Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Funnier than a giraffe on stilts

As I was reading through the left and right blogs this morning I ran across this.

Jesus General tells us that

God hates AT&T, MCI, Verizon and homosexuals

Ya gotta listen to this, it is beyond funny and scary in one breath.

No wonder the far right religious wing nuts are so well funded.

I guess "homosexual" is the new "snarl word"! That's good because I was getting tired of throwing rocks at "liberals" in the town square.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

A ray of hope

I have always loved watching birds.

It is something I picked up as a child, wandering the mountains and deserts with my grandfather. He knew every local bird and had at least one story about every bird we met from the eagle to the cedar waxwing.

One bird that I had always longed to see, but did not think I ever would because it was believed to be extinct was the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

Well it seems that this may not be the case after all.

Check out this report from NPR.



It's back!


Every now and again there is a ray of hope that everything that is good and beautiful has not been destroyed by the forces of greed and hate.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Something to look forward to

Since the right wingers seem determined to turn the USA into a third world country

I thought people might be interested in how we might be living in a few years.

In Tanzania, a gallon of gas will cost you a day's wages or more if you are an average person (and assuming you have a job). That's not a tank, that's a gallon.

Consequently, the baseline mode of materials transportation is the human powered two wheeled cart.




The man you see here does not own the cart, he rents it on a day to day basis and goes around looking for hauling jobs. On a good day he may make the equivalent to $6.00 US, half of which will cover his rent on th cart.

Today he is hauling fresh sugar cane to market, tomorrow he may be hauling furniture. I once saw a fellow hauling a pick up truck body on one of these little carts.

The amount of money he will make depends on how many deliveries he can make in a day, so he will be working at the limits of his endurance.

Day in and day out you see these guys running up and down the streets, hoping to get enough loads in to feed their families and rent a cart tomorrow.

That's what no fuel means, not "The Road Warrior", just back breaking labor and very few choices.

So are you thinking that it can't happen here? It happened here just 80 years ago. Given the fiscal irresponsibility of our present government, the huge debt we have accumulated in the last five years, the amount of that debt owned by foreign powers it could happen here tomorrow.

And we would have no one but ourselves to blame. Our country is in the pathetic shape it's in because we, the people, have allowed it to become this way through our own sloth.

We are too damn lazy to run our own country and too fucking stupid to be able to tell when we are being conned by a bunch of crooks and fanatics.

Shit! All you have to do to get your political agenda across is to demonize a group and then blame everything on them. Americans are so incredibly thoughtless that they won't even ask the simple questions that will tell them that they are being lied to.

By the end of this summer gas is likely to be close to $4.00 a gallon.

We could have been running this country on non-petroleum fuels by now. The technology is there.

If we would have taken the money that we have spent on the stupid war to get rid of all those nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and spent it on energy research imagine what we might have accomplished.

Do you know how much we have spent on our war to increase terror in the world? It is to increase it you know, this war is fueling terror rather than out gas tanks.

Well here is the sum of what we are spending.






Cost of the War in Iraq

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Now ask yourself if we could have used this money a bit more wisely.

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OK, so some people don't think warthogs are cute for some reason

But everything' goes better with a monkey



as my old friend Hassan is apt to comment.

God, I love my 300 mm lens

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And Speaking of Warthogs.......

Everyone should have a warthog they can use as wallpaper




I have been much caught up in real world things these last few days, but I didn't want my millions of fans to think I had forgotten them, so here is a warthog for your pleasure. It is one of my favorite African animals to tell you the truth.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A Moment of Silence Please


Marla Ruzicka
1977-2005



God give you peace

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The nice thing about a bicycle

is that the only gas crisis you need to worry about is the one when they put too much tofu in the stir fry.

I went out and bought a bike today as my response to rising gas prices and as a way to thumb my nose at Bush-corp. (I gave my last bike away when I took off to Africa).

One of the reasons that the republicans hold so much power today is that we are so totally addicted to oil.

Think about this for a moment. A good bicycle will cost you about what a person spends in a month on gas (or less) and the only emmissions you have to worry about is sweat.

Of course if the Republicans get their way Bicycles will be outlawed as being against the Bible.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

The War of the Right against the Right

If people haven't noticed, that is what is really going on in the world today.

When you strip off all the bullshit rhetoric what you get down to is the fact that everyone fighting are far right wing, ultra-conservative, religious fanatics.

If you haven't noticed this I urge to take a closer look as it just might help to prevent yet another world war.

In the Islamic world, the various groups that are driving the "Islamic Resistance" are all far right wing ultra-conservative religious groups. These would include the Wahhabis, the Salafis, the Taliban, Al Qida, Hamas, the Iranian government, the Saudi government, the Mehdi Army, and Islamic Jihad, to name just a few.

These are all groups that want to "put God back in government" who stand for "Family Values" and who think that our way of living should be dictated by a divinely inspired document. (Does this sound familiar to you?)

In Israel we see that the Jewish ultra-conservative far right religious fanatics doing everything they can to keep the war with the Palestinians going and to escalate it in whatever way they can, including attempting to blow up a Palestinian girl's elementary school when the students were all in attendance. Check out the video here or read the transcript from Frontline. (Thanks to Sume for this one). All these guys want is to get back to the old fashion "family values" as found in their rather interesting interpretation if the Torah.

In India we have such groups as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Seva Bharti, two more right wing, ultra-conservative religious groups. All they want to do is to go back to the traditional values of their society, even if they have to kill all the Muslims in India to do so. They are also very big on family values.

And then there is the United States. There is a very powerful right wing ultra-conservative Christian fundamentalist movement that for all intents has grabbed a great deal of power in the US and is using it to destroy the constitution and replace it with religious rule.

We have seen them crawl out from under their rocks with the recent Terri Schiavo case where Republicans tossed out the pretense of being "conservative" (which stands for small government and local rule) and made a law for one person in an attempt to abrogate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

This was done in an attempt to undermine the Judicial Branch of our government, which has been our last bulwark against fundamentalist Christian attempts to force us to live under a theocracy.

You would have thought that there might have been more dissention from secular conservatives from the republican party, but there don't seem to be any left.

What we have here is a holy war, with various groups working to claim idologic and geographic territory for themselves.

Here in the US, if we don't wake up and smell the coffee, one day soon we are likely to wake up to a knock on our door from the morals police.

The solution? Start recalling everyone who voted for Terri Schiavo's personal law, recall everyone who has threatened the safety of our Justices, and while we are at it, let's vote Texas out of the Union, they don't deserve to hide under our constitution while they try to murder our democracy.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

Which is also the beginning of the bill of rights, tells us this.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
One thing that I haven't seen in the debate about who can and cannot get married is the first amendment questions.

Is marriage a religious sacrament or is it a civil contract?

If it is a religious sacrament then the State really has no place making laws about who can get married. If it is a civil contract then what are all the various churches doing trying to tell us who can get married?

I have never seen the subject of marriage address at this level, but here in the States there is no area I have seen where either the State is messing with religious freedom, or where religion is dictating the policies of the State.

So if marriage is a religious sacrament, then the various right wing fundamentalist Christians trying to turn their definition of marriage into law are way out of line and any marriage laws should be challenged on constitutional grounds.

All religions should be allowed to define marriage in whatever way they want and the government should keep its hands off.

This would solve the "problem" of Gay marriage, polygamy, polyandry, and everything else. The various religions, as recognized under chapter 501 of the IRS code should be able to make their own rules.

(Of course you know that this is how we define religion here in the states, by a group's standing with the IRS)

If marriage is a secular contract, then the various religions should have no legal standing when it comes to marriage ceremonies. As a matter of fact, all non-civil marriages should be declared null and void. (If you want to talk "marriage license" just remember that if you get married in any state by a preacher of any sort without one the marriage will still be considered valid)

There is no other place in American law where Church and State are so mixed up in each other's business.

The really troubling thing is that the form of marriage being forced on everyone is "Christian" marriage. The US refuses to recognize anything that does not conform to "Christian" values as marriage.

This seems to me to be a clear violation of the first amendment. I wonder why no one wants to discuss this.

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Isa ibn Maryam Ruh Allah al Masha

Or in English Jesus son of Mary, Spirit of God, the Messiah

That is how Muslims refer to Jesus, a thing that is not much understood in the west.

I took a moment to read Zuhrtime Soliloquy this evening and Aida had some interesting things to say on the subject of Jesus (who, after the Prophet Muhammad (saws) is one of the most important figures in Islam)

It reminded me of some work I had done a few years ago on translating some hadith (sayings) of Isa ibn Maryam into English.

Most people in the West do not know (or if the do, they are not telling me) that Hazrat Muhammad al Ghazali (may Allah keep his secret) who was called "The Proof of The Faith" collected and authenticated several of the original saying of Isa ibn Mariyam (Jesus the son of Mary) in Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke) and translated them into Arabic.

In al Ghazali's time, 10th -11th century CE, there were still Christians who were unaffected by the doctrines of Paul. The Church founded by Judas Thomas for instance, was still strong in Syria and protected from both the Orthodox and Catholics by the Khalifate. So here is a small taste of something that is very rare.

If you find this interesting a book has been recently published called "The Muslim Jesus" that is quite good.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SOME SAYINGS OF ISA IBN MARIYAM (Peace be upon him)

Translated from Aramaic into Arabic by Imam Muhammad al-Ghazali (May Allah
keep his Secret)

English versions by Mushtaq Ali al Ansari
Copyright 1999 all rights reserved

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ir Rahim

It was written in the original Gospel:

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) said:
Seek what you do not Know only after you
have put into practice what you do Know.


The disciples of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) came to him and asked;
"O spirit of Allah, is there anyone else like you alive in our time?"
He replied: "Yes indeed, Whoever has the dhikr of Allah in his heart,
and is silent in thought, and who learns from what is given,
surely that one is like me."


Isa ibn Mariyam (AS), asked his people:
"Where do you find a plant growing?"
They replied: "In the dust of the earth."
He said: "By Al Haqq, I will tell you,
Marifat (Gnosis) does not grow except in a heart
that is like the dust of the earth."


Isa ibn Mariyam (AS), was walking with his companions
when they passed a dead dog by the side of the road.
His companions said: "What can be worse than the corruption of the unclean
dog!"
And Jesus replied: "His teeth, how brightly they shine."


Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) met a man and asked him what his profession was.
The man replied: "I worship Allah."
Isa (AS) then asked: 'Who feeds and clothes you while you worship?"
"My brother." The man replied.
Isa (AS) said: "Your brother's worship is better than your own."


Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) met three people while traveling,
They were pale and thin with fasting.
He asked them:
"What has caused this state in you?"
They said:
"Fear of the punishment of Allah"
Isa (AS) replied:
"Allah has taken it upon Himself to lessen your fear."
He continued on a ways and came across three more
who were pale and thin with fasting, even more than the last.
He asked them:
"What has caused this state in you?"
They answered:
"Desire for Allah's rewards"
Isa (AS) said: "Allah has taken it upon Himself
to give you what you long for."
Once again in his travels Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) came across yet another three
who were pale and thin with fasting.
Their faces shone as if they were lit from within.
so he asked them: "What is the cause of your state?"
They answered: "We love Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious."
Whereupon he replied: "You are the nearest, and nearer still!"


The companions of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) said to him:
"Look at this temple, is it not beautiful?"
Isa (AS) replied: 'My people,
by al Haqq I tell you,
Allah does not leave from this temple standing
except to destroy it by the sins of it's inhabitants.
Surely, Allah does not care about gold and silver,
He does not care about this building that you admire so.
What Allah, the Most High loves are good hearts.
Allah inhabits the heart that remembers Him and He desolates
the heart that does not."


"Isa ibn Mariyam (AS),
passed by a group of men who shouted evil things at him.
In return Isa (AS) spoke to them with kindness.
His companions asked:
"Why did you reply to these men with kindness when they spoke evil to you?"
Isa (AS) replied: 'Everyone spends from the coin he has."

The song of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS)

My meal is fasting,
my standard is awe of Allah.
My clothing is of simple wool,
my prayer in winter is at suns rise.
My lamp is moonlight,
My steed is my legs.
My meal is whatever the earth gives me.
I lay down to sleep at night and have nothing,
I awake in the morning and have nothing,
yet there is no one richer than I.


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Friday, April 08, 2005

More Dead Fish?

Well, it has been an interesting day, but a day without good information.

This morning I called the Seva foundation again on the Ram Das matter, and I am happy to say that I was able to get a little more information on what is going on.

basically, for some reason no one at Seva has been able to get hold of Ram Das' care giver and find out anything about how he is doing.

While the person I spoke with was not able to tell me anything definitive, in other ways he was very helpful. It was obvious that the people at SEVA are very concerned about this and genuinely care for Ram Das.

I should point out here that Seva is not at all involved in the fund raising, but are just a place I turned to because they have a line of communications to Ram Das and might be able to shed some light on all this.

I sent another email off to Hay House this morning asking these questions.

Joe,

What I need is fairly simple, two things.

1, Some sort of verification that the call for donations is on the up and up.

I understand that you may not be able to help much with this because you are acting just as an agent to collect money.

2, I need some sense of the oversite on how the money is collected and given to the intended person.

Your present set-up "make checks out to Ram Das and we will send them to Dr. Dyer" is completely unprofessional and open to much abuse. I am NOT saying that there is anything of the sort going on, I just need to be able to assure anyone I speak to on this matter that there is proper oversite in place.

Thank you for you attention on this matter,

Mushtaq Ali
I got a message back almost immediately

Mushtaq,

Please send me your telephone number, I will see if there is anyone available that can contact you with the information you are requesting.

That was at 12:30 pm Pacific time. It is now 8:00 pm and I have not heard from anyone.

I have not just been sitting around though. I contacted the California State attorney General's office.

If someone is trying to collect funds like this must register with the attorney General. I can find no registration by Hay House to collect charity funds.

Of course thy may have registered under a different name, or perhaps they don't know that they must register to collect money in the way they are.

So far I don't think that there is anything going on that is unethical, but if people want to collect money like this they really need to get their act together.

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Something Fishy?

These days you just can't trust anyone, and that's too bad.

Yesterday I put up my message about the plight of Ram Das and gave a couple of links where one could send some money.

Before I did, I checked to make sure that the site with the message was indeed Dr. Dyer's site and that the address to send the money was indeed the address of Hay House Publishing, which it was.

This morning I received a message that said

"I'm embarrassed to report, but at the same time happy, that the message I sent about Ram Dass was probably a fraud. I just received the message below from friends of Ram Dass. Please hold off on sending any money. These things happen on the internet and I should have double checked before forwarding the message. At least the same internet provides for relatively easy correction. If I hear of anything that alters the content of this message below, I'll send it on. Sorry for any inconvenience or disturbance.

in peace,"

That seemed a little odd, as Dyer and Hay House have a good reputation regardless of what one thinks of their material.

So I did some checking. First I called Hay House and asked if they were indeed collecting money for Ram Das. They said that they were, but that they were only acting as agents, and that all the checks should be made out to Ram Das and would be sent to Dr. Dyer.

As you may imagine, this seemed a bit unprofessional to me. I have worked in the non-profit sector and have done some fund raising in my time, and this setup is one that would be quite open to abuse.

Now I am not saying that there is any fraud going on here, just that the setup seemed unprofessional to me.

I was asked to forward the message I had received about Ram Das needing money to be untrue to the fellow I had spoken with. After getting the OK from the person Who sent it I did forward it along.

I also sent this message.
Joe,

Thanks for looking into this.

It would help a great deal to have some sort of definitive idea as to Ram Das' needs as well as some idea as to the oversite of the donations, making sure that the money goes to where it was intended.

I should have vetted the information I was given more closely, but after making sure that the initial site belonged to Dr. Dyer and that the address the donations were going to was indeed Hay House I thought that it was enough. Obviously I was a bit hasty.

I was contacted because I can get the word out to several thousand people and motivate people to actually do something. As you can imagine though I don't want to attach my name to something that is under a cloud.

I started the process of getting the word out yesterday (see for instance http://tracelesswarrior.blogspot.com/ for one example) and I am going to have to post several retractions if I cannot verify that the call for help was for real.

Thanks again for all your help in this matter.

Mushtaq Ali

I received this message back fairly quickly. It was;
Mushtaq,

I will forward your concerns to management. Someone will contact you regarding this as soon as we have updated information. Thank you,
While I was waiting to hear back from Hay house I put in a call to the Seva foundation Whi hwas built in great part by Ra Das. I figured that if anyone had any real information that it would be them.

The response I got was both unexpected and interesting. I was tole that they could neither confirm or deny that Ram Das was in any sort of need or that this call for help was for real. The person I spoke to asked for my name and number and promised to call me back later in the day
with more definitive information.

By the time 6:30 pm rolled around I was starting to get the feeling that people were blowing smoke at me.

I gave a call back to Seva only to find that everyone had gone home for the day. I sent a note off to Hay House and got this message back.
Mushtaq,

I really do not know what you need an answer on, we are handling the administration of this only. I have forwarded your previous concerns to management here at Hay House. As mentioned when we spoke earlier, the mail for this is being handled by Hay House and forwarded to Wayne Dyer. Any checks that are sent here are to be made out to Ram Dass. If you have any other questions or concerns, please visit Dr Dyers website at www.DrWayneDyer.com

Thank you,
This, as you can imagine, struck me as a little odd.

So tomorrow I will peruse this further. Until then I urge you not to send ant money to Hay House, they do not seem to know how to run a fund raiser at best, and until I make sure that the money is wanted and that it will get to the person intended you risk losing it to to whatever is going on.

If I don't get some sort of non-bullshit answer tomorrow I have a friend in the State Prosecutor's office and I will be making a phone call. The people receiving the money are here in California and the right question from the right person can get answers.

Until then, Send money at your own risk. Or better yet, don't send anything until we know what is really going on.

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A quick update is coming

Don't send money to Ram Das just yet.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The price you pay for service to humanity

is often to end up with nothing.

It seems like a sad comment on humanity to say this, but it is never the less true all to often.

If a person tries to live by an ethos that focuses on service rather than profit they will very often live their life on the margin. Usually, if the person in question has done the Work, they don't really care. But I worry sometime about the people who I care about that have chosen this path, because the people they serve so often never come to the understanding that the universe is reciprocal in nature, and that part of what you do when you learn something is you find a way to give back.

A case in point is Dr. Richard Alpert, AKA Baba Ram Das.

Some readers my remember him as the Harvard professor who was Tim Leary's partner in early LSD experiments, who went to India, met his teacher and came back as Ram Das.




Throughout the late Sixties, Seventies and eighties he was one of the leaders of the West's attempt to reclaim real spirituality. He became a lot more quiet in the last two decades, partly because of a crippling stroke that he suffered in 1997.

In true Ram Das form though, he used the stroke as part of his practice and let us learn from his mistakes and victories by allowing a window into his recovery.

He walked his talk, he used all the proceeds from the sale of his books, and lectures to support the various charities that he thought were important. He was brave enough to admit the places where he made mistakes. I would imagine that as many people have benefited from and learned from his willingness to examine the places where he fell short in his life as there are people who benefited from his teachings on right living.

Today I got an email from Jeff Finder, my friend who writes Stickman's Escrima Blog telling me that Ram Das was in trouble, that he was "sick, broke, and about to lose the house he's renting on Maui"

It would be funny if it were not so sad. Ram Das is a man who could have made a fortune as a "Beverly Hills Guru" and could have surrounded himself with thousands of followers in the style of Rajneesh, but who instead chose to live an authentic life as he understands it. If he were a phony who sucked money from a pack of followers he would be comfortable now in all likelihood, but because he walked his path with integrity he is a step for being homeless and alone, just at the time when he has the most to teach.

The thing is, if everyone who ever read one of his books, or listened to one of his lectures and walked away thinking, "Hey, I learned something" sent him a dollar, he would have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

Here is Wayne Dyer's article and call for help, if anyone is interested in finding out more.

Here is a link to Ram Das' library site in case someone wants to buy a book or lecture.

Please take a moment to think about the idea that the universe IS reciprocal and if you have received value than you need to give back in some way to complete the circle. This may be one way you can if you are so motivated.


PS

To my Muslim brothers who are at this moment saying things like "How can he advocate for this guy, who is a Hindu and all?" The answer is that I am following the Sunna of the Prophet (saws) as best I understand it.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

I was going to write something on John Paul II

But Frank already said substantially what I would have said over on the Cool Blue Blog, check it out.