July 29th, 2006

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The Still Arena -

I wake in the night, unable to sleep, considering this subject of expanding the still point.   What comes to mind is an arena of stillness.  Somehow the word arena has a connotation of violence, struggle, and conflict for me.  I see the Christians and the lions.  I want to change that view, and see myself as an arena of peace.  I  think, also, of Thich Nhat Hanh's book Being Peace.  I roam the house trying to find that book and discover that the deck is wet and the smell of Jasmine is strong.  I don't find Being Peace, but I do find others.   Lying in bed before rising, I felt how active it is to Be Peace.  Peace is not inertia.

Steve and I drove by the Seniors from the Redwoods last night.  They were out in strength for peace.  They waved and we waved.  They are active in the pursuit, in the living of, and being peace.

What I learned so strongly in this cancer treatment, is that saying I am for peace is not being peace.   Judging the "other side" is not peace.  Unifying the differences in myself is peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of being mindful 24 hours a day.  Now, that I am re-gaining a mind to fill, I am hoping to live more firmly in the balance of peace in myself, and in the expansion of being.   I see it as like living and swimming the breast stroke through air.   How much space can I clear and plant with ease?

That is my intention of the night.
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The planet speaks -

Op-Ed Contributor

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Stupidity

Published: July 29, 2006

San Anselmo, Calif.

I WENT to see “An Inconvenient Truth” last weekend, but the theater was closed. The power was out because of an overheated transformer. It was Day 9 of our 11-day, record-melting heat wave here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Mark Twain once supposedly, but probably apocryphally, compared our foggy summer to the coldest winter he’d ever known.

The fog — the Coast’s natural air-conditioner — kept failing to arrive, however, as we sweltered in triple-digit heat. I briefly remembered the single night I’d hated the fog, freezing in extra innings at Candlestick Park. But mostly I recalled the sheer wonder of watching it spill over sun-struck mountains, summer after summer, and I yearned for its return. Where had it gone?

I’d just returned from a week in a Mexican desert to find it several degrees hotter at home, in a marathon that meteorologists have called unprecedented. My 7-year-old’s skin was so warm that I took his temperature. A neighbor had to shut down the emergency sprinkler system at his house, which, sensing fire, was about to douse his furniture. The water scalded his hands.

Inland, where incomes are lower and temperatures normally higher, the elderly and infirm have been quietly dying in their overheated apartments and cars, sometimes slumped in front of running fans. Yesterday, state authorities were blaming the heat for more than 130 deaths.

Certainly, it was nothing compared to the 2003 killer heat wave in Europe, which led to tens of thousands of deaths, and yes, we know that much of the rest of the country is suffering hot weather too. But it was our heat wave, and we hated it just the same. Power failures left hundreds of thousands of Bay Area customers cursing Pacific Gas and Electric in the dark. One repairman reported that his crewmen had just installed a fresh transformer and were taking a break, sipping some Gatorade, when he watched their work explode into sparks.

Local meteorologists offered clashing opinions about why the fog stayed away, but they agreed that the culprits included a mass of warm air that shifted northward from the Four Corners and parked over the Great Basin. Part of this high-pressure air mass extended over California’s coast, tamping down the cool sea breezes. The days were scorching, the nights sticky and hot.

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article headlined “Scientists Split on Heat Wave Cause,” which said some climate experts attributed the heat wave “at least partly” to global climate change. “Others, however, disagree,” the article continued, “and say it’s still too early to blame the current weather on the planet’s changing climate.”

This made me wonder: when will it be too late? I get it that you can’t blame climate change for any one weather event. But I can also see that there’s a pattern emerging — and it sure looks a lot like what mainstream scientists have been predicting for several years. They’ve been warning of more frequent and severe heat waves and warmer nighttime temperatures that rob you of any relief. You don’t really need a climatologist to know which way the wind is blowing.

“It’s so hot,” my friends and I say to one another. “It’s scary.” And we shrug.

“Aren’t you scared?” I asked my husband.

“Sure,” he said, and went back to watching the A’s.

I know he’s mentally healthier than I. Twain, after all, also is supposed to have said that everyone complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it. At the time, his comment was pithy and wise. But times have changed: a consensus of leading scientists suggests the world has a chance of stalling climate change if we make deep and immediate reductions in our fossil fuel consumption. This would take some leadership, but I’d put my children in day care and work full time for someone with that kind of vision, and I’d bet parents across the country would do the same.

The fog finally rolled inland on Thursday. But the clock is still tick- ing.

Katherine Ellison is the author of “The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter.’’

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There is a reason for the law -

One problem with the Bush administration is the lack of lawyers.  They do not seem to understand constitutional or moral  law.   Here is more evidence of that. 

Editorial from the NY Times:

The Court Under Siege

Published: July 29, 2006

One big thing we’ve learned from watching President Bush’s assault on the balance of powers is that the federal courts are the only line of defense. Congress not only lacks the spine to stand up to Mr. Bush, but is usually eager to accommodate him.

So it is especially frightening to see the administration use the debates over the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and domestic spying to mount a new offensive against the courts.

Wiretapping: This campaign is most evident in the debate over Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the interception of Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail.

Mr. Bush and his legal advisers claim the president is free to ignore the 1978 law requiring warrants for such wiretaps, as well as the Constitution, because the eternal war with Al Qaeda gives him commander-in-chief superpowers. But the administration knows the Supreme Court is unlikely to endorse this nonsense. So it has agreed with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, on a bill that is a mockery of judicial process.

Under the bill, Mr. Bush would have the option, but not the obligation, to ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to decide whether his spying program is constitutional. The surveillance court was created for one purpose — to review applications for surveillance warrants. It is not the place to make a constitutional judgment.

The case would be heard in secret, and only Mr. Bush’s case would be made because no one would be there to argue against him. There is not even a requirement that the final judgment be made public. Worst of all, if Mr. Bush lost in the secret court, he could appeal. But if he won, there would be no appeal and the case would never go to the Supreme Court.

There is a better way of doing this — a bill by Senator Charles Schumer of New York that would allow groups or people to challenge the spying and let the courts work as they have for two centuries.

Prisoners: Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Bush violated the Geneva Conventions and American law by creating military commissions to try prisoners at Guantánamo Bay without any of the accepted safeguards of a judicial process. It rejected Mr. Bush’s notion that he could decide which people deserved civilized treatment and which did not. (Keep in mind that the majority of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are either low-level Taliban soldiers captured in Afghanistan or innocents turned over to American troops in return for money.)

The court said Congress had to draft a law covering the prisoners that conformed to American standards of justice and to international law. But Congress had barely started hearings before the White House began circulating its own bill, which would simply endorse what Mr. Bush did rather than trying to overcome the court’s objections.

On the Geneva Conventions, for instance, the bill offers a particularly twisted bit of reasoning that says Congress has decided to interpret the conventions in such a way that everything Mr. Bush has done, or will do, conforms with their requirements. But the court firmly endorsed the Geneva Conventions, which include the requirement that a prisoner be present at his trial. The White House bill simply revokes that right.

The White House says it’s showing this draft law to the military lawyers it ignored when it formed its original policies on prisoners. Since the bill essentially mirrors the original policy, we hope those courageous lawyers object once again and that this time, the administration actually listens.

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Super News!!

This is from an article in the SF Chronicle.  It is written by Chuck Squatriglia.

(07-28) 04:00 PDT Davenport, Santa Cruz County -- One of Northern California's largest parcels of privately owned coastline -- 5 miles of rocky shoreline north of Santa Cruz -- is being given to the state in what conservationists call the biggest expansion of the region's public beaches in a generation.

Tucked among the rugged outcroppings of Coast Dairies Ranch are seven beaches popular with tourists and surfers who probably never knew they were trespassing. The ranch, about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz, is seven times larger than Golden Gate Park, and its acquisition ensures public access to a nearly uninterrupted 13-mile stretch of coastline.

"It's very exciting," said Dave Vincent, director of the Santa Cruz district of the Department of Parks and Recreation. "People have been working a long time on this dream."

The gift by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land is the most significant addition to public beaches in the north coast since 1975, when the Parks and Recreation Department acquired 4.8 miles of coastline along the Sinkyone Wilderness in Mendocino County.

"We're thrilled that with this acquisition, the people of California will have public, legal access to the beaches," said Reed Holderman, regional director of the Trust for Public Land. "It's a strategic link in building a state seashore and fulfilling the dream of a coastal trail."

The land looks a lot like it did when the Respini and Moretti families founded Coast Dairies and Land Co. in the 1860s after emigrating from Switzerland.

The rolling hills feature stands of coastal redwoods, oaks, firs and pines. Snowy plovers nest along the coastline, and raptors soar overhead. Meandering through the property are six creeks containing steelhead trout, coho salmon and red-legged frogs.

"It's right out of a Monet painting," said Noah Buchanan, a painter teaching a UC Santa Cruz art class that was visiting the coastline near Davenport this week. "It's so inspirational."

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Here's Jon Carroll -

On Friday, Jon Carroll has this to say about the heat and fog.

I will never say a bad word about the fog again. I will never again whine about the summer afternoon cookouts with gray skies and a stiff wind off the ocean. I will never mourn the lack of crickets on a summer evening or suggest that the longer days of July do not matter much when the light is always the color of dark pewter.

I love the fog. I embrace the fog. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window and saw the flat grayness of the sky, I dropped to my knees and thanked the deity of my choice. The heat wave seemed endless. I was in Oakland, where it started later and ended earlier, but still -- 98 degrees on my back deck is unacceptable. If I'd wanted weather like that, I could have lived, well, pretty much anywhere. But there's a reason real estate prices are high here, and that's it. It's the fog premium.

I know I did not have it bad. My electricity was always working. We have ancient street trees that provide shade. My bungalow features that ancient architectural miracle, eaves, so the rooms remained relatively cool for most of the day. Still, my skin was an unhealthy shade of red; sometimes it felt too tight for my body. My clothing stuck to me in unpleasant ways. I took frequent showers. I decided that my best plan was to do nothing at all. Fortunately, I have experience in that area, and was able to use proven techniques.

I do know that other areas of the country routinely put up with this kind of punishment. I've been to St. Louis; I've been to Houston. I have not been hardened in the fires of rural Arkansas, however, and I have my standards. God bless the people of the Midwest, but please God, also bring me the fog again.

Is it global warming? Well, let's see, if the years are getting hotter, and there is more freakish weather -- and both scientific and anecdotal evidence pretty much agree it's happening -- let's take a chance and say, yeah, it's global warming. It's real and it's here. Another two weeks or so of this stuff, and Al Gore's public persona will go from "geeky smart stiff guy" to "prophet who can lead us out of the wilderness."

I had dinner the other night with people who are close to Gore, and they said he really isn't interested in public office. Given what his last experience was like, that's certainly believable. You got Fox News on your back all the time; you got the recycling of such dopey lies as the allegation that he once claimed to have invented the Internet; you probably got someone saying rude things about Tipper. Who needs it? Al Gore is rich; he's generally well liked; he's doing work he considers valuable. Why would he want to be president?

(That dinner is worth a parenthetical paragraph much like this one. We went to a place called Coi, which is apparently right in step with the 21st century, foodwise. The first dish they brought had a little mound of something on the left side of the plate, and a small grease spot on the right side of the plate. The grease spot was in fact essence, and we were instructed to place it on the insides of our wrists and smell it. Oh, the Klaxons of my euphemistically named nonsense detector were screaming. But here's the thing: The food was good. Really good. Howlingly expensive, but oh so tasty. If the place had just been pretentious, it would have made a darn fine column of mockery, but pretension with the cuisine to back it up -- nothing to mock.)

Meanwhile, people were complaining that Spare the Air days were bringing the riffraff onto public transit. Those serene, cool rides of the good old days on BART were replaced with fetid, crowded last-train-out-of-the-hobo-jungle conditions. Then the money ran out, and people went back to their cars, and my, didn't that work out well? The freeways looked like a still from "An Inconvenient Truth." One could merely gaze and repeat, "The horror, the horror."

The way to change this now is for public transit agencies to (a) invest in rolling stock and (b) make all transit free all the time. Of course, that would cost tons of money. How about we end farm supports and stop starting wars? That would free up some extra cash. I know: It's a fever dream.

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Blogs -

On Thursday, Jon Carroll mentioned this blog.  I checked it out.  It is sobering, chilling, and heart-breaking.   If everyone read this blog, perhaps, there would be no war.

Read the Baghdad blog Riverbend (www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com) and bend the rod of change.  
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Rumi -

Perhaps, now you need Rumi to cleanse the news from Baghdad.

                    THE SILK WORM

        I stood before a silk worm one day.
        And that night my heart said to me,

    "I can do things like that, I can spin skies,
I can be woven into love that can bring warmth to people;
            I can be soft against a crying face,
I can be wings that lift, and I can travel on my thousand feet
                    throughout the earth,
                        my sacks filled
                            with the

                And I replied to my heart,

    "Dear, can you really do all those things?"

                And it just nodded "Yes"
                            in silence.

            So we began and will never
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Rain today -

In bed this morning, I listened to the soft rain through the open window.   The wind chime occasionally offered a note, a tone, a flower of a bell.

I have been weather-blessed  this summer.  While CA was sufferng in heat, Nantucket was cool and we had rain.  I returned to the fog blowing in, and now, more rain.   I missed the summer heat.

I woke having this feeling of wanting to hang marshmallows on a line, like clothes.  I could see them dancing on the line, like a school of toes.    I can't imagine what that means.   We had s'mores on Nantucket, the marshmallows toasted over a gas flame.   I remember toasting marshmallows with Katy over a candle.  That was a wee bit slow.  The candle was small, but the point was to share s'mores winter, summer, spring or fall.  

This day is open before me.  I want to go back into the file with which I worked, and merge it with Jane's.  She has now emailed me her work of the last few days, and it is to combine them, and see what we now have.   Maybe that is where the image of the marshmallows is from.   Each day, each poem, is its own marshmallow.  We have hung them on a line.  We laid them out on the floor in Nantucket so we could see.

 We are toasting them now, and, when we are ready, will mix them together in a graham cracker sandwich with chocolate.   Yum!!   I see!!    Our materials are gathered.   Soon, we feast!!
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Reading and writing -

Here is a wonderful article from the Atlantic on reading and writing.  It is an interview with Francine Prose, who wrote the book Reading like a Writer, which will be out on Amazon August 22nd.   It is worth checking out the interview as a comment on our times.   If the link doesn't work, you can go to the Atlantic Monthly web-site, and then, click on the article by Francine.  It is on the right.     

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Emerson -

Emerson was a founder of, and contributor to the magazine The Atlantic.   Here is the end of his comment on the genius of Shakespeare.

"The Pilgrims came to Plymouth in 1620. The plays of Shakespeare were not published until three years later. Had they been published earlier, our forefathers, or the most poetical among them, might have stayed at home to read them."

It is to consider as to the power of an expanded imagination, and its influence on those to whom it is conveyed, to those who see, read, contemplate, and receive. 
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sobering -

 Condoleezza Rice: Midwife From Hell
    By Matthew Rothschild
    The Progressive

    Friday 28 July 2006

    After being one of the most inept national security advisers in the nation's history, Condoleezza Rice is now earning the same grade as secretary of state.

    Her description of the conflagration in Lebanon as the "birthpangs of a new Middle East" was about as callous as it gets, matched only by Bush's remark that the conflict represents "a moment of opportunity." The 400 Lebanese who have died, an overwhelming number of them civilian and many of them children, were not feeling any birthpangs. They were feeling deathpangs.

    Nor were families of the Israeli victims (about 50 so far, and most of them soldiers) cheering the new day, either.

    Rice's cruel opposition to an immediate cease-fire has left the whole world outside of Israel (and Tony Blair's kennel) aghast.

    And U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's sneering about a cease-fire not being "the alpha and omega" only reinforced the arrogance.

    More than half a million people in Lebanon have been turned into refugees in just a matter of weeks.

    Israelis are bunkered in bomb shelters.

    And all Rice can do is issue hollow words of concern and then sabotage any immediate cease-fire?

    The expediting of U.S. bombs to Israel at the same time sent an all too obvious message. Did they fly in carriage on the same plane that took Rice to the region? Is she bringing another load with her this time?

    As Rice did in the lead up to the Iraq War, so she is doing now: She's drinking her own propaganda.

    The Iraq War was going to redraw the map of the Middle East.

    Now the Lebanon War is going to do the trick?

    The Iraqi people were going to welcome the Americans with open arms.

    Now the Lebanese people are going to rise up and somehow defeat Hezbollah when Israel can't even do the job?

    Politically naïve, Rice also appears woefully jejune about human nature.

    When people are being attacked by a foreign power, they rarely rally to that foreign power's side.

    And when a group in their midst fights back against the invaders, that group doesn't lose support, it gains support.

    The United States and Israel have succeeded only in making heroes of Hezbollah thugs.

    Rice's green light for Olmert's spilling of red blood has managed only to further enrage the Arab and Muslim world and isolate the United States among its allies (except, of course, for Tony Blair, who is still wagging his tail and licking Bush's face).

    It is not in the interests of the United States, and it is not in Israel's interests either, to show the international community utter disdain. And the war crimes of Israel, and Rice's blessing of them, will long be remembered.

    Where was Condoleezza Rice when Israel bombed the only power plant in Gaza, bringing about a humanitarian crisis?

    Where was Condoleezza Rice, when Israel inflicted collective punishment on the sovereign people of Lebanon?

    Where was Condoleezza Rice, when Israel was killing more than 100 Lebanese children?

    Condoleezza Rice was in Israel's corner.

    For five and a half years, Rice did nothing about the most serious problem in the Middle East, and now she's done worse than nothing.

    Rice believes in is the diplomacy of the F-16.

    And that style of diplomacy is crashing and burning.

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Three Cups of Tea -

I just finished reading a marvelous book, Three Cups of Tea, One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time.  It is by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.   If you read this book, when Greg Mortenson wins the Nobel Peace Prize, you will know why.  If you are looking for a cause to support, here it is.

It is wonderful to read what Greg has done, inspiring as can be, and he is trying to counteract all the damage Bush has done, all the lies Bush has told.   Bush said we would re-build Afghanistan.  We did not deliver the money, and our treatment of these people is, as we know, unimaginable. 

In the fall of 2003, Brigadier General Bahsir Baz had this to say.  "Your President Bush has doen a wonderful job of uniting one billion Muslims against America for the next two hundred years."  "Osama is not a product of Pakistan or Afghanistan.  He is a creation of America.  Thanks to America, Osama is in every home.  As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard.  You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength.  In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance.  The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business.  Otherwise the fight will go on forever."

Greg Mortenson is another Mother Theresa.  Imagine how the world would be if all the money we spent on weapons and destruction could have gone to schools and medical aid.  Perhaps, it can be so.   Read this book, and see the steps.

Check out the Central Asia Institute, and the work, that through Greg, they do.