October 5th, 2008

obama - book lovers

Good Morning

I look out and the light is definitely fall, and I wonder how it is so obvious.  Perhaps we sense the slant sliding south.

It seems the country is waking up and Obama is on the rise.   I feel happy this morning, content.  Of course, getting to see Chris today and go to a party is part of that.  Perhaps it is the adaptability of we humans, our ability to digest, accept, evolve.

I read something interesting in Cook's magazine yesterday about olive oil.   It is not just the candidates we are debating, but which is better, Italian or Spanish olive oil.   Well, it seems it comes down to marketing.   Surprise!!

It seems that "Italian oils came by their signature flavor profile out of necessity - and producers then made it a virtue."

"Tuscany has frost problems, or potential frost problems, so the law requires that they harvest their olives early - by a certain date - and that means they have a green olive oil that is bitter and pungent," said Vossen.  "So the Italians just convinced the world that's how extra-virgin olive oil is supposed to taste.  It's marketing.  Once you realize that and put it in context and take it with a grain of salt ... yes, they make absolutely fabulous extra-virgin olive oils in Italy, but it's really just one style."

And here I thought it was me.  :)   

In 1972, Steve and I thought Lancer's was a special wine.  That was our treat when we wanted to rise about Gallo Hearty Burgundy.  We lived in San Diego and came north to the bay area and, of course, headed to a winery for a taste.  We were chosen to do a special taste test of more expensive wines.  We laugh now, because our taste buds were not impressed with all the delightful stimulations of chocolate, pepper, butterscotch, apricot, juniper,  whatever and so we didn't rate the great wines very well.  

Now, we are better trained and I'm sure would do much better in discerning what we're taught is "best."

Happy Day!!

Book Cover

just one teensy-tiny political comment -

Op-Ed Columnist

Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain

Published: October 4, 2008

SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

To understand the meaning of Palin’s “victory,” it must be seen in the context of two ominous developments that directly preceded it. Just hours before the debate began, the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. That state is ground zero for the collapsed Main Street economy and for so-called Reagan Democrats, those white working-class voters who keep being told by the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim who hung with bomb-throwing radicals during his childhood in the late 1960s.

McCain surrendered Michigan despite having outspent his opponent on television advertising and despite Obama’s twin local handicaps, an unpopular Democratic governor and a felonious, now former, black Democratic Detroit mayor. If McCain can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere in the Rust Belt?

Not without an economic message. McCain’s most persistent attempt, his self-righteous crusade against earmarks, collapsed with his poll numbers. Next to a $700 billion bailout package, his incessant promise to eliminate all Washington pork — by comparison, a puny grand total of $16.5 billion in the 2008 Federal budget — doesn’t bring home the bacon. Nor can McCain reconcile his I-will-veto-government-waste mantra with his support, however tardy, of the bailout bill. That bill’s $150 billion in fresh pork includes a boondoggle inserted by the Congressman Don Young, an Alaskan Republican no less.


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obama - book lovers

Moments of beauty, hope, inspiration and zen -


Watch this video of the prison and the cat.

This is the story of what one cat, one person, one touch, can do. I think the most important comment in this is:

One of the greatest "conspiracies" of all is the denial of the inherent decency in human beings.

Politics tries to divide us, so we will elect people who, as the last few weeks have shown, could do a little more to earn their paycheck. I find it ironic that McCain espouses less government when he, his father, and his grandfather worked for the government. He hasn't had a job on the "outside."

The power of compassion
and the teachings of a stray cat

One of the greatest "conspiracies" of all is the denial of the inherent decency in human beings.

Many people who are in jail belong there, but when it comes to the United States you have to wonder.

The US has a higher percentage of its population behind bars than any other country in the world: more than China, more than Russia, more than any backwater dictatorship.

In 2002, the prison population in the US topped 2 million for the first time.

That means that roughly 1 out of every 142 US residents is behind bars.

As of 2002, the federal government held 1,355,748 (two thirds of the entire incarcerated population) and growth in the federal population makes up 40% of the growth in inmates.

This gulag system is fantastically profitable for the companies that build and manage prisons...for the companies that supply them...for the prison guard unions...and for the state itself which sells prison labor to private corporations for pennies on the dollar.

Even the phone companies are in the act, charging prisoners and their families phenomenal way-above-market rate to make and receive phone calls from outside.

Why are there so many people in prison in the land of the free?

Excessively long sentences is one factor.

I don't know anything about the Chapman case, but if you're interested, you can find more information about his situation here:

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connection -

When Palin made it clear, that she did not pause to discuss the decision of running for vice-president with her family, I think most of us realized that we had discussed any job offer or change as a family, and probably also with friends.   Do you think this is the right decision?   Let's make a list of the pros and cons.   Most of us make decisions like that. 

Steve was offered a huge promotion in NY when Jeff was starting high school.  We turned it down, putting the "kids" first.   We had both moved a great deal growing up and we wanted to offer what we perceived as a different stability for our children. 

I can't imagine having a leader who thinks any decision is about her alone.  Oh, wait, we've had that.  We've had The Decider who seems unaware that his decisions affect the lives of other people.   Bob Woodward said on Bill Maher Friday night how disconnected Bush is from the disasters he has caused.  I think the book The Sociopath Next Door explains Bush well.     I do not appreciate seeing his patterns repeated in Palin.   This woman is cold as shown in her inability to respond to Biden's emotion at losing his wife and child, and being a single parent trying to raise his sons.   This is a woman who thinks it is all right to shoot wolves from airplanes, and does not want to protect the polar bear.

I think this is a good article on how we each look at Palin and through her decisions better see our own.   Surely, we all feel for Bristol and the father of her child, and the lack of choice either of them was given.   The issue is not about abortion.  It is about choice, and that each of us has choice, and that choice is made within the context of family and society.   What best benefits Bristol, the fetus, and society?   A discussion of the matter might have led to different results.  

The Way We Live Now

Palin Talk

Published: October 2, 2008

Nearly five years ago, my husband was offered a prestigious, challenging plum of a job in another country. At the time, my father was dying, and my older son, suffering from debilitating migraines, was struggling in school. Sometimes parents decide that what is tempting, even perfect, for them is just not right for their family. My husband turned down the job.


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obama - book lovers

Joan at jblindsight

I'm moving Joan's comment on the last post into the main body of the journal because I think sometimes comments are missed and what she says is important, and, as always, she says it well. We somehow allowed ourselves to accept Bush. We cannot, must not do the same with Palin.

Joan at http://jblindsight.livejournal.com/

Joan's words:

I just posted this on Orb's journal, as had copied out a sentence of Palin's that made no sense.

"Have you ever been around someone who appears "normal" but after being around them you realize they are stone crazy? That's my take on Gov. Palin. She's crazy.

- Normal people don't get exorcised by witch doctors.
- They don't shoot wolves out of helicopters for fun.
- They don't get on an airplane when they are in labor.
- They don't embarrass their 15 year old daughter in front of the nation.

I'm sure there is more. What I'm saying is that you can't gauge her by rational standards because she is living in her own fantasy world. Seems to me we're having a glimpse into a dissociated personality."

So while I think there is validity in this article in that we are examining our individual decisions, if you look at Palin's actions and decisions over the years, they're not (how can I say this?) fully vested in reality? Not that we all haven't done whacky things. But we know they're whacky. She thinks that's normal behavior, even believing she is a role model.

Just my opinion, but I've seen this sort of thing in other women. Where the author errs in this piece is her classic liberal stance, "her way was not mine." BS. Forget being PC. Palin's way is the way of the crackpot. Why are people so afraid to say this? If it had been said about Bush, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.
obama - book lovers

Evening -

I read that Palin has been in CA today spouting lies and people cheer.  They cheer, "Drill, baby, drill."  I find it unfathomable.

I came home and spotted Frank Rich's book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, on my book shelf.  I had forgotten to read it, so I started in, and it is so disgusting to read these words written in 2006 and to see what has been done and what continues now with McCain-Palin.  They lie, distort, and win.  They create their own reality and they admit it, exult in it.   It is one sentence of revolting facts after another and we know it all.  We've watched it all, and yet, somehow they get away with it and here we are.

They make fun of us in our "reality-based community," as they stomp all over it and win, and the people of this country, many of them, and let's hope not the majority, eat it up.  Everything is staged.   Bush reads a book to children as they cut programs for children.  He stands in front of a senior home as they cut funding for seniors and no one looks at the statistics and facts, and reading this, I think maybe Palin is right that not enough people in this country care about those things anyway.

A nation cannot survive without an educated populace.   My daughter-in-law spends a great deal of time in Missouri for her job.  They chant, Sarah.  They love her.   I had not realized Crawford, Texas was created as a front for Bush to make a comparison with Reagan.  Palin likes to quote Reagan.  That is when this disaster began, and the problems in CA began when Reagan was elected governor of this state.  I remember well the school system we had when he came in and what he did to dismantle it.  It is hard not to feel disheartened.   Again, today, we discussed where we might go if McPain wins.  I can't really imagine living in a country where people can be so manipulated and so enthusiastically cheer their own demise, and yet, here I am.

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Pride -

As I watch Palin parade around, I think of the old saying "Pride goeth before a fall."

I have to believe there is going to be a fall in this arrogant, untruthful and disrespectful display. 

I just don't believe one gets away with it, though it seems it's been going on in our government for quite a while, but certainly not this blatantly or maybe it has been this blatant, and it comes one issue at a time, and the distractions are tossed our way, but now, certainly with Bush creating a $4 trillion dollar debt that continues to grow, people will see, and yet somehow they don't, or maybe the media is so manipulated that we think they don't.   They create their own reality, as they so proudly say.   Unfortunately, each of us is affected too.

Do the American people think life is a video game?  Can it really be that bad?

I was reading in Ricard's book Happiness that "In the United States and in Europe, people spend an average of 3.5 hours a day in front of a television set.  That is a whole year of life every seven years!"

warming hut

Building, building, gone!!


I take two quotes by Woodrow Wilson from the above article on salon.com.

Imagine this kind of rhetoric coming from McPain.

From The New Freedom: A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People," published in 1913. "The New Freedom" is a distillation of campaign speeches Wilson made while running for President in 1911.

On page 185 there is the following section:

A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom.

And on page 201:

We are at the parting of the ways. We have, not one or two or three, but many, established and formidable monopolies in the United States. We have, not one or two, but many, fields of endeavor into which it is difficult, if not impossible, for the independent man to enter. We have restricted credit, we have restricted opportunity, we have controlled development, and we have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world -- no longer a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.

ashes and snow - wings

Response -

My husband has more patience than I in responding to those who disagree with him, so he tolerates being called a communist and socialist by others, though it seems irrelevant to what he believes.

I am posting his response to a woman with whom he has been corresponding by email.   She believes the lies about Obama, and though I won't give you what she has written that Steve is responding to, I think it will be apparent what he defends.

I think what he writes is important for many reasons, but, perhaps, most importantly is it gives a first-hand explanation of what we are up against in China and Japan.  While we are arguing about little things, we are being far surpassed by those who know how to focus and keep their eye on the ball as we once did.  


I'm glad we agree that the government we are getting is largely bought. I could rail on about the morality of the idea that we the people have allowed a system to be developed in which virtually the sole job of our elected officials is simply getting elected (and then re-elected), and that we have allowed ourselves to be swayed in local, state and national elections over such minor non-policy issues as abortion, prayer in schools, Constitutional amendments on flag burning, global warming, gay marriage and the defensive strategy against a medieval backlash amongst medieval people. With the passage of the bailout bill and the addition of $140 billion in increased earmarks, it seems to me that an involved citizenry would be marching in the streets. That we are not is tragic.

You apparently believe that Jimmy Carter was a fool. So be it. It occurs to me that in response to two oil price shocks he tried to establish a leadership position for the U.S. in the development of alternative energy sources. I happen to believe this is a good idea, whether proposed by a Republican or Democrat, because no matter how much oil is left out there, its location in the world and the increasing cost of getting it means that instability of prices will increase over time. Given that when we started, oil basically just leaked out of the ground and we learned to collect it, refine it and distribute it over fifty years, it seems a reasonable idea that having grown an economy which was dependent upon a more compact energy source than humans or horse, it made sense to me that our national security might be enhanced if we were the ones who identified alternatives and created that technology. Perhaps this might have happened in a manner similar to the way that we have lead the world in electronic innovations. So pardon me if I think it is foolish to be arguing over issues of philosophy at a time when it seemed important that we were looking ahead to finding replacements for oil.

I frankly don't know who the "real Barack Obama" might be. It is altogether possible that he is a Communist, Muslim sympathizer who would enslave us to medieval Islamo-fascists if he had the chance. It is entirely possible that he is more moderate and will act to create a health-care system in which the object is a healthier nation, and not more profitable pharmaceutical companies and "Health Corporations". I happen to think he is willing to take a stand on major issues which affect our citizens, like jobs, the price of fuel and the price of healthcare. And I don't share the dread of "socialism" as I look at allies like the UK, France, Britain, Germany and Japan and see an involved populace and economies which may not be the greatest in the world, but which manage to meet many of the needs of their citizens in a forward-thinking manner.

I recently spent ten days in Japan and China in relation to several projects we are doing in Asia. I took the time to go through a Toyota factory in Japan and was impressed at the remarkable efficiency they have achieved using computerized production controls and a skilled labor force to simultaneously build auto models as diverse as the Prius, Camry and some domestic market models on the same assembly line. This allows them to change the model mix at will as the market changes, something that is killing our own automobile manufacturers while producing what even the Germans will argue are the finest quality automobiles in the world. I visited an R&D center for Mitsubishi Electric where a variety of dedicated scientists and engineers work to find synergy among the diverse divisions of this company as a means to create products which will take them into the next twenty to fifty years. I rode the latest-generation Shinkansen, a remarkable electric train which performs the wholly unremarkable act of transporting thousands of Japanese across the countryside at speeds of up to 180 mph without modification to the original trackbed. While in China, I went through a Chinese elevator factory to see first hand if their quality had improved to the point where we could use components of Chinese manufacture for new high rise buildings. I stayed in Shanghai, where this ancient city is being remanufactured to suit the 21st century needs of the populace.

What I saw in both places were the kinds of technology I used to take for granted that we would develop in the United States. I saw public facilities, roads and factories which I would have in my youth expected to see in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York. Most of all, I listened to people who reminded me very much of the citizens of our country just forty or fifty years ago, secure in the knowledge that industrialization is a tool which can create the means to greater prosperity and more jobs. The national agenda of Japan is survival and finding the means to maintain relevance in a world where their manufacturing base is dwarfed by China. And the national agenda of China appears to be moving 1.3 billion people toward a standard of living which we, and the Japanese take for granted. In both places there are no doubt significant philosophical arguments about how best to realize this agenda, but work on it proceeds apace.

I look at the "political" landscape in the U.S. and find we have become experts in pettiness. We have become the world's premier marketers, yet our political marketing has become every bit as petty as the way that we market our soap (new! Improved! More lather!).

I think that most Americans want nothing more than a job which has a future, doing something which they can be proud of doing and some assurance that their government will help to organize the efforts of millions of diverse citizens. I think that most Americans want a legal system which works for them, and not vice-versa. Most look to the Constitution as a wondrous document which has inspired nations all over the world to provide rights and freedoms for their citizens which were largely unknown in the sixteenth century when America was settled. I think there are some number of us who grew up in the 1950's when we knew that the cars built in our country were the best in the world, our air transport system second to none, our highways better than those in any other nation. At that time, we knew that we built the best weapons in the world and could respond to virtually any threat, anywhere. Our national leadership worked diligently on the development of an infrastructure which would take us into the 21st century. I think most Americans appreciate that we have a system of laws in which even the most heinous criminal is given his day in court. Certainly by today's standards, the taxation in the 1950's was crushing. We owed money from WWII, we were investing in research for space, weapons, and new technologies which would create a secure nation where our children would grow up with even better opportunities than what we had. The only "bests" we still have are in the development of new weapons and the ever-increasingly arcane means to siphon money out of our national savings.

I look at the last eight years and cannot understand what happened to that nation. After a major criminal event, Bush-as-chicken-little ran willy-nilly telling us the sky was falling because a group of medieval and slimly financed psychopaths managed to come up with a clever and very destructive means to crash four commercial airplanes. Our national agenda was lost and we found ourselves in a war which devalued our money, increased the instability in the price of oil and worst of all, took our eyes off our dreams for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Our once-great manufacturers are struggling or being sold to foreign companies, and meaningful jobs which could be done in America are being shipped overseas in lieu of dealing with problems which have taken years to develop.

In the midst of this election, I watch in awe as a third-rate politician is selected for her TV glamour and "aw-shucks" ordinariness to again appeal to those who bought the same act from George W. Bush. I cannot believe that a woman who believes that men and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time is being taken as a legitimate and potential successor to the Presidency. I've watched the John McCain who once said that torture was wrong change his tune, and who now grovels for support from the Christian right after saying courageously in 2000 "Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right." This is not the John McCain I supported in 2000, but another cynical version of George W. Bush.

Today we have the privilege to vote for a new president. I'm hoping that we can as a nation find a leader who will again awaken our national priorities. I'm hoping that we can find a national leader who understands that as dangerous as modern criminal terrorists are, the far greater danger lies is allowing them to divert our energies as a great nation. I'm hoping that we can find a national leader who ignited our hopes as Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy did for my parents. For my money, I'm betting that Obama can inspire people more positively than John McCain. And should Obama die while in office, I have little doubt that Joe Biden could pick up the pieces and lead. I have major doubts that Sarah Palin has the vision or intellect to do so.

I don't buy the idea that Arab psychopaths represent a huge threat to our nation. I think they are a threat which needs to be dealt with, and I believe that most of the world's nations have had their own terrorist incidents and can reach agreement on the means to deal with extremists. The Algerian terrorists who afflicted France in the 1970's have largely disappeared, the "Bader-Meinhof" group who terrorized Germany is now largely a memory, and even the IRA has been largely quelled. In none of these cases were the problems solved by large armed conflict, but through diligent police work. More importantly, France, Germany and the UK have managed to deal with more pressing issues while still reducing the quantity of "terror-type" crimes.

I have no illusions that the capture of Osama bin Laden will eliminate Muslim terrorism. Like fundamentalist Christians, the Muslims look around them and are unhappy with the way that the world has evolved. They don't particularly like the idea of parity of men and women or that someone who doesn't hold to their religious dogma may be a world power.

I hope you're still reading at this point. I doubt your dream of America is far different from my own. You may believe that Jimmy Carter was a fool, or that torture is a positive tool in crime fighting, but I'd argue that you would still like to live in an America where our products were second to none and where the primary charge of the government is to chart a course for the next twenty years.

sea ranch chapel

Happiness -

from Happiness by Matthieu Ricard:

"Destructive mental factors are deviations that gradually distance us from our true nature, to the point that we forget its very existence. And yet nothing is forever and irreparably lost. Even buried in filth, gold remains gold in its essential nature. The destructive emotions are merely veils, superimpositions.  Father Pierre Ceyrac, a renowned Jesuit missionary who has cared for thirty thousand children in India over the past sixty years, told me: "Despite everything, I'm struck by the goodness of people, even those who seem to have their hearts and eyes shut.  It is other people, all others, who create the fabric of our lives and shape the way we live.  Each is a note in the 'great concert' of existence, as the poet Tagore phrased it.  No one can resist the call of love. We always end up opening ourselves to it. I truly believe that man is intrinsically good.  We must always see the good, the beautiful, in a person, never destroy, always look for someone's greatness without distinction of religion, caste, or belief."

Tibetan sayings:

The water of good qualities does not pool on top of the rock of pride.

Humility is like a vessel placed at ground level, ready to receive the rain of qualities. 

Ricard:  "At the collective level, pride is expressed in the conviction of being superior to others as a nation or a race, of being the guardian of the true values of civilization, and of the need to impose this dominant "model" on "ignorant" peoples by any means available.  This attitude often serves as pretext for "developing" the resources of underdeveloped countries.  The conquistadors and their bishops burned the vast Mayan and Aztec libraries of Mexico, of which barely a dozen volumes survive. Chinese textbooks and media continue to describe Tibetans as backward barbarians and the Dalai Lama as a monster.  It was pride, above all, that allowed the Chinese to ignore the hundreds of thousands of volumes of philosophy housed in Tibetan monasteries before they demolished six thousand of those centers of learning."

I sit with all this tonight.  I know that suffering is wanting things to be different than they are.  I believe in evolution, want to believe that we keep rising, circling upward in understanding and compassion and maybe I need to orient myself more to the changing tides, the phases of the moon.  Perhaps peace is there.  

Today I stood on the beach and flew a stunt kite.  You use two hands and the power of the wind moves through you.  It is an incredible meditation, a balancing of left and right, and earth and sky.  May this be so!

I set intention for today and tomorrow.