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Monday, December 25, 2006

May the light grow...

A photo I took early Christmas morning as the sun rose.
It's Mountain Ash or Rown tree berries, decorated with an overnight snowfall.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Asylum Street Spankers are patriots!

Okay, there are a few words that seem crude here - and if you own a big SUV or support the war in Iraq, you might take a pass on this one. For everyone else, I think you will be entertained nicely - vaudeville style! (Thanks to Susan.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Man Michael...Unplugged

I have been friends with Michael for more than 30 years. When I first met him, he had just been released from two years in a U.S. federal penitentiary - for his ant-war activities. He sent out Christmas greetings to some of his buddies (me included) and I just had to post a little of his ranting here. It might not be very Christmasy, but hey, I think Jesus would agree with the sentiments...

Remember the government propaganda about Vietnam (40 years ago already, wow!!!)? That war was lost by 1968 really...but "give us one more chance to win it please" they said (for years and years) or..."the region will explode if we don't win this war (so let's bomb Laos and Cambodia cause they are supporting our enemy)".

Or..we gotta take the fight to the commies there or we will have to fight them on our own soil soon. We got to Vietnamize this war...strengthen the South Vietnam army so they can stand up and we can stand down. We can't just cut and run, it will ruin our imagine in the world and embolden our enemies, make them think we are weak. (Perhaps we are weak when we cannot admit our mistakes and have to resort to violence to make our point all the time, rather then negotiate with our declared enemies like other countries have to; heaven forbid an level playing field).

1975 came and millions more dead and wounded (if you count the yellow fellas who normally don't count.... 650,000 brown in today's case)- we 'lost the war' cause the south army was not able to stand up, the people living there never wanted us there really in the first place, etc etc.

Any of this sound familiar? It was then and is now an excuse for an imperialist notion of global dominance to protect the American way of life...which is, it seems, to shop and drive gas guzzling SUVs ... while poorer kids join up (cause its work and pays and seems like an adventure at first) and die and who notices much because its mainly people dying in some other country who don't count much anyway?

So, let's make the military bigger because we are spread too thin with bases in only 735 places around the world, in 93 countries... so we can do more of these Iraq adventures...or better yet...attack Iran or have Israel do it and make the war even bigger to hide the mistakes in Iraq; ...surely that will make us safer (like bombing Laos and Cambodia did?).

I am still an anti-war person at heart and still an anti-imperial policy person who still does not think America has some divine destiny to rule the world as we please for the sake of the rich getting richer and poor poorer (as this trend continues unabated, even now worse in America and round the world).

My hope for the season is peace on earth - fewer guns each and every year in America, where they are manufactured and we might have some fewer American and Canadian young people in foreign lands 'protecting' us from the enemy in some notion of a perpetual war on terror. The notion of this continuing is terrorizing me as much as lessons not learned and history repeating itself.

Amen (added by Gary).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Seven more sleeps...

Christmas is a big deal in a good part of the world. For some it's all about Christ and seeking spirit. For many, it's got the scent of that, but it's more about families, gifts, rituals and a good break from day to day work and school.

I love much of it - the smells, the lights, the music (especially Bing Crosby!) and the informal visiting that goes on in our co-housing community. I am aware though, that for many people (maybe most of us) it also brings out feelings of loneliness, expectations, childhood lost...not to mention credit card anxiety.

What about you?

What do you like or love about this festival?
What is difficult or annoying about it?

One of my best Christmases was in Khartoum Sudan. I went alone to a hotel and ate a big meal of Nile perch (don't ask). Then I looked for a party I heard about - it was supposed to be filled with humanitarian types (OXFAM, Red Cross, UN etc). I got lost driving up and down dark, dusty lanes and was going to head home when I saw Christmas lights and all kinds of cars. Sure enough - big party.

When I went to the door I was embraced by a woman in a little elf outfit (very un-Sudanese believe me) and welcomed in. Turned out it was a petroleum industry bash... and they thought I must belong. There was illicit booze, smoked salmon from Scotland, Belgian chocolate, dancing on tables .... making out in the corners. All the stuff the other party wouldn't have.

A few times in conversation I was discovered to be an intruder, but was embraced again and again and fed enough booze and good food to be dehydrated for days. I even sneaked some chocolate and salmon out for my now-sleeping housemates.

Good Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I am 484,889 hours old...

This link takes you to a page where you enter your birthday (day, month, year). It then provides you with more information than you'd ever want - from how many seconds you've been alive to what the moon looked like on that day.

This is a great time-waster for those of you looking to kill a few minutes. If you try other peoples' dates, you might even kill an hour!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Human Rights Day - December 10th

A longer post than usual - bear with me if you can...

Many of we humans now realize that environmentally the world is one - the atmosphere we breathe knows no borders and is shared, better or worse, by all. The water in my body and from my tap is the same body of water that someone is using in Djibouti or Sydney or Nepal. The oil and gas we are digging out from under the earth's skin is from one source... and is warming the planet for all of us as we burn it.

Even the human economy is one thing - look where your bananas and shirts and skirts and toys and pencils come from. Look at where your investments or retirement funds are spent.

Here's my idea: we are one group of humans and if we can attain basic human rights for every soul, we will evolve successfully. If we can't, we're likely to fail.

A good place to begin is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10th, 1948. It's a standard not fully met in any nation (although Norway is pretty damn close Nerdine!). And many of the rights enshrined there are under attack as fear grows and governments 'protect' their citizens by removing our rights.

Anyhow, celebrate this wonderful vision tomorrow and if you have a few minutes go to this Amnesty link and write a letter on behalf of those who don't have the rights you have.

My daughter and her Grade 11 friends blitzed their high school last week with human rights. One day there was a poster for each of the 30 rights posted. One day, every student (800) found a piece of paper on their desk with a scenario such as this:

Imagine your uncle is involved in a peace association that your government does not approve of. One day soldiers storm your house, looking for him. When they can’t find him they kidnap your family and take you to a military camp. Imagine that they proceed to beat, torture and rape you and members of your family, even though you have no idea where your uncle is. This happened to a boy named Enrique Somanas in Mexico and happens to other people all over the world.

Everyone has the right to take part in meetings and join associations in a peaceful way. Article 20 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights

or this:
Imagine that you are traveling back to Canada from a foreign vacation. On a stopover in New York you are arrested, imprisoned and then flown to another country – without being charged with a crime and without your family being notified. After 11 months of torture and interrogation, you are released and flown home to Canada. You are never charged with anything and never given an explanation from the United States for why you were kidnapped and tortured.This is the experience of Maher Arar, a 34 year old Canadian who lives in Kamloops, BC today.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 5 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
And Thursday, they had 120 students come to school wearing black fabric over their mouths. Each had taken a vow of silence in honour of those in the world who are not free to speak. About 75% made it through the day silently. The Principal tried to stop this activity (for educational reasons) and was voted down by the teachers who agreed that if it wasn't inconvenient or uncomfortable for everyone, it wouldn't honour those who really can't speak.

I'm counting on the kids to evolve humanity in this century. You?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Richest 2% own 'half the wealth'

(Story) The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute.

The report, from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth.

I don't know about you, but that makes me rather sad... I won't rant here about what should happen to change that (unless you ask), but I will say that we need to evolve a hell of a lot farther than this to be a species that I have any respect for.

Your thoughts on this news?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Congratulations Stephane Dion!

The Liberal Party of Canada has chosen its new national leader, Stephane Dion. He was a dark horse, who came up the middle in the 3rd and 4th ballot to beat out the two perceived front-runners (by many at least), Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff. Monsieur Dion is an academic type who reminds me of Dennis the Menace's father (in appearance). He has been called 'anti-charismatic' by some.

His priority is to work for a sustainable future for Canada - a future that addresses climate change and the environment, while maintaining a successful economy and promoting social justice. and I think he means it.

Here's my take: The Liberals need to regroup from their many years in power. They were recently spanked and sent to their room for arrogance, corruption and scandal (gotta love many years in power). I think Stephane Dion is a many of integrity and who needs charisma anyhow - it's over-rated, believe me.

I hope he leads the Liberals to win the government in the next election.


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