Saturday, June 10, 2006

Whirlpool Galaxy ngc 5194 from Sptizer Space Lab. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"That which appears without, is within."

William Blake

Captain Future's Log

Inside the Future

The relationship of inner and outer, of physical/spatial/temporal with mind/heart/spirit/soul, is a major area of exploration for those who look towards the evolution of human understanding that might help us make our way into the future.

The whole idea of "dreaming up" is about that relationship, as dreams are related to waking reality. In many ways, the hard distinction between imagination and reality, between thought and the physical, is being understood as functioning in more and more bounded, limited areas. In most of our universe, the relationship is much more important, and there are perhaps ultimate ways in which they blend together and become the same. What's out there and what's in here move towards equivalence, perhaps identity.

This particular corner of cyberspace has been largely concerned so far with the "outer" constitutents of the future, and the "objective" areas. That's shortchanging at least half of the future, and perhaps a larger proportion of what will shape the future.

So reader beware: it's going to get a bit more "inner," subjective and even personal around here. Not exclusively, of course, but more perhaps than before. Coming from a storytelling galaxy, I've long recognized as well the apparent paradox of the general springing from the specific, the universal from the subjective, the personal.

For example, this personal observation...

Jung was the one who first devised the introvert/extravert distinction. For him, extravert did not mean primarily a kind of paradigmatic party animal, a person who liked being around lots of people, though many extraverts do. The difference between introvert and extravert had to do where each get their energy, and where they get their direction. The extravert gets energy from others, as well as values and beliefs from others. The introvert gets energy from inside (which often but not always means solitude and quiet), and values and beliefs from inside themselves, from internal processes.

Jung also speculated that people tend to flip to the opposite tendency past middle age: extraverts become more introverted, introverts more extraverted. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I'm a lifelong introvert. That's where I get my energy primarily, and my focus. If there's been any sort of flip, I've recently wondered if it isn't in seeking more validation and cues from exterior sources, for instance in my work.

Though to have any sort of career a writer needs readers or at least patrons, and to communicate, an audience. And insofar as we are show people, applause is also energizing. But when I was younger, it seems to me I took my primary direction from internal beliefs in the rightness of what I meant to do, and was meant to do. Not getting the responses and opportunities I wanted could be profoundly depressing, but I don't think I ever lost that orientation, even when it became an anxiety, at least not for a long time. That was part of the future I believed in---my part.

I still believe I know my business on the basic level of words and sentences, paragraphs and pieces. I know at least what they are about, their combination of sense and rhythm, and the equal importance of information and music in them. I've got a lot of experience, and I trusted my educated instincts. But in the sense of what I'm meant to do, I've probably ceded more and more to external influences---mostly in the sense of what I should not bother trying to do anymore. I know that aspects of that future I envisioned for myself will not happen, and not in the way I envisioned them.

There are a lot of reevaluations that are proper at my age, and I'm sure I'll be writing about them here, or somewhere nearby, in the coming weeks, as I come closer to a landmark birthday. But while I am perhaps ready to leave expectations and certain ambitions behind, I do feel I've let this listening to external voices (especially when they are silently disapproving) go a little too far. I intend to get back to listening to those old (and perhaps by now somewhat wiser) internal voices more. After all, who knows how much longer they'll be talking to anybody? At least one of us ought to listen, and I guess that's me.

And as I finish this observation I get a profound sense of deja vu. Have I said all this before? Time is a complicated, even an elusive, thing. That much does become clearer, as it goes by.
Four Short Reviews

“So many books, so little time” says a sweatshirt I sometimes wear in public, and it elicits rueful nods and grimaces. Despite the tons of bad books published every season, there are still more good books coming out than any one person can read. Here are a few that may have got away from the attention of many reviewers and potential readers this spring.

Continued at Books In Heat.

Friday, June 09, 2006

langur monkeys, sacred animals to Hindus. Posted by Picasa

Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"After a moment, looking up, he asked me a hard question of his own...What did I hope to find? I shrugged, uncomfortable...How could I say that I wished to penetrate the secrets of the mountains in search of something still unknown that, like the yeti, might well be missed for the very fact of searching?"

Peter Matthiessen
The Snow Leopard
The Blue-Green Alliance

Environmentalists have been stereotyped as overeducated upper middle class white people. When it comes to the bigger enviro organizations, the stereotype has not been far off the mark. But the brutal fact is that working people, people of color and poor people suffer disproportionately from pollution, chemical contamination in the workplace and the neighborhood, and toxic waste. We may hear nothing but casino casino, but the favorite dump sites for toxics are Indian reservations. Locate a Wal-Mart, and there is likely to be a toxic site nearby. This is apart from the general effect of pollution and the Climate Crisis on all of us.

Big Business, especially in extractive industries like timber and mining, have successfully turned blue collar workers against environmentalists, even though they have more common cause than reasons for emnity. Big Labor, otherwise casting a jaudiced eye on anything Big Business is for, have often cooperated in this illusory and counterproductive stance.

That's been changing slowly for some time, and today marks a watershed event in that change: the announcement of common cause made by the United Steelworkers of America and the Sierra Club, the biggest organizations (symbolically and actually) in their respective fields.

The New York Times says:After decades of fighting between blue-collar unions and green activists, the steelworkers and the Sierra Club say they will use the alliance to battle for energy independence and against global warming and toxic pollutants.

A central goal of the partnership, called the Blue/Green Alliance, will be to reassure workers that measures to improve the environment need not jeopardize jobs. "We're going to work together to try to blow up the myth that you can't have a clean environment and good jobs," said Leo Gerard, the president of the steelworkers union, which has 850,000 members.

In terms of the Climate Crisis, both organizations support the Apollo Alliance, which itself has brought together labor, industry and environmentalists, to promote new energy technologies and other technologies that will simultaenously respond to the Climate Crisis and other environmental challenges, while seeding the equivalent of a new industrial revolution in the U.S.

"Secure 21st-century jobs are those that will help solve the problem of global warming with energy efficiency and renewable energy," Mr. Gerard said.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Magritte Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Something in your refugee heart never felt at home anywhere, except in this room of maybes."

Richard Powers

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Daily Babble

Election Results Etc.

The results in previous posts have all held. Hereabouts, two interesting contrasts in how the election was reported. Our weekly newspaper, the North Coast Journal, managed to scoop the dailies with election night coverage at the headquarters of the two District Attorney candidates, though when they went to press at midnight, the outcome was still slightly in doubt. But when I turned on our one local TV with an actual news broadcast at 3 minutes after 11 pm last night, the election reporting was ending. I don't know what, if anything, they said about the D.A. race, but it couldn't have been much. The rest of the election "news" was obviously repeated from the 6 oclock version, a meandering story about turnout, and the rest of the broadcast said nothing about the election at all. This says as much about the poverty (in all senses) of local TV news as it does about political disinterest. Yet this station reaped the financial benefits of campaign ads.

The big news in town today was the surprise appearance of the governator, kicking off his reelection campaign in Eureka. He wanted to start where he was least expected to be. Thanks for the endorsement. It will likely be the last time he'll be north of Santa Rosa.

As everyone must know by now, there is no news on cable news stations, so it was pointless to look there last night. I did enjoy watching the last few innings of the SF Giants game: Jason Schmidt pitched the game of his life. He tied the club record for most strikeouts in a game (15) held by pitching god Christy Mathewson in 1904. And he did it by striking out the side in the 9th inning, with several men on base, including the league's top hitter. This in an era when the starting pitcher even being on the mound in the 9th inning is practically unheard of. It was the win of the night.

Nationally and politically, the victory of grassroots progressive John Tester for the Senate nomination in Montana was the most talked about on the lefty blogs. It was seen as evidence that to be successful, Democrats had better talk plainly and stand for something. But victory and defeat were making their usual alterations in the day-after commentary. Though her close finish was praised, defeat exposed Francine Busby as not really progressive anyway, and a case study in the futility of trying to be centrist. But a day after damning both candidates for crappy campaigns and saying neither looked capable of beating Ahrnold, kos praised victor Phil Angelides as a true progressive and strong candidate. And to the races.
California Election Returns

I can't believe so many west coast political bloggers are wimping out already. It's just after midnight and the results are shaping up like this:

With just over half the votes counted statewide, Phil Angelides has about a 4 percentage point lead in the Democratic primary for governor, over Steve Westly. That lead has been holding at about that percentage for an hour or so.

Meanwhile, Debra Bowen seems on her way to a convincing victory for Secretary of State on the Dem side. With nearly 55% counted, she has over 60% of the votes. Jerry Brown has a similarly wide margin for the Attorney General nomination.

John Chiang is ahead in the Controller race with over 53% to Joe Dunn at about 47%. The Lt. Governor race is very close.

Here in Humboldt, with 123 of 131 precincts reporting--about 94% of the vote--Paul Gallegos is leading in the D.A. race, 53.26% to Worth Dikeman at 46.62%. But the last precincts are expected to go to Dikeman, so no winner yet, maybe. My guess is Gallegos has it.

And Measure T (restricting corporate campaign donations to local corporations) is winning passage by roughly the same margin. Its opponents conceded defeat. But Props 81 and 82 have failed here, as apparently they are in the rest of the state. Someone will have to explain to me what's wrong with funding libraries. No surprises in other county races I know anything about.

The southern CA race is of interest is the special election for Duke Cunningham's House seat (the Duke is in deep corruption do-do) between Democrat Francine Busby and Republican Bilbray. With about 56% counted, Bilbray is maintaining a lead of about 5 percent. For Busby to make it this close in a solid Republican San Diego district is amazing. And even if she loses, I believe she gets another shot at the seat in November. But almost half the votes remain to be counted there.

UPDATE at 1 am: With about 2/3 of the votes counted, Bilbray is maintaining this same lead. Angelides is also maintaining his margin with 70% of the statewide votes counted. Apparently there won't be anything new from Humboldt tonight.
UPDATE 2: With nearly 80%, Bilbray's lead has declined about a half percentage point.
UPDATE 3am: Bilbray maintains a lead with over 90% counted. All the other races seem to be tracking as they were at midnight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Captain Future's Log

Captain Future's California Election Guide

In the Democratic Party Primary, Phil Angelides is neck and neck in the polls with Steve Westly. Both are acceptable candidates going up against Ahrnold in the fall, and both have strengths and weaknesses for that fight. Westly may have more independent and Republican appeal, but Angelides has stronger loyalties among Democrats.

I'm voting for Angelides. He's stronger and clearer on issues, he's got the better and stronger party and union endorsements--and it was the angry teachers and state employee unions that provided the energy behind the defeat of Ahrnold's proposition. I didn't like Westly's negative ads which distorted Angelides' record. Neither of these guys made much of an impression in the campaign, at least up here. But what I've heard of Angelides and his positions, I've liked. He's more passionate and committed and has a track record for getting things done, and he's more passionate in opposition to Bush and the Iraq war, and probably more progressive in general.

For Lieutenant Governor, John Garamendi. As state insurance comissioner, he stood up against the insurance industry, which has poured money into this campaign to defeat him. Voting for him sends a message that officeholders can do their jobs for the people and be rewarded.

For Secretary of State, a strong endorsement for Debra Bowen. As we've all become aware in recent years, the Secretary of State handles elections, and Bowen has made herself an expert on electronic voting machines. She'll revisit the decision to award contracts to Diebold made by the Republican Secretary. This makes her probably the most important candidate on the ballot.

For Controller, John Chiang. He's got the strongest record as a progressive on the state level, and endorsements from environmental groups. His job will involve regulating corporations so it is important to the environment.

The Attorney General election sounds like a fight card: Rocky Delgadillo v. Jerry Brown. Yes, that Jerry Brown--mayor of Oakland, former governor and presidential candidate. He seems to shake things up wherever he goes, and for an active intelligence and entertainment value alone I'm voting for him.

I'm still deciding about Proposition 82, which taxes higher incomes to establish preschool programs for four year olds. There seems to be enough wrong with the proposition itself, rather than its intent. But I'm voting yes on Proposition 81 to create a bond issue to support the state's wilting public libraries. It may be the most satisfying vote I cast.

Dianne Feinstein has no real opposition for the U.S. Senate. Barbara Boxer is more my kind of Senator, but I respect Feinstein on a number of issues, especially on nuclear weapons and the bankruptcy bill.

For Humboldt readers, I'm voting for Paul Gallegos for District Attorney. Frankly I don't know what to make of what's going on within the District Attorney's office, but I do know this: I don't trust Worth Dikeman (his opponent) who has run a campaign of hit and run distortion and lies, and only belatedly returned to real issues. And I agree completely with Gallegos that the DA has to be independent of the police, and they have no business getting involved in a political fight. Several recent incidents involving police violence against protestors suggest that the police need more scrutiny, not less. With the fiscal constraints in a county that's getting poorer, nobody is going to do much with the D.A.'s office without outside help, and Gallegos is endorsed by the current state Attorney General and other statewide officeholders, which tells me Gallegos has cred beyond the county.

We have a county Measure T on the ballot, which restricts county political contributions to corporations residing in the county. It's more fallout from the Gallegos recall, forced and paid for by Pacific Lumber/Maxxam, retaliating for Gallegos attempting to take them to court for illegal logging. I'm voting Yes. I assume it will be challenged in court, and I assume national organizations will be interested in helping to defend it. I'd like to see the issues of campaign financing aired in a trial. Corporate money is so powerful now in electoral politics that any attempt to limit it is worth trying.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Xray view of Cygnus Posted by Picasa

The Daily Babble

In California Today, We're All Celebrities

The 2006 primary elections in California will go down in dubious campaign history as the first year of the Robocall. We've had them before, but this time they are numerous and nearly unrelenting.

For those who haven't gotten one, these are recorded messages--some will talk to you if you answer, and all will leave their message on your machine (that seems to be more comfortable for them--one machine talking to another.) Some are from union and environmental or other organizations' officials. Some are even from the candidates themselves. But to sweeten the experience, many come from the big name politicians (Senator Barbara Boxer is on my machine) and since this is California, from movie stars. I just got a message from Billy Crystal. Ed Begley, Jr. called yesterday.

They call on behalf of candidates (including state controller) and propositions (thankfully, there are only a couple this year.) It's all a bit goofy, but what's really sad is that these robocalls often provide the only information that's gotten through on candidates and propositions. The media has made a great deal for themselves by refusing to give any space to candidates unless they pay for it. You could read newspapers and watch TV news for days without learning that there even is an election (or, hereabouts, that there's anybody on the ballot apart from local candidates, especially for District Attorney.)

Lacking the information to make personal choices we tend to rely either on uninformed impressions or on endorsements. The Robocalls provide some of both.

And there is an undeniable something about hearing the voices of celebrities ostensibly talking to you on the instrument you couldn't use to talk to them in a million years. We're all celebrities until our answering machines turn back into pumpkins after the polls close tomorrow.
What's Bigger Than Break-Ups, X-Men and Da Vinci Codes?

The Climate Crisis.

Al Gore's movie about it, "An Inconvenient Truth," moved into 77 cinemas this weekend. Despite this miniscule number of screens, it broke into the top ten in total box office. And it's per theatre take was higher than that for the top movie of the weekend, "The Break-Up," with Jennifer Aniston. That means simply that people are going to see it, in astonishing numbers.

This may be it--the moment when the Climate Crisis breaks into the mainstream consciousness as a crucial concern, demanding action to save the future. Gore persistently positions it as not a political issue, but a moral issue. That's just right. It's what I've been hoping for and writing about for a long time.
Bragging Rights: Colbert at Knox

Usually it's the big universities who get graduation speakers that might make news but this time it's my alma mater, described in Editor and Publisher as "tiny" Knox College. Their graduation speaker was Stephen Colbert.

Colbert gave them good advice, too. The path to success? Get your own TV show. “It pays well," he observed, "the hours are great and you have fans. Eventually, some nice people will give you an honorary degree for doing jack squat.” (It's funny but also painfully true--successful people, particularly in show biz and the arts, are always being asked how to do it, and there's never an answer. Every path is completely individual, and other things being equal, depends on timing that may largely be luck. )

But dropping his TV show persona, Colbert did have some great advice:"Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blinder, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. "Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. Yes is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.

The article also quotes a note sent to Colbert by last year's Knox College commencement speaker, Senator Barak Obama (Knox is in his state, in Galesburg, Illinois.) Stephen, Congratulations on being asked to speak at the 2006 Knox College Commencement. This is an enormous honor and on behalf of the people of Illinois, I'd like to welcome you to our state. As you know, I was invited to speak at Knox after my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and subsequent election to the United States Senate. Your convention speech must also have gone really well to have been invited. It's weird that I didn't read about it somewhere."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Argentine Upsala glacier in 1928 and in 2004. Posted by Picasa

Captain Future's Log

The Difference

There are many cases like this, that exemplify the difference between a true commitment to the future and a criminal, immoral disregard for it: the continuing attempts to drill for oil in the last bit of coastal wilderness in Alaska, the relentless and often illegal logging of the last forests, and so on. But there is one that defines the difference in almost mythic terms. However, for all its poetic power, it is is a clear and present danger.

It is the difference between water and gold in a mountain range between Argentina and Chile. A corporation with powerful participants (including the Bush family) seeks to mine gold under glaciers that are the source of pure water. Mining gold is a dirty, wasteful and polluting process, and in addition to probably destroying the glaciers, two rivers are likely to be poisoned.

There is not even an economic advantage to the local people. This is all about short-term benefit for already rich foreigners, and probably government officials and other companies.

There are several sets of issues here that define care for the future. The first is the future-oriented attitude, the "consider the seventh generation to come" point of view, that can easily see how much more important water is in the long run, and how important it is likely to be in an era of global heating and over-pollution.

There is the future consciousness that is informed by the past and the present, by the realities and cycles of life. Water is necessary for life. Gold is not.

And there is the future ethic that values making prudent provisions for future generations, and for all of life, and the health of the earth itself. These are virtues greater than the greed and selfishness of individuals out for gold for themselves. Greed and selfishness are about the few in the present. Future ethics are about the many individuals--and the great unity of life and time--in the time to come as well as the present.