Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

sea turtle
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The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“In the forgetting that we, too, are animals, a part of nature, as dependent on its health and balance as any other mammal, we foolishly permit the unrestrained destruction of our Earth habitat that promises to leave mankind as desolate and bereft of hope as a turtle stripped live from its shell.”

Peter Matthiessen

Oceans' 11th Hour

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We are the only animal capable of geocide: the killing of a world--that is, the world that made us and nourishes its web of life, as a whole. And in what for us is slow motion, we're doing it.

The extent of the oceans, and the amount of life in it, is incomparable larger than land and its life. Yet little if any life on land would be possible without the living seas. For centuries, we've been slaughtering the mammals of the sea--untold thousands of whales every year for much of the 20th century, driving several species to the point of near extinction. With factory ships and "modern" methods, we've slaughtered many fish species to virtual extinction, and threaten some three-fourths of what's left.

And as a product of our self-involved civilization, we're killing the oceans themselves. There are complete dead zones already, and their existence is being linked to the climate crisis. But the damage is much wider, A study this past week suggests that humanity has damaged 96% of the world's ocean--all but small portions near the inaccessible poles, which of course are becoming more accessible thanks to global heating. At least half the oceans are heavily damaged, principally by climate crisis and overfishing. Overfishing is actually encouraged by government subsidies in many nations, and the World Trade Organization.

This was the first attempt to look at damage comprehensively, and not just the impact of separate effects. Our ability to damage comprehensively was evidently not matched by our ability to think that way. Now the challenge for our species--and our only redemption--is to act that way as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

The "Heart" Nebula. Happy Valentine's Day.
(Click to enlarge.)
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That Funny Valentinus

It's the day for lovers to declare their love, with jewels (if you believe the TV commercials) or as many valentines as you can collect (if you're in grade school.) Flowers, candy and other industries live off this day.

But like lots of commercial holidays, what it's come to may have little to do with its origin. The original St. Valentine is unknown except as legend--the Catholic Church took him off the calendar of saints because of this. There is a known Valentinus that some believe is the origin of the day's tradition of "valentines." But this Valentine was not a stud or a babe, but a monk and a poet (and no saint. Something of a heretic in his youth.) He didn't declare his love to one favored beloved. He wasn't even young:

Our tradition of sending notes on Valentine's Day originated with an Italian monk, Valentinus, who drifted off in his old age into an unquenchable love of everyone around him...

For enjoyment he began writing notes of appreciation and devotion to more and more people; finally elders at the monastery allowed him to stay in his cell and do nothing but pour out his love by way of his small notes.

from "Schindler's List"

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A Holocaust Stamped "Made in China"

There are celebrities who use their stardom to support causes and candidates they believe in. But rarely has the action of a big name had greater potential impact than the announcement by Steven Spielberg that he will no longer serve as artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics, because China is not doing enough to restrain the government of Sudan from genocide in Darfur.

It is important because the Olympics are very important to China, and Spielberg's action is part of a larger ongoing effort to pressure China on human rights issues, especially Darfur, through the Olympics. Spielberg's name is globally known, both as the creator of internationally popular movies such as E.T., and also of internationally important films such as Schindler's List.

He does so risking that to the public unfamiliar with the situation, his action seems quixotic. But it isn't. According to the Save Darfur Coalition, China is the main supporter of the Sudan regime, and the main barrier to effective international action to stop the genocide. "With China's protection, Sudanese President Bashir continues his brash defiance of the U.N.," their recent newsletter said. "Just last week Bashir appointed a militia leader who helped orchestrate genocide in Darfur as a senior advisor on ethnic affairs."

China is Sudan's biggest trade partner--it buys 2/3 of Sudan's oil--, its biggest foreign investor and arms supplier. It has opposed and weakened international response through the UN. China wants as much oil as it can get, and not many nations will deal with Sudan. Sudan gets the money--and weapons-- to continue its genocide from selling oil to China.

Continuing efforts include possible boycotts of Olympic sponsors, such as Coca Cola and McDonalds. According to The Guardian: Dr James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, which campaigns to prevent genocide around the world, said: "This is the biggest message to the Chinese that turning a blind eye to the atrocities in Darfur is unacceptable. Spielberg has demonstrated that collective responsibility means everyone's responsibility."

Spielberg has been urged to make this move for a long time, and suggested months ago that he might. As one commentator put it, " Steven Spielberg has finally decided he does not want to be part of a holocaust stamped "Made in China".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Momentous Momentum

Barack Obama won Virginia (64%-35%), Maryland
(with 60%) and DC (with 75%) primaries, winning
nearly all demographic categories, including over-60,
blue collar, women and Latino as well as increasing
majorities among young voters, African Americans and
Independents. He now leads in delegates and popular
vote. He's won 21 state contests, including the last
8 in a row. Hillary Clinton has won a total of 10.
More at American Dash.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One at a Time

Before the news rush about Virginia, Maryland and
D.C. voting today, here is a photo from this past
weekend, from the mostly overlooked contest in the
Virgin Islands, where Democrats can vote in a primary
but not in the general election. But still, they voted.
Only about 2,000 of them, with each of the 3 islands
getting one delegate. Obama won 90% of the votes, and
3 delegates. Elections news at American Dash.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008


Barack Obama swept contests in Louisiana,
Nebraska, Washington state and the Virgin Islands
Saturday, more than 2 to 1 in Nebraska and Washington,
by more than 20 points in Louisiana--and 90% in the V.I.s.
Or as this report put it: "Obama's winning margins ranged
from substantial to crushing." Sunday afternoon update:
Add the Maine caucus to Obama's sweep, by a 60-40 margin.
Details at American Dash. Posted by Picasa