Saturday, March 31, 2007

Some wisdom

I wish the reactionary conservatives out there would ponder this:

Whatever is flexible and flowing will tend to grow, whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die.

- Tao Te Ching

Plastic bag ban

This is good news from an environmental point of view. I am quoting from an article entitled "S.F. FIRST CITY TO BAN PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS":

Paper or plastic? Not anymore in San Francisco.

The city's Board of Supervisors approved groundbreaking legislation Tuesday to outlaw plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets in about six months and large chain pharmacies in about a year.

The ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, is the first such law in any city in the United States and has been drawing global scrutiny this week.

"I am astounded and surprised by the worldwide attention," Mirkarimi said. "Hopefully, other cities and other states will follow suit."

Fifty years ago, plastic bags -- starting first with the sandwich bag -- were seen in the United States as a more sanitary and environmentally friendly alternative to the deforesting paper bag. Now an estimated 180 million plastic bags are distributed to shoppers each year in San Francisco. Made of filmy plastic, they are hard to recycle and easily blow into trees and waterways, where they are blamed for killing marine life. They also occupy much-needed landfill space.

I hope if you use plastic bags that you recycle them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Good one from Bill Maher

Take a look:

And, indeed, the party that flatters itself that they protect America better is the party that has exhausted the military, left the ports wide open and purposefully outed a CIA agent, Valerie Plame.That's not treason anymore? Outing a spy? Did I mention it was one of our spies? And how despicable that Bush's lackeys attempted to diminish this crime by belittling her service, like she was just some chick who hung around the CIA.

- Bill Maher

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess



The front wall of the library of Virginia Theological Seminary has this inscribed on it:

Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will.

That has long inspired me. And today I came across this quotation:

Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.

~ Maimonides

Courage, my friends, courage!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Torture suit against Rumsfeld is tossed

Here's something I found in The Boston Globe:

Former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cannot be tried on allegations of torture in overseas military prisons, a federal judge said yesterday. US District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job. The lawsuit says the prisoners were beaten, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked in boxes, and subjected to mock executions. (AP)

My question is why? WHY can't he be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job? That makes no sense at all to me.

Leno's observation

This snark is purely tragic:

According to the L.A. Times, insurgents in Iraq are targeting educated people like professors and librarians. ... If the intelligent are targeted and killed, then the only ones left to lead the country will be the ignorant. So, at least they are getting closer to an American-style democracy.

--Jay Leno

Kangaroo court

I really want you to click through and read an article called "American Kangaroo Court Claims Its First Victim" by Amy Goodman. Reading it makes me realize just how far America has fallen from its once noble ideals. Here's how the article gets started.

It is appropriate that a person from Australia, home of the kangaroo, should be the first one dragged before the kangaroo court at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. David Hicks, imprisoned there for more than five years, pleaded guilty Monday to providing material support for terrorism.

The case of Hicks offers us a glimpse into the Kafkaesque netherworld of detentions, kidnappings, torture and show trials that is now, internationally, the shameful signature of the Bush administration. Hicks’ passage through this sham process affords us all an opportunity to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to these heinous policies. Conditions may soon exist to shutter the prison, with George Bush’s lame-duck status, the Democratic takeover of Congress, the possible departure of Guantanamo’s arch-defender and architect, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and, if recent reports are true, a desire to close the prison on the part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. These bogus military commission trials amplify global contempt for the Guantanamo prison.

The Pentagon claims that Hicks was in Afghanistan fighting against the United States, then was apprehended by the Northern Alliance in late 2001 while fleeing to Pakistan. After transfer to U.S. military control, he was moved around various detention facilities and, he says, brutally beaten and sodomized. By January 2002 he was in Guantanamo. He was subjected to repeated interrogations. He witnessed other prisoners being beaten and terrorized with dogs. He was at times kept in total darkness, at times in continual bright light (he has grown his hair to chest length so he can cover his eyes to allow him to sleep). He had no access to a lawyer for more than a year or knowledge of the charges against him. Others, those lucky enough to have lawyers or to have actually gotten out, tell similar tales of continual cold, of desecration of the Quran and of sexual humiliation designed specifically to torture Muslim men.

Just go read the rest of it. It's not very long. And it will open your eyes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cheney visit is protested

Well, this is very interesting. Take a look at part of an article entitled "Cheney Speech at BYU Causes Outcry":

At BYU — in the heart of what has been called the reddest county in the nation — the mere possibility of Vice President Dick Cheney coming to campus is getting some blue blood boiling.

Cheney is scheduled to be Brigham Young University’s keynote speaker at this year’s graduation ceremonies. While it is a day of celebration for many, some BYU administrators and faculty, alongside parents and students, are expressing displeasure with the VP’s visit.
BYU Marriott School professor Warner Woodworth said that he has received e-mails from all over the world expressing dismay over Cheney’s visit.

Woodworth said that some of those e-mails came from parents and LDS stake presidents, particularly in Latin America, expressing anger that Cheney — whom they called a “warmonger” — will be representing their children and their church.
Nephi Henry, a BYU student who will be graduating next month, is working with other students in organizing opposition to Cheney’s visit.

Needless to say, there are no plans to cancel Cheney's appearance. But isn't it interesting how very much this man is disliked - among conservatives, no less.

Health care and unions

Here are some excerpts from remarks made by Stewart Acuff at the Health Care Industry Conference in Chicago on March 21, 2007:

Apart for the lack of national health insurance, one of the biggest reasons for the rising number of people without health insurance is the long-term corporate and right wing attack on the labor movement and collective bargaining in this country. Non-union workers are five times more likely to lack health insurance coverage than union members. So it is no coincidence that as the freedom to form unions has come under attack — as more and more workers are non-union while fewer are protected by a union contract — that the number of people in this country who lack health insurance has increased.

So if you want to fix the health care mess in this country — we not only need national health insurance — we need to restore workers’ fundamental human right to form unions and bargain collectively!
The Employee Free Choice Act is the most important legislative proposal since passage of the Wagner Act to protect the fundamental human right of America’s workers to form unions and bargain collectively. Earlier this month, the Employee Free Choice Act – HR 800 – passed the US House of Representatives. This is a tremendous accomplishment. Who would have thought a year ago that in 2007 the House of Representatives would pass this historic landmark bill?

The Employee Free Choice Act does three critical things: it provides for union recognition based on democratic majority sign-up, it provides for first-contract arbitration, and it provides for stiffer and quicker penalties for illegal employer conduct.

Now, of course, the Senate needs to pass it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Baltimore Orioles

Not the baseball team. The bird. Wouldn't it be something if orioles were no longer found in Maryland? Take a look:

Scientists say the state bird of Maryland, the Baltimore oriole, has been moving north while the state bird of Louisiana, the brown pelican, finds Maryland's climate appealing, The Washington Post reported.

About 1,000 brown pelican chicks hatched in Maryland last year while the Oriole might be forced to shift its territory north as Maryland warms.

"We certainly know that we've been experiencing climate change impacts," said Bill Dennison of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.



Liz Pringle, a friend of mine in South Africa, sent me the following:

"We've never been stay the course, George." --George W. Bush, attempting to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years, during an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Oct. 22, 2006

"This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th." --George W. Bush, on the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006.

"One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards." --George W. Bush, on holding six-party talks with North Korea, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006

"I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me." --George W. Bush, talking to key Republicans about Iraq, as quoted by Bob Woodward. (Barney is the dog.)

"I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy." --George W. Bush, interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Sept. 24, 2006
Just a reminder that our president is, shall we say, intellectually challenged.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Congressional oversight

Tony Snow

Take a look at what Tony Snow is now saying. I'm quoting from an article called "Snow Tells Fox Morning Show: Congress Has No Oversight Over White House":

Beating back the firestorm over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, allegedly for prosecuting too many Republicans and not enough Democrats, must be high on the White House agenda because the Fox News morning show devoted a big chunk of its first hour to reinforcing GOP talking points. With videos.

The most striking part of the more than 10 minutes of coverage came when White House spokesman and former Fox News employee Tony Snow claimed, "Congress doesn't have any legitimate oversight responsibility on the White House."

No oversight of the White House? Congress has no right to check the president's actions? What a surprise to the framers of the Constitution that would be!

Lisa Casey of All Hat No Cattle asks, "Did a coup d'etat just happen?" That's my question as well.

Friday cat blogging!

An observation on global warming

I want to call your attention to an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Global Warming Can't Buy Happiness". I'm just going to give you the first two paragraphs:

Earlier this month, a draft White House report was leaked to news outlets. The report, a year overdue to the United Nations, said that the United States would be producing almost 20% more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it had in 2000 and that our contribution to global warming would be going steadily up, not sharply and steadily down, as scientists have made clear it must.

That's a pretty stunning piece of information — a hundred times more important than, say, the jittery Dow Jones industrial average that garnered a hundred times the attention. How is it even possible? How, faced with the largest crisis humans have yet created for themselves, have we simply continued with business as usual?

How, indeed? What on earth is wrong with us?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Leno gets it:

President Bush held a news conference where he accused the Democrats of playing politics with the firing of U.S. attorneys. You know, the attorneys he fired for not playing politics.

--Jay Leno

What's Karl hiding?

This is part of an email I got today from ActForChange:

The Bush Administration is still struggling to explain why eight U.S. Attorneys were abruptly dismissed last December. Recently released documents, however, show that heavy partisan pressure was being applied to replace these independent prosecutors -- including at least one who was pursuing a Republican congressman on high-level corruption charges -- with "Bushies" loyal to the administration.

Those documents also show a very high level of White House involvement in the decision to fire these attorneys -- most notably by Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. Indeed, the candidate who has now replaced a U.S. Attorney fired in Arkansas was a aide to, and protege of, Mr. Rove -- with relatively little prosecutorial experience, but lots of
experience suppressing minority voters in the 2004 election.

Click here to tell Karl Rove: Tell the truth about your role in the purging of U.S. Attorneys.

The Bush administration's shifting explanations just don't hold water anymore, and Congress is now determined to get to the bottom of the matter. If, as it currently appears, the administration sought to obstruct justice in this affair, this would represent an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of our Federal judiciary system.

There's only one way to get to the bottom of this affair, and that's for Congress to exercise its oversight role -- including hearings with sworn testimony from White House officials such as Rove. So far, the White House -- under the flimsy excuse of 'executive privilege' -- is resisting Congressional demands for testimony under oath. But if they have nothing to hide, why not let Rove testify under oath? Anything less would be a clear cover-up of wrongdoing.

I've signed the petition. How about you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Not under oath

I don't understand the brazenness of this administration. Does anybody really doubt that, if you refuse to testify under oath, you're planning to lie? Take a look at the excerpt from an article called "Bush refuses to let aides take oath on firings":

President Bush set the stage for a political and legal showdown with Congress when he vowed Tuesday that his top aides will not testify under oath before congressional committees on the scandal involving the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Democrats immediately rejected Bush's offer to allow Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and other aides to be interviewed privately, saying any testimony must be in public and under oath.

How do they spin this without it being obvious that they're being dishonest?
Valerie Plame

Check out an article called "Plame Outing - Treason By No Other Name". I agree with this:

Outing covert agent Plame was treason and destroyed a CIA front company Brewster Jennings that took hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars and decades to create. This outing destroyed a major source of U. S. nuclear proliferation intelligence in the middle east. Knowingly exposing, or knowing about the exposure of a covert CIA agent is treason.

Just think of the uproar if the Clinton administration had outed Plame. Why we just might be talking about impeachment.


I want to call your attention to an op-ed from the Boston Globe entitled "The many forms of fundamentalism". Here's the first paragraph:

NEARLY A decade and a half ago, this condemnation of fundamentalism was issued: "The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life . . . instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. . . . Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations." This robust denunciation came from the Vatican, in a 1993 document entitled "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church."

Of course, there are Catholic fundamentalists too but they're usually called "traditionalists" as are those of the Episcopal/Anglican variety. And here's another passage from the article:

Fundamentalisms will especially thrive wherever there is violent conflict, and wherever there is stark poverty, simply because these religiously absolute movements promise meaning where there is no meaning.

Fundamentalism is everywhere today - in every religion - because everyone needs security and when mere survival is threatened, people tend to look for security in belief systems of certainty.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Why is this so hard to understand?

We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert.

-J. Robert Oppenheimer

Change those light bulbs to compact florescent!

The Bible and the biology teacher

I want to call your attention to a CNN article entitled "Biology teacher fired for referring to Bible". Here's part of what it says:

SISTERS, Oregon (AP) -- During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

That was enough for the Sisters School Board, which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution.

"I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line," board member Jeff Smith said. "It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms."

Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking.
"How many minds did he pollute?" Dan Harrison, the father of a student in Helphinstine's class, said at the meeting. "It's a thinly veiled attempt to hide his own agenda."

Of course, the fundies will probably make a martyr out of him.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Maher being simply serious

This is true:

Under Clinton, FEMA was a very effective agency. Under Bush, it's not. The same thing with Walter Reed... The guy in charge of Veteran's Affairs...he's a political hack. His background is in real estate and raising money for the GOP.

- Bill Maher

This is the problem with people who don't believe in government. Under them, government doesn't work.

Draft the twins - part 2

I know I've blogged abou this before but I'm going to do it again. Yes, there are those who would disagree with me but I really think it's rather disingenuous for the president to talk about war sacrifice when his own daughters have not enlisted. I want to call your attention to an article by Kitty Kelley called "Why Aren't The Bush Daughters In Iraq?" and add that I am asking that question too. Take a look:

When I was a little girl in a convent school, the nuns impressed on me the power of setting a good example. These beloved teachers are no longer around to instruct the president and his family, so I recommend that the Bushes learn from Mark Twain, who said: "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

My suggestion comes after the White House announcement earlier this month that Jenna Bush, one of the president's twin daughters, is writing a book on her all-expenses-paid trip to Panama, where she worked for a few weeks as an intern for UNICEF. Jenna Bush is quoted as saying she will donate her earnings from her book to UNICEF, a commendable gesture, considering her father's net worth of $20 million. But while the 25-year-old makes the rounds of TV talk shows this fall in a White House limousine, dozens of her contemporaries will be arriving home from Iraq in wooden boxes. In Britain, Prince Harry is insisting on going off to Iraq — even as his country is reducing its troop commitment.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed how the power of good example could also be powerfully good politics. When he led the country to sacrifice in World War II, his children enlisted and his wife traveled to military bases to counsel and comfort the families of soldiers. Newsreels showed the president's four sons fighting with the Marines in the Pacific, flying with the Army Air Forces in North Africa and landing with the Navy at Normandy. Soon other public figures followed suit — movie stars (James Stewart and Clark Gable) enlisted and sports heroes (Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg) went off to war.
The president tells us Iraq is a "noble" war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families...
The first lady, so often lauded for her love of literacy, has not been seen in the reading rooms of veterans' hospitals...

Why is it okay for the sons and daughters of ordinary Americans to lay down their lives or, worse, be horribly injured for life but it's not okay for the Bush family children to do so? I know there are those who would say that the Bush children would be targets. Are the others NOT targets? And what about the Roosevelt sons? If a president's child is a greater target than other military men and women then the Roosevelt boys ought not to have gone.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday prayer blogging

Let us ponder what it means to be friend:

Strong One, make me strong.
May all beings look on me with the eye of friend!
May I look on all beings with the eye of friend!
May we look on one another with the eye of friend!

- Yajur Veda

Peace is all around us.

Something to remember:

Peace is all around us.
In our world and in nature
And within us,
In our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this
We will be healed and transformed.
It is not a matter of faith,
It is a matter of practice.

- Thich Nhat Hanh


Frank Ford sent me a link to this YouTube video from Mad TV. It's good. Watch it!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Bill Maher

Matt Huculak sent me the link to a really outstanding video by Bill Maher. It's about the sacrifices we have and haven't made for this war. It is, in Matt's words, "Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant." I have to agree. Here it is.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Up for adoption at Tulsa Street Cats
Photo by Paul Rogers

Let's hear it for Jon Stewart!

Take a look at this great snark:

Good news for the Bush administration. Just one week after the outrageous Walter Reed medical scandal, that story is gone ... because there's a new kid in town. His name is 'Outrageous Fired Federal Prosecutors Attorney General Scandal'. Yes, in one week, it's been revealed the administration screwed over wounded vets -- the most revered people in America -- and lawyers -- the most reviled people in America -- proving they've got range.

--Jon Stewart

Today's QuickVote and Valerie Plame

From the CNN website:

Did leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's name potentially jeopardize U.S. interests?

Yes - 71%

No - 29%

It's good to see this recognition by a majority of the people.


I want to share with you a CNN article called "Ex-CIA operative: Leak severely hurt U.S. intelligence". Here are the highlights:

• Plame Wilson: Leak of CIA identity jeopardized, destroyed networks of agents
• Before leak, husband Joe Wilson investigated, contested a justification for Iraq war
• GOP congressman: It's "more like a CIA problem than a White House problem"
• Plame Wilson: Perjury case against ex-Cheney aide shows leak "purely political"

And here's part of what the article says:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Valerie Plame Wilson told Congress Friday the leak of her identity as a CIA covert operative "has jeopardized and even destroyed entire networks of foreign agents."

For the first time since the 2003 leak, the central figure of the resulting scandal revealed her side of events that led to the conviction this month of a former vice presidential aide.
Novak's column destroyed her position and classified status, she told the committee.

The disclosure also damaged U.S. intelligence efforts, she said. "If our government cannot even protect my identity, future foreign agents who might consider working with the Central Intelligence Agency in providing needed intelligence would think twice."

Plame Wilson testified her work involved gathering intelligence on weapons of mass destruction.

Personally, I think leaking her identity was unpatriotic to the point of treason. The administration does not really care about the country; only about destroying its political enemies,

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Hillary Clinton

Senator Clinton can do better than this. Take a look at these excerpts from a CNN article entitled "Sen. Clinton dodges question on gays, immorality":

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton sidestepped a question about whether she thinks homosexuality is immoral Wednesday, less than two weeks after telling gay-rights activists she was "proud" to stand by their side.

Clinton was asked the question by ABC News, in the wake of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace's controversial comment that he believed homosexual acts were immoral.

"Well, I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said.
"I assume that Senator Clinton -- who has spoken out strongly against military discrimination, who stands for civil unions and respect for same-sex couples -- understands that gay Americans are not immoral, and she ought to say so clearly," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates same-sex marriage.

Other public figures have been more forceful in taking issue with Pace's comments, making Clinton's non-answer even more problematic.

Sen. John Warner, a conservative Republican from Virginia, said, "I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

If John Warner can say directly that homosexuality is not immoral then so can Hillary Clinton. It's sheer cowardice that she didn't.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This gives me pause.

It's an article published in the Guardian entitled "Was I a Good American in the Time of George Bush?" by Rebecca Solnit. Here's part of what it says:

Was I a good American? How good an American was I? Did I do what I could to resist the takeover of my country and the brutalisation of my fellow human beings? How much further could I have gone? Were the crimes of the Bush administration those that demand you give up your life and everyday commitments to throw yourself into maximum resistance? If not, then what were we waiting for? The questions have troubled me regularly these last five years, because I was one of the millions of American citizens who did not shut down Guantánamo Bay and stop the other atrocities of the administration.

I wrote. I gave money, sometimes in large chunks. I went to anti-war marches. I demonstrated. I also planted a garden, cooked dinners, played with children, wandered around aimlessly, and did lots of other things you do when the world is not crashing down around you. And maybe when it is. Was it? It was for the men in our gulag. And the boys there. And the rule of law in my native land.

Before the current administration, it had always been easy to condemn the "good Germans" who did nothing while Jews, Gypsies and others were rounded up for extermination. One likes to believe that one will be different, will harbour Anne Frank in one's secret annex, smuggle people across the border, defy the authorities who do evil. Those we scornfully call good Germans merely did little while the mouth of hell opened up.
I remember with admiration the Japanese-Americans who came out in the months after 9/11 to testify that they had been incarcerated en masse during the second world war, not for what they did but for who they were, and they were not going to remain silent as the same treatment was meted out to Arabs and Muslims...
There is resistance. But if it were enough, the crimes would have stopped, the war would have ended. When it does and they do, some will have been heroes. Some will have been honourable but moderate, in times that did not call for moderation. And some will have consented, through inaction, to crimes against humanity.

Ever since I was old enough to know about what happened in Germany, I've wondered what I would have done had I been an ordinary German during the 30s and early 40s. That's part of why I started this blog. I didn't want to have to live with myself for not having spoken out in some small way - for not having it "on record" that I oppose this administration with all my might.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I want to share a CNN article with you called "88-year-old teacher can still fire up her students". It is truly inspiring. Here's part of what it says:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Rose "Mama G" Gilbert dons a red plastic fire helmet and excitedly begins lecturing on George Orwell's novel "1984."

Her Advanced Placement English literature students soon feel the heat as Gilbert connects current events to themes in the book -- government surveillance, conformity and sexuality.

With her energy, it's easy to forget that she's old enough to be the great-great-grandmother of her Palisades Charter High School students. Gilbert is 88.

"You can't stop her when she is on a roll," says Elieka Salamipour, a 17-year-old senior.
Gilbert is the oldest teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Two other female teachers, both 87, also work full-time in the district, the second-largest in the nation where there is no mandatory retirement age.
Every morning, Gilbert lifts weights and does yoga. Weekends are filled with UCLA basketball and football games and visiting with the grandkids.

Asked when she will stop teaching, Gilbert pauses.

"When I'm tired," she finally says. "I'm not tired. I have more energy than a kid."

I would like to be like that at 88. I guess I better get my weights out and start doing yoga again!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Real Christianity

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Time for Reform: It is to Reclaim Christianity". Here's how it gets started:

Violent Christians do not represent the face of Christ to the world! There are many who share this belief. We do not have paid lobbyists, vast hours of radio and television airtime or personal friendships with the president. What we do have is a passion for community. The time has come to reclaim the meaning of Christ’s message. On March 16th we are gathering at the National Cathedral and walking to the White House. Thousands of us will embrace the White House in a large circle. We are proclaiming the “Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.”

Several years ago when the war cries were sounded Jerry Falwell demonstrated how corrupt Christianity has become. He said “ you’ve go to kill the terrorists before the killing stops…if it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” This in no way resembles the teachings of Jesus but serves the goals of Empire by rallying the masses to war. Many of us are refusing to join the Christian war party and want reform.

And here's how it ends:

The theses I want to post on the door of our nation’s cathedral are the following:

* Kindness and generosity are the characteristics of Christ
* One cannot kill for Jesus
* The new Jerusalem is not real estate
* Jesus did not teach capitalism
* The free market is not the “good news”
* Punishment does not save
* The word of God is not a book
* One honest person can impact more than a multitude
* Comfort is not our birthright.

I really do wish some of these right wing so-called Christians would try reading the Sermon on the Mount and consider whether their view of Christianity really tallies with what Jesus actually taught.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday prayer blogging

This is by a Unitarian minister:

Oh Father of the Universe
Oh Mother of all things
Oh You who in the very first
Did breathe life into empty dust
In the beginning was the word.
Oh you who made the mighty kings,
Who made all gentle, broken things
Be here with us.

Oh Mother of the Universe
Oh Father of all things
Oh You who on that first day
Did breathe life into empty clay
In the beginning was the way.
Oh you who made the mighty kings
Who made all gentle, broken things
Be here with me.

And let your deepest truth unfold,
And this, your finest art, behold;
A gentle, broken thing made whole.

-- Rev. Tom McCready

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Quote of the day

Makes you think:

Until you do what you believe in, how do you know whether you believe in it or not?

-- Leo Tolstoy

Women's History Month - Part 2

Elizabeth Blackwell

I remember reading about Elizabeth Blackwell when I was a little girl around 10 years old, I think, and being really inspired.

Blackwell, Elizabeth, 1821–1910, American physician, b. England; sister of Henry Brown Blackwell. She was the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree, which was granted (1849) to her by Geneva Medical College (then part of Geneva College, early name of Hobart). With her sister, Emily Blackwell (1826–1910) who was also a doctor, and Marie Zackrzewska, she founded (1857) the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was expanded in 1868 to include a Women's College for the training of doctors, the first of its kind. In 1869, Dr. Blackwell settled in England, where she became (1875) professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to establish. She wrote Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895) and many other books and papers on health and education.

I hope the schools are truly observing Women's History Month. Little girls need the role models of pioneering and successful women.

Why they keep fighting

I want to share an excerpt with you from an article called "Boundaries, Benchmarks and Bright Lines". Here's the part that really caught my attention:

Wars are successfully won when armies surrender, insurgents lay down their arms and civilians give up. Our policies of bombing civilians, checkpoint killings, prisoner torture and secret detentions, and our lack of military discipline that allows soldiers to kill or mistreat prisoners and civilians doesn’t make surrender tempting – just the opposite. People who expect to be killed regardless of whether they attack, run away, or give up, see no reason to surrender and easily conclude that the best option is a suicide mission.

In the Revolutionary War General George Washington commanded that prisoners be decently treated, both from humane sentiment and from understanding that the British and Hessian troops would be more likely to surrender or lay down their arms if they saw a better future. It worked – many "enemies" stayed on to become citizens in the new nation that treated them humanely.

The "war on terror" in Iraq created by the Bush administration is now so monstrously asymmetric that it is hard to imagine any possible resolution. It has destroyed any hope of a decent life for everyone in Iraq – Sunnis, Shias, insurgents, civilians alike, and is rapidly quashing such hopes for Iranians and Afghanis.

It’s not just moral authority that we have lost. By being the biggest, strongest and most terrifying terrorists in history we’ve lost the war on terror, and we’ve lost our national security. We’re not safer now from terrorist attack – or even consequences of natural disaster – than we were five years ago.

John Glenn used to say that the best part of the Pledge of Allegiance was the ending, "with liberty and justice for all." Not just for a few, not just for the deserving, not just for Christians or patriots, or white people, but "for all."

You'd think this stuff would be obvious. I'm bewildered as to why it isn't.

Bush Twins to Iraq

Barbara and Jenna Bush

I've blogged about this before but I just found another article urging the Bush twins to go to Iraq:

On many occasions, President George W. Bush has lectured the American people that "amidst all this violence and bloodshed" in Iraq, "is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the security of our country.

Well then, why don't his daughters, 25 year olds Barbara and Jenna join the armed services and share in the sacrifice? Or is the sacrifice only to be borne overwhelmingly by lower-income whites, Hispanics and African-Americans who comprise the bulk of the casualties?

Mr. Bush is constantly speechifying to the American people, and increasingly failing to secure their support. Nearly 70 percent of Americans want out of Iraq and believe it was not worth the price. Americans may be wondering why neither Bush, nor Cheney, nor the neocons, who fabricated the causes for invading Iraq, nor the corporate bosses raking in war profits - why neither they nor their families are showing any signs of sacrifice?
The old nineteen sixties phrase, "if you're not part of the risk, you won't be part of the solution" applies to the Bush family. It's even worse. Some of Bush's relatives are involved in the war business, making money from their participation in companies and firms thriving off Defense Department contracts.
If you agree that having Jenna and Barbara join the armed forces will help bring George W. Bush closer to bringing the soldiers home and ending this boomeranging war-occupation, express you support to:

Bush Twins to Iraq
Democracy Rising
PO Box 18485
Washington, D.C., 20036
or visit:

I think it's shameful that they haven't gone. We need to say so.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Your genitals

The article is Your Genitals: The Great Moral Issue of our Time by David Michael Green. No excerpt can do it justice. Just go read it. Please.

Reality and fiction

This appeals to the cynic in me:

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.

-- Tom Clancy

It's called hypocrisy

I don't know how these people (Republicans) can sleep nights:

WASHINGTON (March 9) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.

This is the man who served his first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Family values my foot.

(The above is from an article entitled "Gingrich Admits Affair During Clinton Probe".)

Mayan purification ceremony

This strikes me as entirely appropriate:

GUATEMALA CITY Mar 9, 2007 (AP)— Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.

The above is an excerpt from an ABC article entitled "Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit".

Friday cat blogging!

Mike - who's up for adoption at Street Cats of Tulsa
Photo by Paul Rogers

It's about time

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I just came across a CNN article entitled "Geologists to map the world" and my first thought was "Haven't they already?" Here are the story highlights:

• Geologists from across the world will put together a geological map of the globe
• They will present their information on the Web -- similar to Google Earth
• The mapping project will start producing results by mid-2008

Here's more:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Rock scientists from across the world will start next week to put together the first geological map of the earth in a bid to better understand the planet.

The OneGeology project, bringing together scientists from more than 55 countries, will pool national geological survey information and present it on the Internet for all to see rather like Google Earth already does with satellite images.

In doing so it will not only provide people with access to the first detailed images of the ground beneath their feet but also expose the yawning gaps that exist in knowledge.

"The geological data exists. What we are trying to do is unlock it and make it universally available," Ian Jackson of the British Geological Survey told a news conference on Thursday. "It is like piecing together a global jigsaw puzzle."

"We believe that increasing the availability of geological data will increase our knowledge of environmental factors that affect human health and welfare," he added.

One aim will be to start to identify deep geological structures that might be used for the safe long-term storage of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Many scientists and politicians believe that Carbon Capture and Storage is one of the key tools in the battle against global warming.

Let's hope carbon capture really is a possibility. It's good to see some news about global warming that's not utterly discouraging.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day

I want you to click through and read up on International Women's Day. Here's an excerpt:

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. While there are many large-scale initiatives, a rich and diverse fabric of local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

This day is celebrated in other country's with a lot more enthusiasm than in the U.S. In fact, it is hardly recognized at all in America. Hallmark needs to get on the ball and turn it into a proper holiday!

The ex-spook is spooked.

R. James Woolsey

Matt Huculak sent me a CNN article entitled "Ex-CIA chief spooked by fossil fuels". Here's how it gets started:

LAS VEGAS ( -- So maybe it was part of his job to be paranoid, but former CIA head R. James Woolsey takes no comfort in the nation's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels.

Speaking at a reception at a renewable energy conference in Las Vegas co-hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy, Woolsey told an attentive crowd that the country's heavy reliance on oil has the two-pronged effect of contributing to global warming and helping to finance global terrorism.

"We have risks to our infrastructure and our lives," said Woolsey, who sits on the advisory board of the renewable energy council.

He said of the billions of dollars Saudi Arabia gets from U.S. oil purchases, millions find their way to terrorist organizations within the Middle Eastern country.

Once again, what will it take for the Bush administration to listen?

Protect The Planet, and Hurry

I thought I'd link you to an article entitled "Protect The Planet, and Hurry". Here's part of what it says:

Eleven of the 12 highest annual global temperatures ever recorded have occurred since 1995, convincing many of the world's leading scientists and environmentalists that global warming has begun in earnest.

There are, of course, skeptics: among them, equally qualified experts who remain unconvinced of the existence of incontrovertible meteorological evidence that the foreseeable future will bring an overheated planet with catastrophic flooding, health epidemics and wildlife extinction.
Despite increasingly louder pleas for thwarting global warming, including calls for taxes on all carbon emissions from the largest factories down to individual households and automobiles, chances are there will be either no legislative action or, at best, token efforts that will accomplish little or nothing. Moreover, even if Congress does enact strong anti-carbon emission legislation, it remains doubtful that the necessary two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives could be mustered to override a probable presidential veto.

Depressing, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The obvious about Iran

Here's an article from the Guardian that's entitled "Attack on Iran Would Backfire, Warns Report" - an obvious prediction for anyone with a shred of intelligence. Here's an excerpt:

Any military action against Iran's atomic program is likely to backfire and accelerate Tehran's development of a nuclear bomb, a report today by a British former nuclear weapons scientist warns.

In his report, Frank Barnaby argues that air strikes, reportedly being contemplated as an option by the White House, would strengthen the hand of Iranian hardliners, unite the Iranian population behind a bomb, and would almost certainly trigger an underground crash program to build a small number of warheads as quickly as possible.

"As soon as you start bombing you unite the population behind the government," Dr Barnaby told The Guardian. "Right now in Iran, there are different opinions about all this, but after an attack you would have a united people and a united scientific community."
An attack could trigger a walkout by Iran from the non-proliferation treaty and the departure of UN inspectors. It could also lead to the departure of Russian experts at an Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr, leaving a potential source of plutonium unmonitored, the report warned.

Will the Bush administration give any attention to this report? Very unlikely.

Madmen with nuclear weapons

I would like to recommend an article called "How Does an Era End?" about the assertion that the pendulum has begun to swing away from the extreme support for the Bush administration. Read the whole thing if you have time but what I wanted to show you is the very end:

Instead of impeachment, I would like to see a movement to arrest these people for war crimes and crimes against humanity. I would like to see Bush, Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest standing in a dock in the Hague, answering to the world.

But remember Longfellow's "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad"? The gods, like the pendulum, have turned. Bush and Cheney are caged dogs. They have two more years.

Madmen with nuclear weapons and nothing to lose. We live in a very dangerous time.

It's unnerving; yes it is.


Cynthia and I went out to lunch today and while driving back to the Center we got behind a car with a bumper sticker that said the following:


Excellent. How true, how true.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

National Women's History Month

I just learned this today:

National Women's History Month's roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women's Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn't until 1981 that Congress established National Women's History Week during the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women's History Month, and the president has issued a proclamation.

Click here for some interesting statistics concerning women in the U.S.

I'll try to observe National Women's History Month for the remainder of March with articles about American women over the last four centuries.

BREAKING: Libby guilty

Scooter Libby

I just got an email from the Washington Post with an article entitled "Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Case". Here's the beginning:

A federal jury today convicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity, finding the vice president's former chief of staff guilty of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, while acquitting him of single count of lying to the FBI.

The verdict, reached by the 11 jurors on the 10th day of deliberations, culminated the seven-week trial of the highest-ranking White House official to be indicted on criminal charges in modern times.

Under federal sentencing guidlines, Libby faces a probable prison term of 1 1/2 to three years when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.

I'm relieved. This is good.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Maher again


Hillary Clinton will never be president as long as women keep acting crazy. I know it's not fair, but there are too many misogynists out there who are looking for any excuse to not vote for a woman, such as 'women are ruled by their hormones,' as opposed to what a president should be ruled by -- the oil and gas lobby.

- Bill Maher

Walter Reed and Anna Nicole Smith

Okay. This is pretty disgusting. Take a look at a short article from Think Progress called "Fox News Devoted 12 Times More Coverage To Anna Nicole Than Walter Reed". Here's what it says:

Our national media embarrassment was again on full display on Friday. Both MSNBC and Fox News devoted more coverage to Anna Nicole Smith — three weeks after her death on Feb. 8 — than they did to the multiple developments involving the neglect and deplorable conditions at Walter Reed military hospital.

The most lop-sided coverage by far was aired by Fox News, which featured only 10 references to Walter Reed compared to 121 of Anna Nicole — roughly 12 times the coverage. MSNBC featured 84 references to Walter Reed and 96 to Anna Nicole.

If you want to click through you can see some footage on the Think Progress site.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Evangelicals, climate change and sex

Here is part of a New York Times article entitled "Evangelical’s Focus on Climate Draws Fire of Christian Right":

Leaders of several conservative Christian groups have sent a letter urging the National Association of Evangelicals to force its policy director in Washington to stop speaking out on global warming.

The conservative leaders say they are not convinced that global warming is human-induced or that human intervention can prevent it. And they accuse the director, the Rev. Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for government affairs, of diverting the evangelical movement from what they deem more important issues, like abortion and homosexuality.

The letter underlines a struggle between established conservative Christian leaders, whose priority has long been sexual morality, and challengers who are pushing to expand the evangelical movement’s agenda to include issues like climate change and human rights.

“We have observed,” the letter says, “that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time.”

Those issues, the signers say, are a need to campaign against abortion and same-sex marriage and to promote “the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.”


Okay. Let's say the fundies are able to prevail and manage to make the world's population sexually pure (ha!) and eliminate abortion. Then we need to have a planet to be pure ON. Why do these people think morality is only about sex? What about the immorality of destroying the planet? What about the climate refugees that are already being produced? What about the deaths from drought and famine? What about the very real possibility that life on this planet as we know it will be devastatingly disrupted and damaged if not utterly ended? Is the extinction of the human race not a moral issue?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Too little, too late

Here's part of an article entitled "Bush Orders Review of Veterans' Hospitals":

President Bush ordered a comprehensive review Friday of conditions at the nation's military and veteran hospitals in the wake of a scandal surrounding care for wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The White House said the president would name a bipartisan commission to assess whether the problems at Walter Reed existed at other facilities.

The action came after The Washington Post documented squalid living conditions for some outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems that prevented many troops from getting adequate care.

Bush devoted his weekly radio address — to be broadcast on Saturday — to the problems of veterans' care, and the White House took the unusual step of releasing excerpts in advance. A full text also was to be released later Friday. The administration's response came amid growing outrage about the poor treatment of some veterans — and the prospect that it could backfire on the White House.

That's really what he cares about: that it could "backfire on the White House." I don't believe for a minute that he really cares about the welfare of the troops.

Conan O'Brien


A new poll finds that President Bush's father, George Bush, is the most popular living ex-president. Isn't that nice? Yeah. Apparently, voters were just excited to hear the words 'George Bush' next to the phrase 'ex-president.'

- Conan O'Brien

Friday, March 02, 2007

Let's hear it for the Irish!

I want to share with you a BBC article entitled "Irish plastic bag tax set to rise". Here's how it gets started:

The country was the first in the world to introduce a so-called "plastax".

The 2002 move led to a drop from 328 plastic bags used per head to just 21 and raised millions of euros in revenue for the Irish exchequer.

The tax has remained at 15 cents per bag, but will increase to 22 cents from July. The extra money is put into various environmental projects.

Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche said the "plastax" had dramatically cut the estimated 1.2bn free plastic bags that had been given out by shops.

"This had an immediate benefit to our environment -- with a decrease in excess of 95 percent in plastic bag litter," he said in Dublin on Wednesday.

Let's also hear it for common sense. Think what we could do in this country with the money from a tax like that. And it would cause a hardship on no one. People who didn't want to pay it could always carry re-usable canvas bags.

Lightbulbs again

Now Europe is getting on the bandwagon for compact florescent bulbs. Take a look:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The world's three largest light bulb makers said Thursday they will push European consumers to switch to energy-saving bulbs in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming.

The statement by the European Lamp Companies Federation, whose members include General Electric, Siemens and Royal Philips Electronics, did not give a concrete time frame or target. (GE is the parent of NBC/Universal, which is a partner in

They said their strategy would include "public incentives to encourage consumers to purchase more efficient products and setting performance standards that will eliminate the least efficient products from the market."

They estimated that if all inefficient traditional incandescent bulbs sold in Europe were to be replaced with more efficient bulbs — such as compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs — the continent would need 27 fewer power plants.

Most power plants are fueled by coal, which releases carbon dioxide on being burned. Those and other manmade CO2 emissions, in turn, are thought by most scientists to be warming Earth.

Go on! What are you waiting for? Change those bulbs!!!

Friday cat blogging!

Momma's Boy
Photo by LN (used with permission)
This is so true:

Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

--Mark Twain

Police State

Senator Russ Feingold

This was stated on the Senate floor on October 25, 2001 by Senator Russ Feingold:

Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.

But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.

Of course, all those things that Feingold spoke against have actually come to pass with the possible exception of the police searching our homes for any reason. Tragic.

Workers' rights

This just isn't fair. Take a look:

You’d think that more than seventy years after the right to form a union was enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act, workers could have a union if a majority wanted one. Think again. Under current law, a majority vote isn’t nearly enough. Even if one hundred percent of workers want a union, employers can still stop them by demanding that the simple vote be followed by a complex process ending in a secret ballot – a process so long and drawn out that some employers use the time to fire union organizers and threaten others. End of story.

This week, the House votes on a bill that would allow a majority of workers to sign up for a union and get one.

Employer groups are up in arms. They prefer the long, drawn out process that gives employers time to use threats and coercion to prevent unionization. Such strong-arm tactics are illegal, but the penalty for getting caught is a slap on the wrist. Charges of illegal dismissals take years to wind their way through the National Labor Relations Board and even when the Board finds that an employer acted illegally, the worst that can happen is the worker has to be rehired and given back pay that was lost. In 2005 alone, over 30,000 American workers were awarded back pay because their employers were found to have illegally fired or otherwise discriminated against them for their union activities.

A half century ago, most employers obeyed the law and allowed workers to organize. In the 1950s, the National Labor Relations Board found illegal dismissals in only one of every 20 union elections. But in subsequent decades, competition heated up, investors demanded higher returns, employers felt increasing pressure to cut wages, and union-busting became the name of the game.

I was on the receiving end of intimidation tactics to try to bust the union back when I worked as a musician. It was really very scary.

When will the workers of the world really unite? That's what is needed.

UPDATE: Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Employee Free Choice Act -- a critical bill that would make it easier for millions of working people to achieve the American Dream. 241 Representatives voted YES, and 185 opposed the measure. (email from Change to Win)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Selective Compassion

Here's another article about recognizing that animals are sentient beings who suffer horribly in our factory farms and slaughter houses. It's called Selective Compassion and here's an excerpt:

When I discovered what had been methodically hidden from me for so long, I stopped eating animals and their eggs and milk. I “became vegan.” For the first time, I was able to truly manifest the innate compassion with which I had been born, and it was a profound and liberating experience. However, people didn’t quite react the same way they did as when I was a child. Helping fallen baby birds or taking in stray animals were considered admirable childhood pursuits, but when that very same compassion followed me into adulthood and extended to pigs, cattle, chickens, and other animals killed for human consumption, it was met with hostility and suspicion. The message was: Limited compassion good. Unconditional compassion bad.

The day I discovered my role in this socially sanctioned dynamic of selective compassion was the day I woke up – literally. A veil was lifted from my eyes and heart, and I saw the immense suffering and terror that billions of animals experience every moment of every day, for naught but satisfying our taste buds. I woke up to the fact that the truth about the systematic exploitation and slaughter of animals was deliberately hidden from me – by my parents, by the media, and most certainly by the industries that make billions of dollars off the backs off young animals. Ignorance good. Exposure bad.

I also woke up to my own values. Having been conditioned to compartmentalize my compassion and suppress my mercy for animals, my lifestyle – as a non-vegan – was not truly reflecting my principles of nonviolence, simplicity, and kindness. I couldn’t imagine hurting another living being, and yet I was paying someone else to do it for me. Once I knew, once I was a witness, I couldn’t but act, and the natural response was to stop participating in a system that commodifies and kills animals for human pleasure. Living fully awake can be painful; after all, ignorance is indeed bliss – but only for those who aren’t the victims. However, I wouldn’t trade the heartbreak for all the world. After all, only an open heart can break.

I beg you all to open your hearts to the immense suffering perpetrated on innocent animals that we arbitrarily decide are to be used for food. And the problem isn't just using them for food. That could be done humanely. Except that we don't do it humanely. The crueltry with which animals are treated on the way to the dinner table is simply beyond horrific. Please educate yourself. And then choose not to support the meat industry with your money or your willingness to eat its products. That decision is a good one. It's good for the animals, it's good for the environment, it's good for your health and it's good for your conscience.