Monday, December 27, 2010

Lawrence, "Get Into the Forests Again"

"When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don't know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper."

- D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Documentary: "The Canary Effect: Kill the Indian. Save the Man."

"From multi-award winning directors Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman, comes this 'Illuminating Documentary' (Time Out). Delving deeply into the often misunderstood and frequently over looked historic realities of the American Indian, The Canary Effect follows the terrifying and horrific abuses instilled upon the Indigenous people of North America, and details the genocidal practices of the US government and its continuing affects on present day Indian country.

Featuring interviews with the leading scholars and experts on Indian issues including controversial author Ward Churchill, the film brings together the past and present in a way never before captured so eloquently and boldly on film."

This is one video that I urge you to watch. Your understanding of American history, as well as current events, may be changed forever.

- Teddy Grahams

Bill Plotkin, Soulful Relationships

"In soulcentric romance, rather than attempting to make the other fit their preexisting fantasies, the lovers revel in endlessly exploring the mysterious nature of the Other in the here and now. The only relationship the lovers presume is the one they have earned through their unfolding conversation. They anticipate no potential relationship result (e.g., monogamy, polygamy, cohabitation, marriage, children, economic or professional advancement) as being preferable to any other. Any such intent would interfere with the deepening experience of true contact. Neither tries to unilaterally make the relationship more comfortable for himself or herself, because doing so would interfere with their being present to the magic of true conversation.

Soulful romance is held like a fragile flame in the unflinching gaze and steady embrace of the lover as he is revealed to himself and to his beloved in each moment of the dance. As in the unfolding of any sacred mystery, there is no telling what might happen next but there is a faith that whatever it is it will unfold with authenticity and integrity, and whatever happens will deepen the journey of both parties.

James Hollis suggests that both the value and process of soulful romance rest in what he calls radical conversation, in which one intends, continuously, to discover more and ever more about oneself and the other. Through such an exchange between two mysteries, one draws nearer to the central mystery of life. Hollis lists three components to such a soul-to-soul encounter:

1) The partners must assume responsibility for their own psychological well-being.
2) They must commit to sharing the world of their own experience without reproaching the Other for past wounds or future expectations. Similarly, they are to endeavor to hear, without feeling defensive, the experience of the Other.
3) They must commit to sustaining such a dialogue over time. . . . Only radical conversation, the full sharing of what it is like to be me while hearing what it is really like to be you, can fulfill the promise of an intimate relationship. One can only engage in radical conversation if one has taken responsibility for oneself, has some self-awareness, and has the tensile strength to withstand a genuine encounter with the truly Other.

Loving the otherness of the partner is a transcendent event, for one enters the true mystery of relationship in which one is taken to the third place--not you plus me, but we who are more than ourselves with each other.

Radical conversation has emotional, imaginal, sexual, and spiritual dimensions as well as verbal ones. And the conversation is approached not only with skill and intent but also with innocence and wonder. Neither the other nor the self is a fixed thing. The bottom is never reached. One hopes to be forever surprised.

But of course it's not all delight and ease. Far from it. We are constantly discovering how we project our shadow--both its light and dark aspects--onto the other. The dance of soulful romance always includes owning back those projections and transferences. Our relationship will expose all the places we are emotionally blocked, blinded, wounded, caged, protected, or otherwise limited.

Invariably, upon first bumping--or crashing!--into those constricted places, we'll feel fear, anger, hurt, shame, or guilt. Eventually, we learn to recognize these emotions as opportunities to learn about ourselves and sometimes the other. Rather than avoiding these emotions, we dive into them, thereby discovering the holes in our personalities, the places that need attention if we are going to move toward wholeness.

These holes are the wounds we refused to feel earlier and that we avoided by means of our Loyal Soldier's survival strategies. In our romantic relationships, we keep running into these holes because they are the relationship's growing edge. We have the choice either to write off our partner or ourselves or to examine our holes. Healing another layer of our sacred wounds reclaims the promise of our lives.

The candidate for soul initiation learns that soulful romance keeps her in direct communication with the unknown, that it uncovers her sacred wound, that it reveals her shadow, and that it opens the door to ecstasy and union with the beloved of the soul. She learns that sexual love is a spiritual experience as well as a carnal one. She learns to look into her lover's eyes and see not just her friend and sexual partner but also a reflection of her own animus (i.e., the inner man who serves as her guide to soul) and also, perhaps, a reflection of the divine lover."

- Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

Monday, December 13, 2010


The saga of two ordinary (though really extraordinary) individuals who take on McDonalds. Very inspiring!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Network--"Get Mad!"

Love, Earth

"Speak the story, whisper to the Earth,
touch the moments, blessings of rebirth. 
Taste the wonders, the fragrances, the fears, 
See Love's unfolding echo through the years."

- Miriam Martin -

Cheat Neutral

Want to cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend?


"You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation."

- Homer Rice

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Derrick Jensen Endgame Talk

A phenomenal critique of the culture you and I live in. It is about time I posted this!

Derrick Jensen, Endgame Part 1 (The first ten minutes are comedic, but then it gets pretty serious):

Derrick Jensen, Endgame Part 2:

This talk is derived from Derrick Jensen's book, Endgame (Volumes One and Two). These two books are the most influential books I have ever read.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Researchers Link Monsanto Roundup Herbicide To Birth Defects

Now a new international scientific team headed by Prof. Andres Carrasco and including researchers from the UK, Brazil, USA, and Argentina have demonstrated that Glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products presently approved in the European Union. The Carrasco group was led to research the embryonic effects of glyphosate by reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where Monsanto's genetically modified "Roundup Ready" (RR) soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed from airplanes regularly. RR soy is engineered to tolerate Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the herbicide liberally to kill weeds while the crop is growing.

Carrasco presented his group's findings at a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions in the European Parliament in Brussels. He stated,"The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy."

Widespread reports of human malformations began to be reported in Argentina beginning 2002, two years after widespread aerial spraying of Roundup and planting of RR Soybeans was begun. The test animals used by Carrasco's group share similar developmental mechanisms with humans. The authors concluded that the results "raise concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to Roundup in agricultural fields." Carrasco added, "The toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low. In some cases this can be a powerful poison."

Article in its entirety:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Flipping Votes Illegally


"The worst effect of voting is not your implicit permission or sanction of the system, nor is it the effect it has on imposing things on others. It is that it reinforces habits of mind that undermine your ability to make yourself free." 

- Kyle Bennett

Sunday, September 26, 2010


"'Yeha-Noha (Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity)' is a successful song recorded in 1994 by the German musical project known under the name of Sacred Spirit. It was the first single from the album Chants and Dances of the Native Americans. Released in 1995, it achieved a great success in various countries, including France, where it topped the singles chart. It was sung by the late Navajo elder Kee Chee Jake from Chinle, Arizona. The song is a remixed version of a portion of the Navajo Shoe Game song (a part of the origin myth describing a game played among the day and night animals in which the animals who discovered in which shoe a yucca ball was hidden would win a permanent state of daylight or night.) The song describes the Giant's (Yé'iitsoh) lament at the owl's attempt to cheat by stealing the ball. The audible portions of the song say:

... shaa ninánóh'aah (you give it back to me)

... Yé'iitsoh jinínáá léi' (... The Giant says again & again...)

... ninánóh'aah (...give it back)"


“He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.”

- Oscar Wilde

Friday, September 24, 2010


"The wild isn't something to conquer or subdue; it's something to try to live up to: a standard better than gold. Humans are part of it, and in the long run have no choice but to be so. In the short run, of course, we can try to opt out. We can pretend to be children of god or creatures from outer space, free to leave when our term is up -- but what we really are is earthlings. We can also pretend to be so intelligent that we know how to manage the planet more effectively than the planet can manage itself. Those who grow up, as most of us have, in industrialized economies and colonial regimes, are encouraged to think there is no other choice than to take control and manage the planet. But there is another choice. That choice is to participate in the biosphere, learning enough about it to recognize and accept that we can never be anything more than junior partners: a few million or billion human cells in a brain the size of the planet. Right now those human cells are acting like a cancer, a tumor in the wise, old brain of planet earth."

- Robert Bringhurst, The Tree of Meaning

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ecological Landscapes

"If I say that I live in the 'United States' or in 'Canada,' in 'British Columbia' or in 'New Mexico,' I situate myself within a purely human set of coordinates. I say little or nothing about the earthly place that I inhabit, but simply establish my temporary location within a shifting matrix of political, economic, and civilizational forces struggling to maintain themselves, today, largely at the expense of the animate earth. The great danger is that I, and many other good persons, may come to believe that our breathing bodies really inhabit these abstractions, and that we will lend our lives more to consolidating, defending, or bewailing the fate of these ephemeral entities than to nurturing and defending the actual places that physically sustain us."

- David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rumi, "The Breeze at Dawn"

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. 
Don't go back to sleep. 
You must ask for what you really want. 
Don't go back to sleep. 
People are going back and forth across the door-sill 
where the two worlds touch. 
The door is round and open. 
Don't go back to sleep."
- Rumi.

Personal Update

I am still alive!

Life has been a little hectic over the past few months.  I have moved across the country, and have begun walking down a different pathway. Given that things are settling down, I will be sure to update soon.

I have experienced many great things. Life is good.

Stay tuned!

- Teddy Grahams

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Educational Repression

"It's ironic. Radicals dream midnight police raids, or sit around over coffee and talk with glittering eyes about Repression--about those internment camps that are waiting empty. And all the time Miss Jones does her quiet thing with the kids in third grade. People like to chat about the fascist threat or the communist threat. But their visions of repression are for the most part romantic and self indulgent: massacres, machine guns drowning out La Marseillaise. And in the meantime someone stops another tenth grader for a hall pass check and notices that his T-shirt doesn't have a pocket on it. In the meantime the Bank of America hands out another round of high-school achievement awards. In the meantime I grade another set of quizzes. God knows the real massacres continue. But the machine gun isn't really what is to be feared most in our civilized Western world. it just isn't needed all that much. The kids leave Miss Jones' class. And they go on to junior high and high school and college. And most of them will never need to be put in an internment camp. Because they're already there. Do you think I'm overstating it? That's what's so frightening: we have the illusion that we're free. In school we learn to be good little Americans--or Frenchmen--or Russians. We learn how to take the crap that's going to be shoveled on use all our lives. In school the state wraps up people's minds so tight that it can afford to leave their bodies alone. Repression? You want to see victims of repression? Come look at most of the students at San Diego State College, where I work. They want to be told what to do. They don't know how to be free. They've given their will to this institution just as they'll continue to give their will to the institutions that engulf them in the future."

- Jerry Farber

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have finished my commitments to the ivory tower. I am, officially, free.

- Teddy Grahams

When the Earth Speaks

"The rain surrounded the cabin . . . with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside. . . Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen."

- Thomas Merton

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Genetically Modified Crop Tied To Infertility

"'This study was just routine,' said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.
After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.
And if this isn't shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths—a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.
The study, jointly conducted by Surov's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security, is expected to be published in three months (July 2010)—so the technical details will have to wait. But Surov sketched out the basic set up for me in an email.
Years of Reproductive Disorders from GMO-Feed
Surov's hamsters are just the latest animals to suffer from reproductive disorders after consuming GMOs. In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller (see photo) and could not reproduce.
In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.
When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes (PDF), including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently.
Denial, Attack and Canceled Follow-up
Scientists who discover adverse findings from GMOs are regularly attacked, ridiculed, denied funding, and even fired. When Ermakova reported the high infant mortality among GM soy fed offspring, for example, she appealed to the scientific community to repeat and verify her preliminary results. She also sought additional funds to analyze preserved organs. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Samples were stolen from her lab, papers were burnt on her desk, and she said that her boss, under pressure from his boss, told her to stop doing any more GMO research. No one has yet repeated Ermakova's simple, inexpensive studies."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zen Master Dōgen

“The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitless of the moonlight in the sky.”

- Zen Master Dōgen

US Military: Substantial Oil Shortage Coming in Two Years?

"The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

'By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,' says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: 'While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.'

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with 'an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.'

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk."

Article continued at:

Friday, April 9, 2010

General McChrystal On Ineffective Checkpoints

"We really ask a lot of our young service people out on the checkpoints because there's danger, they're asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it…We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force."

- General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan

Monday, April 5, 2010

Former FDA scientist Claims Cancer Treatment is Linked to Cancer

"WASHINGTON — A former Food and Drug Administration scientist said Tuesday his job was eliminated after he raised concerns about the risks of radiation exposure from high-grade medical scanning.

Dr. Julian Nicholas told an audience of imaging specialists that he and other FDA staffers 'were pressured to change their scientific opinion,' by managers in the agency's medical device division.

Nicholas, now a physician at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, said he and eight other staffers raised their concerns with the division's top director Dr. Jeffrey Shuren last September.

'Scientific and regulatory review process for medical devices was being distorted by managers who were not following the laws,' Nicholas said. A month later Nicholas' position was 'terminated,' he said.

The allegations about suppression of scientific dissent within FDA are not the first, and come at an inopportune time for the agency.

Tuesday's meeting was designed to kick off FDA's campaign to reduce radiation exposure from medical scanning. The agency is seeking input from physicians and manufacturers on additional safety controls and training to improve CT scanners and other medical imaging devices.

Hundreds of studies have linked certain types of radiation, including the type used in medical imaging, to cancer that can surface decades later."

Article continued at:

United States Military Massacres Photojournalists

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Frederick Douglass, Freedom and Struggle

"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.  They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."

- Frederick Douglass

Monday, March 29, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Found to Cause Significantly More Weight Gain Than Sugar

"A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hold On

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

- Pueblo Indian Prayer

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

College: The Societal Ritalin Of Our time

Do you want to know what happens to those who think outside of the box?

The truth? Universities crush them.

College, the supposed beacon of intellectual prowess, is no more than a sophisticated, fancy little game that we are all innocuously playing. It torts idealism, breaks the will of ingenuity, and molds its participants into pawns of society.

In saying this, I am in no way declaring a college education itself as ludicrous. Without my nearly four years of higher-level schooling, I would not have developed the mental skills needed in order to write this column, amongst other things. Nonetheless, when the victim realizes the oppressor is at fault, it is time to speak up. Intellectual diversity is at stake.

Our traditional system of higher-level education greatly parallels Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Actually, college is more like the societal Ritalin for ADHD.

Students come to college with a diverse array of learning styles, thought processing methods, and aspirations for life. Upon getting to college, they are forced into a very specific mold: standardized testing, standardized methods of intellectual communication and expression, and—worst of all—the standardized processing, and thus elimination, of dreams which are not deemed “societally applicable.”

So the students who idealize, question the sanity of societal systems, or simply like to learn in ways other than hunching over a desk for eight hours a day are deemed “societally hyperactive.” Four years of college will certainly fix this “illness,” hence the parallel to Ritalin, the medicine that has been proven to sometimes cause stunted growth, drowsiness, and appetite loss.

Analogously, college leads to stunted dreams, lots of tiredness, and a decreased appetite for doing anything the intellectual elite deem unacceptable.

I should note that a lot of students have already lost this sense pure and diverse open-mindedness to the twelve years of education they’ve had before they even came to college. Even so, college, which is often viewed as more fulfilling than our abysmal lower levels of education, continues this intellectual imperialism.

But really, do you think learning in dreary, emotionless classrooms for hours on end is conducive to expanding your horizons? Hell, I’ve been to funeral homes that are more enjoyable. This is unnatural.

Does anyone else feel twelve page research papers are not the most effective way in harnessing knowledge? I bet I have allies.

More broadly, do any students see the glaring flaws in any aspect of our culture, only to be told by the elite that their ideas just won’t work?

On countless occasions university mentors have suppressed my ideals. Their lethargic reactions have been detrimental in the process of putting these ideals into action.

In other words, questioning the very makeup of our society has not gotten a serious reaction from professors and staff. Radical thought is dead.

College is, ironically, the “go to jail” of intellectual Monopoly. Except, instead of getting free from jail in three rolls, it usually takes four years of rolling, and the tuition—debt that often prevents students from quitting—is a lot more than fifty dollars. And just like Monopoly, we are trapped into playing by the insipidly bland rules of the game, and—worse yet—must dutifully compete rather than cooperate.

Sure I learn stuff here, but I refuse to let my idealism be lost in an atmosphere of insensible submissiveness.

Today, I write to all of the many allegorical and societal ADHD sufferers: Consider overcoming the Ritalin, and the mindset it instills. There is a world—a beautiful and real world—that lurks beyond the ivory tower. Rediscover the beauty of your childlike idealism, live it, and never back down.

You don’t need to buy into the conformist system of intellectual Monopoly. Do not pass “Go”? Do not collect 200 college credits? You are not intellectually bankrupt. Don’t ever let any game tell you so.

- Teddy Grahams

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Between Two Worlds

"Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head,
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
Their faith, my tears, the world deride—
I come to shed them at their side."

- Matthew Arnold, Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Median Wealth for Single Black Women: $100, Single Hispanic Women: $120, Single White Women: $41,000

"The Insight Center for Community Economic Development released a report on the gender wealth gap to mark International Women’s Day. The report found nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debts exceed all of their assets. The median wealth for single black women is only $100; for single Hispanic women, $120. This compares to just over $41,000 for single white women."

Military Toxicity - Agent Orange and Beyond

Children in Vietnam following America's use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War:

An Agent Orange-free infant in Iraq during recent U.S. occupation:

The American military has replaced one horrid weapon (Agent Orange) with another (depleted Uranium bombs).

No words can describe these atrocities.

This is sick.

- Teddy Grahams

The Curse of Permanence

"To desire immortality is to desire the eternal perpetuation of a great mistake."

- Arthur Schopenhauer

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Waking Up

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

- Maria Robinson 

The Paradigm Shift - American Imperialism

This is difficult to watch...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Precarious Persuasion

"I cannot describe the color green to someone who is blind, and who even moreso insists that green does not exist, could never exist; as well as to someone who knows that philosophers from Aristotle to Descartes to Dawkins have conclusively shown that green does not exist, could not exist, has never existed, and will never exist; or to someone who is under the thrall of economic and legal systems (insofar as there is a meaningful difference, since the primary function of this culture’s legal systems is to protect—through laws, police, courts, and prisons—the exploitative activities of the already-wealthy) based so profoundly on green not existing; who cannot acknowledge that this culture would collapse if its members individually and/or collectively perceived this green that cannot be allowed to exist. If I could describe the color green to you, I would do it."

- Derrick Jensen

Aspartame = AminoSweet

"In response to growing awareness about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, what does the manufacturer of one of the world's most notable artificial sweeteners do? Why, rename it and begin marketing it as natural, of course. This is precisely the strategy of Ajinomoto, maker of aspartame, which hopes to pull the wool over the eyes of the public with its rebranded version of aspartame, called "AminoSweet".

Over 25 years ago, aspartame was first introduced into the European food supply. Today, it is an everyday component of most diet beverages, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gums in countries worldwide. But the tides have been turning as the general public is waking up to the truth about artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the harm they cause to health. The latest aspartame marketing scheme is a desperate effort to indoctrinate the public into accepting the chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite evidence to the contrary."

Chris Hedges on Inverted Totalitarianism

"Our democratic system has been transformed into what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin labels inverted totalitarianism. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, a free press, parliamentary systems and constitutions while manipulating and corrupting internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens but are ruled by armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington, Ottawa or other state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. Mass culture, owned and disseminated by corporations, diverts us with trivia, spectacles and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. 'Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,' Wolin writes. 'Economics dominates politics – and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.'

Inverted totalitarianism wields total power without resorting to cruder forms of control such as gulags, concentration camps or mass terror. It harnesses science and technology for its dark ends. It enforces ideological uniformity by using mass communication systems to instill profligate consumption as an inner compulsion and to substitute our illusions of ourselves for reality. It does not forcibly suppress dissidents, as long as those dissidents remain ineffectual. And as it diverts us it dismantles manufacturing bases, devastates communities, unleashes waves of human misery and ships jobs to countries where fascists and communists know how to keep workers in line. It does all this while waving the flag and mouthing patriotic slogans. 'The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed,' Wolin writes."

- Chris Hedges,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lierre Keith, Acting Beyond Personal Change

"Understand this: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible--it's to dismantle those systems. Neither of these approaches--personal psychological change or personal lifestyle choices--is going to disrupt the global arrangements of power. They're both ultimately liberal approaches to injustice, rerouting the goal from political change to personal change. This is easier, much easier, because it makes no demands on us. It requires no courage or sacrifice, no persistence or honor, which is what direct confrontations with power must require. But personal purity only asks for shopping and smugness. The mainstream version involves hybrid cars, soy milk, soy burgers, and soy babies, and checking off the 'green power' option on your electric bill. On the very fringe, there is a more extreme version which offers a semi-nomadic life of essentially mooching off the employed. To point out the obvious: power doesn't care. Power doesn't notice the existence of anarchist freegans and it certainly doesn't care if they eat out of dumpsters. Power will only care when you build a strategic movement against it. Individual action will never be effective. Rosa Parks on her own ended up in jail. Rosa Parks plus the courage, sacrifice, and political will of the whole Black community of Montgomery, Alabama ended segregation on the public transportation system."

- Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Tragedy of the Usai Nation: A Political Allegory

A long time ago, well before the age of kings and queens, there was an exotic tribe of humans known as the Usai. What follows, is their tragic, politically induced tale.

In the beginning, the Usai were very cunning and persistent. They subsisted for many seasons, and rarely suffered debilitating hardships, even when others nearby did.

One of the keys to survival for the Usai was their mystifying system of governance, known as “Tauk”. The Usai loved to Tauk, and held Tauking ceremonies once every sixteen seasons.

When the time came, the tribesmen, tribeswomen, and the tribal animals gathered together for the Tauk ritual during which a new leader was chosen.

Throughout the Tauking ceremony, the Usai Nation divided themselves into two groups. One of the groups dressed themselves in red-colored war paint, while the other group wore blue. The Usai people chose which group to join based largely on whichever group their family elders were a part of, and also how much tribal wealth they had acquired. The differences between the groups were trivial, at best, but still, it made for a stirring event.

Once divided, the two groups began a special ritual. During this ritual, each group amassed as much animal dung as they could afford. They next smeared the dung all over the opposing group. Whichever group smeared the most dung got to consign their wealthiest member as the next chief of the Usai Nation.

Throughout the existence of Usai Nation, the tribespeople often looked up to their chief. He (the chief was never a woman) was whom they depended on in times of strife.

As the seasons went on, the living conditions slowly deteriorated. During one of the Tauking ceremonies, the tribe reached their breaking point. After the countless number of Tauking ceremonies, the Usai landscape had become deeply entrenched in dung.

Everything was so profoundly covered in dung that nothing could be accomplished. And worse yet, the dung was not even biodegradable—it was synthetically devised to give each rivaling group an advantage for the Tauks. In result, the crops were no longer growing healthily, the animals were full of disease, and the Usai people were covered in thousands of seasons’ worth of poop, and toxic chemicals that mimic poop.

During this horrific event, the Usai people pleaded for their chief, Boh’rk to save them all. Energetically, Boh’rk did all he could. The man spoke of change and offered hope to all. He helped keep, what he thought to be, several key components of the tribe afloat during this time of strife. Nonetheless, with each effort, more and more dung covered the tribe. Boh’rk and his tribe were in trouble.

With each coming sunrise, the synthetic dung increasingly began to take on a life of its own. Astonishingly, the now-mentally disturbed tribespeople started treating the blobs as equals. Hanging around with poo for so long takes its toll, and at some point one begins to view the crap as human. The name the Usai gave to this poo-human mimic was “Korp’Rahshn.”

Soon after, in a fatal turn of events, the Usai Nation could endure no more. The Korp’Rashns overcame their creators, and sucked the life out of every organism throughout the land.

The blobs essentially took advantage of a smear-based tribal-political system, which forced the Usai Nation to share their human rights with them, whether the humans themselves wanted to or not. In result, the tribe fell apart, and the residents waned in pain, helpless and confused, spurned by the very laws they created.

Though this tale is tragic, it serves a meaningful purpose. There is no messiah who can save an entire country that has been abused for generation after generation. A nation built upon a foundation of smears, intentionally or unintentionally, needs a massive overhaul. We will never achieve this through a trifling, two party, political system that treats heartless corporations as human equals.

- Teddy Grahams

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Avatar - Why it Depresses Thousands

The movie Avatar has done it.

Like a pair of tree-hugging, nature-loving, environmental eyeglasses, Avatar has provided millions of viewers with the option of temporary 20/20 eco-vision; Green-shaded lenses, which allow moviegoers to see through the eyes of those, humans and nonhumans, who bear the deplorable and immoral hardships associated with our current, ethnocentric and industrialized, nature-eradicating, consume-and-expand, standard of living.

Overall, the plot of Avatar revolves around the destructiveness of our culture’s greed. The movie takes place over one hundred years into the future. Indigenous natives on a distant, fantastically beautiful planet must fight off vilified, resource-hungry humans from Earth, who will destroy anything necessary to obtain a rare, valuable mineral.

The twist comes when one of the humans, Jake Sully, is given the opportunity to become one of the natives, as a spy from within, through the means of fancy biotechnology. This allows Jake, as well as all of the viewers, to unexpectedly see, firsthand, the suffering imposed on others through sustaining industrial civilization’s expansive, resource-intensive itinerary.

By the time the movie is over, it is hard to look at one’s self in the mirror and still be proud of the industrial-intensive culture in which he or she is a part of.

If message boards are any indication, it is clear that Avatar has had a profound impact on much of its audience. On, there have been thousands of posts related to handling depression after watching the film.

Though some news channels have tied this depression to the surreal, 3-dimensional, special effects in the film, the primary cause seems to have been overlooked by mainstream media: After watching Avatar, people have become ashamed of how they, and the rest of their culture, have treated the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

We are part of a culture that names subdivisions after chopped down forests; we slaughtered the indigenous, only to put their faces on our coins; we identify ourselves as animal lovers, yet lock up innocent creatures in cages; and we toxify every inch of the planet, and then make a movie about how horrible living this way is, merely for entertainment value. We are a culture of contradiction, indeed, and the ironic truths are starting to become hard to ignore, all of which are justifiably depressing.

Contrastingly, Avatar, with a more uplifting spin of ironic realism, allows humans to appreciably see the beauty of nature that is omnipresent, everyday.

For some, it takes virtually travelling light-years away to a fictional, alien planet in order to realize the magnitude and depth of the naturally occurring splendor within each locale on Earth. In any case, this is an essential result. The realization of our culture’s harm, and the appeal for a stronger relationship with the Earth, go hand in hand.

Putting these observations together, the fog begins to clear.

Maybe, just maybe, industrial civilization is, in fact, the disease of all diseases, the crème de la crème of infectious infirmity. Maybe our industry-intensive solutions will only amplify our harms. Maybe it does not even matter if one votes Democrat or Republican, promotes democracy or communism, or chooses Christianity or Atheism. Maybe the problem is so deeply entrenched into our way of life, that we cannot even begin to understand the wrongness of industrial civilization, nor cope with the ideal of abandonment. Maybe we really are a gravely sick culture, beyond the help of any societal antibiotics.

Quite possibly, maybe, just maybe, it is time we reconsider.

Take off those 3-D glasses. This is reality.

- Teddy Grahams

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Colors of the Wind

Although the portrayal of European and American Indian relations is extremely skewed in Pocahantas, the lyrics and tune of this song are decidedly special.