Saturday, October 6, 2007

We are the ones we have been waiting for

Hopi prophecy for the New Millennium.
The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona:
You have been telling people that this is the  Eleventh Hour,
now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered. . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open,
and our heads above the water.
And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally,
least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the one wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner
and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Bemedaled and Beleaguered

From William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF):
"... Many medals shout "been there," rather than "done that." Some awards and decorations today are tied more to the military rank of the recipient than to objective measures of merit. Indeed, ribbons have proliferated like nuclear missiles during the Cold War. I counted nine rows on Petraeus' left breast during his Congressional hearings. If they were a valid metric across time, he would be roughly thrice as capable and valorous as George C. Marshall, perhaps America's greatest soldier-statesman, who somehow ran and won a world war while wearing only three rows of ribbons.
[ ... ]
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: Ask not what your military can do for you, but ask what you can do for your military. In this case, "support our troops" should mean supporting the idea of pulling them out of a morale-sucking morass. The President won't act, so Congress must. Chaos may -- or may not -- ensue in Iraq after our troops withdraw, but buying time for more colorful benchmarks to be met, for more impressive metrics to be produced, is unconscionable when we know it will entail thousands of additional American casualties and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. These are the metrics that matter -- blood and treasure. But what should matter even more to our country than body bags and billions is trust -- the emotional and spiritual ties that bind our troops to ourselves. ..."

remember to thank your librarian

Librarians were the first professional association to openly resist the Patriot Act. Don't forget that. In Libraries and National Security: An Historical Review, Joan Starr reviews the history of government intrusion against privacy:
"... Perhaps because of the new law’s complexity, a full response by the profession has been evolutionary in nature. By April 2002, the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) had conducted extensive evaluation and assessment of the implications of the USA PATRIOT Act and published The USA Patriot Act in the Library: Analysis of the USA Patriot Act Related to Libraries (American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom [OIF], 2002). This document provided a straightforward explanation of the relevant sections of the Act without making any recommendations as to how librarians should respond if faced with an investigation. Two months later, in June, the ALA Council approved Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA, 2002), stating,
"In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf."

By January of 2003, the ALA codified a three–fold response to the Act in its Resolution on the USA Patriot Act and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users. First, the resolution urged education about how to comply with the Act and also about the inherent dangers to intellectual freedom. It further urged that libraries "adopt and implement patron privacy and record retention policies" [41] to collect only information that is necessary for the library’s work. Second, the resolution bound the ALA to work with other like–minded organizations "to protect the rights of inquiry and free expression" [42]. Third, it commited the ALA (2003a) "to obtain and publicize information about the surveillance of libraries and library users by law enforcement agencies."

In fulfillment of these resolutions, the ALA has initiated a number of actions. For library workers and managers, the ALA created a support system focused on challenges that might arise during day–to–day library operations. On its Web site, ALA provides extensive educational materials, both for use in familiarizing staff members and communities about the issues, as well as in developing local policies for record retention and search warrant response, including What to Do If Served with a Search Warrant under USA Patriot Act (OIF, 2004). In addition, the OIF offers legal assistance through the Freedom to Read Foundation to any library served with a warrant and does not have an attorney.

In terms of establishing coalitions, the ALA collaborated with the American Booksellers Association and the PEN American Center to form the Campaign for Reader Privacy, initiating a nationwide campaign to gather signatures in support of legislation to amend Section 215 ("Million Signatures Sought," 2004). Lastly, in an effort to publicize the surveillance that has occurred, the ALA submitted a FOIA request for the number and content of subpoenas issued under Section 215 [43]. When the Justice Department failed to respond, the ALA participated in another collaborative effort — a joint lawsuit with the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Sommer, 2002, Request Denied section). On 20 May 2003, the House Judiciary Committee obtained information from the Justice Department that "FBI agents have contacted about 50 libraries as part of investigations" (Oder, 2003b).

ALA President Carla Hayden publicly challenged the Justice Department to make available the records sought in the FOIA request. Attorney General John Ashcroft mocked the request, adding offensive remarks deriding the significance of the ALA’s concerns (Goldberg and Foote, 2003). Hayden’s reply was swift and clear, "We are deeply concerned that the Attorney General should be openly contemptuous of those who seek to defend our Constitution" (ALA, 2003a). On September 18, Ashcroft agreed to declassify the report on library visits, but he claimed that the FBI had not used Section 215 powers in any of the contacts. Critics noted that this was an indication that the Justice Department could restore pre–USA PATRIOT Act standards without hampering intelligence efforts (Lichtblau, 2003; Oder, 2003a). ..."


Further reading:

FBI's reading list worries librarians

The ALA's 'Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights' and 'Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights'

Librarians do have a sense of humor, as this librarian's alternative take on the universe suggests: Underground Librarians

Still unsolved: the case of the dead microbiologists


Life after capitalism

"... Beginning with Adam Smith, market theory has been quite explicit that market efficiency results from small, locally owned enterprises competing in local markets on the basis of price and quality for consumer favor. By contrast, what we know as the global capitalist economy is dominated by a handful of gigantic corporations and financial speculators with billions of dollars at their disposal to reshape markets and manipulate prices. If we consider the gross sales of a corporation to be roughly the equivalent of the GDP of a country, we find that of the world's 100 largest economies, 51 are economies internal to corporations. Only 49 are national economies.
[ ... ]
Ironically, the global victory of capitalism is not a victory for the market so much as it is a victory for central planning. Capitalism has simply shifted the planning function from governments--which in theory are accountable to all their citizens--to corporations--which even in theory are accountable only to their shareholders.
[ ... ]
It will take more than protest to save us from capitalism's destructive powers. We must work together to create a positive vision of the world that can be. I believe we stand at a defining moment in our own history and in the evolution of life on this planet. The time has come when we, as a species, must accept conscious collective responsibility for the consequences of our presence on the planet.
[ ... ]
I want to focus here for a minute on the central importance of an ethical culture. One of capitalism's many myths is the idea that by some wondrous mechanism the market automatically turns personal greed into a public good--because Adam Smith said so. In truth, the market has no such mechanism and Adam Smith never said it did. ..."

Ten Signs of Hope

Fall 2007: Stand Up to Corporate Power
Stories of Action and Change You Didn't Hear About in 2006 and 2007. For the first time, Project Censored 2008 now highlights a new form of journalism: one that looks for the places where real change for the better is already underway. Here are their 10 featured stories...
[ Link ]

David Bohm: a seeker of reality

Conceived the applications of the Holographic Model:
"... Bohm's holographic metaphor has found fruitful application in brain physiology and human consciousness. Neurosurgeon Karl Pribram developed a model of the brain based on holographic principles (1971); Pribram was trying to understand various features of the brain, especially the observed result that the function of memory storage is not localized in the brain. Pribram's controversial holographic model accounts for seemingly mysterious properties of the brain such as the vast storage capacity, the imaging capability of the sensory system, and certain features of associative recall. Another striking application of the holographic model is in the spectrum of human consciousness. Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof (1985, 1988) has developed a cartography of human consciousness that summarizes his extensive research into nonordinary states of consciousness. He has noted a close correspondence between the holomovement and his research findings. More than thirty years of clinical research and observation have led Grof to the viewpoint that "each of us is everything." ..."

With respect to Buddhism and Physics:

"... The Tibetan Master Sogyal Rinpoche...has noted striking parallels between Bohm's model and the three kayas in Buddhist ontology.

"Could this possibly suggest that the role of meaning, as [Bohm] explains it, is somehow analogous to the Dharmakaya, that endlessly fertile, unconditioned totality from which all things rise? The work of energy, through which meaning and matter act upon one another, has a certain affinity to the Sambhogakaya, the spontaneous, constant springing forth of energy out of the ground of emptiness, and the creation of matter, in David Bohm's vision, has resemblances to the Nirmanakaya, the continuous crystallization of that energy into form and manifestation. . . The deepest parallel between David Bohm's ideas and the bardo teachings is that they both spring from a vision of wholeness." Bohm...himself sounds indistinguishable from a spiritual master at times: "When we come to light, we are coming to the fundamental activity in which existence has its ground. . . Light is the potential of everything. . . This ocean of energy could be thought of as an ocean of light"

[ ... ]
When Krishnamurti asked Bohm what is the point of the mystery, Bohm (Krishnamurti and Bohm 1987) gave the following succinct reply:

"Of the mystery? I think you could see it like this: that if you look into the field of thought and reason and so on, you finally see it has no clear foundation. Therefore, you see that "what is" must be beyond that. 'What is' is the mystery." ..."


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