July 30th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

Steve and I walked down to the junction this morning for coffee and a goodie.  I am struck with the contrast of how it was this winter.  I don't need to lean on his arm.  I easily make it both ways on my own.  I have hair, and, even need a haircut.   I'm wearing sandals, and the grit of sand under my toes is much less, since I have been walking on true sand.  I think that stimulation woke something up.  I feel it from my head to my toes.  I feel calm and peaceful.

The book, Three Cups of Tea, is still with me.   I recommend it, and a donation to the work of Greg Mortenson.   We can counteract Bush and his desire to imprison, control,  and destroy.

The NY Times has quite a diatribe against Joseph Lieberman today.  It is a statement for accountability.

I am now going to address the subject of food from very different angles.   The Pacific Sun has an article on the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.  What is shocking is the prevalence of  "cheap, processed fast food" in poor nations. 

Brooke Jackson in the Pacific Sun comments:

    "D'Aluisio recounts in the book how she watched a malnourished boy in a very remote part of New Guinea down a flavor packet from a package of instant ramen noodles while his brother ate the dried noodles themselves.  The normal diet for the people of that village is a starchy bread made from the sago palm, occasionally supplemented by the grubs that live in the palm trees and fish from a nearby river.  How did instant ramen noodles make it to this remote corner of the globe?  The tentacles of globalization have the power to reach the most far-flung villages in the world."

    The book shows families from around the world gathered in front of the food they eat in a week.   Brooke says:

    "Many, many families from a variety of countries have six to 10 huge bottles of Coke as part of their weekly provisions.  This is true in both industrialized and emerging nations."

    "These pictures contrast sharply with some of the photos from countries in Africa.  Families of 15 survive on a little dried fish, sacks of corn, millet and rice and a small amount of milk.  The only processed food is a type of bouillon cube.  The members of the family dwarf the food products."

    It is interesting to consider how the food I eat in a week would stack up against the size of me.   Hmmmm!    Certainly, the amount of packaging used in what I consume is obscene.   I am shocked each week at the amount of recycling that fills my bin.  We are so proud of ourselves for recycling, but our grandparents' generation probably had very little to recycle.  All was used.  

    There is an essay in the book by Francine R. Kaufman on the subject of  "Diabesity," the coorelation between diabetes, obesity, and soda consumption. 

    The book sounds like an important one for each of us to peruse, and ingest. 

    It feels like odd timing to now suggest a book written by a friend of my brother's family.  The book is called Chocolate Therapy and is by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley.  It shows there is a place for chocolate in our lives, or, at least, it offers a rationalization for the chocoholics of the world.   If you like chocolate, the recipes sound fantastic, and might be just the thing to lift you over the late-afternoon hump, so you can read more books on food and other subjects.

    A beautiful ease-filled Sunday to YOU!!   Lovely clouds are stirring the sky of my day.   

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Have you Wikipedia'd today?

   This week, in The New Yorker, Stacy Schiff writes an article on Wikipedia, the on-line interactive encyclopedia.  It just hit the million-articles mark.  "The Encyclopedia Britannica, which for more than two centuries has been considered the gold standard for reference works, has only a hundred and twenty thousand entries in its most comprehensive edition."

    "The site receives more than fourteen thousand hits per second."    It has become my first place to go to check something out.   I recommend it.   I am amazed to learn it is only five years old.  It seems to me it has always been here.  The site went live on January 15, 2001. 

    "The site has achieved this prominence largely without paid staff or revenue.  It has five employees in addition to Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's thirty-nine-year-old founder, and it carries no advertising.  In 2003, Wikipedia became a nonprofit organization; it meets most of its budget, of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, with donations, the bulk of them contributions of twenty dollars or less.  Wales says that he is on a mission to "distribute a free encyclopedia to every single person on the planet in their own language," and to an astonishing degree he is succeeding.  Anyone with Internet access can create a Wikipedia entry or edit an existing one.  The site currently exist in more than two hundred languages and has hundreds of thousands of contributors around the world.  Wales is at the forefront of a revolution in knowledge gathering: he has marshalled an army of volunteers who believe that, working collaboratively, they can produce an encyclopedia that is as good as any written by experts, and with an unprecedented range."

    I love this.   I loved my Book of Knowledge as a child, the tangibility of it, and the moment Steve and I had an extra $300.00, it went to buy an encyclopedia for Jeff and Chris.  I was shocked when we decided recently it was time to let it go, and Good Will told me it had no value.  They would not take it.  Slowly, painfully, week by week, I dropped a volume in the trash.  Actually, it took me years to let the whole set go.  I could not believe there was not a place for these books, but, now, with Wikepedia, I wonder if children will sit with smaller and smaller lap-tops, with a great deal of information easily at hand.  

    When Jeff and Chris are over, and we are having a discussion, a lap-top is always at hand to augment our conversation.  It is like that, just like the guiding voice of the woman who helps now with navigating in the car.   Most of the time she is a help.  She does get lost, however, on Nantucket and around our house.  

    Wales was influenced by Friedrich Hayek's 1945 free-market manifesto, "The Use of Knowledge in Society," which "argues that a person's knowledge is by definition partial, and that truth is established only when people pool their wisdom."

    In the 1930's, H.G. Wells wanted a "world-brain," a "collaborative, decentralized repository of knowledge that would be subject to continual revision."   Wells said, "We want a Henry Ford today to modernize the distribution of knowledge, make good knowledge cheap and easy in this still very ignorant, ill-educated, ill-served English speaking world of ours."   It seems he has his wish.    There is a question as to the accuracy of what is on Wikipedia, but, it seems, in reading this article that is also true of the Encyclopedia.  Use Wikipedia as a resource, and have some fun, and if you desire, you can enter your thoughts, too.   Expertise, anyone?   Here is the place to exude. 
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Bush and prisons -

I wonder how Bush would fare if we could get him to trial.  I suppose that is why he prefers to hold people without a trial.   We wouldn't want to put the legal system to any kind of test.   Otherwise he might find himself languishing in a jail with his buddies for the rest of their lives.  A world court would not view him well.  

I wish we put the same energy and money into building schools as jails.

  New Maximum-Security Jail to Open at Guantanamo Bay
    By Andrew Buncombe
    The Independent UK

    Sunday 30 July 2006

Far from winding down, the controversial US detention centre is expanding.

    The controversy over the US-run detention centre at Guantanamo Bay is to erupt anew with confirmation by the Pentagon that a new, permanent prison will open in the Cuban enclave in the next few weeks.

    Camp 6, a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail built by a Halliburton subsidiary, will be able to hold 200 prisoners. Commander Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said the $30m, two-storey block was due to open at the end of September. He added: "Camp 6 is designed to improve the quality of life for the detainees and provide greater protection for the people working in the facility."

    This development will refuel the controversy about the jail, which still holds 450 prisoners from President George Bush's "war on terror". Campaigners pointed to Mr Bush's claim earlier this summer that he would "like to close" Guantanamo. Just weeks after he made his comments in June, the Supreme Court ruled that the administration's system for trying prisoners using military tribunals breached United States and international law.

    At the time, some campaigners predicted the decision marked the beginning of the end of Guantanamo Bay. Since then, however, the Bush administration has signalled its intention to introduce new legislation that would circumvent the court's ruling. The revelation that Camp 6 is poised to open is proof that it intends to keep using the prison.

    Amnesty International's UK campaigns director, Tim Hancock, said: "This appears to make a mockery of President Bush's statements about the need to close down Guantanamo Bay. In addition to strongly urging the President to step in to prevent any extension to this already notorious prison camp, we call on him to speed up the process of closing Guantanamo and of ensuring that all detainees are allowed fair trials or released to safe countries."

    Zachary KatzNelson, senior counsel with the group Reprieve, which represents 36 Guantanamo prisoners, argued that public opinion and the courts would ultimately force the US to close the camp down. "If Bush had the choice, he would not shut it, and the men [held there] would never see the light of day, and neither would their stories come out," he said. "The reality is that the world knows too much. He has to shut it down."

    The new facility is reported to be modelled on a jail in Lenawee County, Michigan. Commander Durand said Camp 6 will have better recreation and exercise amenities for detainees and integrated medical care. Other facilities at the US naval base on Cuba include Camps 1, 2, 3 and 5, which are maximum-security, single-cell blocks; Camp 4, which is a medium-security, communal living prison; and Camp Iguana, also medium security, which houses detainees cleared for release and awaiting transfer.

    Of all the prisoners ever held at Guatanamo since it was established in January 2002, only 10 have been formally charged. An investigation earlier this year by New Jersey's Seton Hall University showed that, based on the military's own documents, 55 per cent of prisoners are not alleged to have committed any hostile acts against the US, and 40 per cent are not accused of affiliation with al-Qa'ida.

    The same documents suggested only 8 per cent of prisoners are accused of fighting for a terrorist group, and that 86 per cent were captured by the Northern Alliance or Pakistani authorities "at a time when the US offered large bounties for the capture of suspected terrorists".

    Speaking in the Rose Garden in June following the suicide of three prisoners, Mr Bush said: "I'd like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognise that we're holding some people that are darn dangerous, and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts."


Well, why don't we have a plan?   Wouldn't that be cheaper and more ethical than paying "Halliburton subsidiaries" to build another jail?

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The sanctity of words -

Words begin as description.  They are prismatic vehicles of hidden, deeper shades of thought.  You can hold them up at different angles until the light bursts through in an unexpected color.

    - Susan Brind Morrow
          The Names of Things

Consider well each word you use each day, each thought.  If they are breaking like rainbows inside you, you should well know on what they are caught, taught, and released.

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Chocolate therapy without the book -

I decide to succumb to my own brownie recipe, which I make, and will now share with you, so you can succumb too.

First, it is best to visit the Scharfenberger factory in Berkeley, which Cook's magazine says has the best chocolate, which is worth the price, and buy unsweetened chocolate, and other chocolate, too.  If you are in a pinch, though, use what you have.  Whole Foods also sells Scharfenberger chocolate, but it is not so much fun without the tour.

So, here it is - my easy, fast, and quick Brownie recipe.


Preheat oven to 300.   Grease an 8 inch pan.

Melt 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate with 1 stick butter.
Remove from heat and add 1 cup sugar and 1 egg.
Add 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup flour.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
Bake 22 minutes.

Yum!!    All problems will dissolve in your mouth and your tummy will sing songs of gratitude throughout the day and night.
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Ellen Meloy -

I am reading an incredible book by Ellen Meloy, who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 58.  Her death is rather inexplicable, in light of her healthy, natural life, and, so it is.  She has left us her books.  I am entranced with her book, The Anthropology of Turquoice, Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit.   Here are some excerpts to entice you into the rivers and canyonlands of the southwest.

I excerpt from her chapter on the Deeds and Sufferings of Light as brought forth by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who said, "Colours are the deeds and sufferings of light."

The Russian painter Vasily Kandinsky in his 1912 meditation, On the Spiritual in Art, wrote that "Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers."  He said, "The power of profound meaning is blue.  Blue is concentric motion."  "Red rings inwardly with a determined and powerful intensity.  It glows in itself, maturely, and does not distribute its vigor aimlessly."

I once wrote a poem about the blue of certainty.  It is called The Blue House.   I understood that blue is certainty.  This book confirms that for me. 

Meloy says, "Colors are not possessions; they are the intimate revelations of an energy field."

    "Imagine that you have no eyes and this is how you must organize your perceptual life: by physical contact.  You sneak or crawl or ooze over objects in your path, perhaps crash into them or knock them over. You stick out an advance appendage to fondle your terrain, hoping to come across something edible or matable or both.  You might slip your appendage up and over the face of a cold, flat, steel plain and only seconds after severing that limb with a bloody spurt think "razor blade."

    If you and your kind survive bruised foreheads, amputation, and impalement, particular cells may grow somewhere on your body surface, cells that become sensitive to light.  Rather than form an image, the cells merely discern brightness from dimness.  If, when these cells gather, your skin cups slightly, in a sort of lenslike curve, and if the cells form rudimentary pigments, the cells will capture some of the light.  Your nerves may translate this trapped light into information, perhaps distinguishing between something bright versus a shadow, say the shadow of a giant killer hyena, and with your sensory awareness by remote rather than physical contact, you might have a few seconds to flee before the hyena eats you.  At this point, the pigments, photoreceptive cells, cups, and nerve impulses, already vastly complex millions of years before they become eyes, are moving along the dense evolutionary path toward vision - toward color vision - as we know it.

    When someone says they feel color, the serene caress of jade or the acidic bite of yellow, do not accuse them of using illegal drugs.  In primitive life forms the eye began as a light-sensitive depression in the skin; the sense of sight likely evolved from the sense of touch.

    The complex human eye harvests light."

    "It has been shown that the words for colors enter evolving languages in this order, nearly universally: black, white, and red, then yellow and green (in either order), with green covering blue until blue comes into itself.  Once blue is acquired, it eclipses green."

    "Until synthetic chemistry reproduced it, purple was among the rarest of dyes, a liqueur squeezed from the veins of a small mollusk.  One mollusk yielded one drop; extracting a single ounce of the dye sacrificed 250,000 mollusks."

    Can you ever see color quite the same again?   Revel in it.  I have read that looking at computer screens, is reducing our abilities to differentiate colors.  See how many greens and blues can magnify in your life today.   Feel and see the "deeds and sufferings of light."   Revel in the evolution of your genes.   
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The Moon -

The moon is exquisite tonight in the evening sky with some planets for pointers.   The planetarium has this to say about the sky tonight.  "The waxing crescent Moon is in Virgo. The “terminator” – the line that divides the Moon’s daytime & nighttime sides – runs across the Sea of Tranquility, where the astronauts of Apollo 11 walked 37 years ago. Venus rises at 4:19 a.m. Mars sets at 9:41 p.m. Jupiter sets at 12:29 a.m. Saturn sets at 8:41 p.m."  Enjoy!!