Friday, January 05, 2007

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Thank God, our time is now, when wrong comes up to meet us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men ever took."

Christopher Fry
Leaving Iraq, Way of Iran?

The Big Smirk said he would listen to advice on what to do next in Iraq. From two-thirds to three-quarters of the American people want a plan to bring American troops home. Democrats, officially now in a letter from the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate, oppose escalation in Iraq. The Smirk listened. He's going to ignore them.

The Smirk said he'd do what the generals said was necessary. The generals said an escalation of troops was a bad idea. Smirk listened. He replaced those generals with more ambitious guys who got promoted by saying they agreed with him, escalation is the way to go.

But escalation and more tragedy in Iraq may be the least of it. Jeff Huber, a retired Naval officer , offers a persuasive analysis of the specific changes the Bushites have made in officials and in the military, notably the ascension of a Navy admiral. He thinks the table is being set for a war in Iran. That's Iran with an n.

Get the attention from Iraq by attacking Iran? Start a regional war that could spread throughout the Middle East and cause violence and turmoil for decades? Risk atomic war? Well, it gets Iraq out of the headlines. It gets the Democratic Congress attempts to begin fixing the country off track. It may even revive the War Fever that the Smirk has always depended on.

There's a carrier group in the Gulf and another on the way.
It's Up to Us

And so it begins. The Democratic majority in both houses of Congress is an established fact. Rep. Nancy Pelosi has been sworn in as the first woman in American history to be elected Speaker of the House.

Next is the fulfillment of the "first 100 hours" agenda, including raising the minimum wage. The hearings on Iraq and many other matters will soon begin. And the first moves to take back the future are beginning. Thursday's front page Washington Post story begins:

House Democrats are crafting an energy package that would roll back billions of dollars worth of oil drilling incentives, raise billions more by boosting federal royalties paid by oil and gas companies for offshore production, and plow the money into new tax breaks for renewable energy sources..."

"The Democrats are appropriately shifting money from the 20th-century technologies to the 21st-century industries," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "If we want to see solar, wind and biofuels, we have to make that investment today."

A number of newly elected Democrats made clean energy and the Climate Crisis important parts of their campaigns. Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is making these issues priorities of his campaign, as he said in his impressive announcement of his candidacy. Governor Bill Richardson, a likely entry into the 2008 field, signed an executive order for New Mexico which

directed state agencies to follow many of the bold recommendations of the Climate Change Advisory Group, which produced a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 267 million metric tons and create a projected $2 billion net economic savings for New Mexico’s economy.

“Climate change is the major environmental issue of our time,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “Nothing poses a bigger threat to our water, our livelihood and our quality of life than a warming climate. Today I am taking the first step toward implementing as many of these recommendations as are possible, feasible and effective.”

The awareness grows. Global warming is the greatest environmental threat that humanity has ever faced, said a late December editorial in the San Jose Mercury News. The paper calls for Congressional action, private initiative in clean energy technology and the Supreme Court to force the federal government to regulate carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the crisis grows more ominous. A giant ice shelf, in place for thousands of years, suddenly broke off from the Canadian Arctic, scientists recently discovered. An Australian climate scientist gives ten reasons why the Climate Crisis may be more severe than predicted so far. Such evidence of shockingly rapid melting in the Arctic and Antarctic is one of those reasons. And this scientist is not alone in believing that "the balance of evidence may be swinging towards a more extreme outcome," according to Climate Progress. Several scientists in England believe that a combination of the Climate Crisis and an active el Nino will make 2007 the hottest year in history.

Sadly, the Bush-Cheney administration, loyal lackey of the energy industry, has consistently opposed any national efforts to reduce carbon emissions, wrote the Mercury-News. But elements of the extractive energy industry have done more than simply pull the Smirk's strings. Confirming previous reporting, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a study showing how Exxon Mobil bankrolled the Climate Crisis Deniers, using many of the "disinformation tactics" of the tobacco companies in their decades of denying the harmful effects of smoking.

Those four British climate scientists, the Independent reported, offered "sobering predictions" that "2007 will be a crucial year for determining the response to global warming and its effect on humanity." It's up to us.
Nancy offers Spocko a Vulcan salute. It needs work.
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Their True Colors

There is something going on in America that most of us have ignored. Why waste time listening to Rabid Right radio? So we are not aware of the extent of the hate and violence being spewed by their propaganda leaders, the talk show hosts. Whether calculating, egomaniacal or psychotic--or most likely, some twisted combinaton--they would make a Nazi propagandist blush. The level, the range and the boldness of their abuse is astonishing and completely inconsistent with a civilized society, let alone a democracy.

Apparently driven even further by the election of the Democratic majority in Congress, several are openly advocating assassination of public officials. One of these bottom feeders who previously said Democratic members of Congress need to be killed, issued this statement concerning those who vote in favor of "amnesty" for illegal immigrants:


Involving other Rabid Rightists, a diary that has been on the recommended list for a couple of days at dkos details the efforts of a blogger named Spocko to reveal to advertisers the extent of the hate speech and the advocating of violence and torture at a Bay Area radio station owned by Disney--and Disney's threats against him (apparently after some advertisers withdrew in horror), resulting in his blog being forced off the Internet. His offense was including audio recordings on his blog of the station's talk show hosts, taken from the public airwaves, to prove his assertions. One of them was calling for the assassination of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, now Speaker of the House. Read it and be amazed. If you've been tempted to think of the Rabid Right as just another political ideology, you might think again. These stories reveal their true colors: the brownshirts of our generation.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

From Thrilling Wonder Stories.
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The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Freedom means the capacity to know something about oneself, and the consequent practice or at least the desire to live according to limits imposed on oneself rather than by external powers. This appetite for freedom is not extinct, not even in today's world; but the present 'cultural' atmosphere provides something very different, indeed contrary to its proper nourishment."

John Lukas
Democracy and Populism
On Dreaming Up Daily

When we consider our forms of entertainment, we really ought to include dreaming. There is this theory--which I arrived at independently but which apparently goes back at least as far as Freud--that says the function of dreaming is to keep us asleep. To do that, dreams become fascinating and powerful--imbuing images and scenes with hyperreality and infusing them with joy, or keeping us gripped by strangeness, anxiety, fear, horror, and keeping us involved with surprise, dangers, opportunities, tasks and complexities. In other words, by keeping us entertained. We're so involved that we don't want to wake up, so the body and brain get a little more time for rest and self-maintenance.

I'm prompted then to wonder, which came first: the dream picture, or the picture on the cave wall? The story told, or the story dreampt?

As to where dreams come from, or what they consist of--we can be pretty sure of at least one source of subject matter: memory. We dream in the form of pictures and stories (as well as other forms perhaps not so easily named), and the content often includes memories. Dreams sometimes seem to recover memories we didn't know we had. Dreams certainly combine pieces of memory, by putting together people from different times and places in our pasts, for example.

We know of course that amnesiacs can't remember the past. But did you know that they typically can't conceive of a future? That was a mystery that inspired some brain research, including a new study which shows that, at least in some basic ways, remembering the past and envisioning a future are interrelated.

This study seems to show this in a limited way, especially focused on the body's imagining (or imaging) a personal future--perhaps on "daydreams" of a personal future. But it does suggest a possible answer to the conundrum of why people can't envision a future strongly enough to work towards it (if it's a good one) or prepare to deal with it (if it's a possible future disaster, for instance) or forestall it, so it won't happen or won't be as bad as it could be without preparation.

Memories can be very strong, as can dreams. But we do seem to have a built-in means of anestitizing them, called forgetting--which can mean forgetting how something feels as well as whether it happened. This could well be a way to keep our attention available to present threats and opportunities. But if we forget too much--even too much of how we felt, and how an event affected everything--we can't imagine the full meaning of something like that being repeated in the future.

Social commentators note that we seem to be a society that doesn't focus much on the future, and also has little concrete sense of the past. In fact, amnesia is a term they sometimes use. Maybe it's the BUY NOW mindset of a hyper-commercial culture. Maybe it's the tense social ethic of keeping up with the instantaneous--like all the news media hysterically pounding away at one story for a news cycle or two, and then forgetting it completely and moving on to the next absolutely important thing.

Maybe it's even more the constant barrage of information, leaving us no time to do anything but cope with the most demanding, and sort and classify the rest. Overload can obliterate an internal sense of identity, and/ or cut us off from real engagement with others. Overload can shut down memory and numb imagination and yet also blunt our appreciation of the fullness of the present moment. We've got amnesia in all directions.

Well, one of the lessons of life may well be that we're always in over our heads. Dreaming may well be a device to help us out in that regard. But maybe we need to learn from the show as well as let it entertain us. Memory, the moment and envisioning the future are probably all interrelated, even as functions, as skills. Being conscious of that may help us in many ways. So in addition to whatever discipline gets you deeply into the present moment, and whatever time and space you give your memories, don't forget to dream up...and do it daily.

Not Ready

I've just caught up with a piece published in the Eureka Reporter on Dec. 22, written by Sherry Ferraro, about how the city of Eureka is unprepared for disasters, especially by not having a way for responsible officials to communicate to citizens, nor a designated and properly supplied emergency shelter, that everyone knows about-- citizens in need and those providing emergency services. It's an impressively sane piece--I just hope it inspires some more discussion and action.

But it turns out that the North Coast is hardly alone in lack of preparation. According to a Homeland Security report due out today, of all big cities in America, only four have emergency communications that allow police, fire and other emergency services to talk to each other. This problem was identified nationally because of the first responders at the World Trade Center on 9-11 whose radios were incompatible--and yet, New York City is not among the four.

What's wrong with us? Can't we imagine even that much or that simply? Can't we focus? If we can't even prepare for the kinds of disasters that have already happened, and if we can't prepare for single event disasters, I really despair of us ever getting a handle on something as complex and conceptually challenging as the Climate Crisis.

Here on the North Coast we need to focus on who is in charge and how do we find out what we need to know? These are basic civic responsibilities.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

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Stephanie Kim, after her premiere performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the 2006 North Coast Dance Nutcracker. This is one of my photos from 2006 I've posted (or reposted) at This North Coast Place.
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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Yearly Babble

Blogger, now subsumed into the Google empire, has some new features and additions to their blog formats. This being a Blogger-enabled site, at least one of them has shown up here, and others will soon follow. So far the most obvious one is "labels," or what other systems have been calling "tags," which you append to a post to aid in sorting, classifying and accessing.

I've just finished the arduous task of labeling all Dreaming Up Daily posts of 2006. These labels are hyperlinked, so if you click on one, you'll get all the posts with that label. Eventually there will be a list of selected labels ( topics, types or names) that accesses a list of posts, but until I go through another couple of processes and change the template to the new version, I'm the only one who can see the list of labels. It's interesting to see what I wrote about most versus what I aimed to write about when I started this blog. To noone's surprise I'm sure, the leading topic was the Climate Crisis, with 103 posts in 2006 (which includes a few photos.) Posts that carry the "Future" label (many have more than one label) number 43. So that worked.

Over 70 were about the 2006 elections directly, and many more about Bush, Iraq, etc. There were scores on environmental and energy topics. There were 19 on nuclear weapons, especially when the prospect of attack on Iran was in the news. I labeled 28 posts as being "about me," and another 15 about "blogging," which I expect is way lower than the blogosphere average, and maybe is a violation of the blogging code of conduct.

Overall, I was appalled at how much time it took to simply go through all these posts, which would be a fraction of the time it would take to read them, and of course, to write them. While I hope they are worth the reading time, I'm still not so sure, given considerations of time on several important scales, that they are the best use of writing time. This blog has seen a dip recently in an already small readership. But in some ways the labeling work may turn out to be time well spent, as many visitors come here as the result of a search for something specific. This blog's value may turn out to be as reference resource. I still feel the motivation, or compulsion, to blog here pretty frequently. But that may pass. I've already lost the habit of writing for the major lefty blog sites.

Dreaming Up Daily began in July 2005, and the total post count is currently 1867. When I started it as partly a portal blog to other blogs I either maintained or started, part of my intent was to test whether this could be another way to get paid for writing. So far that hasn't worked out, though I suppose blogs could still work in relationship with other sources: synergy rather than principal or stand-alone medium. Apart from self-indulgence, or self-expression (depending on perspective and mood), there's the service aspect, and legacy, which looms larger these days.

There will be other changes in my blogs and blogging activities this year, partly motivated by some of these new features, which include an easier way to list and classify links. That works well with my plans to revive a "Skills of Peace" site. I haven't blogged as much on my 60's Now and Boomer Hall of Fame sites as I thought I would, but it seems likely that I will spend more time with them in coming years. I will probably set up a blog related to my North Coast Journal theatre column.

There were a lot of posts here in early 2006 on the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they made their way to their Super Bowl victory. Alas, no such luck to start 2007. They finished their season today with a win over the Cincinatti Bengals, for an 8-8 record--good enough in some divisions to get into the playoffs, but not in theirs. Their win today was emblematic of their season--they were better than most teams, but they hurt themselves with turnovers and penalties. Big Ben seemed more affected by his motorcycle accident than anyone connected with the team seemed willing to admit. He threw a lot of interceptions. But Willy Parker, their leading runner, fumbled too much as well. Today he actually fumbled as he was scoring a touchdown; last week inside the 5 yard line. Their defense was inconsistent, too--though there was a string of late season games when they gave up something like a total of 10 points.

Who knows what happened to the Steelers this year. But now it seems likely that they will lose their long-time head coach, Bill Cowher, which is a big deal in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have had only two head coaches since the 60s.

As for other end of the year macro-evaluations and the outlook for 2007, I'll leave that for later, or not. If I don't see you, Happy New Year.