Click here for 2022
New Years Wishes
December 31, 2021
Here it is the last day of the year! What will the new year bring? I believe it's up to what we do. If we pass voting rights and get consequences for the January 6 people, including the guilty elected officials, 2022 is our oyster. So pick up your phone and dial up your Rep. and Sens. Make sure you can vote in 2022, even if the anti-Americans try to suppress your vote.
Grow a thick sink against neutral parties who try to insist they know what will happen in 2022. Nobody knows for sure. Take time to feel grateful for what we have, and to pray. If you're atheist/agnostic, take a few minutes to reaffirm your belief in the human race and progress.
If you're a political junkie, take time off when things seem stressful. More sleep and good hobbies can ameliorate the difficult parts of living in the early part of the twenty-first century. Also be realistic, but also affirm a positive outcome. It can't hurt.
New News Media Paradigm
December 25, 2021
Journalists stop treating politics like it's a sport. Instead, they offer serious research and discussion to inform the public.
Christmas Memories from Birds Aren't Real
December 24, 2021
Help promote reality. Join Birds Aren't Real! birdsarentreal.com
A Message from Surrealist America
December 13, 2021
Dear ROW (rest of world) - keep doing what you think is right and good. There are a lot of things your democracies do darn well that America used to do well. Now America is getting a bit old and rusty. So while we're in the repair shop, you have a great chance to hold up moral authority. The object of life is to light the way for people to a better world. It's not to be the biggest bully or the enabler to the biggest bully. Stand up for what is good. Stand up against people with negative motives.
American History Lesson
November 26, 2021
There's no need to feel afraid of history. It's in the past. Only feel afraid and guilty if you still find yourself stuck in the past. Live in the present with confidence we will move forward. Look how far we've come. Keep up the steam to make this a better, more fair, and more friendly world.
Let's keep working "Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes." - Bob Marley
November 18, 2021
One thing about 24/7 news - all the pundits have crystal balls. The news anchors sense this and always ask the pundits "what might happen."
Isn't that a crazy news story? "What might happen?" Actually "what might happen" is not news, but a look into the crystal ball.
As it turns out I also look into the future and send my predictions to the Sedona Journal of Emergence! Click here to see my predictions for 2020, 2021, and 2022!
Rather than gazing into crystal, I base my predictions on the I Ching, the ancient oracle of the Daoist religion!
I Ching Predictions for 2022
The Existential Dilemma
November 1, 2021
No matter which way you look at it, America is in a tough spot. If you're on the left wing, you see people trying to tear apart our democracy and take away people's right to vote. If you're on the right wing, you think democrats stole the 2020 election and got away with it. There have been close elections in the past, but in 2020, all the secretaries of state, all the courts including the Supreme Court, and even the vice-president of the United States seemed to be in on the conspiracy.
This is a difficult time for everyone who cares about the country.
Being of the left-wing persuasion, I want to make a case for our side. First, Joe Biden got many more votes than Trump, and he got more Electoral College votes. If you count who wins an election by how many votes and Electoral College votes, then Biden won. That explains why all the secretaries of state, all the courts, and the vice-president certified the election.
However, if you are of the right-wing persuasion and think certain people should not be allowed to vote, then you might have reason to believe that Trump deserved to win.
Other existential issues bothering people are Covid and climate change. If you're on the right, you probably think Covid is over, or Covid was never a big deal. You might think climate change is a hoax, or just the natural cycles of nature. So people who think those issues are no big deal, again, may be upset because of the size of the conspiracy. Is every legitimate epidemiologist and every legitimate climate scientist in on the conspiracy? Seems scary.
Anyways, for people who believe in science, and reality in general, there are ways to prove whether something is true or not. From where I stand it seems like the people trying to take away our democracy are the Trump supporters. The people who attacked the Capitol on January 6 were the Trump supporters. The people who won't wear masks or get vaccinated are for the most part Trump supporters. People who deny climate change are the people in love with the petroleum companies.
Am I missing something here?
Four Pillars of Religion and Irreligion
October 14, 2021
Four Pillars of Religion
Four Pillars of Irreligion
My gratitude for today is to feel at peace with my life and with my friends, relatives, and neighbors. At the age I'm at, I'm getting closer to the culmination of my journey on Earth and want to do the best for the people who will be here after I leave. There's no point in running around angry and unhappy, although sometimes I feel unhappy. Sometimes I feel frightened or angry, but thankfully, and gratefully, I don't have a calcification of hatred.
Anger is a normal emotion. It tells us when someone or something has crossed our boundaries. The point is to realize it, calm down, and make a plan to strengthen our boundaries, and as needed, communicate what we're feeling and try to make change. However, it's wrong to act out of anger, because we can end up hurting people, and make our own situation worse.
The most unproductive human emotions are hatred and self-pity. Following those puts us on the road to irreligion. Gratitude and good work are the road to religion.
More Thoughts about 9/11
September 28, 2021
Click here or scroll down.
Twenty Years Since 9/11
September 6, 2021
We are grateful the long war in Afghanistan ended before the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. I remember when the war started in October 2001. It was a bad decision to go to war, and it was a costly bad war for twenty years. Thank god it's over now. We pray it remains over. Gratitude to President Biden, who ended the war.
Updated September 28, 2021: I also thank heaven above that I am a Democrat who united with President George W. Bush following 9/11. I actually started to support him a few days before 9/11. On September 8 I was in Bermuda and we were at the final night event of a wonderful convention. A few of us went in the gift store. I bought a little blown glass animal - an elephant. I bought it because I wanted to focus on dropping all my anger about the 2000 election and try to accept George W. Bush as president. That night in Bermuda I felt I had put the whole matter of the election to rest so I could go on with my life.
Besides walking around the lovely grounds, and seeing the gift shop, we got to sit by pools of dolphins, and then enjoy a wonderful dinner outdoors. A hurricane was on the way and winds were blowing napkins and plates off the tables. Like everyone else, I was booked to fly out the following day. However, due to the hurricane, we all had to rebook our flights. Half of the people flew home on September 10, and I was booked to fly home on 9/11. So I was stuck there. I showed some of my friends from the convention my glass elephant and we all agreed we had to support George W. Bush for the good of the country. We did, even though we did not vote for him, and we felt the election was unfair. Bush was ahead by less than a thousand votes in Florida when the Supreme Court made the decision to stop counting Florida ballots. That's how Bush won. If you think that's a conspiracy theory, look it up.
The message behind that story is, we are the United States of America. We can unite for the good of our country. There ae people who will never unite with us, but it's a free country. Not everybody has to unite. However, as thinking Americans who still have our brains and two shots in the arm, we have the ability and the duty to unite to come together for the sake of America. Let go of the lies about the 2020 election. I can tell you for sure Maricopa County turned blue in 2020. Phoenix, Tempe, and the rest of the County was Biden Avenue. Everyone voted and the majority voted for Biden. The same thing happened in enough states that Biden won the election. A good idea to unite and get through this: even if you are Republican, please do not vote for Republicans for a few cycles until we can flush the sore loser nutty people out. They are delusional and power hungry. They do not do justice to our sacred institutions and traditions.
If Roe vs Wade Goes Down
September 2, 2021
Forced Labor, Revisited: The Thirteenth Amendment and Abortion northwestern.edu.
Women make babies. Women can decide when and with whom to make a baby. Having a baby is meant to be a joyful and welcome event, not a punishment.
August 19, 2021
A new friend sent me this beautiful musical prayer he made during lockdown. Filmed on location at St. Nicholas' Church, Beaudesert, Henley-in-Arden.
Peter Campbell-Kelly plays Biber's Mystery Sonata No. 16 "Passacaglia," posted September 5, 2020.
He also wrote a poem and enclosed this illustration . . .
Celebrate the Census
August 15, 2021
Congratulations to America's Latino/Hispanic people! Congratulations to multi-racial Americans! Congratulations to Asian Americans! The numbers from the 2020 census are trickling in, but one thing is sure - America is growing more diverse.
Last night on The Week with Joshua Johnson (MSNBC), his guest Negin Farsad praised America, saying, "This is actually the gist of what makes America American, that we threw a bunch of different people into one country and we said 'do a country.' " And here we are, after nearly 250 years still doing a country. We are the light of the world, proving that "a bunch of different people" can be a country. We have not always behaved well, but other times we have surpassed what the world thought we could do. We need to keep reaching for the dream of equality and justice for all.
The news media loves to speculate about "what could happen" - which is not really "news." So most of the news is about all the grim things that could come from the census: gerrymandering so only conservative white people get elected, or trying to predict that the statistics will bring on a white supremacist backlash against people of color. Others say the census undercounted Latino/Hispanic people in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Some of that may be true, but just for a minute, just for today, I want to celebrate what's good about our country.
"Own the Libs"
July 19, 2021
As I understand it, a really big thrill for conservatives is to "own the libs." This does not refer to slavery, or "owning" the players in a sport team. It means to get the better of the liberals, like if you defeat them in an argument, and achieve domination. So translated from its original slang, it means "humiliate and dominate the liberals."
Conservatives will do anything to own the libs. For example, they deny Covid. They don't get vaccinated and don't wear masks, or they wear the mask riding just below their nose. They think it's really funny, because they might transmit Covid if they have it. Ha ha, what a funny joke! You owned me bro, that's hilarious.
They also love to own the libs by taking away our voting rights. Ha ha, you betray American democracy, but it's funny because it hurts people.
They probably think they own the libs every time there's a weather disaster: droughts, fires, flooding, hurricanes - who cares! There's no such thing as climate change!! Saying stuff like that really gets the libs!!
They must also think it's a riot when there's a mass murder. On one hand they believe everyone needs forty guns to be safe, but when a mass murder happens, they say it's fake. That's hilarious. What a way to own the libs!
They also own the libs when they stymie President Biden's plans to rebuild our infrastructure. That makes it a big win for them when bridges fall down, buildings crumble, and roads crack. They probably laugh their heads off. Owning President Biden makes a conservative feel like a real he-man. Hurting others, especially educated, kind people is their goal. Congratulations conservatives, you have owned the libs.
Post July 4 Darwin Awards Show
July 15, 2021
As much as I dislike this show, the Darwin Awards are back! Over Fourth of July weekend, the anti-vaxxer, no-masker, Covid deniers shed their inhibitions to compete for the coveted Darwin Awards. Now just two weeks later, the results are coming in!
Last year I sewed about a thousand organic cotton masks and gave them away. I quit last winter because I had a huge supply and the vaccines were on the way. I thought things would turn around, so I quit sewing and left a batch of about fifty unfinished masks in my sewing closet. Last month, when I thought the pandemic was ending for sure, I decided I better finish sewing the masks before they go out of style! As I was sewing, I asked myself, who will need a mask now?
Anyways, I suppose I should be grateful people still need masks, since I still have a few left to give away. Once they're gone, that's it for me. I've been fully vaccinated since April, I sewed all the masks I can sew, and I continue to wear a mask indoors. My best wishes to the Darwin Awards contestants! Please get the shot so you don't have to feel like complete idiots when you die of Covid, or spread it to someone and they die.
How to Get Yourself Into Checkmate
July 8, 2021
When I was a kid, my father taught me to play chess. After I got pretty good at it, he used chess to teach me a lesson. One day he got out the chess set and said he would show me what happens if I duplicate every move he does. He wanted to prove I could never win by doing everything he did. It was a lesson in critical thinking.
Here's how it works. First he moved one pawn forward, so I moved the same pawn forward. It went on like this for a few moves. Then he moved his queen forward into a position that put me in checkmate. The king was dead no matter what I did.
Today I was thinking about that long-ago lesson and how it applies to voting rights. So far we have followed everything the Republicans want. They want us to line up for six hours to vote - fine. They want to strike people from the voter rolls if their middle name is an initial instead of spelled out? Fine. We can keep following along until they pull out their queen and have us in checkmate.
As Democrats we need to advocate for ourselves, and for voters everywhere. We can't trust that the Republicans have our best interests in mind. We are foolish if we think universal voting rights will just come out of thin air. We need action, and soon.
Lessons from Surfside Building Collapse
June 29, 2021
It is tragic what happened to the Champlain Towers South. The condo association was facing $15 million in repairs, so no wonder it got kicked down the road for three years. Probably some people saw what was coming and sold their unit. I live in a condo association, and know how much people dislike a special assessment.
However, the building needed repairs, and now look what happened. One lesson we can learn from this history is that no matter how much it costs, we need to invest in infrastructure for America. We have bridges and roads that are crumbling. We have water systems delivering lead to people in cities and towns around the country. Much of our infrastructure got built during the FDR New Deal in the 1930s. A lot of that now needs fixing.
Even if we must go into debt, try to see it as an investment. If we blow our money on tax breaks for people who are already rich, or bailing out banks that crashed the real estate market, that money is gone. If we spend our money just fixing damage all the time, including from climate incidents, we've wasted the money. It's better to be proactive.
If we make good investments, including things like child care and fixes for the environment, America can survive and thrive. We can also prevent unnecessary deaths, and yes, people will die unnecessarily if we continue to neglet our infrastructure.
Editor's note (7-7-2021): another way we can see something positive in this disaster is to acknowledge how much people care. Now, with thirty-six dead and more than a hundred still unaccounted for in Surfside, dedicated workers continue to dig through the rubble. Funerals are taking place as they continue to dig. Even finding the remains of people who died helps the victims' families find closure.
More Gratitude I'm a Democrat
June 21, 2021
I'm grateful to be a Democrat. Yes, sometimes Democratic legislators have rejected electoral college votes. For example, in 2004 George W. Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry, based on the electoral college in one state - Ohio. They say 27% of Democrats thought Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell did shady stuff to flip the election to Bush. Be that as it may, John Kerry conceded the race to George W. Bush on the morning of November 3, 2004. Kerry took it like a gentleman, a loyal American, and an adult. Kerry did not go on a campaign to claim the election was stolen. Nor did he gather crowds to break into the Capitol to stop the transfer of power.
I voted for Kerry and was mad he conceded so soon and the thing with Blackwell, whatever the hell happened, was never investigated. Yes, I was with the 27% of Democrats who thought the whole thing was fishy, but I let it go. I didn't go around threatening people who voted for Bush! That's why I'm grateful today to be a Democrat. We are the on the right side of history. We care about our country, and our democracy (and for you Libertarians - the democratic republic).
Plus, Democrats want everyone to be able to vote, and that's another reason I'm grateful to be a Democrat! Every American citizen who is old enough to vote should vote! Let's get everyone access to vote! Voting is what's great about being an American.
Surrealist News Challenge to QAnon
June 12, 2021
Here's one for you, QAnon! I challenge you to make up a conspiracy theory to polarize people on the subject of Shakespeare. If you don't know what that is, it's a man and his writing, and his plays have been live in theatres since the nineties - the 1590s. So roughly - more than four hunded years. His plays are great too, even though people need to take a class in Shakespeare to understand his plays. There's no misunderstanding in a good Shakespeare play! If you read one, or watch one, and you have the knowledge to understand it - you are blown away. This is one reason people love Shakespeare.
Yes, even you wild and crazy Russian agents and QAnon followers! You would love a good Shakespeare. He wrote thirty-seven plays. Google around for the best ones and start there. Pick one, read over the plot synopsis, note the names and roles of the main characters, and you're good to go. When you read or watch a Shakespeare play, it always helps to keep your Google machine on hand to look things up.
Letter to My Senator
June 8, 2021
Dear Senator Kyrsten Sinema,
The Democratic party supports President Joe Biden. We voted for him and we want to enact his plans. There is no conservative wing of the Democratic party that wants to see Biden fail.
Please support the bills Joe Biden wants to pass, including voting rights, gun laws, and infrastructure.
These measures are popular with the general public, not just Democrats. This week, a poll in West Virginia found 79% support for the S.1 For the People voting rights act.
There is nobody who will congratulate you for "standing up to the left wing of your party" because the left wing is now the center of the party.
The off-the-deep-end left wingers are anti-vaxxer morons who think wheat germ and Vitamin D3 will protect them from Covid.
The mainstream of the party is fully with Joe Biden.
Grateful for Voting
June 6, 2021
Today I'm grateful for my right to vote. I've been voting since 1976 and vote in nearly all elections. There are a lot of myths about voting. One myth is that presidents "always" lose seats in the House and Senate during the midterms. This is not true. It's dismissive and cruel to say that, especially if you vote by mail or have adequate numbers of polling places and voting machines.
It happens a lot, but not every time. When voters disapprove of the president's performance, they vote for the other party. When they like the president, they vote for the president's party. Thus, when people like the president's performance, the president can add seats in the House and Senate thanks to the midterms.
Let's take two presidents, Bill Clinton (elected in 1992 and reelected in 1996). Clinton had a backlash in the first midterm (1994) but gained House seats in the 1998 midterm. Why is this? People resented the Republicans prying into his private life (his sex life) to attempt to impeach him. Voters came out and showed their support for President Clinton, netting him five additional US Representatives in the 1998 midterms.
Next let's consider George W. Bush (elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004). Bush became a hero on 9/11 and gained eight House seats and two Senate seats in the 2002 midterms. However, by the next midterms (2006), voters were tired of his wars in the Middle East and he lost seats in the House and Senate.
Hating on the president is a popular pastime in America, possibly because we project our father issues on our leaders. It's true, most midterms presidents lose seats. For example, President Obama lost seats in both midterms, mostly because whole demographic sectors boycotted the midterms. In one midterm, the LGBT constituency boycotted because they felt Obama ignored them. Later the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and Obama praised the decision. However, the timing was not good for the midterms. In the other midterm, the Latino/Hispanic demographic boycotted, also feeling ignored. Obama subsequently issued an executive order to protect Dreamers, but it was too late for the midterms. I still believe if the LGBT and Latino/Hispanic voters had turned out, Obama could have held onto the House and Senate.
There is no rule presidents lose seats in the midterms. It's not like it's a law of physics. Every election depends on who votes and who voters favor. If voters passionately support a president, or monumentally fear the opposition party, they will get to the polls. Never bet against Americans. We like to make our thoughts known! We love our right to vote. There's no evidence of voter fraud. It's a big lie. We honor voting in this country. Instead of thinking we're doomed, we must work for voter rights and fight against voter suppression.
This data is from presidency.ucsb.edu
Gratitude for the Truth
May 27, 2021
This gratitude diary has gotten a little muddled at times, but today I feel clear - I am grateful for Gladys Sicknick. She's the mother of US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who gave his life to save our democracy. I want to be like her. Smart, speaking the truth, courageous, and determined.
Further, she raised a child who made the difference, saving the lives of all our legislators. If not for her son, January 6 could have gone the other way. We would be in a future so horrible, I advise people to just not go there. If you want to visualize something, picture more women like Gladys Sicknick in our dialogue starting now.
2020 Election Results are In
May 20, 2021
Last year they let us vote by mail, vote by ballot drop-off boxes, and simply vote. What did the voters say? Kick out Trump. It happened, get over it. Why do some people still think he won? Trump lost. The majority of American voters wanted somebody new.
In 2000, twenty years ago, the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore came down to a few votes in Florida. Gore held off his formal concession and took it to the Supreme Court. They were furiously recounting votes in Florida, but the Supreme Court said "stop counting the ballots, let's get on with this. Bush won." A couple years after that a study showed Gore won Florida, but Gore was an adult who did not go around griping about about the election for months into 2001. Instead he threw himself into research on how we can save our planet. Then after 9-11, most Americans (including me and other Democrats) came together around Bush to protect our country.
Last year the election went to judges in many states, and each time the judges affirmed Joe Biden's win. The question went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts. All the states certified their election, then the House and Senate certified the Electoral College vote. Done.
There's another election in 2024. Get ready for that instead of trying to start a civil war. If we are to continue as a civilized Western democracy, we must stop short of turning against ourselves like a patient with a cancerous auto immune disease. So cut out the bullshit people, take your medicine, get some counseling and take better care of yourself. Don't go delusional. There is no steal to stop.
If you're offended by this, I hope you get the positive intent in what I'm telling you. This is my gratitude journal. Gratatude doesn't mean rolling over just to help somebody save face. He lost.
Independent Republican Party
May 16, 2021
I'm grateful for sensible Republicans who want to form a third party. I am behind it as long as you are in favor of making it easy for all eligible Americans to vote. Maybe you could call it the Independent Republican party. Independent of Russia, Trump, McConnell, and idiots who think they are masters of the universe, making up their own reality. It's great to create your own reality if it's a reality that's positive and for the highest good of all. It's another thing to say what happened on January 6 was like a peaceful bunch of tourists.
If you form the Independent Republican party, you could scoop up Republican-leaning Independents and get momentum to stand up to the broken, old Republican party.
I will always be a Democrat, but would love to see a peace treaty between the Democratic party and the Independent Republican party. We have differences, but it would be easier to work things out if there was an Independent Republican party instead of an angry, immature cult of personality as the party stands now.
Can Gratitude be Snarky?
May 13, 2021
I'm not sure gratitude can or should be snarky. However, I am feeling snarky gratitude today. Mostly, I'm glad I'm not a Republican! Last night on TV, Michael Steele, former chairperson of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said the Republican party isn't going anywhere after outsting Rep. Liz Cheney for calling out Trump's big lie. Steele added, "The Republicans have hitched their horse to a dead horse."
In a hearing yesterday, Republican Representative Andrew Clyde called the January 6 insurrection a "normal tourist visit" in DC. To help them out, political consultant Karl Frisch coined a new slogan for the Republicans: "Extremism to Own the Libs is Our Jam."
Besides feeling gratitude I'm a Democrat, I also feel grateful I'm no longer in ISKCON, aka the Hare Krishna organization. Comparing the Republicans to cult followers is another sad chapter in history. Here are some of the old Hare Krishna men's thoughts about vaccines that went around on a "reply-all" email vortex last weekend:
"PLEASE dont take any vaccine and even dont take the Test in your nose!!
No Joke but the Covid Vaccine is mainly produced to reduce the population on earth! FOR NOTHING MORE!!
Please believe it !"
"Ten years' vaccine work achieved in about 10 months.????? It takes 10 years to develop vaccine. Pharmas say they have not taken short cut soooooo why did the Pharmas seek all the Governments support from being sued if they are so convinced?"
"[moderator's name], you shouldn't make a comment like, Trump is and always will be the most corrupt President in US history until you have done an objective study of US history.
The fact is, other than for JFK, and to some degree Jimmy Carter, all US Presidents, from both Parties, especially in the last one hundred years, they ALL have been among the most corrupt and the most evil leaders in the history of the World!
The US was totally high-jacked in 1913 by a foreign Cabal, and both, the Republican and the Democratic Parties are but the right and the left arm of that very Cabal.
"mRNA is not a vaccine. It is new un-tested nano-tech drug. It is nothing at all like traditional vaccines, which aim to help to boost one's natural immunity for years or for life with just one dose. Just because gvt. agents call something a 'vaccine' doesn't make it true."
"Just consider this one thing--MODERNA is the name for one of these big pharma companies and it means by their own admission MODERN RNA--who wants their own personal RNA changed by these people??
Editor's note: "duh" is right guys. My friend KT "the instigator" said she's thinking of getting a t-shirt "Covid vaxxed, if you're not, good luck w/ that, moron." I do pray those old Hare Krishna guys make it through the pandemic, but to that end, get the shot!
Audio Book Reading List
May 9, 2021
Happy Mother's Day everybody. Today I'm feeling grateful for my audio book reading list! Today I'm listening to Senator Elizabeth Warren read her new book, Persist. It's great. Here are a few more good reads that have brightened my life so far this year:
Books by James Hollis, Jungian psychoanalyst - Through the Dark Wood: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, A Life of Meaning: Exploring Our Deepest Questions and Motivations, Living an Examined Life, Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives, Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times. He has a lot more books, but these were my first plunge into the James Hollis pool. He's great and his books are soothing! (even if they dig into your deepest complexes).
Books by Bill Bryson, a didactic polymath who writes so well you can't put it down. So far I've read At Home: A Short History of Private Life, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, In a Sunburned Country (on his travels in Australia), and his memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. I look forward to more of his books, especially those read by the author.
Besides Bryson's memoir, other great memoirs I read this year: Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History, by Larry Brilliant (this was amazing, especially good reading for the pandemic), Being Ram Dass, by Rameshwar Das and Baba Ram Dass (one of the most well known disciples of Neem Karoli Baba - Larry Brilliant was also a disciple, and both books discuss the influence Neem Karoli Baba had in their lives), Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung (this was amazing, and something I had wanted to read for years. It allowed me to crawl into the brain of Jung and find out what went on in there).
Mythology - The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell - this is one I had wanted to read for decades, and finally read it as an audio book. It's a romp through mythology from all cultures as it all connected in Joseph Campbell's vision. Mythos, by Stephen Fry. This was the author's take on early Greek mythology, which reads more like a soap opera than a dry textbook on Greek mythology. His version fleshes out the mythic characters. It was a fun read. The next two weren't myths, but go back to the roots of Western civilization - The Allegory of the Cave, by Plato. He has a few choice words for politicians who are only in it for themselves. To follow up on Greek philosophy, for good measure I also read The Ethics of Aristotle, by Father Joseph Koterski S.J. (The Great Courses).
Russian classics - A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, by George Saunders. This writing professor gives his class on now to write a good story, analyzing his favorite short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol. I admit I was only familiar with one of these stories, so it was a great introduction to Russian writers.
John O'Donohue - the late priest and poet. I had read his audio book To Bless the Space Between Us many times over the last few years and decided to venture further into his writings. This year I read Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, Rediscovering the True Sources of Compassion, Serenity, and Hope. I love his writing, but he was just one month older than me and I find it heartbreaking he died so young. I need to come to terms with his being gone before I can read more of his books. (Editor's note: now I'm reading Thomas Merton, and he also died young, so sad.)
Meditation and healing: The Spirit of Healing: Stories, Wisdom, and Practices from Native America, by Lewis Mehl-Medrona. I love his playful healing energy and gladly went on the amazing shamanic journey he laid out in this book. Qi Meditations: Guided Visualizations for Self-Healing, Maoshing Ni, another fun healing journey. The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, by Janice Kaplan. This was a fun book and accounts for why I started a gratitude blog in January 2021.
Cult Proof Kids
April 30, 2021
Last year I was in a committee to write a statement for parents on how to cult-proof their children. We developed the list, but it never got published. I decided to share it, since a lot of people worry about their children joining a cult. There's also a short section on how to talk to a friend who has joined a cult. Enjoy.
Teach children critical thinking, including how to recognize propaganda, lies, and false advertising.
Teach children safe use of the Internet, such as how to check authenticity of material and credibility of sources.
Review Lifton's Eight Criteria for Thought Reform and similar resources. [Link to lists of resources - click here.]
Teach children about the existence of untrustworthy people, how to recognize them, and the dangers they pose.
Teach children how to build and maintain successful relationships with worthwhile people.
Encourage children to consult their parents, teachers, or other trusted adults if they face a dilemma or have questions about anything.
Teach children how to structure their time to balance work and relaxation, and get their school work and other obligations done.
Help children discover their interests and develop goals. Children with career goals will have the best chance of resisting cults as they progress through high school and college.
School counselors must alert parents when they notice children are depressed, or showing mood changes. Parents must follow up with appropriate counseling, through the school, or private counseling.
How to Relate to a Loved One in a Cult
Do not criticize the cult or cult leader, even if it is a dangerous group.
Do not accuse the loved one of being in a cult.
Maintain a friendly relationship and speak to the person you knew before the cult, even if they have adopted a cult personality.
Express your feelings in "I" statements, such as "I miss the fun we used to have." Offer honest feedback, but do not scold, judge, nag, or beg them to comply with what you want.
Become a person of trust, so your loved one can turn to you if they develop doubts or decide to leave.
A Turning Point in America
April 20, 2021
God bless the jury, the attorneys, and the witnesses in the Dereck Chauvin trial. I'm one of many who feel grateful today to finally see a murderous policeman get convicted. What Chauvin did to George Floyd was horrifying. The nightmare went on for nearly a year, including a long list of victims of killer police going back how many years. Now we can stop it.
Thank God for Sane Republicans
April 16, 2021
I feel grateful I believe there are sane Republicans.
Like cults or covert criminal operations, the corruption is usually at the top. That's how I see the Republican party. Registered Republicans and Republican leaning Independents may reflexively vote for anyone with an "R" after their name because they feel loyal to the party. However they may do so even though they may harbor doubts about the direction their party has taken. They may identify as "Eisenhower Republicans," "McCain Republicans," "GHWB Republicans," "Mueller Republicans," "Bill Kristol Republicans," or "Lincoln Republicans."
Here's a quiz for Republicans to determine if they still fit in with the Republican party, and whether they accept the elephant walk, and where their party is headed.
Sane Republican - one or two guns should be enough.
New Republican party - forty or more guns are essential to defend freedom. Super owners will secure liberty when the revolution comes. The Democrats want to take away all your guns.
Sane Republican - the Covid pandemic is real; pandemics happen if we don't stop them. It's better to take precautions to end the pandemic.
New Republican party - evil people made up the pandemic to purposely destroy the American economy. They want to control us. Vaccines are actually poison. Hospitals inflate the number of Covid deaths because they get more money from a Covid death.
Mass Gun Murders
Sane Republicans: Mass murders happen. It might help to do background checks.
New Republican party - There are no mass murders. The Democrats want to take people's guns away, so they hire a traveling ensemble of crisis actors to make it look like a mass shooting took place.
January 6, 2021 Insurrection at the Capitol
Sane Republican - that was some bad stuff going on, so those who participated need to be held responsible.
New Republican party - 1 - what happened was good because there was massive fraud in the 2020 election. We need to "stop the steal" - overturn the election and install Trump.
New Republican party - 2 - most of the people were Democrats and Antifa pretending to be Trump supporters. The whole thing was just to make Trump look bad.
The 2020 Election
Sane Republican - Oh well, we lost. We can try again in four years.
The New Republican party - 1 - the Deep State cheated and there was massive voter fraud, just like Trumps says. The courts, the state election officials, Vice President Pence, and the Senate were all in on the conspiracy. Trump will ultimately be vindicated and be put back into office.
New Republican party - 2 - Black people really should not vote. We harken back to a time when only landed white aristocrats could vote. That is a better system.
Lies and Abuse
Sane Republican - it's better to be honest and live by the Golden Rule.
New Republican party - whatever you have to do for a righteous cause is justified, even if it inclues lying or abuse.
Democratic Republic Government
Sane Republican - our democratic republic system is essential to keep our country moving forward. The American way is a guiding light in the free world.
New Republican party - the American government is the "Deep State," a corrupt cabal that must be dissolved. A feudal system, such as the Old South pre-Civil War plantation system, would be a better way to run things.
Sane Republican - the media has a role in gathering and broadcasting news. The First Amendment allows freedom of the press.
New Republican party - the Deep State controls the mainstream media. They promote lies to make the Republican party look bad.
After you take this quiz, decide if you want to live on Earth One or Earth Two. Be forewarned, living outside of reality, and imagining everyone is out to get you, may be symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.
Prayers for George Floyd and Voting
April 5, 2021
Today is International Golden Rule Day. A perfect day for doing what we would do to help George Floyd - and that means to tell the truth. The last time he resisted was when he refused to get into the police car, saying he felt claustrophobic. They let him out. After that he did not resist, but Derek Chauvin killed him.
It's also true Joe Biden won the 2020 election, mostly because a record number of African Americans and young people could vote. Voting is our right as Americans, and that is also truth. We need every adult American to vote. Restricting voting rights is anti-American.
Trial for the Intentional Murder of George Floyd
March 31, 2021
Today I feel grateful for all the witnesses of the murder of George Floyd. It's been hard for people around the world, and you were at the center. We appreciate you.
America Please Be America
March 21, 2021
Here it is, America, where every citizen has pledged to the flag that we will have liberty and justice for all. I for one have always taken that seriously. I love the slogan #stopaapihate, but I want to step it up a bit. Please join me in bringing love to the conversation. I'm talking about American love, not some kind of perverted, demented love, which is really just hate.
Here's what I'm thinking:
Corruption Coming to Light
March 19, 2021
Today I would like to report breaking news: more feelings of gratitude. It's frustrating to watch people lie and get away with it for four years. The Republicans went around blaming China for interfering in the election, then on Monday the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report where they concluded China did not interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The Republicans knew this, but acted like we would never find out.
After all the allegations of racism in the Republican party, finally Rep. Roy of Texas blurts out what they are all thinking: "Find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree." Does the whole Republican party support lynching? Or just this man? If there are good Republicans, why do they remain silent?
Americans believe in justice through a court of law. You get to make your case in front of a jury of your peers. You have the right to an attorney. People are sworn to tell the truth. We have a good system, so let's make it even better.
The thing is, people who are dishonest think everyone lies. They can't believe there are people who believe in truth and live honest lives. Conversely, people who are honest can't believe some people are nasty corrupt liars. They were raised to be honest and fair. To most honest people, it doesn't seem possible people in positions of power will lie and cheat.
But I'm grateful the truth is coming out. We need honesty. The whole human race will benefit if America turns into a genuinely honest nation. We have a spotty record in history, but now we have a second chance. Let's see some honesty and bring the liars to justice.
March 3, 2021
Gratitude is back here at Surrealist News. There's no particular reason to feel optimistic when I look at the outside world. The world is churning out of control as usual. The zombies are plotting to take away my vote by mail and install their QAnon Lord back into the White House. Texas has thawed out from a deadly manmade disaster, but still can't get their water back. The Texas governor has declared the pandemic over! I feel sorry for the zombie vote eaters and Texas, but there's not much I can do for them from here. I care about Texas, and I love Texas. Get it together, Texas! We miss you!
Thankfully, with gratitude, here at the world headquarters of Surrealist.org, things are sunny and bright. I have good work to do, friendly and kind neighbors, and I'm getting back my health. Things are pretty good. Wish the same for you.
Tough Time for a Gratitude Journal
February 18, 2021
It's been a rough week with what's going on in Texas, and all over the South. I feel especially bad for the sea turtles, and wish they would invite people to come in and add body heat to that big warehouse.
I also feel sorry for my mom and others who loved Rush Limbaugh. My mom was a distant cousin through her husband, and used to send him homemade pot holders every time he got married. So I don't derive any gratitude or joy from that situation in any sense. He was a menace to the truth, so it's just sad he used his great talents to divide, instead of unify.
I am making progress on my own work, in my own little world here. I've been okay. I'm in Arizona, so it's not freezing. But still, this morning I had three bad dreams about the insurrection, and the first two were nightmares. In the first one, I was in a large hall, like a school, or a large ark with long hallways. Due to lies, the people on the streets were going insane, attacking each other. It was like the insurrection, but I knew a few of them personally. I barely escaped. I managed to climb up some cloth ropes they threw from the ark before it moved away from the scene.
In the second nightmare, I was inside my condo and the zombies came to my windows. For some reason both of my side windows were open. I managed to shut one and they put their faces right up to the glass. But they poured in through the other open window and surrounded me. They were acting really weird, around me. I started to scream "help help help," but could barely make any sound. Then I put my hands up to push away one of the zombies, and thought of the idea of sending him love. So I did. Then all the zombies started to say "what's this what's this?" and suddenly they all disappeared.
In the third dream, creepy and scary, but not a nightmare, I'm at home at some house with other people. These pushy people came to the door and forced their way in. We tried to stop them, but they spread out, somewhat like what happened on January 6. They were all over the place, while one very talkative man from their group kept us occupied so we couldn't do anything to get them to leave.
So no gratitude journal today, except that my nightmares were just dreams.
Grateful for a Good Mayor
February 17, 2021
Here where I live, we have a great mayor. Our city is always working to improve things for the people who live here. We have festivals, or at least we used to (and will probably resume after Covid), we have parks, good air quality, reliable city services, and responsive city employees who answer the phone when you need them!
I feel sorry for apartheid states where the leadership doesn't give a damn about people under their care. Governments, especially local governments, channel the tax money back into infrastructure, schools, and community services. I'm grateful to live in a city with high ratings as a good place to live or locate a business.
Texas is experiencing unprecedented danger from weather conditions. Despite running almost exclusively on fossil fuels, the energy grid was overcome and millions of people are living without water or heat. The last I heard, more than twenty people had died. I feel really bad for Texas, because I love Texas! I feel particularly bad for the people of Colorado City, Texas. Here's what their mayor posted on social media while people are freezing to death in their homes:
Anybody who has a good mayor who cares and feels empathy for others who are suffering, take a minute to feel grateful, and to feel pity for the people who must suffer under the lack of leadership from Mayor Tim Boyd. Or anybody like him. (Latest news: Boyd resigned in disgrace after this post.)
February 13, 2021
I'm grateful for the Impeachment hearings in the Senate over the last few days. The Democratic House Managers did an good job presenting the severity of the January 6 attack on our Capitol, the seat of our democracy. They put the facts out in the open for the public, and history.
God bless the House Impeachment Managers:
Jamie Raskin, lead manager, representing Maryland's 8th District
Joaquin Castro, representing Texas' 20th District
David Cicilline, representing Rhode Island's 1st District
Madeleine Dean, representing Pennsylvania's 4th District
Diana DeGette, representing Colorado's 1st District
Ted Lieu, representing California's 33rd District
Joe Neguse, representing Colorado's 2nd District
Stacey Plaskett, representing Virgin Islands' At-Large District
Eric Swalwell, representing California's 15th District
I'm grateful seven Republicans voted to convict Trump. Although some Republicans were complicit in the insurrection, at least seven were not involved. That's something to feel grateful about.
It's tragic seven people died as a result of the insurrection, but our legislators were spared. Imagine where we would be now if Trump's mob had killed all our legislators. Trump would now be the king and his mob would be rampaging across DC to rout out the legitimate government. I'm grateful the Bidens put big pink hearts on the White House lawn to remind us love prevails, especially over Valentine's Day weekend.
It's unfortunate Senator Mitch McConnell is only in politics for the love of money and power, but he at least made a little speech condemning Trump's actions on January 6. McConnell encouraged us to take Trump to court. In his own weasel ways, I'm grateful he at least condemned Trump.
Because we still have our democracy, for now, I'm grateful. It would be better if the Republicans would get it together and work with Democrats in good faith, but that's up to them. They look like they care more about their jobs than about the Constitution or the welfare of the people of America.
Thank god America is still standing. Bruised and bloodied, but still standing.
January 30, 2021
Well, here we are wishing goodbye to the first month of 2021. We regret the problems the GOP is having, since it would be great to have a reliable, loyal opposition party. Nobody likes what's going on. I was in a cult for ten years! It makes me feel grateful to be out for the last thirty-two years.
January 24, 2021
There's so much to be grateful about. After a successful election, we have a new administration that cares about the American people. President Biden and Vice-president Kamala Harris will end this pandemic and get us back to work.
This was the first inauguration where I've watched all day. Past inaugurations may have had good speeches by the incoming leaders, but that and a parade were about it. Plus, it was footage of other people watching a parade, like they have around the holidays.
However, this year I felt involved in every part of the inauguration, beginning with prayers and mourning for the four hundred thousand people who have died of Covid.
The daytime events went well, everyone safe in a heavily fortified District of Columbia. Then an amazing concert at night, including three past presidents discussing why they support Biden-Harris. After that, more music and then fireworks. When it ended, Rachel Maddow said if you need fireworks for anything else, forget it. They're all used up now!
I want an America with a working government, where the government cares about people, and cares about our traditions and obligations.
New Yorker Footage of January 6 Riot
January 16, 2021
I just watched the unabridged footage of what happened inside our sacred Capitol Building. It's like we're at the gates of hell. The people trapped in hell burst into our temple and pleaded for release from their wretched lives. We pray for our country.
UC Santa Barbara Accomplishments in 2020
January 11, 2021
This is where I got my bachelor's degree! Here's what my alma mater was up to while the rest of the world was spinning out of control: UC Santa Barbara: a look back at 2020 (video).
January 10, 2012
Grateful the police held a funeral processon for the late Officer Brian D. Sicknick. He gave his life to protect our country. Grateful the FBI warned ringleaders to stay home. It could have been much worse if the ringleaders had been at the Capitol Wednesday. Grateful the Democrats in the House will introduce their Articles of Impeachment tomorrow, and present it to the Senate after the first one hundred days of Biden-Haris.
January 8 2021
I Ching Predictions for the Changes Ahead in 2021
This essay originally appeared in Sedona Journal of Emergence, Predictions 2021 & Beyond, Annal Predictions Issue 2020-2021.
January 7, 2021
In Arizona we have a lot to feel grateful about. We elected Senator Mark Kelly. We helped elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Yesterday after the attempted coup to overthrow America's election, Arizona made history standing up for free and fair elections. Even though the conspiracy theorist Republican legislators attacked our election results, Arizonans know our elections are fair. We've been voting by mail for thirty years.
We are grateful the House and Senate confirmed the Electoral College vote for Biden-Harris. Two Republican Senators asked the rest of the Republicans to tell their constituents the truth: the election was fair.
More gratitude - we won two elections in Georgia yesterday, so with Senators Warnock and Ossoff, Democrats will control the Senate.
More gratitude - President-elect Biden named Merrick Garland to be our next attorney general. Judge Garland knows the law, and is an honorable man. He was denied a hearing when President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court.
Plus, the man who blocked hearings on his nomination will now become the minority leader, and I'm glad he accepted the demotion gracefully. Although I believe Senator McConnell has a wheelbarrow of karma, at least he discouraged election conspiracy theories, and condemned the insurrectionists.
We call for consequences for all the people who attacked our Capitol. After we square things up, then get ready for a better world to take shape from these ashes. I look forward to justice, and to reclaiming some of the innocent lost souls who have gone into the tyranny of cognitive dissonance. Come back to reality lost people, things are not as fake and broken as they told you. We can fix it. Things get better so gradually, you sometimes take it for granted.
pray for peace index