Tuesday, March 29, 2011

flying Persians... and broken justice...


“No statement should be believed because it is made by an authority.”

- Robert A. Heinlein

... and on that note (drumroll please)... I give you...

The UFO identified!

We've built a flying saucer, boasts Iran

an aircraft created by scientists in Iran is, they claim, the world’s first flying saucer.

Well heck... we know the Germans built the first flying disc.

Anyway... I find myself in a bit of a funk. As I witness the ongoing tragedy in Japan I really wonder - "why?" Why are we so hell bent on creating industral waste that will be around for a thousand generations? What is this rush to electrify the world?

What I fear is that as we of the "modern world" continue our cultural downhill slide all this electrical generation will not win us a more perfect world. I mean what is the end goal? Are we looking seven generations ahead as many indigenous cultures suggest we should?

Or are we not looking past the greedy little noses on our faces? Has self gratification become the accepted global norm? Do we all desire that latest celphone/camera/video/music player/TV/microwave that much that we'll sell out the last forest? We're willing to sacrifice clean air and pristine waters for cheap plastic googaws? Really? Really...? And people accuse pot heads of "escaping reality!" Hah...

How sad.

I was a kid at a time when even in the rapidly growing LA basin there was still lots of open land for kids to dink around in. For me there were still enough bugs and lizards and frogs and salamanders and cool hidden spots to satisfy my need for natural contact and for learning about my earth.

I can look back and see that everything that turned my path as I grew to be who I am now, all those little nudges that drew my attention to something... it was always nature that could hook me intellectually and spiritually.

There is an impoverishment of spirit that I see that scares the crap out of me. 18 men and boy gang rape an 11 year old girl in Cleveland, Texas (near Houston) and people are defending the rapists. Even a Republican Florida legislator - a woman - is not defending the girl but taking her to task instead, for dressing and looking "older than her age."

Now in my mind this... assault... by a group of men and boys on an eleven year old girl... I don't care if she took off al her clothes and begged for sex, she's eleven yeas old. And the event is recorded, that's how they got caught. This makes the Kitty Genovese case look downright civilized.

I mean come on America, what the hell? If the gang rape is recorded can any of the males involved be acquitted? And then... the young man in Arizona, Jared Loughner, is there a doubt he shot those people? I understand we have a system of criminal justice, but I also understand it is broken. Just to make that point consider that when I was an energetic kid I loved being in and from the USA. Heck, I grew up watching any military show on TV. Victory At Sea, Combat, Hogan's Heroes... it didn't matter, if it was about the war we watched it. My dad was a WWII combat vet and proud of it but by no means boastful. Dad was a quiet guy... but I begin to digress. Our criminal justice system...

... is broken. My pointing to old TV war shows is that part of the whole patriotic thing was that we were really known as the Land of the Free and we did feel proud and we boasted about it. But we weren't talking smack, we just were on a roll after WWII. My dad's generation settled down and built homes, tracts and tracts of homes and raised families, lots and lots of families... we had a ready and willing work force and Leave it to Beaver and The Nelsons... and segregation and and and... we had beaten Hitler and blasted the Japanese into submission with the use of atomic weapons. We built schools and parks and could afford to put gas in our cars. And we were the Sweet Land of Liberty.

But now... not so much. Now we are the Land of the Most Incarcerated. Now we have elected leaders demonizing educators, our children's teachers. Class sizes grow and kids too often have their real educational needs ignored and they end up getting shuffled thru the system and graduating (if that) with an 8th - 10th grade reading level. Which is all so weird because the single most prominent common denominator shared by the inmates in an all of our jails, prisons and penitentiaries is that they are illiterate. Education is the key to keeping people out of jail. And education should be one of the keys for prisoners to get out of jail.

We need our teachers and we need to teach our children, all of our children, now. We need to find our way at least as far back as to where "the Land of the Free" had a ring of truth to it. We fool ourselves if we think USA #1! is better sloganeering than the tried and true, best selling the Land of the Free. We need to prosecute the men and women on Wall Street who stole trillions of our dollars.

Jared Loughner is guilty. He didn't craft a crime, no CSI team is needed to determine that... he opened fire in broad daylight and killed and wounded innocent people. Those men and boys in Texas that raped that little girl, they were recorded committing their heinous crimes. Such obvious criminality does not deserve a chance to get off the hook. And lord help us, may they never have children.

meanwhile our government and those elected to lead it are squandering our last vestiges of credibility. This country isn't about corporations and business (even tho' I do believe Lewis and Clark can now be seen as the first scouts for 7-11 locations). This land is, as the song goes, my land, this land is your land. Us, we, the people share a common heritage forged in blood and guaranteed to us in our Bill of Rights.

Every day we grow less free, we are losing the middle class as the economic disparity between the wealthy and the rest of us grows ever wider. Our pockets are being picked clean... and shocking to me - Disneyland turned out to be a fantasy after all. The promises of a marvelous future full of flying cars and fully automated homes for us all hasn't quite panned out as predicted in TomorrowLand.

Yeah we have some pretty fancy gadgets but those are just that, fancy gadgets that bring us no closer to ending the cruelties of war and starvation, no closer to educating the masses of under educated, they won't warm a home in the winter and they won't bring us a better understanding of the tenuous situation in which we now find ourselves.

Shun those that divide and stand against those seeking to profit from the rhetoric of division. Support those who strive for inclusion and seek cooperation. Follow the voices of reason, look for consensus and try to see through the charade of slick political and corporate charlatans. Get private money out of our elections and the horde of lobbyists out of Washington DC.

So ever onward dear friends, towards protecting freedom and individual liberty and a dismantling of the drug war-prison-military-industrial complex...


“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests”

- Thomas Paine


Wednesday, March 16, 2011



“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed”

- Mahatma Gandhi

For me nature is a constant inspiration. There is no doubt in my mind that all that is good and inspirational about human beings comes from our spirit echoing nature's grace and beauty - learned, observed and become ancestral memory, building layer upon layer, down the thru the generations.

For far longer than we've been *cough* civilized we have lived as natural beings, migrating across the unfettered realms of this verdant earth. Always though, as sublime or majestic as natural beauty may be, the earth can undergo massive changes. Sometimes, as with the coming and going of the ice ages, the changes take generations and humans adapt, shifting either their location or some of the means by which they subsist.

Other times the earth can shift in a moment. One such moment was Japan's recent 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent - and almost immediate - tsunami. Volcanoes, earthquakes and cosmic debris raining from the sky have all been traumatic events in our history - if humans were there as witnesses. I mean there can be no doubt such events were traumatic for the flora and fauna. I'm not a big fan of the "if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise?" school of philosophy. Obviously it does and probably scares the pellets right out of some furry creatures...

Coupled with Japan's earthquake(s) and tsunami is the building emergency at the Fukushima nuclear facility. 4 of the 5 reactors are in some stage of crisis. A skeleton crew of some 50 workers has remained - at great personal risk.

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers

They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights, listening for periodic explosions as hydrogen gas escaping from crippled reactors ignites on contact with air.

They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation sleeting through their bodies.

They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots.

But why? For what?

As I've followed the unfolding of events I've also dug into what happened at Chernobyl in 1986 and in the years following. If I had to sum up the underlying causes that led to these horrific failings of technology, I would unabashedly say that human error and arrogance were the primary triggers.

I'm no fan of nuclear power. I have long opposed it and supported efforts like those of my many friends who participated in actions at the Diablo Canyon facility near San Luis Obispo in California and the Trojan nuclear plant in Ranier, Oregon (which is no longer). I mean really... radiation to boil water? Come on...

When Chernobyl exploded it was a real disaster. I was reading a story from 2006 that talked about the Russins having a new sarcophagus put over the destroyed reactor by 2008. It's 2011 and no new sarcophagus. This April will be the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl... the original and hastily erected sarcophagus was given a lifespan at best of 30 years. The new and improved sarcophagus will be built to last 100 years.

But how long will the facility be uninhabitable? Well... ( Special report: In Chernobyl, a disaster persists ):

Officials say Ukraine is likely to spend billions of euros on confinement upkeep costs before it finds a way to bury the reactor components, perhaps under layers of underground granite rocks. Even then the area around the plant will remain unsuitable for thousands of years. Asked how long before people can settle down and grow crops at the site, Chernobyl power plant director Ihor Gramotkin said: "At least 20,000 years."

Chernobyl was a disaster of as yet unknown proportion - certainly a massive disaster to those directly involved. But it was a man made disaster, a disaster that was avoidable.

I harp often on our oh-so-human failings. I do so because they are avoidable, we are aware of our own faults. What we seem to lose a grasp on is the fact that there are greedy, greedy people trying as hard as they can to sell us a bill of goods. A bill of goods that is often an inferior and faulty product.

Besides the horror for those local to the Fukushima facility the back story to Fukushima may be the collusion between the nuclear industry and the governmental organizations whose duty it is is to safeguard us from unscrupulous business practices and substandard goods. The watchdogs did neither. In fact they are often the industry leaders themselves or just arms of the industry with a watchdog badge that means about as much as one those plastic badges that may have been in a cereal box when I was a kid.

Which I think is the point I'll leave you at for now:

Reports: Lax oversight, 'greed' preceded Japan nuclear crisis

Two of those reactor containment vessels may now have cracked and appear to be releasing radioactive steam. Their designer, General Electric, is now feeling heat for marketing the reactor despite safety concerns dating back three decades. Indeed, just as the BP oil spill drew scrutiny on several multinational companies, the crisis in Japan is underscoring a "flat world" where responsibility – along with environmental and economic fallout – spreads across oceans.

Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev, who as director of the Soviet Spetsatom clean-up agency helped in the efforts 25 years ago to clean up Chernobyl, has lashed out against the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and private corporations for failing to heed lessons from that 1986 nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine.

"After Chernobyl all the force of the nuclear industry was directed to hide this event, for not creating damage to their reputation. The Chernobyl experience was not studied properly because who has money for studying? Only industry," he told Reuters in an interview published Tuesday.

and this one:

Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest

Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.

Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

So what is it we are doing as a modern civilized society that is just sooo grand and noble that we are willing to saddle thousands of generations yet to come with the monumental task of being the guardians of our toxic and radioactive dung heaps and midden mounds? (metaphorically speaking)

All this for Charlie Sheen and Paris Hilton? Really... this a civilization peaking?

“Power does not corrupt man; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power”

- George Bernard Shaw


Monday, March 14, 2011

disaster in Japan...


“The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”

- Omar Bradley

(children in a village hospital not far Chernobyl, four years after that nuclear power disaster, image © AP/Wide World Photos)

Nuclear power in Japan is a major reality. The island nation is reliant on their nuclear plants for supplying about 30% of their energy needs.

Reports have been stating that at minimum, a partial meltdown in some reactors has occurred. The debate currently is whether we have an accident of 3 Mile Island severity, or a Chernobyl scale disaster.

There is a scale for nuclear power accidents that goes from 1 - 7, with 7 the worst (the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale). The 3 Mile Island event was a 5. The Chernobyl disaster was a 7 (really? like the perpetual optimists energy promoters are, I just have to believe there is an 8, and we don't want to see that). Currently Japanese officials are calling the Fukushima facility's problems a 4. Ok...

If anybody was paying attention when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials here in the US were saying there were only 1,000 - 5,000 barrels of oil and gas leaking. But even I, a blue-collar guy scratching by in rural Oregon found after a day's reading that the far-smarter-than-I folks were estimating up to 100,000 barrels a day were flowing into the Gulf from the broken Deepwater Horizon Rig. (an excellent summation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster)

I just can't help but be pessimistic that Japan is suffering from a similar case of understatement.

And I won't bog you down here, there is plenty of reporting going on, but will pass this last little bit along (from the Christian Science Monitor):

Another little-reported concern is a small but potentially dangerous amount of plutonium-based "MOX" – mixed-oxide fuel – inside the No. 3 reactor, says Dr. Lyman, who notes that plutonium particles are more dangerous to the human body than other particles that might be emitted.

Tokyo Electric said some three yards of a MOX fuel rod was above the water line, suggesting that plutonium and other elements could be in the gases vented to the atmosphere, reported the Kyodo News Agency.

"If the core of that No. 3 reactor melts and venting occurs, some of that plutonium and other nasty elements present in that fuel could end up on the winds," Lyman says.

We really aren't all that, even tho' some of us sure think we are... when our technology has surpassed our ability to clean up the mess that same technology makes... I dunno folks, I think we've got ourselves in a bind. I mean this is double deep sheep dip we're in...

updated news (9pm PDT):

3rd blast shakes Fukushima reactors; fuel rods exposed

The reactor at the plant, about 150 miles north of Tokyo, "is not necessarily in a stable condition," Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said at a news conference Tuesday. Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the situation "worrisome."

What was I saying about understating? Anyway, back to the story:

Another serious risk involves the more than 200 tons of spent nuclear fuel that is stored in pools adjacent to the reactors, Alvarez said. Those cooling pools depend on continually circulating water to keep the fuel rods from catching on fire. Without power to circulate the water, it heats up and potentially boils away, leaving the fuel rods exposed to air.

An aerial image of the Fukushima No. 1 plant shows the loss of high-capacity cranes needed to move equipment to service the reactor. The photo also appears to show that the spent fuel pool is steaming hot, that may indicate the water is boiling off, Alvarez said.

U.S. nuclear experts said they were particularly concerned about Unit 3 reactor because it is fueled in part with plutonium, an element used in hydrogen bombs that can be more difficult to control than the enriched uranium normally used in nuclear power plants.

In an earlier story an official stating the amount of spent fuel in the storage pools was not (to quote Prime Minister Naoto Kan) "worrisome."


“The man who is a pessimist before forty-eight knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little”

- Mark Twain


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Atlantis found...


“I know not how I may seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with”

- Plato

I mean really... the program covering this is on television tonight at 10 pm (Sunday, Mar 13) on the National Geographic channel, check your listings!

The weird part of this for me? The first news release on this came out on March 5. And of course the theory is that Atlantis was destroyed by a tsunami... a week after the release of the story Japan is hit with a mega-quake and tsunami. This is one of those coincidences that happen in life and one that pokes me real hard.

Here is the story from the Hartford (NH) Courant

Team Led By UofH Professor May Have Found Lost City Of Atlantis

Since it was first described by Plato in about 360 B.C., the legend of Atlantis has stayed alive in story, song, film and the popular imagination.

Explorers seeking the city that disappeared have so far searched the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and even Antarctica.

But a team led by University of Hartford professor and archaeologist Richard Freund may have pinpointed the long-sought city somewhere completely unexpected — in a vast marsh in Southern Spain.


“Nature chose for a tool, not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder, not the stormy torrent or eroding rain, but the tender snow-flowers noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries.”

- John Muir


Thursday, March 10, 2011



“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

- Joseph Campbell


I know, I know... what can I say, it's been a tough past few months.

I've started and stopped several posts, just wasn't feeling it. Not that I haven't been putting my words down... I sold my first piece of writing last fall to the newly launched Cannabis Now magazine. More writing, including some of my photographs from my trip last fall to High Hopes Farm in southern Oregon will be in the next quarterly issue (I'm hoping I made the cut for the cover!). The images from that trip are what inspired me to produce the Cannabis Calendar:

(by the way... my calendars have the feature of having the current month, or any month you choose, be the first month in the calendar. If you want to start your calendar in April or May or June...)

I will be posting more, soon. There is lots to talk about.

For instance... why are Republicans - like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker - going after middle class workers like teachers, cops, municipal works employees and firemen when absolutely none of our elected reps at any level are going after the Wall Street high finance types that sent our economy into the worst dive since the Great Depression.

From The Hill:

"The combined costs of lost income and wages, and federal government spending to mitigate the financial crisis, totaled more than $11,000, on average per U.S. household, during the acute stage of the financial crisis -- from September 2008 through the end of 2009," the group stated.

"In addition, the combined peak loss from declining stock and home values totaled nearly $100,000, on average per U.S. household, during the July 2008 to March 2009 period."

Pew also noted that the U.S. lost $7.4 trillion in stock wealth from July 2008 to March 2009, according to the Federal Reserve.

"This is roughly $66,200 on average per U.S. household," Pew stated.

That manipulated scheming stole over 2 trillion dollars from Americans' retirement savings. Yet Wall Street bonuses in 2009 were over $20 billion...

My suggestion? Republicans and Democrats both need to make a pilgrimage to the Emerald City. Republicans should ask for hearts, Democrats should ask for balls.

In 2009 self-help "guru" James Ray was leading a *cough* Spiritual Warrior retreat in Sedona, Arizona (for only $14,000 each!). 3 people died from participating in an obviously ill managed faux sweat lodge ceremony. Ray was arrested early last year and his trial is currently underway. There has to be a cost to Ray (besides the penalties for his costing 3 people their lives) for such a cultural misappropriation... the sweat is one of humanity's oldest ceremonies and health and hygiene practices. Of course tricking people out of their hard earned cash is an ancient tradition as well... but people aren't supposed to die from sweat lodge!

There is just so much news happening around the globe... North Africa and the Middle East are really undergoing a sea change as people finally are speaking out and rising up against autocratic rule. A note to the men of Egypt... y'all better recognize the women who stood beside you in the streets, who in fact helped orchestrate Egypt's uprising against Hosni Mubarak's 40 year rule. If you demand the rights of a free people, why or how can you deny the same equality to the women of your nation?

The other day I was reading that China has the world's largest mall. 1500 store spaces and almost 10 million square feet! The Not-So-Great Mall of China: Welcome to the world's largest (and loneliest) shopping centre

As it happens only 15 stores are occupied...

And yes, I am a photographer, for hire. My photographic art is always for sale and I am definitely interested in full time photographic employment or contract work. Here are a few of my latest images:

a couple of weeks ago, Golden Garden park, Eugene, Oregon

2009 Eugene Celebration Parade

Crump Lake, Warner Lakes Basin, south central Oregon 1993 (digital transfer from Kodachrome 64)

Another image from my High Hopes Farm trip, autumn harvest, 2010

And, as almost always... any of these photos are for sale at my RedBubble gallery - blank note cards starting around $3, postcards, laminated posters, framed prints... go take a peek.

And it won't be months before I return. I swear...

“I am a possibilist. I believe that humanity is master of its own fate... Before we can change direction, we have to question many of the assumptions underlying our current philosophy. Assumptions like bigger is better; you can't stop progress; no speed is too fast; globalization is good. Then we have to replace them with some different assumptions: small is beautiful; roots and traditions are worth preserving; variety is the spice of life; the only work worth doing is meaningful work; biodiversity is the necessary pre-condition for human survival.”

- Robert Bateman