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

Friday, November 30, 2007

The End of America

In her book, "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot" Naomi Wolf outlines ten steps for turning a Democracy into a Dictatorship.

They are:

  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
  2. Create a gulag
  3. Develop a thug caste
  4. Set up an internal surveillance system
  5. Harass citizens' groups
  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Control the press
  9. Dissent equals treason
  10. Suspend the rule of law
If you want more definitive descriptions of these steps you may want to check out her original article on the subject publish in the Guardian, Fascist America, in 10 easy steps.

Or you may want to watch this lecture on the subject. It is about 45 minutes long but well worth the consideration.

Naomi Wolf on the end of America

Regardless of if you think of your self as "conservative", "liberal", "progressive" or some other label, you owe it to yourself to consider this material. The only people who won't find it moving and disturbing are fascists and Right Wing Authoritarians.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

First Snow Winter 2007

We got our first real snow today

We have gotten flurries over the last couple of weeks, but nothing that has stuck......

First snowfall from the back 40
I guess winter is here.

loyalty oaths?

We know that the Republican party is the party of corruption, hypocrisy, crime and disloyalty to the Constitution, but this is over the top even for them.

GOP will demand 'oath' of February primary voters

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- If you're planning to vote in Virginia's February Republican presidential primary, be prepared to sign an oath swearing your Republican loyalty.

The State Board of Elections on Monday approved a state Republican Party request to require all who apply for a GOP primary ballot first vow in writing that they'll vote for the party's presidential nominee next fall.

There's no practical way to enforce the oath. Virginia doesn't require voters to register by party, and for years the state's Republicans have fretted that Democrats might meddle in their open primaries.

Virginia Democrats aren't seeking such an oath for their presidential primary, which is held the same day -- February 12th.
This is the most Un-American thing I have herd of since the McCarthy trials.

I find it quite troubling that the Virginia State Board of Elections approved this travesty, but is shows just how far gone the GOP has become. The right to vote one's conscience is fundamental to a free democracy, that the GOP wants to have its members sign away this right tells me that the Party is dead to Democracy and the American way.

This is still America! No one can, or should try to force you to vote the way they want you to.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bluegrass and Blogs

Up late, working, listening to Bluegrass.

I have been catching up on a great deal of work that had been put on the back burner when my computer went down for the count. A good deal of it has been in the area of web design this week.

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but when I work I tend to favor Bluegrass.

One of my projects has been to do a complete remodel of all the web site, blog, and forum for Steve Barnes.

When I put his blog together, it was a matter of getting something up so that he could start writing.

And then there is his main website (sigh) it was kludged together from about three separate sites, which was bad enough, but while I was off line he had to get someone to do some updates, and that never seems to work well.

I chose Rhonda Vincent as my inspiration for Steve's site.

Both web design and Bluegrass are at their best when they tell stories, and Rhonda knows how to tell a story.

I have the bones of Steve's new site sorted out and have his material "branded", a whole new look and feel as it were.

I took a lot of the artistic inspiration from Steve's novel "Lion's Blood", which I consider one of his very best works. (yes, that is in fact a plug for the book in case you haven't read it).

The main site won't be up for a bit yet as we are still working on content, but I have the new blog design online and you can check it out here.

Another project was to help my buddy Buddha get a blog up in honor of his birthday.

This entailed both doing up some graphics and code for him and teaching him how to use the blogger interface to add his own content to his blog.

I chose Alison Krauss to do this work by.

Here is a piece that shows some of the roots of Bluegrass, The Chieftains & Alison Krauss performing Molly Ban, an old Irish ballad.

You can (and should) check out Buddha's new blog here. Buddha is on my short list of "people who I want with me when civilization as we know it comes to an end" (something more likely to happen soon as no one seems able or willing to stop Bush) and is one of the more interesting and colorful individuals to hang out at Innovative Martial Arts and Casa Pippin.

For working on my own blog I threw on some Dixie Chicks to work by

Here's one of my faves, The Dixie Chicks performing "Cowboy Take Me Away".

You are already here so you can see the changes I have made to this blog.

This is just by way of a quick update, more later.

Cab Calloway

If you need to ask, you're too young to understand.

Friday, November 23, 2007

House Cleaning

I have not updated the look and feel of this blog in quite a while!

Over the next couple of days I will be completely redoing the design of the blog, so please bear with me.

(no content will be harmed during this process) ((I hope))

For all those who are still waiting for me to return their emails, I am working on that as quickly as I can. I promise to grovel for forgiveness in an appropriate manner soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"It's not a democracy if you die before you're old enough to vote"

Stockholm is a beautiful city.

And here was I, walking down the street with an intelligent, articulate, highly educated (and gorgeous) woman (she looked a lot like Ingrid Bergman did in Casablanca. Sadly, I look nothing like Bogart, but then again, I am almost as cool in spite of that) who I had been spending a great deal of time with, and who had taken it upon herself to make sure I experienced her city in a way that would do it justice.

We were discussing all manner of interesting things as we strolled arm in arm down Vasagatan toward the metro station after a truly wonderful summer's day on the town.

Summers in Stockholm are quite amazing, it is light out for something like twenty hours out of twenty four, the weather is usually quite balmy and no one wants to stay inside.

Stockholm is built on a series of islands, so the city is crisscrossed by canals, it's a bit like Venice, but without the bad smell. As a matter 0f fact it is both one of the most delightful, and one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in.

We were returning home from a day of wandering the city, exploring it on foot, by bus and ferry.

She had decided that morning that we had to visit the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, a rather unique place. The city had planned to build an underground parking lot near Parliament, but when they started digging, they discovered a section of the original city, houses, artifacts, streets, a longboat, part of the city wall and much, much more. Rather than doing what we do here when a builder finds an archaeological site (try to hide the fact, destroy the site before anyone knows about it, complain about how much money it's going to cost you to let people come in and preserve the artifacts, and pour concrete over it as soon as you can) the city did something interesting. They built an underground museum instead of a parking lot.

To get in, you went through a rather nondescript door in a little cul-de-sac, down a narrow flight of stairs, and into a HUGE underground chamber.

It was truly amazing, to walk streets that were laid in the thirteenth century, peering into the buildings, touching the stones. The fact that we were in a giant man made cave with lights strung like stars across the sealing gave it a dreamy, surreal quality.

After prowling about for a while, taking in the atmosphere of Medieval Stockholm, we decided to move on.

We cut through Parliament, which is nothing like going to the houses of congress here. It is just sort of open and people walk through. No guns, no secret service, no guards. It was even more surreal than the museum for an American used to US government paranoia about the intentions of its citizens.

Coming out this entrance, there were almost always street musicians, often from South America, playing native flutes, Charango and drum. We were on our way to one of my vary favorite parts of Stockholm, the Gamla Stan (Old Town) for lunch.

The Gamla Stan is a tourist attraction to be sure, but a rather nice one. It was in fact one of my favorite parts of the city. I love the narrow, cobblestone streets, the shops, outdoor cafes and buildings that have been standing since before America was a country.

After grabbing lunch, we headed over to Skansen.

Skansen is an outdoor museum, and it's huge. It includes a zoo, houses and other buildings from every part of Swedish history as well as other exhibits. I suspect you could spend a week there ans still not explore everything the place has to offer.

As you may have figured out by now, I have an enduring fascination with history, and since most of my mother's family came from Sweden, I found my trip to Skansen to be particularly engaging.

I loved tins little house from Sami land. It reminded me of something out of fairytale.

And this house looks very much like the one my Grandfather was born in, before his family upped and moved to the States.

There was also a zoo that had many of the indigenous Scandinavian animals, wolves, and wolverines, moose, reindeer, European bison, and this fellow,
The Swedish lynx. Don't think bobcat here, he was about sixty pounds, the size of a small cougar. I was impressed. I had not realized that the European lynx was a large as that, or that they had managed to survive as well as they had.

After a good day's wandering, we headed to the Hötorget (the hay square).

This is an indoor-outdoor market, sort of a farmer's market on steroids. I had promised my friend that I would cook her a real southwestern meal, and this was one of the few places I might be able to find the required ingredients. (chilies were not common in Sweden, nor are some of the other spices we take for granted here)

We managed to find everything I needed and we headed off to the metro station to catch the Blue Line home.

As we walked the conversation drifted to some of the differences between Sweden and the US.

"We are a social democracy" she said. "We understand that the government's job is to serve the collective needs of the people, the US seems to think that it is government's job to rule the people as if they were all slightly naughty children". I of course protested this characterization.

She pointed out that our government seems determined to use our tax money for thins that do not in fact serve the people who give the money, but rather to benefit those dubious, sociopathic pseudo-entities called corporations. (note: "sociopathic" is defined as behavior that is antisocial and lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience). She explained that "Social Democracy" means having a conscience as a people, and acting on it for the benefit of ALL citizens. She pointed out two major differences between our countries. The first was in education. She said (and she was a school teacher, so I suspect she knew what she was talking about) that the quality of education was uniform across the country. You would receive the same high quality education in a big city school and a rural one room school house. This was why Sweden had near universal literacy, and such a low crime rate according to her.

The other area wan health care. She said " We think that it is not really a democracy if you die before you are old enough to vote because you were denied necessary health care because of money". She pointed out that America's health system was a parasite that preyed on the citizens of my country taking more and more money and doing everything it could to not give value for what was taken.

She pointed out that Sweden had universal health care that was quite good, that Swedes , had one of the longest life expectancies in the world, and were in much better health in general than Americans. That was, she said because the people all had access to the same health care as part of the social contract of her country. She thought commercial health care was an insane proposition, much like commercial air for breathing. She said she didn't understand why we put up with people being denied health care in the States when spent more money for less value than any other industrialized nation.

About this time we arrived at Näckrosen station, which was just a couple blocks from where I was living.

The Stations for the Metro, especially the blue line, were quite lovely. they were all decorated with different themes, and often left with the walls "unfinished". Näckrosen means "water lily" and as you can see, the station was decorated with water lilies painted on the naked rock.

We had a very fine dinner (if I do say so myself) and a delightful evening, a fitting end to an adventurous day.

Over the years I never forgot our conversation on education and health care. She made some telling points. The proposition that commercial health care is somehow better than universal care that a whole nation provides for all its citizens if just a flat lie. I have experienced both, I know this for a fact.

I was reminded of this conversation when I ran across this video on YouTube.

Think about it. Does it really do us as a nation to not look out for each other, but rather trust corporations who have a "fiduciary responsibility" to maximize profits above all else?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Other Blogs

I haven't talked about the blogs I read for quite a while now.......

And of course all my many fives of fans must be on the edge of their seats by now wondering.

Seriously, there is some really good material out there, and if you like, you can see what I find interesting.

First, let me introduce you to

Miss Stick

This is the blog of Mariah Moore, an average thirteen year old West Michigan farm girl who just happens to have a thing for full contact stick fighting.

I have to admit, Mariah is one of my students, and the youngest person I have ever allowed to train with me (she started when she was twelve). When Steve Van Harn brought her to me for consideration I thought he was a bit cracked, but it turns out the kid is a prodigy when it comes to whacking people up-side the head with a stick.

She is one of only two people I have/am training in my "family" style of South Philippines martial art.

She is also a WEKAF world champion. Take a moment and give her a visit.

Ecce Mulier

This is one of the very first blogs I ever read, and after a few years now I am still reading it. It is written by a young artist/poet who goes by the name "Nietzsche's Wife". She reminds me a bit of Anaïs Nin, only completely different.

She is creative, often brilliant, occasionally caustic, thought provoking, challenging, and never dull.

I have occasionally thought that she was born out of time. She would have made a great companion to Kerouac, Fariña, Pynchon, Kesey, and the like, back when an artist has more value in the world.

Poking the Tiger

My Friend and training partner Steve Van Harn decided to make himself a blog. It is just now in its beginnings, but I expect great things.

Magic Apathy Ball

The site run by my friend Todd Erven. Again, it's a fairly new blog and one can tell he has come under some bad influences in his life (not enough, but we're trying). Todd is yet another Silat player, and though his teacher has addicted him to French speaking beer, he is a pretty good fellow.

Blog bloggy blog blog

And yet another new blog, also by a friend. I have known John for quite a while, though we just met in person less than a year ago. He is a thoughtful fellow, check him out.


I met Rory once through a mutual friend. He is the guy all these "self defense gurus" wish they were.

You know the ones I mean, coming up on the mean streets of Santa Monica or Scott's Bluff, got their training as a bouncer in a biker bar (while that sounds impressive, isn't really a good qualification. I've been a bouncer in a biker bar, it was a mostly pretty mellow gig, people came to drink and enjoy themselves, not beat each other over the head with bar stools). Beer gut hanging over their belts, telling us ad nauseum how bad they are.

Rory on the other hand is an understated, soft spoken fellow who has worked the really scary side of the street, dealing with people who are the worst nightmares of your worst nightmares.

He is an intelligent, thoughtful person and can comment quite lucidly on areas of the human condition that most of us have no understanding of.

The Heart of the Matter

My friend Terry introduced me to Barry Eisler's books, and I have been very happy he did.

Eisler writes about a half Japanese professional Assassin called John Rain.

While most of these sort of books are Right Wing monkey spank novels (I remember one of that type I read in an airport once, "The Warrior thrust again and again into the man beneath him. His victim's moans were music to his ears". This of course was talking about a knife fight, go figure)

Eisler is not that kind of writer. His characters have an inner life, they are complex and layered. The plots, while fiction, have at least a basis in reality, and he has done his research.

All in all, and interesting person, check him out.

The Guru’s Handbook

I have mentioned this blog before, but it bears repeating.

If you have anything to do with teaching on any level you will benefit from reading this.

Formosa Neijia

A friend just turned me onto this site, and it has loads of great information and useful material. If you are at all interested in "internal" martial arts or Qigung you will find much of use here. I particularly liked this post.

Visions of the World

This is the blog of my friend Sophia. It is a journal of her journey, and I have found it quite interesting over the months I have been reading it.

Gentle Creation

Lastly, let me point you to Liza, a rather sweet young lady from Malaysia who has an excellent eye with a camera. I have been enjoying her work for some time now.