Sunday, October 26, 2008

aye aye aye...


“Don't have sex man. It leads to kissing and pretty soon you have to start talking to them.”

~ Steve Martin

Well gosh... sex. Hmmm... how do we talk about sex, you know, responsibly? I know my teens don't want to hear it. And we as a nation can freak out over the silliest of incidents, like Janet Jackson's .5 second nipple flash during a Super Bowl halftime performance. (Googling the words - Janet Jackson Super bowl - brings up 348,000 hits) I swear, that moment of flash raised so much hullabaloo you'd think she'd dropped her drawers and mooned the President. A thought I'm sure that has occurred to more than a just few citizens over the last 7 1/2 years...

I mean I'm 57 and I've had sex a few times in my adult life. As a man, sex has on occasion occupied a bit of my mental meanderings (but no more than 80 - 90 % of the time!) and I've been through periods both of activity and of abstinence. Personally? I'd rather be active... with a partner... than not. And luckily these days I've found a woman friend that is both good looking and... mmmm... active. Plus she is intelligent, passionate, well read and well travelled. And an old hippie. We make each other laugh. Not just giggling but full blown gut-busting laughter. During sex! Whats with that? And I must admit, sex is better now than when I was a young man. Who woulda thunk it?

What is it that makes this nation so weird about sex? Puritanical roots? Obviously at least a few folks engage in sex as we keep reproducing. Our schools still have kids in them... hospitals and midwives keep delivering babies... so, someone somewhere is engaging in the act. Watch TV and you can see how important boobs are. And certainly in comedy sex has a large role. Even Presidents have been known to have sex... but on TV sex is used to sell virtually everything. Have you ever noticed in commercials for products totally not connected with sex, how prevalent cleavage is? Especially beer... beer drinkers love boobs. Apparently...

But how silly does this US obsession get (beyond Jackson's nipple)? (hah... and you thought this was really about sex...)

The Obsessed with Breasts Public Awareness Campaign "ignited controversy and comment around the world."

Is the above image shocking? Not for me. Neither is it titillating. Apparently it was controversial enough to get the ads banned in the SF Bay Area. It is about a real issue for many women. Over 180,000 women will be found with breast cancer this year. 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.

With all the ills that plague us, with all the disease and starvation that occurs daily in the world we all need to participate in some way towards moving modern "civilization" away from the world that focuses far more on bombs than starving babies. Breast cancer activists have started what is a very visible and impressive Pink Campaign. As usual... there are profiteers who portray themselves as helping the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. Unlike legitimate supporters these profiteers only put on a facade. Be aware of Think Before You Pink. Give your time and/or money, but give intelligently, know where your resources are going and make sure they go where they will do some good.

In these tough economic times, make every investment count. Create health. End the 21st century campaigns of war. We must change. We must seek peace. Prosperity and health, not clusterbombs and misery. Feed the starving. Money for peace, not war. Race to the cure., etc...

“Approximately one in seven American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and more than 2 million Americans are living with breast cancer today. I am joining the more than 200,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.”

~ Sheryl Crow


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

oh yeah... that other war... "Who cares if it cures cancer?"


“Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

I've been putting off writing this next piece. Its hard to write and say the truth of what must be said. What I've been saying in this long series of posts on the drug war -- aka Prohibition II (or in new millenium parlance: Prohibition 2.0) -- is truthfully a condemnation of my own nation. I like this place. But in the context of where and how we began as a nation I think my attitude is both justified and patriotic.

I continue to stand on the principle of founding that the Constitution is our document. It and its declaration of our right of independence as human beings was placed in our care. But we've neglected our responsibilities. We've left the chicken coop open and the foxes have taken over.

Many, many people are relatively unaware of the drug war's specifics, knowing only what glimmers they glimpse on the news or in their newspapers. Few take the time to investigate the issue and end up being spoon fed misinformation that only serves to further entrench a bureaucracy within which dogma reigns supreme and heaven help those who stand in opposition. A bureaucracy that has as among its guidelines the power to lie:

The Drug Czar is required by law to lie

Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:

Responsibilities. --The Director-- [...]

(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that--

A. is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
B. has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

But there is no surprise in that really. Considering the false premises (often inspired by racial bigotry) upon which this nearly century old drugs Prohibition was founded, how else to maintain the lie than to pass a law mandating use of "... such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance..." This is a terrible power to bestow upon a massive government run by human beings. There is no human being that I've met that is perfect. We all suffer the same (yet uniquely individual!) faults just not in the same measures.

Because of who I am and the way I am I've found myself on the unpopular end of a few hot button issues. I've kind of developed a thick skin about epithats flung my way, preferring instead to come to know those who fling them. I actually believe that in the 30 plus years of my politicking things have gotten much better in the US. But fighting against this new/old Prohibition (and I say it that way because Prohibition is a very specific entity and even though it's target may change, Prohibition doesn't because it operates on certain immutable fundamentals) brings up some terrible vitriol from those who are Prohibition's most ardent supporters.

These are people who take to heart the ONDCP's edict to take "such actions" as necessary to prevent legalization. Even discussion is verboten. There is no national dialogue, no debate. The folks who lead this Charge of the Dim Brigade operate free from any major scrutiny. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) head John Walters has never faced tough questions. No reporters who would ask tough questions get close enough to Walters, the "Drug Czar" (and I'm sorry but this is not Russia, we don't have czars in the US), to ask those questions. He operates from behind castle walls, insulated from those who would challenge his falsehoods and end the reign of the czars.

An example of this law-to-lie is the insidious denial of cannabis (marijuana) as a legitimate medicine. The feds firmly deny there is any medical use for pot. Yet the plant has a history as a medicine that goes as far back as recorded history, some 5,000 years ago in China:

"Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years," says Donald I. Abrams, MD. "That's a lot longer than it hasn't been a medicine." Abrams, who is an oncologist and director of clinical research programs at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, is one of a handful of top-flight doctors in the country researching medical marijuana. "The war on drugs is really a war on patients," he says. (from here) (emphasis mine)

And its not like one day in China there was this big "POOF!" and suddenly this plant appeared. The relationship between cannabis and humanity is so old that we don't know how old our relationship with it is...

"In Chinese medicine," Abrams says, "they prescribe whole herbs and usually combinations of herbs."

It just seems a little odd that what was medicine for millenia is all of a sudden not medicine. Odd that some bureaucrat with more than a trace of racial prejudice could override use of such an ancient, basic resource:

The use of cannabis or hemp can also be traced back to the Stone Age. The cannabis plant is native to Central Asia but had already spread across the Old World before history began. As well as having psychoactive properties the cannabis plant also provides an extremely strong fibre, which has been used from time immemorial. Nevertheless its mind-altering effects were also made use of in Neolithic times. Stone Age cultures on the steppes used it in a ritual fashion at least as far back as the third millennium BC. In a burial site in Romania belonging to the Kurgan people (identified by Gimbutas as the Proto-Indo-Europeans), archaeologists discovered a small ritual brazier which still contained the remains of charred hemp seeds. This, like the use of opium in Old Europe, seems to be a practice that is ancestral to those known from historical sources. ...

... The excavation of Scythian tombs at Pazyryk in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia (dating from the fifth century BC) revealed metal braziers, the burnt remains of cannabis seeds and even the poles used to support the tent! ... The presence of charred seeds in both the Kurgan burial and the Scythian tomb indicates that the combustible (and psychoactive) parts of the plant – namely flowers and leaves – had been consumed and the hard residue left behind.

Cannabis not only went west to Europe from its homeland on the steppes but also travelled to China. Linguistic research undertaken by the Chinese scholar Hui-Lin Li indicates that both the technological and the psychoactive uses of the plant were known to the ancient Chinese. In Chinese, hemp is referred to as ta-ma, meaning 'great fibre' (ma = fibre). Li also points out that in archaic times the character ma had two meanings. The first of these was 'chaotic or numerous', a reference to the appearance and quantity of its fibres. The other meaning was 'numbness or senselessness', a reference to its stupefying qualities, which were apparently made use of for medicinal and ritual reasons. The current state of knowledge concerning the prehistoric use of cannabis indicates that it was first cultivated in northeast Asia both for its fibre and also as a means to induce ecstasy among shamans. There are a number of references in ancient Chinese writings to the use of cannabis by magicians and Taoists, and it appears that such uses stem from their shamanistic forebears.
(from here)

I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist but I do know dementia when I see it (hey, I live in Eugene!) and our prohibition against cannabis (and all the other banned drugs)(its a short list, compared to the thousands of legal drugs) is highly demented.

Do you think this is a minor issue? What, with our economy in the tank and the general state of today's affairs that its really all about a buncha pot heads who just want to get high? If so then perhaps you need to reread these posts. Or in a kinder more gentle prodding... read on.

I talk about the Constitution quite a bit. There is a lot of momentum among cannabists for the belief that hemp paper was used in the original drafts of the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence). If that little bit of history is a question of curiosity for you, here is an excellent thread on the topic: Original Declaration of Independence printed on 100% hemp paper?

Of more interest is the face of pot Prohibition today. As a student of the issue I've noticed there are a few names you'll never hear any ardent drug warrior mention:

Donald Scott, killed in a no-knock raid because police (and other agencies) wanted to seize his multi-million property in the coastal mountains of southern Cal. He was "suspected" of growing marijuana. None was found.

Peter McWilliams, died while awaiting trial in federal court on charges of manufacturing marijuana. He was. But Peter was a best-selling author (Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do who suffered from AIDS and cancer.

Patrick Dorismond

And the list is far, far longer. A list comprised of innocents who became victims not of drugs but of the drug war - Prohibition II.

Government's job is not to protect us from ourselves. Besides, pot doesn't kill people:

While there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone.

In the US, the number of deaths from alcohol and tobacco is over 1/2 million per year. Some might call that carnage. If it were a war. But tobacco products can be obtained virtually anywhere. Liquor is sold ubiquitously and the delerium and the social damage it causes is the stuff of legend.

So what would you think if you found out the US governement once stumbled upon a possible cure (or highly effective treatment) for cancer but kept it secret? You'd think that was pretty sick, yes? Well...

US: Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew In '74

Fortunately cancer doesn't run in my family but if it did... wow, I'd be more than a little miffed. Pissed off is what I'd be. And follow up studies have confirmed this trait of cannabis:

Studies Showing an Anti-Cancer Effect

And my my my... what about all you women? Concerned about breast cancer?

Marijuana Compound Shows Promise In Fighting Breast Cancer

“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” says Sean D. McAllister, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”

It just seems to me that the shelving (burying) of that study in Virginia in 1974 probably set cancer research back 25 years.

And if this all works out the way I believe it will, that cannabis, useful in treating so many medical conditions, will eventually be recognized for multiple benefits for our health and we will have generations of folks wondering why their families were made to suffer at the hands of those who themselves suffer from a disease. A disease known as Reefer Madness...

A pox on the houses of those drug warriors who lie, who have cost us inestimable damage. Being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail would be too good for them.

To deny reality in such egregious, wholesale fashion is not just un-American it is anti-American. This "war" is not a war on drugs, it is a war on we the people, the very citizens this government was formed to serve.

“Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?”

~ P. J. O'Rourke

“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”

~ Willie Nelson


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh no! Not another election???


“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”

~ Groucho Marx

My my my... elections anyone? Everyone is having fun I hope... I wish I could but I can't say as I am.

I have far more friends who will be voting for Obama than for McCain. I live in a blue state, what can I say? Actually the western 3rd here is green and the eastern 2/3 would overall qualify as a tan color I suppose. The desert is multi-colored, hues and shades that are phenomenal. Here in the west though, we only have 3 colors in winter... green, brown and grey. So I'm not big on that blue state thing. I think all the states are feeling a little blue these days.

So... friends voting for Obama... Me, nah. While I reserve my decision to vote until that moment I mark my ballot and stuff it in the envelope and mail it off (yes, Oregon has mail-in ballots and I like it even tho' I miss the trip to the polling place) I won't be voting for either of the two major candidates. I'm personally sick of 'em both.

And it is less anything specific than it is most things in general. I'm tired of the charade. I'm tired of the richest geting richerest (richester?), I'm tired of having my friends send their children off to Afghanistan and Iraq for multiple tours while Katrina's damage still lays heavy on the south (listen to Doctor John's latest, City That Care Forgot for one piano playin' man's perception of that fiasco).

I view the "two-party system" as one beast with two heads. While they seem to argue, they actually work in concert, to the same end. And that end, it seems, could very well be our end. John McCain and Sarah Palin are the perfect icons for our state of affairs as a nation. John McCain, whom I've never met, comes across as a snide, rude man. Sarah Palin... the young, female equivalent of that.

If I were to vote Dem or Repub I would vote Obama. While others berate his youthful activism I applaud it. Obama is smart and behaves with respect towards others. Of course him I've never met either.

Whomever you want to see as President... we'll get what we get. Heck, if we can make it (albeit just barely) through 8 years of George Bush, who knows... but whomever we get our next President he will be facing a huge challenge. Possibly the largest challenge our nation has ever faced.

We are disturbed and stretched to the breaking point. Consider that "Retirement accounts have lost $2 trillion" in the last 15 months... that is a lot of loss for a lot of folks... put that together with a country now $10 trillion in debt and what do you get? Broke, like me. Poverty can be a great equalizer.

What I hope to see is that the financial crisis is not handled like Katrina was. Word...

What I hope to see is a President who will figure out that our husbands and wives, son and daughters, and brothers and sisters can come home from the middle east. What I hope to see is a President willing to invest the moneys wasted in middle east adventures instead put those funds to work here. Fixing the south, fixing our roads and bridges, raising the bottom line on our health care system, equitably rehabilitating our education system... What I hope to see is a President who acknowledges that literacy is the key to many things, that an educated society is far more effective than a nation addicted to low grade television pap with a reading level that barely raises above the 8th grade. What I hope to see is a President who says that a nation that leads the world in its rate of incarceration cannot stake claim as the "Land of the Free."

When Katrina hit and then through the horribly slow days of misery after its departure we failed to respond. IF our National Guard troops had been home they could have set up housing and helped distribute food, water, participated in rescue and salvage... Mr. Bush could have called upon those of us with skills who are unemployed or underemployed (especially among our veterans) to come and work for a period for minimum wage, 2 squares a day and a roof (even if only a big tent) and bed.

My dad worked with the CCCs building trails in the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. When I lived in Fresno (California) many of the sidewalks in the old neighborhood where I lived bore the Works Progress Administration stamp. Many of the small highway bridges over our many creeks and small rivers here in Oregon are WPA projects.

So, no, I will not vote Democrat or Republican. A pox on both. I hope the voters deliver a message far stronger than the one we last delivered to the Republicans. The Republicans have to get off that nasty attitude high horse they're riding. The Democrats need to grow a pair.

"If we ever pass out as a great nation we ought to put on our tombstone, 'America died from a delusion that she has moral leadership."

~ Will Rogers


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some o' this, some o' that...


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

aaah... phooey. Another bad week. More work lost.


So today I'm just doing some misc posting. A bit befuddled Iyam, but I know that as they say, "this too shall pass."

I've been meaning to share a website that my longtime friend, Greg Burke, shared with me. This link goes to the galleries of Manuel Libres Librodo Jr. Wow. This guy is outstanding. Cruise his galleries, there are many to choose from and his work... well, I'm shooting for this level of quality and proficiency. Let me know what you think of Manny's photography.

I received an email from young Bill Buck, he of Perfix Beach and Muhu Tasen fame. Bill is the young man I met many years ago at Grampa Semu's last foundation, Muhu Tasen. I talked about Bill in this post, beach bound... the Perfix place.

One of the really good parts of getting older is when I get to see someone who is much younger, that I knew when I was much younger and they were really young, and witness the work they are doing, knowing I may have played a part in their growth. How could I have known that some teenager sitting in the sweatlodge at Muhu Tasen watching those red hot stones come inside carried on a pitchfork by me some 20 years ago would touch on my life this far down the road? And that his interests are another example of how the earthbound traditional native America continues to slowly touch the hearts and minds of many Americans. I have no doubt that as much as the hippies were a monumental influence on the '60s and '70s so were the injuns. Tribes like the Hopi embraced the appearance of these headband wearing longhairs as part of their tradition's prophecies.

This world, on a personal level, is quite often incredibly small. I was talking to a close friend today about just that. We agreed that co-incidently this world is but a mote of dust in an incomprehensibly large universe... the scale of difference between the smallest and the largest is truly infinite. That line of thought gets me thinking about Tom Robbins' clockworks... Living in this immensity I really don't grasp boredom. There is just sooo much to do, always... and to know about the clockworks... reality is always stranger than fiction.

I digress. Again.

Bill Buck...

Bill sent me a link to his new website:

Bay Wild - Wildlife in Urban Areas

Here is the text from Bill's email:

Dear friends,

It’s been a long time coming and now BAY WILD, our website exploring wildlife in the Bay Area with videos and multimedia, is live on the web.

You may or may not know that since I was a lad, I’ve had a powerful commitment to ecology and this project fuses my background in environmental activism with my career in communications -- all converging on my home of 20 years, the San Franciscio Bay Area.

Our Bay Area has one million acres of open space and wildlife preserves, yet 490,000 acres are under threat of “suburbanization” -- the size of 16 San Franciscos. While there are good examples of healthy wildlife habitat, the threats of development, existing economic challenges and uncertainties of climate change will be putting new pressure on wildlife populations here and all over the world.

So we will bear witness to what’s really going on out there -- to provide insight into what’s working, examples that may assist urban areas around the world facing similar issues. And all with an entertaining style.

We’ve started the non-profit organization BAY WILD to administer these efforts and we'll continue to cover stories that highlight wildlife/human interactions -- with a focus on positive solutions.

So I hope you enjoy this beginning. Please take a look around the site and help us spread the word!

With just under 5 weeks left until the election I sure hope everyone living in the US who is of age is registered to vote. I know here in Eugene we get around 90% voter turnout for a national presidential election. How does your community do?

Use it or lose it.

Which of course leads to this statement I've become scarily fond of recently:

"Only (fill in number) days left to cancel the election. Emergency, emergency, emergency..."

My political trust level is running low these days...

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

~ Will Rogers