Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be smart. Be brilliant.

Carl Ransom Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956.

Among the things Carl Rogers has said, are:

In a person who is open to experience each stimulus is freely relayed through the nervous system, without being distorted by any process of defensiveness.

In my early professionals years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?

When I look at the world I'm pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic.

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.
The ve1ry essence of the creative is its novelty, and hence we have no standard by which to judge it.
- Carl Rogers

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh what miserable, useless, ignorant bastards Muslim Terrorists are

hJournalist and "accidental theologist" Lesley Hazleton is the author of "After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split."

Lesley Hazelton in giving a TED lecture in 2010 had much to say on the Koran (or Qua'ran). If you find this interesting, or if you hate what she says as quoted below, go watch the video, as I'm sure you will be either more intrigued, or less spiteful toward her, depending upon your orientation.

A psychologist by training and Middle East reporter by experience, British-born Lesley Hazleton has spent the last ten years exploring the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion, past and present, intersect. Her most recent book, After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split, was a finalist for the 2010 PEN-USA nonfiction award.

She lived and worked in Jerusalem for thirteen years -- a city where politics and religion are at their most incendiary -- then moved to New York. She came to Seattle to get her pilot's license in 1992, saw the perfect houseboat, and stayed. By 1994, she'd flown away all of her savings, and has never regretted a single cent of it. Now her raft rides low in the water under the weight of research as she works on her next book, The First Muslim, a new look at the life of Muhammad.
"Very interesting perspective. Her talk has motivated me to read and learn more about the Koran and make up my own mind rather than get second hand information filled with hate."
Alan Klein, commenting at Informed Comment,

Here is part of what she had to say at TED:

"Or take the infamous verse about killing the unbelievers. Yes, it does say that, but in a very specific context: the anticipated conquest of the sanctuary city of Mecca where fighting was usually forbidden. And the permission comes hedged about with qualifiers. Not, you must kill unbelievers in Mecca, but you can, you are allowed to, but only after a grace period is over and only if there's no other pact in place and only if they try to stop you getting to the Kaaba, and only if they attack you first. And even then -- God is merciful, forgiveness is supreme -- and so, essentially, better if you don't. (Laughter) This was perhaps the biggest surprise -- how flexible the Koran is, at least in minds that are not fundamentally inflexible.

"Some of these verses are definite in meaning," it says, "and others are ambiguous. The perverse at heart will seek out the ambiguities trying to create discord by pinning down meanings of their own. Only God knows the true meaning." The phrase "God is subtle" appears again and again. And indeed, the whole of the Koran is far more subtle than most of us have been led to believe. As in, for instance, that little matter of virgins and paradise. Old-fashioned orientalism comes into play here. The word used four times is Houris, rendered as dark-eyed maidens with swelling breasts, or as fair, high-bosomed virgins. Yet all there is in the original Arabic is that one word: Houris. Not a swelling breast nor a high bosom in sight. (Laughter) Now this may be a way of saying pure beings -- like in angels -- or it may be like the Greek Kouros or Kórē, an eternal youth.

"But the truth is nobody really knows, and that's the point. Because the Koran is quite clear when it says that you'll be "a new creation in paradise" and that you will be "recreated in a form unknown to you," which seems to me a far more appealing prospect than a virgin. (Laughter) And that number 72 never appears. There are no 72 virgins in the Koran. That idea only came into being 300 years later, and most Islamic scholars see it as the equivalent of people with wings sitting on clouds and strumming harps. Paradise is quite the opposite. It's not virginity, it's fecundity, it's plenty, it's gardens watered by running streams."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bobby Flay - No, I'm not a fan

Do we stand on our cutting boards?
Flay on cutting board on Iron Chef (Japan)

Uh, no! We do NOT stand on our cutting boards. Especially, if we are a professional Chef, especially, if we are in another country, and ESPECIALLY, if we are on Iron Chef and very especially, if we win.
Talk about an ugly American in a foreign country. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Bobby Flay. I have not liked the man since.

I was just watching America's Next Great Restaurant and eating lunch. Adorable Stephenie's ‘Harvest Sol’ concept has gone the way of many other losers on the show.
Stephanie Park

Too bad, she had a good idea, she just didn't prepare. One should be reading constantly when a contestant on a show like that, learning as each day presents new opportunities. Her thinking that lamb are raised like veal, was a huge mistake. There is meaning well and then there is just ignorant. Anyway.... put it this way:

"But perhaps Bobby Flay's most famous role is that of Iron Chef on the wildly popular series Iron Chef America. When the original Iron Chef came to visit the United States for a special in 1997, Bobby Flay challenged legendary Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto to battle rock crab. After the hour-long battle, Flay climbed on the counter and onto his cutting board to declare victory, perhaps forgetting that in Japanese culture cutting boards and knives are sacred. A deeply offended Morimoto criticized Flay, who eventually went on to lose the battle. Flay eventually won a rematch and the two chefs are now friends."

And that, is why I can't stand the man. I was a big fan of Iron Chef. Not the ridiculous Americanization of the original Japanese show, but, well, the original Japanese show.
Another sad American, Japanese show knock off

The article quoted above says, "...perhaps forgetting that in Japanese culture cutting boards and knives are sacred." Really? You have to be told by ANYone that you don't stand on a cutting board? You don't already know that this is offensive to a Chef, a professional? Isn't it a bit like hammering on nails with an expensive, Chef's knife? Not just disrespectful but offensive and well, dumb.

From that day on, I realized something about the man's personality. That he was coarse, ignorant, with little class and hardly any understanding of another culture other than his own; an obviously ethnocentric New York type. And I mean that in the most offensive of ways. I love New York and actually feel offended to have to link the two but, well, there it is. I love all the good things about New York and to me, he is a conglomeration of mostly those bad elements, stereotypes and well, let's just say he's from over the river in Jersey City.

Okay, okay, I love Jersey too. Actually I was always standing up for Jersey (mostly Cape May and the countryside areas but Wildwood used to be nice too. Atlantic City isn't bad, for short periods of time and it did a lot of good for mobsters over the decades.
Ells, Flay, Garcia, Stone

Anyway, I tried watching "America's Next Great Restaurant" series. I'm going back to "Celebrity Apprentice". after all, Trump could be our next President (hey, it's possible). How many chances do you get to watch a president of the United States be a TV star before the election?
Chef Curtis Stone

As for ANGR (hmmm, angEr(?) I wonder if anyone noticed that when they made the show?), the other judges are fellow Chef Curtis Stone, some woman from Florida Lorena Garcia (or Cuba), and Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle. I've always liked Curtis, but Lorena and Steve? Seriously? These are your judges? You choose other judges according to the flavor of the show and the head judge. I guess they did well because I think Flay, Lorena and Steve-0 belong together on a show. I just think it's sad for Curtis. Then, I've heard a few stories about him too that make me wonder.

I'm always fair, even when I don't want to be, so that leads us to this quote here from iFood:

"Uh oh.  Yes indeed, I started with Food TV’s current #1 star.  And YES, Bobby Flay is an awesome chef.  I’ve had the pleasure of eating at a few of his restaurants, and I can say the food was worth every penny.  His rise to the top of the Food Network was no accident.  He worked hard, looked good, and brought a level of testosterone to the FN that even Rachael Ray couldn’t bring (zing!).  But have you seen this awful show?"

Whatever. Essentially, I have no desire to watch or have anything to do with anything Flay invests his time in. Unless it's fighting in the Congo bringing a knife to a gun fight, or donating a liver. Then, I might be all for him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Zilyon Publishing - you've entered Zombie Land

I love small press.

Big publishers are great, but if you've every tried to publish a book, good luck.With small press, you may not get the clout behind a large conglomerate publisher, but you certainly feel like you are a part of something and not just another number on another page somewhere. Remember small record companies? Some of them turned out some new artists who went on to be big time. Small press is a lot like that.
George Romero with Cal Miller in ZomBcon Seattle 2010

Cal Miller of Zilyon Publishing, has gotten their new web site up for the company. The following is the lead on his page when you go to it. It's flashy and fun horror filled. Zombies, monsters, you name it are available in the books on their site. You may remember that I'm in two of their books, "Rhonny Reaper's Creature Features Horror Anthology" as well as their "Undead Nation Anthology", both of which donate a part of the proceeds to noble causes; Diabetes and Cancer research programs.

The Very Latest Literary Offering From Zilyon Publishing!!! Rhonny Reaper’s Creature Features Horror Anthology!!! - By cal_in_space | Published April 25, 2011

"Welcome, boils and ghouls, to the first edition of Rhonny Reaper’s Creature Features! The stories within are unique and horrifying, with something sure to satisfy your taste for terror. Whether you like psychological thrillers, tales of revenge and justice, or just a good ole fashion zombie tale, this book is sure to have something for every horror fan to enjoy."

Cal is a big, happy guy who you would either want to have a micro brew with (do NOT tell him I said that), or should he ever appear in a zombie incarnation, you'd want to run like Hell from (THAT you can tell him I said). Cal has written among other books, the "Het Madden, A Zombie Perspective: Book One: WRATH 2012" book. This book is a lot of fun, a Horror Zombie story from the Zombie's perspective.
Even Zombie types like Het Madden

Here is Cal's own brief biography from the site:

Calvin A. L. Miller II Biography

I am a lifelong Horror/Zombie/SciFi nut who decided one day it was time to write a book even though I am much more a movie watcher than a book reader. I had no real plan, but I knew I didn’t want to simply write a different take on something that had been done a lot already. I also felt that a story from the zombie’s point of view needed to be told. I now love to write and I also have a web comic at to keep me busy.

So, you can get a feel for the guy from that. I stand by my contention that, he's definitely a guy you can hang with and have a few laughs. My kind of guy.

Well, I've mentioned just a few of their books. Check them out. Buy a book or two, you can't go wrong. The Anthologies help out some sick people who really need the help and you'll be a part of something very cool.

This is not a feeling you will get when you buy a book from one of the major Publishers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Vulnerability and Happiness

Does life suck? I know that for myself, it's not quite what I had expected or planned for. Life throws curve balls and one has to learn to "dance" in life, be prepared to alter your conceived destination, remember the good things in life and do not let failure or lack of achievement "damage your calm" to quote a famous Science Fiction character.

So, life CAN be good, even if life gives you lemons. Should you just make lemonade? Maybe, but maybe you will miss the forest for the trees if you do that, too?

Brene Brown is a very funny story teller. I mean, Researcher.

This is a surreptitiously seriously important talk. Her research showing that you cannot selectively numb vulnerability in our life. She indicates we are the most in debt, overweight, addicted, cohort in US history. If you need to numb yourself due to debt, or obesity, being fired, or firing someone, etc., you numb other areas, you lose your joy. "I'm so upset about work, I'm going to eat that muffin." "I'm so upset about my weight, I'm not going to do what my husband wanted."

To practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, is important. And understand that even though our job wants us to be more, our spouse demands more than we can give, we are enough as to who we are.

Check out the video from TED: Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability.

Along the same kind of consideration, we have Srikumar Rao. He contends that we have learned all our life, how to be unhappy. Why? Well, it doesn't really matter beyond the fact that the model we have grown to understand as what we should follow and how we should be, is flawed. We have to do something to be someone to get somewhere... but why? Yes, we should do something in life; we should set ourselves up for retirement; we should take care of our loved ones (but also those others, both who we know, or meet in life, and those we will never meet in life through charities, etc.).

Why do we invest in the outcome, rather than the process? Because if you work only on the process, completely invest in it, you will succeed, and if you don't, well you did your best. If you do the best you can, how can you fail? And if you do fail, then you couldn't have succeeded in the first place. But what is the difference between the two? One, if you succeed, using either method, you are good. But if you fail, investing in the outcome, you are unhappy; but investing in the process, you are happy either way because you KNOW you did your best.

This is something I learned when I was younger, because I seemed to fail a lot, academically. Karate, for me, and Asian Philosophies actually, taught me the process is more important. Why? Because, once I realized what I did was most important, and I competed only against myself, I tried harder, I invested more, and actually, I achieved my goal far more often. And life in general, was far better for me. I grew up thinking competition, because of all this, was bad. Perhaps not, as I competed with myself, but I seldom let myself down; although in competing against others, if I failed, I always felt let down if I failed.

What this way of going through life has done for me, was I had a great journey through life and I have achieved far more than I ever could have suspected, as a child, that I would be able to achieve. Basically, I have achieved nearly everything I ever decided that I wanted.

So, open yourself to life, allow your vulnerabilities a voice and focus on yourself, your process for achieving your goals. And see if life doesn't feel like it is constantly rewarding you far more than it ever had before.

Here are a couple of interesting articles from Srikumar Rao. the first one a video lecture from TED called: Plug into your hard-wired happiness . The second an article is on the Huffington Post on why positive thinking can be bad for you and why making lemonade when life hands you lemons, could be the wrong way to go.

Daniel Kahneman has an interesting supposition on happiness, that has to do with our way of remembering and the separation between the experience and the memory. Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness. Check out his TED video:
 The riddle of experience vs. memory

What all of this means, I think, is that we have to open ourselves to life, we have to pay attention to the right things, and we have to set ourselves up to remember the right things about what we have gone through and be aware of how this works. If we follow those few paradigms for life, our lives can be far more rewarding and happy for both ourselves and those around us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Spaceship Earth"?

Ever heard the Earth referred to as, "Spaceship Earth"?
Buckminster Fuller

It is not known for sure who coined the term "Spaceship Earth," but it was popularized by American inventor and environmentalist Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). The term implies that Earth, like a spaceship, is vulnerable and self-contained, and must be kept in good working condition. Fuller wrote that "we have not been seeing our Spaceship Earth as an integrally designed machine which to be persistently successful must be comprehended and serviced in total."

I first heard the phase from Donovan on his album, Essence to Essence. Side one had the song, "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" – 3:28 minutes.

Spaceship Earth is a world view term usually expressing concern over the use of limited resources available on Earth and the behavior of everyone on it to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good.
It may have been derived from a passage in Henry George's best known work, Progress and Poverty (1879). From book IV, chapter 2:

It is a well-provisioned ship, this on which we sail through space. If the bread and beef above decks seem to grow scarce, we but open a hatch and there is a new supply, of which before we never dreamed. And very great command over the services of others comes to those who as the hatches are opened are permitted to say, "This is mine!"

David Deutsch also speaks on this at TED.

I believe it is important to start (long passed this time actually) to look at the Earth, as a one country planet. Because, it is. We are a one country planet, with many factions trying hard to living independently and deluding themselves and one another, to think that this is indeed the case. It's not.

So, Wake Up., People!

Think of yourselves as living in fish bowl and where someone else, shits, someone else, eats, breathes, procreates and dies and that death has to do with waste, and the little death, which is our polluting our world, all of which is still in the fish bowl for others to (again), eat, breathe, etc.

Wake up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Brilliant in all things you do.

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." - Gustave Flaubert
"The greatest literary influence upon Kafka was Flaubert's. Flaubert who loathed pretty-pretty prose would have applauded Kafka's attitude towards his tool. Kafka liked to draw his terms from the language of law and science, giving them a kind of ironic precision, with no intrusion of the author's private sentiments; this was exactly Flaubert's method through which he achieved a singular poetic effect." - Vladimir Nabokov ("Lolita") as discussed in his famous lecture series.
"Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough." - Gustave Flaubert

Life must be a constant education; one must learn everything, from speaking to dying. - Gustave Flaubert
Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.
Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in.
Of all lies, art is the least untrue.

One arrives at style only with atrocious effort, with fanatical and devoted stubbornness.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Larry Lessig on Law Strangling Creativity

This, is one of the most important talks I've heard, that directly relates to our daily life and our kids. Because at the end he explains how we are making our kids and our artists in many cases, illegal in ways that make them understand life as living always somewhat outside the law. We can't stop creativity, we can only make it illegal.
Larry Lessig

If you don't want to listen to the whole talk, go to 9 mins in. It's pretty funny. However, after that first anime, if you are Chistian or don't find Jesus being utilized in any way other than serious, as objectionable, just don't go past the anime at 9 mins.

You should take a few minutes and watch the entire video, it's very informative and relevant. But for now, here is his summation:

"It is technology that has made them different, and as we see what this technology can do we need to recognize you can't kill the instinct the technology produces; we can only criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using it; we can only drive it underground. We can't make our kids passive again; we can only make them, quote, "pirates." And is that good? We live in this weird time, it's kind of age of prohibitions, where in many areas of our life, we live life constantly against the law. Ordinary people live life against the law, and that's what I -- we -- are doing to our kids. They live life knowing they live it against the law. That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting. And in a democracy we ought to be able to do better. "

Larry Lessig at TED talking on Law Strangling Creativity.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is religion child abuse?

"Is religion child abuse?", someone asked the other day.

No, I don't really think religion is intrinsically child abuse.


I definitely think it lends itself, by design, to allow it. And in some situations, to even demand it.

Abraham attempting to kill his son, Isaac.
Interesting how all protrayals of this show an Angel 
stopping Abraham, thus glossing over the fact that a crazy
old man was going to kill his son, for God. God used to be such a hoot.

You see, it is a philosophy for a way of life for those who are needful of such things and who are without a type of enlightenment that would not find it, unnecessary. And because of that, and considering there are never enough rules to cover all situations appropriately, it leads its followers into making incorrect actions at times and also, it supports paranormal  beliefs in such things as to hold people back from rational thought, to expect action or consideration from without oneself, rather than from within oneself.

Which is always an unsafe way to proceed. If you always only expect help from within and without external support, when no support is reasonable, available, or offered, there is nothing less to your considered action or plan.

If however you allow an external expectation, in the larger external considerations in life, you can theoretically, go further, do more, and exceed even your own limitations and expectations. The trouble there is if you come to depend upon it, or expect it to help you in some way. If you decide an action upon a consideration of external expectation, but not upon an expectation for external help, you can do the work of the extraordinary.

It is inherent in Human nature, to require a belief in something bigger than the self. Yet, to believe in more than only the self, is questionable at best and destructive at worst.


As soon as Humans were able to think rationally, it was only partially rational. We did not suddenly become aware and high functioning, that came with time, evolution, or at least, if you don't buy evolution, through development. The functional part became rational, for the things that were observable, were attainable. I see a fruit, I grab it, I eat it.

But those unobservable or unattainable things, then brought para-rational thought. It was needed and practiced. And thus was born the paranormal, the spiritual, and the non-corporeal, supernormal, thought.

From that could only come one thing, that there would have to be generally acceptable understandings among the group, of what these thoughts were. Rules would then have to be applied; un-agreed upon at first. Rules would have to be standardized, and that would have lead to self-importance and later, ritual. Which leads to generational acceptance and incorporation; assimilation to the core of the group.

Communicating to other groups would show disintegration in the common understanding and rigidity would have to be enforced. Enforcement would not work, so ultimate enforcement would then be needed and from that, the importance of the thoughts to be believed would be made more grandiose; by design and necessity.

This would be cyclical and lead to the harshest of punishments for disregarding the codified rules. All this would lead to a deepening of all elements involved in the original thought (the original sin); that being, that rational thought would be applied to irrational observations and imagined synthesis of misperceived observances.

This would lead to... religion. Because of what religion therefore is based upon, it would have to lead sooner or later to incorrectly applied actions, and since they are at least once removed, reactions. This would then have to lead to the ultimate punishments being meted out for the misperceived slights against the greatest and highest principle in the creation of this form of thought, that being, God or GodHead. Again we would run into the different groups, the different Gods, the different expectations, and two groups, adamantly opposed where the ultimate punishment would have to be brought to use. There is also in that, the fear of the unknown, the unknown group, the cohesiveness to the group against all others, the world, the fears from without.

Due to environment, totally autonomous religions would evolve and when two of these contact one another, it would be obvious that only bad could come of it, unless the religion were either based entirely or mostly in reality or rationality, or they were designed in such a way that they were extremely tolerant. But this form of development does not lend itself well to tolerance by initial and ungoverned design. Because these ways of thinking, are based in survival and that has to do with life or death, so these thoughts too, would have to lead to life or death.

So basically, any religion becomes a questionable pursuit as one has to, too far and too frequently, ignore the tenets of one's own religion, merely to make it functional or, to "please" one's GodHead, in order to follow the beliefs; yet also in order to be able to survive from day to day, and not be killed by outsiders finding you extremely annoying, or come to grow inured to your religious beliefs, thereby finding it necessary to pick and choose whatever you liked from the core belief, simply so you can live with it and yourself, with the core belief existing in a book, scroll or some other unalterable form or medium (which could be word of mouth down through the ages).

In the creation of some solid state reference (Bible, Quaran, etc.) you have then opened up another avenue for discontent and argument on context, meaning and requirements, that would lead to factions going off on tangents (Opus Dei, Muslim terrorists, etc.). In an attempt to make it rock solid and unarguable, you have put it down in a form that allows for interpretation according to linguistic variations, living language differences and twisting words to your own devices and ends.

All of which is why I liked Buddhism when I first leaned of it. This isn't an article on pushing Buddhism. I'm just saying it worked for me.

It too has many of the ritualistic elements. But I find to pick what makes the most sense from it and live life to live life with the Buddha Dharma as guide, works very well. Buddha having said, to paraphrase, "think". You are supposed to use your mind, know what is wrong, or right. The Tibetan Buddhists monks have, as part of their development, debate as an integral part of becoming Enlightened. Critical thought, is a major component. Sad that this has been warped in places by organized religious paradigms. But if you can stand aside and "see", you can see where these paths lead the wrong direction and avoid them.

And so, my long time contention that organized religion is intrinsically, bad. I would alter that now to say that for the masses, for the uneducated and ignorant, it can be helpful. Up to a point. But one needs to know when to shed off the childish and move on to an adult understanding of the Universe.

So, is religion child abuse? No, not intentionally. I don't think so. But it lends itself to the possibility. You've heard how power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Religion, is power. The ultimate power over Humans. Always has been. Those in charge have done great and horrible things. Imams have asked for Jihads, for murder. Catholic Priests have abused children as we know now; stories of babies buried beneath nunneries from Nuns impregnated by Priests in the middle ages are no longer hidden horrors. Yes, religion has done good. But does it outweigh the bad? Honestly? That will never be known.

Ritual, as in music, acting, sports, or anything, is there to get you up off the ground floor. But at some point, hopefully, you are above that. Even if you want to argue you still need ritual (push up, weight training, etc.) to maintain what you've achieved, you need to ramp that up to a higher understanding and level, to a more professional level possibly. But you don't keep doing the basics you did in grade school, if you want to make it to the Olympics. You'd have no chance of even getting picked for the team.

Think about it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4/20 Cannibis day of the year

Today is April 20th, better known as 4/20. People celebrate today in issues related to Cannabis (Marijuana, Pot, weed, hemp, whatever you like to call it).
Panorama of the 2010 420 cannabis event at University of Colorado at Boulder.
Some background from Wikipedia:

420, 4:20 or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) refers to consumption of cannabis and, by extension, a way to identify oneself with cannabis subculture. The notable day for these is April 20. (Not to be confused with J-Day, an international protest held on the first Saturday of May.)

April 20 (4/20 in U.S. date notation) has evolved into a counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States.

The term was allegedly coined by a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971. Calling themselves the Waldos, because "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school," the group first used the term in connection to a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Multiple failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword the teens used to mean pot-smoking in general.

High Times Creative Director Steven Hager was the first person to track down the Waldos and publish their account of the origins of the term. Hager wrote "Are You Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" (October 1998) in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. "I believe 420 is a ritualization of cannabis use that holds deep meaning for our subculture," wrote Hager. "It also points us in a direction for the responsible use of cannabis."

So, better late than never, here's an update from the Marijuana Policy Project:

Here’s a quick snapshot of MPP’s legislative accomplishments in just the past week — and how your donations actually change marijuana laws. Would you please donate today, so that we can maintain this legislative juggernaut?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Mayor Vincent Gray announced that he will issue final regulations to implement the local D.C. medical marijuana law. As a result, five establishments will soon start selling marijuana to patients within a couple miles of Capitol Hill.

MARYLAND — The Maryland Legislature is about to pass MPP’s bill to remove the threat of conviction for patients who prove in court that their marijuana use was medical in nature. Aides of Gov. Martin O’Malley have said publicly he would sign our bill.

VERMONT — The Vermont Senate passed MPP’s bill to authorize four dispensaries. The bill is highly likely to pass the House and be signed by Gov. Pete Shumlin, who MPP helped elect this past November.

COLORADO — We just drafted a ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado. Assuming we can raise the money that’s needed for the signature drive this year, we’ll place this initiative on the November 2012 ballot.

ARIZONA — The head of the state health department spoke at MPP’s training forums in Tucson and Phoenix for entrepreneurs who are thinking about opening medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona.

NEW JERSEY — The state health department announced the six organizations that will be growing and selling medical marijuana to patients in New Jersey.

MAINE — Eight dispensaries have received permits to sell marijuana to patients in Maine.
Because of MPP’s dues-paying members, we’re making progress and changing laws. The government spends more money waging the drug war in one hour than MPP spends on its entire agenda in a full year, so ...

WASHINGTON Earlier this week, the Washington House of Representatives passed SB 5073 – a bill that would require the Departments of Health and Agriculture to license medical marijuana dispensaries, producers, and processors. It came to light that the U.S. Attorneys for Eastern and Western Washington, Michael Ormsby and Jenny Durkan, told Governor Chris Gregoire the federal government could go after state-regulated providers if the bill becomes law. People are emailing Gov. Gregoire, asking her to stand up for Washingtonians by signing this bill despite the saber rattling of these rouge USAs.

The Obama administration has made it clear: the Justice Department should “not prosecute individuals who are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws." In accordance with this policy directive, the U.S. Attorneys in states with medical marijuana laws that clearly allow for regulated medical marijuana dispensaries – Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Arizona, and Washington, D.C. – have neither cracked down on dispensaries, nor have they threatened to do so. Why should Washington be any different? Gov. Gregoire should sign this bill into law and give Washington patients what they want and need – safe, reliable access to their medicine.    
Gov. Gregoire’s communities have called for regulation and control. Many are asking her to deliver by signing SB 5073.  
Rob Kampia signature (master)
Rob Kampia thumbnail (master)Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

Harry Dresden's Jim Butcher

I just posted a clip to "Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" to my facebook page. I watched the clip and noticed that the guy drives a Volkswagen.

He is a paranormal investigator of sorts, not searching for ghosts, but helping clients that are from the paranormal realm, werewolves, vampires, etc., etc. But something seemed familiar about him and seeing his car snapped my brain awake.

Jim Butcher created the character "Harry Dresden" in a story he wrote for a writing class. This grew into The Dresden Files book series and later a TV show.

Jim's teacher told it was good, continued on with it, got it published and from then on, has produced very entertaining works. The first novel, well, not so great, but it had that nugget of billiance that he has played out ever since. In the audio books, they are read by actor/musician, James Marsters, who is brilliant at doing the readings and has pretty much spoiled me for listening to any other reader's efforts. James also played a favorite character of mine on Torchwood, another short lived series. I can usually tell if I will like some TV show by how long it doesn't last in production. Joss Whedon's Firefly series comes to mind.

Jim has other novel series out there (Codex Alera series; and Darkest Hour, a Spider-Man novel; oookay....), which I haven't read and don't really care about, although, I probably would like them and will eventually most likely get to them (not real sure about the Spidey novel though).

Jim's wife, Shannon, also has a series of books out, but I haven't read those either.

"The Dresden Files" was also a short lived, single season on TV some years ago and I enjoyed them, but they weren't as good at the books. Their one great offer was the guy in the skull, Bob, a fictional character in the book series, which is portrayed brilliantly in my opinion, by actor, Terrence Mann.
 Terrance Mann
Jim as a FAQ. Paul Blackthorn as Dresden was also very good.
 (From left to right) 
Paul Blackthorne, Valerie Cruz, Terrence Mann,
Conrad Coates: the main cast of The Dresden Files

"In the world of The Dresden Files, magic is real, along with vampires, demons, spirits, faeries, werewolves, and other mythical monsters. Harry Dresden works to protect the general public, who are ignorant of magic and the dark forces conspiring against them. This makes it difficult for Harry to get by as a working wizard and private eye. The Chicago PD's Special Investigation unit, when led by Karrin Murphy, regularly employs Dresden as a consultant to help solve cases of a supernatural nature." - Wikipedia

It's not just the character, or the plot that makes this series interesting, it's also the Universe Jim has created, Harry's offset humor is also a big part of it. Something about this ongoing story (there's currently fourteen books), has captured my attention, and that's not that easy to do.

I can only say, check it out and make up your own mind. But I have always thought it was one of the sadly best kept secrets around.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Diane J. Savino: The case for same-sex marriage

I find this so distasteful. that people will worry so much about what their neighbors are doing, that they take it to court, they fight in congress over it, that I worry for the future of our country. I've grown up hearing all this nonsense, all my life: "if blacks get the vote, they'll take over the country, then what will happen?" Okay, well, blacks had already had the vote. But you could plug any agenda item into that and any ethnicity. And same sex marriage is just one more. Fear, ignorance, selfishness (I have, so you can't), it's just the same old bigotry all over again. But we call it based in religion and everyone has to kowtow and back away.

If you want marriage to be a man and a woman, fine, marry an opposite sex partner. I did. In fact, I liked it so many times, I didn't it three and a half times, in my life. But if your neighbor wants to marry someone of the same gender, just how is that your business? 

This is, or used to be, America. We have the right to pursuit of happiness. Remember that concept? It's in the Declaration of Independence. This isn't the Constitution, I'll grant you, but it is the statement, the declaration of what the heart of this nation is meant to be. Or, do you think the Founding Father's should simply be ignored because our country's principles don't add up to what makes you feel comfortable. We were based upon the concept that people that made other governments uncomfortable, would be allowed to live here in freedom and with a lack of persecution. So deal with it. Show some tolerance, or move back to a Middle Eastern Fundamentalist Terrorist country. It's part of what bothers me about the Cradle of Civilization desert religions (Jewish, Catholic/Christian, Islam), religions that in practice, seem to be too intolerant to be allowed to continue in a modern world.
The pursuit of happiness is not supposed to be at the pain of others, but for you to mind your own damn business and seek YOUR bliss. This has nothing to do with stopping someone else from seeking THEIR bliss in life. And if YOUR bliss, is seeking to take someone else's bliss away, then you need a new hobby, mate.

Hours before New York lawmakers rejected a key marriage equality bill (38-24), State Senator Diane J. Savino made the passionate case for a government that recognizes and administers same-sex marriages. Here's her fresh, thought-provoking perspective on one of the most contentious issues in US culture, religion and government.

Diane Savino represents the 23rd Senate District in the New York State Senate.
This week's NPR article:

Republicans Mount Defense Of Anti-Gay Marriage Law

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Killing - new AMC show set in Seattle

The Killing, is a new procedural by AMC and set in Seattle.That is to say in this case, another cop show. But I think, perhaps, not just "another", cop show.

I'm finding it very engrossing, well acted and directed and I want to see more. In the pilot, about half way through that episode, it had one of the toughest, most difficult "reveal" scenes I've seen.

I'm always pleased to find shows or movies set in Seattle. The Killing is such a show. Two things really annoy me about this show. One, I never heard of or about it. I accidentally stumbled upon it crusing through the upcoming menu of shows over the weekend. Second, it was shot mostly in Vancouver, British Columbia.

It is from writer, executive producer and series showrunner Veena Sud (Cold Case), The Killing is based on the wildly successful Danish television series Forbrydelsen and tells the story of the murder of a young girl in Seattle and the subsequent police investigation. Season one will consist of thirteen one-hour episodes and airs Sundays at 10PM | 9C. For a full list of The Killing broadcast times, Check out AMC's online schedule.

The murder victim is Rosie, played briefly by the beautiful Katie Findlay, who has also played Ellie on Stargate Universe and Jill on Fringe, two of my other favorite shows. She has a very short play in this series, so to give her a bit of sparkle here, she is Portuguese, Chinese, British and Scottish and was a ballerina for twelve years until she quit due to a back injury and for the opportunity to have "real people feet".

In some ways it's appropriate that this is originally a Danish show. Seattle has a high population of Scandinavians, not just Asians like many think.

The Killing is produced by Fox Television Studios and executive produced by Mikkel Bondesen (Burn Notice) for Fuse Entertainment. Fuse's Kristen Campo co-produces. That, is the good news. The bad news, is that it is filmed in Vancouver, B.C.. Another example of Seattle screwing up and letting yet another show claim it's based in Seattle but being shot in another country entirely.

Vancouver is a kind of sister city to Seattle, but more like that more gregarious sister that gets all the dates and gifts, leaving the misunderstood and just as attractive sister at home all the time. Considering all the films and shows that like Seattle now a days, Seattle really should get its act together so it's viable enough. I can't tell you how offensive it is to watch a show and not recognize scenes, or see them and recognize Vancouver.

In watching the show as I write this, I just saw an establishing shot of Seattle that was obviously the longer skyline of Vancouver. Not that anyone else would notice who never visited Seattle. They do intersperse some establishing shots of actual Seattle and some scenes that do look to have been actually shot in Seattle.

Mireille Enos is Sarah Linden, a Seattle homicide detective investigating the murder of Rosie Larsen. It's interesting and not odd for Scandinavian names in Seattle. Billy Campbell is Darren Richmond, the president of the Seattle City Council who is running for Mayor. Joel Kinnaman is Stephen Holder, Sarah's partner, recently assigned to Homicide from Narcotics, who seems like it, treating everyone he questions like they are something slimy who crawled out from under a rock.

What I can say is that so far, I like the show and I'm happy to give it a chance. Many great procedurals, crime and thrillers have come out of Scandinavia, not least of which are the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series of books and films. And a long history of excellent dramas and thrillers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart. Be Brilliant.

Although Albert Einstein was certainly not a Buddhist, these statements sound much like it:
"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest
- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

From Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh:
"Enlightenment for a wave in the ocean is the moment the wave realizes that it is water."
View on Buddhism
 Samuel Clemens
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy

I used to have a sign hanging in my cubicle when I worked at the University of Washington Personnel Office. It said (if I can remember this correctly, it was back in the early 90s): "Sometimes, Apathy, can be a good and healthy thing." My lead came up to me one day, after about a year, and said, "I always thought that was a stupid sign, but now I see, it actually makes a lot of sense and can be a life saver."

That is not to say, it's always a good and healthy thing. But there are times when you need to ride the Train of Apathy, to save your own sanity. But that is a temporary thing. To live a life that way, is untenable and ridiculous. It's not acceptable. If you find you are living on that train, look around, do you have a berth on that train, does it feel, lived in, are you starting to feel, comfortable on it? Apathy is a good an necessary thing, like, an aspirin, like a cold compress, or a heat pad. It is not a philosophy for a way of life.

Dave Meslin, in his talk (see the video), talks about how people seem much of the time to be stupid, lazy, but it's not true. It's not the people, it's our lifestyle, it's the train we are in and surrounded by. If we think of people in that way, we are only fueling that train. But once we stop, we take people for the positive forces for change that they can be, once we see their intelligence, their desire for good, suddenly, that train turns into something else.

Think about it. Treat a kid like he's stupid. Raise him that way. Now go back, treat that kid like he's brilliant, raise him THAT way. What do you think you will get in the end? Well, for me, I'm kind of backward. I was treated like, told that, I was stupid, because I talked about Aristotelian ideas when I was in 6th grade and no one around me knew about those kinds of thoughts. I was the first in my family to get a University degree. Butt I didn't know I was "smart" until I was told that by a Professor. I kind of thought it when I was younger but didn't really believe it until I started going to the head of my classes, having done not so well in K-12 (mostly because of authority issues).

However, if we try to look at people around us as smarter than they appear, as more interested if they can hurdle the issues holding them back, then things start to take a much lighter shade of production. People need to know they can affect change. Dave, in his video gives some very concrete examples of this.

Check it out!
Dave Meslin's video at TED on The Antidote to Apathy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The future of space travel

Here are two important talks from TED, from 2006 and 2007, on Space Travel. We have many problems here on Earth. But we need to push out into space for so many reasons.

The only people who do not see that as an a priori truth are those who are short sighted and narrow minded. It is much like the person who is going to die if they do not jump into the river to swim away from the sinking boat. They can do the safe thing, stick with the boat, and drown, or they can risk swimming for the shore, which they can see from their position, and save them self.  We are drowning. We need to take the risk. We can see the shore. And we do need to, and we can, achieve the shore of salvation.
Bill Rutan, from 2006 at TED: 

"I want to start off by saying, Houston, we have a problem. We're entering a second generation of no progress in terms of human flight in space. In fact, we've regressed. We stand a very big chance of losing our ability to inspire our youth to go out and continue this very important thing that we as a species have always done. And that is, instinctively we've gone out and climbed over difficult places, went to more hostile places, and found out later, maybe to our surprise, that that's the reason we survived. And I feel very strongly that it's not good enough for us to have generations of kids that think that it's OK to look forward to a better version of a cell phone with a video in it. They need to look forward to exploration, they need to look forward to colonization, they need to look forward to breakthroughs. They need to. We need to inspire them, because they need to lead us and help us survive in the future"

"I'm predicting, though, as profitable as this industry is going to be -- and it certainly is profitable when you fly people at 200,000 dollars on something that you can actually operate at a 10th of that cost, or less -- this is going to be very profitable. I predict, also, that the investment that will flow into this will be somewhere around half of what the U.S. taxpayer spends for NASA's manned spacecraft work. And every dollar that flows into that will be spent more efficiently by factor of 10 to 15. And what that means is before we know it, the progress in human space flight, with no taxpayer dollars, will be at a level of about five times as much as the current NASA budgets for human space flight. And that is because it's us. It's private industry. You should never depend on the government to do this sort of stuff -- and we've done it for a long time. The NACA, before NASA, never developed an airliner and never ran an airline. But NASA is developing the space liner, always has, and runs the only space line, OK. And we've shied away from it because we're afraid of it. But starting back in June of 2004, when I showed that a little group out there actually can do it, can get a start with it, everything changed after that time."
Bill Stone, from 2007 at TED:

So, what if you could get your gas at a 10th the price? There is a place where you can. In fact, you can get it better -- you can get it at 14 times lower if you can find propellant on the moon. There is a little-known mission that was launched by the Pentagon 13 years ago now, called Clementine. And the most amazing thing that came out of that mission was a strong hydrogen signature at Shackleton crater on the south pole of the moon. That signal was so strong, it could only have been produced by 10 trillion tons of water buried in the sediment, collected over millions and billions of years by the impact of asteroids and comet material.

If we're going to get that, and make that gas station possible, we have to figure out ways to move large volumes of payload through space. We can't do that right now. The way you normally build a system right now is you have a tube stack that has to be launched from the ground, and resist all kinds of aerodynamic forces. We have to beat that. We can do it because in space there are no aerodynamics. We can go and use inflatable systems for almost everything. This is an idea that, again, came out of Livermore back in 1989, with Dr. Lowell Wood's group. And we can extend that now to just about everything. Bob Bigelow currently has a test article in the orbit. We can go much further. We can build space tugs, orbiting platforms for holding cryogens and water. There's another thing. When you're coming back from the moon, you have to deal with orbital mechanics. It says you're moving 10,000 feet per second faster than you really want to be to get back to your gas station.

You got two choices. You can burn rocket fuel to get there, or you can do something really incredible. You can dive into the stratosphere, and precisely dissipate that velocity, and come back out to the space station. It has never been done. It's risky and it's going to be one hell of a ride -- better than Disney. The traditional approach to space exploration has been that you carry all the fuel you need to get everybody back in case of an emergency. If you try to do that for the moon, you're going to burn a billion dollars in fuel alone sending a crew out there. But if you send a mining team there, without the return propellant, first -- (Laughter) Did any of you guys hear the story of Cortez? This is not like that. I'm much more like Scotty. I like this equipment, you know, and I really value it so we're not going to burn the gear. But, if you were truly bold you could get it there, manufacture it, and it would be the most dramatic demonstration that you could do something worthwhile off this planet that has ever been done. There's a myth that you can't do anything in space for less than a trillion dollars and 20 years. That's not true. In seven years, we could pull off an industrial mission to Shackleton, and demonstrate that you could provide commercial reality out of this in low-earth orbit.

We're living in one of the most exciting times in history. We're at a magical confluence where private wealth and imagination are driving the demand for access to space. The orbital refueling stations I've just described could create an entirely new industry and provide the final key for opening space to the general exploration. To bust the paradigm, a radically different approach is needed. We can do it by jump-starting with an industrial Lewis and Clark expedition to Shackleton crater, to mine the moon for resources, and demonstrate they can form the basis for a profitable business on orbit.

Talk about space always seems to be hung on ambiguities of purpose and timing. I would like to close here by putting a stake in the sand at TED. I intend to lead that expedition. (Applause) It can be done in seven years with the right backing. Those who join me in making it happen will become a part of history and join other bold individuals from time past who, had they been here today, would have heartily approved.

There was once a time when people did bold things to open the frontier. We have collectively forgotten that lesson. Now we're at a time when boldness is required to move forward. 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton wrote these words, I intend to plant an industrial flag on the moon and complete the final piece that will open the space frontier, in our time, for all of us. Thank you. (Applause)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scottish Percussionist Evelyn Glennie

Meet Scottish composer and percussionist, the lovely, Evelyn Glennie (photos on Drummerworld). Wow, what a package. She is an amazing percussionist. I first heard her talk on TED. You can't tell she's is deaf by listening to her, either her words, or her speech.

The things she has to say are amazing, but they make so much sense once you hear what she has to say. Evelyn lost nearly all of her hearing by age twelve. Rather than having her deafness isolate her, it has given her a unique connection to her music and the world around her. She sought out the Royal Academy of Music in London. And got turned down. But, she turned the table on them and in the end, they did take her on. And her being there, changed how the institution related to and accepted or denied, students from then on. She is also the only musician in history to have made an entire career as a percussionist. 

Her diversity of collaborations have included performances artists such as Nana Vasconcelos, Kodo, Bela Fleck, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Emmanuel Ax, Kings Singers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Fred Frith.

From her web site:

"Evelyn has commissioned one hundred and fifty new works for solo percussion from many of the world's most eminent composers and also composes and records music for film and television. Her first high quality drama produced a score so original she was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards (BAFTA's); the UK equivalent of the Oscars. 

"Out of the 25 recordings made so far, Evelyn's first CD, Bartok's Sonata for two Pianos and Percussion won her a Grammy in 1988. A further two Grammy nominations followed, one of which she won for a collaboration with Bela Fleck. Evelyn's twelfth solo CD, Shadow Behind the Iron Sun (BMG Records), was based on a radical improvisational concept and has once again questioned people's expectations. 

"The Evelyn Glennie brand is constantly exploring other areas of creativity. From writing a best selling autobiography, Good Vibrations, to collaborating with the renowned film director Thomas Riedelsheimer on a film called Touch the Sound, to presenting two series of her own television programmes (Soundbites) for the BBC, to regularly appearing on television across the world, which include The David Letterman Show (USA), Sesame Street (USA), The South Bank Show (UK), presenting and performing on Songs of Praise (UK), Commonwealth Games Festival Concert, This is Your Life (UK), 60 minutes (USA), PBS Profile (USA) and many more."

This woman is a force to be reckoned with. I highly recommend you check her and her music out. These are truly the types of people we need more of in this world. 

For more, visit A Conversation with Bruce Duffie.
Evelyn on Sesame Street.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Pusher - Steppenwolf

Don't run off. this isn't about guns. It's about music; more so, it's about learning, responsibility, growing up.

When I was a kid, my older brother, seven years older, decided he couldn't take it any longer and he headed out into these great United States, thus leaving my slightly older sister and myself at home to finish being kids. He left a few things with me. A .303 British bolt action rifle that the Brits used to kill elephants and WWII enemy soldiers with. A .20 gauge breaking, single-shot shotgun. And his entire record collection. This, was a bonus.

sort of like the old shotgun, though this one's nicer

It's interesting to note, that here I was living in the suburbs of Tacoma, WA, in the late 1960s, and I had my own firearms. I never misused them either. Well, once, well, not really. My sister was home from training to be a Flight Attendant for Northwest Orient Airlines and her ex jerk boyfriend got drunk and drove back and forth in front of our house repeatedly one night. I didn't think much of it until I heard her weeping in the foldaway bed downstairs (my little brother and I shared a bedroom and when she moved out, he took her room).

I looked out the window and watched the jerk drive back and forth, fishtailing his semi muscle car. One one pass, he fish tailed his tires spinning, so badly, that he lost control and almost totaled his car into my step-dad's truck. That did it, and I took down the shotgun, loaded it and put it out my second floor window, and waited for him to make one more run. I judged that between my height and our house was about six feet up a hill from the sidewalk, and the distance to the street, and the shotgun was only a 20 gauge, I would probably only blow out a window on his car. He seemed so drunk I figured he'd just drive off and go hide (being drunk while driving).

Well, he must have scared himself so badly that he never did make another pass. I emptied and put the gun away. Eventually, my sister stopped crying and fell asleep.

I never told anyone. But enough of that. The coolest thing I had of my brother's, was his record collection. Here I was a punk kid, and I was listening to the likes of John Mayall, Music from Big Pink by The Band, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Cream, Steppenwolf, Sandy Bull, Paul Butterfield, Iron Butterfly, Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles (I actually got to see them with my sister when they came to Seattle), The Rolling Stones (didn't like live albums back then, was into the perfection of studio work), and on and on.

I already had my own very interesting collection including electronic and synthesizer music by the likes of Walter Carlos and Morton Subotnick, Ian Whitcom (my first album that I traded a found High School graduation right for, to my brother's singer in his band), a bunch of classical records, Canada's favorite son, pianist , and many others.

I came to learn about music through my brother's albums as they were his, he had started his own rock band and he must therefore know what he was doing. So I tried to learn from his music. And I did. One of those albums, Steppenwolf's self titled album. Amazingly enough, "The Pusher" was a rock song written by country singer/writer, Hoyt Axton. Axton apparently did not record "The Pusher" himself until he included it on his 1971 album, Joy to the World.

The song was made popular by the 1969 movie Easy Rider which used Steppenwolf's version to accompany the opening scenes of drug trafficking. I actually got to see John Kay, the lead singer of Steppenwolf at the Coliseum in Seattle when he toured solo in the 70s.

I can remember sitting and listening to that song over and over again. Typically, under the influence of something, and as a senior in High School. There were a couple of statements in the song that stuck with me throughout that part of my life and I'm sure, kept me alive in certain situations.

The lines:
"But I never touched nothin'
That my spirit could kill"

I took that to mean (for whatever reason) that one should never do anything that your spirit, your inner power or self, couldn't win out over in the end. Be it drugs, alcohol, sky diving, racing, all things I was going to do in that future from when I was first learning that song.

The other part of the album that stuck with me was the differentiation between a pusher and a dealer. A dealer sells you what you want. A pusher sells you whatever he can push on you, force you to buy, or hook you into repeat business for. This wasn't only about drugs but about a general orientation toward people. That kept me away from people that I knew were shady, dangerous or out only for themselves.

"God damn, God damn, the Pusher man....!"

And I'm still here to talk about it.


You know I've smoked a lot of grass
O' Lord, I've popped a lot of pills
But I never touched nothin'
That my spirit could kill
You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don't care
Ah, if you live or if you die

God damn, The Pusher
God damn, I say The Pusher
I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he's not a natural man
The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams
Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he'll leave your, he'll leave your mind to scream

God damn, The Pusher
God damn, God damn the Pusher
I said God damn, God, God damn The Pusher man

Well, now if I were the president of this land
You know, I'd declare total war on The Pusher man
I'd cut him if he stands, and I'd shoot him if he'd run
Yes I'd kill him with my Bible and my razor and my gun

God damn The Pusher
Gad damn The Pusher
I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man