Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Wiki is Leaking, Somebody Call a Plumber


For months, mainstream media has focused on the Wikileaks website where tens of thousands of documents, videos, and other forms of media which would, otherwise, have remained out of public scrutiny have been released for societal purview. From this, comes the discussion of ethics in business.

In its own words, Wikileaks says, "Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations."

How one defines what is deemed unethical is arbitrary and subjective. One defines personal values and ethics according to individual and societal culture, norms, mores, and taboos, which are so deeply entrenched in one's self from an individual's moment of birth, one cannot assuredly say that what is for one is for many. Lest one confuse the meaning of ethics, it is important to state that, in this instance, ethics is defined as "the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group". Around the world, personal and cultural ethics have defined entire societies since the beginnings of "civilized" humankind. Currently, examples of societal cohesion are found amongst allied, global nations; likewise, others clash head-on in an attempt to reign over defining "right" and "wrong". From a worldly perspective to a personal, micro-perspective- as a world citizen and as a member of a local community, ethics guide decisions and courses of action within one's self and in the manner one conducts actions in the greater world.

In the case of Wikileaks, it releases private or secured documents and other media, which it deems worthy of public view, and it publishes the media without apology, shame, or regret. In the United States, there are corporate whistleblower laws that protect individuals' rights against retaliation from entities (financial loss, loss of life or liberty) which have violated laws of professional ethics. In the U.S., the belief is that corporations, acting as single entities, are not capable of policing themselves and that the government does not have the necessary resources to adequately monitor ethical behavior across the board. So, while it has regulatory commissions, it also recognizes the importance of protecting those whistleblowers with the understanding that there is a societal obligation and burden for all to maintain certain categorical imperatives; that is, those matters on which the majority of people agree. For instance, in the U.S., people by-and-large follow the ethics of the Ten Commandments- no killing, no stealing, no raping, no adultery, speak well of others, respect neighbors, and be a good citizen.

Is what Wikileaks does considered ethical? For the most part, society also judges what is ethical according to the good and positive results which can be reaped from the truth. Whistleblowers, in the past, have helped shed the light on grievous acts in order to protect others from wrongdoing. Because corporations and governments, enjoy certain societal power, therefore, having the ability to affect the less-powerful, society also holds these entities in a higher regard when it comes to being accountable and answering for its actions.

So far, the world has seen Wikileaks play games like a playground bully. The data and information it releases, at best, seems petty, gossipy, and only causes societal upheaval and mistrust. Furthermore, the most recent Wikileaks incident involving the release of foreign diplomats' confidential wire communications could have caused real, physical injury to those in the business of foreign relations. There are also real rules and laws that exist in world governments. In the U.S., this means that Wikileaks and anyone who steals and uses U.S. military classified secret information during wartime is in violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Here, it is punishable by death.

The ethical question here is whether all information should just be available, without regard to whether the information can damage, ruin, kill, and destroy lives in reputations, relations with others, and financial condition? Is it Freedom of Speech, or is it a chaotic, bullying means to push one entity's idea of what is ethical?

It seems that Wikileaks is the gossiping family member who, as a source of his or her own entertainment, will happily let everyone know that no secret is safe. While some have said that Wikileaks is not responsible for leaking the information in the sense that someone else, not with the organization, is responsible for the information gathering, society expects that, ethically, if in possession of what is known to belong to someone else, there remains an obligation to return that which was stolen, no? This isn't a case of Enron where taxpayers and governments are being bilked, or polluted waters that have caused serious, environmental damage and genetic mutation in humans and plants as in past cases with 3M and GE, so where does society say enough is enough?

This recent State Department matter was none of anyone's business except for whom the information was intended. Foreign diplomats build relationships with people in areas around the world, in places the U.S. may or may not be seen in a favorable light. When we meet people, we gather information about them to try to better understand them, so we can find common-ground in an effort to support our own interests. It makes life easier. It is not a false relationship of use and abuse, it is what people have done in the entire history of human relationships. It is how progress is made.














Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, John Lennon


1995 was a year filled with John Lennon. Advertising media stormed the market and, miraculously, a never released Lennon song, "Free as a Bird" launched the new Beatles Anthology.

At the time, I was a junior in college and heavily into everything Beatles. To help solidify the personal connection I felt through Lennon's artistic angst, I discovered we are both Libra (born a week apart and, I, in the same year as Lennon's son, Sean, who was also born on his birthday). So, naturally, I named my cat "Winston" after Lennon's middle name and bought every album I could get my hands on, even vinyl was newly released and remastered. Looking back in time amuses as I pause to think about why 19 years old is so ripe for The Beatles... free minds, open hearts, awakening, peace. John's messages in his song writing and political activism were much more keen to my young brain than other Beatles, at the time.

As a lifelong poet, it turned out that 19 was also the perfect age to be this vessel of recycled energy that intakes information and then transforms it, pushing it back out to the world in a new way. In the two years since leaving high school and with a major in English, focusing on creative writing, classroom experiences lead me away from Romantic poets, rhyme scheme and meter. I found myself (smack!) at the end of the twentieth century writing free form and playing around with the visual appearance of words on a page and how the image could intertwine with the words to create a more encompassing meaning. I stopped writing unrequited love poems and began writing darker pieces that demanded social justice and which mocked authority. By 1997, nine of those poems had been published in several college literary journals.

Only fifteen years after his death, after just turning twenty, I wondered what would be if John Lennon were still living. I was driving home from Philly one night and lived in a place called Smithville which borders the South Jersey pine barrens. Moss Mill Rd. is a single lane road, excruciatingly dark at night and stretches 20 miles from Hammonton to Pomona through thick woods, which I frequently chose to take instead of the police-thick major highway where I could be more than bothered for smoking giant, smelly joints in my car. And on this night, December 28, 1995, I imagined a wonderful fantasy and wrote it down on paper. It's one of the nine that have been published and it goes like this:

Dear J.W.L,

Last night I was cruising down,
down that lengthy highway road
and I heard a voice rumble out,
"Any wish will be yours"

I kept driving, with a smile,
feeling depersonalized for a bit;
finally, I could Let it Be,
a great man'd be returning

I made the wish to be with you,
thirty years before this day
we'd been having a conversation;
a quantum leap into your eyes

I spoke all the right words,
thoughts I knew you had thought
but hadn't yet verbalized;
intrigued, we walked alone

The time came for me to vanish;
I handed you a thick envelope,
"Don't open this until Monday,
December eighth, nineteen eighty"

You looked puzzled, I only grimaced;
you asked me why
I said I could not say, the answers were inside;
I made you swear, you did

I kissed your cold cheek,
your arm touched my shoulder
moving down my arm, 'til our hands
briefly met- I was gone

Again, I found myself in my car
on that same, winding road;
parked the car, opened my door;
There you were, fifty-five years old

My wish came true
The world is a better place
The War is Over
Imagine that
_____

Here I am, 15 years later, still wondering, as many whom felt an affinity to who we knew as John Lennon, what about the world would be different if he were living. Perhaps, there is too much belief in Lennon as some super hero who, truly, could bring the world together as One. That might be true, but then, isn't it wonderful to imagine? There's nothing wrong with attaining to Lennon's vision, which will live in many hearts for eternity.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Space Invaders

Several days ago, I was listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, where Terry interviewed Jeffrey Gordon, a professor who studies human microbial cells that are found in and on the body. The news item, Bacterial Bonanza: Microbes Keep Us Alive, first intrigued me and now, it has me deep in thought.

According to Gordon, human cells are not the only cells found within the human body. In fact, he states that human cells represent a mere 10% of a human being. What about the other 90%?

Microbes.

That's right, we are primarily microbial. Trillions upon trillions of cells comprise the human body, but only 1 in 10 is human. I have many questions I'd like answered:

So, what are we? What portion of our bodies is human? Are specific parts of the body solely human? What about the brain?

Not only am I forced to ask what we are, but also to ask whether they communicate with each other.

Furthermore, isn't it possible that humans behave in a manner that is intended to perpetuate the microbes? I mean, what if foods we crave are only a reflection of the needs of the microbes?

I also imagine a battle of Good v. Evil. Probiotics help bacteria grow, while anti-biotics destroy them. In people with systemic infections such as bowel diseases and candida, it's suggested that the good microbes have been replaced with bad ones. The bad ones crave bad stuff, carbohydrates, simple sugars, fats. The Baddies don't want you to be healthy, so they tell your brain that you'd rather have a piece of chocolate mousse pie instead of that nice, leafy, green salad.

People say they are "addicted" to unhealthy foods. Well, people, that's the microbes talking.

They also want you to procreate... spread your microbial self all over the Earth. So far, so good. This symbiotic relationship is working fantastically! And soon, we will conquer the world!

Right.

Then I was thinking about the concept of Self.

Myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, etc...

That's kind of imaginary, no? Perhaps, we should all refer to ourselves in the 3rd person like this, "We (which, in this case, is just me) would like purchase those amazing Betsey Johnson shoes from Nordstrom," you know, the way royalty would do?

It's strange. I am Jungle Girl, you are you- I have had individual life experiences that tell me that I am separate from you and that I am an individual, unique unto myself.

We are unique unto ourselves... that is, my microbes and I.

I foretell new arguments arising:

"My microbes are faster than your microbes."

"Yeah well, your microbes came from that pork shoulder, they're fat and make you crap liquid."

Perhaps, this can be used a new line of defense, "Your Honor, it wasn't I who embezzled that 500 million, it was my microbes! I was outnumbered!"

What if we can open a line of communication with the microbes, like a consciousness expansion that allows us to heal ourselves at a molecular level. "You! Escherichia, Lactobacillus attack those cancer cells!"

Actually, research suggests that microbes do just that. Milk bacteria actually kills cancerous tumors. Some doctors inject good microbes in order to help rid a population of harmful cells. The harmful cells are defeated and the healthy cells grow. Just Google it- as there are far too many articles to list here. I like Google Scholar, as the articles are peer-reviewed sources.

This frozen microbe was thawed after 120,000 years... I don't know about you, but this guy looks pretty tough, like he's sitting atop an adversary saying, "What? What'd you say? No body talks to me that way!"

For me, survival of the fittest just took on an entirely new meaning.











Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paging Dr. Huxtable



There's something prophetic about that Cosby Show/Muppets bit.

A statistic I read this week in
Time which originated from the American Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, first shocked, and then, angered me. It stated that 31.2% of all births in the United States are performed by cesarean deliveries.

From a personal standpoint, I have experienced two births. One, a hospital birth and the other, a home birth- both were "natural" births where I declined pain medication and gave birth vaginally. I, myself, was born by c-section and I don't think that had any affect on my birthing decisions. However, I am perplexed regarding my mother's answer when asked why I was born this way, "I don't know," she said.

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"I can't remember. The doctor thought it was necessary for some reason, he recommended it. Then when I had your brother, they didn't want to risk a vaginal birth, so he was also born c-section."


I remember reading Macbeth in high school. We also read it elementary school, but Mr. Klaus, my 11th grade teacher and super crush, went much more in-depth. We spoke of the witches forecasting Macbeth's demise, "none of woman born shall harm Macbeth," was the most poignant. Macbeth thinks he is invincible, as all people come from women.


Later, the reader finds that Macduff
was born by cesarean, and at the time, would not have been considered "born" of woman. For some reason, I took that kind of personally. Hm?

Initially posting the statistic on my Facebook page, I received a few comments that allowed me further introspection and understanding about why I was reacting so strongly to hearing, definitively, that 1 in 3 babies will be born to mothers who had to undergo major surgery unnecessarily.

Certainly, there are times when emergency procedures are a logical alternative to reducing infant and maternal mortality. Having, myself, believed that birth, labor, and delivery (not at all discounting anyone having been in the adoption process, this topic is strictly about a woman's experience in labor and delivery) are all monumentally important in terms of gained, natural, life experience, I have difficulty understanding why the U.S. treats pregnancy like an illness.

My mother and I had a conversation when it was decided we were going to birth our daughter at home. I was firm in my belief that as a healthy woman with a healthy baby, who was under medical care, and who was confident that giving birth was as natural as eating, sleeping, or any other innate, human/mammalian trait. Mom believes in medicine. Now don't get me wrong, I believe doctors have good intent and are 100% needed, but I do not believe that, under normal circumstances, it is necessary to involve medical doctors in the birth process.

"Well, you wouldn't have lived if you weren't born in a hospital," she declared.

"But you planned the date I would be born. If you had just had me when your body was ready, I wouldn't have been 3 weeks premature, and I wouldn't have needed that care."

On June 28, 2002, my cervix was dilated to 3 cm. My younger daughter wasn't ready to be born until the 16th of July. Today, the average woman will run to the hospital, after all, she can't wait to have that baby... 39.5 weeks is a long damn time to be carrying around a parasitic alien and like Sigourney, she wants it out.
She will be admitted and then the clock starts ticking. From the time she walks in the door, she has about 48 hours to decide what to do. She can go home. If she stays and her contractions are not regular, doctors will recommend a shot of Pitocin to artificially induce the labor. If the Pitocin works, she will give birth within 24 hrs. If not, she will be forced to have her flesh, fat, muscles, tendons, uterus sliced open. She will be given a spinal injection which will render her useless, in earlier years, she was made to lie unconscious- unable to see her new baby or nurse her baby, all of whom are born higher than a fucking kite. It's no wonder people do drugs, they were high the moment they were born (pain medicines, especially)... that's right, I'm making the stretch.

Somehow in our fucked-up, idiot minds, major surgery became easier to perform than giving birth.

A doctor has more faith in his ability to perform surgery than in my ability to birth a baby.

Not only does the doctor assume that something MUST go wrong, it is then assumed that I will birth the baby in a hospital where people go when they are sick, injured, and dying. My mother said, "The only cheerful part about hospitals is the maternity ward."

Precisely.

That's right, in the midst of the death and disease box are brand new, generally healthy babies who must immediately receive immunizations, preventing hospital-born infection.

Here is a chart I found that helps one visualize the gradual decline in obstetrics philosophy and practice.In 1970, only about 6% of all women in the U.S. had performed cesareans.

Remember those Facebook friends who started me really thinking? Well, what they said was that, for doctors, c-sections are a matter of convenience. One friend said her doctor, "mentioned it as a way to know that she would deliver the baby (vs a random dr who is on call that day) and also as a way to have a convenient delivery for work purposes or so family could be there."

I would have run from that doctor, and thank goodness for sensible, bright friends who, with volition, know how to read and investigate without blindly accepting that doctors are as infallible gods.

I was also thinking about the money aspect of medical births. How much does it cost to deliver by c-section versus vaginally? Statistics I've read, say that it's about 2 to 1. Surgeons perform surgery, that's what they do, it's what they believe in... so, of course they're going to plug it.

Another argument made by c-section advocates says that the overall health of women and babies has increased with the rise in cesarean births. In its report on maternal health in the U.S., Amnesty International, it compared the U.S. to other countries where c-sections are not as commonplace, stating:

Maternal mortality ratios have increased from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006. While some of the recorded increase is due to improved data collection, the fact remains that maternal mortality ratios have risen significantly.

The USA spends more than any other country on health care, and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. Despite this, women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries. For example, the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the USA is five times greater than in Greece, four times greater than in Germany, and three times greater than in Spain.

All I'm saying in all of this is that women should educate themselves before trusting a doctor more than one's self. Even if healthy women don't all rush to have home births, they should at least realize they can be empowered through knowledge and don't have to allow the doctor to perform unnecessary procedures like c-sections, faulty fetal monitoring, and episiotomies.

This isn't rocket surgery, people.

On a side note: As an M.P.A., I notice a correlation between Nixon's 1969 announcement of HMOs and the rising occurrence of c-sections. I also believe that all of our astronomical health care costs, across the board, are due to managed care.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Prozac Chemtrails Will Heal the Nation- A.K.A. We're Depressed and So Am I

This is a rant that goes like this:

I feel like I should change political parties. My grandfather helped (along with several other men) to start the Democratic Party in Philadelphia, so for close to 100 years, we've been Democrats. Part of being a member of this party means, for me, that it's "the people's party"; this means, traditionally it helped the guy on the street find work, so neighbors could have good lives and so an entire neighborhood economy would be boosted, one secure, civil service job at a time.

I must confess, there is Libertarian blood running through these veins. Not a "Tea Partier", because they're a too emotional and passionate bunch... gets in the way of clear thinking, but I am a Social Libertarian- someone who believes in allowing people to govern themselves with as little involvement from the federal government as is possible. The Fed should be there when we ask for its involvement.

The dollar is devalued and the United Nations wants to dump the dollar as the global reserve currency. Do you know why, America? Because we allowed our dollar to be backed BY NOTHING REAL. It's all imaginary. There is no gold standard, because we have the Federal Reserve Bank. Our money is worthless.

States and municipalities should adopt their own currency. In Germany, there are 60 planned and existing local currencies. The Kingower, a Bavarian currency, has surpassed the Euro in Germany, with more people using the non-government-backed currency to keep their local economy healthy. We should do that here, to keep local business afloat during the economic depression we are in, here, in the U.S. Your local neighborhood bank (not Wells Fargo or Bank of America) would trade your dollars for whatever the local currency is, let's call ours the Pineback, since I live here, in the Pine Barrens. We would go to a locally run bank and for every U.S. dollar we exchanged, one would be entitled to $1.50 Pineback. Since Pineback is only accepted locally, it would force people to buy local while boosting local businesses. We did it during the Great Depression, well, umm... echemm.

I once knew a international financier (retired) who specialized in world currencies and he said to me, "The consolidation of currencies prevents healthy competition in the world. When I see the Euro, it makes me shake my head, because I know it will lead to one world government."

Well, our dollar is worthless and I'm just another disgruntled citizen who has a mortgage worth of educational debt and no job in sight. I might scream if hear that the Obama administration reports "unemployment claims are down for the ______ week in a row." Do you know why they're down? Because for most of us, there is no more unemployment available. We're not getting a dime and we wouldn't qualify for public assistance because we own homes or make too much money under guidelines, or we're just too damned full of pride.

Someone close to me said, "If you're starving, you'll take that $7.00/hr job." Well, why the fuck should I have to? If I take the $7.00/hr job, is the U.S. Dept of Education going to forgive my student loans from the public, State run university I attended, as I was deceived into believing in education and the "American Dream" of doing "better" than those who preceded me?

Can I raise chickens and cattle on my property and turn my lawn into an agricultural masterpiece to supplement my family's inability to afford the cost of inflated food prices without the neighbor association and zoning laws infringing upon my right and ability to feed my family? No.

Buy a gun, arm yourselves, and get to know your neighbors. You're going to need each other.

I could be depressed. It's likely, in fact, I would merely be mirroring my surroundings as we all fall into an economic depression.


Friday, July 2, 2010

The Prophet Paul... Paul Simon, That Is

So, like, OMG! The other day, I read that Tipper and Al Gore are divorcing. I always knew Tipper was way cooler than her man. I mean, I can't imagine that Al is the life of the party, no offense, big fellah, but your wife hangs out with dudes from the Grateful Dead and is said to be not-so-bad on the drums. Anyway, yesterday, I read that police are reopening a criminal sexual assault case against the former U.S. Vice President of which the complainant claims that she was called to Al Gore's hotel suite to massage a guy named "Mr. Stone" at Hotel Lucia in October of 2006. When she arrived, she introduced herself as the therapist and gave her name and credentials and he responded, "Call me Al."

Well, Al requested an abdominal massage, which, according to the therapist and my own massage therapist friends, is quite unusual. You can read the entire police complaint in its entirety at the Guardian where one discovers, especially those of us who are rather empathic as to be able to place ourselves in another's shoes... or in this case, feel another's fear and horror as Frankenstein attempts to grope her.

So, I hafta tell you, I was dying... "You Can Call Me Al" the song from Paul Simon's album, Graceland, which was coincidentally released in October (the same month as Gore's improprieties occurred), foretells Gore's crimes nearly twenty years to the day! And the lyrics, oh the lyrics! Just feast your eyes on this:

A man walks down the street
He says why am I soft in the middle now
Why am I soft in the middle
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo-opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard

Gone Gone
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations


Holy Shit, Paul Simon is a prophet. I don't even know what to say... speechless. What would be even better is if the chorus, instead of saying, "I can call you Betty and Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al," was really to say, "You can call me Daddy and baby, when you call me, you can call me Al." I must now listen to all of Prophet Paul's music in search for, what promises to be, more fortune-telling gems like this one. 'cause, Ladies and Gentleman, this is no coincidence! The song even ends in amens and hallelujahs... it's time to pray to Paul, y'all.

You can't escape the Prophet Paul, Al, your story has already been told and your fate, sealed.

Enough said:


:-) (there is a YouTube video posted above this, I was told that some of you PC users are unable to view it, so here is the link just in case it's not embedded here)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One Song

All I can do is love the Universe- One song
sung in harmony;
Energies converging, melting away
separateness,
disrobing-
naked...
nothing to hide behind-
no thoughts, no masks,
no body.

This is a dream.
There is no here or there,
no Heaven or Hell-
just illusions
created by false Ego
which deems itself
apart
from another...
he cannot believe that I is We and We
are One,
the implications of such Ego-Loss
splinter his self-assured reality into shards of Fear;
a reality built on Ego and
Separation, specialness
Be better than, have MORE than-
competition is his life from
moments of first breath,
Run and never
stop...
be alone,
die
alone.

Denial that all are one,
denounces the Self;
Silly Man, thinking he had
More in Himself,
in the name the world gave him-
short-changing destiny of
Greatness & Eternity for
f
l
e
e
t
i
n
g dreams

He will never find
Satisfaction this way,
his desires are
e n d l e s s
taking and taking, feeding a name that will
perish as
dust.

Why does he choose Suffering over Ecstasy?
Illusion over Truth?
Death over Eternity?
For no amount of
material security
satisfies the requirement for
Eternal Happiness-
Maybe he doesn't care?
Eternity?
He doesn't even Believe it Exists...
Someday, he will die, he
thinks,
that's what they told him will happen- and he has
evidence in Life that he must
Die-
everybody does it.

So to him, I
e x t e n d
my arms of Limitless Compassion,
so he may forego the
Tradition of Lies, in order to
yield to Faith that All will carry him in
Love and Respect toward
Freedom;
Awakening from
Death.










Thursday, June 17, 2010

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!*



The treacherous debauchery of the BP oil spill has been under public purview since the explosion took place on April 20, 2010, about 40 miles off of the Louisiana coastline that killed eleven men and continues to kill ocean life, precious wetlands, migratory bird wildlife refuges, and an entire Gulf economy. Prior to two weeks ago, the public was lead to believe that approximately 5,000 barrels of oil a day (though the earliest estimates were set at 1,000 barrels a day) were spouting from a broken pipeline (210,000 U.S. Gallons/day). The public learned that number is much greater than it was lead to believe by BP when robot cameras, sent about a mile down to the sea floor, were broadcast live on the Internet and provided an even more startling insight.

While BP claimed it could only estimate and was unable to give an accurate portrayal of the amount of oil, all over the world, mathematicians and scientists studied the video feed. Tuesday, a government panel declared that, by their calculations, between 1.47 million and 2.52 million gallons a day are being released into the, once pristine, waters.

Scrambling to help, people discovered that human hair is one of the best ways to absorb oil. All over the U.S., people started sending in their salon hair clippings. After unsuccessfully attempting to shoot cement and mud into the pipeline to jam the 7,000 pound per square inch (psi) flow, the geniuses attempted shooting shredded golf balls and tires into the hole which, again, was a bust. By the way, the hair was never used. Alongside the golf balls, cement, tires, and environmentally shady use of chemical dispersants strewn about, BP rejected the hair, stating that it could not be used, as the environmental impact of hair was not known.

In other news, a giant, green and lavender (only upon close inspection could one notice his lovely colors) smelly-but-friendly sea monster has been spotted in the Gulf. It reportedly bubbled-up from the underground ocean of methane gas that scientists thought might exist beneath the waters. With tentacles and scales glimmering in an iridescent, black and reddish oil sheen, the sea monster, showing a strong command of the Queen's English, stated that he will gladly eat one BP executive per week until they figure out how to stop the Earth from vomiting all over all of us. Then, while facing the type of scrutiny a sea monster might encounter once making himself public, he fainted.

The Russians, accustomed to such disasters, suggested using a low-level nuclear device, a tactic they've used twice in the past. Some scientists claim that the immense heat created will literally create glass out of the sand and oil; thereby, stopping the flow. BP and the U.S. government are opposed, as they do not wish the oil to cease, but want to capture it. The sea monster is in favor of using a nuke, as he is lonely and needs the company of another beast.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Psychedelic Psyciety**



This week, a New York Times article entitled, "Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning in Again", highlighted the fact that "hallucinogenic*" chemicals such as psilocybin are being used in psychiatric research trials at world renowned medical facilities such as Johns Hopkins and UCLA. The purpose of the trials was to measure how a person who is in crisis due to, in the case of the article, receiving a cancer diagnosis may or may not be affected when experiencing an induced psychedelic state.

In the United States, psilocybin is listed as a Schedule I substance. This means that our government believes the chemical psilocybin has no medical benefit to people. Below, is the definition of Schedule I thanks to
Erowid.org:

    Examples : LSD, MDMA, Marihuana, DMT, Peyote, Psilocybin, Mescaline, Heroin

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

    Schedule I drugs may not be prescribed
In 2008, while attending the Horizons Perspective on Psychedelics Conference in NYC, Dr. Roland Griffiths, from Johns Hopkins, spoke to a packed and attentive audience at Judson Memorial Church regarding he and his colleague's research. At first, I was skeptical as to whether spiritual experiences could be induced in a clinical setting. I specify clinical, as one might logically argue that all spiritual experiences are induced through one means or other. I am not to judge the validity of these private, spiritual epiphanies, but I firmly believe that setting and tone often determine whether a person will have such an experience. To me, it is equivalent to someone swimming in a public pool versus swimming in the ocean, one is restrictive and confining and the other is expansive and free. I prefer the ocean.

Griffiths explained that they, too, considered set and setting. While the participants were, no doubt, in a hospital, Griffiths and his colleagues made certain to consider the fact that sterile exam rooms are less likely to aid one in achieving a positive psychedelic/spiritual experience. Colorful tapestries and wall hangings were used, among other props, to transform the space into something more like a cozy living room.

Last year, in 2009, I returned to Horizons and attended a day-and-a-half of entertainment and lectures on psychedelic drug policy and their uses in psychotherapy. Regretfully, I forget the name of the doctor who presented one of the most moving filmed interviews I have ever seen. The film showed a different doctor talking about her experience with cancer.

She was in her late fifties, perhaps early sixties. She was a medical doctor who had been diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer and was told she had only a short time to live. She explained that she was depressed, depressed enough to really have no desire to keep living or fighting, or to keep going through treatments. Cancer gave her the feeling that she was imperfect, somehow, that she was incomplete as a person, a failure. Then she entered into the psilocybin study.

She explained how the initial experience was a bit scary, but she also felt she had nothing to lose. Her few experiences with psilocybin had a dramatic effect on her outlook into life and death. So much so that her depression faded into complete contentment and she said something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, "I realized that I was
enough."

That was so beautiful to me. It meant, to me and all of us listening and watching, that we're not lacking and that we are perfect just the way we are. I suppose hearing the words come from a person who was absolutely dying had a greater impact. I cried knowing that I and most people in the world seem to, forever, be in a state of constant discontentment and dissatisfaction. We are always seeking and striving to be "more" and "perfect", never realizing that we were always perfect. And just think, it took a drug that the U.S. government lists as being of no benefit to people to help a dying person find peace in her last moments of this life.

She isn't the only person I have heard of doing this. In fact, I know of several people, who at their moments of death, not only wanted to take these substances, but who actually did. D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). In hospitals, medical doctors shoot people up with morphine, so they're completely in some other world, unaware and unfeeling of their pain and the fact that they are dying. They die in silence, unable to express their fears, sadness, and words of love to those who are left behind. My grandfather died this way and I often wonder if his end of life could have been beautiful, like the doctor and others I know, rather than ending it in a fog of despair.

While my personal beliefs are such that we should legitimately educate people about drugs and create environments of safety and family; whereby, people grow into knowledgeable adults who choose their own paths in life, the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy is a promising first step into welcoming the benefits of promoting a psychedelic society.

I pray for the day when our children are no longer taught that legal means "safe" and "acceptable"
(in 2009, there were more than 22,000 alcohol related deaths), where cocaine and heroin are no longer lumped into the same category as LSD, DMT, psilocybin, peyote, mescaline and cannabis (substances that have NEVER KILLED ANYONE from their use alone and which have zero physical, habit-forming properties), and where I am free to make choices about what is best for me without fear that I or anyone can lose our freedom and liberty.

It's thanks to people like scientists Sasha Shulgin, Albert Hofmann, Roland Griffiths, David Nichols, and ethnobotanists like Terence McKenna, Christian Ratsch, and Rob Montgomery, and to drug policy advocates like Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
(which, just this weekend, held the biggest Psychedelics conference in 25 years in San Jose, CA) who have and will continue to tirelessly promote a commonsense approach to free our minds from believing we are anything less than perfect- as we are.



**Psyciety is a play on the word "society". *I place this term in quotations for the purpose of questioning the word, itself. A hallucination occurs when one sees something that is not there... a mirage of sorts. Psychedelic chemicals, however, do not induce hallucinations; rather, they alter our sensory perception. So, a bouquet of flowers to one under the influence of psilocybin is likely to seem much more vibrant and colorful. A hallucination would mean that the bouquet was never there to begin with.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Vacuum of My Life: A.K.A. How to Really Suck


From the beginning of time, my mother has been a self-
proclaimed cleanliness fanatic. When I was a baby, it wasn't so bad. That is to say, Mom was able to control my behavior, so she didn't yell. To keep me occupied, she might sit me in front of the television during The Price is Right which, according to her, fascinated me at the ripe age of 3 weeks. She might also plop me down on the wool shag, area carpet with geometric patterns in varying hues of orange (what I most recall), where I would itch (but could not scratch- being a baby and all), but my building blocks would be neatly contained, nonetheless.

Not until I was older did I understand what fanatic meant: No water droplets on the bathroom sink counter top, no grazing for food in the "closed kitchen", no sitting on her precious sofas to watch t.v. (we had our own bedroom t.v.s for Pete's sake! and we might, accidentally, sit improperly on her cushions), never cleaning my room or learning how to properly do my laundry because I was not permitted... though in fairness, Mom tried showing me the proper way to make "hospital corners" while making my bed, though I believe my jaw dropped and my mouth was hanging open while my mind wandered-off in 18 million other places- this is precisely why I still cannot make hospital corners.

But above all else- No walking on her carpet.

I know what you're thinking, "She can't be serious! I mean, the carpet? Isn't a carpet meant to be walked-on?" That's right. I'm not talking about some heirloom rug that's worth tens of thousands of dollars and is isloated in one, fancy room of the house. We're talking wall-to-wall. And one night in 1990, when I was feeling particularly brave and defiant, I walked on the carpet, sat on the sofa, and turned on the television. Mom came home and in a voice unlike her sing-songy, normal voice, sounding like a cruel Disney villain she said, "Who-walked-on-my-carpet?" She saw footprints and noticed the lines she vacuumed-in were slightly askew.

To think I could shield my children from the familial madness by becoming fanatically messy and careless would be a mistake. You can ask my daughter what "Gram" did to her when she was two and was eating a cookie in the kitchen (silly me, where else in Gram's house would she be eating it?). I have spent years undoing the trauma of Mom vacuuming the baby by insisting to the poor kid that the vacuum can be FUN! hahaha! Hop on and let's zoooooom around the room!

In my life, not cleaning the house has meant comfort. I've fought my love for the smells of chlorine bleach and Lysol and attempted to replace them with cooking spices, candles and fine incense. After a lifetime of deliberate avoidance and oppositional defiance, I realize only now that I am a Closet Cleaner. I don't mean that I clean closets, I mean that I've been hiding my love for all things organized and clean just to punish my mother.

Recently, a friend who has a background in clinical psychology said to me, "Grow-up."

In other words, when am I going to stop being like an obnoxious teenager who acts passive-aggressively toward her parent? Because not only am I, as an adult, trying to make Mom suffer, but I am also living in a manner and fashion which I find to be rather distressing and which others who live in my home must also endure.

No matter the extreme, whether fanatical in cleanliness or in being sloven, comfort is lost. I find the fact that I can't find my keys equally as distressing as a sterile environment. Both extremes promote fear, which to me, is not a desirable goal for one to attain. A home, for me, should be a place of love, respect, safety, and comfort.

The same psychologist friend believes that, innately, as people, we spend our adult lives seeking that which we believe we sufficiently lacked as children. I know that the concept is nothing new and that we act in many ways which subvert or drive our overall success as individuals. Where it is new, however, is when I apply the concept to my own life.

Continuing to plague the world with one's sense of entitlement and ownership while believing the rest of the world can go hang is wrongfully audacious. It is not one's job, responsibility, or right to punish anyone for attempting to or successfully squashing one's ego or sense of self. How childishly insane... and people do it all the time when they have extra-marital affairs, drop-out of school, fight and bicker, consume harmful chemicals, and kill each other.

For as we punish others for our short comings, we also punish ourselves because no one in the world is responsible for an individual except that same individual. It's not only others who suffer, we suffer too when we decide to sabotage our perfection.

So, if a person sucks, it's his or her choice. Suck it up! The Universe has given us everything we've always needed, though some probably have a hard time believing me. We've all been so conditioned from birth to believe that we are special and different and that we deserve to be special. But if "special" means that a person will do anything to force the hands of the world to carry that person's weight because he feels it owes him something, I promise the world will inevitably drop him time and time again. What a vicious cycle that could become; for, you will always be disappointed in your expectations. Poor, poor souls who choose suffering over peace- dissatisfaction over contentment, suck no more.