2011-11-29

as a matter of fact

the view from up top
is hahaho.
how many times
have I thought that I know?

as a matter of fact
just one eternity ago
I wrote as if top
had distangled below

right makes right, and
wrong makes wrong
come sit me by
and I'll sing you a song

of nextyesterverse, and
her passion for me.
--good under-bye-over--
now begins to see!

2011-11-13

the source

In touch with the source of things
I know who wrote the laws of physics
we rewrite them together every day
To walk on water is no great thing
I eat rainbows for breakfast
Sex, masturbation, and chastity are one and the same

If I awake tomorrow
to three suns
and penguins climbing purple trees outside
If I sit by a life-sized grasshopper with antlers
and bathe in liquid uranium
before retiring between the 4th and 5th dimensions
It would be a day like every other

2011-10-09

why violence doesn't create peace

Some perspective on Afghanistan, from citizens of Afghanistan:



"US forces continue to destroy our homes and schools"

"It's been a decade since the US troops came, but life is getting worse."

2011-09-19

Bitcoin: creating a truly free coin

I recently finished writing this paper about bitcoin, the internet commodity/currency/thing. In it, I take the (somewhat odd, for me) position that we need a coin like this that (only sort of!) has a measure of inflation built in. Here is the abstract:

A commonly held belief is that bitcoin exchange values will either go down to nearly zero, as interest in the currency wanes, or will explode upwards by many orders of magnitude as the currency becomes a major player in the economy. This paper outlines a third endgame, whereby a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency becomes a major player in the economy, yet the exchange value remains relatively stable. I argue that bitcoin will not acheive widespread adoption without one key change, and that those who understand the potential of bitcoin as a force for good have a moral imperative to make this change. I further argue that competitive market forces will either promote a successor to bitcoin, or force bitcoin to evolve, driven by the key feature of value stability.

2011-09-17

today is Consititution day!

Today, September 17th, is Constitution Day. So I decided to read the Constitution! Go figure.

I was reading through Article 2 (that's the part about the executive branch of government -- the presidency), and all of a sudden I got to the end. I was like "what, that's it?!" Indeed, there's relatively little written about the presidency, and the powers enumerated are quite restrictive.

Here's the abbreviated version of Article 2:

Section 1. There's a President. He gets elected, he gets paid, and he swears to uphold the Constitution.

Section 2. He's in charge of the army, he gets to pardon people and make treaties with Senate consent. He also appoints Senators to fill vacancies.

Section 3. He is a congressional cheerleader: he delivers the State of the Union, and makes policy recommendations. He executes the laws that Congress wrote.

Section 4. He can be impeached.

And that's it!

So during presidential debates, all this talk about this policy and that policy ("here's how I'll fix health care!"), running the economy ("check out my business credentials!"), and starting wars ("I'll make the world safe for democracy!"); all this talk is fluff in light of the actual powers of the Constitution. The president gets to cheerlead Congress on policy, but other than that he only has the right to enforce the laws that already exist.

So like, if you haven't read the Constitution recently, you might give it a read. It's really quite short and accessible.

Edit: Whoops! I forgot article 1, section 7: the president gets to veto laws.

2011-05-12

fire

burning through revealed

fire is three
but fire is
more funda mental

than three and
love is the
root of fire

heart burning brightest
the deep red
fire burns through:

ROUTINE

I burn through your reality and mine
tow long will you burn?
and how bright?
I melt you down to your essence
burning through "I can't" to reveal "I won't"
the shell crispens and falls off exposing your FEAR
to the intense HEAT
where your ACTION can allow it to rest in peace

what ARE you afraid of my deAR?

give it to the fire

(fire teaches us that sometimes we're being a little too careful)

the fire watches you with
wild smiling eyes
as it dances onward upward
as it burns down
asking you "why?"
"just what makes you so sure?"
"porquoi?"
it giggles, chuckles at my sincerity

"Oh flame!" you-I cry
"How many perpetually perfect pieces of wood will you burn through with indifference?"
flashy grin "as many as you feed me"




heart pumping
blood boiling
burning bile

clean and free
empty as a wisp of smoke

2011-05-08

Intelligence as a heirarchy

There is a funny idea out there that intelligence is a heirarchy: There are more intelligent beings and less intelligent beings. This idea is just a harmless idea on it's own. But, sometimes it's combined with the idea that the "more intelligent" beings ought to dictate to the "less intelligent" beings how to live their lives. Before we accept this notion, it's worth stepping back a minute to see what sort of ground we're standing on with our notion of "more intelligent."

2011-05-06

let's get lazy and eat plants

How much effort does it take to grow a bushel of corn? You have to plow the field, plant, maybe water if your area is dry, weed, and harvest. After a year's tending, you might get 150 bushels on an acre of land.

How much effort does it take to grow a cow? First, you have to grow maybe 500 bushels of corn to feed to the cow. Then you need to come up with around 8000 gallons of water to feed to the cow. Then, you are faced with the task of tending to all the needs of your growing cow until it is large enough to kill for food.

Why go to all the extra effort when it's not necessary?

Come on people, let's get lazy and eat plants.

2011-05-04

helping the poor without harming all

Helping the poor is a good aim, but we must not use forceful means (i.e. government programs) to do it.

The following story illustrates why.

2011-05-03

not my karma

I was born onto the wheel in motion, just as we are all born onto the earth spinning around. So we might as well be nice to one other!



2011-05-02

tossed in

I feel like I was tossed into this world unprepared. I was taught by my surroundings that I had to earn the right to be myself. Forced to go to school or face grave consequences, scared into going to college or face grave consequences, scared into working hard for money so that someday I can actually be free to be myself! It's struggle, struggle, fight, and win. Except it's all wrong.

2011-05-01

fun story

A friend of mine wrote this little gem:



We make contact with an alien civilization. Our sensors detect they'll arrive at earth in just a few hours time, but they send us an advance message. Our scientists receive it but nobody understands, it's an audio recording in some kind of strange language. Sure enough, a lone translator finally decodes it with minutes to spare and delivers the message to the President.

"Thousands of years ago our ancestors crash-landed on your planet. They managed to send off a distress signal before they lost all power and once we heard we set a course for your planet at maximum speed, although we predict nearly 10,000 of your solar cycles have gone by since the distress signal was sent. Anyway, we've scanned your planet for traces of our ancestors but find only faint signal, as if they've been stamped out. What happened to them? We require answers."

The President and his cabinet scratch their heads for a bit, confused. Finally the President turns to the translator and asks: "How did you decode this message so fast?"

"Oh, it was simple", says the translator. "Turns out they speak Cherokee."

2011-04-30

coincidence?

we can't stop eating
more calories than we burn

gov't can't stop spending
more money than we earn

2011-04-29

hello

I poke my head out
to say hello
You love what you see
and what you can't know

2011-04-27

apples day 5 (final)

It would be interesting, next time, to keep some stats as I go through the fast: weight, pH of bodily fluids, blood sugar, cholesterol etc. I wonder how much interesting stuff you can measure by yourself at home with a kit from the drugstore?.

Also next time I'm going to use something more in season -- for springtime, greens?

In the afternoon, as I consider what to start mixing in to diversify my diet again, I get this bittersweet goodbye feeling. Life lesson: even that which is the source of struggle while it's here is missed when it's time to say goodbye. So might as well appreciate it while it's here!

I had 5 apples today, and broke the fast with a few veggies and grains at dinner.

2011-04-26

apples day 4

Approximate cost of an apple fast (organic apples): $7/day

Approximate cost of a brown rice fast (organic brown rice, bought in bulk): $1.25/day

This morning, for the first time during this whole fast (brown rice and apples), I'm appreciating the fast. Relaxing into it, I feel cleansed. Not physically, but mentally cleansed, sort of cleansed of my regular eating patterns?

I have more energy today! Enough for a short bike ride, wandering around shopping, and a yoga class. I'm full of crazy theories, like how this is due to my body adjusting to the new fuel source.

Sense of smell is super sensitive -- wow! I can smell the breath of the person doing yoga next to me, and it's not because her breath is stinky. Car exhaust too. And all the yummy food A is cooking.

7.5 apples today

And tomorrow is the last day! Any last requests? (I seem to be able to stand on my head/hands just fine still, so that one's already filled.)

sitting still and veganism

At the end of yoga class today, we were sitting in a brief meditation and the teacher was saying that just to sit and be with your thoughts is the hardest "pose" of all. As she said this, I was thinking "No it's not! All those hard effortful muscular energy poses are way harder!" Then the thought occurred to me that a few years back sitting and being with my thoughts was difficult. At that time, I just wanted peace, so I would sit and see what came up that was keeping me from feeling peaceful. One of the first things that came up repeatedly was the fact that I ate animals, and I like animals! This inconsistency was eating me up inside, to the point where I had trouble sitting still. (nowadays, it's paying taxes that keeps me from feeling a deeper peace, but that's the subject of another article.)

I happen to know that this teacher is not vegetarian. Now, I also see that there are many reasons she may find it difficult to sit still, but could it be that the inner conflict I had about my food is one that many people have, without realizing it? According to The World Peace Diet, this is exactly what's going on, and it's just the tip of the iceberg: the book claims that many of our conflicts and inconsistencies are connected to our habit of eating animal foods.

I'm amazed at how deep this goes for me, and I wonder how deep it goes for others, and our society?

Oliver pants

I got 5 different pairs of these pants at a street market in London (for just a few pounds each). They are light (great for summer), baggy, and bright.

apples day 3

As promised, here are yesterday's notes.

The action-orientation remains. Instead of thinkythink, weigh the consequences, decide on the One Right Decision, and then do it (Entmoot style); it's try this way, see how it feels, then reevaluate. It feels liberating.

I'm rearranging the kitchen in late morning. As I'm doing so, I notice the diverse and wonderful array of foods we have, and appreciate them more than usual.

I've slowed down my apple consumption. I started out eating a lot, whenever I thought of it. Now I'm eating approximately one apple every two hours.

I remember from last time that my saliva tasted like apples. Yum! Hook me up! Except I haven't experienced that yet this time. WTF?

Did you know that the glycemic index measures the area under the curve of your blood sugar after eating a food? So it doesn't say anything about whether the curve is slow and smooth or spikey. And did you know that apples are lower than brown rice? I found this counterintuitive. Apples have a GI of 38 while brown rice is 55.

Apple count today: 5.5

2011-04-25

hot lovin

I step out the back door, strip off my shirt
sometimes I strip more if noone's around
my lover caresses my naked skin
a gentle warm touch but never a sound

a few billion others she touched today
traveling the world from east to the west
yet I have a secret, others can't say:
of all her lovers she loves me the best

2011-04-24

apples day 2

This is neat. My mind is less sticky than usual. Making decisions is easier. I'm less deliberative and more action-oriented.

7 apples today.

I'm away from the computer tomorrow, so the apples day 3 update will come on day 4 morning.

Ok!

who's dead in the long run?

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.
- John Maynard Keynes


Many modern economists, including fed chair Ben Bernanke, basically believe in the validity of Keynesian economics -- particularly the bit about the government intervening in the economy (through the federal reserve or debt spending) to mitigate perceived boom and bust cycles.

While in the long run you and I are clearly dead, our progeny are not. How good do you feel about mortgaging the economic future of our progeny? How good do you feel about it in the short run? I feel about as good about it as I do about stealing food from a baby.

So yes, we can quip a cute soundbite about the mortality of man, and use it to justify a flawed economic policy, bit is this really the sort of argument we want running our economy?

2011-04-23

apples! (day 1)

And then everything was apples!

Life has sped up by a factor of four or so. While my energy level is still low, because, well, it's a fast; I feel more energetic, if only psychologically.

Instead of ruminating, thinking about stuff, I just want to DO things. Sugar high!?

Yeah!

UM.

I've had 6 apples so far today, and I think I'll munch one more before bed.

BYE

2011-04-22

brown rice fasting, day 5 (last day!)

I awaken with this quote on the mind:

To a man with an empty stomach food is god. -Ghandi


the world is a coop mmorpg

We're all unique. Everyone has a different combination of race/background/skills.

We're all on the same team. Working towards.. whatever we want!

We're all free. We can choose whether to play, when to play, and how and which way to play.

We can all improve. There's always room to improve our skills or learn new ones. By practicing we can make ourselves, and hence our team, stronger.

2011-04-20

brown rice fasting, day 3

Still truckin'.

book review: The Conscience of a Conservative



Was Barry Goldwater a precursor to the modern freedom movement? It appears so, modulo foreign policy. I found the book interesting when taken within historical context.

2011-04-19

brown rice fasting, day 2

Why am I doing this again? Before I even started, I was dubious about the wisdom of this idea. What toxins do I have to cleanse? Am I going to get any insight out of this, or just weaken my body? Probably I'll just confirm my insight, that many people who've come before me seem to have figured out, that a varied diet is a good thing. Without any answers, I plunge in anyway, with gusto.

brown rice fasting, day 1



Why oh why?

I am periodically seized by ridiculous activities that my brain doesn't seem to want to let go of. Most recently it's to try this brown rice fasting thing again. This past fall, I did 5 days on apples followed by 5 days on brown rice, to celebrate the transition from summer to winter (the idea being that apple-eating is more of a summer activity, and brown-rice eating is more of a winter activity). So here it is in the spring, and some little neurotic part of my brain wants to go through it again, in reverse. I succumbed.

2011-04-16

I'm vegan out of selfishness

People ask me "why are you vegan?" Usually it comes up because we're going to have a meal together, or we're not because the plan is to go out for steak, and so I'm not going. At any rate, I get asked the question from time to time, and it's funny because I often get the sense that people who ask it are not really interested in talking about it. They are more interested in a quick soundbite they can file away and forget about it. So I usually give them "for ethical reasons," or sometimes "because I like animals" or "for ethical and health reasons."

2011-04-15

celebrating income tax day!

This is the income tax:

You tax what you don't want, right? Let's see, let's tax cigarettes and pollution-generating activities, because we'd all be better off without these, right? And let's tax income because we'd all be better off... hmm..

Income taxes are partially financing our drones overseas killing innocent people. I don't want to finance drones overseas killing innocent people. So I don't want to pay taxes. I do like to earn income though, for food and shelter and video games and other life necessities.

Taken a little further, income taxes mean I have to choose between my survival and the survival of someone I don't know in the middle east. Not pretty.

For the above reason, income taxes keep the pacifists from wanting to be wealthy. Wouldn't it be neat if we had a bunch of wealthy pacifists? I wonder how they would invest their capital?

I'm heading out sporting my colors this evening:

2011-04-14

vegan eating is sheer joy

Components of a whole-food vegan meal:

  • Yummy sensations

  • Good feelings about what the food is doing for my health

  • Good feelings about what the choice of eating vegan means for animals

  • Good feelings about what the choice of eating vegan means for the environment.

2011-04-13

new email notification feature

I've replaced the wordpress email notification plugin with a feedburner subscription on the blog. If you had signed up for the email notifications, please do so again via the new box.

The old plugin didn't notify on all posts (in particular, when they were scheduled for the future). Feedburner does.

I'm deactivating the old plugin just after this post.

2011-04-09

Menu

If you want me to go away as fast as possible:

Tell me how difficult life is for everyone,
How disappointed you are with yours,
How impossible it is to get what you want.
And when I protest, tell me to get real.

--

If you want me to stay and half-listen
with eyes glazed over
as I daydream about breakfast:

Tell me about how wonderful life is
For somebody else;
And without so many words
Imply that your life is ordinary,
And that only shooting stars break the mold,
And that's just how things have to be.

--

If you want me to brighten
and lean in with rapt attention
so as not to miss a word:

Tell me about your biggest dreams
And how you're going to achieve them
And about the future of wonder and joy that awaits you.

--

If you want me to bubble over with excitement
and keep coming back for more:

Engage me in a conversation
Where we share our biggest dreams
And discuss how we're going to work together.

--

If you want my admiration
without limit
now and forever forward:

Take action with me
Side by side
Creating the world of our dreams.

2011-04-07

Editing PDFs is easy now

I recently discovered pdfescape, an ajax app for editing PDFs online. It's free, too (I took the option to pay $10 to make the ads go away). A convenient way to deal with paperwork!

milk calcium myth

Did you know you can get the same amount of calcium as is in a cup of milk from 3 tbsps of sesame seeds? Or a cup of collard greens? And that studies are increasingly showing that acid-forming foods such as meat and dairy actually deplete the body of essential minerals such as calcium?

The milk calcium myth is on the way out, just waiting for the final blow!

2011-04-03

Libya

I haven't been following much of the Libya debate, but I did see this video, and I expect the voice of peace has been much underreported.

Senator Rand Paul on Libya

I am especially intrigued at what my more liberal-leaning friends think of Obama's current position vs. what he said when he was in the senate. Here's what he said in 2007:



The President does not have power under the Constitution to
unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does
not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.


I liked that. Can we have that attitude back?

2011-04-02

vegan vitamin b12, updated

I posted on this subject a couple days ago. Since then I've looked into vegan sources of b12 a bit more and have a couple of updates to what I wrote.


Thing 1.

The liver stores a lot of b12 — something like 3 years’ worth or more. I think your doctor can test your blood levels to see if you’re deficient.

Thing 2.

I've heard that back in the old days vegans didn’t have to worry about it because they got insects in their food all the time and this supplied b12. Nowadays most of our food is bug-free so that doesn’t work. I think you can eat dirt too.

Thing 3.

There are a few places to get b12 from vegan foods. Brandon Brasier in his vegan nutrition book “Thrive” (he’s a vegan athlete and his book is pretty interesting — I recommend it) says:



Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, aiding in coordination and smooth muscle movement. As with other B vitamins, B12 plays a role in the production of red blood cells and conversion of food to usable energy. Unlike other B vitamins, B12 is not plentiful in foods. Special attention must be paid to ensure dietary B12 needs are met, particularly if the diet doesn’t contain animal products and exercise level is moderate to high.

Best Thrive [vegan] sources: chlorella, miso, nutritional yeast.

I eat all three. I have little chlorella pills that I put in smoothies from time to time, or just chew on. I put miso in soups, grains, and bean dishes. South River Miso has a lot of varieties and it’s the best I’ve found. I put nutritional yeast on popcorn. Yum.

Update: Chlorella and miso only have very small amounts of b12. To get the RDA's worth, you'd have to eat a ton of either food. In contrast, there's plenty of b12 in a generous helping of nutritional yeast.

It's worth noting I have no idea how accurate the RDA is. It's entirely possible that vegans don't need as much, or need more, than whoever the standard was modeled after.

There are also small amounts of b12 in some sea vegetables.

There is a significant amount (about 50% RDA per serving) of b12 in spirulina, a blue-green algae that goes well in smoothies.

Thing 4.

You can take a vegan b12 supplement if you're worried about it.

Update: Thing 5.

Many nut / rice / soy milks are fortified with b12.

They're also fortified with vitamin D, which I've heard is important when you're not getting enough sun, like say if you have an indoor job in the winter in downtown NYC. Note that vegan milks usually contain D2 instead of D3, because D3 is an animal product.

UNAC peace rally

Next weekend there's going to be a peace rally in NYC and San Francisco:



April 9, 2011
New York & San Francisco
from the
United National Antiwar Committee

WHO ARE THE WARMAKERS?

THEY are the government, corporate, and financial powers that wage war, ravage the environment and the economy and trample on our democratic rights and liberties.

WHO ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?

WE are the vast majority of humanity who want peace, a healthy planet and a society that prioritizes human needs, democracy and civil liberties for all.

The Warmakers spend trillions of dollars yearly on endless wars in pursuit of global domination and profit while murdering millions of innocent people, installing corrupt and hated governments and funding occupations that displace millions from their homelands – trampling on the right of oppressed people to self-determination.

THEY send our youth – victims of the economic draft – to fight over the very fossil fuels whose unrestrained use threatens the future of the planet while corrupt and virtually unregulated oil giants dump billions of gallons of death into our rivers and oceans.

THEY wage a fake “war on terrorism” at home – the new McCarthyism – that promotes racism and Islamophobia aimed at destroying civil liberties and democratic rights.


I'm with you so far. The tone is one of anger, not peace, but the principles I mostly agree with.



THEY grant repeated and untold trillions in bailouts to banks, corporations and financial institutions while breaking unions, robbing pensions, destroying jobs, foreclosing homes, de-funding education and vital social services and are once again threatening Social Security and Medicare.

THEY offer no solutions to the current crises other than more of the same.


I'm starting to wonder how much the organizers have thought about the peacefulness of their own positions.


THE PEACEMAKERS DEMAND a better world. Only a massive, united, inclusive and independent movement has the power to bring it into being.


"Demand" a better world? From who? I don't think demanding stuff is part of a peaceful solution. It sounds like frustration-venting, not peace-creating.


WE DEMAND Bring U.S. Troops, Mercenaries and War Contractors Home Now: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa! End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Siege of Gaza!

Again, except for the demanding nature, these positions are mostly peaceful.


WE DEMAND trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for all, a massive conversion to sustainable and planet-saving energy systems and public transportation and reparations to the victims of U.S. terror at home and abroad.

This reflects a serious misunderstanding of peace. Demanding trillions for jobs, education, etc. is nearly as non-peaceful as demanding trillions for warmaking. The trillions must come from somebody, and it sounds like this group wants to take it by force.

Government is a force-machine. We're not going to get peace by taking over the force-machine so that one group can legally plunder from another! This is replacing one wrong with another. An eye for an eye. Revenge. Not peace.


WE DEMAND an end to FBI raids on antiwar, social justice, and international solidarity activists, an end to the racist persecution and prosecutions that ravage Muslim communities, an end to police terror in Black, Latino and Native American communities, full rights and legality for immigrants and an end to all efforts to repress and punish Wikileaks and its contributors and founders.

WE DEMAND the immediate end to torture, rendition, secret trials, drone bombings and death squads.

WE ARE DEDICATED TO A WORLD
OF PEACE AND JUSTICE.

All Out April 9, 2011

Yeah!

I'm thinking of going to this rally with a sign that says "Single-payer healthcare and public education are acts of violence." I wonder if I'll get trampled.

2011-03-31

diversity is wealth

The China Study (from wikipedia):


The China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties was a study conducted throughout the 1970s and 1980s in rural China, jointly funded by the University of Oxford, Cornell University, and the Government of China. In 1991 The New York Times called it "the Grand Prix of epidemiology."The first two major studies were led by T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell, who summarized the results in his book The China Study (2005).

The study examined the diets, lifestyle and disease characteristics of populations of 65 rural Chinese counties, comparing the prevalence of disease characteristics, excluding causes of death such as accidents. The findings suggested that some diseases of affluence were caused by Westernization, especially the growing consumption of animal protein and dairy products, previously either unknown or uncommon in China.


In his book, Dr. Campbell writes about the Nurses' Health Study, and how the results seem misleading because all of the participants are basically eating the same diet:



The problem of studying a population that uniformly consumes a high-risk diet and looking at the differences in consumption of one nutrient at a time is not unique to the Nurses' Health Study. It is common to virtually all studies using Western subjects. Furthermore, there is little or no value to pooling the results of many large studies for analysis in order to get a more reliable result if all the studies have the same flaw.


Indeed, aren't we lucky that the Chinese tend to eat a pretty different diet than we do, and so we have a population to study to figure out why we're all dying of diseases of affluence? Diversity is wealth! Let's remember that while we're overseas trying to "help" other "poor" cultures that don't have our material wealth.

2011-03-30

peace musings

Peace is a simple allowance of loss.

Once violence of any kind (property, physical, psychological) has happened, the damage is done. No amount of fist-shaking, hooting and hollering, anger or revenge can undo what's been done. So not to accept what has happened is simply irrational. The world you wish for -- the one before the violence happened -- is gone! We can't get it back. Struggling to try and get it back is delusion and will lead to more suffering.

2011-03-27

assume the position

In zazen, we assume the position of seated meditation. Erect posture, firm yet relaxed. We maintain the position, regardless of what comes up in the mind. If we "wake up" to find ourselves sagging a bit, we simply re-assume the position and continue sitting. By assuming the position, we are kinglike, self-respecting, non-judging, accepting, relaxed. Whatever comes up, we welcome it. Simply by assuming the position and maintaining it, we become the attributes that we've assumed. Over time, equinimity, peace, understanding come.

In veganism, we assume the diet of non-harming. We avoid all animal products; meat, dairy, fish. These foods are associated with the suffering of animals (including dairy -- which I did not realize until recently). Even if we aren't sure we care, or how we feel about the animals, by assuming the position we reap the benefits. Over time we allow ourselves to look deeply into our food, and we make space for our compassion. We may also begin to look and feel healthier and more energetic. We don't need to have fully analyzed the consequences of this dietary position. Analysis is no substitute for experience anyway. We can simply assume the position, and over time, peace and compassion come.

In our daily lives, we can assume the position of happiness. Wherever we are, whenever we are, we can decide to put on a big smile and act as though we love life and are wonderfully happy. Even if we are not happy, assuming this position does its work. When we smile a big, thorough, genuine smile, and maintain it, we may find ourselves becoming happy in spite of our previous feelings. With time and practice, joy grows within us.

2011-03-26

the box

You wake up in a box. You don't understand why you were put there, or even if there was a reason. All you know is that you're in a box, with many others, and they don't seem to see the box at all. You are disturbed. You feel betrayed by whoever or whatever put you in the box.

2011-03-23

To change the day

To change the day:
be the day, then
change yourself

2011-03-22

the rich and the poor

For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.


Some people have more material wealth than others. Is this immoral? Can we solve this problem politically? How?

2011-03-21

on high speed rail, and job creation

My US House Representative, Albio Sires, recently wrote an op-ed entitled Making high-speed rail a national priority. In it, he argues that among the benefits of a nationally-funded high-speed rail project are economic benefits:



During our nation’s prolonged period of economic challenges, it is my goal and the goal of many of my colleagues to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Investing in infrastructure is one of the most sound policy choices to meet this non-partisan objective. Studies estimate that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, 18,000 jobs will be created.


2011-03-20

email notification

For those that don't use an RSS aggregator, there's now a way to get email updates from this blog. Simply fill out the little box on the right hand side of the page. Let me know if you have any trouble with this feature.

eating plants can make you smarter


There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.
- Lao Tzu


Eating plants is sweet. Based on my own experience, switching to a plant-based diet is one of the easiest ways to get to enjoy life more. Among the many benefits, I never suspected it would make me smarter. I'm totally convinced it does now. Here's how.

2011-03-18

funny thought

I wonder if the dolphins are smarter than us.

Perhaps they have language and they can talk to each other when they want to.

Perhaps they're aware of people and just as capable as us of creating machines, buildings, boats, computers.. but why, they say? What could be better than to swim in the sea, dancing and playing and experiencing true freedom?

If this were true, dolphins would be resolving themselves to take only what nature offers, and accept whatever nature decides to take away. Perhaps that's the only sustainable existence anyway, and maybe they know it but we don't.

Just a funny thought.

2011-03-17

why I don't believe in "white" lies

white lie (plural white lies)

1. (idiomatic) A deliberate, untrue statement which does no harm or is intended to produce a favorable result.

- from wiktionary

While most people agree that they don't want to make a habit of telling lies, many insist that there's a kind of lie that is harmless to tell. As the story goes, these so-called "white" lies serve to help protect people's feelings and there's little or no cost to telling them.

Here's why I challenge myself to avoid using these little guys.

2011-03-10

The Big Picture

An email sent from a friend and teacher of mine, Marek Stempi:

Subject: The Big Picture

... is the most important.
Keep your focus on the desired end result.
Considering plan-Bs only disperses energy, and you may wind up living the plan-B.
When in doubt ask yourself: Is this what I want? What is it that I really want?
Keep looking for the thrill of dreaming the plan-A.
Remind yourself how powerful your ideas were in the past, and decide that they are going to manifest in their full glory this time too.
Have fun with it and a wonderful day.
Marek.
PS.
Just to ease your doubtful side: I found few creative solutions to accommodate the B, so relax and enjoy dreaming the A.

2011-02-13

CPAC was crazy rowdy -- straw poll results

straw poll results (PDF slides)



If you scroll ahead to about 9:15, you can get a taste of the excited and passionate, yet conflicted crowd that was there.

2011-02-12

legalizing marijuana cheered at...a conservative conference?

I bet the mainstream media won't pick up on this one!

During Gary Johnson's speech at CPAC, he said he was keen on legalizing marijuana, and the statement was met with serious applause.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-cY2RCMkDE

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Having just experienced CPAC first-hand, I can say with confidence that the conservative movement has shifted dramatically over the past couple of years. Bringing the troops home, legalizing drugs, opposing the PATRIOT act and the war on terror; these ideas are not only mentionable now amongst conservatives, they're increasingly popular!

2011-02-11

frightened man

Locked out of his room

Deeply insecure

Angry, destructive towards the
Beautiful young woman
Who is trying to help him

My insecurities
The reason for working with them
I remember

Thank you frightened man!

it's not the person, it's the ideas

In a recent forum, Ron Paul was asked how he manages to seem "the perfect gentleman" amidst heated political debates where personal attacks are the norm. After stammering a bit about how he often does get caught up in the personal stuff, he said that he works hard to separate the issue from the person, and criticize the issue instead of the person. Because the real problem is not necessarily who is making policy; at the end of the day it's the policies themselves.

This all sounds reasonable. Separate the issue from the person when on the offense. However, it goes both ways. In the hypothetical world where the Ron Pauls of the world are in power and start goofing up, we will have to separate our adoration for the person from our agreement with them on positions, and point out boldly their mistakes.

I wonder if the liberty movement has what it takes to stand up to such a challenge when it comes.

vaguely related: Donald Trump says Ron Paul can't get elected and the RP crowd at CPAC goes nuts (and Ron Paul did not retaliate).

CPAC 2011 - taxation forum

I'm about to head into a forum at CPAC 2011 that is advertised as follows:




Flat, Fair, VAT or Gone? What Should be Done with the Federal Income Tax?



This is probably my most central political issue. Heading into the meeting, my thinking is that it has to be "gone", and here's why.

I want peace on earth for all; a critical requisite for this is that my own impact on the world be to move it towards peace, or at least neutral. In the current income-tax system, by working and earning income to support myself and my family, I am also indirectly supporting the military-industrial complex and foreign wars. In other words, in order to provide life and sustenance to those closest to me, I must contribute to death and destruction to those far from me. This points to an inherent contradiction in the system, that one cannot choose to live a life of peace.

Under a flat tax, this problem is exactly the same.

Under a fair tax (national retail sales tax), this problem is almost the same, but a little better because I can avoid buying new goods when possible and by making certain types of sacrifices, I can survive without paying very much in taxes. Nevertheless, in principal the same problem is there for anyone who truly wants to live a life of peace.

I don't fully understand VAT, but I think it's basically another kind of sales tax.

Gone works!

Let's see if this forum changes anything for me..

UPDATE: It didn't change anything. The speakers at the forum were all talking about how in principle, all income and sales taxes are wrong; but in practice, we have to sacrifice our principles temporarily on the way to not-sacrificing them, or something similar that didn't really make much sense to me.

2011-02-02

what I learned in school

school taught me to be very careful
not to make mistakes;

school taught me that there's a right answer
and many wrong answers;

school taught me that there are smart people
and less smart people;

school taught me that my desires are wrong
and the world is a place of denial.

it has taken me years of work to unlearn
these silly lessons, and replace them:

making mistakes is the best way to learn!
"right answer" and "wrong answer" are undefined without goal, or direction, to guide them!
everyone contains genius, it's a simple matter of focus to bring it out!
the world is here to fulfill my dreams!

2011-01-01

setting out

don't enter a world of "have to"
avoid "should" like the plague
lend no dignity to false idols of avoidance

instead
pay homage to cause and effect
pay attention! to consequence, which lights the way
(for those brave enough to follow)
to the real world of "want to"