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Sunday, September 24, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
A look at the Christian Taliban and their "Madrasa" system.
Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time has heard me say that what we are seeing today in world politics is a war of the Right against the Right. Well, it looks like the Isomorphic nature of this war has gone up a notch or two.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the "madrasa" schools used by groups like the Taliban and the Wahabbis to indoctrinate children, it works like this. A group will set up a "free" school for poor children in (usually) impoverished, outlying areas of Muslim countries. Parents send their children in hope that they will get some sort of education (and often a free meal) but what they get is religious indoctrination into the fundamentalist cause, with hopes of them becoming cannon fodder in the War against the West (TM).
You may remember what the Jesuits used to say, "give me a child until age eight and I will have him for life" (or something to that effect).
Well the fundamentalists on the Bush regime side have started their own madrasas. One, called "Kids on Fire Summer Camp" has just come the public attention through a documentary called Jesus Camp (check out The Web Site for the movie).
If you would like to be frightened, check out (the trailer) for the movie. I have to warn you though that it will be very disturbing to anyone with even a modicum of decency.
Or just watch this
Not worried yet?
Well ask yourself, if the Wahabbis are so effective at getting people to kill themselves to get at the targets they want to take out, how long will it be until we see these kids running suicide missions against family planning clinics, a gay marriage ceremony, a synagogue, or your local Democratic Party offices?
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 10:33 AM
Monday, September 18, 2006
meet the mercenaries who are working for the corporations that get your tax money.
One of the more disturbing documentaries made on the war in Iraq, "Iraq For Sale" examines the corporate looting of American tax money by several companies such as Blackwater and Halliburton.
I find Blackwater's involvement to be particularly scary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the owner, Erik Prince, has a sister, Betty, who is married to Dick DeVos.
DeVos, who inherited the Amway empire from his father, is a Right Wing ideologue and fundamentalist (in the "we hate everybody who is not us" sense) "Christian" who is making a bid to be elected as Michigan's governor.
I can just see DeVos contracting out a whole lot of "security" functions to Blackwater if he gets elected.
This documentary is just one more example of how the Right Wing so called "conservatives" have been looting America since Bush has been in office. The next time you have to do without because our economy has been shot to hell by Bush's greedy little war, watch this movie and ask yourself how we got here.
Private Armies are one of the most disturbing things that has come out of the Bush Regime.
Iraq For Sale
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 10:30 AM
Saturday, September 16, 2006
That's right, we are being held hostage until Bush gets to torture people again.
According to the Washington Post Baby Bush has threatened to Close down "a CIA interrogation program that he credited with thwarting terrorist attacks" unless the Senate give him a free hand to circumvent the Geneva Convention (read the full article here).
So what Bush is really saying is "Let me do what I want or I will remove the thing that is protecting you".
Now I don't know if this program did any good beyond lining the pockets of Bush's cronies with money, but if it had any value at all, doesn't it seem a little weird that Bush would use closing it as a threat to get his way?
The only thing we can be really sure of is that George W. Bush has the emotional maturity of a spoiled ten year old, and that he will continue to hurt America until he and his evil cabal get voted out of office.
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 5:13 PM
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Or "Be Here Now" (because that's all you really have anyway)
Back in the early 1980's I began to experiment with time distortion.
I should perhaps preface this by telling you that I am a trained clinical hypnotherapist, having specialized in Ericksonion model rapid therapy. During the 80's I taught the subject at the post graduate level, training therapists in these skills.
What got me interested in "time distortion" was of course martial arts.
Many of you have no doubt had the experience of being in a sparring match and having time "slow down" for you, so that you had all the time in the world to counter an attack or set up one.
Conversely, some of you may have had the opposite experience where it seems as if you are "stuck in molasses and even though you can see what's coming, you just can't react fast enough.
To describe these two states I have borrowed two terms from my friend Scott Sonnon, "The zone" and "the vortex". (this being because English is a poor language for internal states, so we have to make up terms as we go sometimes).
working from Scott's definitions, when one in the "zone" then "time is on your side" and when one is "in the vortex" you are "behind the time curve".
In order to "get into the zone" what you need is to be able to access "flow state".
Now flow state is something that is a little difficult to define, but when you are there you know it. (yes I know that's cheating)
(if you want to know more I recommend "Flow-State Performance Spiral" which is the only really scientific description of the state and how to achieve it at will I know of).
So here's the rub. What we call "flow state" in the west is referred to by other names at other times by other names.
Most notable, in Sanskrit it is referred to as Samadhi. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, refers too Samadhi as the eighth limb of yoga. Samadhi can be described as being Awake (without quotes).
There are two kinds of time sense. One when the essential self is asleep, the other when the essential self is awake.
You dear reader, to understand this, must face the unpleasant fact that all of us (including you even though you are obviously brighter than most) spend most of our lives asleep in one way or another.
You are either asleep or awake. Just as you can't be a little dead or a little pregnant, you can't be a little awake. It is an "on" or "off" function.
When you are asleep, you operate mechanically, reacting to stimulus through a series of heuristic, preprogrammed responses that are habitual in nature. These habit patterns follow one hierarchy of being "imprinted" "conditioned" and "learned" and another of being "biological", "cultural", "social", and "personal".
We don't notice the transition from sleeping to waking very often because we remain awake only for fractions of a second, not long enough to notice the difference. In those moments of awakeness though, we are free of mechanical response.
We can us binary numbers to model the awakeness of a person through time. With 0 representing sleep and 1 representing awake most people will look like this.
000000000000000000000000000You can find the memory traces of the awake state because they leave strong sense impressions. These may be positive, negative or neutral.
In the sleeping state "time sense" is crafted from memory and fantasy (which are closely related). We imagine that "time has passed" because we can "remember" events in the past and we imagine the passage of time into the future because we fantasize about coming to events that we either want to happen or dread happening.
All of this is of course entirely illusionary. (though people will often try to kill you if you tell them this)
When one is awake time is perceived quite differently.
Time is sensed in the body, I suspect that it is in some way related to proprioception.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the awake state is that the sense impressions at that moment are quite rich.
In the sleeping state time distortion is quite easy. You can induce a trance state in someone and have them relive a movie that they have seen, completing the task in five minutes our time but seeming to take two hours subjective time for the person "watching the movie".
It is equally easy to have someone perceive time as passing quickly so that an hour will seem to have gone by in a few minutes. These are both functions of sleep.
Time in the awake state is a different matter entirely.
Think back to the binary example
Each one of those 1's represents a slice of awareness of "objective" time, which is the experience of the "Present Moment".
When one is in flow state (samadhi) the 1's outnumber the 0's. When you have all 1's what you've got is Nirbija Samadhi (seedless awakeness)
Every moment that you are awake, you take a picture of the slice of the present moment in which you exist. as you take more "snapshots" (sense impressions) you slice time thinner and thinner and time seems to "slow down" for you.
This allows for a spontaneous, appropriate response to the given situation.
(It is a bit more complicated than this, but for the sake of this discussion this is enough I think).
So that is the basis of the thing.
If you want more information on time distortion I recommend
Time Distortion in Hypnosis: An Experimental and Clinical Investigation by Linn F. Cooper M.D., and Milton H. Erickson M.D.
as the place to start.
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 9:16 AM
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Onward and Upward!
The second chapter of Moon over Morocco is now up on Radio Ansari So take a listen.
For your enjoyment this weeks program also includes the first episode of Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe, which is another groovy, mind bending sufi-like story.
So dust off your sense of humor, suspend your disbelief and take a ride with Jack Flanders and Ruby.
Moon over Morocco
Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 9:27 PM
Friday, September 01, 2006
When I make a custom knife for someone I don't talk about it as a rule. I also don't put pictures of it up in public places. I do this out of respect for the privacy of the person who ordered the knife.
But sometimes the person who owns the knife talks about it, then I can say something myself without violating the Blacksmith-knife owner privilege.
So a little while back my friend Steve Perry commissioned a knife in the "tiger claw" pattern (kuku macan).
I got a good deal of pleasure in making this knife. For me there is nothing I like more than making a blade for someone I know.
I was quite happy with how the knife turned out. I did a clay temper in the edge (like a katana)
Well, it turns out that Steve is including the knife in his latest book!!!!!
Steve is finishing the last novel of the late (and much missed by Sci Fi fans) Chris Bunch.
You can see a couple of pictures of Steve's knife and read the chapter where the knife appears on Steve's Blog. Tale a look, and buy the book when it comes out, it promises to be a good yarn.
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 3:19 PM
Or, "do human beings ever get past adolescence?"
I have to admit I am not much of a fan of the works of Ayn Rand, I tend to think of her as a silly and deluded woman that was strong enough to push her delusions into consensus reality. Anyone with even a modicum of critical thinking under their belt will see the myriad flaws in her world view.
That being said, I am very fond of a particular scene form the movie version of "The Fountainhead".
Gary Cooper, who plays Howard Roark is confronted by Ellsworth Toohey (played by Robert Douglas). Toohey has spent years trying to ruin Roark using every underhanded trick he can come up with, Toohey says to Roark;
"We're alone. Why don't you tell me what you think of me."and walks off.
"But I don't think of you."
I have received a couple of emails from friends about the latest link I added to my blog roll. They are to the effect of "Did you know the guy you linked to is a student of Jeff Davidson? Why would you link to someone connected to that punk?"
As my friends know, Mr. Davidson, for reasons best known only to himself, has been bad-mouthing me for quite some while. I have always found this quite amusing being as we have never met and only spoken by phone about twice.
The thing is, I don't really care what the guy has to say about me, he doesn't know anything about me so there is nothing of value in what he says.
I put the link up to The Panday's Gazette because the guy sent me a polite note asking me to, and because I looked at his site and liked his work. It is hard enough for someone to get started in the knife business without all the martial arts politics, so I choose to put craft before politics.
Everyone has a choice, they get to focus on whatever they want. I choose to focus on my martial arts, on my craft and whatever I need to do to perfect both. Any time I would spend on petty back biting and silly "my Silat is better than his Silat" or whatever else people with too much time on their hands manage to come up with takes me away from what is important.
I have noticed that there are some people in the martial arts world who can't seem to live without strife. They make life miserable for everyone around them with their constant bickering. But if you don't play you have all this extra time for your Jurus, go figure.
Posted by Mushtaq Ali at 12:05 PM