Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beyond



















Tonight, I look up into the sky.

The night is dark, and the sky is covered.

I know there are stars beyond the clouds, but cannot see them.

I want to see the stars.

They illuminate my vision.

Do you want to see the stars?

We should all see the stars.

- Teddy Grahams

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Emotion, Genocide, and Thanksgiving



Sometimes, I am unable to describe the emotions which persistently overwhelm my soul. I am told that emotions are a hindrance to success. If one cares too much about something in which he or she cannot significantly impact, then the individual is doomed for failure. Failure is purely subjective, and in this case relates to society: If I don't play the "game" of society (continuing my education, finding a career, etc.) then I am in essence a failure of society.

Have you ever been part of a faith or religion and then stopped believing in it, yet still kept going to the worship services, only to feel alone and out-of-place? Well, I am part of a culture that I no longer believe in. I have lost faith and feel out of place, yet I am still taking part in this culture, at least thus far.

The holiday of Thanksgiving magnifies my distaste for what takes place in this culture. We, the nation of America, spend an entire day feasting on crap--not even food, but crap. Everything is genetically modified, shot up with hormones or steroids, overpackaged, full of preservatives, and unhealthy.

Thanksgiving is a holiday to give thanks. Give thanks? What the hell does giving thanks do? Does celebrating this holiday in a traditional fashion help feed the billions of hungry bellies across the world? No, it certainly does not. Does it heal the wounds caused by the genocide of the Native Americans across this continent? No. In fact, it seems more like a way of "rubbing it in" to the losers, the Native Americans. It seems to be the culmination of a contest in which the winner, industrial civilization has ruthlessly spread its ideals across an entire continent through the means of heartless, mass murder.

"But Ted, we cannot change the past! Giving thanks is good. It is good to be appreciative for what you have. You are a very fortunate boy."

Giving thanks for having a loving family is commendable, but how can I be thankful for what I materially have, knowing that what I have was obtained, either directly or indirectly, through the means of theft, slavery, and abuse? My family and friends have not consciously stolen what they own, but the opportunity for them to acquire this wealth is only possible through the abuse of other peoples.

When I was in kindergarten, I once cheated on a game of geometry bingo. I said I had a square when it was really a rectangle, which got me a bingo. I didn't tell anyone and later felt awful about it. I cheated, yet was rewarded with a piece of candy.

Thanksgiving is kind of like the celebration of receiving this piece of candy. Sure, I cheated to obtain it, but it is good tasting and makes me feel good about myself as long as I disregard the notion of breaking the rules. Nonetheless, knowing that I and those before me cheated to obtain this wealth is sickening. Not only did my culture support a genocide, but they also continusouly value monetary gain over human and environmental health, thus degrading the well-being of the Earth and its inhabitants.

Putting money first supppresses emotions which increases the likelihood of inaction, and the continued "business as usual" mantra that I so-readily hear. Evidence of this notion is clear when my culture supports slave-wage labor. This allows us to buy monetarily cheap products at the expense of people who slave away to make them. Do we want to see people working their butts off while making our t-shirts? Of course not! As long as we do not physically see these people, our emotions remain suppressed, which allows this cruel process to continue. The same thing goes for eating factory farmed meat. No one wants to see how gross factory farms are. If they did, they would not eat meat.

I do not want to cheat anymore.

Tonight, on Thanksgiving night, I cry. I cry for those who have been exploited by a cruel and emotionless society. I cry for those in this society who have been lulled into ignorant apathy. I cry for my loved ones who I have given great grief because of my views. I cry for our slowly dying planet. I cry for the watered-down, noncreative desires of this dominant culture and for all of those who desire to leave it, but do not have the courage to do so.

On this Thanksgiving night I vow to be a societal failure. My success will come through other means--means which will not facillitate cheating.

Hello, tomorrow.

- Teddy Grahams

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Great Speech of Sitting Bull

"The railroad was completed in 1883. Some of the owners thought it would be 'unique and interesting' to have an Indian speak at Northern Pacific's Golden Spike ceremony, and so requested a soldier bring in Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull deviated from his ghost-written speech to say in his native tongue, 'I hate you. I hate you. I hate all white people. You are thieves and liars. You have taken away our land and made us outcasts, so I hate you.' History does not record whether the translator hesitated before reciting instead the 'friendly, courteous speech he had prepared.'"

- Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe

Words From the Wise: Globalization

 The role of globalization is to homogenize all cultures, and to turn them into commodified markets, and therefore, to make them easier for global corporations to control. Global corporations are even now trying to commodify all remaining aspects of national cultures, not to mention indigenous cultures."

- Jerry Mander

"Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused."

- Woodrow Wilson

"In considering how human rights might serve as a 'guiding value' in American foreign policy, one should not dismiss the historical record, which is ample. There is indeed a close relationship between human rights and American foreign policy. There is substantial evidence that American aid and diplomatic support increase as human rights violations increase, at least in the Third World. Extensive violations of human rights (torture, forced reduction of living standards for much of the population, police-sponsored death squads, destruction of representative institutions or of independent unions, etc.) are directly correlated with US government support. The linkage is not accidental; rather it is systematic. The reason is obvious enough. Client fascism often improves the business climate for American corporations, quite generally the guiding factor in foreign policy. It would be naive indeed to think that this will change materially, given the realities of American social structure and the grip of the state ideological system."

- Noam Chomsky

"This is a role our nation has taken. The role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people; the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered."

- Martin Luther King Jr.






Chilling Deformities in War-Torn Areas

 "Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.

The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja's over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.

Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable.

A group of Iraqi and British officials, including the former Iraqi minister for women's affairs, Dr Nawal Majeed a-Sammarai, and the British doctors David Halpin and Chris Burns-Cox, have petitioned the UN general assembly to ask that an independent committee fully investigate the defects and help clean up toxic materials left over decades of war – including the six years since Saddam Hussein was ousted."

Article continued at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/13/falluja-cancer-children-birth-defects

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nature's Beauty



"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all."

- Ogden Nash

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How the Media Twists Global Warming

A very informative video about how a climatologists' words are taken out of context to support anti-global warming propagandists in the media.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Disregarding the Lives of Birds


















‘The pitch of the engine said it all,’ said plane-spotter Juergen Kienast, who took these dramatic pictures.
‘It was like sticking a bit of metal pipe into a blender.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1217035/Bird-strike-The-moment-200-starlings-sucked-passenger-jet-engine-off.html


The firm of Curry & Kerlinger, LLC (who serve as “consultants to the wind power industry on birds and other wildlife issues”) has an interesting set of stats about the various ways that birds are killed each year:


Deaths annually from (descending ranking):

* Glass Windows: 100 to 900+ million
* Electrical Transmission lines: “up to 174 million"
* House Cats: 100 million
* Hunting: 100+ million
* Autos/Trucks: 50 to 100 million
* Agriculture: 67 million
* Communications Towers: 4 to 10 million
* Oil and Gas Extraction: 1 to 2 million
* Power line electrocutions: >1,000

http://cellularpcs.com/2009/09/22/birds-deaths-related-to-towers-perspective/

Peace Train

Although I find it essentially impossible these days, my heart still dreams...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Email


"I finally figured out what e-mail is for. It's for communicating with people you'd rather not talk to."

- George Carlin

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WWJB

We

"A fast-paced musical documentary that visualizes the words of Arundhati Roy, specifically her famous Come September speech."

This is one of the best videos I have seen in quite some time. It singlehandedly portrays the problems of our time, tying them back to a single source: greed. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Attaining Peace Through Education

"Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years — well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.

The hawks respond: It’s naïve to think that you can sprinkle a bit of education on a war-torn society. It’s impossible to build schools now because the Taliban will blow them up.

In fact, it’s still quite possible to operate schools in Afghanistan — particularly when there’s a strong “buy-in” from the local community.

Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea,” has now built 39 schools in Afghanistan and 92 in Pakistan — and not one has been burned down or closed. The aid organization CARE has 295 schools educating 50,000 girls in Afghanistan, and not a single one has been closed or burned by the Taliban. The Afghan Institute of Learning, another aid group, has 32 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with none closed by the Taliban (although local communities have temporarily suspended three for security reasons).

In short, there is still vast scope for greater investment in education, health and agriculture in Afghanistan. These are extraordinarily cheap and have a better record at stabilizing societies than military solutions, which, in fact, have a pretty dismal record."

- Nicholas Kristof

Column in its entirety: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/opinion/29kristof.html?_r=4&em

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Dreamer


"Dreams have but one owner at a time. That is why dreamers are lonely."

- Erma Bombeck

Desires


"You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need."

-
Vernon Howard

Vandana Shiva on Seed Saving


Misguided Loyalty


"Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable meaning is nothing but an instrument for the attainment of the government's ambitious and mercenary aims, and a renunciation of human dignity, common sense, and conscience by the governed, and a slavish submission to those who hold power. That is what is really preached wherever patriotism is championed. Patriotism is slavery."

-Leo Tolstoy

Sixteen Military Wives



Sixteen military wives
Thirty-two softly focused, brightly-colored eyes
Staring at the natural tan
Of thirty-two gently clenching, wrinkled little hands

Seventeen company men
Out of which only twelve will make it back again
Sergeant sends a letter to five military wives
His tears drip down from ten little eyes

Cheer them on to their rivals
Because America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on TV
Goes la-di-da-di-da

Fifteen celebrity minds
Leading their fifteen sordid, wretched, checkered lives
Will they find their solution in time?
Using fifteen pristine moderate liberal minds

Eighteen academy chairs
Out of which only seven really even care
Doling out a garland to five celebrity minds
They're humbly taken by surprise

Cheer them on to their rivals
Because America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on TV
Goes la-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da
La-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da

Fourteen cannibal kings
Wondering blithely what the dinner bell will bring
Fifteen celebrity minds
Served in a leafy bed of sixteen military wives

Cheer them on to their rivals
Because America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on TV
Goes la-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da
La-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Troops Outnumber Taliban 12 to 1

"BRUSSELS — There are already more than 100,000 international troops in Afghanistan working with 200,000 Afghan security forces and police. It adds up to a 12-1 numerical advantage over Taliban rebels, but it hasn't led to anything close to victory.

Now, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan is asking for tens of thousands more troops to stem the escalating insurgency, raising the question of how many more troops it would take to succeed.

The commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the extra forces are needed to implement a new strategy that focuses on protecting civilians and depriving the militants of popular support in a country where tribal militias may be Taliban today and farmers tomorrow.

The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has nearly finished gathering information and advice on how to proceed in Afghanistan, where bombings killed eight more American troops. With October now the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the war, many experts question the need for more troops.

'The U.S. and its allies already have ample numbers and firepower to annihilate the Taliban, if only the Taliban would cooperate by standing still and allowing us to bomb them to smithereens,' said Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University, and one-time platoon leader in Vietnam.

'But the insurgents are conducting the war in ways that do not play to (allied) strengths.'

The Taliban rebels are estimated to number no more than 25,000. Ljubomir Stojadinovic, a military analyst and guerrilla warfare expert from Serbia, said that although McChrystal's reinforcements would lift the ratio to 20-1 or more, they would prove counterproductive.

'It's impossible to regain the initiative by introducing more foreign forces, which will only breed more resentment and more recruits for the enemy,' he said. 'The Soviets tried the exact same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s with disastrous results.'"

Article continued at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jWM24PqWpJg-935bFXbYANhGJ_lQD9BJLDVO0

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hoffer


"It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn."

-Eric Hoffer

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Organic Revolution


"Let us not talk falsely now, for the hour is getting late."


Bob Dylan, "All Along the Watchtower"


* * *

"Beyond the gloom and doom of the climate crisis, there lies a powerful and regenerative grassroots solution: organic food, farming, and ranching. Even as politicians and the powerful fossil fuel lobby drag their heels and refuse to acknowledge that we have about ten years left of 'business as usual' before we irreversibly destroy the climate and ourselves, there is a powerful, though largely unrecognized, life-force spreading its roots underground.

Millions of organic farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and backyard gardeners (supported by millions of organic consumers) are demonstrating that we can build a healthy alternative to industrial agriculture and Food Inc. Our growing organic movement is proving that we can not only feed the world with healthy food, but also reverse global warming, by capturing and sequestering billions of tons of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases in the soil, through plant photosynthesis, composting, cover crops, rotational grazing, wetlands preservation, and reforestation.

The heretofore unpublicized "good news" on climate change, according to the Rodale Institute and other soil scientists, is that transitioning from chemical, water, and energy-intensive industrial agriculture practices to organic farming and ranching on the world's 3.5 billion acres of farmland and 8.2 billion acres of pasture or rangeland can sequester 7,000 pounds per acre of climate-destabilizing CO2 every year, while nurturing healthy soils, plants, grasses, and trees that are resistant to drought, heavy rain, pests, and disease. And of course organic farms and ranches can provide us with food that is much more nutritious than industrial farms and ranches-food filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and essential trace minerals, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pesticides, antibiotics, and sewage sludge."

- By Ronnie Cummins

Article continued at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/22-11

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Passionate Storm





















Walking into the field I see it, high above.

Far off in the distance it looms, eerily,
as if warning those nearby of impending destruction.

Do you see it too?
The thunderstorm that is nearing?
The demon in the sky?

The cloud towers high into the atmosphere.
It has blocked out the light.
The sun is not coming back anytime soon.

I hear, in the distance, a rumble more powerful than the hungriest of stomachs,
a thunderous last warning for all in its path.

I can feel the wind blowing towards the beast,
like a vacuum sucking life out of the air.
It is fear mongering, yet awe-inspiring.

Darkness ensues.

I hear the rush of the wind,
that bristles through the mighty oaks,
and dances with the prairie grasses.

Closer it comes, speeding, devouring, and destroying.
I am mesmerized--I cannot turn away.
The beauty is indescribable.

Standing tall, with my arms stretched outward, I welcome its arrival,
with enlivened emotion.

The swoosh of the wind comes forth,
violently knocking me to the ground.
Intense flashes of light overwhelm my vision,
while deafening booms, to my ears, mute all other sounds.

I stand up again,
though not for long.

Convincingly, the storm shows no mercy,
ripping out the oak trees as if they were weeds,
twisting the houses into nothingness,
and sending the rubble my way.

I am hit.

Rocks, branches, and apple-sized stones of ice.
My consciousness hibernates,
sending me into a deep, fantastic state.

I am the thunderstorm.
Tantalizing, yet breath-taking,
destructive, yet beautiful.
Unstoppable and bluntly honest,
while graceful and mysteriously hypnotic.

I am the thunderstorm,
treating the rich and poor as equals,
plants and animals, alike.
Offering drink to thirstful species,
and refreshing temperatures to those who overheat.

I am the thunderstorm,
changing landscapes faster than the mightiest of bulldozers known to humankind.
Playing fifty-two-card-pickup with... Cars.


Then again, I am just one little, short lived thunderstorm.
Nothing more than a cloud in a vast, blue sky.
Dieing as quickly as I formed,
vanishing into the night,
never to be seen again.


My limitations exist,
though my potential is enormous.



I am the thunderstorm.



- Teddy Grahams

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fielding


"Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil"

- Henry Fielding

Light Pollution

"Light pollution has had disastrous effects on migrating birds, resulting in millions dying each year, and that figure increases with the combination of outdoor light and fog. Birds use the light at the horizon to migrate at night. When the birds see a brightly lit building, they become confused and fly around and around — in essence becoming trapped in the light — eventually dropping dead from exhaustion.

The term photopollution — artificial light that has adverse effects on wildlife — was coined in a watershed paper by Dutch ecologist F.J. Verheijen in 1985. In the paper, Verheijen says that many nocturnally active animals need a natural light field between sunset and sunrise as a requirement for survival.

'When we think about the night and the extent of light pollution in the last 20 years, it's growing far faster than the human population and has changed the environment significantly,' explained Longcore.

But light pollution's harmful effects aren't restricted to animals.

'Women who work at night, change shifts often or don't get proper sleep at night suppress their melatonin production and have higher rates of breast cancer,' explained Dr. Mario Motta, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and associate at the North Shore Cardiovascular Associates. 'It's a fact. The exact cause is speculative, but we think it's because of the changes in the melatonin production due to disruption of their circadian rhythm.'

Disrupting the circadian rhythm can cause insomnia, depression and increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease."

Article in its entirety:
http://miller-mccune.com/science_environment/blinded-by-the-light-1501

Monday, October 12, 2009

Celebrating Enslavement and Genocide

Christopher Columbus

"The original Haitians were called the Arawaks or Tainos. Christopher Columbus wrote in his log that the Arawaks were well built with good bodies and handsome features. He also reported that the Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality and their belief in sharing. He said, 'they offered to share with anyone and that when you ask for something they never say no.' The Arawaks lived in village communes with a well-developed agriculture of corn, yams, and cassava. They had the ability to spin and weave, as well as being able to swim long distances. The Arawaks did not bear arms nor did they have prisons or prisoners. Columbus wrote that when the Santa Maria became shipwrecked, the Arawaks worked for hours to save the crew and cargo and that they were so honest that not one thing was missing. Arawak women were treated so well in early Haitian society that it startled the Spaniards. Columbus said that the Arawak men were of great intelligence because they could navigate all of their islands and give an amazingly precise account of everything.

The chief source, and on many matters the only source of information about what happened on the islands after Columbus arrived, was noted by a Catholic priest named Bartolome De Las Casas who lived during the time of Columbus. He transcribed Columbus's journal and wrote a multi-volume 'History of the Indies.' Las Casas says that Columbus returned to America on his second voyage with seventeen ships and with more than 1,200 heavily armed men with horses and attack dogs. Their aim was clearly to obtain as much gold and as many slaves as possible according to De Las Casas. Columbus went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Arawaks as captives. He ordered everyone over the age of 14 to produce specific quantities of gold every three months, and if the Arawak could not produce this quota, Columbus then had his hands cut off; and left him to bleed to death.

If the Arawaks ever tried to escape, they were hunted down by the attack dogs and either hanged or burned alive. Within just two years, half of the three million Arawaks of Haiti died from murder, mutilation or suicide. Bishop De Las Casas reported that the Spaniards became so lazy that they refused to walk any distance; and either rode the backs of the Arawaks or were carried on hammocks by Arawaks who ran them in relays.

In other cases, the Spaniards had the Arawaks carry large leaves for their shade and had others to fan them with goose wings. Women were used as sex slaves and their children were murdered and then thrown into the sea. The Spaniards were so cruel, they thought nothing of cutting off slices of human flesh from the Arawaks just to test the sharpness of their blades. Bishop De Las Casas wrote, 'My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.'

Christopher Columbus started the Trans-Atlantic slave trade by taking 500 of the healthiest men back to Spain to sell into slavery, and the proceeds from the sale helped to pay for his third voyage. The massive slave trade moving in the other direction, across the Atlantic from Africa to the Americas, was also begun in Haiti and was started by the son of Christopher Columbus in 1505 A.D. On his third voyage to Haiti, Queen Isabelle's new Governor, Francisco De Bobadilla, had Christopher Columbus and his two brothers arrested and sent back to Spain in chains as prisoners for their crimes against the Arawaks."

- Dr. Leroy Vaughn, Black People and Their History

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Truth


Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

- Cree Indian Prophecy-

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Yes Men

A crafty, modernized twist to the art of nonviolent noncooperation.

Democratic Feasibility

"The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit?

Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be? What we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet, is long-term vision. Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide this? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race? Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly—our nearsightedness?

Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do), combined with our inability to see very far into the future, makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost. It would be conceit to pretend I have the answers to any of these questions. But it does look as if the beacon could be failing and democracy can perhaps no longer be relied upon to deliver the justice and stability we once dreamed it would."

- Arundhati Roy, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175119

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Democratic Hungers

"No society has fulfilled its democratic promise if people go hungry... If some go without food they have surely been deprived of all power. The existence of hunger belies the existence of democracy."

- Frances Moore Lappé

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forgetting Home

Misconceptional Multitasking


“I don’t know that this generation values focused attention. The notion that attention is at the core of a relationship is declining. Is saying to someone ‘I am going to give you my undivided attention’ still one of the greatest gifts I can give? Or has multitasking led us to a kind of attention infidelity?"

Clifford Nass while being interviewed by Ellen Goodman

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090923_now_where_was_i/

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ode of an Inmate


I am a prisoner,
trapped in my cell.
My freedom comes in eight months,
but eight months is a long time.
My prisonmates not only dislike me,
but they love prison culture.
To me this lifestyle is suffocating,
but what difference does it make?
I am a prisoner.
Amidst the laughs and smiles, I stand here, empty and unfulfilled.
I try to gel with my prisonmates, but fail.
They would rather make license plates than talk to me.
Or maybe they are just too busy doing prisonly things.
Either way, mindlessness runs rampant.
I am a prisoner,
fed up with good behavior.
Taming one's desires leaves a void in the heart.
My emotions are strong and have kept me afloat.
I am a prisoner.
The ones who truly know my depth
now shield themselves from my presence.
They are scared--of me, and what I say.
Nobody wants to talk to the bearer of bad news.
I am a prisoner.
I refuse to be silent.
Is it really bad news, or simply reality?
Why do the masses refuse to have their ways questioned?
I am a prisoner.
I have been out of this cell before.
Life is vibrant and wonderful beyond these bars.
If only I could share this with all.
It would be most excellent.
But again, I am a prisoner
The darkness looms everywhere.
I try to fight it with smiles and a warm heart,
but to what end?
I fail.
I am alone and I fail.


I am a prisoner.



- Teddy Grahams -

Pathway Towards Cowardice


"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

- Elbert Hubbard

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nightmare on College Street























Last night, I had a horrifying a dream.

In it, I dreamt that I was in a distant land, inhabited by thousands of young adults. The size of this land was rather small, spanning about two miles from one edge to the other. Several buildings with completely different architecture styles were scattered about this two mile region, and every fifteen minutes one of these structures played loud music high up in the air.

As my dream went on, I observed the young adults meandering from building to building, every day, for many hours. In these buildings, the young adults sat in orderly fashion while staring at white, brown, or black boards. Occasionally older looking adults would write things on these boards, while the young ones watched, in a dazed state.

It seemed that these hourly sessions caused the young adults to fall into hypnosis, for after they left the buildings, the young adults repetitively studied nothing but what was preached by the older adults. Creativity was nonexistent, and the humans seemed more like parrots, repeating everything that was taught by the older adults.

As time went on I occasionally tried to communicate with some of the inhabitants. I asked them about their experiences and desires for the rest of their lives. Why were they going to these buildings? Would they ever do anything else with the rest of their lives?

Every answer was freakishly similar. The young adults told me that they were going into these buildings so they could gain a specific skill in a specific area of study, in which they would perform over and over again for the rest of their lives. Their work, they told me, would exist outside of this two mile region. But to leave, the individuals had to sit in the buildings for a specific amount of hours, numbering in the thousands. I believe the word they kept using during this discussion was “career.”

Observing for several more days, I noticed the young adults all partook in the same religion. In this religion, each individual was required to make significant sacrifices for their god. For example, to please the god, the individuals gave up their ability to cook. If they, themselves cooked, the individuals could not devote as much time as required for their god. Time was something their god loved to consume. Similarly, the individuals sacrificed their sleep, for the more sleep they gave up, the better off their god was.

Finally, in a most dramatic fashion, the individuals gave up their entire identities, and took on the image that their god desired, ranging from the way they dressed, to what they were allowed to talk or even think about.

It was also made incisively clear to me that if anyone ever questioned the authority of the god, he or she was immediately disbanded from this society, and labeled a “failure”.

Though I may have heard this incorrectly, I am pretty sure that the existence of their god was actually in the form of a trinity: the Résumé, the GPA, and the Holy Dollar—a most peculiar set of beliefs, indeed.

Fortunately, no matter how frightening this nightmare may be, it was only a dream. But sometimes I wonder, think, and fear—what if this was reality? How bleak would it be?

- Teddy Grahams


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs

"If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed."

- Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Rock Food

Monday, September 21, 2009

Globalization and "Free" Trade

"But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization’s great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance—from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution—on the altar of free trade. It left the world’s poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself. 'Speculation,' then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, 'is the AIDS of our economies.' We have reached the terminal stage."

- Chris Hedges

Article in its entirety:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090921_globalization_goes_bankrupt/

Shoe Thrower Speaks After Being Freed

"The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: Do you know how many broken homes that shoe that I threw had entered because of the occupation? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? And how many times it had entered homes in which free Iraqi women and their sanctity had been violated? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after."

- Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoes at George Bush

Article in its entirety:

http://www.alternet.org/world/142741/why_i_threw_my_shoes_at_bush?page=entire

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Questioning 9/11 and Big Government

The Atrocity of the Office

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dews of crime' that dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cuttingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern."

- C.S. Lewis

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Train

I stood on the tracks, at the edge of a cliff. From a distance, directly in view, existed a powerful locomotive, rushing towards me with fierce power and speed. What is one to do when a train is nearing a cliff and there is not enough time to stop the train? I could very easily step off the tracks and preserve my life while watching the train meet its demise in a fierce and fiery scene--a sure death for all who preside within it. I could also stand on the tracks and try to stop the train myself, though this would most likely fail and result in my own death. I am scared, my options are limited, and I don't know what to do.

Help me.

- Teddy Grahams

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Corporate Conglomerates Advertise as Local

"HSBC, one of the biggest banks on the planet, has taken to calling itself "the world's local bank." Starbucks is un-branding at least three of its Seattle outlets, the first of which just reopened as "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea." Winn-Dixie, a 500-outlet supermarket chain, recently launched a new ad campaign under the tagline, "Local flavor since 1956." The International Council of Shopping Centers, a global consortium of mall owners and developers, is pouring millions of dollars into television ads urging people to "Shop Local" - at their nearest mall. Even Wal-Mart is getting in on the act, hanging bright green banners over its produce aisles that simply say, "Local."

Hoping to capitalize on growing public enthusiasm for all things local, some of the world's biggest corporations are brashly laying claim to the word local."

Article continued at http://www.newrules.org/retail/article/corporate-coopt-local

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Industrial Civilization

"Civilization is toxic, but it is desperate to survive, so it convinces the billions of people living under its influence that it’s okay to be “civilized”, that technology will save the day, and that we need corporations, we need governments and we need cities, roads, cars, airplanes, televisions, air conditioning units, Playstations and shopping malls. It convinces people that the big things don’t matter because, and here’s the killer, if we all did the big things then Industrial Civilization would become irrelevant; it would become powerless; it would fail.
And then we might have a chance of living in the future."


http://www.blog.thesietch.org/2008/10/26/sweating-the-big-stuff-get-your-priorities-right/

Believing


"Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true."

- Buddha

Personal Update

My summer was singlehandedly the greatest opportunity I have ever had to effectively gauge what I want to do with the next few years of my life. During this summer, I, unlike anyone else I have ever met, was able to immerse myself into three incredibly different experiences in a span of just over three months. Within each month-long experience, living conditions, community, activities, diet, and culture differed considerably. I was intellectually stimulated and physically worked in many ways, and in result, my outlook on life has drastically deepened.

Four months ago, I wanted to enter the field of scientific research.
Four months from now I want to build houses out of mud, grow food from the land, and live a more simple lifestyle, ideally with others who share these passions. I have lots to learn and lots to share.

But first, I have unfinished business--college--and must tend to it for several months.

I am alive.

- Teddy Grahams

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Predator

I am a prey. My predator lurks everywhere I go. I cannot get away from it. The predator lurks around each corner, and has an insurmountable number of appearances.

I am hunted. The predator devours every human in sight. I fear I am next. I have escaped the predator's morbid grip once, but I worry my luck will some day run out. Why have I survived this long when others have been snatched up since birth?

I fear. I do not fear the predator anymore, rather, I fear its effects on those around me. What can I do to revive them from the darkness that goes unnoticed?

I am overwhelmed. I cannot defeat this wildebeest alone. The predator has far greater powers than I have. It will take an enormous army of humans to eliminate the predator.

I am running out of time. If I do not act swiftly, the predator will have devoured every human on Earth, and shortly after, the Earth itself.

I am stubborn. I refuse to let the predator consume my soul, even when not doing so results in abandonment from others who blindly support the predator.

I spread. The only way to defeat the predator is by making its dangers known to others. Then there is at least a chance for others to act upon what they learn, furthering the predator resistance.

I need. I wholeheartedly desire to have you with me. We must overcome the predator together.

I feel. I do not want you to be another victim. Your depth is bewildering beyond belief, and is now starting to blossom. Come with me on this lifelong journey. Your potential is infinite.

I love. Your true beauty is amazing. Your strengths are different than mine, and dazzlingly radiate outward in an unforeseen number of ways. Can you see it, too?

I plead. Will you join me? Will you help me fight the predator?

Together, we will rise up.

Together, we will defeat the darkness.

Together, the institution will be overcome.

Let's do this.














-Teddy Grahams

Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Change

"Change doesn't happen because of how we invest our money. Change happens because of how we invest our human energy, and it always has since we came down from the trees. Everyone's got a margin of discretionary energy--ten percent, twenty percent--that isn't used up making their way in the world. That's the energy that's available for social change. If you can get a whole community to start focusing their energy together, building on success just as a business builds on successful products, then you get social change."

- Daniel Taylor, President of the Nonprofit, Future Generations

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FIRST EARTH - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture


"A documentary by David Sheen, about building healthy houses out of earth, creating social justice and evaluating the status quo of how ( and in what ) we live. David traveled the world in search of ancient earthen buildings and sustainable cultures while interviewing top experts in the field."

http://www.davidsheen.com/firstearth/

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Delving Within


"Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself."

-William Butler Yeats

Friday, August 7, 2009

CRUDE - Official Trailer



"The epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet."

This is an upcoming documentary about the exploitation of human beings by the oil giant, Texaco.

Earth Days

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Milk Dilemma

"Should grown-ups be drinking milk at all, much less the milk of another species?

Mammals are named after the milk-producing glands that developed as a way to feed babies, but only humans continue drinking mammary secretions after infancy -- and no other species drinks the milk of another. Today, dairy consumption is at the center of several interconnected social, economic, and health crises. Maybe it's time to reconsider our relationship with dairy."

A recent episode of the Diane Rehm Show, a nationally broadcast left-leaning radio program, assembled a politician, a dairy industry advocate, a farm advocate, and a USDA undersecretary to discuss problems facing dairy. Most of the conversation focused on federally-funded bailout options for the dairy industry, but one caller made a futile attempt to frame the problem in a larger context. Voicing concerns that milk isn't good for adults and that dairy production creates a lot of greenhouse gas, she was disconnected mid-sentence.

After a moment of audible snickers among the guests, Ruth Saunders of the International Dairy Foods Association gave a limp response: "the dietary guidelines for Americans have always had as one of their key recommendations three daily servings [of dairy]."

Saunders didn't mention that these recommendations largely exist because of intensive lobbying efforts by organizations like hers. But scientific research that's not in the pocket of Big Dairy tells a different story. According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, "approximately 75% of the world's population loses the ability to completely digest lactose after infancy." And Harvard researcher Ganmaa Davaasambuu, M.D., Ph.D., has found that dairy intake correlates with ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other so-called "hormone-dependent" tumors because of the high levels of estrogen in cows' milk -- especially in milk from pregnant cows, which are routinely milked in large dairy operations.

Meanwhile, the disconnected caller had a valid point about the cattle industry's greenhouse gas emissions, which constitute 2% of the national output. When fed soy-rich diets, as most large dairy herds are, cows belch methane, which traps 20 times more atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide.

While the lifestyle-changing crisis afflicting dairy farmers is creating heartbreaking stories, perhaps for the greater good this is an opportunity in disguise. There are other ways to make a living off the land, and instead of federal price supports, maybe that money should be spent on re-tooling dairy farms. Despite what the food pyramid says, we don't need milk after we're babies. Maybe it's time to wean ourselves from cow tits and grow up."

This article in its entirety can be found at:
http://www.alternet.org/environment/141469/do_grown-ups_really_need_to_drink_milk/?page=entire

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures Galore


















Over the next five weeks I will be traveling quite a distance working on a special project. I may add a few posts during this time but apologize in advance for another prolonged absence. Nonetheless, farewell for now!

Keep your eyes on the skies,

- Teddy Grahams

Waking Up

"Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.


This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems.


For the most part, we avoid the stark reality of these numbers. The default assumption is that – financial crises aside – growth will continue indefinitely. Not just for the poorest countries where a better quality of life is undeniably needed, but even for the richest nations where the cornucopia of material wealth adds little to happiness and is beginning to threaten the foundations of our well-being.


The reasons for this collective blindness are easy enough to find. The modern economy is structurally reliant on economic growth for its stability. When growth falters – as it has done recently – politicians panic. Businesses struggle to survive. People lose their jobs and sometimes their homes. A spiral of recession looms. Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries.


But question it we must. The myth of growth has failed us. It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day. It has failed the fragile ecological systems we depend on for survival. It has failed spectacularly, in its own terms, to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods."


Article continued at:

https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/84/thinking-unthinkable.html



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazed Brilliance


"Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity."

- Herman Melville

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Unknown Journey






















Throughout my life I've found myself walking alone in a forest. My destination has always been unknown, but I continuously try to figure it out. In result, I venture deeper and deeper into the wooded, dark abyss, seeking a worthy locale to spend my future at. Unfortunately, it is extremely dark, and the sun's nightly vacation from the skies has made it difficult to see anything. I thought carrots were supposed to increase night vision, but my experiences have proved otherwise. Each step I take results in a thorn in my leg or a branch in my face. I am lost. My journey is a mess.

But oh! Through the treacherous, shadowy landscape emerges a wonderful friend of mine! In my friend's hand is a flashlight, the beacon of brightness that can clearly and presumptuously show me where I am headed towards. After a quick physical embrace, my friend gives me the light and I hold it in my hand. I think for a moment and then point it back towards my friend who looks at me puzzled, and while squinting asks why I am not using it to move deeper into the forest. After a moment of silence I explain.

The flashlight cannot help me with my journey. I may be in the middle of a darkened wilderness, but the true journey exists within myself, spiritually and emotionally. Where I end up geographically is of secondary importance. I shine light on others because it is they who guide me through danger, instill me with inspiration, and most importantly, brighten my life, everyday.

On this night, for my friend, I am returning some of the light that I have received for so long.

- Teddy Grahams

Monday, July 13, 2009

Social Revolution

"Don't just be the change, mass-produce it. We need, through brilliant innovations, bold enterprise and political willpower, to make sustainability an obligatory and universal characteristic of our society, not an ethical choice. We need to remake the systems in which live. We need to redesign civilization."


- Alex Steffen, http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007073.html

Changing More Than One's Personal Lifestyle



















"WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change."

Article continued at:
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hooked on Growth

This is a trailer for an upcoming documentary examining the cultural barriers that have been keeping us from becoming a sustainable civilization.
http://www.growthbusters.com/

Population Ignorance

"July 11 is World Population Day, as declared by the United Nations in 1989 to raise awareness of global population issues. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of awareness out there. Of the 6.77 billion people on the planet, too few have either the courage or the awareness to weigh in or do something about the subject. Overpopulation is the proverbial elephant in the room, and it is a big one.

There is widespread agreement among scientists that we are in overshoot. According to Global Footprint Network, 1.3 planet Earths would be required to sustainably meet the needs of our current population at present levels of consumption and waste. If we continue current upward trends in consumption and population, by 2035 we’ll need 2 Earths. This means we are not acting sustainably. We are using up stuff that we, and/or future generations, are going to need.


The rate at which we use up stuff is commonly represented in the famous IPAT equation developed by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. Simplified, it states that human impact = per capita consumption X population. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out from this equation that perpetual increase in either consumption or population would require a like decrease in the other in order to avoid increasing human impact on our ecosystems and resource base.


Or maybe it does. Because all too often we do ignore population’s role in the equation. It’s not politically correct to suggest humankind and the world we live in would benefit greatly from stabilizing or even reducing our total population. We will do anything to avoid addressing that subject. We’ll flush our toilets every other day, breathe toxic air, destroy fisheries, and take our chances with nuclear power or "clean" coal. We’ll pour millions of dollars into efforts to restore rivers and streams, protect endangered species, or develop alternative energy sources. But we won’t even spread the word that voluntarily limiting family size would be a prudent and effective way to move toward sustainable equilibrium. That is a shame."


http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/7/10/751968/-World-Population-Day:-Let-overpopulation-topic-out-of-closet