Horses and the Mystical Path
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Horses and the Mystical Path
Monday, August 17, 2009
Last week, as a result of the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara, California, this 3-day-old fawn and 3-week-old bobcat kitten were obliged to take shelter together. Seems they didn’t mind at all, bonded with each other, snuggled together.
We could take a cue from these two.
Maybe we could smarten up and put aside our differences at least long enough to deal with the tyranny that threatens the lives and liberty of each and every one of us.
If we don’t look out for each other, who the hell will?
(Thanks to Mouse for sending this photo)
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Gayle from Alaska left a comment that I thought deserved more than a short-answer response. So I thought I'd share it with you. Thanks for writing in and speaking your piece, Gayle.
Here's my take on it.
I live among many, many Native Americans and I tell you, I can't find a single one who wants to live like their ancestors.
I doubt any Euro-Americans would care much to live the way THEIR ancestors lived, either.
But Euro-American seem to want to keep their own cultural heritage alive, practice their own religion and such. Isn't that why they CALL themselves Italian-American, German-American, etc? Keeping a connection to their ancestors? Seems to be OK when white people do it.
When native people harken to their heritage, they're not talking about wanting to be frozen in time in the 1800's. They're talking about the same kind of connection to social custom and religious values, keeping alive what is good about the past and putting it to good use in the present to ensure a better future.
Long as you're not out to use that to do harm to anyone, I don't see anything wrong with it.
As a white Alaska who has lived here all my life (41 years) I watch the snot nose teenage native child get his money payments from the government and his free dental and his free medical and free land and free housing and free education while I do not have any of that. My children go without and so do I. The have all the best clothes and drive the best cars with large stickers that read "Native Pride". I have to sit and watch it all because if I drive a car that reads "White Pride" I will get shot.
I'll take you at your word regarding your perception and description of the situation in Alaska.
But I would ask you to consider that it would hardly be representative of the abysmal conditions of Native American people in the US, where they still survive.
Look into it a little, and you'll see what I mean. I've seen it some, myself. It's enough to break your heart.
Let me ask you this: if the government takes 60% of YOUR hard-earned money via taxes and filters back to you about 1% in the form of, say food stamps, or medical care, or education for your kids --- do you consider those things "free" from the government?
Or didn't you already pay for them?
If the Alaskan Native People were able to broker a better deal in exchange for the land and resources they gave up, then good for them.
Your anger at the privations experienced by you and your family should be directed at the US Gov, not at the Native People. Those folks already pre-paid for anything they're getting back from the Gov.
It's not the Native People who suck you dry with taxes and give you nothing back for it; it's not the Native People who steal from you to give billions of dollars in "bailout" gifts to corporate cronies; or send your children to kill and die in foreign wars so the Gov can net bigger profits for themselves and their pals; and it's not the Native People who tap your phone, or read your emails, or who will hit you with tear gas and tasers if you take it to the streets and demand "redress."
But, in any case, that's not really my point.
My point is this: It's irrefutable that of all the treaty agreements made between the US government and Native American nations, the US broke nearly every on of them.
Didn't just break them, but shattered them to pieces with the utmost treachery, not hesitating to murder on a massive scale, including even women and children.
And I'm not just talking about 1870.
I'm talking about 1970.
And I'm talking about 2009.
My point is that a government that will break a treaty and send troops to kill Indians in order to get gold out of the Black Hills; a government that will illegally send troops into Iraq in order to steal their oil, is a government not to be trusted.
The conduct of the US in relations with the Native Peoples is just one example.
It's not the ONLY example by any means.
I've probably said this, but I'll say it again. To have integrity, to be worthy of respect, to be trustworthy you have to do three things:
Tell the truth.
Keep your word.
Take responsibility your your actions.
The US government does not do ANY of these things, and I'll be damned if I can think of a time when it has.
I'm suggesting we look at history and let it be a warning to us.
A government that would murder Indians to get what it wants won't balk at murdering you or me to get what it wants, either.
What the Gov IS good at is "divide and conquer."
I think what we need to do is all get together so that NOBODY gets a raw deal, and EVERYbody enjoys the same liberty and any benefits deriving therefrom.
If we can do that, we MIGHT be able to have the kind of country we to claim to want in all those patriotic songs we like to sing.
Liberty and Justice,
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In an age so completely dominated by self-serving psychopaths and their syncophants, it’s tough to find a hero. Acts of even minimal integrity are so seldom seem, and we are so desperate to believe in something better, that petty courtesy takes on an almost heroic dimension. With real heroes as rare as hens’ teeth, our standards have sunk quite low.
I’ll share with you one of my heroes.
One who inspired me to be a better man, and a better human being.
In 1966, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was reclassified as 1A. by the Selective Service system. This classification meant he was now eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army.
At that time, the US was engaged in a war against Vietnam --- a country we invaded and destroyed even though THEY had never attacked US. Sound familiar?
When notified of his new status status, Ali declared that he would refuse to serve in the United States Army, in part because as a member of the Nation of Islam, he considered himself a conscientious objector to the war.
Ali also said: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong ... They never called me nigger."
When Ali showed up for induction into the Army on April 28, 1967 in Houston, he refused three times to step forward as required when they called his name. They warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Ali refused again.
So he was arrested.
And on the same day the New York State Athletic commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit.
Let’s understand this situation.
Ali would NEVER have seen combat, himself. His life and safety would not have been in jeopardy.
He’d have been a poster boy for the army, especially for recruiting more young Black men (a population disproportionately represented in combat). He’d have had the softest duty imaginable.
He KNEW it was going to cost him BIG if he didn't play along.
But he wouldn't do it.
Instead, he was willing to sacrifice everything he’d worked for his entire life rather than compromise a principle he believed in.
That’s something you just don’t see everyday.
It made me rethink my own position, my own inclination for a “realistic” tactical compromise.
Eventually, in 1971, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction for refusing induction (See: Clay v. United States). But they couldn’t give him back the 5 years cut out of his “prime.”
We all know the story of his come-back.
It’s as inspiring a story as you could hope to find. And I agree with those who say Ali is very probably the greatest boxer of all time.
But it was Ali's courage OUTSIDE the ring that moved me most, and, to me, makes him not only a champion of champions, but a man among men.
We could use a few more like him.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Number of physicians in the US = 700,000
Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year = 120,000
Accidental deaths per physician = 0.171
(U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)
Number of gun owners in the US = 80,000,000
Number of accidental gun deaths per year
(all age groups) = >1,500
Accidental deaths per gun owner = 0.0000188
( U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms)
Therefore, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.
(Reported in the Benton County News Tribune 11/17/99)
Monday, August 10, 2009
Leonidas was a Spartan king.
In 480 BC he led a small force of 300 men from Sparta, along with men from Thespia and Thebes, against a vastly greater force of invading Persians.
For three days, the Spartans held the narrow pass at Thermopylae, inflicting heavy losses on the Persians who broke against the shield wall of the Spartan phalanx like waves dashing against the craggy coast below.
Only after a Greek traitor showed Xerxes a trail around the pass, through the mountains, were the Persians able to surround the Spartan position.
All the Spartans, including Leonidas, were killed, along with their Thespian comrades.
But their valiant resistance endures as the epitome of self-less courage against hopelessly overwhelming odds. They bought time for the Greeks to organize and eventually defeat the Persians.
Some historians say that Leonidas hand-picked each of his men and took no one with him who had not already had a son. That means Leonidas knew even before they departed for battle, that they wouldn’t be returning.
It was, in short, a suicide mission.
Can you imagine yourself in that battle?
Can you imagine facing those impossible odds?
Can you imagine voluntarily giving up your life to protect your home, your family, the things you love, your country?
Fast forward a thousand years or so.
Time: the mid-19th century.
Place: San Antonio de Bexar, Mexico.
Between 180-260 men resist a 13-day siege at the Alamo. Repulsing two final attacks by General Santa Anna’s superior Mexican force, the defenders could not resist the third. All but a few were killed in the battle. Those captured were executed.
The legend of the Alamo is another example of courageous men giving their lives to fight a delaying action, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, to enable a successful defense to be organized and deployed.
Immortalized in song and story, the defenders of the Alamo are lauded as heroes...
So here’s my question:
How come today if a brown person, a Muslim, maybe, straps a bomb to his chest and takes out some soldiers who have invaded his country, how come he’s not a hero?
Why is it that his self-sacrificing act of resistance is maligned as “terrorism?”
Let me get this straight.
American airmen who fly a few thousand feet above the ground and rain down indiscriminate death and destruction on innocent people below, and who do so at virtually NO risk to themselves, those guys are heroes?
But the guy with explosives under his coat, who blows himself up just to kill a few of the invaders, that guy’s the coward?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of slaughtering innocent women and children, no matter who does it.
What I’m asking is how come when they do it, it's terrorism and when we do it -- in huge, bleeding batches -- it’s just a little unavoidable "collateral damage?"
How come when they do it, it’s torture, but when we do it, it’s just “enhanced interrogation?”
Sure sounds like somebody's lying to somebody. Seems to me we ought to judge everyone by the same standard and not have one for ourselves and a different one for everyone else.
And call it what it is.
If you’re too ashamed to admit what you’ve done, maybe you should be too ashamed to do it in the first place.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
If you've ever seen the space shuttle on the old launch pad, maybe you've noticed that there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.
These are solid rocket boosters (SRBs). The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The scuttlebutt around the water fountain is that the engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through the tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track.
Now, the U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That struck me as a really odd number. I couldn't help wondering why that particular gauge was used.
As it turns out, that's the way they build them in England and the U.S. railroads were built by English expatriates. But then, why did the English build them like that?
It's because the first rail lines were built by the same good folks who built the pre-railroad trams and that's the gauge they used. OK. Then why did the pre-railroad tram use that gauge?
It's because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which just happened to have that particular wheel spacing.
But why did the wagons have that particular wheel spacing?
Because if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break in the deep wheel-ruts on some of the old, long-distance roads in England.
Why in the world did the wheel-ruts have that odd spacing?
Because those first long-distance roads were built by Imperial Rome for its legions and have been used ever since. The initial ruts in the roads --which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels -- were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
And these Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of a pair of fine Iberian war horses.
So the solid rocket boosters are the size they are because Roman war chariots were the size they were.
The point of this tale is simple: very often things are done the way they are done, not because it's optimal, but because of the influence of some horse's ass.