Saturday, September 29, 2007
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
High Flight, a poem by John Gillespie McGee, Jr. (1922 - 1941). An American/British fighter pilot, he flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. He came to Britain, flew in a Spitfire squadron, and was killed at age 19 on December 11, 1941, during a training flight from the airfield near Scopwick, Lincolnshire. The poem was written on the back of a letter to his parents which stated, "I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day. It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed."
Friday, September 28, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Published on Monday, September 24, 2007 by The Boston Globe
So Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is forbidden by the United States to visit Ground Zero. Iran’s president is to address the United Nations tomorrow, and while in New York, he had hoped to go to the World Trade Center site, as so many visitors do. New York authorities, together with the US State Department, said no. The prohibition was seconded by Hillary Clinton - she called the idea “unacceptable” - and by Rudy Giuliani, who blasted Ahmadinejad for his “threats against America and Israel.”
What else might have happened here? Ahmadinejad is notorious for having denied the Holocaust, threatened Israel, and demonized America. He is also the elected president of a nation that stands, together with the United States, on the edge of an abyss. Does this action move us back from that edge, or closer to it?
No one can visit the World Trade Center site, even as construction daily transforms it, without a vivid sense of the staggering tragedy that took place there. Indeed, the event transcends mundane boundaries, even including old conflicts. In the days after Sep. 11, 2001, one of the first nations to express compassion for American pain was Iran. Then-President Mohammed Khatami, in an interview with CNN, sent, as he said, “deepest condolences to the nation of America and . . . sorrow for the tragic event of September 11. What occurred was a disaster . . . the ugliest form of terrorism ever seen.”
The scorched acreage at what was quickly dubbed “Ground Zero” was, at first, a wound inflicted on the human family. All over the globe, especially through that constantly rebroadcast television footage, people experienced what had happened in New York as happening to them. One fact long gone down the memory hole is that, when the United States launched its military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tehran was supportive. The old enmity had been transcended, precisely, by the hurt that Iranians, too, felt after Sept. 11. “I would also like to add,” Khatami told CNN that fall, “that the Americans were not the only ones who suffered.” In that suffering, most of the world was united.
Ahmadinejad is no Khatami, but the United States has steadily treated Iran as if it is only an enemy. Today’s rebuff to the current president is of a piece with a long history of omni-political denigration aimed at Tehran. After all, it was when the reform-minded Khatami was Iran’s leader that George W. Bush, in 2002, hung that nation on the “Axis of Evil.” Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University, scheduled for today, has generated fierce controversy, but even when it was Khatami visiting Harvard a year ago, then-Governor Mitt Romney ordered state authorities to have nothing to do with protecting his security.
The extremist Ahmadinejad rode to power on Iranian reactions to the steady insult from America. This new insult reinforces him at home, just as moderate, relatively pro-Western opposition forces are jelling there. (One week ago, Ahmadinejad’s chief rival, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was elected speaker of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that oversees Iran’s Supreme Leader.)
It was George W. Bush who transformed Ground Zero from a site toward which the world looked with empathy for American pain into a hypernationalistic symbol of a singularly American victimhood. Sept. 11, 2001, became our wound alone, and New York’s ravaged precinct became a restricted preserve, as global sympathy for the United States curdled into fear of it.
What if, instead of shunting Ahmadinejad aside as one unworthy to enter the sanctuary of our national trauma, we Americans had said, “Yes - stand here with us. Look at what threatens the universal future if we do not find other ways to relate to each other than with contempt. Relive that horrible September morning with us, when the rank evil of terrorism showed itself with such clarity that the human family, decidedly including the Iranian nation, stood together against it. Let solidarity be the meaning of this place.”
If Americans, across the political divide, are still too traumatized by what Ground Zero memorializes to contemplate such a stance, it is because Osama bin Laden’s crime remains unadjudicated. Bin Laden still at large, releasing videos, inspiring legions, is the living emblem of American paralysis.
Here is George Bush’s most grievous failure: Instead of enabling his nation to reckon with the blow of Sept. 11, and move on from it, he has worsened that anguish immeasurably. Yes, Ground Zero is a holy place, but Bush is the one who desecrates it
Sunday, September 23, 2007
But Steve Earle was against it all the way, right? Now, if only Congress would do the same......
Country music has thrived for years as the soundtrack to redneck America, supplying the Republican heartlands with a diet of knee-jerk jingoism that has included flag-waving anthems supporting the war on terror.
But as the US death toll rises in Iraq and public patience with the conflict - and with George W. Bush - diminishes, many anti-war songs are emerging from Nashville, Tennessee, home of the genre.
No one has moved further than Toby Keith and Darryl Worley, two of the biggest names in country music.
In 2002, Keith had a huge hit with Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, which includes the lyric: “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the US of A, ’cause we’ll put a boot in your ass - it’s the American Way.”
Worley’s Have You Forgotten in 2003 justified the Iraq invasion as a response to the September 11 attacks. The military liked it so much he was presented with a flag that had flown over the Pentagon.
Now Keith says he is a lifelong Democrat and has claimed he never supported the war, while Worley has had a hit with I Just Came Back from a War, about a soldier returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Tim McGraw - the biggest contemporary country star - has a hit single with If You’re Reading This, about a dead soldier’s last letter home, and the Dixie Chicks, boycotted in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines told an audience in London: “We’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas,” won five Grammy Awards this year.
The changing tone reflects a growing skepticism in heartlands that have disproportionately contributed the young soldiers who have been fighting and dying.Brian Hiatt, associate editor of Rolling Stone magazine, said: “Popular music is reflecting the culture, as it always does.”
Keith’s switch, however, has angered conservative country fans and anti-war activists alike. Jon Iwanski, a blogger in Chicago, said Keith had “damaged his credibility”, while opponents of the war accused the singer of opportunism
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Published: 17 September 2007
2,000-year-old Sumerian cities torn apart and plundered by robbers. The very walls of the mighty Ur of the Chaldees cracking under the strain of massive troop movements, the privatisation of looting as landlords buy up the remaining sites of ancient Mesopotamia to strip them of their artefacts and wealth. The near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilisation – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation.
Evidence amassed by archaeologists shows that even those Iraqis who trained as archaeological workers in Saddam Hussein's regime are now using their knowledge to join the looters in digging through the ancient cities, destroying thousands of priceless jars, bottles and other artefacts in their search for gold and other treasures.
In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, armies of looters moved in on the desert cities of southern Iraq and at least 13 Iraqi museums were plundered. Today, almost every archaeological site in southern Iraq is under the control of looters.
In a long and devastating appraisal to be published in December, Lebanese archaeologist Joanne Farchakh says that armies of looters have not spared "one metre of these Sumerian capitals that have been buried under the sand for thousands of years.
"They systematically destroyed the remains of this civilisation in their tireless search for sellable artefacts: ancient cities, covering an estimated surface area of 20 square kilometres, which – if properly excavated – could have provided extensive new information concerning the development of the human race.
"Humankind is losing its past for a cuneiform tablet or a sculpture or piece of jewellery that the dealer buys and pays for in cash in a country devastated by war. Humankind is losing its history for the pleasure of private collectors living safely in their luxurious houses and ordering specific objects for their collection."
Read the rest?
into a breeze
from a mausoleum..
A death wind.
I gave so much.
Reached out my soul
to wrestle with another’s.
My spirit feels bruised.
But mostly empty.
Running on empty.
Sitting, laying, silent in the back seat
car slicing the darkness.
Feeling myself come alive
in the darkness.
I am a fetus,
space walking in amniotic fluid
Landing and bouncing on elastic muscle.
I’ve arrived from a place
I know not where.
Past free-stall barns we ride.
Full of growth
inside slowly munching Holsteins.
The lights catch the highway.
Shiny, black asphalt.
New lines glow bright yellow in our headlights.
A new path perhaps?
Not sure of much, now.
How can a fetus be sure of what it does not know?
Has never experienced?
we stop for gas
under crabby fluorescent lights of a convenience gas station.
The smell is stale soap, tobacco and a tinge of urine.
Has anything really changed this evening?
It can mean admonishment, maybe, but not usually. Admonishment can be given with love, with guidance from the Spirit. Or it can be given in a hurtful way. We all have our prejudices. But pushing them on others is not useful or fair, to the Meeting community nor the person in question.
Case in point is the Friend in our Meeting who has made it clear that she feels reading in Meeting is not appropriate. That it blocks our ability to connect with God. She even went so far as to confront another Friend at the front door when she saw him bringing a book into Meeting.
There are many ways to connect with God. We have to be open to the way that feels “right” for us. I read a devotional passage or something from Faith and Practice at the start of the silence, which draws me in. I may start out with that passage, and then see where it takes me. Some folks journal. Others meditate. Others pray. Many people sit quietly listening for God.
I won’t tell this Friend that I sometimes let my son read a bit of Harry Potter for part of the Meeting. What canst though say?
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
for 30 years
watching the lemmings
Some go east
but most go west.
more and more
I'd call it
whooshed through my bedroom
pulling me from sleep.
As I listened and watched the trees tilt
it was clear the wind was rushing
into a vacuum
sucking the lemmings
The lemmings don't know
and don't care
about the vacuum.
They just fill it up
not aware of the coming end.
I rushed to the bridge.
The lemmings were gone
and the zephyr had stopped.
Calm and quiet
I knew right then
that the bridge
was all mine.
Meanwhile, those pesky Milwaukee Brewers crushed Houston, so the two teams are tied for first with only ten games left.
Baseball season is dying. A sad moment for any fan. But we can hope for a ressurection by getting our team into the playoffs. Being a Cub fan is about hope and dealing with despair. Lifelong despair. Wearing your Cub hat furtively, at night, when walking the dog, hoping no one will see you. I know some of you (and you know who you are!) will find this all a bit........melodramatic. But, its not. Really.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Today it's the Cubs best pitcher against the Reds best. Cub fans are trying to keep breathing.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
It was more fun than the game. Luckily, though, Mr Ether let me "watch" the game on his computer. I was thrilled when the Cubs held on to beat St Louis once again. Unfortunately, the Brewers also won, staying one game behind the first place Cubs. Grace Ether couldn't quite fathom why I cared. I tried to explain it to her. I think she thought I was a bit.................strange. But, only 12 games left in the season. Will they hold on to first and win the division? Will they win in the playoffs and go on to the World Series? Cub fans everywhere are trying not to get their hopes up. Whatever happens, Wrigley field will be covered in snow and ice and I'll be at home, making a wonderful meal with the tomato sauce we canned today!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
But last night they won and moved back into a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National Leagues Central Division. Now I know some of you (and you know who you are!) are saying, "Geez, Poodledoc, it's ONLY a GAME!". WRONG! There are less than 20 games left and the Cubs have a chance to get to the World Series. Hey, this is important, at least to me. But no, it matters to other folks, too!
After Meeting this past Sunday, I ran into a F/friend whose husband is a very, very serious Brewers fan. At that point, and actually for most of the season, the Brewers have been in first place, only recently overtaken by the Cubs. She made the "it's only a game remark" to her husband recently, after the Cubs had overtaken them, and he yelled at her "IT IS NOT!"
Meanwhile, the St Louis Cardinals are falling farther and farther behind. I 'm shedding a lot of tears. Crocodile tears. Is it Quakerly to shed crocodile tears?
Author's note: I will be bringing you occasional "Cub Updates" on this very blog until either the Cubs self-destruct, Steve Bartman, under an assumed name get's tickets again, or the Cubs win the World Series, which they last did in 1908.
I think, as activist people who are working for change, we need to feel our feelings. That needs to be ok. That's part of what makes us human. No, I don't think "wallowing" in sadness gets things very far. And yes, it's important to "organize". I've done a lot (not bragging) and I'll do more, I hope. But his comment bothered me.
It felt tantamount to going up to someone who is clinically depressed and telling them to "Just cheer up!"
Maybe I can follow the lead of my friend Ms Ether, and say "Don't mourn, can tomatoes!"
I will always be learning to be a Quaker. I joke about being taught the secret handshake and getting the secret decoder ring upon becoming a member. But along with the many joys, comes some hard, time-intensive work. There's joy in that, too. In our hurry up, hi-speed world, it's nice to slow down. I admit, it's hard for me. Feels sometimes like we are moving too slow. I'm not perfect at slowing down. I'll never be perfect, of course, but am working towards Quaker process. It takes time. This allows everyone to be heard. Ideally, this leads to a decision that the group can be comfortable with the outcome. When I first came to Quakerism, I too, was in a tearing hurry. I've slowed down a bit, but it takes the touch of the Spirit to slow me down to listen to my friends, listen to my heart. I pray that our Meeting slows down. That it takes it's foot off the accelerator. Because it's scaring me. And if we REALLY care about our children, we won't be like the rest of the world, and teach them to rush.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
He was telling me how malaria is a huge problem there. But, for just $8, a person with malaria can be cured. Eight bucks will pay for the full course of malaria treatment.
We wondered how that compared to one tablet of Cialus or Viagra. So today I asked my pharmacist. She told me Viagra was about 9-10 dollars per tablet. So men, next time you are enjoying your "Cialus Moment" remember, your erection equals one human life. And maybe, before your Cialus Moment starts, instead of feeling guilty, you could send some money to an international malaria treatment agency (more info to follow).
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Well, the Cubs lost today, dropped a game out of first place. It's gray outside. Getting chilly. Cub fans everywhere are feeling those melancholy feelings we've felt before, rising in our throats...........feeling the "choke". So this slide show, with Steve Goodman singing his classic "Dying Cub Fan's Last Request".
Saturday, September 8, 2007
This feels so cynical and hypocritical to me. It assumes that middle class blood is somehow more important than "lower class" blood. As a Quaker it hurts me on two levels. First, it violates the Peace Testimony that we Quakers hold so dear. These progressive Quakers are saying that more killing needs to happen to bring the war to an end. In other words, we need to have the REALLY BIG SURGE so people "get it". Meanwhile, lots more people have to die to meet this "goal". This is not what the Peace Testimony is about. I can't abide by this idea of starting a draft. I don't want my son drafted or anyone else's son or daughter drafted, no matter their socio-economic status, skin color or vocational prospects.
The second thing that grates on me is that we Quaker like to say that "there's that of God in everyone". I truly believe that, although George W Bush is a challenge, I'll admit. So what's being said here by my fellow Quakers? That killing is ok if it ends the war? That the God inside the poor is less important, less of a God somehow, than the middle class God? I am disgusted at this hypocrisy and cynicism by fellow Quakers.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Enjoy your on-going converstion with the Divine presence in you. Note how your prayers directed to the Presence improve with time. They are less concerned with guilt over past troubles, and more directed toward being in the right place, internally, in the present moment."
by Francis D. Hole and Ellie Schachter
from "A Little Journal of Devotions out or Quaker Worship"
Anyway, in one of the early trials, three sheep went on through a gate, but one refused to budge. So dog and sheep engaged in a stare down while the other three sheep trottted off. Finally, the dog nipped at the stubborn one, and got her to join the others. In sheep herding there are specific commands such as "Lie Down", which means of course that the dog needs to lie down so as not to "drive" the sheep so hard causing them to miss gates, or even worse, scatter so the frantic dog has to try to collect them. Occasionally, the handler would get so frustrated, they'd shout at the dogs things I shout at my own dog like: "What are you doing?" One guy got so frustrated, he through his shepherd's crook at the dog. I found that unpleasant. The later handlers and dogs seemed more in sync. The dogs were obviously more experienced and moved the sheep well, usually with few commands from the handlers. (If I ever figure out how to post pictures to my blog, I'll post some that I took today with my new camera)
A bunch of great friends from Quaker Meeting and from the eye pathology lab joined poodledoc, jr. and I for an entertaining day! If you've never been to a sheep dog trial, I recommend it. But, be sure to bring sunscreen. I didn't and it's the only thing I haven't enjoyed today. Silly me.