Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
The Garden of Earthly Delights
Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516)
The triptych is painted in oil and comprises a square middle panel flanked by two rectangular wings that can close over the center as shutters. These outer wings, when folded shut, display a grisaille painting of the earth during the Creation. The three scenes of the inner triptych are probably (but not necessarily) intended to be read chronologically from left to right. The left panel depicts God presenting Adam to Eve, while the central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation.
Art historians and critics frequently interpret the painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life's temptations. However the intricacy of its symbolism, particularly that of the central panel, has led to a wide range of scholarly interpretations over the centuries. 20th-century art historians are divided as to whether the triptych's central panel is a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost. American writer Peter S. Beagle describes it as an "erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty". (read more)
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The Mowing - Devil
Or, Strange NEWS out of
Hartford - shire
Being a True Relation of a Farmer, who Bargaining
with a Poor Mower, about the Cutting down Three Half
Acres of Oats: upon the Mower's asking too much, the Farmer
swore That the Devil should Mow it rather than He.
And so it fell out, that very Night, the Crop of Oat
shew'd as if it had been all of a flame: but next Morning
appear'd so neatly mow'd by the Devil or some Infernal Spirit,
that no Mortal Man was able to do the like.
Also, How the said Oats ly now in the Field, and the Owner
has not Power to fetch them away.
Liscensed, August 22nd, 1678.
Friday, August 27, 2010
The Art of Peace
One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.
All things, material and spiritual, originate from one source and are related as if they were one family. The past, present, and future are all contained in the life force. The universe emerged and developed from one source, and we evolved through the optimal process of unification and harmonization.
The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world. There is evil and disorder in the world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything. (read more)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
"I am only an egg"
Stranger in a Strange Land is a best-selling 1961 Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians on the planet Mars, after his return to Earth in early adulthood. The novel explores his interaction with—and the eventual transformation of—Earth culture. The novel's title refers to the Biblical Book of Exodus. According to Heinlein in Grumbles from the Grave, the novel's working title was The Heretic. Several later editions of the book have promoted it as "The most famous Science Fiction Novel ever written."
When Heinlein first wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, his editors at Putnam required him to drastically cut its original 220,000-word length, and to remove some scenes that might have been considered too shocking at the time. The resulting edited version was, according to Heinlein, 160,067 words. (He joked about sending in the last 67 to the publisher on a postcard.) In 1962, this version received the Hugo Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. After Heinlein's death in 1988, his wife Virginia arranged to have the original uncut version of the manuscript published in 1991 by Ace/Putnam. Critics disagree over whether Heinlein's preferred original manuscript is in fact better than the heavily-edited version originally published. There is similar contention over the two versions of Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars.
While initially a success among science fiction readers, over the following six years word-of-mouth caused sales to build, requiring numerous subsequent printings of the first Putnam edition. The novel has never been out of print. Eventually Stranger in a Strange Land became a cult classic, attracting many readers who would not ordinarily read a work of science fiction. The late-1960s counterculture, popularized by the hippie movement, was influenced by its themes of individual liberty, self-responsibility, sexual freedom, and the influence of organized religion on human culture and government, and adopted the book as something of a manifesto.
In 1968, Tim Zell (now Oberon Zell-Ravenheart) and others formed a neo-pagan religious organization called the Church of All Worlds, modeled after the religion founded by the primary characters in the novel. Except for correspondence with Zell (a lengthy letter to Zell appears as a letter to "a Fan" toward the end of the book in Grumbles from the Grave) and a paid subscription to the Church's Green Egg magazine during the 1970s (as Heinlein refused to accept a complimentary subscription), Heinlein had no other connection to the project.
Stranger was written in part as a deliberate attempt to challenge social mores. In the course of the story, Heinlein uses Smith's open-mindedness to reevaluate such institutions as religion, money, monogamy, and the fear of death. Heinlein completed writing it ten years after he had (uncharacteristically) plotted it out in detail. He later wrote, "I had been in no hurry to finish it, as that story could not be published commercially until the public mores changed. I could see them changing and it turned out that I had timed it right."
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Other characteristics found in this work are the unadorned dress, in which the eyes and hands have no competition from other details, the dramatic landscape background in which the world seems to be in a state of flux, the subdued colouring and the extremely smooth nature of the painterly technique, employing oils, but laid on much like tempera and blended on the surface so that the brushstrokes are indistinguishable. Vasari expressed the opinion that the manner of painting would make even "the most confident master ... despair and lose heart." The perfect state of preservation and the fact that there is no sign of repair or overpainting is extremely rare in a panel painting of this date. (read more)
Friday, August 20, 2010
Clementine Lunar OrbiterClementine (officially called the Deep Space Program Science Experiment (DSPSE)) was a joint space project between the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO, previously the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, or SDIO) and NASA. Launched on January 25, 1994, the objective of the mission was to test sensors and spacecraft components under extended exposure to the space environment and to make scientific observations of the Moon and the near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos. The Geographos observations were not made due to a malfunction in the spacecraft.
Near side of the moon - (zoom in)Clementine was launched from Space Launch Complex 4 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California using a Titan II launch vehicle. The mission had two phases. After two Earth flybys, lunar insertion was achieved approximately one month after launch. Lunar mapping took place over approximately two months, in two parts. The first part consisted of a five hour elliptical polar orbit with a periapsis of about 400 km at 30 degrees south latitude and an apoapsis of 8300 km. Each orbit consisted of an 80 minute lunar mapping phase near periapsis and 139 minutes of downlink at apoapsis. After one month of mapping the orbit was rotated to a periapsis at 30 degrees north latitude, where it remained for one more month. This allowed global imaging and altimetry coverage from 60° south to 60° north, over a total of 300 orbits.
NASA announced on March 5, 1998 that data obtained from Clementine indicated that there is enough water in polar craters of the moon to support a human colony and a rocket fueling station.
Clementine image of the far sideIf you have even a rudimentary knowledge of aerial photography you can enlarge this image of the far side of the moon and you will begin to see something funny. (see more)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Buddha's final words were, "All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence."
At his death, the Buddha told his disciples to follow no leader, but to follow his teachings.
Some of the fundamentals of the teachings of Gautama Buddha are:
The Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an ingrained part of existence; that the origin of suffering is craving for sensuality, acquisition of identity, and annihilation, that suffering can be ended; and that following the Noble Eightfold Path is the means to accomplish this.
The Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Dependent origination: the mind creates suffering as a natural product of a complex process.
Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: Teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. See the Kalama Sutta for details.
Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things that come to be have an end.
Dukkha (Sanskrit: duḥkha): That nothing which comes to be is ultimately satisfying.
Anatta (Sanskrit: anatman): That nothing in the realm of experience can really be said to be "I" or "mine".
Nibbana (Sanskrit: Nirvana): It is possible for sentient beings to realize a dimension of awareness which is totally unconstructed and peaceful, and end all suffering due to the mind's interaction with the conditioned world.
According to tradition, the Buddha emphasized ethics and correct understanding. He questioned the average person's notions of divinity and salvation. He stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine; distant gods are subjected to karma themselves in decaying heavens; and the Buddha is solely a guide and teacher for the sentient beings who must tread the path of Nirvana themselves to attain the spiritual awakening called bodhi and see truth and reality as it is.
The Buddhist system of insight and meditation practice is not believed to have been revealed divinely, but by the understanding of the true nature of the mind, which must be discovered by personally treading a spiritual path guided by the Buddha's teachings.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Have suddenly become unglued.
Waking up, you know that something's missin'
You call for help but no one seems to listen
Inconsolable, you're an ashy shell of what you were
You ask yourself, "How can I go on without her?"
Answers never come . . .
Your answers just won't come
Doesn't help, you don't know who you're askin'
The mirror just won't show you who you are
Empty Reflection sure won't get you far.
Crumbling beneath the pressure of not getting what you wanted -
Does it make you wonder why you want it?
Why do you even want it?
Answers never come
Your answers just won't come
'Till you find out who you're askin'.
Have you forgotten who you are, or have you never known?
How can you benefit from reaping if you don't know what you've sown?
Don't you know you are your own foundation?
There's a life in you that's brimming with creation!
. . . But answers never come
Your answers just won't come
Doesn't help you don't know who you're askin'.
(YOU need to reignite your passion.)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
|The Wave, 1971 by the sculptor Sinisca, Vatican Museum.|
What is greatly needed today on all levels of society - in local communities, in cities, in towns, in clubs and indeed in countries and in international affairs are statesmen and stateswomen with imagination, people with dreams and visions that are realizable, practicable, and feasible. But, I suppose, all real change starts at the bottom, in local communities, in our very own families, where we encourage each other to follow our dreams; where we encourage each other that we can make a difference here and now where we are, that as the Bard of Avon once said, that "we are the stuff that dreams are made on," that humankind can redeem itself as well as wreaking sheer havoc, if not possible extinction, upon itself if only it has the courage to dream that things can be different.
I'll finish this wee post with one of my favourite quotations:
Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not. Robert Kennedy on his brother JFK; original quote from G.B.Shaw.
Monday, August 16, 2010
"Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow,
a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more:
it is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
. . .
heaven is a place...
a place where nothing...
nothing ever happens...
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
"Close your eyes; what do you see?
Do you see what you expect there to be?
It’s more than blood and bone we share.
Reveal your heart, our soul, our mind…
We’re all the same
When you are blind;
Blind to color, beauty, weight and height
There’s more to see than just with sight.
So close your eyes and see what’s there;
You see more blind
Than when you stare
Close your eyes and open your mind…
We’re not so different
When you are blind."
Friday, August 13, 2010
Is it possible for a "Word" to be inherently bad?
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so".(Hamlet, Act II, Scene II)
SCHLESSINGER: Jade, welcome to the program.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Laura.
CALLER: I'm having an issue with my husband where I'm starting to grow very resentful of him. I'm black, and he's white. We've been around some of his friends and family members who start making racist comments as if I'm not there or if I'm not black. And my husband ignores those comments, and it hurts my feelings. And he acts like --
SCHLESSINGER: Well, can you give me an example of a racist comment? 'Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what's -- give me two good examples of racist comments.
CALLER: OK. Last night -- good example -- we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor -- when every time he comes over, it's always a black comment. It's, "Oh, well, how do you black people like doing this?" And, "Do black people really like doing that?" And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night, I got to the point where it --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist.
CALLER: Well, the stereotype --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist. No, I think that --
SCHLESSINGER: No, no, no. I think that's -- well, listen, without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a black thing. You gotta know that. That's not a surprise. Not everything that somebody says -- we had friends over the other day; we got about 35 people here -- the guys who were gonna start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. My bodyguard and my dear friend is a black man. And I said, "White men can't jump; I want you on my team." That was racist? That was funny.
CALLER: How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around --
SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.
CALLER: That isn't --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing. Don't hang up, I want to talk to you some more. Don't go away.
I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I'll be right back.
After taking a commercial break, Schlessinger resumed her discussion with the caller:
SCHLESSINGER: I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger, talking to Jade. What did you think about during the break, by the way?
CALLER: I was a little caught back by the N-word that you spewed out, I have to be honest with you. But my point is, race relations --
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any black comedians.
CALLER: But that doesn't make it right. I mean, race is a [unintelligible] --
SCHLESSINGER: My dear, my dear --
CALLER: -- since Obama's been in office --
SCHLESSINGER: -- the point I'm trying to make --
CALLER: -- racism has come to another level that's unacceptable.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. We've got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that's hilarious.
CALLER: But I think, honestly, because there's more white people afraid of a black man taking over the nation.
SCHLESSINGER: They're afraid.
CALLER: If you want to be honest about it [unintelligible]
SCHLESSINGER: Dear, they voted him in. Only 12 percent of the population's black. Whites voted him in.
CALLER: It was the younger generation that did it. It wasn't the older white people who did it.
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, OK.
CALLER: It was the younger generation --
SCHLESSINGER: All right. All right.
CALLER: -- that did it.
SCHLESSINGER: Chip on your shoulder. I can't do much about that.
CALLER: It's not like that.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. I think you have too much sensitivity --
CALLER: So it's OK to say "nigger"?
SCHLESSINGER: -- and not enough sense of humor.
CALLER: It's OK to say that word?
SCHLESSINGER: It depends how it's said.
CALLER: Is it OK to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?
SCHLESSINGER: It's -- it depends how it's said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it's OK.
CALLER: But you're not black. They're not black. My husband is white.
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, I see. So, a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can't do much about that.
CALLER: I can't believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the "nigger" word, and I hope everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: I didn't spew out the "nigger" word.
CALLER: You said, "Nigger, nigger, nigger."
SCHLESSINGER: Right, I said that's what you hear.
CALLER: Everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.
CALLER: I hope everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: They did, and I'll say it again --
CALLER: So what makes it OK for you to say the word?
SCHLESSINGER: -- nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB --
CALLER: So what makes it --
SCHLESSINGER: Why don't you let me finish a sentence?
SCHLESSINGER: Don't take things out of context. Don't double N -- NAACP me. Tape the --
CALLER: I know what the NAACP --
SCHLESSINGER: Leave them in context.
CALLER: I know what the N-word means and I know it came from a white person. And I know the white person made it bad.
SCHLESSINGER: All right. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can't have this argument. You know what? If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race. If you're going to marry out of your race, people are going to say, "OK, what do blacks think? What do whites think? What do Jews think? What do Catholics think?" Of course there isn't a one-think per se. But in general there's "think."
And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from black-think -- and it's really distressting [sic] and disturbing. And to put it in its context, she said the N-word, and I said, on HBO, listening to black comics, you hear "nigger, nigger, nigger." I didn't call anybody a nigger. Nice try, Jade. Actually, sucky try.
Need a sense of humor, sense of humor -- and answer the question. When somebody says, "What do blacks think?" say, "This is what I think. This is what I read that if you take a poll the majority of blacks think this." Answer the question and discuss the issue. It's like we can't discuss anything without saying there's -isms?
We have to be able to discuss these things. We're people -- goodness gracious me. Ah -- hypersensitivity, OK, which is being bred by black activists. I really thought that once we had a black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop, but it seems to have grown, and I don't get it. Yes, I do. It's all about power. I do get it. It's all about power and that's sad because what should be in power is not power or righteousness to do good -- that should be the greatest power.
(Richard Pryor & George Carlin)
(Bill Cosby - Prejudice)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed primarily by Victor Fleming from a script mostly by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, with uncredited contributions by others. It was based on the 1900 novel of the same name by L. Frank Baum, who died twenty years before this film was released. Notable in its use of special effects, use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling and unusual characters, The Wizard of Oz has become, over the years, one of the best known of all films. Its impact, however, was not nearly as strongly felt at the time of its original release.
Initially, The Wizard of Oz made only a small profit due to its enormous budget, despite largely favorable critical reviews. "Over the Rainbow" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the film itself received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
Telecasts of the film began in 1956, and because of them the film has found a larger audience—its television screenings were once an annual tradition and have re-introduced the film to the public, making The Wizard of Oz one of the most famous films ever made. The Library of Congress named The Wizard of Oz as the most-watched film in history. It is often ranked among the top ten best movies of all-time in various critics' and popular polls, and it has provided many memorable quotes.
In a movie section front page retrospective of The Wizard of Oz, noted San Francisco Chronicle film critic and author Mick LaSalle declared on October 30, 2009 that the film's "entire sequence, from Dorothy's arrival in Oz to her departure on the Yellow brick road, has to be one of the greatest in cinema history — a masterpiece of set design, costuming, choreography, music, lyrics, storytelling and sheer imagination." (read more) (video clip)
Today is the 71st Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A Poem By Darryl Mason, 16 June 2007
"Kill one man, terrorise a thousand"
the instructor had pointed to the sign
on the wall at the school where I learned to kill
Camp Pendleton, California
it didn't have a fancy name, this school
like 'tactical depopulation training'
we called it what it was
three months training
then they sent me here
"Kill one man, terrorise a thousand"
he smiled when he read the sign to me
my scores were good
he told me he was proud of me
never heard a man say that to me before
I see him now still tapping that sign
to a roomful of kids who are now
"Kill one man, terrorize a thousand"
That's what the sign said
So I learned it
and I loved it and now
I'm living it
a rooftop in Fallujah
came in by helicopter
Black Hawk at full crank
flying low enough to collect television aerials
others in my squad are on other buildings
on other rooftops
we're alone here
not enough of us to go in pairs
not today, they said
you'll be okay
I know I'll be okay
I'm a fucking killing machine
but we should be able to get each other out
if we have to
that's what they kept telling us on the way in
"we don't leave our boys behind"
if we need them
they'll come and take us home
I look at my watch and work out the time
it's Saturday morning in America
mom will be making pancakes
I can remember the smell
I can imagine myself still in bed
in bed, that warm breakfast smell
coming up the stairs and into my room
if I think about that smell long enough
I can taste those pancakes
I waited five hours before I did anything
to stir them from their homes
waited for my orders
a thousand terrified
they don't know where I am
the radio has gone silent
I wait here for them to tell me
what to do next
My rifle is a M40A3 bolt action
I already knew this rifle
long before I held it in my hands
for the first time
I've used it on sniper mission in Iraq before
even though this is my first tour
I played the video game the recruiter gave me
I was just walking through the mall
"here, this is for you"
I took the game home
I played the game, a few thousand times
and I didn't stop playing it
until I learned all the weapons,
all the ambush scenarios,
all the escape scenarios,
all the sniper missions
I played the game
of being a sniper in Iraq
same gun, same place
but now it's for real
when I was playing the game I never felt
the hot electricity feeling
that I feel right now
that makes me feel so alive
but so tired
and when I played the game
I didn't feel the sand
that's inside my underwear
wearing away my skin
when I played the game
I didn't feel the sticky heat
or the cold sweat
that lives on us all now
like a second skin
it was only a game
they told me the enemy wears disguises
my commander told me they dress as women,
as children, as old men
"every fucking donkey cart
can transport weapons", he said
"every ambulance can transport insurgents
this is free fire"
but my orders for now are simple
if I don't like the look
of someone down there on the street
I can take them out
"Do they know they have to stay inside?"
I asked on the helo coming here,
to my rooftop in Fallujah
but nobody answered
"Just pick them off when you see them"
My CO said that
a direct order
I saw him before I fast roped down to my rooftop
he looked me straight in the eyes like
he knew he would never see me again
"God loves you," he said
and that was all
then I was out and heading
I remember last week
the blur of days
never enough sleep
boredom like a fog
we cleared the outer ring of
block by block
kick in every door
turn over every bed
empty every drawer
the women here have the best
underwear and lingerie
I've ever seen
last week :
our sound truck is parked a few blocks away
from where we foot patrol down another
ghost town alley
the sound truck is jacked
the super fat
of AC/DC's 'Hell's Bells' blasts
through Fallujah back streets
and alleys full of dusty echoes
the first time I heard that riff
maybe an hour ago
I cheered and punched the sky
just like I did at the AC/DC gig
I saw when I was 14
dad took me for my birthday
but now Hell's Bells' is on again
solid wall of noise from the sound truck
14th time today I've heard it
and it doesn't sound right
the sound is supposed to scare the haji
but ain't they heard AC/DC before?
maybe they ain't heard it like this
this loud this fat this solid
I've never heard it like this before either
it's starting to make me feel
we did something to the sound
it was remixed by psy-ops
to really fuck with them
get inside their heads
scramble their brains
but we didn't have enough ear plugs
so I missed out
don't matter anyway, that noise
gets into your bones
and your bowels
it lives inside you
like a virus
A few dozen Saturday mornings ago
I sat in my room and played that AC/DC riff
on my guitar
until my mum yelled at me to quit
I just turned it up louder
this sound makes you sick
it vibrates inside you
even when the sound cones aren't pointed
at you, it still gets you
it goes through the walls
some guy back at the base calls the sound truck
if they really crank that fucker up
you just might crap yourself to death
it's not funny now
Angus' guitar gongs inside my skull
and the words of 'Hell's Bells'
mean something different
there's a line, a lyric
I just heard it again
"you're only young but
you're gonna die"
we play it to scare the haji
but it scares us, too
motherfucker change the fucking tune
my family had a farm for 150 years
we fought in wars
then we farmed the land
then we fought in wars
my father took me back to our farm once,
after we sold it to pay his health care bills
we went back to see the land
that used to be ours
he took me into the north field
and we cut our thumbs
like his dad had done with him
and his grandad had done
with his grandad
thumbs bleeding, we let the scarlet
dripping into the dirt
we let our thumbs drip
so our blood would stay in the soil
even if we weren't there to farm it anymore
"you leave your memory here now"
my dad said
"blood and earth,
I fell asleep
I can't do that
went dreaming of ten years back
five months back
one week back
I fell asleep
I can't do that
gotta stay sharp on
my rooftop in Fallujah
but the go-go pills aren't working
not like they used to
the meth is better, sharper
but our supply went up
when the ammo dump got hit
radio crackles, a sweep and clear
I look over the edge of the rooftop
and watch the front end of another unit
enter the block
the doors get kicked in
the angry men get hooded
the women only get slapped
when they won't shut the fuck up
or when they start grabbing
who knows what the fuck they're all
we hit them with the sound truck
we hit them with our light shows
the holograms that look like
running through their streets
but they never want to leave
"get the fuck out of here!"
you can scream in their faces
but they stay
like their souls are glued to the floors
of their homes
sometimes the special units let loose
the dogs that were mixed with pigs
in some labs
so the stories go
fucking nightmares in the living daylight
slobbering up your stairs
they'll eat your liver
if you let them bite through your flesh
"Get the fuck out of here!"
but the hajis don't want to go
so we have to go in
we always have to go in
on my rooftop in Fallujah
sometimes they call to me
in weird English, bad accents
stuff they've learned off satellite TV
they call to me to come down
to give up
they don't want to kill me
you're all alone and no-one's coming
to get you out
we'll slit your throat until we see your
none of it bothers me
I did three days in a shipping container
with a soundtrack of babies screaming
and dogs getting tortured
and calfs in a slaughterhouse
screaming while they watched
their cow mothers get gutted
sounds of misery and terror
I can block out human voices
their threats mean nothing to me
but then I hear her voice
a woman's voice
A New Yorkish accent
like a babe from Sex And The City
she calls to me
fuckit, she sounds hot
"I lived in New York City for twelve years"
"I'm an American, just like you"
"I came back here to be with my family
when I knew the war was going to begin"
I don't want to hear her voice
but I need to
it's the only familiar thing here
this alien world
this video game world
the game the recruiter gave me taught
me how to target
how to track
how to choose a body part to blow
the game had Iraqis chanting, singing
but I never heard no hot-sounding
New York chicks
in that game
calling to me
"I know you're scared, I'm scared
but she sounds strong
"I know you don't want to kill me
and my family and my friends
we are your friends
we understand they made you come here
we both have the same enemy
"if you come down and you come to my door"
"then we must let you enter our home and
you must eat with us
even if you are our enemy"
the food they cook
always smells good
better than what we get
"you can come and eat with us"
"you will be our guest
and we will look after you
"this is the way it has been
for as long as my people have lived"
and I can smell the food
and it smells good, it smells
"please come down and eat with us"
I want to but I can't
"we have soup, you can eat then
sleep, no-one else has to know"
sleep, I've forgotten what that is
when you don't wake up every
twenty minutes with a jolt
when another five mortars
fall into the Green Zone
"come down and eat with us, please?
we forgive you"
"can you hear me?
yes, I can
"we forgive you"
they told us
in the first training week
over and over
the old man with the dead eyes
he said it again and again
"Saddam did 9/11
he bombed America with our own planes"
they got together
they made 9/11 happen
that's what they told us
they showed us some movie that
explained it all
Saddam did 9/11
that's why we came here
to get Saddam, get rid of that fuck
for what he did to us
"we fight them in Iraq
so we don't have to fight them at home"
Saddam did 9/11
so we do Saddam
and every fucker like him
justice out of a double-barrel
But when I got here
nobody else believed that shit
that Saddam and Osama were
parking their cars in the same garage
someone said, they laughed and they said
"They got your head all filled up with their
you sorry fuck"
up here on my rooftop
watching the dawn
never seen anything so beautiful
like soft fire in slow motion
I wait and I sit and I think
not about things I want to think about
things just come into my head
my dad singing bits of old
Bruce Springsteen songs
then just one line
over and over
"is a dream a lie if it don't come true
or is it something worse?"
he used to hum-mumble that line a lot
before he killed himself
like a mantra
maybe like a prayer
my dad drove an armoured bulldozer
in the First Gulf War
he was there for work as an engineer
but he drove that dozer better
than the guys trained to do it
he used that bulldozer to push huge walls
into trenches filled with men and boys
Iraqi Republican Guard
they volunteered so their daughters
wouldn't get raped
my dad pushed the sand over them
he said they hugged each other down there
in those trenches
he said most of them looked like
"they didn't know what the fuck
was happening to them"
he told me
but I only thought about the way he described
the sound of the bullets dinging off the dozer blade
he buried hundreds of men and boys
in those trenches
his friends buried thousands more
they were alive when the sand was pushed
but not for long
and then dad and his crew, they
smoothed the sands of that desert
they didn't leave a trace
there were no bodies left to see
when they were done
they were the enemy
"I buried them alive"
he said one night
he was drunk
he woke me long after midnight
to tell me what he did, back then
I was 12
"I looked back as we drove away,"
he said, his voice shivering
but that night was warm
he shivered and said
"where there had been thousands of men
in trenches, ready to defend their country
when I looked back I saw nothing but sands
they were gone, the desert swallowed them
they became a part of it forever"
Then dad said
"Maybe they were never there
maybe they never existed"
then he died
I sit on my rooftop
my rifle ready
watching the stars
eating my MRE
smelling the warm food smells
from down below
amongst the smell of the dead
eating this shit and
waiting for my orders
when I was training, back home
they made me wait two days and
two nights on the parade ground
before they told me
what to do next
I sit and I wait
and I think
I think about what my President said to me
to the world
the stuff he gave us to arm our souls
the words that will carry us through this War
and back home again
his words, I can memorised them
"Liberty and Freedom are God's gift
to every man and woman
who lives in this world"
I saw a Marine back at base
on Monday before I came here
to this rooftop in Fallujah
I saw a Marine loading his M-16 full of
armor piercing bullets and grenades
he called the bullets "Liberty"
he called the grenades "Freedom"
we distribute these gifts from God
we are holy Santas armed
to the fucking teeth
My President said
"they kill because they hate freedom"
I'm a killer
I'm a good killer
but I kill to give Freedom
I kill to spread Liberty
"we are doing God's work"
my President said
does my President want me to kill these people?
Does God want me to kill these people?
I don't know
"We do not know God's plan"
then what am I doing here?
"but we know His ways are right and just"
if I'm doing God's work
even if we don't know His plan
then all those I kill must be part of the plan
for a Better World
so my ways are right and just
who doesn't want to live in a
my radio crackles
I get my new order
"Zip any haj you want,
make some chaos"
the rules of engagement say no
but the orders say yes
I look through the sights of my rifle
choose an enemy non-combatant
in the street down below
don't this fucker know about the curfew?
a smooth squeeze and
this old guy's head peels open
blood arcs in a thin shower
he staggers in a circle
arms reaching for where
the rest of his head used to be
I cancel him at the knees
'Hell's Bells' echoes in from blocks away
the soundtrack of this man's death
"we're coming for you"
we're already here
the orders keep coming
I keep following the orders
that's what we do
that's why they train us
the way they do
we follow the orders we're given
and that's all
the ones who come to look at what you've done
eyes like saucer, lips quivering
are easier to take out if you make a big mess
they just stand there
shocked and awed
a single shot
the crack and phfump of flesh impact
another and another
the blooms of blood in slow motion
and then the onlookers are
part of the show as well
it gets surreal
they've all got guns
on them or at home
the more you kill
the more come out
to see who you've killed
"don't leave any wounded"
they all die,
quick and fast
the rules of engagement changed
on the wounded
or maybe years ago
that's what they told me
I do what I'm told
the screaming, raging haji fucks
still don't know where I am
the hours evaporate like
the spit in my mouth
it's quiet down there now
I follow a child through my sights
just for a bit of tracking practice
I haven't had orders, heard a word
I can hear the fighting echo
through the ancient streets
the fighting drew away all the armed men
who were looking for me
this ancient city
older than America
that blows my mind
I wish I knew more history
I wish I knew more about these people
I came here to kill
I track the child
a little boy
blocks away, another world away
he doesn't know or care what I did here
a few hours back
the little boy runs, he laughs
with his friend
he spins then falls
is he playing a game?
but then I hear the cracking echo
of my own rifle
the little boy's friend screams
and people pour from their homes
I don't feel any different about
kids or women or old people
or some insurgent fuck with an RPG
my president told me,
I'm doing God's work
anyone who dies
was supposed to die
even this little kid
we fight them here
so we don't have to fight them
there's a lot of people running around
they pick up the bits of the boy
that were blown off
there's frenzy and madness
two women scream like sirens
and hit themselves
I should call this one in
a little too much chaos
in the late afternoon
there's a unit with tanks
and a sound truck
only a few blocks away
this crowd looks like they could eat them
the metal and the flesh
their rage is like human
I didn't mean to kill the kid
But God must have wanted him
or else he wouldn't be dead now
the men are coming back
they see me peaking down
from my rooftop
and the yelling brings more men
pouring out of the houses I thought
were mostly empty
should have been empty
men running, a swarm
they disappear below the edge of my building
I can't see them
but I can hear them
coming up the stairs
the training kicks in
I'm a machine that will survive this
then the real me can take over
the controls again
I remember what I have to do
the lesson comes clear and loud
"to effect escape, give them dead,
but give them brutally wounded,
that'll keep them busy
buy some time, boy
you've got the cash"
I move across the roof
low and fast
I reach the stairs that lead down inside
they're coming up
a thick wad of angry men
one mass of flesh and hair and fury
I can feel the heat of their fury
hotter than the day
I drop two grenades down the stair well
and get the fuck out of the way
the building rocks beneath me
the stairs collapse
so much screaming
down below the street fills
with dust and crying
I dig my Uzi out of my kit
my back up, my toy
I empty the clip
into the crowd
more people fall
chaos and carnage
who ordered this disorder?
I'm sure I had another clip
more ammo, but I'm out
I've got a knife
more like a machete
my friend in the machine shop
back at base engraved
"Throat cutter" down the blade
how long have I got?
get on the radio, get the helo in
"get me out"
"we're coming in...soon"
"get me the fuck out of here!"
I call in my signal
tell them I'm under attack
confirm my location
they say, calmer than me,
"keep your head down, boy
there's a hell storm on her way"
I don't know that that means
but I understand
when I see it coming
it makes no sound
the sound hasn't caught up
the missile disappears
into the building next door
it seems to swell
the blasts and shock waves
crumple the facades of other buildings
pouring fat chunks of rubble into the streets
down onto the people
running into each other
over each other
panic like a poison gas
something happens to my ears
as the blast wave smashes me
throws me back, tumbling
I don't hear the cracks
just the dull twitch of nerves
cut off from communicating with each other
in my head
and I can hear
like I'm hearing for the first time
but everything is muffled
I can't stand up
why can't I stand up?
I drag myself to the edge of my rooftop
and look for the others
on their own rooftops
through the sweet, black smoke
and the dust, concrete and blood rain
I see another American sniper
he was in my helo coming here
they dropped him two blocks away
a crowd pours onto his rooftop
from the stairs he didn't destroy
he fires but the crowd only surges faster
they swallow him up, consume him
they throw things down off his rooftop
to the people below
just shapes at first
then I can see what they are
a helmet, body armour, boots
then other pieces
pieces of him
they tore him apart
the radio, the radio
I can't reach anybody
I don't even get static
what's the fucking good of all those
fucking satellites up there
if I can't even call for rescue?
when are they coming to get me?
why am I still here?
hours later, or maybe less than one
the radio, the radio
still doesn't work, like it will
never work again
like my legs, maybe
dull and limp
I push the button on my belt that tells them
something really fucked has happened to me
and they have to come and get me
pick me up, take me home
I push the button again
they told us
they can find us
down to two metre square proximity
I want to go home now
I need to go home now
be back in my bedroom
on the other side of the world
maybe if I play the video game again
it can be like this never happened
like a dream of a life
beyond the game
my bed, my old soft bed
my comics and my movie posters
my baseball gear
and childhood toys
I never threw away
I can see my mother standing
in the doorway of my room
looking down at my empty bed
as she wonders
what is happening to me
I know my bed has never been so warm
I will pull the blankets up over my head
like I did when I was a child
and when I pull the blankets down
this will all be over
the fading memory of a dream
that seemed more real
than real life
I will curl up in a ball in my bed
and dream of here
this rooftop in Fallujah
and I will laugh and thank God
that I survived this
and then I will go downstairs
why doesn't the radio work?
it's still night
gunfire and flames pop and crackle
the sound truck blasting AC/DC is gone
echos of screaming
reach my ears, but the dull wall
inside my head
still blocks most of the sound
turns it down, makes it thick
I bled from my ears as I slept
and dreamed of home
dreamed I was home again
but I woke up here
it's still night
but almost dawn now
I need water
my throat is on fire
I need bullets
I need food
I need to see that helo
coming in through the dust storm
that fills the distant sky
I hold my knife, ready
I can hear them coming up
to get me
now they've cleared the bodies
and wounded from where the stairs
used to be
I can hear them coming
I can't stop them but
I can secure my zone of defence
they come onto the rooftop
my rooftop in Fallujah
there's so many of them
I can't stand
I can't crawl away
but I will fight
they crowd around me
all men, young and old
their faces sad, tired
one comes forward
the others respect him with space
he kneels down in front of me
I slash at him with the throat cutter
but he knocks my hand away
lets me keep hold of the knife
I look into the eyes
of my enemy
where's the demon?
he doesn't scare me
he doesn't look evil
or screaming with crazy rage
not like the movies they showed us
back in basic training
he's not ranting and yelling
about Israel and Allah
he's just a man
and his eyes hold terrible truth
like his heart has been broken
more times than I've lived years
I can see the history of horror
that has been his life
in his eyes
I can't speak his language
they didn't even tell me
how to say hello
In the Green Zone last month
mortars and homemade missiles
came pouring in
killing contract security guards
cooks and interpreters
every time something exploded
inside the Green Zone
I could hear the insurgents
chanting their joy
they chanted louder
when another ammo dump
explosions so high they burnt through
I remember now what the insurgents chanted
into that long night
howling like coyotes
in the Arizona scrub lands
where I went camping as a kid
when dad still took us on long drives
to see the America we never saw
I remember the words of those
who bombed us in the Green Zone
I find enough spit in my mouth to speak
the man waits for me
he quiets the crowd behind him
with a raised hand
they want to kill me
but he stops them without a word
"Aloha Ackbar" I say
He smiles, a faint grin
I nod quickly
"Allah Ackbar," he repeats and I know
he's correcting me, gently
I say it again
and the crowd whispers it
The man gently takes the knife
from my hand
it's like letting go of life
his men move into position
all around me
"Allah Ackbar," the man repeats
and I echo him
not scared not scared
I don't want to die
but I want it to be quick
"God is great," the man whispers
to me, with an American accent
he's one of them
but he's one of us
another one who went home to fight
for his land and his people
"Allah Ackbar, God is great"
he says, and I nod
I know he is
"We both love the same God," he says
"God is great"
"God loves you," the man whispers
as he slides my knife
into my throat
it's a falling dream
all the way to the ground
I tumble forever
I see the world turning
the alley and the people
the sky so blue I could swim it
forgot for a moment that
my throat has been cut
my blood sprays out
as I fall
a crimson arc
it holds solid for a moment
like a red fan
then breaks into a million drops
I fall through it
I hit the ground as a child
not like a sack of wet wheat
the way adults fall
I flop and then bounce
onto my back
dull snaps and a whoosh as the last
of my air
shoots from my lungs
don't need it anymore
there's a wall in my hometown
with the names of all the brave soldiers
from my forgotten farming town
all the brave soldiers
who died in one hundred years of
so far away from their farms
my name will go up there, too
on that old wall
my father's name is up there
the names of six of my uncles
both of my grandfathers
both of my great grandfathers
my family bred to fill the uniforms
all the brave soldiers of my family
I don't feel brave
I feel scared
I feel alone
the war stories I heard as a kid
when grand dad whispered his heroics
with a shudder
of his time in the Pacific
never had this part in them
the part with the dying
I feel like I'm ten years old
playing soldiers in the woods
pretending to be dead
but I won't get up and dust off my jeans
and go home now for chocolate milk
I never imagined this could be so real
I want to turn off the game and
step out of this world
back into my world
my real world
of my hometown and my mother
and my friends down the street
walk out of here
back into my world
back into my bedroom
into my bed
where dreams seem so real
until you wake up
back into my world again
back into the American I knew
before I knew so much
about the world outside
I see the sand as the darkness falls
I see their feet, their sandals, their shoes
some are taking them off
I know what happens next
I'm the statue of Saddam today
I think of how I was trained
to put my boot on their faces
in their faces
to "break them"
it was always about humiliation
strip them naked
parade them before women
their pride and dignity was a weapon
we could use against them all
interrogation through humiliation
"it'll drive them nuts"
they told me
and it did
I put my dirty boot in the faces
of the very first people I met
when I came to this land
we were trained to do that
they told us to do that
the boot on the face
before we even asked
the first question
I can feel them now
the warmth of their hands on me
I can't feel any pain
as I fade
the warmth of their hands
when everything else is so cold
the warmth comforts me
grandma rubbed my elbows
and my knees
when I fell over
it feels like that, her hands, her warmth
their hands on me
now inside me
my blood touches the sand and I feel
something of me pass into this land
this ancient land
a trace of me left behind here
I only wanted them to be free
my blood is now a part of two lands
my home and here
this ancient land
grains of sand
stars in the sky
how does that go?
I hope God really is great
I hope he's waiting for me
with my father and grandfather
all the soldiers of my family
waiting for me
Please be great
Please be there
I wrote a rough draft of this poem in late 2004, after the massive US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. There were a number of horrific media stories detailing how some young American snipers were dropped on the roof tops of buildings in Fallujah and left there for days at a time, with radios that didn't work and no back-up, running out ammo, food, water and hope.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
This is the case with Pal Singh of France. I wrote this post primarily for Sikh readers. I am condensing it considerably. For the rest of the story, please go to Free Pal Singh.
|Bhai Pal Singh Ji|
Although the cops say that they dug up weapons, ammunition and explosives, the neighbours say that nothing was dug at all. Is it possible that the Punjab police, not noted for their good intelligence (pun intended), have mistaken "Tat Khalsa," a religious movement with "Babbar Khalsa," a proKhalistan group, believed to be terroristic by some. Here is one instance of what seems to be such confusion: Tat Khalsa supporting activities of Sikh terrorists, claims Punjab police.
|Don't be fooled by the turbans; these are not friends of the Sikhs!|
One of the men arrested with him has been severely tortured and is near death. Pal Singh's health is very frail and it is mostly likely he could not survive torture at the gentle hands of the Punjab police. Harminder Kaur, in the Facebook page, Free Pal Singh, reports that "a familly friend has visited Pal Singh and said he was very weak."
So what can any of us do, other than sit and wring our hands? The first thing to do is to be informed. Here is some help to get you started.
Information is not easy to come by. This in itself is suspicious to me. I am relying primarily on two Facebook pages, Free Pal Singh and Voices For Freedom. I ask you to go there and join these two pages. Facebook is sometimes silly and frivolous, true; it is also very powerful.
Who is Pal Singh? This article tells a bit about who he is and what he's about.
What is the official story of his arrest? This is a lot of nonsense, but it is useful to know the official story.
|Click on picture to see larger, readable page.|
Here is a list of human rights organisations that we would like to mobilise to help Bhai Pal Singh ji. Please visit each of them asking for help for Bhai Pal Singh.
Avocats Sans Frontières
The Advocates for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances
World Organisation Against Torture
Asian Human Rights Commission (Asia)
Asian Centre for Human Rights (Asia)
All pictures are from the Free Pal Singh Facebook page except that of the Punjab Police, which is from in.com.
The clathrate gun hypothesis is the popular name given to the hypothesis that rises in sea temperatures (and/or falls in sea level) can trigger the sudden release of methane from methane clathrate compounds buried in seabeds and permafrost which, because the methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas, leads to further temperature rise and further methane clathrate destabilization – in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun.
The sudden release of large amounts of natural gas from methane clathrate deposits in runaway climate change could be a cause of past, future, and present climate changes. The release of this trapped methane is a potential major outcome of a rise in temperature; it is thought that this is a main factor in the global warming of 6°C that happened during the end-Permian extinction, as methane is much more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (despite its atmospheric lifetime of around 12 years, it has a global warming potential of 62 over 20 years and 23 over 100 years). The theory also predicts this will greatly affect available oxygen content of the atmosphere.
The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region "boils over," ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide. Firestorms carry smoke and dust into the upper atmosphere, where they may remain for several years; the resulting darkness and global cooling may provide an additional kill mechanism. Conversely, carbon dioxide and the remaining methane create the greenhouse effect, which may lead to global warming. The outcome of the competition between the cooling and the warming tendencies is difficult to predict. (read more)
Specific structure of a gas hydrate piece
Monday, August 9, 2010
The city death enveloped,
where black rain descended when
i was barely ten months old,
unable to grasp the horror.
When i approached sixty years,
finally made my pilgrimage
to ground zero and became witness
to the madness that only war enlivens.
I made my pilgrimage
to ask forgiveness
for human folly and
speak silently my prayer for peace.
Big Boy it was called
revered and admired by its creators
exalted by crazed politicians
who understood the power
coming from its possession and use.
In but a few earthly seconds,
it transformed a busy city
into a caldron of death,
a landscape of dying
where the last gasps of
hundreds of thousands souls
were catapulted skyward.
thousands of school children
became armies of walking dead
skin dangling from their bodies
like grotesque ornaments,
made prisoners by a pain so severe
as to render them senseless.
Overhead, technicians of the doomed
the mission proclaimed an
Three short days went by
barely enough time for the reality
of mass murder to be understood
before Nagasaki was likewise destroyed.
Victory over evil was proclaimed,
America was apoplectic with joy,
such is the handiwork of empire.
Swords to ploughshares is a concept in which
military weapons or technologies are converted
for peaceful civilian applications.
The phrase originates from the Book of Isaiah,
who prophesies of a future Messianic Age where
there will be peace amongst all humankind:
They will beat their swords into plowshares and
their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not
take up sword against nation, nor will they
train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4 & Micah 4:3
The ploughshare is often used to symbolize
creative tools that benefit mankind, as opposed
to destructive tools of war, symbolized by the
sword, a similar sharp metal tool with an
arguably opposite use.
In addition to the original Biblical Messianic
intent, the expression "beat swords into
ploughshares" has been used by disparate
social and political groups.
One of the greatest efforts in this vein has
been various peace movement goals. An example
might be the destruction of nuclear weapons
and the use of that technology in the development
of power sources. Nuclear fission has been
applied to many civilian purposes since its
use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear
fusion requires further research before it
can become practical to the same degree.
Swords to Plowshares