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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Sonia!!!!

Today is my friend Sonia's birthday!!!

For those of you who do not know Sonia, She is brilliant, talented, witty, creative, occasionally caustic (but only to people who really deserve it), loyal and beautiful, to name just a few of her virtues, and she is also a dear friend of many years.

The wonderful thing about birthdays is that you get to celebrate the fact that someone your like exists.


Happy Birthday Sonia!

The world is a better place because you were born.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Real War On Christmas

So we have had to endure yet another year of Right Wing theocratic political correctness.

Yet another year of the mean hearted, small minded bigots telling us that if we don't celebrate the season the way they think we should, the we are some how hurting the feelings of Baby Jesus (TM).

My mother, who was a good Presbyterian lady her whole life, who could always be counted on to make something for the church bake sales, and who never missed a Sunday service that I can remember, used Merry Christmas, Season's greetings, and Happy Holidays interchangeably. She would also use the occasional god jul or Nollaig shona (her side of the family came from Sweden and Ireland) and because we lived in New Mexico, she would often use feliz Navidad as well.

So now the Christonazis, guardians of "the one and only true and acceptable way to wish others well on the holidays", come along and say that my mother was a bad person and hated Jesus because she didn't say Merry Christmas exclusively.

Well I have other ideas about who is waging a war on Christmas.

You want to see the real war on Christmas? well take a look at this, a little something from Ava Lowery. This is the real war on Christmas and it is being waged by the very theocrats who talk "Jesus" out one side of their mouths and "Kill the Muslims" out the other.

Jesus left a message for those who commit evil in his name.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Matthew 7: 21-23

Season's Greetings to you all
And Happy Holidays, whichever ones you may celibrate
and Kwanza Nzuri

Oh yeah!
Peace On Earth, Good Will to Men
and God Bless Us, Every One!

(and it you don't like the way I say it... well just use your imagination)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If Batman existed he'd train like this

I got a note from a friend yesterday directing me over to the Dragondoor forum.

Dragondoor is the website of a fellow named Pavel Tsatsouline, who introduced kettelbells to the American public. Pavel has some interesting stuff and I have found some value in what he has offered. I much prefer kettlebells to dumbbells, though I have to admit I find clubbells even more to my liking, but that is very much a personal preference.

There was a discussion going on about using my friend Scott Sonnon's Flowfit program in conjunction with the Dragondoor material. I find such discussions useful as a rule, as much good knowledge can be gained through use of the dialectic.

Personally I think Flowfit is one of the most useful programs that someone who follows Pavel's kettelbell work can use. Most of Pavel's stuff tends toward to the linear, using high repetition and heavy weight for development. Flow fit, on the other hand, moves the body in every possible direction in each session, What Scott calls

The Six Degrees of Freedom

Heaving: moving up and down
Swaying: moving left and right
Surging: moving forward and back
Pitching: tilting up and down
Yawing: turning left and right
Rolling: tilting side to side
This compensates for the constant long repetition of simple movement quite nicely, and if one is intelligent about things you can get something of the best of both worlds.

I was enjoying my reading until I came to this post
Pavel is a Russian Beast compared to Scott

Pavel's skinier but he looks super tough. I don't know. Scott looks supersoft. But when I use my 2" handled clubbells it adds size to my shoulders and arms and serious size to my forearms. I want a 45lb clubbell to play around with but when I look at Scott's physique it's discouraging. It looks like he's gone downhill physically(gotten soft in the can among others) since all the yoga stuff.
"Dang", I thought, "It must be a Republican".

Lately we have heard much about the Right Wing Authoritarian Personality in politics, but this particular aberration is one of the most ubiquitous in every field of human endeavor. I suspect that this sort of mentality is also one of the core causes of trolling such as we see here on the net.

Rather than joining in on an interesting and fruitful conversation, this fellow had to sycophantically parrot the "media image" material, much in the same way that other sorts of fundamentalists use religious slogans to create a "group-think" collective.

If I were a Freudian I would make note of the sexualized language the the guy uses. Right wing Authoritarian types want to submit to "Authority", this is found often in a certain repressed type of individual and leads to a sort of unhealthy, sublimated eroticism manifesting in their thoughts. Hence describing Pavel as a "Russian Beast" and the focus on Scott's "can".

The biggest problem with this sort of psychological focus though, is its near complete replacement of any sort of objective reality with the "group social mythology". In this case it is Pavel as the "Russian Beast" who is the ultimate "alpha male". As a good Beta, the fellow who wrote the post in question cannot allow any "challenge" to his Alpha's supremacy, so talking about value in someone else's work is a major threat, hence the "snarl language".

If one were to look at the real difference between Scott Sonnon and Pavel Tsatsouline, physically speaking, one thing stands out to me. Because of the training philosophy that Pavel uses, he tends to carry a good deal of residual muscular tension. This is because of his use of pressurising and irradiation of tension to produce force. That extra tension can fool the uninformed into thinking a person has a better physique than is actually the case.

Scott, on the other hand has very little residual muscular tension when at rest. This gives the appearance of long smooth muscles rather than the striations of hypertension. What has happened I think is that we no longer really understand how to look at some one's body and see it for what it is. I suspect it is because we have been overly affected by the image of the "body builder".

Which brings me to the point of this entry, what you can do is worth more than how you look.

Here's the thing, If Batman or Daredevil were real, they would train like Scott Sonnon.

Take a look at this clip, it's one day out of a 28 day cycle. What you see is not just moving a heavy weight in one track to force hypertrophy.

This sort of exercise program produces not only strength, (which it does in spades), but also coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility, suppleness, speed, and so on. In other words, if you were looking to be someone who could do, rather than just "look" then this is how to go about it.

If this is "super soft" then that's what I want. I know that Scott can go through any of Pavel's exercise routines and at the very least match Pavel rep for rep, pound for pound, but I don't know that the reverse would be true. The dragondoor material, though superior to conventional bodybuilding, is still two dimensional, the CST material is of a different level all together and requires much more of you than just being able to "move heavy weight".

So if you want to move like Batman, being at home in all three dimensions, mastering complex tasks that require being strong, fast, supple, balanced and coordinated, then perhaps you want something more like Scott's 4x7 program.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Finally! A gun control program I can get behind!

Todd sent me this, and when I saw it I knew I had found something I could support.

I don't like guns much. They are noisy, they smell bad and if you use one it will put a stink on you that can be smelled for a good quarter mile with the right breeze. They are so loud that everyone knows where you are and what you are up to if you shoot one.

So when I saw this I liked it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

So what do you do when one third of your fellow citizens want to take away your rights

Because you are a member of a different "fan club" than them?

Yep, a bit more than a third of people polled here (39%) in the States think that you should not have the same rights as them if you are a Muslim.

I find this rather sad. My family has fought for the United States to preserve our Constitution in every conflict since the civil war. Even so, this does not matter to many of my fellow countrymen.

Some of them want to force me to carry a special ID card, others want to tattoo me with a crescent on my forehead, still more want to take the citizenship from me, though my father fought for it in World War 2, and my grandfather in World War 1 and so on.

The Right wing Authoritarians, the Neo-Cons and BushCorp have done such a good job of creating fear in this country, that over one third of us are willing to destroy our way of life to feel safe again. They want to make America a slave state along the lines of the old USSR, A fascist dictatorship.

So what do you do if you know that when you look at a crowd of people, that one in three of them care so little about the things that made our country great that they want to put me in a concentration camp because I follow a different religion than them.

Well if you're me, you go for a walk in the woods.

This is a trail head to a path I have been working on for a couple of years. It leads from our yard to the river in a loop of about a mile. I started it in order to more easily get firewood out of the forest, but it has become a project to make the land and the river more accessible. By next summer this will be the way to an outdoor training area and a place for us to picnic

The trail is not only popular with us humans, the local deer like it as well. Deer tend to be fairly lazy, so when they find a nice clear trail they tend to use it. (they're lucky I don't hunt much any more

One of the really fun things about new snow is that you can see all the creatures that live with you. This day I saw the tracks of fox, weasel, coyote, deer, skunk, rabbit, Heron and more.

Much of the property here is "bottom land", so in the winter it bogs up with the rain and then freezes over. You have to be a little careful if you don't know the land. You can be walking over thin ice covering three feet of water.

This is a seasonal creek that drains down to the river. It is a popular hangout for the beasts of the fields. during the summer it is dry, but from late fall to mid spring it is an important bit of water, both for the sake of the wildlife who relies on it but also because it helps drain the land.

A heron was by today, hunting the creek for a bit of food. Even in the hart to winter there is much activity in these woods.

I like these trees, so I photograph them and their sisters often throughout the seasons.

And then there is the river. I have stood at this point often, and it is never the same. I have recently discovered that our banks are occasionally visited by beaver. I didn't even know that there were still beaver around here, but they seem to stop by here for a lunch or a quick snack of sapling fairly often on their way to or from wherever beavers go.

There is a peace to be found in the woods and the wildness you cannot find around towns and men, it cleans the soul.

But it also reminds me that I am made from this land, my very molecules are taken from the soil of America, and no one will take this from me, ore me from it just because they don't like the way that I find my connection to the Divine Mystery.

As is often the case, I find inspiration on these walks. Today it is a new knife design . I have one project to finish, then I will heat up the forge and take it from my mind and give it reality, much as the land I am born from gives me reality.

When I have finished it I will put up some pictures. It will be just another thing that comes from our woods, but something I think will prove useful.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Jerry Klien shows us a little ugly truth about ourselves

On the 29th of November Klien did a little experiment on his radio show.

He suggested that all Muslims in America be given an identifying mark, perhaps a tattoo or an armband. This was not a serious suggestion, it was a way to find out what people in this country are really thinking. He played it quite well though, and I am rather dismayed by the reaction of all too many people.

For anyone who wants some insight as to why the six Imams were dragged off their plane, just listen to this program.

Go here and listen to the program, listen to the whole thing though. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can either listen to it with streaming audio or download the mp3.

Listen to this and be very afraid for our country. The truth is that the Right Wing Authoritarians have done this, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, and all the nut jobs on the religious right have turned us from the Land of the Free to the land of the crescent moon tattoo.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winter's First Snow

Has arrived.

We had a little snow a couple months ago, but Today's counts as the real start of the winter hibernation season for West Michigan.

Here is the lone Pine in the back yard looking all seasonal.

And here is the trail head that leads down to the river

After I manage to get the snow off the driveway so that people can get their cars parked this evening I will see if there is still enough light to take some pictures down in the woods.

Newt Gingrich wants to destroy America in order to save it.

The man who pioneered the use of media to create division and incivility between Americans wants to murder our Constitution in order to save us from "The Terrorists".

It's that pesky Free Speech thing again. It just gets in the way of Newt being able to manipulate us all into doing what he wants (rather than what is right).

What Gingrich is really afraid of is the use of the Internet by Americans to talk about the issues in a way that he can't control. After all, a large part of the reason that the Right Wing Authoritarians (disguised as Republicans) lost the last election was because they could not control the information flow and stop the truth about them from getting out.

So he wants to censor the Internet in the name of free speech (and to stop "the Terrorists").

Of course the real hope of Gingrich and his ilk is to keep us all in the dark and to exert the maximum amount of thought control on us.

Gingrich thinks that if he can pull this off we will make him Dictator for life President by acclamation. (can you say "Emperor Palpatine"? I knew you could!)

Keith Olbermann, who has become the voice of the real America, the America that is fed up with the attempts by the Right wing Authoritarians to circumvent our Constitution for their own gain, had this to say, and it say it all.

A Friend Makes it to the Big Time

My buddy Mike Blackgrave gets back from an extended trip to the Philippines and and steps right into fame and fortune. (or at least a couple of groovy magazine articles)

Go over to FMADigest and check out their latest issue of . It is on Grandmaster Epifanio ‘Yuli’ Romo of Zu’Bu Kali Ilustrisimo.
As it happens GM Romo is Mike's teacher (Mile is a Guro in the system himself) and he has just gotten back from studying with him. So this issue of FMADigest has an article on Mike and an interview by him with GM Romo. Very good stuff, check it out.

What Tarot Card Are You?

I haven't done one of these for a while.

I ran across this one while reading Jennifer Cascadia's blog and it looked like fun

You are The Magician

Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.

Eleoquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.

The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It used to be DWB (driving while Black)

Now it's FWM (Flying while Muslim)

So six Imams, coming home from a conference on religious tolerance, wait together in the Minneapolis airport for their flight. The sun sets and three of them go off to one side to make their evening prayers. A bit later the Plane boards and the Imams get on. A few minutes later the police show up and take the Imams off the plane in handcuffs.

It seems that some person saw them praying and freaked out, then passes a message to an attendant warning that the Imams may be terrorists.

Whatever the folks at US Airways is claiming, what we have here is a case of fundamentalist bigotry perpetrated against American citizens because of their religion.

And before one of the Right Wing Authoritarian "Bottoms" who breeze through here from time to time starts spouting off about how these people are not real Americans, All of you who are reading this, unless your name is something like Red Cloud, or Begay, are children of immigrants. Take a look at the CNN Article here, and take a look at the video while you're at it.

It is rather ironic that CNN reports this, being that they promote this sort of bigotry. Take a look at CNN's Glen Beck and what he has to say to our first Muslim Congressman, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies". The funny thing is that he is still on the air. If he had asked the same question to a Jewish member of Congress in regards to the bombing if the USS Liberty during the Sid Day War he would have been handed his walking papers before his show was done.

This happened because the Right Wing Authoritarian hate mongers have worked people up into a state of hysteria, and it has got to stop! They only do it for the money anyway.

So if you are sick of this shit please Contact CNN and tell them that we don't need Glen Beck fostering bigotry and hatred in our country just so CNN can make a buck.

And I would be vrey greatful if people started contacting US Airways and letting them know that what they did was not something that Americans do to our citizens.

If you don't want to email them you can use these other contact methods.
Telephone 1-866-523-5333
5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, MST
6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat-Sun, MST

Fax 80-693-2300

US Mail
US Airways
Attention: Customer Relations
4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85034.


So I get up in the middle of the night

and before I go back to sleep I check my email.

I found this, I laughed so hard I may not be able to go back to sleep for a while. Thanks Chuck.

The guy was lucky he was not shot considering where he decided to do this, and I bet no one there got it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just when you think it can't get much weirder!

Cus D'Amato has got to be rolling in his grave.

You just know that this is going to end badly. It seems that Mike Tyson is about to embark on a new career as a male prostitute.

Yep, Hidi Fleiss just added Iron Mike (soon to be known as viagra Mike no doubt) to her stable of male hookers at her new brothel for women, soon to open in Nevada.

A hat tip to Raw Story for making my day a bit more surreal.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Proof that one can have an intelligent, reasonable discussion about Piper

Leave it to Steve Perry to come up with interesting questions about South African knife skills

Steve made this comment to the post I did on the Piper System blog. I thought that the questions were important enough that I pulled the comment out so that no one will miss it.

Before I answer though, I want to make sure that I am clear on a couple of things.

First, I don't speak for Piper System. I have not trained in the system, I am not a member of the system. Nigel, Lloyd and Jason do a good job of speaking for themselves and I am really happy that they are developing ways to do that more publicly. I am however also happy to call them friends, and because of my own experiences I have enough background in SA-Knife to understand what they are saying.

Second, I am not an expert in South African knife fighting.

I have however followed a parallel path, in that I studied Cape style knife methods while I was living in Africa. I learned from two African fellows who grew up in Cape Town and learned what they knew on the streets. They told me that they were only "average" in their skills and there were people who would take them "while reading a newspaper". Never the less I found their skills to be formidable, and I am considered not entirely unskilled with a knife. I was only able to study with them for about six months (though it was a very interesting six months). The guys I learned from just did what they did. They had no system or theories, no set of principals, it was all "hands on" material of the "learn by doing" sort.

That being said, I will presume to answer as a neutral, but informed, party.

Steve Perry speaks in green:

Hmm. Sounds from the tone at the blog that the Piper guy are getting a lot of flak. Understandable, given that we all tend to think our arts are the cat's pajamas, else we'd be training in something else, but I still see promise.

Indeed. Think back to the sort of flack they got on the Animal list, only quicker and perhaps with a bit more venom.

As I like to point out in situations like this, there is a time lag of one generation between the time that a new scientific theorem is proven and the time that it is generally accepted. People just don't like to deal with paradigm shifts. Remember Einstein never accepted Quantum theory, the British medical community tried to pillory Dr. Lister for suggesting that people would be better off if doctors washed their hands from time to time. History has demonstrated over and over that the majority is uncomfortable with new ideas and just want things to be comfortably the same. You are one of the rare ones who enjoys new information, much more often the novel is perceived as a threat.

My knifefighter Mourn in the Flex wasn't too impressed, but he'd seen the stuff before and was an adept with a blade on his own, so that's understandable, too.

Morn was at the top of his game, and a thinking man's fighter. I am positive he made sure he understood what he was up against in regard to any martial art he might encounter.

Which brings up a point -- excuse the word play -- how well do you think Piper stacks up against somebody else also using an art that came out of the jungle in the last generation or two? I mean, I'm not the expert at flaying, but at least some of the stuff Piper shows on the two vids I've seen doesn't really look that unfamiliar -- elbows in, closing, level changes, arms tight. And I believe that if slash came to stab and I had my knife, they wouldn't be walking away any faster than I would when the cutting was done.

while I hesitate to speculate without knowing something about the art in question, I have to say that in general Piper will do well against anything I have run across. That doesn't mean that it is unbeatable, just that it has some interesting things going for it.

there are some things that are going to be familiar, as you mention above, and there are some things that are unfamiliar. Those are found in the rhythms and in the way the movements are chained together.

Not talking about a gifted player, but as a system -- do you think that Piper is intrinsically superior to say, FMA or silat? I give 'em the mean-streets and intent, and a "do" isn't a "jutsu;" still, I don't see that the Piper guy has it all over the silat guy to the point that he wins every time.

Am I missing something?
I don't think you are missing anything, though you may be being a bit too general.

I will speak to Silat as I am most familiar with that.

In my opinion, there are some Silat players in the States that would fare well against Cape style knife, but many would not.

I don't know if you noticed that when I was up at the welding shop, Guru Plinck and I spent a bit of time over in one corner. We were going over the ideas he had come up with to deal with Cape knife work. To be totally honest, and at the risk of offending some people, he is the first Silat player I have run across in the States who had come up with something I thought was workable. I do suspect that Bobbe might have something up his sleeve that would be useful, but these have been, in my experience the exceptions rather than the rule.

There are a couple of things that make Piper different enough that it is quite dangerous to people who have not examined it with an open mind.

First, to put it bluntly, Africans tend to be less inhibited about hurting, maiming and killing someone than most of us in the West. Africans tend to go from "mellow" to "kill you right now" without hitting any if the intermediate steps that you or I might pass through. For instance, one of the first things I learned about the Maasai is that they would not hesitate in the slightest to kill you if you crossed the line with them. There were absolutely no inhibitions that you would find here in most people. The willingness to do violence without having to justify it gives one an edge, at least in Africa.

The second thing that gives Cape knife an edge (no pun intended) is the use of African polyrhythms in movement. One of the hallmarks of this kind of rhythm is that it has an unpredictable quality. If you listen to someone like Mamaday Kita playing with group of drummers, there will come a point where he starts riffing. When he does he will be completely unpredictable (in the sense that you won't know when he will add beats, or in what patterns) but he will still be completely within the rhythm of the group.

Cape knife has that same quality. So if someone can't adapt to the seeming chaotic nature of that style of movement, it can be unfortunate.

That being said, no one wins every time. I don't think the Piper guys think that this is the case in any event. But they know that they have a very effective system, and it is based on rhythms and ways of chaining movement that we are unfamiliar with in the West.

In recent days I have seen people examine 1 minute 26 seconds of movement and then leap to judgment as to a whole system. This worries me.

On the other hand a very few others gave long thought to that 7 minute tape and came up with ways to counter what they saw. Like Mourn, they are a thinking man's fighter.

So I guess the answer is that if someone is flexible, willing to think outside the box, and can adapt on the fly, they will do well when the meet the unknown. If someone puts more credit in their preconceptions than in to actual reality, and is unwilling to let anything new into their thinking, they will not.

And of course I could be completely wrong about all this.


Another Shameless Plug for a Friend

At our last Gathering of the Tribes one of the participants had a really groovy tee shirt.

it looked like this

and everyone thought it was the bee's knees.

As it turns out, this shirt was done by my friend Guru Sean Stark of PSP Combat Silat.

In talking with Sean I found out that he has done a whole line of cool Silat stuff and put them up on Cafe Press.

Everyone knows that you are not official without a tee shirt so I suggest that you head over to The Silat Shop and take a look at what Sean offers.

Along with the tees and other clothes Sean sells some really nice Indonesian weapons that are well worth looking at and can be purchased at a fair price.

so go check his stuff out, and tell him I sent you (that won't get you a better price, but what the heck).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Piper Blog

I keep meaning to mention this.

The guys at Piper system have put up a blog.

so now you can read what they have to say and talk with them rather than just listening to me talk about them.

Check it out

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Taking a walk tonight

I had trouble sleeping tonight. I had news from a friend who had a tragedy rip through his life recently.

I have been concerned for him since I heard the news, though he seems to be doing OK, and one thing leads to another. So I spent a good part of the night remembering things rather than sleeping.

Feeling the need to clear my head I decided to take a walk at about 3:00 am. It was cold, with a drizzle of rain drifting down, but refreshing.

It got me to thinking about a good number of things.

The first was how luck I am to live in a place where I feel comfortable walking around at night unarmed and by myself.

I have done that a lot in my life. I love walking, and a good long ramble is sometimes one of the best things there is to do. One of my favorite places ever for night time walks is Stockholm. When I was living there I don't think I ever rode in a car, it was always busses and the underground, and lots of walking. My favorite place to walk there was the Gamla Stan, old town where many of the buildings are older than my whole country.

One of my favorite things about Stockholm is that people spend time outside, much more than here in the States (at least in the summer) and the streets have an aliveness that you don't find as often here.

Here is an example of a day on the street in Stockholm.

People actually interact with each other rather than just hurrying from place to place. I have spent a good number of late nights/early mornings walking home from the clubs and such. Stockholm is nice that way, one of the safest, cleanest cities, with some of the nicest people, I have ever had the pleasure of roaming around.

My other favorite place to roam is at the other end of the spectrum, Arusha, Tanzania.

Arusha town sits at the foot of Mount Meru, and it is one of my very favorite places in all of Africa (note: with the exception of the one above, the pictures were taken by other people. All my photos are in storage in New York at the moment)

This is a shot of the main market in Arusha. My home was just a little less than a block from here. The market covers something over a block with both inside permanent stalls and shops, and a large outdoor area where local farmers bring their produce. From sun up to sun down this is one of the liveliest places in town. If you have never heard the sounds of a place like this, where everyone bargains and haggles down to the last shilling, it can be almost frightening at first. The sound is a constant roar of voices, almost like one huge living creature, sometimes purring, sometimes roaring in defiance or anger. You hear the last when the locals catch a thief.

This is something that is very shocking to most westerners. Thieves are killed outright by whoever is around. What you need to understand though is that conditions in Africa are very much different than in the West.

The courts are almost worthless and both the police and the judges are very bribable. A thief that is arrested in the morning will most likely be back on the street that afternoon.

So the people serve up justice themselves, in a way that seems very brutal to outsiders. A thief will be stabbed, or beaten to death with rocks, or burned to death if there is a handy tire and some petrol around. You do have to understand that a thief in Africa has absolutely no hesitation to kill someone in order to make their job more easy, so such rough justice as they receive is more deserved than one might think at first.

One of the things I love about the market is that you get truly fresh food and you most often get to talk with the person who grew it. Another thing I like is that you can get a mango as big as your head for a nickel or less. The market is the social heart of the town as well. People will sit in the market, visit, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea delivered by a wandering vendor with a huge urn heated by a basket of charcoals. Other vendors will roam the market with a tray full of cigarettes, roasted peanuts and candy, selling to anyone they can. They have a way of holding 20 or more coins in their hand and shifting them back and forth to make a loud rhythmic clinking to let potential customers know where they are. I found out that this roll of coins works as a convenient fist load in case someone tries to rob them.

Along the walls of the market you find the fundis, the craftsmen of one sort or another. Here we have a tailor and a shoe maker. You would go to the tailor, with his treadle sewing machine and tell him what you were interested in, say a pair of pants. He would take a couple of measurements, then tell you how much cloth you needed. You would get a couple of yards of wonderful Mgoromgoro cotton for two dollars or so then bring it back to the tailor. You come back in a couple of hours and you have a perfectly fitting pair of pants. If you have bargained well you will pay the tailor another two to three dollars.

this is the east side of the market (the far side from the first picture). As you can see, it is devoted to stalls filled with shoes and slippers. I cut through here twice a day on my way to and from work. At first the locals looked at me as if I were a little nuts. Whites don't much mingle in the every day life of the town. After a few weeks of me going past, some of the folks were curious enough to start conversations with me and a number of casual friendships developed around the market.

One of the things I love about Africa is that people take the time to stop and talk with each other, that their relationships with their friends are very important to them.

Most days, when I returned home I would pass a particular shop on my block. It sold electrical equipment, but most of its income came from money changing. The banks tend to "buy cheap and sell dear", so mostly one avoids the banks as much as possible. Tanzania has two currencies, the official, the Tanzanian Shilling, and the unofficial, the American dollar. Most large purchases are done with dollars, every day buying and selling is done with shillings.

The man who over-saw the money Exchange was named Mushi. He was of the Chaga tribe, who have a reputation (a well deserved one) for being formidable business people.

Mushi had been Tanzanian Army Special Forces during the war with Uganda back when Idi Amin thought he could take over all of East Africa. In a sort of general way he was one of the scariest human beings I have ever met. I guess he would be considered a gangster. Black market money changing is frowned upon by the government, and people who run this sort of business are potential targets for thieves and there is often thousands of dollars of cash on hand.
One of the reasons that my block was such a nice place to live was that Mushi had put the word out that he would be upset if any crime happen on our street.

So every day I would pass by the shop, and if Mushi were around he would make a point of coming out and greeting me, almost always reminding me that "This is Africa my friend, here we have time to slow down and talk with our friends". We would spend from several minutes to an hour chatting about the news of the town and world, of family and friends and the new coffee crop. We would drink the strong tea from the roaming vendors and enjoy the day. All the while Mushi's men would be moving in and out of the shop making deliveries or picking up bundles of cash to take to one merchant or another.

This is one of the streets that end at the market. It is just after one of the heavy monsoon rains that hit from time to time, so everyone is inside for a change. This street would be quite safe to walk down during the day (at least safe for Africa) but at night it could be worth your live to be here if you were not African and local.

And this is the street where the school I taught at is located, it is about ten blocks from the market. It was odd at first to come to the school which always had a watchman armed with a shotgun out front.

This is one of the two landmarks in Arusha, the town clock on Sokone road. This is in the more affluent part of downtown. It is a more "tourist area". It is known as robbery central because bandits will often attempt to rob people as the visit the banks in the area, knowing that they have money with them.

And this is a whole different kind of market. This is the Maasai market on the outskirts of town. I would come here every couple of weeks to do business with one fundi who made Sime, the traditional Maasai short sword, and an old man who carved the best fimbo in all of East Africa.

This is a very dangerous place, even for Africa. Everyone you see in the picture is armed, men women and children. And if you were to do something wrong, or if they thought you were good victim material you could find yourself hyena food in an eye blink.

When I went to the Maasai market I never went alone, but always with a Maasai elder who was a friend. The first thing he would do when we got there was to hire about three young warriors, one to watch the truck and make sure that no one would try to break into it. The other two would shadow us and watch our backs.

This market is very much "old Africa". You will find all manner of traditional hand crafted practical items, food, livestock, and here is where you find the traditional healers with their herbal remedies as well. If you are not African you are an interloper here, and tourists have been killed for coming to the wrong part of this market more than once. There is one section closest to the town where tourists can safely come and buy beadwork and such, but the heart of the market is well away from that.

What does all this have to do with taking a walk?

When I was living in Africa you didn't take walks at night. You stayed safely home, or if you had to go somewhere you went by car. It was so dangerous to walk the streets at night we in the West can't even get our minds around the idea.

So I value being able to walk at night and not worry about being robbed or killed, something we take for granted here, but should not.



Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why George W. Bush Should Not Be Impeached

Even though he truly deserves to be.

Now that we again have a government that has some checks and balances it is time to get our nation back on track.

I know that some people are looking for a little payback at this point.

All the name calling from the Right Wing Authoritarian "Bottoms" for the last twelve years is still ringing in our ears. We look at our country and the mess it's in and it is natural to want to drag a few people out to the public square, shove them in the stocks and indulge in a bit of rotten vegetable throwing, but we can't let ourselves do this. If we do we are no better than the Right Wing Authoritarians who tied up the last two years of the Clinton Administration with his pointless impeachment.

What we really need now is for the House and the Senate to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the things that really matter, and we need them to do so in a bipartisan way.

That's the important word Bipartisan.

America has had enough of partisan politics, the country is sick of it, the country is sick of the mean spirited, hateful name calling that has gone on for the last twelve years. The country is sick of replacing positive action for the common good with elitist rhetoric that disenfranchises most of the citizens of our great nation.

That is what the election is telling us, that we want positive action, not that we want the Democrats to do the same thing that the Republicans have been doing for the last six years.

So as much as it might be gratifying to impeach the Shrub and then try him for war crimes, that will not serve to do anything but divide the country more deeply. We can put up with him for two more years now that the checks and balances on his power have been restored, and frankly I don't think the country can survive another impeachment at the expense of doing the real work that needs to be done.

We need to concentrate on the things that really matter.

The war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan need to be addressed.

congressional oversight needs to be put back on all of the war spending, especially the outsourcing that has been done.

If we want to put some people in jail let's start with the good folks running Haliburton and Blackwater. Perhaps we might even get some of the money back that they have walked off with by doing things like charging our troops US $50.00 for a sixpack of Coke.

We need to address sustainable energy and the malfeasances of the Oil Companies.

We need to get the economy back on track, balance the budget again and do something to get rid of the crushing dept that the Bush administration has put us under.

I could go on, but you get the idea, there is so much real work to do that there is no time to indulge in revenge.

We have two years to prove to the world and to ourselves that we are better than we have been acting.

And make no mistake, the rot in our country is still there. I have been watching the Right Wing Authoritarians, both "Tops" and "Bottoms", as they spew out their bile over the election. For the Authoritarian "tops" there is still much money to be made and power to be grabbed for them to give up. For the "bottoms", they have their self image tied up in being "right" and can't deal well with finding out that most people just don't think the way they do. If we let our vigilance slip for a moment they will find a way to "poison the well" again.

So what can we do? We have to make sure that our elected officials stay on the job and do what we want them to do.

As it happens, it has never been easer to do this.

Our Senate and House has email, and you know what? They actually pay attention to what people say because they know that someone who takes the time to write them also takes the time to vote.

Right now our elected representatives are just a bit nervous. They just got reminded that they serve at our pleasure, not the other way around. We need to keep this in the forefront of their minds, they need to know that we are paying attention.

All of us need to be writing the people we have put in office at least once a month and letting them know how we feel about what they have been doing.

Of course that means we have to pay attention to what they are doing, something that historically we have not been too good at. Politicians have believed that if they win the election that they can count on us going back to sleep and not noticing what they are doing with the office we put them in. That has got to change.

You, my dear reader need to have the email addresses of your representative and your senator in your address book so that you can drop a note to them any time you see them doing something that you like or don't like.

They need to be reminded that they can be voted out of office just as quickly as they were voted in. We, the citizens of the country are the true "oversight committee", we need to do our jobs if we want good government, and trust me, after last Tuesday they will listen.

To find out how to Write your Representative just click this link

To find out how to Write your Senator go here.

Remember, it's called a Democracy for a reason.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Life at the edge, more on the African Knife

Evolution is an interesting process, and no evolution is more interesting than that of ideas.

One of the things I find so interesting about Piper system, the South African method of knife combat developed by Nigel February, Lloyd De Jongh and a small group of people in Cape Town, South Africa, is that it represents an evolutionary cusp, a transition point where a martial practice moves to a new form qualitatively.

There are two examples from recent history that are salient. The first can be found in Brazil in the early 1930's. At that time Capoeira was regarded as part of the criminal subculture, and decent people didn't want to have anything to do with it. As a matter of fact, Capoeira was outlawed by the Brazilian government.

Then, thanks to the work of just a handful of people, Capoeira was transformed from something that criminals used to settle differences and to rob people to one of the most exciting and beautiful martial arts.

The other example of course is found in the work of Bruce Lee, who managed to successfully question tradition in a very productive way, and in doing so change the face of martial arts forever.

I see the same thing happening with Piper System. We have a grouping of fighting techniques developed in large part by the disenfranchised, the criminal elements and the gangs in and around Cape Town SA. This fighting method (or group of methods) never managed (or needed) to be anything more than a loose grouping of techniques.

Then along comes Nigel and his group, and they begin to analyze, question, test, and outline underlying principles. What we are seeing is the evolution of a group of fighting methods into a martial discipline (A "jitsu" rather than a "Do" to use the Japanese way of looking at these things)

the other thing that the Piper System does is challenge the "conventional thinking" of many martial arts when it comes to knife methods.

In some of the traditional martial arts, thinking about the knife has become channelized into one or two general methods of attack and defense, Piper thinks way "outside the box" in comparison. The fact that Piper has a base in African style and rhythms of movement make it quite a bit different than the Asian based methods. The fact that Piper has drawn from its contact with Malay and Indian fighting traditions has, I think made it more flexible.

Piper will force all of us to reevaluate what we do, much in the same way that Bruce Lee did with his approach to Jeet Kun Do.

So what we see with Piper System is something like being able to observe the emergence of a new species, shaped by its genetic history and the unique environmental factors it has developed within.

I feel profoundly lucky in that I have been able to observe this not once but twice in my lifetime (the other being Scott Sonnon's RMAX) I can think of little that is more exciting.


A sleeping America wakes up

And the Right Wing authoritarians are removed from power.

Yesterday's election was a powerful message to BushCo and the so called "conservatives" who have been running this country into the ground for the last six years. There is an old saying where I come from, "Don't piss down my leg and tell me it's raining". We have just seen what happens when you do, over and over, and the American people finally figured out that the Right wing have been pissing down our collective leg all this time.

This election was without a doubt a referendum on BushCo policies, especially the war on Iraq, but it is also a response to the Right Wing Authoritarian sense of entitlement that has relegated all of us who did not buy into their pipe dream to the status of second class citizens, "unpatriotic", "traitors" and all those other cute little labels they tries to stick on us.

What we have now is a government that will have to work together. The balance of power is such now that if BushCo (or any real conservatives, if there are some left in Washington) will have to strike a balance to get anything done, no more rubber stamp.

Given the mess the country is in, what with the war, the crushing debt, and all the rest of the Bush legacy, I can only hope that the Democrats will not indulge in some (admittedly well deserved) payback for their treatment these last six years. The country doesn't need any more of that sort of thing. What we need is to get out of the hole that BushCo dug for us, and quickly.

One of the things that I found very interesting is that the TheoCon power seems to be broken as well. (Thanks in part to Ted Haggard no doubt).

Their three big issues were all defeated in the most interesting ways. The South Dakota anti-choice abortion initiative was struck down, Missouri passed the Stem Cell initiative (thanks in part to Rush Limbaugh) and most surprising of all, Arizona, a very conservative State defeated a same sex marriage ban. All three of these suggest that we see a weakening of the TheoCons and we are just a little less likely to have their religious mythology shoved down our throats.

In our local election Governor Granholm defended her seat successfully against Dick DeVos, an extremely creepy TheoCon.

DeVos, the son of the co-founder of Amway, is a little rich boy, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who has never had to work for anything in his life until now. He believes (by his own admission) that only the rich should be allowed to govern, and has a profound sense of entitlement.

Let me give you a telling glimpse into the character of both candidates.

I live on the corner of two well used roads and the property has a lot (over a thousand feet) of road frontage. Two days before the election I get a call from Governor Granholm's election committee asking permission to put up a couple of signs in front of the house and along the road. I told the woman who called I would talk with the household and get back to her.

While I was having this conversation, the DeVos camp was out pounding signs into the property every ten feet, without so much as a "by your leave". That is the kind of entitlement he had.

DeVos also spent more money trying to win the Governor's seat than has ever been spent in a governor's race anywhere. He would have been so bad for this State it isn't funny, but even with all his money, his corporate connections and his silver spoon, he went down to defeat.

All told, it was a good day for freedom. Perhaps the people in Washington will remember that we are not quite the sheep they thought we were.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sleazy, Vile, Criminal, Un-American

These are the words that come to mind as I watch Republican behavior this election.

I am sitting here wondering when we became a third world country.

We have fake sample ballots being distributed by Republicans in one Governor's race.

Worse than that, we have one of the Right Wing Talking Heads urdging her listeners to Jam the phones at the Democrat voter protection line.

This woman needs to at the very least lose her job, but being a Right Winger she is no doubt above the law.

There is just too much of this thing going on to even write about. This has got to stop.


Election Day

And the only thing to worry about is how successful the Republicans will be in their attempts to suppress votes and steal the election.

Of course as we saw six years ago, this is something they are very good at.

I do not remember any election in my lifetime that has had so many blatant, illegal attempts to disenfranchise voters. (with the possible exception of the deep South in the early Sixties)

We have seen The Republican Party use a whole bunch of dirty tricks, many of them against the law it seems, to chase people from the polls.

In Missouri, we see Republican pole workers demanding photo ID when people come to vote (a tactic to keep the poor the elderly and the dark skinned from voting) even though this has been deemed against the law. Fortunately, the did so to the wrong person.

In my home state of New Mexico, the Republicans have been attempting to target voters with Latio names, telling them that their polling place has been moved to some location that will be very difficult to get to.

The Dirty tricks to keep people from voting in Virginia have gotten so bad that the FBI has become involved. Personally, I am surprised that we are not seeing Allan at a polling place with an ax handle.

In Utah we have more voters registered that there are people to register, go figure.

And then there are those darn "Robo-Calls" that the republicans have been using to attack Democrats and to turn off voters.

The question is not will the Right Wing Authoritarians win, it is will they be successful in stealing the elections through dirty and sometimes illegal means.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The latest Republican outrage

As if things weren't bad enough, the Right Wing Republican Authoritarians masquerading as "Conservatives" Have found another way to limit our freedoms.

It is the kind of thing that I remember being held up as evidence that the USSR was a slave state. The fact that no one could move around without permission from the State. I remember being told that we should be proud of the fact that we were a free people and could come and go as we choose.

Well, if BushCo has its way there will be an end to all that untidy, unregulated travel.

This just in from Slashdot,

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has proposed a system which will in essence make it mandatory for you to have permission before leaving or entering the country, effectively putting everyone on a no-fly list unless the government says otherwise. Interestingly, the proposal does not seem to cover personal travel, only that on some sort of carrier like an airline or cruise vessel. While this certainly is concerning, it isn't exactly new, as a passport is already required for circumstances covered under the proposal."

The article take you to another article at Friends of Liberty which discusses the implications of the proposal, and offers a link to a PDF file that is of quite a bit of interest.

This is the world that the Republicans are trying to make for you to live in. If you are happy with that then just sit on your hands and it will be here soon.

If you would rather have the world our forefathers (and foremothers) made for us, the one outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, then

Get Out And Vote The Bastards Out of Office Tomorrow!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Iraq for sale, America for sale

This is something you should watch before the election.

You can access the full documentary, "Iraq for Sale" on google for free, though it would be a kindness if you bought the film as well (it is only about twelve bucks).

I mentioned this documentary in September, you can read the initial post here. To say that it is disturbing would be a whooper of an understatement. Check it out, think about what you see and remember it when you vote.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

You know just how bad it is when the NeoCons turn on Bush

After all, he was their boy when it came to invading Iraq.

In this issue of Vanity Fair, Richard Perle, when of the architects of the NeoCon takeover of the American Government, calls the bush administration "dysfunctional".

He said;

"The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.Â… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible."

Of course, like a good little goose stepper he has a place to fix the blame, he says of Bush;

"I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

Then we have Kenneth Adelman who served on the Defense Policy Board until 2005 and is one of the big NeoCon "names". He had this to say about the Bush administration;

"I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

It has only taken six years and thousands of deaths, but know we know that the Bush administration is the most incompetent to sit in the White House since it was built. The real power Base of BushCo is to be found in the Multi-Nationals and the oil companies, who are the only groups that have thrived under Bush. The NeoCons on one side have seen that their policies are complete failures (especially when they get in the way of Haliburton making money)

On the other side, we see the Dominionists imploding from within as congregations all over the US discover just how corrupt their leadership actually is. The religious Right has proved to be nothing more than expendable "shock troops" for BushCo which could really care less about the Dominionist agendas.

Well, in just a few days we can change things,

Just Get Out And Vote


Friday, November 03, 2006

More Right Wing scandal,

Or, A Dark Lord of the Sith reveled for what he is!

Last year I observed that there was a strong resemblance between the authoritarian Religious Right and the Sith Lords from Star Wars.

The latest event is too rich. I had to wait for a while to see if there were truth in the allegations, but today our Sith Lord admitted that "some" of the indiscretions happened.

So, "what's going on" you ask?

Well. Pastor Ted Haggard, the leader of the 14,000 member New Life Church, the biggest "Mega-Church" in the world or so they say, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, was accused of having a three year paid "gay affair" with a male prostitute in Denver, CO, and of using methamphetamine with him.

Now this is the guy who has been behind a good deal of the "Hate the gays" material that has come from the hypocrites and pharisees Religious Right.

What is most obvious is that the leaders of the Religious Right don't actually believe anything that they preach, it is just a means to power for them.

Think about it, when was the last time you saw Ted Haggard or James Dobson do anything to help the poor, feed the hungry, aid the sick, or anything else that Jesus instructed them to do.

Instead it's always "Vote Republican, stop the fags from getting married, fight the Democrats before they make your daughter marry a dark skinned person, get an abortion and convert to Islam". In other words, "Come over to the Dark Side, there is great power here".


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What you can look forward to

If DeVos becomes Governor of Michigan

Only it is likely that it will be "private contractors" from Blackwater who have taken over security for our schools to "save money". (You do know that DeVos is deeply connected to the owner of the world's largest and best funded right wing para-military organization by marriage don't you? You know that Blackwater is supporting his bid for Governor, right? How much would you like to bet that there have been some "outsourcing" agreements made?)

So check it out! There was a little "drill" in the town of Wyoming, Mich. a couple of days ago. We didn't hear much about it here, though Wyoming borders Grand Rapids. I wonder why it is a story picked up in Florida but not reported locally.

The entire thing seems quite ill conceived, no parental notification, terrorizing the children involved, Swat teams carrying guns into a school after there has been so much press on the latest school shootings, these thing are not designed to build confidence. But no doubt Blackwater will do a better job.

Hat Tip to Bill for this story


Friday, October 27, 2006

Africa, again

The first post I ever did for this blog, after my introduction was on Africa.

Being as I am going to be writing on things African again I thought it might be a good time to revisit that first post to set the tone. You can read it here.


You just can't make this stuff up!

President bigot Bush talks about Muslims, Iraq and Ramadan with his best buddies in the press.

This is the kind of person we put in office, left in office, allowed to make decisions to invade Iraq, and cost thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. (and anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that violence during Ramadan is frowned upon, no reward there folks)

Read it and weep people, then get out and vote, the election is almost here.


The African Knife

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will remember my entries on knife skills I was exposed to when I was living in Africa.

If not you can read the articles here.
The Legacy of Umslopogas
African Lessons Part One
South African Knife Fighting

I have had a few adventures because of these articles. I have been contacted by various different individuals for any number of reasons, most of these people have been decent folk, and I have enjoyed the conversations. Some have been a little eccentric, and one or two have obviously had agendas that they were pursuing. It has all been in good fun though.

Recently I have been contacted by an extremely interesting group, one that I had been planning to find a way to contact myself the next time I went to South Africa.

I had heard rumors of these people on the martial arts grapevine for several years, and at one point had tried to make a connection through someone I knew, but it didn't work out.

Things have a way of working out all the same, and now I know enough on the subject to at least be able to ask intelligent questions.

A little while back I received an email from a gentleman named Nigel February, who along with his partner, Lloyd De Jongh, created Piper System, which is the only formal expression of Cape knife fighting to date.

I have been having a delightful time talking with these men and have found them to be highly intelligent, articulate, and passionate about what they are doing.

They are also the real deal. I am able to say this because what they do is close enough to what I learned from my South African friends, that it must come from the same source, but there is no connection between them and my friends. That is what we call "independent corroboration" in the biz.

Lately there have been various individuals here in the Stated that have offered opinions as to the existence of, and effectiveness of Cape Knife fighting.

Sadly, these opinions have been......... How can I say this delicately.....Hmmmm........

completely full of shit....... Foolishly asinine.......... No...

How about "ill informed", yeah, Ill Informed, that's it.

Ill informed because the people expressing these opinions have never set foot on the continent of Africa, have never had any first hand experience with Cape knife work, have based their opinions on seven minutes of video and the contents of their own egos..... Well, I could go on but you get the point.

Right now, if you have not gone to Africa and spent time with the people who actually know about this stuff, then well, you just don't know what you are talking about. (and there are only a very few people who have done this to date maybe three all told).

So I am going to be talking with Nigel, Lloyd and Jason (another of the senior instructors) and putting our conversations up here on the blog from time to time.

We will cover Piper system, Cape knife fighting in general, and perhaps, current events in Africa and South Africa. This last is of particular importance because of the distorted views of Africa that so many people in the West have.

so stay tuned to this blog for some truly fascinating material and conversation.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


If you can't get the point across with logic and reason, put it in a cartoon!

A hat tip to Crooks and Liars for pointing us to this.

As I have noted before, it is a sad state of affairs when only the Jesters can tell the truth, but that's the country we live in now. More people and more are turning to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report for the truth of what is going on because they know that the corporate media has been editing the news to keep us in the dark and feed us only what they want us to know.

Remember when you get to the polls next month the Right Wing authoritarians who have hijacked the Republican party have brought this country to the edge of ruin, have killed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of people, men, women and children from other countries in pursuit of power and wealth. We fill their bank accounts with our blood, and it's got to stop!

In November vote the bastards out!


Monday, October 23, 2006

Keith Olbermann Bitch Slaps George Bush across the TV screen

It is such a relief to hear someone say publicly what so many of us are thinking.

George Bush is a Madman and has lead this country to ruin!

Head on over to Crooks and liars and check out Keith's commentary from tonight's Countdown on the latest GOP fearmongering. Ask yourself if it is true, then ask yourself how you are going to vote in November.


Y'all should maybe read this

It would have been Pat Tilman's birthday November 6.

His brother has a few things to say about the war and the crooks running our country, now that he is out of the military and can speak his mind again.



This is how we think of ourselves as Americans

We are a proud, strong, capable predatory bird, noble, solitary, masters of all we survey.

On the other hand, here is how the people who are running the country from Washington, the corporate offices of the multinational, and the broadcast centers of corporate media with all their pundits see us.

That's right as domesticated sheep, one of the stupidest animals on the planet.

You don't think so? Well just take a look at this video clip.

Come next month You will get a chance to prove which image is the correct one.

Get out and Vote!
Vote to be an Eagle, not a sheep!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Guru's Handbook

Some things are so important that they burst through into the collective human awareness no matter what the minions of endarkenment do to stop them.

I have a friend.

This friend has been a Teacher for quite some time,
most of this time not fully aware that this was so.

One day I said to my friend something to the effect of "you really need to write down the process of how you understand Teaching" (I use Teaching rather than teaching to make a distinction between bringing someone to an awakened state and just imparting data).

This brought up a number of issues, all of which were dealt with in good time.

The outcome is The Guru's Handbook.

Take a moment to read the entries and to think about them. Then pass on the address to someone who might benefit.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Someone to watch

Yesterday I was looking for the lyrics to a Leonard Cohen song.

In my wanderings around the net I ran across a blog that had a list of everyone who had ever covered a different Cohen song, "Hallelujah". (You perhaps remember it from the excellent Rufus Wainwright cover in the movie Shrek).

I had not realized that so many artists had covered the song. As I scrolled down the list one name caught my eye, Arooj Aftab. I had never her, but I recognize a Muslim name when I see one, so I was intrigued.

I downloaded her version of the song and listened to it.

Now I should mention that I am a Leonard Cohen fan of long standing, and so am fairly critical of who does what with his work.

The song was wonderful!

Aftab's voice is rich and textured, with smoky, sultry undertones that are both restrained and powerful at the same time.

She was accompanied by a single guitar (which she played, I found out later). It was simple and understated, exactly what was needed to highlight her voice.

I was impressed.

I did a search to see if I could find out who this was.

Arooj Aftab is a young Pakistani woman who is studying music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston on the Steve Vai Scholarship. Her story is quite interesting, and there is more of it to find than just this link.

You can find more of her music at MySpace, and she has a blog as well.

It has been a while since I have been so impressed with someone who is just starting out.

Here is hoping that she will succeed in all of her musical endeavors and that we will hear much more of her in the future.

Check her out, you'll be glad you did.