Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dum Spiro Pugno

So Winter blew into town a week or so ago.

I’d heard rumors he was coming.

Heard it through the grapevine.

Not much longer would it be sublime.


I went out one morning to run my hill sprints, and there he was.

Hanging out on the corner.

Had his crew with him, too:

Cold. And Snow. And Wind.



“Hey, Jack,” he said spreading a crocodile grin. “Long time, no see.”

“Not long enough, “ I said.

“Owwww. Now that’s cold, dog,” he gaped with feigned shock. “Ain’t that cold?” he asked Cold.

“That’s cold,” Cold said.

“And he knows cold, Jack,” Winter assured me.

“I got things to do,” I told him. “ Get out of my way.”


He came closer. Whispered quietly toward my ear. His breath stung my cheek.

“You think you’re a real bad man, dontcha, Jack?”

“How about you ditch your girlfriends and you and I can find out?”

“Now why would I do that?”

“Yeah. I thought so.”

“It is what it is, Jack.”

“Yeah. Just get out of my way.”


Winter smiled and bowed, stepped aside, waved an arm with a flourish.

“You run along, Jack. I’ll see ya around.”

“Not if I see you first,” I replied.



This wasn’t exactly my first run-in with these punks.

We’ve danced a bunch of times.

But climbing out of the shower, I had a moment of self-assessment in the mirror.

The guy I saw still looked pretty hard.

But you could read a long story in the weathered face, the eyes, the scars. Been through a war or three, this guy. There’s a little grey in the muzzle. A little thinner on top, a little thicker around the middle...



I started to wonder.

Maybe I’m not as fast as I used to be.

Maybe…

“Knock it off, “ I said out loud.

Yeah.

Easier said than done.



It wasn’t fear exactly.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

But why go after a confrontation you can avoid?

That would be foolish, wouldn’t it?

So avoid it, I did.

Not intentionally. Just very, very coincidentally, see?

I didn’t have to go out and run hills. I did some ropework, hit the bag, this and that. All good stuff. All perfectly reasonable. All inside.

Kept saying maybe I’ll run hills tomorrow.

You know what they say about tomorrow, don’t you?



The truth is, Winter had taken the starch out of my testicles.

I was hiding.

Hiding.



And that really pissed me off.




So this morning I went out to run my hills again.

Winter was still there, waiting for me.

And yes, Cold and Snow and Wind were all there, too.


“Well, Jack,” Winter hailed me. “Where you been, dog? I thought maybe you left town.”

That drew some snickers from the boys.


“Nah,” I said peering casually into his dead, ice-blue eyes. “Just been busy. I like it here. This is my town. And that’s my hill. And you’re in my way. So move it or lose it.”


Winter sauntered over, real close to me, spoke in a conspiratorial hush, eyes darting around, up and down the street as if he were expecting to see the cops coming after him. But the cops don’t even come into this neighborhood.


“Now, Jack,” Winter said putting an arm lightly around my shoulders, “You know I got to keep respect. How am I gonna do that if I let you get all up in my face like that, you feel me?

“Not my fucking problem,” I told him.

“I could make it your problem," he offered.



That actually had some perverse appeal.

Go down in flames with my arms wrapped around him, taking him with me.

Good a way to go as any.



“Do it,” I hissed.

“What?”

“I said, do it. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

“What..?

“I said make your goddam move, and let’s just see what happens.”

“If you lookin’ for a hard way to die, Jack….?”

“Yeah, yeah yeah. Fuck your canoe,” I said. “Either go for it or shut the fuck up and get out of my way.”



We stared into each other’s eyes.

The eyes are the window to the soul, they say.

I could see he didn’t have one.

Not sure I do, either.



After a while, he blinked a couple of times and diverted his gaze, as if something of great import had suddenly happened up the block.

And I knew he was done.


“Shit, Jack….don’t be like that.” He stuck his hands in his coat pockets and casually cleared a path for me, and his boys followed suit, parting like an arctic Red Sea. “ Now, you don’t gotta go and get all Pulp Fiction on my ass, dog? What’s next? Get outa town by sundown, you fuckin’ clown?”



“Nah. Stay as long as you like,” I told him. “Just stay out of my way.”



He didn’t say anything.



“See you around,” I said and took off at an easy trot.



“Not if I see you first, dog,” He called after me and I could hear him and his boys mumbling and whining, talking shit about me amongst themselves.



But that’s cool.




See, like all victories, I know this one’s only temporary.

What almost all fighters – the good ones and the bad ones – have in common is that they think they still have one more good fight left in them. But they’re wrong. They step into the ring one time too many.

You do that, you go down.

Sooner or later, you go down.



And I happen to know that global warming is a scam.

The smart money is on a new ice age.

By K.O., in the fifth round.



sj

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Once in a...



In your blue moon dreams

Do you wander grassy seas?

Lope the desert sands?

Taste a salt spray breeze?



In your blue moon dreams

Find you something real and true?

Have mercy on a man

And take him there with you.




sj

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Got Any Complaints?



Think the healthcare system sucks?

Think your taxes are too high?

You want clean air, clean water, clean food?

Or a little bit of the natural earth left for your kids to see?


And speaking of your kids – our kids – are you satisfied with the quality of the education they’re getting?


Maybe you think cops ought not to taser 11-year old kids, or elderly grandmothers, or guys in wheelchairs?


Got any problem with the US killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan or Yemen? And spending billions and billions of your dollars to do it?


Maybe you think that money should be spent on healthcare, education or infra-structure?


Anything else?

Any other complaints at all?

Then you’re a terrorist, Pal.


First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller


So you better keep your mouth shut and do what you’re told – and like it.

Otherwise you’re very likely to wind up in prison.

Indefinitely.

Or dead.

Also indefinitely.


We have come full circle.

We are now all the things we once claimed to despise.

These fascist sons of bitches are turning the America I loved into the 4th Reich.

And all the new "good Germans" would do well to remember what happened with the third one.



If you don’t give a damn about justice or liberty for others, maybe you at least care something about your own freedom.


You think you’re immune?



Wise up.





sj




Read this by Chris Hedges

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/28

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

I had a teacher once who said that everything in the world was a mirror, reflecting back to you who and what you are.


But there are mirrors and there are mirrors.

I remember the funhouse mirror in the carnival that gave back a hilarious, distorted image.

And a shattered mirror reflecting back a hundred splintered faces.

So the value of a mirror is that it reflects a perfect image, one without any distortion.


No mirror is more perfect than a horse.


Because one of the things that horses are best at is “reading” people, even at a distance.

Whether it’s your body language, your scent, or the electro-magnetic impulse of your heart, or some combination of these things, or something else entirely, horses have the most uncanny ability to perceive the mental-emotional state of person with pinpoint accuracy.


They know what you’re thinking and feeling often better than you do yourself.

They pick up minutiae of being about you that you, yourself are not consciously aware of, the way a good poker player knows when you’re bluffing.


A horse knows you better than your friends, your family, your lovers.

Knows who you are in the deepest, most secret corners of your heart.

You have no secrets from a horse.

You can’t fool a horse, con a horse, lie to a horse.

He sees you naked right down to your very soul.

And then he shows it to you.


That can be a bitter pill.

You’re walking around like Dorian Grey, smooth-talking the whole world, getting by on your looks, your charm, your superficial appearances, your “image.”

But up in the attic is that ugly portrait that displays every blemish and flaw, every selfish moment, every thoughtless cruelty, every petty fear, every brittle weakness.


And horses have the key to the attic door.



You might not like what he shows you about yourself.

And once he shows you, once that truth hits you in the face like a stiff jab, you know you have to change.

And change is difficult and terrifying.


I suspect that’s why some people don’t like horses.

It’s an allergic reaction to Truth.



sj

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Horse-Power

Empowered Horses, by Imke Spilker, is one of my current favorite books.

Some of the things in it may sound a little bit nuts to most people.

Maybe even to most “horse people.”

Maybe that’s a tip that those things might just be true.



sj




http://www.amazon.com/Empowered-Horses-Learning-Independence-Self-Confidence/dp/1570764131

Friday, December 25, 2009

Searching for the Sun


Tomorrow the day will be 20 seconds longer than it was today.
And the day after that it will be...

Doesn't seem like much.
But gradually, in its own time, the summer comes around.
Nothing you can do to make to come any faster -- or slow it down.
It takes the time it takes.
Period.

When I find myself becoming impatient with others, or with myself, I try to remember that.
Things take whatever time they take.
And sometimes the best way to work on the BIG PICTURE is to pay attention to the tiny details.
Break a big job down into small, bite-size pieces.
Focus on foundational things first, and build on that a little at a time.

Just make a little change in the right direction every day.
There's an anchoring principle there somewhere.

For horses, and for humans, too.



sj


"Searching for the Sun"
by Maria Hathaway Spencer

http://maria.willowrise.com



Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Suppose they gave a war and nobody came."

Here's the thing.
You kill what you hate.
You hate what you fear.
You fear what you don't understand.

It's a little harder to kill somebody when you've sung songs together, exchanged meager gifts, looked at pictures of each others families, maybe played a game of football.

That's what happened on Christmas Eve, 1914.

A spontaneous cease-fire between the men in the opposing trenches.
May have spread to involve a million troops on both sides.
Some places it lasted a day or two.
Some places it lasted until New Year's Day.
There are differing accounts.

The official story is that the lads got over their brief sentimentality, came to their senses, and went back to the regularly-scheduled slaughter as ordered.

The un-official story is that men continued to refuse to fight each other and that there were reprisals from the brass against those who so refused. Units had to be broken up, men transferred and so on.

Who do you believe?

In this case I will believe in what I would prefer to be true.

It's my Christmas gift to me.

How about you?



Peace,


sj


Forget the Grinch.
Forget that Wonderful Life
Here's your Christmas Movie:

Joyeux Noël French film about the Christmas Truce.

Winter Heart

“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.”

Jacques Benigne Bossuel

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Ghost of '60's Past


Christmas.

And everybody and his dog is puking forth an obligatory “Christmas Album” with the same, sad cliché tunes filled with forced merriment.

Let’s face it: when Bob F’ing Dylan puts out a Christmas Album, it’s all over, Daddy-o.

Thanks a lot, Bob.

But, hey, don’t think twice, it’s all right.


So here’s a “Christmas song” for you.

A version of it done by COVEN made it into the soundtrack of what may be my all-time favorite film, a low-budget masterpiece called BILLY JACK.

The song, and the film, are just as good today as when they were first released.

The truth never goes out of style.


sj



Hear the original version here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7jHp7OchP0&feature=related





ONE TIN SOLDIER


Listen, children, to a story

That was written long ago,

'Bout a kingdom on a mountain

And the valley-folk below.

On the mountain was a treasure

Buried deep beneath the stone,

And the valley-people swore

They'd have it for their very own.


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after....

One tin soldier rides away.


So the people of the valley

Sent a message up the hill,

Asking for the buried treasure,

Tons of gold for which they'd kill.

Came an answer from the kingdom,

"With our brothers we will share

All the secrets of our mountain,

All the riches buried there."


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after....

One tin soldier rides away.


Now the valley cried with anger,

"Mount your horses! Draw your sword!"

And they killed the mountain-people,

So they won their just reward.

Now they stood beside the treasure,

On the mountain, dark and red.

Turned the stone and looked beneath it...

"Peace on Earth" was all it said.


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of Heaven,

You can justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgement day,

On the bloody morning after....

One tin soldier rides away.




Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Support THESE Troops

In response to President Barack Obama's announcement on December 1 to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the occupation of Afghanistan, the organization March Forward!, comprising both veterans and active-duty members of the US military, has called on all soldiers to refuse their orders to deploy.



The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809.ART.90 (20), makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the "lawful command of his superior officer," 891.ART.91 (2), the "lawful order of a warrant officer", 892.ART.92 (1) the "lawful general order", 892.ART.92 (2) "lawful order". In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.
-Lawrence Mosqueda

Novel Ideas

I spend a fair amount of time wondering why things are the way they are instead of the way they could be. I mean, what the hell happened, anyway?

How did things get to be such a tawdry, fouled-up mess?


There’s a remarkable book that wrestles with that very question in a brilliant, paradigm-altering way. The story goes like this:

A guy sees an ad in the newspaper that says:

"Teacher seeks pupil, must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person."

He thinks “saving the world” is the most stupid thing he’s heard in a long time, but it also echoes in his heart because he had the same stupid idea growing up in the ‘60’s.

When it comes down to it, he can’t resist answering the ad, just out of curiosity.

He goes to the address in the ad.

There’s a sign that says: “With Man gone will there be hope for gorilla?”

And he finds himself alone in a room --- with a gorilla.

But this isn’t your average gorilla.

This one is a philosopher who can communicate telepathically.

His name is Ishmael.

The guy listens to the gorilla’s story and he accepts Ishmael as his teacher. From there, this brilliant novel is a Socratic dialogue between Ishmael and his student as they reflect, discuss, argue and ponder to figure out just "how things came to be this way" for humans and the world.



Daniel Quinn wrote Ishmael in 1992. It’s the first of a trilogy including My Ishmael and The Story of B.

It’s one of the most profound things I’ve ever read, and started me asking questions I hadn’t asked before, looking at things in an entirely new way.

I can’t recommend Ishmael highly enough.

If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and put it at the top of your list.

But do yourself another favor: read My Ishmael immediately afterward.

Just trust me on that one.

You’ll see why.


sj

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Standing Up


A hero is as a hero does.

Sometimes a hero fights a war.

But sometimes the hero is the one who fights AGAINST the war.

If I had to bet, I'd put my money on the latter, not the former.


sj

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Eye of the Beholder


A wise man once suggested, “First seek to understand. Then seek to be understood.”


All things exist according to their own nature, regardless of how we perceive them.

Horses exist according to their own nature, too.

Everything a horse does makes perfect sense – to the horse.

It may not make sense to us, but that’s because we’re not looking at things the same way the horse is looking at them.


I think the best thing you can do is to understand the horse’s nature, how it thinks, how it feels, what it loves, what it fears. Be able to see the world through the eyes of your horse.



I play games with this idea.


I imagine being the horse, turning my arms and legs into his front and rear legs, and simulate his gaits. I’ve also done this on my hands and knees. Back when I had better knees.

Some people thought I was nuts.

They were right.



Try sitting on a hard chair with your hands under your seatbones. Turn left and right. Look down. Slump. Sit up. Shift weight. See what you feel in your hands. That’s what your horse feels on his back – only his feeling of it is a lot more acute than yours.



Maybe get a nice long bolt and a length of baling twine. Put the bolt in your mouth, tight against the corners of your lips. Loop that twine around the protruding ends and have somebody --- I recommend it be somebody who likes you – stand behind you and steer you and stop you using that “bit.” How do you like it?



Dance with someone. Let them lead, their hands on your hips. But give them something like a nail or a thumb tack to stick you with when they want you to move. Contrast that with hand pressure. How does it feel?



Spend a week in jail.

Cooped up in a small space with nothing in it but a toilet and a cot. (a proportionally larger space, by the way than the 12x12 allotted to a “generous” sized horse stall) How do you like being locked up completely at someone else’s mercy?

You get exercise when they say so.

You eat when they say so.

The rest of the time….See how long it is before you start contemplating beating your head against the wall just to have something to do. Make note of how you feel toward your jailer.

Now imagine if there was a fire in that jail…



Another wise man once said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”



I don’t want to treat a horse any differently than I’d want to be treated, myself.



sj

Obama's History Lesson

“America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens."

--- President Barack Obama, December 10, 2009




Uh-huh. Just as long as you don’t count:


  • General Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile
  • Fulgencio Batista, President of Cuba
  • Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, President of the Dominican Republic
  • Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, El Salvador
  • Alfredo Cristiani, President of El Salvador
  • George Papadopoulos, Prime Minister of Greece
  • General Efrain Rios Mont, President of Guatamala
  • Vinicio Cerezo, President of Guatamala
  • François & Jean Claude Duvalier, Presidents-for-Life of Haiti
  • Roberto Suazo Cordova, President of Honduras
  • General Suharto, President of Indonisia
  • Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, Shah of Iran,
  • Hussan II, King of Morocco
  • Anastasio Somoza, Sr. And Jr., Presidents of Nicaragua
  • General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Defense forces, Panama
  • Alfredo Stroessner, President-for-Life of Paraguay
  • Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Phillipines
  • Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
  • P. W. Botha, President of South Africa
  • Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Viet Nam
  • General Francisco Franco, President of Spain
  • Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire



So what do you think?

Is Obama a liar or an idiot?

I don’t see a third choice.



sj

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just Another Lying Son of a Bush

Unless you've got hope for brains, it's pretty clear by that Obama is more the uber-Bush than the anti-Bush. By continuing and expanding on Bush's policies, Obama has made them his very own.


Yes, that's a bitter pill.


But we might as well swallow it.


We STILL must prosecute Bush, et al, for their numerous crimes.


Now Obama's name can be added to the list.




sj





One of the most recurring features of the Bush-follower mindset was the claim that the President's supreme duty -- one which the Constitution requires him to swear to -- is to "protect the country," a rhetorical sleight-of-hand suggesting that the Constitution somehow venerates national security above other values. As 23skiddo points out, Obama featured this exact claim in an even more misleading form yesterday when -- in explaining why King and Gandhi were too restrictive for him -- he described himself "as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation."

But as this Constitutional scholar surely knows, that is not what he swore to protect and defend when he took his oath of office. Article II of the Constitution actually requires that he swear or affirm that he "will to the best of [his] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'' That's a critical difference, now almost always overlooked/ignored/distorted, as it was yesterday.

Glenn Greenwald.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/11-9

WHY?

Scam after scam after scam…..


So now it’s pretty clear.

The “conspiracy nuts” were right again.


Osama bin Laden, the alleged “terrorist” leader of the CIA-fabricated al-quaeda, and the accused criminal mastermind behind the World Trade Center disaster, is dead.

And apparently he’s been dead since December 2001.

And apparently, everybody from Bush down to the White House cleaning staff knew it.


So what was this hunt for Osama bin Dead Already all about?

What did all those innocent people die for?

Why did we squander the lives of our troops and millions and millions of dollars of a charade?


If you’ve finally figured out that the entire Iraq/Afghanistan affair is a grand scam to get at the oil in the Middle East, congratulations.


You’re a conspiracy nut.




sj





Read this article by former-Marine Gordon Duff

http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=9641


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Must Be Global Warming

Winter storm blew in last night.
Half a foot of snow.
Boisterous winds.
Still rockin' and rollin' this morning.
Wind roaring outside my window, sounds like the surf crashing in at Two Lights.

More snow, sleet and rain on the way.
Recipe for disaster on a whole lot of different fronts.

The mares and more vulnerable horses are inside.
The bachelor band is outside, but they have access to a good shelter.

Stifling an urge to go back to bed and sleep until March.

Riddle:
Q. How is snow like sex?

:)


sj

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hear No Evil, Cyrano Evil


I carry my adornments only on my soul
Deck'd with deeds instead of ribbons
Mantled in my good name
And crowned with the white plume of freedom.



Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
Illus. by Chemartist

Monday, December 7, 2009

Twin Tyrants


You thought Mr. Hope was going to be different from Mr. Dope?
Guess again.

Both of these men share the same fundamental belief that the United States has some kind of "right" to use force to take what it wants from anyone, anywhere, at any time.

That's a familiar belief.

It's what rapists believe.


Both these sob's should go to jail.
But I guess the cops are too busy tasering 10-year-olds to arrest mass-murderers.

If that doesn't (as brother Marvin sang) "make you wanna holler," then nothing will.


sj

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No More Mr. Niceguy


Yesterday Autumn left with no word of farewell and left not a trace behind.
Unequivically Winter now.
But only 15 days until the reversal of fortunes begins.
We can tough it out.

sj

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yeah? Go ahead...


Somebody somewhere
In the heat of the night
Looking pretty dangerous
Running out of patience
...


"Passion"

-- Stewart/Cregan/Chen/Savigar




Wednesday, December 2, 2009

HELL, JUST STRING 'IM UP, BOYS!

So Khalid Shaikh Mohammed goes on trial, eh?

He confessed to being the "mastermind" behind the World Trade Center arson/murders on 9/11/01, eh?


Big surprise.

He was water-boarded 130 times.

130!

I’ll bet you a bottle of your favorite hooch I can water-board you ONCE and have you confessing to shooting both Kennedy brothers, King and Lincoln.


Attorney General Holder says he’s confident he can get a conviction.

There’s another big surprise.

We’ll convict a guy who was denied legal counsel

We’ll convict a guy who was tortured into a confession.

We’ll convict a guy who has already been publicly judged guilty by the AG and the President.


And if we don't convict him?

He still won’t go free according to Holder and Obama.


Excuse my French, but Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, folks????

If he’s acquitted, they’ll keep him in prison anyway????


How do you like that for “liberty and justice for all?”

Yeah, we're a real beacon of freedom to the world, all right.

And to top it off, this show-trial travesty will be all over the "news" for the whole world to see.


If we’re not careful, this circus will make us look like exactly what we are.


sj

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TRUE GENIUS

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.


- Albert Einstein