Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good news

"My prediction is that we will see ourselves more and more connected to
the quantum field, not physically but through the mind. This "mind field"
is invisible and universal; it encompasses all living things; it weaves the
fabric of nature. As our prejudice in favor of solid, concrete things fades
away, certain fringe phenomena will become everyday. Healing without
touch will be legitimized, since the human body can be altered by altering
the field. Telepathy and clairvoyance will seem ordinary, since time and
distance are compressed to a single point in the field; Intuition and
epiphanies will be explained as subtle field interactions.

"The best outcome would be that wisdom will reemerge as a vital human
capacity, for there is no doubt that our spiritual forebears were deeply in
touch with the same invisible reality that still surrounds us. We have shut
out that reality in our stubborn, rigid insistence on believing our senses,
but seeing with the eyes of the soul is possible. In the end, a new
humanity is also possible once we escape the prison we have sentenced
ourselves to for far too long. The so-called sixth sense isn't a separate
sense at all, but a new opening for human evolution with unlimited

-Deepak Chopra, *Forbes* magazine

Well, that's good news! We need some of that, these days. Yesterday I got some good news, too. The proof that this war is about oil, about Imperialism, a new world order, has been amassing, and finally, a scholar from the Institute of Policy Studies, seems to have put it succinctly into a book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." The author, Antonia Juhasz, was one of yesterday's guests on my favorite gut-wrenching show, Democracy Now! She was very articulate, and for once, I didn't have to re-read the transcript to get the gist of the guest's train of thought. She laid out the pre-invasion plan, outlining the details of firing and shutting down Iraqi institutions so that they could be taken over - privatized - by multi-national corporations. You know all the players already. She said:

Now, there's two intimate connections between the war and the price of gas. But first, I think it’s very important for people to understand that the vertical integration of the oil industry, which has been absolutely exacerbated under the Bush administration. For example, ChevronTexaco and Unocal merging into one company, the completion of Exxon and Mobil's merger, all of these little companies merging into enormous behemoths, so that you have ExxonMobil being the company that has received the highest profits of any company in the world, over the last two years, ever in the history of the world. That is because of the vertical integration and monopoly power of these companies. That means that they control exploration, production, refining, marketing and sales.

The price of oil at the pump is about 50% the price of a barrel of oil, about 25% taxes, and then the rest is marketing and just the price determined by the company at the pump. So that means that about 18% to 20% is absolutely determined by the oil companies themselves and governed by the companies themselves. So they could reduce the price of oil and reduce their profit margin, or they could jack up the price of oil and increase their profit margin. They have chosen to do the latter.

And one of the things that has helped them do that is, first of all, the United States is receiving a tremendous amount of oil from Iraq. Oil is down in overall export and production, but not tremendously so. We were -- at prewar was 2.5 million barrels a day. We’re now at about 2 or 2.2 million barrels a day. But 50% of that, on average, is coming to the United States, and it’s being brought to the United States by Chevron and Exxon and Marathon. The myth of dramatically reduced supply has helped them create an argument to the American public, which is, you know, it’s a time of war, we’re suffering, gas prices are going to go up, everyone needs to come in and support this because this is war. Well, that's just not true. The companies are using that as a myth to help make it okay for them to receive these utterly ridiculous profits.

AMY GOODMAN: In your chapter "A Mutual Seduction," you have a quote of Ken Derr, the former C.E.O. of Chevron, 1998. I know his tenure well. It was the time in the Niger Delta that Chevron was involved with the killing of two Nigerian villagers, who were protesting yet another oil spill of Chevron and jobs not being given to the local community as they drilled for oil. But your quote here says, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas, reserves I would love Chevron to have access to.” And then you follow that by a quote of John Gibson, Chief Executive of Halliburton Energy Service Group, who says, “We hope Iraq will be the first domino and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don't like being kept out of markets, because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.”

ANTONIA JUHASZ: I love it when they’re honest. It doesn’t happen very often. Yeah, these companies have been explicit, for decades, that they want in, particularly to Iraq. The reason is obvious. Iraq certainly has the second largest oil reserves in the world, but some geologists believe it has the largest, at least on par with Saudi Arabia. That's a tremendous pool of wealth. And not just have the companies been clear that they want access to that oil, U.S. leaders -- for example, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald Rumsfeld -- have all been explicit for the past 20 years that what the U.S. needs to do is gain increased access to the region's oil, and most explicitly during the ‘90s, Iraq's oil, that this is something that shouldn’t be in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

The difference, going into the current Bush administration, was that the rhetoric changed to and the reality changed to not just we need a new leader, we need a new -- a fully new political and economic structure in Iraq, and we need to be in that country to make sure that that structure gets put into place. And that is exactly what they have achieved, and now Halliburton, Chevron, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin have profited tremendously from this process already. Chevron’s -- the U.S. value of Iraqi oil, imported Iraqi oil, has increased by 86% between 2003 and 2004. Those profits have gone to Exxon, Chevron and Marathon.

She goes on to explain how, when these companies actually get into Iraq and start working, they will need security.

Chevron, Exxon, the other companies are sort of hovering on the outside. They’ve signed what are called “memoranda of understanding,” essentially free services. Chevron has been training Iraqi workers in the United States for years, mapping -- doing mappings, free services, so that they are ready, when the permanent government is in place, to sign contracts. And then, I believe, once those contracts are signed, they will get to work, but they need security. And what better security force than 150,000 American troops. And I do not think that those troops will leave, unless we all have something to do about it, until the oil companies are safely at work.

And she talks about the rebuilding effort:

The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction.

And the most important company, in my mind, to receive blame is the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. They have received $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the most important systems in the life of an Iraqi. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months' time. It’s been three years, and, as you said, those services are still below pre-war levels.

It sounds like a good book, but sure to keep you tossing and turning at night. You check out the transcript of the show here.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Oh my god, Newt just said this administration reminds him of Lincoln. I'm listening to this forum (I think it's at MacCalester) on the future of the conservative movement, which of course is just pissing me off, but I feel it necessary to know what they're up to, what they are thinking. Vin Weber, who I used to consider somewhat tolerable, actually likes Bush. It's mystifying, because these are smart guys, but they sure aren't reading the same stuff I am. They at least aren't talking like cheerleaders and boasting that Republicans have got it all going on, "go pachyderms!." They've admitted that unless there's big change the elephants will be shown the door.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Comic material is coming out our asses these days, isn't it? Just limitless shit!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Horoscopes and sails at sunset

Pat's buying a truck, today, so we'll be able to haul Monique's Misery out to the river. I got to do some sun bathing beside Mudhen Lake in Wisconsin on Sat, that really put me in the mood for summer. We've just come back to normal temps after enjoying 9 days of freakishly warm spring weather, 70 or above each day. Feels like global warming to me.


From this week's Freewill Astrology, by Rob Brezsny:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): As you enter the Season of Unleashed Desire, here are a few guidelines to help you navigate your way through the interesting complexities ahead. (1) Consider the possibility that you have a lot to learn about what you really want. (2) Find out whether your chronic anger is obstructing the full bloom of a potentially beautiful desire. (3) Be careful about desiring experiences you don't understand.
(4) Meditate on the likelihood that some of your desires are superior to others, and that maybe you should cultivate those superior desires with more determination than you do the mediocre ones.



I am feverishly working on my final project for my journalism class. It's pretty much all I can think of, especially when I wake up from night sweats at 3 a.m. This little post is my brief respite from my assignment: a pitch for an interpretive story on off-reservation casinos. I have a slightly obsessive character, so I'll probably even be going over various details of the assignment in my head for days after I hand it in. On the other hand, I am easily distracted, so, while I finished the above hours ago, I walked away and completely forgot to post it! How do I reconcile these opposing character traits? I don't have an answer to that right now . . .

Monday, April 10, 2006

Glorious spring weather!

It's 71 degrees outside, 20 degrees warmer than it was on Friday. The sky is clear and blue, and a delightful breeze is wafting into my office. It's a little early for such warm temps, but they are welcome, and glaring white skin can be seen all around campus. Tulips are bursting through the soil. The lilacs should be blooming in about a week, sweetening the air with their heavenly odor. The season of enchanment is upon us! I can't wait to get out my skates for a spin around the lake.

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day!

William Shakespeare, from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The enemies of virtue are on the march!

Tom Delay's recent withdrawal from the 2006 campaign, and his impending resignation from Congress, takes the fun out of what would have been a riveting pageant of defeat. But he's still providing some laughs, thank GOD, as is evidenced in a The Nation article by Robert Scheer, posted today, entitled "Anti-Christian Conpirators Slay Delay," in which he quotes the absurd ex-speaker:

"We have been chosen to live as Christians at a time when our culture is being poisoned and our world is being threatened," thundered the Texan pest-control entrepreneur who rose to become one of America's most powerful politicians. "The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won."

Naturally, Republicans are all a-quiver with hopes that, with about a 5-month buffer between his slithering from the scene and the November elections, Democrats won't be able to use him as a blatant example to voters of why they deserve to win back the majority. But we know Delay and his pals didn't corner the market on corruption and scandal. Why, just today, the press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security was arrested for soliciting sex online from a 14 year-old girl. He even told her he worked for the DHS. See? Plenty of dumb moves and foul behavior left in the grand old party. The next 6 months might be fun to watch, or they might just give us heartburn.

Sad but true . . .

You may or may not know this, but Pat and I don't have cable - GASP!! I know, I'm behind the times. I'm what's called a "late adopter" in Innovation Diffusion Theory. There's "innovators," "early adopters," "early majority," "late majority," and "laggards," or "late adopters." I think "laggards" might even be a more descriptive term, since it implies that we eventually DO adopt. This other guy has an argument against the "late adopter" name, saying that those folks called "late adopters" in Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Theory, NEVER will adopt.

But that's not me. I just sit patiently with my perfectly good piece of current technology, until I feel comfortable that the new technology is either a) proven, b) affordable, or c) the thing I have breaks and I can't get anything BUT the new technology. That happened with our t.v. After years of listening to Pat grouse about watching movies in "pan and scan," I finally broke down and bought him a DVD player (dual DVD/VHS, of course), only to find out that that particular piece of technology did not work in our good 5-year-old 19" set, the plugs were not compatible. So I had to upgrade to a bigger, more remote-reliant set. I understand that HDTV is just around the corner, when all t.v. sets will have to accommodate that type of emission, but that's not now. I held out about 7 or 8 years before I succommed to CDs and about 10 years for a cordless phone (the cord on the bitchin' turquoise dial phone I insisted on using kept coming detached - I didn't think that was a problem until I hung up on one my cousins calling from France). I'm still holding out for cable. It's highway robbery, I declare! and now, with the whole concentration of telephone/cable/internet issues, which will not, I predict, decrease, rates, I don't see it in my near future.

What that means is I don't get a lot of the shows that the rest of America is watching, unless we rent them on DVD from Netflix (Netflix is the best thing since sliced bread - I think I might have been in the early majority on that service). We have seen all the "Sex and the City" and "Sopranos" episodes, and we're currently almost through the penultimate season of "Six Feet Under." We lost patience with American"Queer as Folk" - the English version was preferable, maybe because it was more succinct. "Angels in America" was an experience, and I've just added "Entourage" and "The Shield" to our queue.

Which brings me around to "The Daily Show." People have been telling me for years that, with my political bent, I would LOVE "The Daily Show"! The only thing they've released on DVD is "Indecision 2004," which are the 4 shows they did covering the Democratic convention in Boston that year. Gaffaws and belly laughs were enjoyed! With the distance of a couple years, we were able to laugh through the pain of the memory of how bamboozed we had been by that spectacle. Sad, but true.

I am also a late adopter of spring fashions. Right now, spring fever has infected the population. Here on campus, students, not known for being practical, have abandoned their parkas, long pants and snow boots in favor of skimpier wear and zorries ("flip-flops", in the local parlance). This starts happening every year when it is still 35 degrees out, for chrissake! It's not much warmer than 50 right now! Until the thermometer reaches at least 70, I will remain in my prudent fall/winter fashions, thank you.

I just saw two outrageous items of clothing on my way back from class

1) a brand new pair of black and white saddle shoes
2) a girl wearing a strappy, backless shirt, she was dressed for dancing, not for school! (Man, am I starting to sound like a crotchety adult, or what?)

Monday, April 03, 2006

A simple plan

The spin machine is already wound up for the upcoming election, with heavy-handed ads from the GOP, attacking the dems for the censure/impeachment talk. In this one, you're asked to either stand with Bush while he breaks the law OR invite the terrorists to come after you and your family (If the link doesn't work, try pasting this address into your browser, that worked better for me:

William Rivers Pitt wrote a great editorial last week for his website, called "Incompetent Design." In it, he so articulately agrees with my argument that Bush and the boys are not stumbling around blindly, but following a well-laid plan and enjoying great success with it.

Also an interesting read is this Nation article about Christian Coalition co-founder, Ralph Reed.

On the lighter side, this came to me in an email today. I did not check out New York Mag to see if that truly was the source . . .

The following are winners in a New York Magazine contest in which contestants were asked to take a well-known expression in a foreign language, change a single letter, and provide a definition for the new expression.

HARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS? - Can you drive a French motorcycle?

EX POST FUCTO - Lost in the mail

IDIOS AMIGOS - We're wild and crazy guys!

VENI, VIPI, VICI - I came; I'm a very important person; I conquered

J'Y SUIS, J'Y PESTES - I can stay for the weekend

COGITO EGGO SUM - I think; therefore I waffle

RIGOR MORRIS - The cat is dead

RESPONDEZ S'IL VOUS PLAID - Honk if you're Scots

QUE SERA SERF - Life is feudal

LE ROI EST MORT. JIVE LE ROI - The King is dead. No kidding.

POSH MORTEM - Death styles of the rich and famous

PRO BOZO PUBLICO - Support your local clown

MONAGE A TROIS - I am three years old

FELIX NAVIDAD - Our cat has a boat

HASTE CUISINE - Fast French food

VENI, VIDI, VICE - I came, I saw, I partied.

QUIP PRO QUO - A fast retort

ALOHA OY - Love; greetings; farewell; from such a pain you should never know

MAZEL TON - Lots of luck

APRES MOE LE DELUGE - Larry and Curly get wet

PORTE-KOCHERE - Sacramental wine

ICH LIEBE RICH - I'm really crazy about having dough

FUI GENERIS - What's mine is mine

VISA LA FRANCE - Don't leave chateau without it

VENI VIDI VISA - I came, I saw, I bought

CA VA SANS DIRT - And that's not gossip

MERCI RIEN - Thanks for nothin'

AMICUS PURIAE - Platonic friend

L'ETAT, C'EST MOO - I'm bossy around here

L'ETAT, C'EST MOE - All the world's a stooge


And for more fun, check out Diablo's new stipper pole and other news from the wild child.