Awakening

Beyond all coming and going of phenomena: the ...

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Awakening,

the hours have lost their sense.

Awakening,

we wonder,

where have we been?

Awakening,

we cry,

is that the dawn

or the intruder

of yet another day

we do not understand?

Is there time

to wonder?

To contemplate

to say,

today,

is different, than yesterday?

To

awake

with full knowledge

bearing

contemplation into action

To live anew

Shattered Glass

I am the glass shattered
On a clear
Winter day
Appearing as ice
On an otherwise
Unbroken surface

I am the dove
Holding her sound
Against
The weight
Of the gray sky

I am the mountain
Beneath the sun
Holding the tendrils
Of winter
To not unleash
My power
Upon the plains

I am the air
You breath
Whether or not
You call me
She

*image credit: Adobe

Choking the Matrix

I think it’s time for a bit of a rambling post.

Let’s take two different and yet somehow related issues:

1. Streaks of misfortune; and
2. Decision to maybe stop reading/watching any mainstream media.

You may ask, as I did, what could these two things possibly have in common? Well, it’s a long meandering discussion, not quite a conclusion.

Let’s say for instance you believe, on what basis doesn’t matter, that the space around us is becoming choked with negativity.

The TV signals, the cable signals, the phone signals, the texting, the twitting tweeters, the emails, the blogs, the constant pouring out of media, media, media and advertisement into the vortex which surrounds. Do we really think it is invisible and without effect?

The signals pass by us when we are awake and asleep, passing geographical boundaries drawn on an ever changing map, passing gender boundaries, cultural and religious boundaries also. Passing over, intersecting, overlapping belief systems centuries old. Yet, we only think of it as communication. (What we can’t see, can’t hurt us, right?)

Yet, as I drive down the street, how do I not know that someone’s email transmission is hurtling straight through me and altering my own energetic path?

Whether we agree or don’t agree as to the form of negative thought, emotions, intent, etc., the reality is, negativity exists. If I hurt, I know it is true, because I feel it. If I am angry, I know it is true, because I feel it. If I am negative, I know it is true because I feel it. Yet, I don’t look for proof of it, I don’t require a statistical analysis, I don’t require to hold it in my hand, because I know it to be true.

So also do I know that the information we send through invisible networks is true. It appears on my t.v., it appears on my phone, it appears on my computer. Where then, is the substance?

Where do the moments of grief, sadness, anger, frustration, loss, negativity, the sum total of the mass of those emotions, reside? Do they all get delivered into the inbox? Does only a fraction of the emotion get delivered and part remain with the sender and the other diffused particles scatter catching others unaware, an unintended and unexpected blue moment? (p.s. never understood why we insult the word blue in such a way).

I think we are choking the air around us. When CNN or FoxNews blares, Alert! Alert! Alert! and then you find it is just another piece on Dave Letterman, you have to wonder, what are we receiving? 1. The intention to create sensation; and 2. the hopes and dreams of the staff that created the piece, bringing in their own liFe stories, needs, desires and frustrations; and 3. a willingness to disregard where else we maybe should be heading as society. That is a short list, but I ask you, where does the essence, the energy, of numbers 1, 2 and 3 land?

If I have a day, when the oven starts to malfunction, the washer broke, the windows are leaking and walls disintegrating and then the microwave inexplicitaly begins to smoke, do I say: 1. hmm, guess they are all at their life expectancy; or 2. I’m receiving some bad energy and need to re-balance? (Do we dare mention buying the microwave, bringing it home, only to find out it is defective? No, let’s just skip that for now.)

At the expense of sounding mad, I’m going with #2. There’s too much bad energy being drawn in.

I believe the air around us is becoming dense, the emotions we are flinging into the invisible realm are starting to reflect back, after all, even if we can’t see it, our words are going somewhere, they are disrupting and altering space on their travels, how can we possibly believe otherwise?

Putting all that cash in perspective

With all the chatter in the media about Congress spending $500 Billion for this and $500 billion for that, we thought it worthwhile to put all that cash in perspective. I have held a few $20 bills in my hand, so I can imagine what a few hundred dollars would look like, or perhaps even one thousand dollars. But a million dollars? A billion dollars?

This is $10,000 in $100 bills.

Yes we know, it’s a thing of beauty. I considered using a stack of $20 bills, but it just didn’t resonate as well as the $100 bills. Besides which, for the demonstration that follows, this post would be 5 times as long.

This is $1 MILLION in $100 bills at the foot of say … one of the elected officials we sent to Washington DC. For perspective, this person is 6′ tall wearing size 12 sneakers (size is for comfort only). Any similarities that figure shares with Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former governor of Illinois, is purely coincidental. Besides, Rod Blagojevich is only about 5’5″ and thus too short for this perspective.

That $1 million in $100 bills takes up about the same floor space as a pair of size 12 sneakers, so who in Washington DC is going to miss that?

This is $100 MILLION in $100 bills resting comfortably on a standard shipping pallet, sometimes also called a skid which, coincidently, is also a verb used informally to describe a downward path to ruin, poverty, or depravity.

The cube it forms is approximately 4 feet on all sides. It’s conceivable, however unlikely as it may be to you, that someone in Washington DC could actually NOT notice this amount of money missing. There are a lot of cube heads (a.k.a., block heads) in Congress “we the people” bless with the privilege of representing us so we are going out on a limb and say that even this amount of money may not be missed.

This is ONE BILLION DOLLARS in $100 bills resting comfortably on 10 standard shipping pallets or skids. At this point, the definition of the verb “skid” is beginning to resonate.

Even the block heads we send to Congress will admit that this is now “real money” and will need some help in moving it all about. If you are in Congress, needing help in moving anything about inevitably means some form of compromise or quid pro quo with some other Washington block head – a potentially very risky move, so it may be better to just punt. When you are elected to Congress, you punt a lot.

This is ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in $100 bills resting comfortably on 10,000 standard shipping pallets. The pallets are stacked two high.

The barely distinguishable tiny red spec on the bottom left of the image above is the same 6′ tall square head elected official with bad hair and size 12 sneakers he wears for comfort that we sent to Washington DC.

The current fiscal year ends on September 30th. Just nine months into this fiscal year, the federal deficit had topped ONE TRILLION DOLLARS – the first time that has happened. With one month to go, this year’s actual budget deficit, the net of outlays (spending) vs receipts (taxes) was 1.5 TRILLION DOLLARS – FOR LESS THAN ONE YEAR!

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

On Pinky and Rubicon

Can you choose your color today, or must others still do that for you? Can anyone of us with mixed heritage be predominantly called by just one name? What does that say about the heritage you choose (or is chosen for you), and the heritage not chosen? It appears to me that regardless of your standing in society, regardless of your accomplishments or natural talents, you must choose a color – or one will be chosen for you.

I wonder at that. In some ways, our nation has come a long way since Patricia ‘Pinky’ Johnson, in its day a very controversial film about a young black woman who passes for white.
PinkyPinky” was a slang term for light-skinned black Americans. We trust the term as used here is not offensive to anyone today as we are using same only as historical reference.

Lena Horne wanted to play the title role in this movie. Ms. Horne, among the most accomplished actresses and singers of all time, (awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk; Recording and Motion Pictures), was considered “light enough” to photograph “white” in the films of that time. However, that time was 1949 and 20th Century-Fox felt the movie would not show in most theaters (and for sure none in the South) since love scenes with a white actor were essential to the story. As a historical reference here as well, a “love scene” in the movies back then was an embrace or a kiss lasting more than a second (or about what you see Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed do in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). This was also the main reason she lost out on playing “Julie”, a role depicted for a “mulatto” woman in MGM’s 1951 remake of Show Boat.
Lena HorneIn her autobiography, Ms Horne said she photographed so light that MGM was afraid people would mistake her for a white woman, so they had Max Factor (yes, the makeup legend himself) create a make-up line for her to “appear” as a black woman on screen with black men. For the films where the cast was white, MGM shot her scenes so they could be cut out when the films were shown in the South. Hey now, you don’t have to like every aspect of our history, but to ignore or deny any part of our history is simply foolish and only serves to condemn us all to repeat its mistakes in one fashion or another (e.g., Gay Rights).

Indeed, our nation has come a long way since the first showing of “Pinky”. The last US census showed that an increasing number of Americans identify themselves as “multiracial and mixed-race” when asked to identify their heritage and an increasing number is expected to choose so in the 2010 census. Nevertheless, customs and society norms, like any addiction, are difficult habits to break. The parents of our President are both white and black, yet the world, as does President Obama, describes himself only as a black man or an American of African decent. We are not attempting to diminish any of the reasons for this choice, but attempting to understand how a focus on “color” continues in 2009. For example, one of the readers of SurfaceEarth, C.Grego, recently commented that he was surprised to hear that CNN does not consider him a white man (he is Portuguese).

“I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.” Ms. Horne.

I believe we are long past that daydream now, and I hope Ms. Horne agrees. In regards to race, we have crossed the Rubicon. Sure, we can all turn around, look back and focus at the soiled and bloodied foot prints leading to the river, but cross it we have. It’s time to move on, and I wonder at that.

by Grego

A Lion Passes

Senator Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)
[Photo Credit: AP]

In regards to civil rights, health, and the economic well-being of the average American, few elected officials anywhere have accomplished as much.

No real life is flawless, and his was no exception. The difference in Ted Kennedy was that he did not drown himself in self-pity, would not quit when many told him he should and his heart never stop beating for his passion. As a result of his passion, our nation and the treatment of its people by their government, is a far better place now then when he first arrived in the Senate 47 years ago.

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

Something is very wrong with this picture

“Throw in a few billion here and a few billion there, and before you know it, you are talking about real money…” . I don’t recall who first coined that phrase, (I think it was in the late ’80s), but when I first heard it, it was Millions not Billions!

America’s states are facing a projected budget shortfall of $165 billion for fiscal year 2010, the cumulative total projected through 2011 is estimated somewhere between $350 billion and $375 billion and that’s only if the unemployment rate flattens out and begins to drop by mid- 2010.

Economics 101: When states and local municipalities run out of cash to pay their bills, their options are: 1) anger working families [by raising the “jambalaya” of taxes they pay every day], 2) hurt the working poor and those unemployed [by cutting spending on essential services] or 3) just piss everyone off by doing both. When the federal government is short of cash, they can do the same things or just simply vote to print more cash – in Football, that is called a punt. When you are elected to Congress, you punt a lot.

As obscene as $165 billion of “real money” may sound to you, consider that the US tax payers gave $180 billion to bail out just one company, AIG, $13 billion of which went straight to pay AIG’s debt to another company, Goldman Sachs.
That’s right, for what we tossed just to AIG, we could have covered the budget shortfall of every state in the nation for 2010 and still have $15 billion to spend. Add in the $50 billion to another company (Citigroup) and $45 billion to another (Bank of America) and Goldman Sachs who received their own $10 billion tax payer toss, and we are on the path to ensuring that no state in the nation needs to cut vital services through 2011.

I know what you are thinking … “but we averted a global financial meltdown that would have resulted from the banks inability or fear to lend money (a.k.a., the credit freeze)”. Perhaps, but credit is as cold today as it was last Fall. And when was the last time you heard of anyone walking into a Goldman Sachs branch to get a home mortgage? [Hint: NeverGoldman Sachs, along with others, became a “bank” only after the TARP program was announced.]

Fed Chairman Bernanke, in his testimony to the House and Senate finance committees, used the recent recovery of the stock markets and the swelling bottom line of the large financial institutions (and by definition, their record bonus payouts) as a vindication of the Treasury and the Fed policies, and proof that they had averted a global financial disaster.

Perhaps, Bernanke also made clear that the prospects for improved employment, home values or even a decrease in home foreclosures, wasn’t likely for the next couple of years. He went on to say that “financial conditions remain stressed, and many households and businesses are finding credit difficult to obtain”…e.g., in spite of the massive amount of money the US taxpayers have tossed to the banks, the credit freeze remains.

Moody’s Economy.com predicts that 1.8 million borrowers will lose their homes this year, up from 1.4 million last year. I know what you are thinking … “but wasn’t that the reason we tossed out all those billions and billions of dollars (a.k.a., real money) to the banks?” Perhaps.Obviously, homeowners in or at risk of foreclosure are also not paying their local real estate taxes.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 20 or more states have already made cuts to public health programs, programs for the elderly and disabled, and aid to K-12 education. Over 30 states have cut assistance to public colleges and universities. Across the nation, states have announced additional cuts to; health coverage to elderly and disable, school meals, homeless shelters, services to seniors, occupational therapy, Alzheimer services, drug assistance, mental health issues, legal services for foster children, K and Pre-K programs, and more. But all is not gloom, the Feb Chairman is correct; the stock market is indeed up and so are the Wall Street bonuses.

Something is very wrong with this picture, but you may have noticed there is not much “buzz” in the press these days about TARP money. The new “House” fire everyone in Washington is running to is the one where our nation’s first black president is being compared to a Nazi because of his health care policies. That one may take me a lifetime to figure out so I will do as Congress does and just punt.

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

It’s the law: For Afghanistan’s “women”, the word NO is NEVER an option.

Without much of a fuss made by the media, if even reported at all, last month Afghanistan’s new Shiite Personal Status Law was put into effect. The law grants Shiite men the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met. These sexual demands are not defined or limited by the law. The law also requires Shiite women to obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their home. Parental custody is solely the father’s or, in his absence, the paternal grandfather. Incredibly, the law also allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her. That payment, of course, is offered to the father, paternal grandfather or the brothers of the raped girl.

It is worth noting that a Shiite “woman” is any girl old enough for marriage. Therefor if you are a 9 year old girl (a 3rd or 4th grader in the US) and live in Afghanistan this law, including the rape provision, applies to you. Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters[Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters]

A great deal of progress in respect to the rights of women in Afghanistan was widely reported after the US lead invasion that resulted in response to the Taliban’s attacks on September 11, 2001. The sacrifices made, and continued to be made, by our service men/women are difficult for anyone to even see, let alone physically endure. However, the media softens this horror for many by filling their broadcasts with heart warming images of little girls being allowed to attend school for the first time.

Today you will not find one little girl in any of the dozens of schools built by our forces and contractors. The monthly combat deaths and injuries resulting from the expanding war are the highest since the start, yet the scant media coverage and reporting is no comparison to the media coverage even 6 months ago … and for the little girls all across Afghanistan, the word NO is (again) NEVER an option.

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

Asking for Advice

Many times when asking for advice, some of us start out, not realizing we want our own opinion or belief confirmed.

Then, we become frustrated with the person speaking to us that we sought out to begin with, the unwitting victim.

Next time you seek advice, seek counsel from yourself first, ask:

what is it I’m hoping to hear?
what are the chances I will hear what it is I want?
Would it be better if I just recorded my own voice to play back the words as often as I desire?

-S.E.