue and cooperation now. Let us advertise for the good within us to come out.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Let us give to the respect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

God knows. Only respect and love will save us.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Home Spun

I am as depressed today as I was
after the Take Back America conference
in DC in 2004 when a national group
of paper trail activists couldn't get MoveOn
or the Democratic Party to take voter fraud
seriously. They were afraid it would
discourage new voters if we said electronic
voting could be rigged.

So they nodded to us,
but diluted the message,
skirting the issue "for the greater good"
and the vote was, you guessed, it --
rigged, bringing us
the colonialization of Iraq,
(that's working out well)
a right wing Supreme Court
bent on overturning labor laws,
and Roe v. Wade.

Last week,
a 25-year-old environmental group
came as close to blowing apart
as I've seen it do
over whether or not to endorse
a radical clean water initiative
to stop development
on our aquifer.

We need a dose of forgiveness --
here at home, in the circles
where we live and work.

We need a sense of fair play.

Last week there was a vote
that was the culmination of months
of debate. It was 8 against,
11 in favor of endorsing it.

Simple enough.

But no sooner had we voted
than some of the nay sayers set out to
spin the vote --
drafting language for a press release
saying that while we voted to endorse,
what we really meant is that we only agreed
with the first two paragraphs of the
three page document.

So goes Democracy
in America, home spun,
because people won't stand up
to corporate interests
and no sense of fair play.

But it's more than that --
maybe we, the old guard,
can't stand it that we've failed
in almost every activist goal we've undertaken --
peace, environmental protection, justice --
maybe we're too proud to think someone else
might be able to do what we couldn't,
are horrified by the radicals
we once were ourselves.

We fold into the governing bodies
we fought our way into--
and become part of the problem,
a huge part because we're cloaked
with positive intent, the respect
of the community.

Mockingbirds are building a nest outside
my window.

Can they imitate enough patterns to compensate
for the 9000 living species
that go extinct every year.

We say
these new ideas are nuts, can't work.

That's America lately --
arrogant, hard working,
home spun, and wrong.

©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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art courtesy of yarnivorous

Friday, March 17, 2006

Break Out

These are truly extraordinary times.

I find myself talking to people everyday now

about the possibility of expanded conflict in the Mid East,

and the real possibility of a war with roman numerals after it.

The pieces are all there.

Yesterday, the US restated its policy of preemptive war,

even in the face of a blinding intelligence failure that has led

to an unnecessary war and thousands and thousands

of lost

and ruined lives.


A preemptive attack on Iran by the US or Israel

will be a political, economic, and moral disaster.

For the next little bit,

I will be away from the publishing desk.

There may be some contributions from SB

or from Polit thoughts,

or from Respectisthehub.

And I will certainly have my little Acer.

But should this post sit up too long,

try using the search bar at the top, next to the blogger logo.

There is an amazingly large body of work here.

For example, if you type in "climate change",

you get 94 stories.

If you type in "Peak Oil"

you get 66 stories.

If you type in "nanotechnology"

these comes up.

And if you type in hydrogen,

Well, you get the idea.

When I return,

I hope to begin with some new direction on earthfamilyalpha.

For anyone paying the least bit of attention,

There is no need to communicate the pressing issue of Climate Change

The truth of it has outed.

There is no need to speak of the future of Peak Oil,

the best friend of the POTUS already knows that it is here now.

We probably cannot stop the ravages of climate change.

We probably cannot stop the tragedy of more resource wars.

We probably cannot get a working democracy to flourish,

in the Mideast, or for that matter, in our own Southeast.

We can learn to love our days,

our time, our children, our partners, our community.

We can learn to see the remarkable beauty and perfection,

in all of this imperfection and injustice.

We can learn to find a self within ourselves

that is transcendent and whole and bounded only by creation.

And we can practice the peace,

that we would must sow into our world.

And perhaps then the sacred spirit of this world,

will break out, and emerge,

wide open, vibrant, and clear,

with new vision,

and new life.

art courtesy of Maxine Noel , Diva Art, Dallas Bromley


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Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Lord's Liars

In the face of tremendous evidence of the need to respond to the reality of climate change, there are still more than a few laggards in positions of power and prestige who continue to misuse their power.

Some of them even think that they are doing the Lord's work.

This is from Media Matters.

In his March 12 sermon at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he serves as senior pastor, Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, claimed that "scientists who are not on the payroll of the government" believe that "the jury's still out" on the existence of human-caused global climate change.

One week earlier, in his March 5 sermon, Falwell similarly said of global climate change, "I don't think the science supports it." In fact, contrary to Falwell's claim, it is a small minority of scientists who dispute findings that global warming is caused by human activities.

In his March 5 sermon, Falwell cited his skepticism of scientific evidence of global warming as the basis for his opposition to the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), a project partially funded by the Hewlett Foundation and backed by a group of 86 evangelical Christian leaders who are concerned about the effects of climate change.

As The New York Times reported February 8, the group -- including "the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller 'The Purpose-Driven Life' " -- signed a statement that "climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians."


In his February 11 weekly column, Falwell wrote of the initiative: "Many of the people who signed this document are my friends -- some are dear friends. Nevertheless, I have felt compelled to oppose their effort because I believe that global warming is an unproven phenomenon and may actually just be junk science being passed off as fact."

Meanwhile, the insurance industry is beginning to wake up.

Insurance industry feels the heat of global warming
Boston Globe
By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist
March 15, 2006

NEITHER TIM WAGNER nor Mike Kreidler imagined how climate change would intrude into state insurance regulation. Wagner, the director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, said the reality is literally pelting him.

''While you can't correlate it directly, in the Plains states we've had severe droughts," Wagner, 63, said over the telephone. ''We've had fires in Texas and Oklahoma. There's a terrible drought in Arizona right now.

When we get rain, we seem to get more and more severe hail. I just drove to Kansas City. My nephew is in Iraq and we went to see his family. Our brand-new car got pummeled while it was parked in north Kansas City. We didn't lose any glass, but plastic parts of the car rack and a piece of the bumper was hanging off.

I don't think I remember being in a hail storm like that in my lifetime."

Kreidler, 62, the Washington state insurance commissioner, has seen his Pacific Northwest weather go from a drought emergency last winter to floods this winter.

''Obviously a trigger for the threshold of getting our attention was Katrina and the number of hurricanes we've been having," Kreidler said in a phone interview. ''But even in Washington the vagaries in weather patterns make you suspicious."

The suspicions moved Kreidler, a former Democratic congressman, and Wagner, a registered Republican, to form a task force for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to assess the impact of climate change on the American insurance industry.

They hope to join a discussion that has been going on for years in Europe, where insurers Swiss Re and Munich Re have warned of massive financial losses from storm patterns aggravated by global warming.

''When you couple changes in climate with changes in demographics where at this point 70 percent of our population resides within 50 miles of a coastline, and the fact that property values of those areas have increased significantly, it just seemed that we had to recognize the issue," Wagner said.

Munich Re calculated that last year was the most expensive on record for natural catastrophes, with losses of over $210 billion. Windstorm destruction in just the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico cost $83 billion, most of it, of course, coming from Hurricane Katrina."


Wagner and Kreidler said they do not know yet what their task force will recommend.

They do say that the time for Americans to hide from global warming is over. "

Somebody needs to remind the good pastor from Lynchburg,

that liars might well go to hell.

But liars who knowingly use the Lord as their shield,

on an issue that may well endanger hundreds of millions

of innocent souls,

might well find a particularly prepared dark, deep, hellish cell,

waiting for these mendacious malfactors.

Perverting the truth,

and misleading the innocent,

Is as good a definition of evil as I know.

On second thought, maybe this guy is working for the lord.

The other one.


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art courtesy of Warren Criswell

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Be Aware Right Now

Last year, in one of the earlier posts on climate change

I indicated that the rate of increase of CO2 was increasing,

and that this acceleration, if true, is a big concern.

Here is the story that makes that concern official.

Sharp rise in CO2 levels recorded
BBC News
By David Shukman
BBC science correspondent

"US climate scientists have recorded a significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pushing it to a new record level.

BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.

The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm.


The chief carbon dioxide analyst for NOAA says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.

"We don't see any sign of a decrease; in fact, we're seeing the opposite, the rate of increase is accelerating," Dr Pieter Tans told the BBC .


The UK government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, said the new data highlighted the importance of taking urgent action to limit carbon emissions.

"Today we're over 380 ppm," he said. "That's higher than we've been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years.

Mankind is changing the climate."

I don't know how you read a story like this

and then go about your day as if everything is hunkey dorey.

But that is exactly what I'm going to do.

And I bet you do too.

When I see a scientist say we need to take "urgent action"

I pretty much blow it off.

Especially if he is the head "Lord Professor" for the UK or something.

Yesterday I visited with an activist friend who said he was thinking

about selling some property he had inherited

in order to buy some property some where else

that takes the reality of climate change into consideration.

It seems like the basic advice is simple.

Go north and/or up.

But the devil is in the details.

You should probably avoid the coastlines and hurricane zones.

You might also want to avoid the tornedo alleys,

and the marginal deserts,

and the semi arid grasslands,

and the jungles.

You might also want to avoid the cities,

as well as the rural areas where law and order might break down.

Actually, places to run are going to become pretty hard to find.

But the place to fight is right here,

right now.

And the best place to be is


I'm late for my pedicure.


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*"ides of march" art courtesy of Catherine Kleeman