Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God gave man seed, but woman, well....

I was just watching "Female Perversions" with Tilda Swinton from 1995. A powerful movie.

But something happened in it at the end. A girl was burying something. She had only been having her period for a few months. Tilda's character asked her, in the middle of the desert, what she was doing. And the girl answered, "I'm burying my babies." Tilda said, "What babies?" And the girl responded that every month now for four month, she has her period and a baby comes out. Under the four stones in front of her, were buried those four babies.

That got me to thinking.

In the bible it has this to say:

"But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother's wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also." Genesis 38:9-10

So, God killed a guy for simply spilling semen on the ground and not putting it inside a woman where it is moist, warm and confined. Apparently any woman works as long as it doesn't get spread around, dried and chilled. Okay, whatever.

But what about women? Personally I think women got a bad rap. After all, it's men's fault they can't control their urges, or refuse to, depending upon your orientation. Then again, we are all designed how we are. Anyway, why does it not say anywhere, that a woman's "seed" is important. Men generate and spill billions of their seed in a lifetime, but women, only one a month and they enter adulthood with all the eggs they will ever carry. Which any logic would easily point out makes the eggs more important as there are less and they all exist before the woman would even begin to procreate.

The man however, has nearly unlimited amounts of sperm and generate them all the time, leading one to surmise that they are far less either important, or certainly and unarguably, less valuable. Of course, you could argue that as egg or sperm can create life, they are all important but I would disagree, holding that a woman's egg is simply more valuable. Considering that these religions are created by men, you'd think they would have said that men can splash them all about but women have to take all the care and anxiety (which historically speaking, they seem to have done anyway).

So, how come this is never mentioned in the Holy Bible? How come God, didn't seem to know about this. Seems like a lot to swallow and odd considering who he created people and the format in which they are created, carried, inseminated and birthed from. Don't you think?

It almost seems obvious, doesn't it, that religions were created ad hoc, and over time. Because if someone had actually gotten together a commission to study and formulate this plan, it would simply have to come out more cohesive. But then, don't get me started on the council of Nicea again.

I just find it confusing where a book, a "word", a religion, handed down to Human kind, okay, let's face it, back then? The "Word" was handed down to Man. But it seems that Man's ignorance aside, wouldn't the "Word" make more sense and that in time, hundreds or thousands of years later, it would begin to make more sense as time goes on; rather what we have here is a "Word" that makes less sense as time goes on? Perplexing, right?

No. Not at all. It seems pretty clear what is going on.

But I diverge. I just couldn't understand why women don't get the same consideration as men in the bible, when after all, they have the more important and precious commodity: The Egg.

The joke is on us guys though. I don't know what the guys that set this up in the beginning were thinking and surely, back then they had a very different set of criteria than now worldwide and in the modern world. So now, this whole thing just seems screwed up (excuse the pun). Those guys who started the ball rolling on all this were ignoring women and making themselves the center of attention (guys doing that? No way!), so that now, women are the center of attention (but really, wasn't it ALWAYS that way?).

But don't worry ladies, I got your back. I mean someone has to. Right? Not that you need it, or can't handle it yourself, or anything like that, but, well, isn't it just good to know that someone else is out there wasting the energy to think about stuff like this?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30th, my Birthday Blog

Hi there! Welcome, today is my birthday!

So this is my blog for today (yeah, like that isn't always the case, right?). Shut up! Didn't I just say it's my birthday?

I'm writing this last Friday, because I'm getting on my motorcycle and riding about 200 miles to stay a couple of days in another state, hang out, have a few drinks in Portland, Oregon, hit some local color, and visit my son who moved their earlier this year.

Did you know that Portland was named by the flip of a coin by its two original settlers, Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove? Lovejoy wanted to name the new settlement after his hometown of Boston; Pettygrove wanted to name it after his hometown of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove won the coin toss, best two out of three.

I watched a show called Drinking Made Easy recently. They went to some interesting bars in Portland and I want to check them out and imbibe in their special house concoctions.

Did you know... "the phrase "Beervana" was coined in Oregon in the 1980s to describe the burgeoning craft beer movement that had taken hold. It's an apt description, as those who are actively involved in the beer community think of it a near-religious experience to make and enjoy well-made brew. Boasting several beer-y nicknames, like “Brewtopia” and “Beer Town”, Portland is home to more than 30 microbreweries; more (per capita) than any other city in the US, greater than one-third of the state total and more than any city in the world.On the last weekend in July of every year, the Waterfront Park in Portland plays host to the Oregon Brewers Festival, one of the nation’s longest running craft beer festivals. More than 80 craft breweries from across the US offer handcrafted brews to tens of thousands of beer lovers over the four-day festival. The 24th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival took place from July 28 – 31, 2011."

 I was there last year for it, my team were taking a boat ride for a team building event, which was a blast by the way, and the brew festival was going on, but we couldn't attend. Several of us were frustrated about that one.

So while I'm in Portland, I want to check out some of the places they went to on the show. Like: Huber’s Café for their Spanish Coffee. Then the pan American Bistro, Mint/820 at 816 North Russell, in the Elliot Neighborhood. For sure I want to check out the Shanghai Tunnel and their Holy Basil drink. I love basil. Our local Thai restaurant has a crispy chicken basil that is yes, to die for. SakeOne | 820 Elm Street, Forest Grove, I'm a JapanFan as I started Martial Arts as a kid and have been into Asian Philosophy ever since. New Deal Vodka from the distillery of the same name. McMenamin’s Kennedy Elementary School is housed in a building that has been a fixture of Northeast Portland since 1915. Boasting a restaurant, multiple bars, a movie theater, pool and 35 guestrooms, this hotel is also a brewery. Sounds interesting. I have all of Saturday once I arrive to visit, maybe some Sunday and perhaps some on Monday. But I have to ride the bike back 200 miles so... bright eyed and bushy tail is the order of the day... mostly.

My daughter has also indicated a few interesting place to hit (NE Portland area). I was going to stay at an expensive hotel downtown but instead went for a place nearer to where my son lives and that has a parking lot. The downtown places have valet parking but I'm not sure what the $30 a night for parking gets me when I pull up on a motorcycle.

Back to the original topic... having a birthday in my family as a kid was exceptional and made up for some of the not so great times we had to go through. When I was a kid, you were King (or for my sister or mother, Queen) for a day. We used to watch that TV show, Queen for a Day an American radio and television game show that helped to usher in American listeners' and viewers' fascination with big-prize giveaway shows when it originated on radio (1945–1957), before moving to television (1956–1964). They would pick one woman out of the audience and make her very happy. I used to watch this with my mother when I was very young. It was exciting. I think she got the idea from there. So traditionally on our birthdays, we didn't have to do any chores, everyone waited on you (within reason). It was excellent.

So I have done this with my own family (and here's where I take a turn for the weird). Which was problematic because my (most immediate) ex-wife, didn't seem to like birthdays. I don't know why. Other than, I don't like attention being drawn to myself very much, but the one time I let myself go (and it takes effort) is on my birthday, because I was lucky enough to be raised that way, ya know?

I do know she hated my son (not to worry, the feeling was mutual with him, but only since he was five, and like the first time he met her, but mostly because she wasn't his own mom) and she didn't like him having a birthday. I remember once, a lady friend of hers said about my son, when he was younger, "He's such a good looking kid." She responded, "I just don't see it." And her friend looked at her kind of weird and said, "You're kidding, right?"

So he grew up thinking he never had a birthday party. But I have photos of him having them, with big smiles on his face, so it was more a feeling than a reality. Our daughter had good birthdays.

I do know that while we were married, the first guy she ever kissed, a cohort and friend of her family, got married. I know that because shortly after we were married, we went to his wedding. She was open and honest about who he was, but also that her mom saw him as a kind of second son. He was a nice guy, I liked him. At the reception, she went to give him a congratulations kiss and it bothered her that he kissed her right on the mouth. Well, she was that type that if you got the chance, you just wanted to go for it, so it's hard to hold it against him, but then, his wife was pretty attractive too.

But then, after a few years of an alcohol riddled, rocky marriage to what must have been a bit of a shrew, he told her one night that he was going to drive to the local High School (where they had all three graduated) and blow his brains out. She let him go (they were both drunk and having a big argument) and so he did indeed, blow his brains out in his truck in the school parking lot at 2AM.

That was two weeks before her birthday but the memorial was on her birthday. So every year after that, about two weeks before her birthday, she would go into a depression, then it was a month before. She wouldn't allow me to mention her birthday for several years after that. Then one year, with the help of her girlfriend, I broke that sad tradition for her and she got better after that. After all, we should enjoy celebrating our birthday, our being alive.

After we divorced back in 2002, I was able to raise the kids how I liked. I had my son full time, our daughter every other weekend and whenever I could. And once again birthdays became something very cool.

For my son's 18th birthday, I threw him a big party, invited friends, had a friend and neighbor do the BBQing as he is a great cook and brewmaster, made him the center of attraction and it was so great to see him enjoying himself. He deserved it. He wanted no drinking because of growing up around his mother who he thought drank way too much. Yes, it seems, I can pick them.

So our two friends who were grilling, hid their beers by the grill and my son had the best time of his life. I had also sent out to everyone, especially those who could not attend, a form to fill out. It asked for them to offer him an experience they shared with him at some point in their lives together. I also asked them to write him some advice for the future. I compiled these two documents and gave them to him in folders as a gift, in front of everyone. It was a turning point for him, a passage and rite to adulthood.

He is now working as a video game tester and loving it. He has a very nice and talented girlfriend who is not insane. He taught himself to play piano and plays the grand piano at work in the lounge area. He's finally entered life.

For my daughter, now 19, to my surprise, she wanted no such 18th birthday party or extravagance. She had great parties here on here 13th and 16th, however. Now she is off to Europe for travels and adventures in a few weeks with her well beloved backpack. She is also musically talented. They are both very artistic types.

So this year, for my birthday, after a hellacious summer at work and falling behind on a couple of screenplays, I decided I needed to get relaxed and happily exhausted (whatever that will mean). So tomorrow I'm riding down south for a few hours on a motorcycle that really needs a better seat. A few days ago, I bought one on-line. Sadly, it will arrive, most likely, after I return. However, I have two weeks off from work starting at 3PM today. So I will make use of it, returning Monday, tired and hopefully satiated, I will be home to rest and have good reflections on both this birthday (today), this past weekend, and all my past birthdays both good and not so good.

It has so far been an interesting life. I left childhood with two desires. One, to escape childhood and my parent's house, and put as much distance (experiences and time) between myself and my childhood in order to forget it as much as possible; and two, to have interesting experiences so that in my old age of 50 or more (I thought that was ancient and my planned retirement age all my life, which I failed to meet, I might add), so I would have interesting stories to tell and draw from. Always in the back of my mind was the thought that into my ancient and feeble years I would have great stories and experiences to fall back on in order to create great and wonderful stories that I might make a living selling into my dotage.

Well, so far so good. I have some great experiences in my past life. Somehow I have managed to raise two great kids into adulthood. I have somehow staved off prison. I have avoided being stuck in a loveless (or worse) marriage (and yes, I'm still looking for my next ex-wife). I have done interesting and dangerous things and lived to tell the tale. Now I only hope I can tell the tale and avoid any legal implications. But, that's what fiction is all about, isn't it?

When I first thought of the concept to live an interesting Life, I had yet at the time, to hear of that notorious ancient Chinese proverb and curse: "May you live in interesting times." I wouldn't trade my life for another (well, depending who we're talking about, but for the most part and statistically speaking anyway, I wouldn't), and I'm certainly not through, not yet.

So here I am now (This is later, on Sunday), in Portland. Got here yesterday. Had a good ride down. Didn't see any of the places I mentioned above, but, I'm still hoping to, maybe today.

I did go to Jake's yesterday, near Powell's Books (where I always have to go or you just haven't been IN Portland). I dropped in to rest, get my bearings and have a drink. I tried their Moscow Mule, a ginger related drink. Incredibly refreshing. But I stopped at one as I had just finished a three hour ride and might have been a bit dehydrated, tired, and needed to find my hotel room and drop stuff off before doing anything more like this.

Found the hotel, some miles out of downtown. Nice place. Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, 8500 SW Nimbus Dr. Headed back to town, stopped in at the Deschutes Brewery next to Powell's Books. Good fish n chips & Solace Rose 26 month aged Flanders style sour brown at 10.5%. Very diff but tasty. At first, I wanted a pint and that snifter. But the waitress hesitated, saying, "Uh, well, I don't know if I can do that, I'd have to ask, but I don't know if you'd want to do that anyway." I said, "okay", I tend to trust my wait staff. Then I got the snifter of Solace Rose and realized she was right. It is a bit sour but tasty, and most might not like it, but she said it's her fav there. I never got the pint, at 10.5% it was pretty strong.

Filled up, I met up with my son and his girlfriend at her house. She lives with a few people and there is a party room and pool table and we played some pool. Three games, I lost on the break, but we kept playing. So in the end, we played three games, my son one two and I won two. Then we went to see the new Conan 3D. Fun, liked it better than the old one with Arnold, but I don't know why they can't simply follow the books.

Still, having a blast. My son just arrived with his girlfriend and we're going to visit my old party buddy who moved here.

Next day....

We had a great time, my old friend, who hadn't seen my son since he was four, got to be reacquainted with him and we all four when out for some Lebanese food, then hit a nickle arcade and had great fun acting like kids. I was completely burned out. Heading down on this trip with a sinus infection and taking a five day course of antibiotics, and getting dehydrated even though I was drinking fluids, and the ride down, pretty much wasted me. This morning, I'm feeling better. But I woke to a wet environment. I hadn't planned on precipitation. All weather forecasts were in like 80 and all clear, but this morning is overcast and misting. My bike seat is wet and I'm going to try to absorb the wet with a bath towel before heading out. I don't have to check out until noon.

The Hotel was good, clean, pleasant, just too many kids this weekend. This morning the breakfast area was peaceful and quiet, I was even able to access the waffle maker. I had coffee in the dining lounge, read some, then retired to the room to write, check the forecasts and satellite imagery, and found the longer I wait today to leave, the better chance I have at warm, dry and clear.

I feel like I've been all over recently, Chicago, Tacoma, now Portland, Oregon. But at least this trip was my choice and for fun. After a leisurely four hour ride down here, I have chosen the hotel which had the best reviews, the best price (w/breakfast) and nearest to my son, and friend, "Waso" which turned out to not be true. But there were KIDS everyWHERE here this weekend.

Some team event or something, I think. Ironic as I used to get annoyed at people who couldn't deal with kids (but mine were always very well mannered as I can't stand when parents don't make their kids pleasant to be around others) unlike these kids, who really are "okay", but still too loud and annoying, but then, I wasn't feeling so good yesterday). And after a few drinks the day I got here and taking meds for this sinus infection, and the ride down here Saturday, yeah, I was a bit rough yesterday. Still, I'm now better understanding two terms I've heard before: kids as vermin and, MILFs.

So last night after we left Waso to have a quiet drink before his wife picked him up by the arcade, I headed with my son and his girlfriend to her place to watch a movie in the basement of her multi roommate house. Perfect location for watching a horror film and we picked a good one: The Haunting in Connecticut. Really fun, spooky movie. After that my son gave me a ride back to the hotel, where I gave him his mail that was stacking up at home (I had forgotten to bring him the videos I'd burned of Game of Thrones on HBO, he doesn't get cable and hasn't seen the season finale yet). We talked a while in my room about an idea he has for a video game. It sounds pretty good. We may work on putting together a proposal for it. Then he headed out and it was hard to part ways, I think. I know it was for me. I do miss him. We've been through so much together, but now it's time we continue on, separately.

And so, I'm waiting to head home now. Tired, satiated, more relaxed than when I headed out of town two days ago. I didn't do all the things I had planned here, but maybe next time. In keeping a plan in mind, but being loose about my choices, I really had a great time. It's true what they say, it's not what you do, but who you do it with. Tomorrow, after I'm back home, I'll just take it easy, enjoy my birthday, and be around my daughter (but she's probably working). I only have a short time with her too, until she heads out in mid September for Europe for her own adventures.

Now I have the journey home to look forward to. I do hope it isn't too wet, though as I had no room for any more gear. I could have, but I didn't want this to be a big deal, just packing light and hope for the best. Besides, all weather forecasts indicated no issue and only very warm weather. Well, it IS the Pacific Northwest and I've only myself to blame if I have an uncomfortable journey home. But that, once you arrive, take a hot shower, and rest with a glass of wine or whatever if at hand, only makes for a more interesting reflection upon, well, reflecting. I am anxious to head home, but also, a little sad to leave.

Anyway... Tally Ho! Away, I go....

And here I am. It rained till I hit the Washington border, then dry, all the way home. However, I got no sun till Bremerton, no warmth till I hit our home town. I'm pretty tired, but it is a good tired. It was a good trip. Now, I get to wake up in my own bed on my birthday.

But, I'll probably be too tired to actually do anything....

Update, August 30th.

My daughter took me out for lunch at Teriyaki on Winslow Way. Very tasty there. This was after she gave me a present of a really old book about Nepal that she got a year or so ago and I liked very much and couldn't talk her out of it. It was wrapped with a repro of a drawing of a moonscape. After we ate, she had to go to work across the street, then head down to the docks to run the kayak rental. She's going "blues dancing" tonight, then staying with a friend in Seattle, so I'll see her tomorrow again.

So I walked along Winslow Way. I got a thin slice of BlackBird Bakery's Mile High Chocolate cake. I also got an iced tea, and a lavender sugar cookie, went to sit outside and read my book. One of two girls who had been sitting inside with a guy, was sitting on the other side of a set of comfortable wooden seats, arranged so there were modules of seats facing one another. Two could sit and face two with a small set of coffee type tables between then, then another set behind that. She was in one of those facing me.

I noted that she looked a lot like the woman that plays cello on the ferry, classical music. I saw her a few years ago with her very young daughter, then a while back with her again, but she had grown, maybe in elementary school now. Both very attractive. I tried not to notice her but it is hard as I'd always found her looks and playing, attractive.

One day, a man walked up to her on the ferry and started yelling at her, telling her she was no good, that she thinks she is good, but she will never be good. I almost got up, people were looking, but I don't like to interfere as I've had bad experiences about that. Some women, really take offense if you jump to their help. As much as she "busks" (plays for money donations in public), I figured she can handle herself, though she seems so frail and petite. She a handled the obviously mentally unbalanced man with dignity, restraint and acumen, I thought. Had he touched her, I know I would have been on him in a second, possibly not alone.

Anyway, she noticed me, and we locked eyes today. She has an interesting intelligence and I could tell she could read something in my eyes. Then the girl came out and sat next to her, the one who was drawing the head of a woman on a sketch pad in the bakery while I was buying my edibles. Then the guy came out wearing his hat, like a hat a man would wear with a suit, only on the casual side. These hats have become popular and as I've always loved hats, I'm glad to see it has caught on, at least to some degree.

They sat there and argued. Something about time, a bus, when you can or should be doing things and it seemed they all lived together in a house of people. Probably no big deal but talk of someone cold move out if they wanted, or should be allowed to. I kept getting pieces between noise, traffic and people walking by as I read my book. As they left, she looked at me again, there was a recognition in her eyes, and probably some in mine. I have no idea what we were both thinking; and then they walked out of my life.

I finished my tea, read to the end of the chapter, then headed out myself. I'm back at home now, writing this, recuperating from my journey south, and enjoying the fact, that although I'm a year older, I may possibly be only half way through the length of time that I may have to live on this Earth. Or Universe. I may, after all, decide to move.


I dodoled along for a while aft

Monday, August 29, 2011

Author Portrait: Doug Unger

I offer you here, an Author portrait, of a kind: Douglas Unger. An Author to check out. And one I almost have a connection with, certainly to, albeit only briefly.

According to his web site, Doug, who is now "the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing International program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, brings visceral power and stylish grace to the form, making each story a unique meditation on such varied themes as inter-species love ("Leslie and Sam"), the inherent deceit of globalization ("The Perfect Wife"), visual art's transcendent power ("Matisse"), and war journalism's refusal to communicate reality ("Looking for War"). In sum, Unger's collection is big, ambitious and unafraid to forge new literary ground." I'm really glad to hear he is doing so well and I envy his academic environment over that of my own. I'm still trying to switch to writing to pay all my bills and finally cut all my direct ties to the corporate world.

First a little background: back in the early 80s, we were both at Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington. A beautiful place, my favorite campus in Washington State. I chose it for the campus over all other State Universities, and for it's Psychology program. I didn't want to count rats at the UW, or deal with animal sciences at Wazzu in Pullman, WA, a real out in the middle of no where college and once rated by Playboy magazine as a professional drinking school and therby not qualified (or over qualified) to be listed in the annual drinking schools of the country list.

Anyway, I migrated over to the Theater Department for a Minor in Creative Writing in my Senior year; I'd considered a double major as I had a lot of extra credits, having always gone to summer quarters. But I started for a Minor in Fiction writing. Myself and a woman in the class of mostly women writing romantic stories, took the class by storm. We also had two editors of the school magazine in that class, one of whom said he liked my writings begrudgingly and wasn't sure why he liked them, but there it was. Our Prof. felt about me in a similar way.

He said I didn't use dialog well enough and I had to in fiction. So he sent me over to take Playwriting, as it is mostly dialog. From that class, I was picked by the instructor, Bob Schelonka, along with seven others, to take his new year long screenwriting course. In retrospect, I gladly chose to do so. Though I have to admit, I was stunned to having been one of those chosen, especially when I got to know the company in which I was being placed. Getting involved in this department, in these classes, and with these people, was perhaps one of the best decisions (and lucky events) that I may have ever had.

Prof. Perry Mills

Perry Mills (now Dr. Mills) was attached to the series of classes, but mostly Bob taught the class. I've discussed Perry in previous blogs as he too has had an "interesting" life and career at Western.

I don't know what happened to most of the class, but two of the alumn of that class went on to found (with a few others), Seattle's Annex Theater which is still in operation albeit in a new location: Mike Rainey, middle of photo, and the late Dave Skubinna (from Bainridge Island, which my current town is up against). They were a talented and very funny group that I was proud to be a part of and learned a lot from; a highlight of my time at Western, really. But I've also talked about this class in a previous blog so I won't spend time here on that; besides, I'm here this time to talk about Doug. But to talk about this, I also have to talk a bit about me, as the moment of our past coincides. Luckily for Doug, I'm sure he has no idea of this interaction. Well, I guess he will now....

Doug on the cover of a WWU magazine

Doug graduated the year before me, I believe. I graduated in 1984 (ironic, yes?). But I met him a couple of times, the last time in Perry Mill's office, and remember people talking about him when he wasn't around. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't know me from Adam now, though.

I had achieved my own form of fame around the campus when my and my live-in girlfriend's, (which I mention, as we were a bit famous for some reason around campus, or at least within the Psych dept.), primary Psych Prof. and Departmental Adviser. Dr. Rod Rees, showed all his classes a video I did for him and another Psych Prof, for a grade. I had no idea anyone would see it. But he pointed out that anything you turn in becomes property of the professor for educational purposes. He also did that with a story I gave him once, which the next day he handed out to all his classes and was titled, "Perception" and is now a basis for my short horror anthology currently at the publisher's. I was working hard on a paper, it was about 11pm on a Tuesday night, and suddenly this short story just "fell out of my head" through the typewriter and onto the paper, so I gave it to him the next day.

The phenomenology oriented video I made was rough. The reel to reel black and white video recorder kept breaking down, the camera "vidicon" tube damage (burned in ghost images, that I tried to utilize, as well as it's "trails" that light would leave as you panned the camera) ; I actually needed to solder connections to include music; but I did my best to complete the video and turned it in on time along, with the required journal detailing what I was doing as I did it.

At one point, at home alone, my girlfriend at work at the Veterinary Clinic she worked at, I needed an actor and so rather than waste time, I simply used myself, playing the part of a drunk guitar player who can't play; which was hard, because I could play. Playing poorly is harder than you would think when you spend your life trying to play well. So when Rod played the video for his classes, it got all over campus and people kept stopping me in Red Square, between classes, in the stairwells, etc. Luckily, I had the journal to explain my efforts and when people commented (one girl said all she could see was ego), Rod could explain the video (and told that one girl that he knew for a fact it wasn't ego she was seeing, rather it was utilizing what I had available to me). It's why I prefer fortune over fame now.

Anyway, Perry seemed to think highly of Doug. The magazine Doug is on the cover of (above), is from the "Arts Inquiry" magazine, published by The College of Fine and Performing Arts in conjunction with Western Washington University.

Julian Riepe

Once I got to know Perry, I also got to know his office neighbor Julian P. Riepe, who later went on to become district manager for Half Price Books in the region, based in Seattle. Being around those two, commenting to one another from their office, was like being at a stage show, highly entertaining and educational. Sadly, I just found out, in looking up Julian's photo for this blog, that Julian died in January of this year. Before he died he said, 'My relationships are so complete that there is no loss in the leaving.'

Oddly, I lived just above his niece, a beautiful, statuesque girl about six feet tall, with very long, straight brunette hair down to her waist. I remember she lived below me, and rode a bike a lot (I mostly walked everywhere). It's sad now, really as I was quite attracted to her, as she was me (which I heard later from Julian). After five years, my girlfriend and I were in the process of breaking up. She eventually ran off with a Veterinarian (gee, who saw that coming?) the years after we graduated, they married, had two kids, and also sadly, he died after about five years.

I got to know Perry and Julian quite well, but I got to know Perry better. And, he had very good things to say about Doug.

Then I graduated. I later, came back to see the school and took my new girlfriend with me (soon my wife and my son's mother, five years later, we divorced, seeing a pattern here?). We stopped in to see Perry and found that Julian had left the academic environment.

Years later as I said, the marriage ended (hang on, you'll see the relevance soon). Finally, we were stuck one last month together, August, both our birthday month. She took off on her birthday weekend with her lover (kind of the reason for the upcoming divorce at the time). Our four year old son was at his grandparents for the weekend. So, if she was going to be with her lover, I didn't want to sit at home brooding all weekend, so I took off for Bellingham on my motorcycle, having no idea what I'd do when I got there. I ended up calling Perry and told him what was going on and so he invited me over. When I got to his house, he told me I should spend the weekend and get my head clear, go get drunk, get laid, whatever it took, but I'd have a place to crash.

When I hesitated... he told me a story about Doug. At that point, I found that I had inadvertently followed his lead in heading over to Perry's house because of life not working out so well. So, I ended up staying a shorter time, a weekend, in Perry's rather comfortable loft out back, as one of his Nouveau Divorce Damaged Bachelors. This is only a temporary membership club. In fact I am now, as I type this, I believe, a three (and a half) time Member of the International Nouveau Divorce Damage Bachelors Club.

Perry's comment was that all the soon-to-be-divorced, broken-bachelors seem to make their way to his loft and spend some time drowning their tears in whiskey and wine, or whatever the desired form of forgetting and recuperating was. And so, I had a very good weekend. The first morning there, we had a very nice breakfast with Perry and his girlfriend at the time, in their back yard, in the morning sun. I was a bit hung over but we had a nice chat and it is a surprisingly healing thing, to share a time with friends like that and I could understand why others had done it. The second night there, I met a very nice girl, and spent the night at her place. When I returned, Perry noted that I hadn't been there the night before and said he hoped I had found what I needed. So, I got my stuff, thanked Perry and headed "home".

Now I can tell you that Doug sounds like a great writer, you don't get involved with a Pulitzer in any real sense of the word unless you are. But I have an interesting story told to me by an anonymous source and I don't see what harm it would do in telling it. And it proves a good lesson to the aspiring and creative who are trying to make it.

It goes like this....

Doug had been working on that book, The Turkey War. But he couldn't get it sold. No harm, no foul there. It took five years for him to get it sold. In that five years, he kept fiddling with it. It kept getting better. One day he was at a cocktail party in New York, let's assume, Manhattan. I used to live on 83rd and 5th Ave, so NY to me, IS Manhattan. While he was talking to a woman at the party, he's telling her about the book and she drops it on him that she is a publisher. She wants to see the book. So he gets a copy to her, it gets published. It sells well. It gets optioned for a movie, a mini series as it turned out.

But in the end, due to unscrupulous producers (yes, I'm mixing some informed speculation in here), Doug gets written out somehow. They produce the show, it does well, Doug gets nothing (or next to nothing, or little credit, that was all a little unclear). The point is, he got screwed.

Okay, time to move on. So he writes another book. Things don't go so well. Other areas of his life don't go so well. And then, he ends up at Perry's. He tells this story to someone. The someone tells him, what do you expect? You fiddle with a book for five years and then you whip the next one out and the second doesn't do so well? What do you expect? Put the same work into this one that you did the other and it will do well too. Over time, he gets things together, he works hard, and it does all come together.

Why do I bring this all up? Now?

Well, 'now', because I came across Doug's picture on that magazine from school when I was looking through some old magazines and collected comics and stuff. Why I bring it up at all, has to do with all those out there who are aspiring authors, artists and even musicians, who struggle to get somewhere, anywhere, and for those who luckily enough get a hit and think that the next book (or script, or production, or whatever) will come to them easily, or more easily, anyway.

Because, it won't. Because, we all typically make that same mistake. We forget how hard that first hit was to get to. We think, oh, well, now I'm good enough to turn that out, I can do it again because maybe I'm that talented or maybe I've practiced enough that now I'm "There". I like to think mostly, that people make the mistake of the latter, because I know that is what I have done.

Sometimes I have to make that mistake on purpose. In order to get myself to try to do it again. And it doesn't even have to have anything to do with having had a hit in the first place. If can be just having finally finished your first piece. Then in going to the second one, it can be painfully difficult. More so, if people really liked it. In fact, the more they liked it, the harder it can be to do again.

So, in the end, Life, enjoys making a pinatas out of us. It seems to enjoy it, smacking us about. Watching us flutter in the wind, dangle on the string, watching the breaks grow wider until all the sweet stuff stutters down to the ground for the public to gather up in their greedy little hands. But that is what we are here for and those who become what they are trying to become, find ways to make it all work for them. It's not that you tried hard, or that you earned it, and so you deserve it, it's that you did it, you got there, and you made it happened, through all the difficulties. And so we expose ourselves, you read the bleeding we dribble on the pages, and if don't correctly, we should be critically acclaimed for it. And maybe, we will find some notoriety and reward in our strained efforts.

Doug, is one of those. I congratulate his journey through Life. And my own, though I'm still on that road, I guess I'm just a late bloomer. And that of all artists who try so hard, and finally make it. Because, honestly, those who don't make it, should probably never have tried and the world is all the better for their becoming accountants, clerks, or Supreme Court Justices. And if I don't finally get there myself, then I deserve their fate too. As for Doug, however....

Cheers, my friend!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant! Be Courageous!

Yes, for today I've added one more: Courage. Because to be outstanding, is to be courageous and so it is important. Many times in being smart, in being brilliant, one has to have courage to persevere in the face of adversity and contrary commentary or even (and more frequently) diatribe. Rather than hold your tongue because you may be wrong or party wrong, isn't it better to speak out, rather than to be quiet? Even if you are wrong, you may learn the error of your ways in being heard, and the next time you speak out you may be absolutely correct. We become correct in a process of false starts, education through discourse and error correction.

And when you are correct, others may shout you down, but then later, possibly in the privacy of their own mind, come to realize that you were right. They may not be able to accept it, but perhaps others may realize you were right also and therefore you may have sown a seed that will change the unchangeable.

And so I offer you these comments from those who have come before you and have had wise things to say that we may profit from.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon (James Neil Hollingworth (1933–1996) was a beatnik, hippie, writer, and former manager of the psychedelic folk rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. He wrote under the pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon.)

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.  ~Winston Churchill (One of my favorite individuals out of History)

Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.  ~Mary Anne Radmacher

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.  ~Mark Twain (Another of my favorite individuals out of History)

Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.  ~Dan Rather 
 Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid.  ~Franklin P. Jones

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.  ~Raymond Lindquist

True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.  ~Alfred North Whitehead

I'm not funny.  What I am is brave.  ~Lucille Ball

Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.  ~John Wayne

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.  ~Ernest Hemingway, Men at War, 1942

[from Courage Quotes

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life minus religion equals... what?

I was thinking... what if, from the beginning of time, it never, ever occurred to anyone that there was anything beyond what we see before us.

There would be no fear, other than that which perplexes us directly. There would be no magic, no demons, no God. No Divine rules, no religious segregation, no holy wars. We would turn to education, bettering one's position by way of cause and effect, without thought to divine intervention, salvation other than what you supply yourself, building upon that which comes before it and not ignoring reality because of misinterpretation of divine texts.

Typically, people will argue how without religion people will have no morals, lack the ethics to maintain good social relations, kill indiscriminately, rape without regard, etc., etc. This has been proven to be nonsense many times now so I won't bother here pursuing that issue. For a quick view of that topic, consider how well eBay works without religion being involved. If you are that much of a jerk, people simply won't deal with you or the "system" will find you and deal with you. If someone in the village is harassing people, the people would decide them out as such, "Look pal! Either get it together or you're outta here." So he doesn't, and the next day the village offs him. No moral concerns about the after life, burning in Hell, or God watching and damning you forever to the fiery pits of Hades. Just cause and effect.

Others have argued that without religion being the repository of all control and knowledge, we would still be in the dark ages. But I am arguing that we would have avoided the dark ages, and even possibly, we would have gotten to where we are now, a thousand years earlier. It seems to me that by now we should be exploring the solar system, have people living on the moon, and on Mars.

I should mention here that I see this as an argument that has been going on forever between the Theists who believe in God, the Deists who believe in something like God by not necessarily that espoused by those organized religious types, the Atheists who are against there being a God and just don't buy it and those like me, who do not play in that sandbox at all.

There are also degrees of all these things. Richard Dawkins, famous Atheist, has a scale of Theism.

There are signs and pledges for Atheists just as there are for Theists. But I don't understand, why would you need that? It takes no effort to simply believe what is there, does it?

As for not using the term Atheist, to say there is no God to a Theist or Deist or whomever, is to contend with and start from the supposition that there is, was, or could be a God to begin with. So much as been devoted to this that we may need to briefly examine some of them. So, to be more clearn (and pedantic):

"THEISM, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists. In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe. DEISM in the philosophy of religion is the standpoint that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is a creation and has a creator. Furthermore, the term often implies that this supreme being does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the natural laws of the universe. ATHEISM is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism." - Wikipedia

And so, I don't take the tact that Atheists do in opposing Theists. I start before that, where things originally started, where there is no talk about God, there is what there is. Look around you. That's it. Surely there are things we cannot see, but that has nothing to do with suddenly leaping into accepting there is something we have no reason to believe in other than our creative imaginations and some people claiming some rather outlandish things, or putting them in a book and getting people to believe whatever it says, the more ridiculous it is, the more they adhere to belief in it.

There are others: Agnosticism (the non committals) · Apatheism (or pragmatic Atheists, are just apathetic and that is just lazy) · Henotheism (belief and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities.and they are worse than the Apatheists) · Monolatrism (the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity) · Monotheism (the belief in the existence of one god, as distinguished from polytheism, the belief in more than one god) · Panentheism (a belief system which posits that God personally exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it) · Pantheism (Universe "Nature" and God, or divinity, are identical) · Transtheism. And more, but we really don't need all those things. We simply (simply, you see) need to start from the beginning. There, was nothing. Then, there was something. Not there was nothing, then there was some imaginary stuff we dreamt up to make us feel better. Put simply theism and atheism deal with belief, and agnosticism deals with (absence of) knowledge; they are not mutually exclusive as they deal with different domains. But I reject these as too damaged over time and misuse.

If I come to a meeting of the minds with any previously named group, it might be Anti-Theist, or maybe Transtheism, which philosopher Paul Tillich or Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, referring to a system of thought or religious philosophy which is neither theistic, nor atheistic. But again, that compares itself to something and I argue, there is nothing to compare to. Things simply began as they began, with no nonsense thought involved. And then we created living dreams, and pulled them into our reality with a relish to never let go those imaginings of our childhood.

You see, the term theism derives from the Greek theos meaning "god". And I don't see where that has anything to do with anything. Do you see what I'm getting at?

I've heard religious people claim that religion/God has acted like a buffer to them from Life. This is what chemicals like Prozac do; buffering your reality so you can function. But there is always a downside, a loss of productivity in some realm of your psyche in using such a buffer. And so by the law of similar association, consider the possibilities of what religion is doing in the same ways.

Some religions require that you pay all attention to God, daily, five times a day, always and as much as possible. What if, you spent that much time considering the design of the Universe, science, math, etc. Just HOW FAR could we have gone with that kind of focus on the forward movement of Humans, rather than ethereal concepts?

Steve Mann at the University of Toronto, has a concept that may apply here. His summary in his article is (and I'm going to twist it here): "Wearable Computer Mediated Reality was presented as a new framework for visual reality modification in everyday life. In particular, a new form of partial reality mediator having the appearance of a new kind of stylish eyeglasses, and suitable for use in ordinary life, was presented. In this design, the roles of eyeglass lenses and eyeglass frames are reversed. The eyeglass lenses become the decorative element, whereas the eyeglass frames become the element that the wearer sees through." I mention his work because in a non-related area, it's pretty interesting.

But in looking at his design above, replace Mediated Reality with Reality filtered through Religion. The specific point of his work does not even have to port over to my topic here. What I'm focusing on, is the view of how augmenting your reality with God, religion, or computers, it alters your reality. Computers and the work that Steve Mann is doing, refers to enhancing functionality and productivity of people.

Religion however, has consistently and historically drained functionality and productivity from the forward advancement of Humankind for thousands of years. What if, rather than draining our power through religion, we powered it up using computers and technology? It would be a quantum leap beyond where we have ever been before. Even without technology, simply trying not to augment the world with religion, would increase our forward movement far beyond anything we've ever been able to do before.

Rather than still being in the dark ages now, I think we would have had a shorter violent period, but there is no way Humankind would have been wiped out. Once we realized that there was no way forward with the constant bickering, we would have found that it was more productive to create alliances; or else we would have seen a leader rise and created a United States of the world, or some such format below that. We may have gone through our miserable dictator period but I think that would have finally been grown through and been done with. Okay, large leap there, but let's let that one lie for now and continue.

We would have avoided superstition, magical thought, religious persecution and restraint, and free thought could have run rampant. Consider David Deutsch's TEDtalk on A New Way To Explain Explanation. Basically saying that when you are told that something is because it is, you are being giving explanation-less theories and that indeed, is exactly what religion is and the religious theory of the universe. You are being told a Wizard of some sort has done it, whatever it is. Saying that "God created the Universe", really doesn't tell us a damn thing. Does it.

There is no wonder when throughout history, there are conflicts due to differences of opinion because there are simply so many opinions. Because when you have opinions not based upon the real world, there can be as many and varied opinions as the stars in the sky. Even when we have based things on fact and science there are still variations in interpretation, but mostly because, if you think about it, there are so many other ways of viewing reality; such as the God concept, and the diffused forms of thought that have branched off in multi layered ways over geography, societies and such throughout the millennia.

So much of our conflict in the world and history has been religious and non-trade oriented. Think about how much less conflict there could have been had there been no religions at all. Hitler and Germany and much of Europe would have had no Jews to hate. This probably conjures up in people's minds that then they would simply have had to find others to hate. But that could be because the religious thought is so fundamentally entrenched in our minds and history, that we simply cannot imagine a world without this kind of conflict.

Yes, one could point to that of Chimpanzees action in their social structures. But you also have to figure that we are not, in the end, Chimps. Consider the Bonobo, a closely aligned species to Homo sapiens who have intercourse in the missionary position like Humans, who resolve issues using sex and also much in the same way as we do on a fundamental level, and live in a peaceful group dynamic.

One has to wonder, are we socially (and mentally?) retarded, for our historical religious beliefs? Have we been held back from advancement? After all, one could point to numerous incidences throughout history where we were restrained from advancement because of religion and because of Science going directly against religion and being withheld or destroyed, by structures such as the Catholic Church who put all its resources against Science and rational thought for that of its "revealed" religion and divine interpretations.

One could also argue that religion has given us a structure from which to view scientific advancements that have evoked too quick of a change, a buffer if you will; but are these changes really too fast for us to assimilate as Humans? Or were they too fast because of our religious orientation of interpreting what is happening around us?It's an interesting question, and really one that we should consider in depth and with concern.

When Theists argue with atheists, they always tend to point to the unanswerable end point, that God did it, that God always existed, what was before the "big bang", or some other currently unanswerable issue. I believe we may have one on the other side of the coin now with my contention in this article, because so many of the things pointed to by the Theists, is also now answerable by the other side saying the flip side of their coin, in that if religion and God thought had never existed from the beginning, most of the negative issues that occur in the absence of it, can simply vanish.

Consider who many of those issues pointed to, when discussing how much better the world would be without religion, fall apart when you realize that many of those bad things that have happened in such cases, such as the Soviet Union's atheistic orientation, would never have been able to happen if religion had never existed in the first place.

This all also explains my attraction to a non theistic form of thought, which some call religion, such as Buddhism. I reject much of it, but much of it is a form of critical thinking and a way to relate to life and the universe that is quite attractive and devoid of nonsense. Surely, people of a couple of thousand of years have injected their nonsense to make them feel better and to adhere better to their own slights and nuances. But when you cut it down to the central core of it's system, it is quite rational.

And that, is what we need in this world, and why this world is so confused and dysfunctional. Because so many believe so much, nonsense.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cows with Guns - Dana Lyons - music with humor

Dana Lyons rocks.

Well, he's excellent anyway, funny, funny guy. He has a great sense of humor.

How can you forget, once you hear "Cows with Guns", the magnificent vision of those cluckers flying (riding?) in choppers over the hill tops with guns a blazing, coming to rescue their poor bovine brothers? "Cows with Guns" was #1 For The Year on Dr. Demento, #2 on Australian Country Charts, 10 months on Seattle’s Top 40, 6 months on Ireland’s Top 40. Ireland, now that's the big time. Go figure huh, Ireland... cows... guns....

The video of "Cows with Guns" on YouTube (cartoon) and another version of Cows with Guns (Claymation).

We need more humor in the world. Dana gives us a fresh way to look at things and I for one, greatly appreciate it. I need more lightheartedness in life. Have you looked around lately? Life has been tough, and it may be a while before anything lightens up. So any chance at taking few moments to enjoy, smile, grimmace at bad puns, I'm there.

According to Wikipedia: "He is known for his environmentalist song "Our State Is a Dumpsite", which was actually the subject of a serious proposal in the Washington legislature during the 1980s to be made the official state song. He went on to perform music for the environmental group Earth First! and to record an album of children's music, At Night They Howl at the Moon, and more recently, he has moved from folk music into alternative rock with the album Cows With Guns."

What a guy, huh?

If you want to check him out in concert, take a look at his calendar, he's next scheduled to be in Port Angeles 0n September 16th at 7:30PM (Price: $12 / $10 for Friends Members). For Oregon, Salem in October.

According to his web site, Two of Dana’s songs have been made into award-winning illustrated books: Cows With Guns, published by Penguin (winner of the Bullitzer Prize), and The Tree, published by Illumination Arts. The Tree was endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall, has forwards by Pete Seeger and Julia Butterfly Hill and has won numerous awards.

Dana’s songs have been re-recorded by many artists, but perhaps his highest honor as a songwriter came when Pete Seeger called him to get the music for Dana’s song “I am an Animal.” Dana has shared the stage with many notable performers including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, Stephen Stills, River Phoenix, Nickel Creek, Country Joe McDonald, Utah Phillips and John Trudell.

Dana was born in Kingston, New York. He graduated from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He lives in a nice garage in Bellingham, Washington, with his cat Oliver. His astrological sign is Taurus.

What a guy....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Has Aikido ended the al-Qaeda business model?

Sometimes it is valuable to view a situation through a different orientation, something out of "left field" if you will and will excuse a sports metaphor. I would like to show some connections here between the "Arab Spring", Al-Qaeda, and the Japanese Martial Art and Philosophy of Aikido. Hang on, give me a moment or two, and hopefully perhaps, you'll see what I mean.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, right, may lead Al Qaeda now Usama bin Laden has been executed

The goal of al-Qaeda is to evoke change through fear and intimidation.They claim followers because what they do, seems to work, and it simply feels good to disenfranchised individuals. But actions speak louder than words.

John Miller has interviewed Osama Bin Laden many years ago as a journalist. He recently stepped down from his position at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the President's principle intelligence adviser. Recently Miller has said:

"Hyman alzarwai, al-Qaeda's current leader, personally spent twenty-three years of his life trying to overturn that very regime in Egypt: Hosni Mubarak. And, a bunch of kids with smart phones and a good understanding of social media, did it in three and a half weeks. One would say that that, rather than blowing up a building, blows up al-Qaeda's business model. Because every young person was thinking maybe I'll follow the word of the terrorists, because that's the only way to achieve change [is] through violence. Had to second guess that and say wait a minute, this other thing may work better, much better, with less bloodshed, and faster."

So what has this got to do with a Japanese Martial Art called Aikido, known to many as "The Art of Peace"?

The thing is, what the Arab Spring is, naively and basically, following the philosophy of Aikido. What am I talking about?

Rather than attack head-on or using terrorist's ways, Aikido reorients, and sends opposing forces along on their way. The term "Spring" as used in this context, comes from the European revolutions of 1848, at that time, coming to more common use (among those who would discuss such things) when historians dubbed the springtime of the peoples or spring of nations. It also, more recently, beckons to the Prague Spring of 1968. But the Prague instance was short lived as it gave the Soviet Union a reason to "spring" into action and send in troops to quell the uprising.

Also, according to the site: "From 1848 to 1968 to 2011, the social movements given the spring label have shared a hope for liberalization in the face of oppressive regimes."

In Aikido, there is a movement, I won't bore you with the details, but it exemplifies Aikido's outlook. When another wishes to practice with you in the World (when you are attacked by a stranger, for instance), they will not know they are practicing Aikido with you, but such is the view of the Aikidoist (or more properly, an Aikidoka, or Aikido practitioner). What most would call an opponent and an attack, Aikido sees as a partner and practicing. And as indicated, one does not need to know that they are practicing Aikido. So the comparison to the Arab Spring actually fits better than at first it would appear.

I believe that John Miller's comments above, are very important to consider. Because, al-Qaeda and their types are on the way out. Finally.

It would be nice if there were some better way to share what this philosophy is that has been working so well for the Arab youth, and their unknowingly professing and following of it in ignorance and out of simply doing what feels right. In sharing with someone a more structured and well thought out form of Philosophy, it completes their struggle in trying to see a path to their goals.

The founder of Aikido, Morohei Ueshiba, called "O'Sensei" by his followers, said decades ago, that if Aikido could be taught to the world, if everyone practiced it, World Peace could be achieved.

It's a positive thought in what has been appearing lately to be a rather negative world.

The movement (or attack) to which I refer, is when a movement is taken toward the Aikidoist, who then put themselves behind the person moving toward them; they spin the person around, deflecting the negative movement into a neutral movement, thus neutralizing their attempt to damage, at which point the Aikidoist can more clearly see what the other person's point of view is, as they are now both looking in the same direction. Also, if you can't see the other's point of view, and/or they can't see yours, it is beneficial that you both simply see a same point of view, as a base to move forward from, hopefully into a new world, together.

At this point, the partner who initiated the movement (or attack) is confused and unable to recoup, or react. The Aikidoist then continues the force and direction that was initially aimed at them, and send their new and hopefully anonymous partner along on their way. If done appropriately, this can either allow them to move along like the wind with no affect to either party, and hopefully, to let the partner know that they may have made the wrong decision in moving against the Aikidoist.

The situation (or conflict, if you wish) can then end in any of several ways, all depending upon what is desired or intended by the Aikidoist, as they can also add or properly redirect movement, thus changing the situation to where the opponent can be either temporarily, permanently, or even totally disabled. If the others intent is to kill, then the most peaceful movement the Aikidoist may be able to make, is to kill them. But the fundamental orientation should always be to seek peace and harmony for all.

al-Qaeda's actions over time have been much like the partner mentioned above. They use gross, destructive actions to gain attention and change the flow of the international rivers of opinion and action. But the youth involved in the Arab Spring, have sidestepped this theory of change (Terrorism) and used instead a movement passing along the powers against them and still coming out the other end victorious. This is an excellent example of how technology has enhanced Human Societal dynamics to where violence may have become greatly unnecessary, or simply neutralized.

There may always be a need for the policeman, or soldier, to take down those forces who believe that attrition is the only way to affect change. But for the most part, perhaps those like Gandhi were correct. Although, over the years since Gandhi's victories his philosophy have perhaps been incorrectly proven dysfunctional; perhaps this perception was because of the changes in the world since Gandhi's time, so that some kind of enhancement was needed to support efforts of change so that the same end could be achieved.

And so we have situations now like how the Arab Spring came to be victorious. Ssurely however, not for all, but for many and perhaps over time, for all; but this has yet to be seen, and the ensuing years or decades may prove this to be true.

O'Sensei said:

"To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury in the Art of Peace. " - Morihei Ueshiba

During a 1976 interview with O'Sensei by two reporters in a Japanese language text:

Interviewer: Then what is the spirit of Aikido?

O Sensei: Aikido is Ai (love). You make this great love of the universe your heart, and then you must make your own mission the protection and love of all things. To accomplish this mission must be the true Budo [the spiritual foundation for martial arts; the ethical code on which martial arts are based]. True Budo means to win over yourself and eliminate the fighting heart of the enemy... No, it is a way to absolute self-perfection in which the very enemy is eliminated. The technique of Aiki is ascetic training and a way through which you reach a state of unification of body and spirit by the realization of the principle of heaven.

Second Interviewer: Then Aiki is the way to world peace?

O Sensei: The ultimate goal of Aiki is creation of heaven on earth. In any case, the entire world must be in harmony. Then we do not have a need for atomic and hydrogen bombs. It can be a comfortable and pleasant world.

Maybe what we need IS a very different way of looking at how we affect change. Aikido is not the only way to look at things, but something different needs to fill the gap left by our old world ways of thinking about how to have a revolution. Gandhi gave us our first glimpse and perhaps the Arab Spring, have given us a newer glimpse. One could only hope we have finally found a way to change the "unchangeable" without violence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Truth, society, status quo via change

I'm not going to make any real statement here. I am just going to explain a few things as I see them, and give the opinion of several others who have the right to be heard, respected, and considered. I think you are smart. I will let you make up your own minds on what is important, what is right, what needs to be thought, and what needs to be done.

What do I believe in regarding change? Truth, non-violent change, and changing things from within, as a grass roots effort. Here's my kind of stream of consciousness comment:

We need to educate, make things as transparent as possible and reasonable, and openly and honestly discuss change and making the best decisions possible, for the individual. This will grow to the top. But when you go from the top down, when you protect and support the corporations, the government, as a way to help the individuals by making the best decisions for the largest and most powerful elements, you do a disservice to those individuals that make up the society. And those individuals, are who the government have been charged to protect.

Decisions being made are possibly the best ones that can be made, and with the intent to protect the individual but the orientation is backward and we have a case of good people making bad decisions for the right reasons and this, is why we are having so much trouble fixing things. Because we think we are making the right decisions. And that is why those in charge have been so self righteous in their actions. They KNOW they are doing what is right; but they do NOT know that they are doing these things with the wrong orientation.

Truth, is important. Imagination is required, but imagining reality, is only how to end the way things are, not to continue it. Retaining the status quo, requires constant change, not maintaining the ongoing behaviors that got us there. It is counter-intuitive, but it is the Truth. To continue the status quo by continuing the behavior that got us there, is the seminal mistake people and governments seem to rely upon. In the end, it will always end the desired status quo only to be replaced with a new status quo; and typically it will be one that is less desired than what was originally intended.
"Truth" by Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836–1911)
 Truth, is always the basis to which decisions must be made in order to sustain the good, and eliminate the bad. But government seems to choose, to base their decisions on what is desired to be; and as such, their decisions are based upon the shifting sands of public opinion, or worse, their own, rather than Truth, Reality and what is actually happening. 
 “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” - Thomas Jefferson  

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - First Amendment to the Constitution

"When it gets down to having to use violence, then you're playing the system's game. The Establishment irritate you, "pull your beard", and "flick your face", to make you fight. Because once they got your violent, then they know how to handle you." - John Lennon

"...somewhere I read, that the greatness of America, is the right to protest, for rights." - Dr. Martin Luther King

"I think the Black Panther Party, probably was dangerous, but not dangerous in the way that most people assumed they might have been. Not dangerous because people had guns, but dangerous because of its ability to provide an example of the possibility of standing up to power." - Dr. Angela Davis

"I may grow rich by art I am compelled to follow, I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment, but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor." - Thomas Jefferson

 This next, really puts into perspective what his attitude was toward religion, and I believe it was the attitude of most if not all of the founding Fathers. Sadly, what we have today, is exactly that, Christianity over that of other religions. Just listen to speeches, those in the government. If you wish to claim that it is God, not any single religion, then you have to acknowledge that it is a Western religion, not Eastern, or a religion of God, and not other.

"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another." - Thomas Jefferson

William Duane 11th United States Secretary of the Treasury

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." - Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803.

This was news to me, I had never seen this quote of Jefferson's before and I find it interesting... and concerning. Unless of course, he was referring to the FreeMasons. In which case, every country DOES indeed need a secret group, in the case of national duress, where such a group of good and intelligent individuals needs to be available to continue the good side of the failing society to reestablish that society if need be, in good stead and for the furtherance of the proper and good goals of that society.

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions. - Thomas Jefferson

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” - Confucius (551-479 BC)