Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Third Night

Van Gogh
I got up and looked at myself in the mirror.

In those eyes there was the same guy who has lived in there for these many decades. I could still see that little sparkle and that little bit of impishness that never went away since I was five, and I talked Craig into hitting my brother with a broom when he walked abound the fence corner.

But today, it seemed like my skin was green maybe even livid.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” I told Jeanelle.

“Do what?”

“Look at myself.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I don’t think I can look at myself anymore”

“How will you shave?”

“I’ll shave in the shower.”

“How will you put in your contacts?”

“I don’t need them anymore, I don’t want to see anymore anyway.”

“Baby, you are depressed.”

“No, I’m not depressed, I’m despondent,” I said.

“We’ve got to go on.”

She’s right you know.

We’ve got to go on.

But I don’t see or know just how yet.

Two days before, the POTUS had made one of those really dumb speeches he always makes. He talked about Freedom, about spreading Democracy. He talked about National Security. He had that freaky dumb look washed all over his face and his eyes looked like a young deer that finds itself in the middle of the road just as you crest the hill going 80.

For the last several months the war talk was gaining more and more steam. Respectable news journalist would not question the neo-cons when they calmly talked about the need to be rational and to be realistic.

Only a notable few were truly doing their work as journalists.

The VPOTUS continued to chew his hateful words out of the right side of his mouth occasionally making a grunt that resembled an intelligible set of words. He mostly just made cowards of all who came into his Darth Vicious presence.

So the POTUS comes out and gives an ultimatum, much like he did with the President of Iraq. But this time, the person who he was giving his tough guy “do what I say” or “I will do this to you” threat was the President who had written him a letter trying to get him to be a Christian. This time it was the President who had asked that they debate in front of the world stage together so that they might find a way to avoid more violence.

This time it was with a Man and a Nation that did not believe that just because the POTUS was the President of the country that had won the last World War, that he was entitled to be the "de facto" emperor of the earth, or that he and his allies would be the "lay down winner" of the next one, should that horrible prospect prevail.

So the POTUS makes his threat and they don’t respond.

On the second night, He makes the threat again,

this time his eyes look beadier and there is sweat on this head.

On the third night, he appears in his oval office with all the flags and seals,

There are pictures of his wife and children behind him.

He sits erect and stares without empathy into the camera.

He then informs the nation that he has ordered a nuclear strike.

The bombs are hitting their targets as he speaks.

I hear the shriek of an innocent child and a mother's torment.

I hear the ground growling with calamitous Karma.

I hear the mountain cry.

And I see a crow fly into the Starry Night.

I ask myself, "What more could I have done?"

I stare into the mirror.

I slap myself to wake up.

But this time,

I am.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Emerging Reality

Here is part of a piece from Transition Culture that was published in the Energy Bulletin. It is a partial transcript of a presentation by Chris Skrebowski at the The Fifth International Conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO-5) July 18-19 2006 in San Rossore, Italy.

Peak Oil and the Emerging Reality
by Rob Hopkins
Transition Culture

Decoding the figures in the new IEA report is akin to decoding the Da Vinci Code. In my work I am not a pessimist, and I observe what oil companies do, not what they say.

Peak oil is the point where further expansion of production becomes impossible. The world needs oil production flows, the consumer needs delivery flows, reserves are no use as reserves, only as flows, peak oil is when flows can’t meet required demand, this is an economic scenario.

An example is the Alaskan North Slope, once you leave the plateau of production you are always in decline.

Oil powers 80-95% of all transport, 50-75% of all oil is used for transportation, 99% of all lubrication is done with oil products, 95% of all goods in the shops get there using oil, 99% of our food involves oil or gas for fertilisers, agrochemicals, tilling, cultivation and transport.

Oil is the most important source of primary energy on the planet accounting for 36.4% of all energy. What do current high oil prices tell us? The market is saying ‘send more oil!’. Economics need a balance of supply and demand, they assume that high prices bring new demand, yet high prices have failed to bring any new supply to meet this demand.

In the Third World, high oil prices are already having a huge impact. Demand is now starting to come down to reach supply.

So why are supplies peaking?

We are not finding enough new oil. We are not developing new fields fast enough, our old fields are getting very tired. In 2005 we found 5 bn barrels, and we used 30 bn, a ratio of 6:1.


According to this year’s BP statistics, OECD production peaked in 1997, non-OPEC production peaked in 2002, North America and Mexico peaked in 2000, and are in a 19.2% decline.

While economists live in a fantasy world, we have to look at realities here.

The reality of the North Sea is that it peaked in 1999. Norway peaked in 2001. While the North Sea peaked in 2000, it is already down by 20%. The Forties field was discovered in 1975, experienced a ragged peak, and the use of enhanced recovery just led to a very small ‘tick’ at the end of the depletion curve."

Earlier last week, the hotel where I work out was full of MBAs.

They were everywhere.

Given that the worst president in the History of the USA

is an MBA,

I don't think I would fly my MBA flag that high in public.

But these folks are studying

and developing all kinds of new and creative ways to rape the planet.

I mentioned to my favorite Bartender that an MBA

is probably the "most worthless degree" you can have right now.

It presumes that growth is limitless,

that resources are infinite,

that climate change is a hoax,

that our natural environment is indestructable,

and that the market is God.

I guess for them it is.

But their reality is not the

The Emerging Reality.

And their god may well be

a cruel god.

Chris Skrebowski is the editor or Petroleum Review and is a well known speaker on peak oil.


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Monday, August 28, 2006


There are a lot of t shirts and bumper stickers in NOLA these days.

They mostly make fun of FEMA and Bush and Nagin and Blanco.

But perhaps the most powerful sign of all is the spray painted X.

You see it on so many structures.

In the area on the top, is the date the structure was examined.

To the right of that is whether or not it was entered.

On the left, are the initials of the search team.

The number on the bottom, is how many bodies were found.

We rode in a yellow orange lincoln cab with George to the lower 9th.

At the old funky antique drawbridge over industrial canal,

we found ourselves in an unlikely traffic jam.

On the other side of the bridge, at the boundary of the ninth,

a large group had gathered in a solemn ceremony

and monument christening.

The traffic jam gave us the time to view the scene below

from the top of the bridge.

Most of the lower ninth is now gone.

In the higher areas, closer to the River,

you can still see the extent of the destruction.

I was impressed with the cars.

They were not just banged up, they looked like

they had been in multiple high speed collisions.

One SUV was upside down and crushed under a house

that had somehow floated on top of it.

George took us by Fats Dominoes.

It was still there, but everything in the area had been submerged.

One year after this great loss of life and culture and soul,

I couldn't help but be amazed with how they have cleaned up.

With their party hardy history,

I guess New Orleaneans know more than most about cleaning things up.

And it shows.

Those areas that were totally submerged

are slowly sprouting out of the blackened love canal muck.

Given that the entire city was dark and evacuated until Christmas,

the amount of progress in the last eight months is a testament

to the strength and tenacity of the bayou breed.

Here are some of the numbers from Environmental Defense

1,836: Estimated death toll from Katrina

1 Million: Number of people displaced by the storm.

80: Percent of New Orleans that was flooded, some places under 20 feet
of water.

$500 Million: Amount needed annually for 30 years to restore coastal
marshes and wetlands to fully protect New Orleans in the future.

$80 Billion: Amount of federal spending designated to rebuild New
Orleans post-Katrina.

When we returned to the Airport, the lack of "normal" became evident.

Louis Armstrong International Airport is a tomb.

There are precious few flights in,

and a precious few flights out.

While we were walking in the Quarter,

We saw a T Shirt that said,

Make Levees, not War.

As Climate Change rears its unstoppable head

above the horizon of our consciousness,

the truth of that truth,

Will become increasingly clear.

And we will know that in that truth.

NOLA is us.


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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Healing Nola

We arrived at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

There was the heat and the humidity.

It reminded me of landing in a Central or South American City,

where the revolution had changed everything.

More than half the gates and jetways were empty.

If they were being used, it didn't seem like it.

Our jet was not the usual jet you would take, say to Amarillo or Lubbock.

No, it was a small executive style jet with 2 seats on one side,

and just one row of seats on the other.

I think it was an Embraer R something or another.

It bounced around in the humid cumulus nimbus world of sky

a little more than its larger brothers, but it was modern.

It was a little like flying in a sports car. Sporty but bumpy.

The NOLA airport was a clean eternity from the one

that is fried into our minds.

But it is lonely, and my first thought was,

"Wow, this is a like a fighter who has taken a punch in the gut,

and all of the wind has been knocked out of him. "

The cab stand outside was empty,

but a friendly man hailed one for us in seconds.

"We just came into town to see how you folks are doing", I said.

He looked and paused, "It may take 10 years" he said.

Driving into the CBD, we saw hotel after hotel with empty lots.

If they weren't closed, they looked like it.

We came to the Super Dome with its new white roof

and giant sign boasting of the first Saints Game in late September.

It's been exactly a year since Katrina was spinning in the Gulf,

with its automatic pilot set on the Louisianna/Mississippi coast,

And things are beginning to return.

There is no St Charles Street trolley,

But there is still the Napoleon Bar.

And the Monteleone still has its hand sconces and twirling carousel bar.

The waiters at the Napoleon still wear white shirts and bowties,

but they are not quite so stuffy or busy.

The streets in the Quarter are clean and uncluttered.

Up on Frenchman street, we danced until 2 with the locals.

Wynton Marsalis was there. Lots of people were.

Lots of people are gone from NOLA.

But the ones we danced with last night,

Were glad they were back.

I felt a healing last night.

But there is a lot of healing to go.


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art courtesy of Zenads

oZ note:
Today we will venture out from the quarter, so more later.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Path of Peace


The War Pimping is in high gear these days.

Who would not agree that the Iranians must be stopped?

That they have thumbed their collective nose at the Americans,

at the British, at the French, even the Germans,

The Great Powers, as they would be known.

Why, it is the entire International Community is it not?


By what right do these nuclear powers have the standing

to tell an independent state that they may not have nuclear weapons?

Iran is presently violating no treaties or agreements that I am aware of.

They in fact are following the Non-proliferation treaty,

Even as the US violates it by building bigger and better bunker busters,

in clear violation of the NPT.

The MSM is in another full court press to bring on another war.

As Norman Solomon says in this piece,

"Looking ahead, does anyone credibly think that Democratic Party leaders can be relied on to stand up against rationales for a huge air assault on Iran - in the face of predictable claims that a massive attack has become necessary to forestall the development of nuclear weapons by a Tehran regime that supports the "terrorist" Hezbollah organization and has pledged the destruction of Israel?"

Solomon continues,

In late November 2002, appearing on the "Washington Journal" program, retired US Army general William Odom told C-SPAN viewers: "Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It's a tactic.

It's about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we're going to win that war."

Continuing his heretical comment, Odom said: "We're not going to win the war on terrorism. And it does whip up fear. Acts of terror have never brought down liberal democracies. Acts of parliament have closed a few."

The Bush administration, of course, has bypassed - and frequently vilified - any such insights. Meanwhile, few Democrats on the national stage have gone near challenging the themes of the "war on terror(ism)."

And while some journalists have grown to express skepticism about the nonstop "anti-terror" rhetoric from the White House and its supporters, the overall stance of news media has involved routinely embracing the assumption that the USA is at war with terrorism.

Along the way, that means ignoring how American firepower has been terrorizing civilians - directly in Iraq and Afghanistan, indirectly in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

The movie "Good Night, and Good Luck" dramatized Edward R. Murrow's decision to (finally) take on Senator Joseph McCarthy's red-baiting tactics. For those who wonder why so many journalists hung back and declined to directly challenge those tactics, which ran roughshod over the American political process for years, we can look around the US news media of 2006 and get a partial answer.

Yes, we can point to quite a few journalists who have gotten tough on Bush's refusal to address substantive criticism without reverting to the anti-terrorism pitch to tar his critics. But on the whole - and most egregiously in routine news coverage on front pages and news shows - the reporting accepts and propagates the basic world view of the Bush administration."

And this world view is leading the geographic state of the United States to a horrible and very predictable end.

An end that should be contemplated now.

While the Path of Peace is still alive.

The Path of Peace requires that the Christian Nations

be, well, Christian.

We cannot return an "eye for an eye" or a "tooth for a tooth".

Or as the saying goes, we will all be blind and hungry.

The Path to Peace requires that these "Great Powers" embrace

a new ethic.

The same ethic their Master expounded 2 thousand years ago.

If we allow the corporate intestests within these Great Powers to

bring about an attack on Iran and Syria,

If we sow this travesty of common decency,

We will reap the whirlwind of an angry god.

It will not be easy.

Perhaps a hunger strike by a million people.

Perhaps a work stoppage on a scale unheard of before.

Perhaps a shopping ban that brings the economy to its senses.

The Path to Peace will not come from any kind of barrel.

It will come from the heart of compassion.

And the mind of light.

And the very best of our natures.


What it is About

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art courtesy of Jaime Jiménez Lupercio

Thursday, August 24, 2006


*Bullet Train, © Laurie Wajima, 2005

Intro: I've long been fascinated with trains, maybe because Mother
and I put Father on a train to Chicago every morning, picked
him up at night, maybe because during one such excursion,
I saw a man fall onto the tracks. He lost a leg. Maybe
trains are a rich metaphor for the journey of our lives.

Probably, for me, trains represent the vast machine, Jean Cocteau's
Infernal Machine, which I've always resisted, wanted to change
and have never been particularly content riding.

Today, they bring to mind the media ramp up for another war.

These wonderful paintings by Laurie Wajima got me thinking
about them again.

Don’t Stand in Front of a Moving Train

is a rule I invented in the sixties,
when America was like an old time movie,
a train barreling down,
ragtime piano and suspense,
a heroine tied to the railroad track,
and it seemed like, unless
you were hog-tied, a sensible
person would get out of the way.

I invented it shortly before
I got fired
for giving radical material
to high school students.
So I altered it
(because you never know
when they’re going to get you) to:
Don’t stand in front
of the same moving train

I carried the rule with me
when I moved to Texas,
but didn’t see the train coming
until I was flat on my back.
So I altered it again:
Try to recognize
a moving train
when it’s running over you,
which should have done the trick
except I shared it with a man
who said it was
good art.

Just words on a video screen:
then a locomotive coming at you.

* Stop Again, © Laurie Wajima, 2005

Again the Train

For many years I warned myself
not to, but did it anyway, I stood in front of moving trains.
It was a compulsion.

A friend
who is smarter than I, told me to get
a moving cart.

I wasn’t convinced.
I tried to stay away from moving trains, shut the rhythm
out of my heart.

It reminded me
of tornadoes, it reminded me of the man I saw get run over
by a train.

And still I dream
of trains, long shining slick and black shafts of energy

into the unknown, going someplace fast, someplace vast
and terrifying.

It is a way of being trapped
and lost at the same time. It is me traveling into something
I am afraid of.

But today
I agreed to find a context in my life for the train.
I agreed

I have to. I agreed because I can’t know where I’m going
if I refuse to go.

About trains,
you don't stand in front of them,
you ride.

©Susan Bright, 2006

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, August 23, 2006

Forever August

*Underwater photo by Laurie W. Wajima

Forever August

Today the thermometer
beneath Guard Station One
read 72 degrees which explains
why it’s easier to get into the water
and harder to swim three-quarters
of a mile, a modest distance
for Barton Springs lappers.

We’re in a drought,
measure rain by phrases like —
Did it rain at your house?
We had a 7 inch rain here —
which means the drops
were seven inches apart.

We've had hotter summers.
Several years ago, it was over 108

for days, temperatures hitting 118 degrees,
119 degrees. We call these the dog days
and stay indoors, drink gallons of water
mixed with electrolytes.

Tap water tastes bad, brackish.
Austin water used to be my favorite drink.

Barton Srings, which has been 67 degrees
for thousands of years – a phenomenon derived
from the temperature in underground
limestone passages where water flows into
the springs — is up five degrees, nearly 10%
warmer than normal.

Sometimes, in December the pool
temperature will drop —
if we’ve had a deluge of freezing rain,
for instance, cold coming from above
mixing with warmer water flowing
out of the earth —
but what does it take to heat
an aquifer five degrees?

use one up?

©Susan Bright, 2006

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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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When Winter Comes

In my job, I pretty much act as a scout.

I go out into cyberspace and beyond,

and I look deep into the landscape.

I look for tracks and for broken twigs.

I look for the signs that seem to point the way.

I look for how the wind is going to blow,

and for when the winter comes.

Will it be a big blow or will it just shake out the dead branches?

Will we respond to the real challenges that face us?

Or will we overshoot and collapse?

Can we change the way we transport ourselves?

Will gasoline be 8 dollars a gallon by Christmas?

Will the neocons get their wish and drag us into World War

or do they think that World War III is just a

viable election strategy?

They think that this is 1939 and that the Hezbollah peace is appeasement.

They think that a bunch of fundamentalist Islamic Mullahs

are Fascist, perhaps not knowing that Fascism is an unholy marriage

of big business, nationalism, and religious intolerance.

"a political system in which all power of government is vested in a person or group with no other power to balance and limit the activities of the government. Fascist governments are often closely associated with large corporations and sometimes with extreme nationalism and racist activities. Modern fascism is often called "CORPORATISM"

Will we once again focus on the important things?

Like football. And a new flatscreen. Or perhaps a new car?

I think of the fable of the ants and the grasshoppers.

And I wonder why the grasshopper doesn't just eat the ants.

I think of the light at the end of the tunnel,

and then I hear a train whistle.

I think of a light summer rain,

and then I see that the 30 somethingth day of triple digits

is most definitely making hay out of my grass

while the sunshines.

As I scout, I know that winter comes,

when the shadows grow long,

and the days begin to grow short.

I know that when winter comes,

that the time for gathering has ended.

And that the time to be prepared,

has arrived.


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art courtesy of Rita Maria

Monday, August 21, 2006

Your Best Light

While catching up on some sites that tend to be on the edges of the bell curve of acceptable thought and behavior, I couldn't help but notice that one of our early Paul Reveres, one who has warned us all about the combined threats of peak oil, climate change, and the dangerous growing concentration of corporate/state power, has now become a Citizen of the "World" instead of the "country" he once cared so much for.

Here is his goodbye to the world of nations complete with a final statement that will pretty much insure a most unwelcome return to the one he left, should he ever try.

A Permanent Goodbye to the United States
Michael C. Ruppert


I never thought I would call the 60s and 70s “the good old days”. I would cry tears of joy today to see just one campus overrun by a modern equivalent of the Students for a Democratic Society.

I would cheer to see a general strike paralyze a city.

It would be living proof that American character had not been submerged, drugged, weakened, and rendered anemic beyond revival.

My country is dead.

Its people have surrendered to tyranny, and in so doing, they have become tyranny’s primary support group; its base constituency; its chief defender. Every day they offer their endorsement of tyranny by banking in its banks and spending their borrowed money with the corporations that run it.

The great Neocon strategy of George H.W. Bush has triumphed.

Convince the American people that they can’t live without the “good things”, then sit back and watch as they endorse the progressively more outrageous crimes you commit as you throw them bones with ever-less meat on them.

All the while, lock them into debt. Destroy the middle class, the only political base that need be feared. Make them accept, because of their own shared guilt, ever-more repressive police state measures. Do whatever you want.

No amount of mind control spin can absolve any of us from acknowledging this ugly truth about the US and its crimes today.

It lurks invisibly behind every corporate news broadcast, every commercially-made television show, every infomercial, every new magazine ad, and almost every new popular song that leads Americans deeper into ever-less-satisfying consumption, self-indulgence and debt.

It stands grinning behind every report on the world’s rapacious financial markets and every new automobile, shampoo, or other product that promises to give the world larger and more potent sexual organs, bigger (more ridiculous) breasts, a better love life, and peace of mind."

Towards the end of the piece, he ends with these words from the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it,…

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations… evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, their duty, to throw off such Government. "

But what are we to do when the government becomes the hand maiden of capital itself?

We must create new inventions of social contract.

The Founders who signed this document did so only after all other alternatives had been exhausted. They did so because the King George of their day had a "long train of abuses and usurpations." and when reduced to "despotism"

it was their right.

it was their duty,

to change it.

Ruppert has thrown in the towel on nationalism.

We will need that towel to wipe the tears that will follow,

If we do not heed his warnings.

Ruppert has joined the earthfamily.

As should we all.

Sometimes you get your best light from a burning bridge” – Don Henley


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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Arresting Karl Rove

* Pink Police, photo by SB

It’s All Made Up

It was to be a citizen’s arrest

in the indoor courtyard of the Renaissance Hotel

in North
Austin, Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan leading
protesters to the doorway of the
dining hall
where hot dog Republicans
were paying big bucks
to dine
with a war criminal, Karl Rove,
a public servant guilty of treason,

the man they call "Bush’s Brain."

Naturally, Austin being a sane town —
except for the local roundhouse

for the mentally infirm and morally bankrupt

otherwise known as the State Capital— naturally

we formed a citizen’s committee to arrest
Karl Rove.
It was the least we could do.

The Pink Police out frowned
Rove’s Blackguard,
and the APD.
Cindy Sheehan and friends
from Camp Casey
led a Code Pink line
to the dining hall doors,
which were (surprise) locked.

We chanted
You dine, and people die.

They knew we were there.

At least I think they did because around us

in the courtyard, a three
(Pink) banner (A Pink Slip — with ruffles)

Rove v Truth: No Contest
was unfurled by protesters chanting:

Arrest K
arl Rove
Rove Lies People Die.
There were resounding cheers
when the banner dropped from
different places just ahead
of hotel security.

Protesters were shouting, milling about,
carrying signs.

A pink poster that said,
Karl Rove: MisInformer
travelled up
and then down
the glass elevator.

So they had to know we were there —

the nice Republicans who stood in line,

wearing cocktail dresses and suits, cowboy
diamonds. They had to know we were there.

But to look at them, you’d swear
they didn’t see us.
No one made eye contact.
I roamed near their line
taking pictures
and they didn’t seem to notice.

In the courtyard, I heard an elderly lady say
to another elderly lady
and two portly gentlemen —
"It’s a fake," you know. "It’s not true."

I moved closer, and leaned toward the sofa
where she and her friends
were sitting.
People were chanting:

Tis the season to arrest
Karl Rove for treason.

"What’s fake?" I said.
She pointed to the banner.
"The banner is a fake?"I said. "It’s a real banner,
Code Pink
made it. Look, you can see it's real."

"It’s all made up," she said, waving
vaguely at the scene.

"Made up?" I said. "Made up?
Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey
was killed
in Iraq because of lies Karl Rove and George Bush
told to the Am
erican People, to the world."

She said, "I remember the sixties.
kids are just having fun."


These are families whose sons and daughters

have died in Iraq. Fun?"

"It’s all made up," she said,
and moved off
to dinner behind closed doors,
in front of which
a woman in pink was thrown
to the floor, face down,
hands cuffed behind her,
carried out —
more fun, certainly than having
a child murdered
by the government.

A solemn parade of "revelers"
followed her out.

©Susan Bright, 2006

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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Saturday, August 19, 2006

War on Tepidity

Jan Rickman

This article in the Nation indicates that even the liberals are beginning to figure this resource depletion issue out. The neo-conservatives figured it out last century. Perhaps the liberals will come up with a plan in the next one.

Life in a Post-Carbon World
Nicholas von Hoffman
The Nation
August 15, 2006

A few weeks ago the Right Honourable Edmund John Philip Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley, took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Lord Browne is a president, also.

His domain is BP Oil, a corporation of more economic importance than Azerbaijan or Georgia, postage-stamp countries in the Caucasus known, if known at all, as Joseph Stalin's native land.

The opening of a new pipeline to carry the crude of the Caspian Sea basin to the oil-worried Western world was the reason for these worthies gathering together. All four presidents have their problems, but only Browne's are worthy of global attention.


The big fact is that the major oilfields around the globe are getting tired and are in decline. In due course, unless somebody finds a lot of undiscovered oil, Browne and his corporate confreres will have an ever-diminishing amount of oil to sell at an ever-increasing price.

Additional assistance in driving up the price of oil may come from politicians in the United States and Great Britain and Israel.

Since 9/11, prices at the pump have doubled. If these three countries go ahead with their hearts' desire, an attack on Iran, gasoline at $7 a gallon sounds about right.

Because more people (China and India) with more money want more of a lessening supply of oil, prices will go into zoom mode before long. But how long is before long? It could be three years, it could be ten or it could be fifteen years--or just when your grandchildren will be going to college or hitting the job market.

For all kinds of reasons, the age of cheap, plentiful oil is coming to a rapid close. And that is a greater, surer and more profound threat to Western civilization as we know it than Al Qaeda multiplied by a hundred. It is well to remember that all the Islamo-fastisto-terroristico-jihadi-fanaticos can only blow up a skyscraper full of people or crash a passenger airliner or incinerate 400 people on a subway train or even get lucky and take out a few more doing their Sunday shopping at the mall with a dirty bomb.

We can survive that.

We can do better than survive that; we can probably prosper. Remember 9/11. Unless somebody you knew was in the building or your business was affected, that horrific event left little more than a blip on the economic radar screen.

Compare that as a threat to the day when oil flows become lethargic oil drips. Then the passenger airliners will be inoperative, the skyscrapers will be emptied for lack of power to run them and the malls will be deserted because there will be insufficient gasoline to get to them--and they will have little to sell.

Currently one of the big debates in the energy field is what will occur if and when all the oil is used up and we find ourselves in what is being called the "post-carbon age." That's a debate for geologists, economists and think tankeroos.

But there is no debate over the steadily increasing price of oil, which is certain to double, triple, quadruple in years to come.

The economic and therefore the political consequences, even if we are somewhat prepared, will be shocking in ways only a few presently understand.

Most of us have been nurtured to believe that after a few adjustments are made by way of "energy conservation" and the "miracle of technology," we shall be on our merry way as before. We buy it when George Bush remarks, almost absent-mindedly, that America is addicted to oil but that he and his allies have the biofuel methadone needed to kick the habit.

Well, methadone doesn't work on heroin junkies, and it won't work on oil junkies either.

If we are to survive, much less prosper, in a time when oil will vie in price with Cristal, we must not only think outside the box; we must get rid of the box.

We must do something Americans have never imagined: Give up on economic growth.

We must abandon the long-held idea that we can grow our way out of every problem, that growth is the path to achieve every national goal.


The old model is out of date.

Either we start working on a new one right now or in too short a time the free and the brave will be fighting one another for a whiff of air-conditioning in the summer or a place by the fire on the cold nights to come. "

Yes, the old model is out of date.

That means you Pork Chop.

That means you Soccer Mom

That means you Disco Dancer.

Wake up, open up, wise up, and cough up

your old ideas, and everything else you think you know.

Cause you don't.

We need to declare war on our bad ideas,

and our tepid enthusiasm for life,

not our fellow sailors.


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art courtesy of Jan Rickman

Friday, August 18, 2006

Too Scary

Tara is five years old.

And she is going to start preschool this year.

As they usually do, the school administrators sent out a little check list for all the parents. It included what the child should bring to school and what they should expect on their first day. There was even a little schedule of their day. Way up at the top at the schedule was the Pledge of Allegiance.

So, Mom gets with Tara and explains to her what is going to happen and then they do a little practicing. She holds her hands over heart and begins to pledge allegiance.

Tara watches.

"Oh that's too scary" she says.

"I'm not going to talk to a flag."

Mom explains that it is OK and to just go along with the other kids.

That afternoon, Mom asked Tara how it went.

"Did you hold your hand over your heart and recite the words?"

"No, I just stood there and didn't say anything,

Talking to a Flag.

That's just too scary."

Yesterday, I was taken by surprise by yet another story that deals with a pledge. This time, the pledge was an oath to defend the Constitution.

Earlier in the day, the news that a Federal Judge had ruled against the administration's illegal spying began to break. Now, this is a big story I thought. The President and his administration have been found by a Federal Court to be breaking the law.... no, not just the law... violating the Constitution , to which he has sworn to protect.

Since I was working out early, I turned on the MSM at 5:30 to see how they were shaping the story.

CBS was leading with the dead dead white girl story.

So was NBC, ABC, CNN. Even PBS opened with the "new development" in the 10 year unsolved murder of a beautiful little white girl who looked like a Goldilocks stand in. All of the networks spent from five to ten minutes on the tragic story. They each had "stand ups" and "experts".

CBS did mention the ruling , but said the judges ruling had been "stayed", which it had not.

In fairness, the print media is running with the story on the front pages today.

After all, its not everyday that the President is found guilty of an impeachable offense in Federal Court.

The President (and his spokesman), like every law breaker found guilty in a court of law, says he is "not guilty. That he didn't break the law. It's like a bank president saying that the money that he stole was just borrowed.

And quite honestly, you always want to give "the accused" the benefit of the doubt, even after they've been found guilty.

But generally, you don't give "their opinion" of their innocence equal weight with the "judge's opinion", once the issue has been "heard".

The guilty almost always say that they aren't.

But in this case, the guys that are guilty are the guys who are supposed to carry out the laws.

So, the judge will have to be marginalized.

She is black you know. And she is a she. And she was appointed by Carter. And even though we are nation of laws,

We don't have to follow her law.

Here is USA Today

Wiretap ruling affirms that presidents aren't monarchs

"For the past five years, the Bush administration has operated as if the horrific events of 9/11 not only changed fundamental aspects of national security and public safety, but also changed the very nature of government.

President Bush has unilaterally declared what parts of new laws he wishes to enforce.

He has created military tribunals unauthorized by Congress.

And, perhaps most ominously, he has authorized eavesdropping on phone calls to and from the USA without court orders.

Bush has done these things by simply asserting that the powers of the presidency enumerated in Article II of the Constitution — particularly the clause making him the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" — are much more sweeping than previously imagined.

In short, he has acted like a king."


By ignoring the law, and making specious arguments that powers contained in Article II make the president virtually unaccountable to either the courts or Congress, the president shows contempt for the other branches and exposes his determination to concentrate power within his own — with no particular gain for the war on terrorism."

Tara is right.

It's too Scary


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Too Hot to Cool

Incredible Melting Man

Several years ago, while scouting for good wind plant locations during a particularly dry spell, (much like the one we have now) my partner and I noticed that the cooling pond for a particular coal plant was getting smaller and smaller.

I opined at the time, that not only was it smaller, it was warmer, and that in the future, more droughts would make our conventional plants, whether fired by nuclear, coal, or natural gas, less efficient and less capable of delivering electrical energy. At the very least, the plants would become even larger consumers of (unbudgeted and unplanned) water resources.

Now, the truth of that revelation is wiggling its way into the European press.

Here is the story.

Climate Change threatens Europe's power sector
By Daniel Fineren

LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change could reshape Europe's energy sector as hotter and drier summers boost electricity demand and place new strains on its power stations.

Power systems which have kept the lights on for decades are under scrutiny after a heatwave last month -- the second in three years -- forced generators to curb output just as demand for air conditioning rose, forcing up energy prices and threatening power cuts.

"As climate change has more of an effect we could see demand patterns change as we have hotter summers and warmer winters," a spokesman for the UK arm of Germany utility E.ON said.

"That's something that we're already looking at because it could well inform future investment decisions and the way we run our business in future decades."

The vulnerability of nuclear power stations to extreme heat became all too clear last month as reactors in France and Germany had to rein-in production because the river water they need to cool down was too warm.

In Spain, more used to the heat than northern Europe, most reactors kept running through July, but the oldest reactor was still forced to stop because of tepid river water.

Europe's gas and coal-fired plants also laboured in the heat and lower river levels.

"Output from many forms of generation, especially gas-fired, is reduced in hot weather," according to a UK Met Office report on the impact of climate change.

"In a future hot dry summer, if the volume of water in a river that supplies cooling water was markedly reduced, it is possible that a power station would have to reduce output."

At the same time that hot weather impacts power supply it also pushes up demand as air conditioning and refrigeration units go into overdrive. "


Obviously, electrical energy from dams and other river flows will also be effected by climate change too.

Those who believe that Nuclear Power is a non carbon emitting solution to meeting our electrical needs have probably not given this issue nearly enough consideration.

A warming world will reduce runnoff from rivers.

It will shrink power plant cooling ponds.

It will make the plant less efficient and reduce its capacity factor.

The water needs that will be stated on the permit application,

will not be the actual water needs in the actual operation of the plant.

In a sane world,

these plants would be banned.

And only solar, and wind, and other renewable energy generation

would be permited at all.

In a sane world,

we would do what needs to be done now before it's

too hot to cool.

In a sane world that is.

Melting Pot


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art courtesy of Harold Larson
and Mack Hoback

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Finding Focus

We truly live in an extraordinary time,

And with all of the commotions, it seems that

It is easy to get distracted, and hard to keep in mind the value of


as we view the differentiated reality of our days.

Without focus, reality become a whirling blur of light and shadow.

Without focus, we are unable to see the detail,

And without the detail, we cannot make out the big picture either.

If we observe our world, our culture, our political universe

With focus and clarity, an image emerges that is quite clear and profound.

We humans face real and credible threats to our survival.

With no respect to order of significance, my focus reveals that

We are Changing our Climate through the use of our atmosphere

as a free waste dump for our products of combustion.

We must face the issue of resource depletion in these fuels for combustion

but we also must face the decline of water in our aquifers and seas,

as well as the deterioration of our soils.

We have the unhealthy issue of the concentration of wealth and power

in the hands of a few hundred unenlightened corporations and oligarchs.

As unenlightened beings, they see only their division from the whole,

and the need to amass more wealth and influence.

We are evolving technologically,

but at faster rates than we are evolving in our minds.

We still believe that we are a Planet of Nations.

We still believe that we can use violence to make peace.

We still believe in the myth of competition

Instead of the healing nature of cooperation

We still believe that our God is superior to their God.

We still believe in a set of archaic mind forms that evolved

10,000 years ago.


We can elect Democrats

who will surely slow the rise of Fascist Fundamentalism.

We can learn to use electricity more wisely,

To drive less in vehicles that give more,

To grow our food locally when and where we can,

To make our cities a quilt of villages,

To make fuel from corn that surely belongs in a hungry mouth.

But this will not bring us peace,

Or a sustainable prosperity.

Of our body or our mind.


We must focus on the mind that has brought us to this moment.

We must give up our nations, our gods, our righteous ideas,

our sense of divine right.

We must clean up the table from the previous party,

And sup on new linen, and clean plates.

We must drink from new crystal

And joyously join our fellow sailors,

In this voyage, this adventure, this moment,

Into the mystery of time and the vastness of space.

Finding Focus in the void.

As we Circle the Sun.


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art courtesy of Sokolov