Happy Weekend, everyone!

I had some really serious stuff I wanted to get posted this week — but the daze got away on me.

Next week is another week. (As far as we know!?)

I wish everyone a happy Labour Day weekend. We’ve had a pretty crappy summer, weather-wise (not to mention events-wise!?).

Let’s hope this weekend is nice … just for a change.

Have some fun, have some laughs.

You can start with this one!

Beer Laugh! copy

 

‘Quote of the day’:  “Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” ~ Benjamin Franklin (quoted on menu at C’est What? restaurant in Toronto)

Tom Robbins on “crazy wisdom”: “Crazy wisdom is the wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one’s gaze from the sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything. Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, the gods immediately placed his or her heart in one pan of a set of scales. In the other pan was a feather. If there was imbalance, if the heart of the deceased weighed more than the feather, he or she was denied admittance to the afterworld. Only the lighthearted were deemed advanced enough to merit immortality.”

29

08 2014

Thoughts for Today

<well, Saturday, actually>

  • Nobody really knows what the heck is going on.
  • We’re all trying to look cool. Or maybe … hot. But the truth is … see # 1.
  • Fake it ‘till you make it.
  • Just do what everyone does. Cultivate a calm exterior, & keep on paddling like crazy underneath. (That’s what the ducks do, & it seems to be working for them!)

 

Janet

p.s. One more thought: We (the royal we) are

  • thoughtful
  • intelligent
  • diligent
  • faithful

 

opponents – in a war (series of wars) we cannot possibly win. (Sigh.)

p.p.s. but oh well, no matter, never mind, I don’t have to figure that (or anything) out right now. Just do me errands, hop back on me bike, & head home.

p.p.p.s. there’s a cop outside the coffee shop I’m sitting in as I write this. “Dusting” the pay phone for the fingerprints of someone who called in a bomb threat, apparently. Sheesh. What next?

p.p.p.p.s. I still love living in the Big City!! It’s filled with moronic behaviour of all sorts & varieties (let me count the ways! A # of which I witnessed on this afternoon’s bike ride) – but you know?? I still just really love people. Call me crazy, I know, I know…

‘Quotation of the day’ with this post: “The Barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the reins of power.” – Letter to the editor of the Toronto Star, January 18/14.

Spare quote: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.”[1]

 

On Success: “To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of oneself; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…this is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [more quotes on success]

** tons of great inspiring quotations in ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

 

[1] From an essay “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt, “renowned moral philosopher” & Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton. Frankfurt’s essay, btw, was originally published in the Raritan Review. Most of it is a little dry & overly philosophical for my taste, but it sure does open up in a hilarious, slam-dunk kind of way!! I did a blog post about bullshit here.

26

08 2014

Quote of the Decade

“What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness …  They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Daniel Ellsberg, quoted in the Marc Gerstein book Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental  (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima)

** For the record: being reminded of this quotation – quite a mind-blowing one, I might add – while watching a live Webcast of a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission meeting.

** tons of great nuke-related quotes here

& a great companion quote is this one:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair (this one btw is of great relevance when one is trying to understand the incomprehensible things being said/claimed/denied/twisted by members of the Nuke Boyz Club).

Yet one more: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

20

08 2014

Worst.Camping.Trip.Ever

Not.

Okay, I gave it away. It wasn’t, definitely wasn’t, the worst camping trip ever.

But the weather sure sucked!!

Most rain I’ve ever experienced on a camping trip. By a long shot. (I’ve been extraordinarily blessed in this regard in the past, clearly.)

Still.

I got to swim over to the beautiful lichen-covered, pine tree-surrounded rock – the one you see at the top of this blog – & say hi.

Heard & saw lots of loons/loon-calls. (I love the sort of little chuffing noise they make when they’re just sort of puddling around – the more spectacular call they do too, of course – but I get a real kick out of the “hey, dudes?” noise (or whatever it is) they make.)

More wind & water (of the falling-out-of-the-sky variety) than one is strictly keen about on a camping trip.

But also?

  • Good food
  • Good friends
  • Conversation
  • Laughs
  • Campfire chat
  • The usual camping trip cooperation & camaraderie.

 

Didn’t experience that awesome “buzzed” sensation I got last year. (You can’t just “order up” that sort of thing, I’m afraid.)

Also didn’t lose anyone while walking a portage.

& did walk a couple short portage routes, just for the outing/exercise. Very nice – except for the mosquitoes who apparently did not get the memo that we choose to camp in August so as to avoid the bugs. Ahem.

So. We cut it short this time due to the rain & unseasonably cool weather.

& not sorry

at all at all at all

that I/we went.

Still love sleeping outside, on the ground, in a tent.

Listening to the wind in the pines.

Very grateful my tent doesn’t leak!

& also very grateful for awesome friends.

 

Back to reality!

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “What I expect from writers – and from myself as a writer – is to articulate a complex view of things. To incite us to be more compassionate. To orchestrate our mourning. And to celebrate ecstasy.” – Susan Sontag

Brenda Ueland on creativity: “Why should we all use our creative power? … Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” – Brenda Ueland (American writer, 1891-1985)

18

08 2014

What Would Pema (or Eckhart) Do?

<August 7/14>

So, I’m feeling annoyed with someone for … um … doing something really annoying. I even knew ahead of time this person would do this very specific annoying thing, & had told myself to not bother being annoyed when it came to pass as I’d predicted.

But I am annoyed. Or, well, I was.

Until I put myself through a mini-Pema (Chödrön)/Eckhart (Tolle) workshop on this morning’s walk.

I was batting it all around in my head (the being annoyed, the internal argument), & then all of a sudden I heard my mind say, “What would Pema (or Eckhart) do?”

& I figured they’d probably think I was just indulging myself in a little drama (we humans DO love our dramas, that’s for sure), & basically letting my little old ego get the best of me.

That made me step back a little & start looking at the whole thing from a bit of a distance.

I realized that as long as I was walking along & staying stuck in my little drama, I felt angry. The anger was not resolving, or dissolving – if anything it was getting bigger.

I’d walked by some candy wrappers on the sidewalk & given them a vaguely angry look. Normally I’d probably have picked them up to throw them in the next garbage can I spotted (I don’t try to clean up the whole neighborhood or anything, but I do do my helpful little bits here & there), but I was too darn busy feeling annoyed.

& gradually it came over me that we all do annoying things to one another from time to time (just show me someone perfect, hmmm?)

& I recalled Eckhart’s great insight about ducks who’ve had a set-to & how they just “flap their wings” & go on about their business.

& after I’d decided to just flap my own wings, I started really noticing (as I usually do) the neat yards I was walking by

Lots & lots of very pretty flowers

& yards with no grass, just plants & hedges & ground covers & so on.

Nice…

Walking is just such a tonic, I tell you.

It really, really is.

Janet

p.s. with many, many thanks to Pema & Eckhart, for their wonderful insights & wisdom & humanity & inspiration.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Epictetus says that everything has two handles, one by which it can be borne and one by which it cannot. If your brother sins against you, he says, don’t take hold of it by the wrong he did you but by the fact that he’s your brother. That’s how it can be borne.” – Character in Anne Tyler’s novel Noah’s Compass

Bonus quotes:

“Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott in Crooked Little Heart

“It isn’t the big pleasures that count the most, it’s making a big deal out of the little ones.” – Jean Webster

16

08 2014

Things are not (always) what they seem

<August 6/14>

No kidding, eh??

It’s amazing how quickly we humans can jump to conclusions. & judgments. Think we can read someone else’s mind … intentions … know what they are thinking.

Two things this morning got me onto this.

First was when someone asked me if I’d been on my way to the yacht club when she’d seen me the other evening, walking down by the lake. I guess I may often look “dressed up” in the summer, simply because I own a lot of great dresses (all bought for me by a to-die-for friend who delights in finding clothes for me, the woman who never shops). When it’s really hot, I’d always rather be in a dress than anything else, as they’re the coolest thing to wear in the heat. So I sometimes look “dressed-up” on even the most casual of occasions.

But me & yacht club? I am sooooo not a yacht club kind of a gal.

2nd thing was when I was out on my bike & came across the path being blocked by 1 person & 2 bikes. Could have become annoyed quickly, but soon enough saw that a young person had pretty obviously fallen off his bike, & was over to the side of the path being comforted by … an older man, his father, perhaps? (Didn’t want to jump to conclusions & assume it was Dad.)

I am wondering if we jump to conclusions/judgments so fast, so automatically, we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

This I do know. We cannot tell what another person is thinking unless s/he tells us. We cannot read minds (not we ordinary mortals, anyway), or know what others believe, just by looking at them.

Had a recent sort of “set-to” with someone who made a big leap in thinking he knew what lay behind a certain remark I had made on a certain occasion, & he was half a continent away in his assumption. Just not even close.

& now, I am reminded of one of the most helpful books I have ever come across (thanks, Brenda!!).

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The 4 agreements he lays out are:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best.

 

He is not exaggerating at all when he claims these can change your life – or even that one alone (the one about assumptions) can do so.

Wildly helpful book. No kidding.

Or so it has been in my own little life.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers <pg 225>

15

08 2014

Thinking Small

<Aug. 5/14>

We’re usually advised to “think big.” “Live large.” You know?

I’m musing on doing just the opposite.

Thinking small.

Instead of trying to “save the world” (which frankly I had to give up on quite a while ago now)

or even trying to change it (I like to think I have helped in my small way to change a thing or two for the better along the way, not that any of it adds up to anything … big)

I think I am going to focus more & more on thinking small.

Celebrating small achievements – like getting a batch of granola made, finally, or any task that has been nagging at me.

I’m still doing work I consider very worthwhile (anti-nuclear activism) that brings its own small satisfactions which are not to be sneezed at. (I meet the grrrrrreatest people, & there is a wonderful solidarity in doing this kind of work – in fact the people are the biggest reward in activism – and in life in general!)

Anyway. I need to get to work.

But am taking joy so far today in the fact that I

  • Had a walk along the boardwalk (did some ‘plastic patrol’ as always)
  • Washed the dishes I should have washed last night
  • Wrote this little essay
  • & discovered another one in this little notebook that I’d forgotten I’d written

 

& now, I’m keen to get to work.

Janet

p.s. I think what thinking small really translates into is being grateful all the time for so-called “small” things that perhaps one might otherwise take for granted – & staying in the moment.

Not fussing & worrying about yukky stuff that might happen down the road. Or stuck in the past obsessing over … whatever it is we humans are so awfully darn good at obsessing over.

Now now now now now

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I awake in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E.B. White

A few spares: “Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist, once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’” – from Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser

“…as the Buddha told his cousin Ananda, the whole of the holy life is good friends. Our relationships – and our love – are ultimately what give depth and meaning to our lives.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

“A spiritual life is not about being self-conscious, or wearing a button that says “I’m a bodhisattva!” It is about doing what you have to do with no attachment to outcome. True compassion just does what needs to be done because it’s the only thing to do – just because it’s natural and ordinary, like smoothing your pillow at night. Sometimes the outcome can seem to be a happy one. And often enough we are faced with so-called failure. And thus it is.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death 

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 – 1987) [more JC quotes on this blog here]

“There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh [more quotes on courage]

“Happiness is a form of courage.” – George Holbrook Jackson

“Work for a cause, not for applause.

Live life to express, not to impress.

Don’t strive to make your presence

Noticed, just make your absence felt.” – Anonymous

 

08

08 2014

Feeling Cheery

Past few posts have been pretty much downers; apologies, readers!

Feeling pretty cheery today – have drafted some more upbeat posts, but no time right now to type, edit & post them.

Soon, I hope!!

Janet

Jim Carrey on Rich & Famous

07

08 2014

Disappointed (take 2)

<at the airport , but actually it’s really take 1, ‘cos I wrote this before I wrote the previous post … but you know, whatever…>

How/why am I feeling so … disappointed?

Let me count the ways.

& not just disappointed, either.

  • Shocked
  • Saddened
  • Heartbroken
  • Sick at heart

 

But only when I’m thinking.

I need to stop thinking.

After all

Children are still so innocent

& un-corrupted

(mostly)

 

Their voices high & sweet

Their curiosity & questions endless

Their questions (mostly) easy to find satisfactory answers to.

 

& I can be like a child too.

Sitting, watching planes take off & land.

 

I think I’ll do that, shall I?

 

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”  Helen Keller (1940)

Runner-up: “I am tired of acquiring wisdom. Somebody bring me a drink and a whoopee cushion.” – Cornelius Talbot

** gobs of inspiring quotations in ‘Quotation Central!’ section!

06

08 2014

Disappointment & the Letter ‘D’

So, been thinking lately about disappointment. I keep thinking “Damn I am disappointed in the human race.”

You know?

(I might add that I am frequently disappointed in myself, as well.)

But I’m out for a bike ride & my mind did this alphabet thing – I started thinking of currently relevant ‘D’ words:

  • Disappointed
  • Desolate / desolation
  • Disgust
  • Despair
  • Disaster
  • Denial
  • Deluded
  • Deadly
  • Despondent
  • Daze

 

I’m sure a barrel of laughs, eh??

& then I thought of some upbeat ‘D’ words:

  • Delicious
  • Delicate
  • Dignity
  • Dumbfounding (in a good way, as in beauty that is dumbfounding)

 

& on my bike ride I have been seeing

  • Ducks
  • Dogs

 

& it’s been deeeeelightful.

So. Onward ho.

Day at a time…

Janet

p.s. btw, I was out without any devices. Encountered many a walker so caught up in her/his device, s/he was oblivious to her/his surroundings – including any pesky pedestrians/cyclists whose progress they might be impeding. Damn devices… They can be deadly! (Heard on the radio the other day there are now more car accidents caused by distracted driving than by drunk driving. Lordy.)

p.p.s. have a laugh!

Bears-what doesn't kill you

p.p.p.s. I have absolutely NOTHING against bears, btw. Used to live in town where bears were frequent visitors. As a rule I’d have to say we humans are more of a danger to them than they are to us. But a person’s gotta have a chuckle once in a while!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality.” – Thoreau in his essay “Life Without Principle,” quoted in Paul Theroux’s The Last Train to Zona Verde – My Ultimate African Safari [a great read, btw!]

** gobs of inspiring quotations in ‘Quotation Central!‘ section!

 

04

08 2014

Do You Want to be Happy?

<July 24/14>

or do you want to be rich?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be a bigshot?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be in control?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be right?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be a drama queen?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be a princess?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be a victim?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to be a martyr?

 

Do you want to be happy?

Or do you want to stay stuck in your old story complaining about how hurt you’ve been?

 

I suppose I could go on.

But life is short!

& there are no guarantees about how long I/we/you have.

(I’d rather be happy.)

Janet

p.s. lots of quotations about happiness here!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” ~ Agnes Repplier

Runners-up:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

“Here’s a test to find whether your mission in life is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t!” – Richard Bach, author

“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.” – William Sloane Coffin

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” – Carl Sagan, astronomer (1934 – 1996)

“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” – George Bernard Shaw

“You don’t see things as they are. You see things as you are.” – the Talmud

On nothing being what we thought: “The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion – not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don’t know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” – Pema Chödrön in the chapter ‘Intimacy with Fear’ in When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997)

 

 

03

08 2014

Truth – for today

<July 29/14>

Not gonna lie to you. Especially with that title up there!

Spirits have been kinda low, of late. Usually my bouts of low spirits last no more than a day. But I’m working on Day 4 or 5 now.    [note: it lasted 6. See p.s. below]

Little Miss Rebecca Sunshine is finding the world a little too much with me, as they say.

Funny, though. The sadness doesn’t really feel … personal, in a way. It almost feels as though it’s something that’s in the air … & if it’s in the air, I really have no choice but to breathe it in, do I?

Collective sadness, maybe. Weltschmerz, maybe?

It’s true that I believe the human race is on its last legs. Which probably doesn’t help my mood any too much. Heh heh. [collection of links about NTE here]

The other day I saw an article about this big hole that’s opened up in Russia.

From that one, I went to a link about being “beaten with a hockey stick.”

In which it states: “The impacts to the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream are ever more severe as are the impacts to Greenland ice sheet melt. Under such a situation we rapidly get into a weather scenario where screaming temperature differentials between the North Atlantic near Greenland and the warming tropics generate storms the likes of which we have never seen. Add in a 12% boost to the hydrological cycle and we get the potential for what Dr. James Hansen describes as “frontal storms the size of continents with the intensity of hurricanes.”

Yikes. Storms the size of continents?

Yikes, OMG & damn.

This does not sound good.

Friends I have still talk about how they worry about the mess we’re leaving “for our grandchildren.” (Some of us in my social circle(s) don’t yet have grandchildren, but a great many of my friends do. I guess I can see why the grandparent-y ones can’t face the possibly imminent demise of our species in quite the way I, grandchild-less, am doing.

As for the “messes,” is there really anyone who believes we can actually sort all this stuff out? Clean it up?

I mean, really?????)

So. Low spirits.

Maybe I’ll break out the books I think might offer comfort in hard times. This “personal” mood of sadness, & the Reality that is confronting us. Barrelling toward us at great speed, one can only conclude.

Anything Pema Chödrön, for starters. Maybe especially When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997).

Pema - Sky image copy

Maybe Learning to Fall – The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, by Philip Simmons (written when he was still alive & dealing with ALS & the awareness of his own fast-approaching death).

& Navigating the Times of Change – Stories from Science, The Sacred, and a Wise Planet, by David La Chapelle.

Grateful that I have these great books right on my own bookshelves.

(& a lovely library a mere 10-minute walk away.)

& a daily walking habit!!

Looks like challenging times ahead. Off I go for a walk!

Janet

p.s. those “up” for some hard truth-telling about the state of the world & our species might want to check out the ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog. Listen to one of Guy McPherson’s lectures or interviews. You can write him off if you like – or mosey around the site & check out the thoughtful stuff available there.

I find his truth-telling compelling, if not exactly easy medicine to swallow. I like his repetition of the idea of living “lives of excellence.” Such good advice.

As for feeling (more than) a little bit sad about it all, that’s okay. Sadness is real. I’m allowed! There is quite a lot of very, very sobering stuff taking place on Planet Earth at this time. To put it very mildly indeed.

p.p.s. so, my seriously “down in the pit” thing lasted 6 days. A lot longer than usual for me. Not sure why I went in, or why I got out again. I do find it always helps to just be honest about the moods, & the feelings, for sure. So many of the writers I like best talk about being honest about our emotions – being real.

 

Good writers somehow help me feel as though I can breathe again… you know? & as far as that goes, while I’m not as extremely down in the pit as I was, life does seem pretty pit-y these days. These are challenging, challenging times to be a human bean on Planet Earth, I hafta say. I am grateful for my gratitude, walking & reading habits. They help me a lot. (As do worthwhile work, friends/family, food, music & beer!!)

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: Why are we here? “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.” – Mark Vonnegut, son of writer Kurt Vonnegut

** lots of great quotations about truth here

4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results. – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – ) 

02

08 2014

Thorium & Small Modular Reactors: Solutions? Not.

One keeps hearing the thorium thing being trotted out. If not that, it’s “small modular reactors.”

Well, I’m no expert on either of these – & am hugely skeptical about nuclear “solutions” that just perpetuate the same decades-old problems.

This posting consists of a list of debunking info items on these two.

Read away!

THORIUM – WHY NOT? Here is why not:

 

** if you do an Internet search using the phrase “why not thorium?” a TON of stuff comes up. Lots & lots of items as to why not!

Small Modular Reactors: Why not? Here’s why not:

 

** Another great resource = Nuclear Roulette – The Case Against a “Nuclear Renaissance” by Gar Smith.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Nuclear energy is unnecessary, uninsurable, uneconomic, and most importantly, unsafe. The fact that it continues to exist at all is a result of a ferocious lobby, enlisting the autocratic power of government, that will not admit that its product is unfit for use in the modern world. Let us not allow the lessons of Fukushima to be ignored.” ~ Ralph Nader

 ** tons more great nuke quotes here

** Look up at top of blog under No More Nukes! heading for many nuke-related postings/blog sections


23

07 2014

Plastic Patrol

Just returned from plastic patrol – aka my daily walk along the boardwalk (our awesome wonderful Beaches boardwalk along Lake Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

Picked up 10 or 20 bits of plastic garbage along the way & threw them into one of the many many many garbage bins placed all along the length of said boardwalk (i.e., no reason whatsoever for there being all these stray bits of garbage strewn all along the way).

Can’t for the life of me get inside the mind of the sort of person who has the smarts to go to lovely places like beaches & things, but not the smarts to not mess things up while there.

??????

Mind-boggling.

***

Sitting at my kitchen table yesterday working, & a bird lands in the tree just outside the window. Carrying a very long piece of plastic in its beak.

I ask the bird “WTF? What do you want with THAT??”

The bird does not answer.

I give him/her some unsolicited advice (& I want you to know, I am very, very careful not to give unsolicited advice 99.9% of the time) through the window:

“Hey, Birdie. Ditch the plastic already.”

A few moments later, s/he does! I guess it didn’t turn out to be a tasty morsel of food or any good as nesting material.

***

Have you seen the plastic garbage gyre in the ocean? Check it out. It’s liable to make you feel sick. (Just Google plastic garbage gyre in ocean.)

How about those damn plastic things six-pack cans of beer come in?

Not good for turtles & other living things.

Okay. Time to get to work.

More “plastic patrol” tomorrow, no doubt!

Janet

p.s. I didn’t set out to do this plastic business, you understand. I just can’t stand the thought of all that stuff maybe landing up in the lake….you know??

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “That plastic-lined abomination. That plastic will still be cluttering up the surface of the planet when everyone alive today is dust. Disposable!  They are about as disposable as nuclear waste.” – Author Anne Cameron on disposable diapers in Stubby Amberchuk & the Holy Grail, 1989

22

07 2014

Garlic Scape Pesto

<from Teske’s Spin Farm>

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup garlic scapes (top, flowery part removed), cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. walnuts or nut of your choice (optional) ** I used walnuts
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese (I bought the cheese & grated; no pre-grated for me, thanks!!)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. Place scapes & nuts in the bowl of a food processor (or hand blender, or blender) & whiz until well combined & somewhat smooth.
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil & process until integrated.
  3. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl & into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add cheese to taste; add salt & pepper (if indeed you remember the pepper; I forgot it!?).


Keeps up to 1 week in fridge, or freeze it.

Wickedly, sinfully delicious!!!

Janet

p.s. I bought the garlic scapes at the Deep River farmers’ market when I was up there. Had never bought or used them before, & was thrilled to see the pesto recipe with them. I’m a very un-practiced, unsophisticated cook, pretty new to pesto-making (made my first batch last year with the gobs of fresh basil from a friend’s garden, where I was house-sitting). This pesto is to die for. Thank you thank you thank you, Teske’s Spin Farm!!

p.p.s. I love farmers’ markets!!!!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “No burden is heavy if everyone lifts.” ~ Sy Wise

21

07 2014

The Dust is EPIC!

& other tales from my dysfunctional apartment

So I need to use my blender … which I have to haul out from its very inconvenient resting spot under the sink, & wash before using; the dust here is epic, shall we just politely say (& not in a nice way)

So I do all that

& now it’s time to plug it in

So I un-plug the fridge

(Yeah, if you leave the fridge plugged in & plug in a “small appliance” like a toaster or coffee grinder or something, you’ll blow a fuse)

Of course I could use the outlet over by the window – but there’s no countertop there to set the blender on

Or, I could use the outlet in the bathroom (which is where I plug in the coffee grinder) but … no counter top

& I just chuckle at it all

‘cos actually I am crazy about this apartment, myriad dysfunctionalities notwithstanding.

& I reflect on my messy (still-couch-less) living room

that in many parts of the world today a room of that size would be used to sleep 10 or 12 people (or more!)

who would be mighty grateful indeed for its comfort & safety

& who would not even notice petty nonsense like dust & half-dysfunctional electrical outlets.

You know what I mean?

Gotta keep things in perspective, hmmm?

Janet

Quote of the day’ with this post: “Abundance is not something we acquire. It’s something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

** many wonderful quotations about gratitude here

** tons of inspiring quotations gathered in ‘Quotation Central!’ section

 

15

07 2014

Good Habits Are Hard to Break

<March 11/14>

I started using the GO train to get into Toronto from where I lived, out in “the boonies” of Durham Region, east of the city (northeast in my case) & where btw everyone owns a car/van/truck (or three), eons ago. I dunno, 20 years ago anyway.

I did it for environmental reasons (it was actually climate stuff in the news that nudged me into environmental activism way back when … in the late 1980s, in my case). I would be contributing less to greenhouse gas emissions, I figured, if I used the train. For sure it wasn’t because it was economical; it actually costs more to use the GO train than to drive (something that has always rather pi**ed me off, to tell you the truth).

I do still own a car (a small Toyota with great gas mileage), & now I live in the city & barely use it. Right now I’m writing this on the train, heading for an evening thing.

Good habits are hard to break!

I wrote a posting once about how/why I love public transportation.

I used to think if I set a good example with the things I did – practicing the 3R’s (reduction, reuse, recycling; in the correct order of course), composting, consuming less, driving minimally, keeping the house temperature down & using a clotheshorse & clothesline instead of the dryer, not flying – all that kind of stuff, you know – that others would follow my fine upstanding example.

As if, eh??

Well, that obviously bombed. I hardly know another soul who uses the GO system or avoids flying for environmental reasons. Or, well, okay, I know one or two, or maybe even three or four. It’s such an oddball thing to do (the flying thing in particular) that I don’t even talk to anyone about it. They would take me for a moron. A wing-nut. A kook. (Funny that, now that I think of it. Everyone does that anyway!?)

But the thing is, good habits are hard to break.

I now no longer believe that any of my naïve notions about conserving less made, or make, or will ever make a darn bit of difference in the long (or even the short!) run. Pretty sure that ship has sailed, hmmm? I believe all the tipping points the smart folks used to talk about years, decades ago now, for heaven’s sake, have been passed. Or is it past? (Plenty of sobering corroborating info on that here.)

Still, good habits are hard to break.

It’s somehow kind of a comforting thought.

Janet

p.s. I could write a little essay called “Car Culture.” I’ve lived both in & outside of it, & had some interesting insights about cars & suburban life, once I got a bit out of the suburban habit. But you know? It doesn’t really matter anyway. Car culture is one of those things that has led/is leading the human race to a gigantic crash-up (as it were) – but it’s too late to do anything about it now. It’s probably been too late for thousands of years! That run-away train called “civilization” simply sped up to hyper-warp speed in our lifetimes (can you say exponential??), & the crash course it’s on has way too much momentum for any of us to halt it now. Me & all my naïve efforts, eh?? Ah well. Still. They always felt good – still do now, mostly, even.

p.p.s. I’ll keep right on using public transportation – the GO train & the TTC streetcars & subways – ‘cos I like public transportation. I enjoy it. It feels good to me to use it.

Good habits are hard to break.

Most people I know? You can’t pry them out of their cars. Car use is so deeply ingrained in our culture, breaking its stranglehold is inconceivable, now.

Bad habits are hard to break, too. I ought to know! I have more than my fair share of those.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: On the dangers of un-guided technology: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose, looking backward.” – Ralph Lapp, scientist-turned-writer

Others: “The truth is that we never conquered the world, never understood it; we only think we have control. We do not even know why we respond a certain way to other organisms, and need them in diverse ways, so deeply.” – E.O. Wilson

4 Laws of Ecology:     “Everything is connected to everything else

Everything must go somewhere.

Nature knows best.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.” – Barry Commoner

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer (you really MUST watch this interview!)

“I see my job, Bill, as not helping people to feel that they can be safe – but rather, showing – illuminating for people – where the paths for activism lie.” — from the interview referenced above

** more Sandra Steingraber quotes here

** tons more quotations in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section

12

07 2014

Character

The usual. Went looking for one thing & found something else altogether.

Here are some great quotations about character:

“Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become character. Character is everything.” – Source unknown (seen on a hospital wall)

“Character is the internalization of responsibility. What we are talking about when we talk about a local food system or CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] is a food system that relies more on character than it does on legal, bureaucratic, or commercial procedures.” ~ Wendell Berry, quoted in “Safe Food News”

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – James D. Miles

“And what I’ve learned is not to believe in magical leaders anymore, that character and compassion are more important than ideology, and that even if it’s absurd to think you can change things, it’s even more absurd to think that it’s foolish and unimportant to try.” – Peter C. Newman

“Character is defined by what you are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, the applause has died down, and no one is around to give you credit.” (Source unknown)

“What magnifies a voice is its human character, its compassion, honesty, and intelligence, and against the weight of things as they are the best resource is the imaginative labor of trying to tell the truth.” – Lewis Lapham, Harper’s Magazine

“If you take care of your character, your reputation will take care of itself.” – sign at church

“It’s kinda hard to teach character when you don’t live character.” – George Bush, May 13, 2004. (& he oughta know!!)

“It is possible that the scientific character of mind is by its nature childish, capable through life of a child’s wonder and excitements, but lacking real discernment, lacking sadness, too easily delighted by its own intellect. There are exceptions, of course, the physicist Steven Weinberg, for example, whom I’ve read and who has the moral gravity you would want from a scientist.”E.L. Doctorow in his novel City of God Random House, New York 2000, pg. 12.

7 root causes or “blunders” which lead to violence, passed along by Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (& sent to Ann Landers):

  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • education without character
  • commerce without morality
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice
  • politics without principle

 

** tons of other great quotations gathered up here!

02

07 2014

Life Goals … as of now

On a busy rushy somewhat stressful morning on my way on the streetcar, bus, train & bus to a kind of a challenging event I thought up these goals for life (now):

  • Be comfortable in my own skin
  • Be a good Mom
  • Keep doing good work
  • Never shout at people
  • Always strive for compassion
  • Stay “in the moment”
  • Smile & be friendly
  • Enjoy the ride!
  • Remember the GO schedule
  • Say thank you constantly
  • Remind myself frequently that not only is everything not about me; actually, nothing is!
  • Be governed by love, not fear
  • Stay awake stay awake stay awake!

 

Janet

p.s. some of these items take more effort than one might think!

Quote for the day’: “4 Rules for Life: Show up.Pay attention.Tell the truth.Don’t be attached to the results.– Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

 

Runners-up:

“Men honour what lives within their sphere of knowledge, but do not realize how dependent they are on what lies beyond it.” – Chuang-tse (quoted in The Te of Piglet, by Benjamin Hoff)

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein  [more Einstein here

“There is not much truth being told in the world. There never was. This has proven to be a major disappointment to some of us.” – Anne Lamott in the Prelude to Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

“Environmentalists have been looked on as the dreamers of the world, when in fact they are the realists.” – Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned entomologist

“When you cut off arterial blood to an organ, the organ dies. When you cut the flow of nature into people’s lives, their spirit dies. It’s as simple as that.” – Unattributed quotation in Adbusters magazine, Jan/Feb 2004.

** Lots more quotations here!

 

 

28

06 2014

My First Feminist

(Or “uppity women” I have known)

<June 12/14>

The first feminist in my life was my mother.

I was born in the early fifties (in Canada), 4th (& youngest) child of a white, middle-class family. With an upwardly-mobile-obsessed father (no amount of money was ever “enough” for him) who was a bully – to his sons (my brothers), especially, & to my mother.

I was afraid of him, & did not love him, & I have compassion for him now, but the man was sure no picnic.

My Mom was ahead of her time. She went “out” to work when no one in her social circle would have considered doing such a thing. Nor, I’m sure, could they grasp (at first) why she was doing such a thing. (Everyone we knew had a big house & a couple of cars & belonged to the Yacht Club & the Golf & Country Club, & since most were Air Canada people, took frequent flying trips here & there around the globe.)

Having a job & an income (luckily, Mom had become a nurse back before World War II, & only had to more or less re-train) was how she got out. Got away.

From my father’s bitterness, anger, sarcasm – & his fists.

For many years I was the only kid I knew whose Mom “worked” & trust me, I did not enjoy feeling like the weird, different kid. I just wanted to be “like everyone else.”

Here’s the point, though: my Mom was a feminist even though she never used the term. I’m not sure when it came into vogue, but for sure some time after my Mom forged her own path.

She just did what she had to do.

She wasn’t perfect (I’ve yet to meet anyone who is), but she had the courage to risk my father’s wrath, her friends’ disapproval, the world’s cold shoulder (for example she could not get “credit” when she went out on her own, because she was … a woman).

She was brave, & feisty, & I am grateful to her for her example as a role model.

& by now, I am so tired of patriarchy, I could scream!

Males by virtue of biology (meaning, what they are born with between their legs) have been wired for thousands of years now to believe they are superior to mere females. Quite clearly, this attitude is a very, very stubborn one indeed. Slight understatement here.

Many patronize, dismiss, limit women in a 100 ways, every day. If not in the home (for there are many non-dinosaur men now), it is deeply embedded in the culture.

Just walk out the door. Read the paper. Listen to the news.

Let’s just say patriarchy has laid such waste to this planet, there is no hope of getting it cleaned up now. And no, I do not “blame men” for all this. I blame the culture. The “system” of patriarchy.

And while I don’t wish to offend friends/family members who are fans of organized religion of one stripe or another, I will just politely say this: I don’t think organized religion has helped much.

This is what I wish:

I wish we would all stop looking for “perfection” in particular deities, genders, people, professions, currencies … things that are always OUTside ourselves – & strive to be the best people we can be, inside ourselves, & in the world.

(& if we are horrendously self-absorbed, selfish & immature, let us hesitate before becoming parents)

& let us all take strength from circular processes, not hierarchies & pyramid structures, that place the intelligence, authority, wisdom, somewhere “up there,” outside ourselves … “away.”

Let us examine our own neuroses & weaknesses, shine a little light on our unconsciously-held privileges & entitlements (whatever these may happen to be; I do believe most of us have them), & work to make this world (for whatever length of time we have left in it) cleaner, safer & more humane – for all creatures.

Finally, let us honour, not despise, the female qualities of nurturing & love & compassion & caring for others – for it is surely not these qualities that have led us to this so-precarious time in the history of our species.

Me

p.s. great discussion about female confidence in this ‘The Current’ interview with Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know.

p.p.s. it was the recent ‘The Current’ interview with Rebecca Solnit that yet again fired me up about feminism, & also made me remember I am overdue to thank my mother again for the great example she set. Thanks, Mom!!

p.p.p.s. 2 more relevant articles: ‘10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn’ & ’35 Practical Steps Men Can Take to Support Feminism.’

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think.” – Rebecca Solnit in the interview referenced above.

A few others:

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian/writer

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

“But matricide also includes within it a kind of patricide as well. The father will become distorted in this process for there is no mother without a father. A distorted fatherhood is what a pathological patriarchy is all about.” – Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, 1988, HarperSanFrancisco

“Underground nuclear testing, defoliation of the rain forests, toxic waste… Let’s put it this way: if the world were a big apartment, we wouldn’t get our deposit back.” – John Ross

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb quoted by Devra Davis at the ‘Cancer: It’s About Prevention, It’s About Time!’ conference in Ottawa, May 2007.

** tons of great quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of this blog.

22

06 2014

Bruised & Battered

Feeling sort of bruised & battered today***

For a variety of reasons. Details not terribly important.

(some days are just like that, eh??)

I notice how quickly comes the impulse to give in to anger – strike out, blame others

& I remind myself of my own 2 top bits of advice:

Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.

&

Stay on the path. Don’t look down.

Have just added a new note to the front of the fridge:

Take the high road.

Hope I will always listen to my own good advice!!

Janet

*** only metaphorically, or emotionally, I mean – not physically. Thank Goddess!

‘Quote of the day’: “For every nine people who denounce innovation, only one will encourage it… For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door. Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” – Za Rinpoche & Ashley Nebelsieck in The Backdoor to Enlightenment (Three Leaves) – quoted in Oprah Magazine Jan. 2008

Runner- up: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller, *Critical Path*

A few spare gems: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates (quoted in Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny)

“Life is a joyful participation in a world of sorrows.” – Buddhist thought (quoted in The Open Road – The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer)

“When there is a bend in the road, the only ones who crash are those who refuse to change direction.” – Source unknown

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran

13

06 2014

Rebecca Solnit Made My Day! “Mansplaining”

Sooooo, I heard that Rebecca Solnit is going to be on CBC Radio’s ‘The Current’ tomorrow (i.e., Thursday, June 12, 2014). Talking about her new book.

I Googled it & wound up reading all the following.

& it made my day! (Well, that & the word “woof,” but I’d better not go into that.)

Because I have entirely too often been patronized by men who know far less than I do on certain particular topics, who have (to repeat myself) patronized & dismissed & minimized me, & whose overall theme in life might as well be “Don’t confuse me with the facts. Honey.”

& Solnit nails these buggers, & she nails them good.

& by golly, she’s funny all the while she’s doing it!

She made my day.

Check her out!

Guardian article Mansplaining, explained: ‘Just ask an expert. Who is not a lady

The book: Men Explain Things to Me

The source article on Tom Dispatch (& Facts didn’t get in their way)

Solnit on Occupy (“Occupy Your Victories”)

& I love love loved her book A Paradise Built in Hell

& this quote about nukes & climate change:

“Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car. Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.” – Rebecca Solnit

Janet

p.s. & I still have her interview on CBC’s ‘The Current’ to look forward to! Life is rich, I tellya!!

p.p.s. I’ve met a nuclear industry dude or 3 who has pulled this serious “Don’t confuse me with the facts” stuff on me. It would be funny if they didn’t have their hands on such a bloody dangerous, filthy, life-threatening technology. (Well, it wouldn’t really be funny even then, but I’m trying to be … magnanimous, or … something. Not sure what I’m trying to be. Let’s just stick to the facts, shall we?)

You can read about some of my own experiences with some of that “Don’t confuse me with the facts” nonsense here & here & most recently here.

 

11

06 2014

Truth. Stories. Lies.

** this posting is not un-related in theme to the 2 previous – the ones about NTE, I mean, & “wicked problems”

I am a big fan of the truth. Don’t always love telling it, & people don’t always want to hear it.

So I don’t tell the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth 24/7/365.

Truths can be painful, often-ish. Big ones and “little” ones.

So, often we tell (ourselves & each other) stories.

Or keep silent.

Or tell lies or half-truths.

 

Unfortunately, I lack the wiring for lying. Don’t know why this is so. ‘Cos I’m an Aries person? (Aries = so-called “infant of the Zodiac”). ‘Cos I grew up in a houseful (culture-full) of lies? Who knows??

People say the truth will set us free. Now, freedom I am definitely wired for.

& stories.

I love stories. (I get lost in stories. The world gets lost, I get lost. Meaning, I read novels. & non-fiction.)

 

We’re all addicted to stories, let’s face it. So the really wise people tell us, anyway. & just look around!

We’re living out a story, we humans. A story about human superiority & “rights” & domination. Taking. “Wealth.” & what “matters.”

Seems as though we might be nearing The End of this particular story. (Let’s face it, it’s been a story with an unhappy ending for an awful lot of the life here on Earth … & for the state of the planet itself. Just look around!)

Stories are a great comfort – as long as we’re not completely taken in by them, & thereby lose sight of the truth.

Now me, I’ve been interested in a “new story” (other than the capitalism story, say) ever since I was a teen-ager. The old one never had much resonance for me.

But I’m at the end of a little personal story now, too. The one about how I/we could “save the world” if I/we all just tried hard enough.

I just don’t/can’t believe in it anymore.

I wonder if I might be nearing the end of stories, period.

Lies interest me not at all. Lies & self-delusion. (They suck up too much energy, I’d say both psychically & physically.)

Truth can be hard, I know. Unforgiving.

But lots of it is also beautiful. Plenty plenty plenty truth & beauty all around us, still.

*****

I think we ought to be careful about the stories we tell.

I think we need our energy for what’s really right in front of us. The Real Actual Deal.

Just what I’m thinking this morning…

Janet

p.s. “Little white lies,” of course, are always with us. They grease our social interactions, & are, I think, utterly necessary. We needn’t spew them around any more than we have to, for sure (phoneyness is soooo unappealing) – but we do need them. I get that.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “When in doubt, speak the truth.” – Mark Twain [more MT quotes]

2 more special favourites: “4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“There is not much truth being told in the world. There never was. This has proven to be a major disappointment to some of us.” – Anne Lamott in the prelude to Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith

** lots of great quotations about truth here

** lots of great quotations in a whack of categories under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading

 

11

06 2014

NTE / NTHE Stuff

* NTE refers to near-term extinction. NTHE = near-term human extinction.

I just did a blog posting in which I promised a list of thoughtful items I’ve been seeing on the topic.

There is of course the ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog – where I first encountered the term “near-term extinction.” Lots & lots of stuff to read there!

& then also… these.

** I’m doing this with the most recent items up top. So read from the bottom up if you want to read them in the order in which they were published. I’ll add in more as I come across them.

“Peak Water,” Methane Blowholes and Ice-Free Arctic Cruises: The Climate Crisis DeepensDahr Jamail [August 18/14]

Staying Sane In A Suicidal Culture: Spotlight On Joanna Macy, by Dahr Jamail  [June 3/14]

Melting Polar Ice Caps A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ for Earth’s Climate System [May 29/14]

When Surrender Means Not Giving Up [no date on it. Late April 2014, pretty sure]

It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine  [April 17/14]

How We Should Live In The Face Of Catastrophic Climate Change, A Conversation With Carolyn Baker. [April 16/14]

Paul Beckwith & Guy McPherson talk climate change [April 10/14]

Human extinction: is it possible?[April 2/14]

The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency’ [Dec. 17/13]

 

Some Relevant Quotes from Joanna Macy:

“This may be the last gasp of life on Earth, and what a great last gasp, if we realize we have fallen in love with each other. If you are really in the moment of experiencing our reality, you don’t say “Oh I won’t experience this because it’s not going to last forever!” You’ve got this moment. It’s true for now. We can have a reasoned concern about what is down the track, without necessarily getting hooked on something having to endure.” ~ Joanna Macy

“Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.’” ~ Joanna Macy

“From news reports and life around us, we are bombarded with signals of distress—of job layoffs and homeless families, of nearby toxic wastes and distant famines, of arms sales and wars and preparations for wars. These stir within us feelings of fear, anger, and sorrow, even though we may never express them to others. By virtue of our humanity we share these deep responses. To be conscious in our world today is to be aware of vast suffering and unprecedented peril.” ~ Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown

“Our culture conditions us to view pain as dysfunctional. There are pills for headache, backache, neuralgia and premenstrual tension—but no pills, capsules or tablets for this pain for our world. Not even a stiff drink really helps. To permit ourselves to entertain anguish for the world is not only painful, but frightening: it appears to threaten our capacity to cope with daily life. We are afraid that if we were to let ourselves fully experience these feelings, we might fall apart, lose control, or be mired in them permanently.” ~ Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown

p.s. thanks to JE for pretty much all the content in this posting! John did not introduce me to the ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog (it was either KL or LJ who did that a couple years ago) – or to Joanna Macy’s ideas — but he does seem to dig up these great articles & Joanna Macy quotes!

08

06 2014

Wicked Problems

Someone asked me the other day if I’d ever heard the phrase “wicked problems.”

I had to say I’d not heard the phrase … ‘though the idea of some problems being “wicked” is not a big stretch, exactly.

In fact I can think of so many wicked problems right off the top of my head that maybe I should just hop on my bike right now (I’m in a coffee shop after doing errands a medium-ish bike-ride away from home) & head out for some more bike & outside time.

Ugh!

& shoot, I totally get that my own life is quite frankly a cakewalk, pretty much. Sure, I’ve had a problem or challenge or awkward period or year or two along the way – but really? A cakewalk.

But OK. Rather than “chicken out” (no offense meant to any chicken lovers), I’ll mention one of the “wicked problems” or issues I am rassling with right now.

(Not the work I do – anti-nuclear activism – which even on a “good” day can send one down a rabbit hole of frustration or even despair – but you know, a person enjoys a challenge, hmmm??

Not some of the personal stuff on my plate these days. Like everyone, I’ve got a thorny challenge or two to deal with.)

It’s this one:

It’s this really really REALLY big elephant in the room.

NTE (near-term extinction) or NTHE (near-term human extinction). More & more people think our species is down to its last legs, pretty much.

I’ve been an activist for 25 years now. Got into it believing that if enough of us did enough work, rolled up our sleeves, as it were, informed enough people about the problems, everyone would “wake up” & fix things up.

I was soooooo naïve.

Gradually, after working on a variety of issues over a decently long period of time, I had to accept that “fixing things up” was a little beyond us. I’ve heard some say “civilization” has been like a run-away train, & that this outcome was inevitable. Must say, this view now seems utterly plausible to me.

Many activists of my acquaintance have not embraced the idea of NTE/NTHE (publicly, at any rate), & for sure I know we all gotta do what we gotta do. (I for one gotta continue doing anti-nuclear work. Living in the shadow of 2 gigantic nuclear plants? I just gotta keep at it.)

I do get that NTE doesn’t make for easy “cocktail conversation,” to say the very least – or even everyday conversation.

Bit of a bummer, the topic, eh??

Heh heh.

NTE is definitely one of those “wicked problems” – or hmmmm. Maybe only to spiritually un-evolved types like me. Maybe it’s a cakewalk to the spiritually evolved. I dunno. Whatever. I am clearly not “spiritually evolved.” Whatever that may mean.

Anyway. Listen.

I’m going to hop back on my bike & enjoy this great day.

Not all days seem “great” – but this one sure does!

Off I go to enjoy it.

NTE/NTHE can wait.

It will still be with us tomorrow.

Heh heh.

Janet

p.s. lots of thoughtful discussion about NTE on the ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog. This particular posting is the one that first introduced me to the topic. Well. Not the topic, exactly. The term, shall we say. When I look back through old blog postings & other writings over the years, I can see that my fears about the human race not making it are, shall we say, not new.

p.p.s. I see more & more thoughtful pieces being written on this topic. I’m going to post a listing with a goodly # of them, & then I’ll keep adding to it as time goes on. (You see, it seems that for some of us, not talking about NTHE is the only way to go. For others of us, sheer simple truth-telling is very compelling. & helpful. Even & simply necessary.)

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

** lots of great quotations in a large variety of categories gathered up under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading!

 

08

06 2014

Get Political. VOTE!!

Provincial election time here in Ontario.

Not gonna lie to you. I’m a fan of the Green Party (a BIG fan).

You can read their platform here. Check it out. Please!!

I will vote Green.

You vote whatever you like – but please, for the love of … democracy …

Vote!!

Janet

p.s. there are a lot of things I like about the Green Party. One of them is that they are not about the politics of division. It’s about all of us – doing what’s best for ALL of us. Also, Greens recognize the world & the politics we need are about cooperation, coalition, community, caring & consensus. Oh, I almost forgot CONVERSATION. We need to talk about stuff in order to figure things out. It’s not about some bigshot pronouncing from on high, telling us all what to do, & what’s best for us. It’s truly a grassroots-driven party. With amazing, integrity-filled leaders, & candidates. Check them out, people!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958

Top Runner-up for Q of the Day: “People will say with pride: ‘I’m not interested in politics.’ They might just as well say, ‘I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.’” – Martha Gellhorn

*** Lots more quotes about democracy/politics/whatever here

03

06 2014

Folly, Wisdom, Common Sense

So, walking along the Boardwalk today, picking up bits of plastic so I could dispose of them properly (plastic does not belong on beaches or in the bodies of the creatures in the water who might ingest them; is this not common knowledge??), I was reminded of this saying:

“Mingle a little folly with your wisdom; a little nonsense now and then is pleasant.” (Horace (65 – 8 B.C.) Roman poet and satirist)

& I thought yes, wisdom is great, & so is “folly” (I can be very follish, just ask the people who know me)

& then I thought, could we please just mingle a little common sense with our folly?

Janet

p.s. do a search on turtles & plastic & I promise you will be very disturbed by what comes up.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.” – Molly Ivins. More on Molly here & here

“One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something.” – Henry David Thoreau

29

05 2014

Heavy Heart

Woke this morning with a very heavy heart

No idea why – any one of a 100 possible reasons, I suppose.

(these are challenging times, after all….hmmm???)

Draggggggged myself out of bed

Went for a walk

It helped.

 

Thank goodness!

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White, physician (1886-1973) [more quotes on walking]

Runner-up: “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti  (1895-1986)

27

05 2014

Saturday Morning Success/Joy/Perfection

(On this particular Saturday, a week ago now)

  • having had a really good sleep
  • a call from my daughter
  • listening to my guts/intuition & later seeing how well things (almost inevitably) turn out when I do
  • discovering a really cool little neighborhood coffee place
  • realizing the way things really work – & really matter – is on the human scale (well duh, eh?? )
  • savouring life’s small joys (e.g. helpful bus driver, thanking aforesaid helpful driver)
  • knowing down to my bones the truth of the saying “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” (Filipino proverb)
  • realizing I finally live in an NDP riding (though truthfully I’m a Greenie) – after living for too many years in ridings with genuinely awful (I mean really awful) Conservatives   
  • knowing I will be happy wherever I live
  • realizing how easy it is to make someone’s day – as easy as being genuinely grateful to someone for something they’ve done for one (however small) – & how wonderfully circular appreciation & gratitude are
  • having lots of lovely memories & the odd little secret that cross one’s mind from time to time, providing a nice warm shot of pleasure

 

Simple stuff…

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar [many other great quotations about success here]

** many many many inspiring quotations about this, that & the other thing in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

Couple spares, ‘cos I feel like it:

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

“Tho’ much is taken, much abides.” – Tennyson

“It’s vanity to say we are protecting nature for the sake of the planet. The planet is four billion years old. Its crust is forty miles thick. It has survived freezing and warming and volcanoes and earthquakes. Nature will survive without us. But what will we be without nature?” – Seneca Chief Oren Lyons

“Perhaps we cannot raise the wind. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it.” – E.F. Schumacher

“Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” – Ingrid Bengis

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

“Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius

“We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.” – Seneca

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

“Sharing is sometimes more demanding than giving.” – Sign on church billboard

“All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.” – Aristotle, 4th century B.C.

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abe Lincoln

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

24

05 2014

In the midst of insanity

Take 1 (short)

In the midst of insanity

May we all do our very very best

To do no harm.

 

At the very very least

As little harm as humanly possible.

 

(If we can sometimes manage to actually do a little good

So much the better! )

 

Take 2 (longer)

In the midst of insanity

  • Climate chaos – here & on its way, utterly unstoppable (that 25-50 year time lag is killer)
  • Nuclear horrors of many a possible kind & variety (use your imagination)
  • Politicians so dishonest & venal it literally boggles the mind
  • Corporations raping & pillaging at a rate that staggers the imagination & sickens the heart (wherever & whenever do they suppose they will get to spend all the stupendous profits from this sickening, unprecedented slaughter of our one & only home???)
  • Ethics lost from the planet altogether … or so it would (almost) seem
  • Moral compass? The term has lost its meaning.

 

It’s down the rabbit hole

Full-time, all the time

24/7/365

(Only if you are paying attention, of course.)

 

As insane as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

 

& now, the future carries an expiration date

 

What to do … what to do … what to do??

 

Hang onto our sanity as best we can

Be kind.

Don’t add to the chaos if we can help it

Hang onto our humanity

Please!

 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it [many many great nuke quotes here]

Runners-up:

“At twenty-one, I still believed that if you could only get to see the sunrise at Stonehenge, or full moon at the Taj Mahal, you would be nabbed by truth. And then you would be well, and able to relax and feel fully alive. But I actually knew a few true things. I had figured out that truth and freedom were pretty much the same [italics mine]. And that almost everyone was struggling to wake up, to be loved, and not feel so afraid all the time. That’s what the cars, degrees, booze, and drugs were about.” – Anne Lamott in the Prelude to Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

“A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb [more quotes on conscience here]

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (Thomas Merton, quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark )

“…as the Buddha told his cousin Ananda, the whole of the holy life is good friends. Our relationships – and our love – are ultimately what give depth and meaning to our lives.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

** tons of great quotes gathered under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading!

 

 

18

05 2014

Pickering: Flirting with Disaster (4) – “Regulator” “Reasoning”

So, the past 3 posts here have been about the Pickering “hold point” “public” hearing (1) held on May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) main office on Slater St. in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.

The posts:

 

The written transcript of the hearing, btw, is now available on the CNSC Web site, here.

Just want to provide a small but telling example of how this body – the CNSC – works.

The tribunal bigshots always sit way up front in the room, on high, as previously explained in the posting ‘How CNSC hearings work.’

They have a large staff (not sure how big, but I believe the salaries are probably also quite large) that they count on to do research for them, do all kinds of tasks related to the many nuclear operations/facilities in Canada (e.g. there are CNSC staff on-site all the time at the nuclear plants), & answer the questions that are raised at these hearings.

Here is an interesting exchange from the recent hearing.

Head honcho Dr. Binder asks, following up on a question from Commissioner Velshi, “From a layman perspective, I hear it now all the time. People say “Okay, the nuclear business, NPPs [nuclear power plants], have been around for 50 years, three events, 50 over three, that’s a probability.” And the industry keeps saying, “No, no. It’s not.” But I’ve never seen a good rebuttal that explains why this is not the right way of calculating probability, or is it? So it would have been nice if somebody can actually come up with some explanation why. And I understand the evolution of the industry and I understand all those things. But it’s not explained with — some pretty interesting people will come up and say that’s the probability. Every, I don’t know, 15 years or so you’re going to have an accident like that. What do you say to that?” [See transcript, Pg 130-31.]

OPG Chief Nuclear Engineer Mark Elliott (salary = $520,000/year, paid for by Ontario taxpayers) has already replied to Commissioner Velshi, conveying that the Three Mile Island accident & the Chernobyl accident are more or less irrelevant (so long ago, you know), but that “the Fukushima is relevant. We learned that events, especially external events, can be beyond what we had previously considered, and that’s a real — that’s a real learning. And that’s why we put so much emphasis on the Fukushima action plan and building that into our PSAs [Probabilistic Safety Assessments]. So yes, we’ve had a number of events in the industry. I think the Fukushima is really the relevant one and we’ve addressed it.” [TranscriptPg 130]

Binder asks the CNSC staff to comment on all this, and bless him, Greg Rzentkowski goes at it with his customary zeal, saying basically, since no CANDU reactors have blown up yet, the risk is zero. (To quote him exactly: “… we can say the risk is zero, because there was never a significant accident in the CANDU fleet.” [pg 132])

I guess this means that since I have never been blown up by a … whatever, or hit by a … whatever, that I am at zero risk of these things ever happening? Gosh. Where are the rocket scientists when you really need them?? Not at a CNSC hearing, that’s for sure (especially when any self-respecting member of the aware public could have shot all this down in 2 minutes, only, yes, I was forgetting, at this public hearing the public was not allowed to speak).

Notwithstanding that OPG’s Mark Elliott had just finished telling them that Fukushima is very relevant – and that all those expensive Fukushima-related “enhancements” have been made – and that everyone in the room knows perfectly well the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are NOT CANDUs (they are General Electric-built boiling water reactors), it appears the tribunal members have already gone back to sleep as far as this issue is concerned.

& the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party rolls on!

As though a 3-year old child had thrown a tantrum, his manipulative parents quickly placated him with a chocolate bar, & now peace reigns again.

It’s not “scientific.” Not rational. It’s not “mathematical.”

It has nothing to do with statistical probabilities … or common sense, quite frankly.

& that is how the guardians of “nuclear safety” in Canada watch out for you & me, fellow Canadian citizens.

I for one live 23 km/14 miles from the nuke plant in question, & I am not reassured in the slightest.

  • It’s shocking.
  • It’s scandalous.
  • It’s outrageous.

 

& if we ever do have a disaster here (increasingly likely, given the age of this creaky old nuke plant under discussion, which the Nuke Boyz clearly have every intention of pushing farther & farther & farther beyond the 210,000 hours it was designed for), the industry gets to walk away & leave the mess – the clean-up, the economic chaos, the social chaos – to the Canadian taxpayer.

Because that’s how this whole disastrous set-up is set up.

If I sound a little shrill from time to time, please bear with me, alright?

We need a lot more Canadians to pay attention to it all. How this so-called “regulator” is “more of a lapdog than a watchdog,” & how we could easily have a homegrown Canadian nuclear disaster right on our very own doorsteps. (Toronto’s doorstep, that is. The doorstep(s) of the Greater Toronto Area.)

Argh. Argh, argh, argh.

Janet

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds.”Dr. John Gofman (M.D., Ph. D.) in his brilliant book “‘Irrevy’ – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power,” published in 1979.

** tons more great nuke quotes here 

** From the Introduction in Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The story of Fukushima Daiichi is a larger tale, however. It is the saga of a technology promoted through the careful nurturing of a myth: the myth of safety. Nuclear energy is an energy choice that gambles with disaster.

Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.

Although the accident involved a failure of technology, even more worrisome was the role of the worldwide nuclear establishment: the close-knit culture that has championed nuclear energy – politically, economically, socially – while refusing to acknowledge and reduce the risks that accompany its operation. Time and again, warning signs were ignored and brushes with calamity written off.” <Page vii>

“…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in an interview with Al Jazeera on March 27/14.

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants.  And so, the one way  to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.” – former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated recently [April 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] at an international conference on Emergency Management that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”


[1] At this “public” hearing, though, members of the public were not actually allowed to speak. That’s some kind of a public hearing, eh?? Members of the public were allowed to send in letters 15 days ahead – but no speaking up at the hearing.

16

05 2014

Pickering: Flirting with Disaster (3) – Key Submissions

** Note: 2 previous posts are also about this hearing. It took me 3 posts to say all I felt I needed to convey. (Yes, I am much too wordy!?) My main impressions in this post. [later: alas, yet 1 more posting, here]

** Links to 7 key submissions to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) “hold point” hearing on the relicensing of the Pickering reactors. Hearing was held in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. While it is typically the case that members of the public may present in person at such hearings, this hearing was for written submissions only. No members of the public permitted to speak at a … public hearing?? I’d call that doublespeak. Click on each of the names to see the person’s whole submission. Plenty of wisdom collected here.

Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) warns the Great Lakes could be seriously contaminated by a Pickering nuclear accident, given the problems with enormous volumes of radioactive water leaking from Fukushima. He cites Hydro-Québec President Thierry Vandal’s 2013 testimony in Québec’s National Assembly: “I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So, it is out of question for us to put anyone – i.e. us, the workers, the public, or the company – in a situation of risk in the nuclear domain.  So this deadline of 210,000 hours, this is a hard deadline.’’  Dr. Edwards remarks that at public hearings CNSC senior staff always seems to support the licensee, never asking them hard questions: “It almost seems like a tag-team effort – whatever one party says, the other party promptly reinforces.” Edwards also deplores the fact that the CNSC disregards constructive suggestions aimed at reducing the nuclear risk by Dr. Sunil Nijhawan and Dr. Frank Greening, nuclear reactor specialists with over 20 years of experience in the nuclear safety field. ** Dr. Edwards’s submission is here.

Dr. Michel Duguay holds a PhD in nuclear physics from Yale University and is a professor in the Department of electrical and computer engineering at Laval University. Duguay argues that OPG and CNSC staff are not in full compliance with Article 9 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) of 1997. On 1 August 2013, in a letter to Honorable Joe Oliver, Duguay and 15 cosigners argued that the annual probability of a severe accident in the greater Toronto area is 100 times larger than the probability of a frequent flyer dying in a commercial airline flight. This situation does not comply with article 9(a) of the Act. Moreover article 9(b) is not complied with because OPG and CNSC do not inform the public in an objective scientific manner about the uncertainties that accompany their calculations of reactor accident probabilities. Duguay points out that OPG & CNSC do not have all the necessary information. For example, many of the hundreds of high-pressure “feeder pipes” have not been inspected, although it is known that corrosion could cause them to rupture, triggering a nuclear emergency. Neither OPG nor CSNC can give scientific information on those non-inspected feeder pipes because they do not have it.

Dr. Frank Greening, senior research scientist retired from OPG, explained in his submission that OPG has used fault-tree software to carry out its “Probabilistic Risk Assessments (PRAs),” but has failed to disclose the methodology used to estimate the numerical inputs, to validate the computer programs and to quantify the many large uncertainties in the analysis.  Moreover OPG did not disclose its new PRAs (obtained with post-Fukushima enhancements) until 29-30 April, seven days after the deadline for public intervention, and seven days before the May 7 public hearing. This is clearly unacceptable to anyone outside OPG who wishes to provide input into an informed decision on the continued operation of Pickering NGS – and this evidently includes the Commissioners themselves – thereby undermining the rationale for holding Public Hearings. 

Theresa McClenaghan, representing the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), filed her May 2013 paper titled “Emergency Planning at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.” She argues that previous experience with the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear catastrophes shows that wide-ranging measures must be taken by municipalities and by the Province of Ontario in order to protect the health of citizens in case of a severe nuclear accident releasing large quantities of radioactive elements. Both OPG and the CNSC now acknowledge that such accidents could take place. CELA argues that the combined population of Pickering and neighboring cities, including Toronto, is so huge that a large-scale evacuation could not be carried out quickly enough to ensure adequate protection of men, women and children. Theresa McClenaghan states: “CELA recommends to the CNSC that it deny its operating licence to operate the Pickering reactors beyond their design life unless and until serious, capable, detailed offsite emergency planning for catastrophic accidents is finally in place.”

Chris Rouse, representing New Clear Free Solutions, is an Engineering Technologist with a keen eye for details. He argues that the PRA methodology used by OPG and accepted by CNSC Staff is not following best practice, or even the guidance documents referenced in OPG’s licence. He says OPG is dodging its responsibility for making a number of important safety improvements, such as installing a filtered vent – as other Canadian reactors have done – capable of filtering out 99% of the radioactivity in the event of a severe accident.  As Rouse notes, Canada has an international obligation under the UN Convention on Nuclear Safety to either make improvements or shut the reactors down when safety limits are not met. Rouse highlights safety culture issues within CNSC and OPG similar to the institutional deficiencies that led to the Fukushima disaster.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, spokesman for Greenpeace, filed a paper entitled “An Inconvenient truth: Pickering Exceeds Safety Limits.” Last year Stensil and other interveners convinced the CNSC Commissioners to suspend consideration of OPG’s request unless a convincing safety case can be presented at the May 7 Hearing. One year later, Stensil argues that OPG is still unable to satisfy basic safety criteria and strongly underestimates the probability of a severe nuclear accident that would release large amounts of radioactive elements into the environment. He urges the Commissioners to act in a precautionary manner by not allowing these six reactors to operate beyond the 210,000 hours that had been previously established as a safety limit.

Anna Tilman, representing the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), in a paper reviewed by Dr. Gordon Albright, documents several technical problems of the CANDU reactors that could initiate a severe nuclear accident if the 210 000 hour limit is exceeded. Corrosion problems plague the many kilometers of pipes needed to cool the reactors. IICPH points out that OPG’s probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) calculations are of dubious validity because of the large uncertainties associated with corrosion. The paper concludes: “Ignoring the potential risks of a major accident is contrary to the precautionary principle, which requires a project to err on the side of caution, especially where there is a large degree of uncertainty, or the risk of very great harm. To risk the mass destruction of people, property, and the natural environment that a serious accident at Pickering would cause, is completely unacceptable.”

** note: Dr. Edwards has issued an amended statement:

Opposition Grows to ‘Nuclear Gambling’ at Pickering

Correction re. Argentina’s “Embalse” reactor

In a recent CCNR e-mail posting on May 6, 2014, entitled “Opposition Grows to ‘Nuclear Gambling’ at Pickering,” it was stated that “CANDU reactors around the world — those at Bruce (8), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Korea (4) and Argentina (1) — have been required to shut down permanently” before reaching 210,000 hours of full-power operation unless far-reaching safety improvements are made first, including the total replacement of all small-diameter pipes in the core cooling system.

It turns out that one of the 15 CANDU reactors referred to — the one at Embalse in Argentina — has been given permission to operate up to 220,000 hours before shutting down for a complete safety makeover (“refurbishment”), including replacing all its degraded pipes and tubes.  So the sweeping statement that was made in the May 6 CCNR e-mail about ALL CANDU reactors being limited to 210,000 hours for safety reasons was incorrect; there is, in fact, one exception.

Note, however, that the extra 10,000 hours allowed to the Embalse Reactor’s operation amounts to less than one and a half extra years (actually it is one year and five months) if we assume an 80% capacity factor. And it is also important to note that complete refurbishment of the Embalse reactor is still required, and still planned, even if it is delayed by about one and a half years.

The situation is quite different with the four Pickering B reactors just outside of Toronto.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG)  is asking for permission to operate these geriatric Pickering reactors until 247,000 hours, without EVER doing a refurbishment — not now, and not in the future.  That extra 37,000 hours, beyond the 210,000-hour safety limit, corresponds to an extra 4 years and 3 months of full-power operation, or 5 years and 3 months of operation at 80% capacity.

OPG does not deny that a Core Damage Accident at one or more of these reactors is possible, and that a Large Release of Radioactivity in such an event is also possible, but they argue that the “probability” of such a disaster is sufficiently low that it should be permissible to “roll the dice”.  (In mathematical probability theory, any probabilistic event can be simulated by rolling a sufficiently large number of dice.)

During the May 7, 2014, hearing before the CNSC, however, OPG experts were unable to demonstrate that the probability of such a disaster is actually low enough to satisfy the regulations that have been laid down for such events.  Astonishingly, OPG’s experts told the Commissioners that they are confident that the probability does in fact meet those regulations, even though they are unable to carry out any analysis to verify that such is the case. Evidently OPG is drifting from a science-based approach to a hunch-based belief system.  It remains to be seen whether the CNSC will allow such wooly thinking to prevail.

So the question remains. Is it worth gambling with the long-term viability of Toronto and the Great Lakes just so that OPG can keep operating these aging Pickering reactors for another few years, when there is plenty of surplus hydro-power in Quebec and Manitoba that could be purchased at less cost?

 

p.s. on May 15/14: the hearing transcript is now available here, on the CNSC Web site.

10

05 2014

Pickering: Flirting with Disaster (2) — what’s missing?

Here is a short list of important things notably NOT discussed at the Pickering hold point “public hearing” on Wednesday, May 7/14. Things that did not hit the agenda or the radar screen; did not make it into the discussion.

  • Health concerns/impacts – absolutely, entirely, 100% un-discussed
  • Impacts on Lake Ontario: on fish, wildlife, water quality, possible climate impacts
  • The very long shopping list of problems with the Pickering reactors submitted by Dr. Frank Greening, former OPG employee (his lengthy submission can be found here). His submission was dismissed so very very very cavalierly by OPG staff, it occurred to me later in the day, that it was almost absurd – & certainly very very very suspicious indeed
  • Tritium / tritium leaks
  • Waste (of which there is plenty-plenty-plenty at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station); check out the figures here in Table 1, Page 3.

 

p.s. Transcript now available here. Check it out! See how the body charged with “nuclear safety” does its work.

p.p.s. Listen — this stuff can give you heartburn (or worse) & make you despair. But have a laugh — watch Canada’s funny man Rick Mercer’s tritium spoof on Chalk River. Here, & only 1 minute long, but guaranteed to make you laugh out loud!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness …  They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Daniel Ellsberg, quoted in the Marc Gerstein book Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima)

* many great nuke quotes here & other postings here

10

05 2014

Pickering: Flirting with Disaster (1)

** The phrase “flirting with disaster” is from the Marc Gerstein book by the same name: Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima).

Soooooooo.

On Wednesday (May 7, 2014) I attended the so-called “public hearing” held by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (sic) or CNSC, aforesaid hearing being held to review information & make a decision on the “hold point” CNSC had put on last year’s decision about relicensing the Pickering reactors.

Short story: The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (PNGS) is a creaky old nuke plant (one of the oldest on the planet still operating if I am not mistaken) sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario – source of drinking water for somewhere between 6 & 9 million souls (& bodies) on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border – AND, also, as it happens, situated on the very eastern border, essentially, of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Creaky, leaky & old.

That’s the PNGS.

But it makes a LOT a lot a lot of money for the OPG (Ontario Power Generation) boyz who run it (they are mostly boys/men).

So they want to keep on milking this cash cow for as long as humanly possible. We are talking, dear Reader, of some very very serious cash here for a very large # of over-$100,000/year folks. Check out the Sunshine list here. Yeah, no, I am not making it up.

(Aside: Dr. John Gofman, Ph.D & M.D. said in his book Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power; a real gem, trust me!!) under the heading ‘Professionals as Apologists,’ “The pay has to be relatively high, because the job commonly requires the sacrifice of intellectual honesty.” Ahem. Btw, he also said “There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds.”)

Public Hearing, Eh?

Sooooo. The room was full of expensive suits – the OPG heavy hitters (with the very occasional token female thrown in) & the CNSC bigshots (the so-called “tribunal members” headed up by President/CEO Michael Binder of the “What is the bumper sticker message from that?” fame, & also those incongruous smiles when asking deadly serious questions), & the staff (CNSC staff) they rely on to do all that so-called “due diligence.” The bigshots sit way way way up at the front of the room – so far away (& literally on high) that I doubt very much they could even see us lowly members of the public sitting down low, at the far far far end of the hearing room.

Of course we knew that at this “public hearing” (written submissions only, please) there was no real interest in hearing from the public. To call this a public hearing – when the public is forbidden to speak – is really a form of doublespeak, wouldn’t you say??

Normally at a CNSC hearing, members of the public can actually speak – provided of course they have submitted a written “intervention” a full 4 weeks ahead of time for the OPG & CNSC staff to vet & prepare rebuttals to.

At this one, written submissions only. (In one instance at the hearing on May 7th, tribunal members or CNSC staff were professing to not understand something from the Greenpeace submission they were discussing, for example – and while the person who had written it was right there in the room, no one would actually ASK him what he meant. I mean really.)

Somewhere around 50 brave & determined souls & groups had sent in submissions ahead of time, explaining many a good reason why they oppose the idea of having the Pickering CANDU reactors run beyond the 210,000 hours for which they were designed.

Unfortunately, while it is easy to locate the submissions from OPG & CNSC staff (all of whom have a vested interest in seeing those reactors keep running; can you say “Hey, that’s my meal ticket, thank you very much!”), the submissions from the public are not so easy to find. (You can go to this page on the CNSC Web site & request that they be sent to you, either electronically or in hard copy.)

** Also, 7 very outstanding submissions from thoughtful & knowledgeable members of the public are in my next posting, which I will put up as soon as I’m done with this rant (yes, I confess to feeling a tad … irritated about it all).

Another confession: I’m a veteran of CNSC hearings. This was my 9th or 10th or 11th, I’ve lost count by now, so I am pretty darn familiar with the drill.

Observations:

Well, for one thing it’s what you call an “echo chamber.” A bunch of people in the nuke biz talking to each other/themselves, in a public relations exercise whose foregone conclusion was probably long since predetermined.

With the occasional pointed question by a member of the tribunal (many of whom are from an engineering background)

& the inevitable over-confident assurances from the NI (nuke industry) that

all is well

all is well

all will always be very well (Just trust us!)

The Usual?

  • Bafflegab & B.S.
  • Expensive suits
  • Fancy charts & graphs
  • Nuclear jargon
  • Obfuscation
  • Poker faces
  • Reassuring bromides about safety

 

Performances

All present played their roles very well.

The suits were, as always, lovely. (You can buy quite a lot of suit for that kind of cash! OPG head honchos present, Bryce Phillips, Senior VP Pickering, takes home $394,000 & OPG Chief Nuclear Engineer William Mark Elliott $520,000 – money that, if I am not mistaken, comes from Ontario taxpayers; please correct me if I am wrong.)

They were flawless.

Well, except for one small thing: Mr. Phillips kept referring to the PNGS as “my plant,” which had a bit of an odd ring to it, for me at least (possibly for others, too, ‘though I cannot profess to being a mind-reader).

But anyway, well done, all!

** Interesting & I think pretty relevant quote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Irony Alert!

Plenty was said about the “Fukushima enhancements” the nuclear industry has made to their nuke plants. They have their “Fukushima Action Plan” (FAP, inevitably).

Much has been learned.

The irony?

We are supposed to feel tremendously reassured that the nuke folks have tweaked this & adjusted that & enhanced this & replaced that – greatly enhancing the safety of the (always hitherto already-declared “safe” nuclear installation) – so that now, it is, for sure, for sure, 100% SAFE!

But — only because a little over 3 years ago now a massive, unprecedented nuclear accident took place over in Fukushima … after company staff & regulators there allowed an old plant to continue running – without the safety enhancements being made that had been recommended, in some cases 3 or more years previously. Because in the echo chamber there, the enhancements & safety measures were considered too inconvenient & expensive, & had not been made.

& now, the entire world is reaping the consequences. & will be doing so … forever, basically.

But don’t worry, anyone – we can trust the nuclear industry!

Take-Aways:

  • The nuclear industry is alive & well & still pulling in those fabulous, unbelievable, stratospheric salaries (paid for by the public purse; do correct me if I am wrong).
  • The fox continues to be very much in charge of the henhouse. Global nuclear collusion situation well-explained here
  • The Echo Chamber lives!
  • The public DOES need to continue paying attention & contributing its pointed assessments of the problems it sees oh-so-very-clearly, because even though those Nuke Boyz will never ever ever admit to appreciating the input of the great unwashed public, they do frequently have to react to it, & make changes & enhancements & improvements.
  • “Pickering is safe.” Well, at least until, until, until … an unexpected something-or-other blows or leaks or breaks, & human error kicks in, & someone makes a really bad call during a rather tricky situation/crisis. Good old human error…

 

Until then, it is very very safe.

Old & creaky & leaky yes………but “safe” – provided you still believe in fairy tales & “happily ever after.”

Janet

p.s. 40 good years … & 1 bad day, as Arnie Gundersen puts it here. (& at greater length here )

p.p.s. emergency planning deficiencies very briefly outlined here 

p.p.p.s. Transcript now available here. Your chance to see how Canada’s nuclear “regulator” operates. As always, there are some doozies in the record!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness …  They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Daniel Ellsberg, quoted in the Marc Gerstein book Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima)

* many great nuke quotes here & other nuke postings on this blog here

 


10

05 2014

Concrete

Concrete feels so good

When it falls off your shoulder

You know??

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

 

A few spares, just ‘cos I feel like it:

“Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.” ~ Norman Cousins

“Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.” – Martin Luther King [more MLK quotes here]

** more quotes about conscience here

 “Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst.” – Walter Weckler

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

“There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.” ~ Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

 ** tons more quotations in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section!

 

04

05 2014

Chernobyl: more

** These items from a Beyond Nuclear newsletter I receive via email.

“A searingly vivid account of life during and after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster”: the new novel All That is Solid Melts into Air, by Darragh McKeon. A reading by the author in Washington, D.C. at Busboys & Poets, on May 19th.

New York Times photo essay ‘Chernobyl: Capping a Catastrophe’ here.

Risks of a future nuclear accident at Chernobyl on the Beyond Nuclear site here.

*** tons of great nuke quotes here

p.s. on June 11/14: link to a 2006 documentary “The Battle of Chernobyl.”

02

05 2014

Chernobyl in Toronto

Yesterday (April 26, 2014) I attended an event in Toronto that was held to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Facebook event page here

And to inform those in attendance about events in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the days, years & decades since the accident.

And to show the documentary ‘From Chernobyl to Fukushima: A Campaigner’s Journey.’

The two speakers were Shawn-Patrick Stensil (Greenpeace campaigner) & Dr. Alexander Belyakov.

** Links summarized below!

I learned not only about the suppression & manipulation of scientific & medical information in the Soviet Union post-accident, but about current risks from the Chernobyl reactors, which still contain the vast majority of their dangerous radioactivity.

And parallels between the Chernobyl situation & that of Fukushima. Lies, secrets & deliberate suppression of information predominate.

Not a very pretty picture, I’m afraid! (No big surprise there. )

I was however happy to learn about 2 groups active in Toronto that some readers might like to know about.

1. Chernobyl Foundation of Toronto

“Our mission is to restore one of the Top Ten most polluted places on earth and to provide the necessary help to those in need.

Our promise to you: 100 % of public donations go towards funding our projects. Every penny you give goes to the people in need.

GET INVOLVED

Help us to improve current conditions in Chernobyl. You can volunteer, donate money, spread the word, etc.”

2. Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund 

“Children Of Chornobyl Canadian Fund (CCCF) is a registered charitable organization. It was established in 1990 to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. This disaster, the quiet killer, has caused an increase in cancer, blood disorders, birth defects and other illnesses linked to radiation exposure.

The unstable economical situation has increased the needs of all these innocent victims. CCCF, through its various projects, distributes medication, medical and technical equipment, supplies and food to clinics, treatment centres, hospitals and orphanages. As well, it provides administrative support to all of its projects.

Today, CCCF sponsors a variety of projects to improve health care and the general well-being of disadvantaged and ill children in Ukraine. We appeal for your assistance in this cause, and we hope that you will open your heart to those in need.”

Summary of Links

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post (same as yesterday’s): “…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in an interview with Al Jazeera on March 27/14.

Runners-up:

“Anyone who has one iota of a brain or humility could only conclude that nuclear power is insane!” – Anne Hansen, artist & activist

“Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it.

“The lesson of TMI (and Chernobyl, and Fukushima)? Shut ‘em down before they melt down!” – Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants.  And so, the one way  to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.” – former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated recently [April 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] at an international conference on Emergency Management that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

 “… reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness …  They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … The leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Marc Gerstein in his book Flirting with Disaster (quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima, on-line here )

** tons more great nuke-related quotes here

27

04 2014

Chernobyl: 28 Years. Still Breaking Hearts.

Today, April 26, 2014, is the 28th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. As with the date of the Fukushima nuclear disaster (March 11, 2011), this date is permanently fused into my brain.

I now live a mere 23 kilometres (14 miles) from the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, a gigantic, deteriorating 40-year old nuclear plant located right on the shores of Lake Ontario, just beyond Toronto’s eastern border – Toronto being Canada’s largest city & major economic engine.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its nominal “regulator” the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, want to keep running these aging reactors beyond the 210,000 hours for which they were designed.

A great many of us think this is not only foolish, but downright dangerous.

You sure can’t seem to tell these nuclear industry folks much! Massive profits (& individually huge salaries for nuclear industry staffers) appear to blind them all to reasonable limits clearly visible to the average person. As we are always advised, follow the money! (Check out huge OPG salaries here )

Here’s what I know for sure: I am very afraid we will have our own Chernobyl or Fukushima accident right here in the Greater Toronto Area. Right on Lake Ontario, the source of drinking water for somewhere between 6 & 9 million people.

& since most of the people I care about the most live in the GTA, I really really really don’t want this to happen.

‘Chernobyl Heart’ – the documentary

I’ve been a bit preoccupied recently with thoughts about hearts. Ailing hearts, broken hearts. I guess there are about a thousand ways our hearts can be broken, hmmm?

Chernobyl Heart is certainly one of them. This 40-minute documentary, released in 2003 (based on footage from 2002, 16 years into the Chernobyl accident) is really a must-see for anyone who’s chosen to remain on the sidelines & assume nuclear power can ever be considered “safe.”

The award-winning documentary follows Adi Roche, founder of Ireland’s Chernobyl Children’s Project, as she tours deserted territory around the Chernobyl reactor site, then a number of homes for abandoned children, wards in mental asylums, & a maternity hospital where only 15-20% of the infants born are considered healthy.

You see room-fuls of children suffering from a variety of heart-breaking birth defects, teen-agers who have just been operated on for thyroid cancer, babies born with heart defects (the condition known as “Chernobyl heart”) & a teen-ager being operated on for a dangerous heart condition by an American medical team of volunteers.

Your own heart would have to be encased in lead not to be devastated by the footage in this film.

This is 40 minutes that I really recommend you consider spending. (Do be prepared for tears; they are inevitable.)

This is especially important for anyone naïve or uninformed enough to think we can believe the nuclear industry when they say “Just trust us!” – which, as it happens, is pretty much all the assurance they are really able to provide.

Only in Chernobyl & Fukushima, you say?

Ah, no, as it happens. A nuclear accident can happen anywhere.

Especially when reactors long past their prime are being pressed to do duty past their shelf life, as is the case currently with the Pickering reactors. All very well explained by Dr. Gordon Edwards here.

Canada’s CANDU reactors, as it happens, share an unfortunate similarity to the ill-fated Chernobyl RBMK reactor, the “positive void coefficient of reactivity,” explained in this 2013 submission by U.S. nuclear expert, Fairewinds Associates Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen.

It means that in the case of a loss of coolant accident, it’s like putting on the brakes in a car at the same time as pressing down on the accelerator. He adds that it means the CANDU cannot “meet international expectations for a
more passively safe nuclear reactor design.”

Oh dear. Shall we just understatedly say.

Fallout

Radioactivity from nuclear accidents knows no boundaries. The fallout from the Chernobyl accident resulted in excessive levels of radiation reaching as far as Sweden, Wales, Ireland, Greece & Alaska. To name but a few.

At the time the ‘Chernobyl Heart’ documentary was made, the United Nations estimated that there were 6 million people continuing to live in contaminated areas (around Chernobyl).

Now, of course, we have Fukushima fallout, too. Families & children being forced to live in areas with levels of radioactivity guaranteed to make them sick.

And to pass genetic damage on to their children, & all future generations.

Horrified

I personally find an awful lot of what is going on in the world these days horrifying. Not being a TV-watcher, I have to read novels in order to escape when it all becomes too much. (I’m reading a lot of novels.)

What has happened/is happening to the people (especially the children) of Chernobyl & Fukushima is horrifying. Unforgivable. Despair-making.

I am horrified at the prospect that these things could possibly happen here, one day, to the people I live among & care deeply about.

As nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says in a short interview last year, it only takes “one bad day.”

Once an accident happens? It’s too late.

Now What?

Well, I’ll continue being an activist on the nuclear front, & writing blog postings that I hope may occasionally motivate someone to get off her/his butt.

I live within the 30 kilometre/ 18 mile zone described in the Chernobyl documentary as “the exclusion zone.”

Where would I go … what would I do?

If it happened here?

Horrifying to contemplate.

Janet

p.s. did you know that a doctor in Belarus who was researching cardiac damage resulting from radiation exposure was arrested as a “terrorist”? Seems as though not everyone wanted that information to be shared around, for some reason. I gather this has happened quite a bit, & now speaking out about nukes in Japan can land you in jail as well.

Stuff to Check Out

 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in an interview with Al Jazeera on March 27/14.

Runners-up:

“Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it.

“The lesson of TMI (and Chernobyl, and Fukushima)? Shut ‘em down before they melt down!” – Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants.  And so, the one way  to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.” – former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated recently [April 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] at an international conference on Emergency Management that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

** tons more great quotes here 

26

04 2014

Horses to Water, Pigs to the Trough

Horses to water

Pigs to the trough

 

We want to make those horses drink

We need to make the horses drink

& we can’t

 

The pigs?

 

No one has to lead them to the trough

They get there all by their little old selves.

 

Janet

p.s. this is in no way meant to cast aspersions on pigs, hmmmm? The 4-legged variety, I mean.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “There is not much truth being told in the world. There never was. This has proven to be a major disappointment to some of us.” – Anne Lamott in the prelude to Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith

** tons & tons of quotes gathered up here, in the ‘Quotation Central!‘ section of the blog.

Runners-up for Q. of the day today:

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut, brilliant writer (now dead, dammit)

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“You don’t see things as they are. You see things as you are.” – the Talmud

24

04 2014

A Marvel (if only)

“A Marvel – a message composed by cellist Pablo Casals when invited to play The Swan for the United Nations General Assembly…

‘A Marvel’

Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe. A moment that never was before and will never be again…and what do we teach our children in school?

We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.

When will we also teach them who and what they are?

We should say to each of them: “You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world, there is no other child exactly like you… In the millions of years that have passed, there has never been another child like you.

And look at your body: what a wonder it is. Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move.

You may become a Shakespeare. A Michelangelo, a Beethoven…. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is like you…a marvel?

We must cherish one another. We all must work to make this world worthy of its children.”

~ quoted in CCPA Monitor, Dec.2007-January 2008.

Ahhhhh. If only…

16

04 2014

Illusions

(Or fallacies. Call them what you will.

Wrong-headed ideas many of us were raised with/taught.)

 

Men are strong.

Stronger

Braver

Smarter

Than women.

 

(Of course they are!)

 

Politicians are “smart”

Smarter than “the average” person

Certainly much smarter than me!

 

(Of course they are!)

 

Innovation is good

Technology will save us

 

We are free.

 

Of course we are!

 

(Not.)

 

Janet

p.s. the posting ‘Patriarchy (again)‘ is probably a little bit relevant to this talk about illusions & fallacies. It certainly contains a mind-blowing poem that I recommend everyone read!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

“Lies are infinite in number, and the truth so small and singular.” – from The Lacuna, a fascinating novel by Barbara Kingsolver (pg. 247)

“What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are.” – Epictetus

“The Barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the reins of power.” – Letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star, January 18/14.

“We tell lies when we are afraid … afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” Science-fiction author Tad Williams, quoted in Deep Truth – Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny, and Fate, by Gregg Braden

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Neil Postman

On the dangers of un-guided technology: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose, looking backward.” – Ralph Lapp, scientist-turned-writer

 

12

04 2014

Time Out: Urgent Message to Male of Species!!

So, crazy stuff going on all over the planet – as usual.  

Not as usual, exactly, the Canadian Prime Minister whom many of us love to hate (as it were; or just …. dislike passionately??) seems to be doing a little war-mongering lately.

He is not alone! I find many members of the species somewhat trigger-happy these days.

Can’t just be February fractiousness – it’s almost April already!

So.

Quick reminder:

“Time-outs” are a super-useful method for de-escalating conflicts.

Used them all the time when my children were small. Their Dad & I were inclined to think bopping them was probably not the best way to teach them not to bop each other & anyone else.

So we used time-outs. Sent them to sit on the stairs in the hallway, say, for 5 minutes or so, ‘till they (& the relevant sibling & we ourselves) could calm down.

Time-outs don’t always work, of course. I know this. I’m not as dumb as you may think. 

They don’t work when the parties involved are just plain spoiling for a fight.

In order to protect the names of the innocent (& the guilty) I won’t say much about how asking for a time-out hasn’t always worked out in my own life. Been there & done that, for sure.

Eckhart Tolle sure understands this stuff. His concept of the pain body helped me “get” why sometimes calling for a time-out is just plain not going to work.

Seems to me right now almost as though the global “pain body” is kind of peaking. I’m wondering.

Dudes: we have enough problems on the planet (slight understatement here) without the male of the species going around shooting off guns & bombs & things for no apparent reason. Far as that goes, even if there is an apparent reason, wars don’t ever seem to solve much … do they?

Please. Let’s learn de-escalation tactics, everyone. Pretty please?

The daze ahead promise to be pretty bloody challenging on every front I can think of.

Let’s not all be going to war at the drop of a hat, shall we? 

Janet

p.s. Eckhart Tolle on the pain body: just bloody brilliant. Do some Googling & watch some other ET YouTubes. They are worth your time! (I did a blog posting called ‘Tolle Tutorial’ ; the other day I had yet another one. So glad I did .)

p.p.s. Calvin Sandborn & Terrence Real for amazing insights about male anger/depression/violence & the patriarchy underlying it all.

p.p.p.s. Pema Chödrön on handling all of life’s challenges. Her wee book The Pocket Pema Chödrön that I blogged about here is tremendously helpful, practical & even funny at times! I still have the recurring desire to buy a cartonful & distribute them hither & yon.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The world needs a new weapon: the estrogen bomb. Imagine: you drop it on an area of violent conflict, and men throw down their guns, hug each other, apologize and say it was all their fault, and then start to clean up the mess.” – from the UTNE Reader — Original from THE GUERRILLA GIRLS, activist artists

A Few Others:

“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real

“If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of [hu]mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never seen.” – Matthew Arnold, quoted in Utne magazine

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only one who has seen its brutality, its futility, and its stupidity.” – Dwight Eisenhower, in a speech in Ottawa, 1946

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.” – Frank Zappa

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – The Dalai Lama

“Any fool can learn from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismark, Chancellor of Germany

Thomas Merton said it best: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark)

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973

“It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show

** tons of pithy, inspiring quotes gathered up in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

 

30

03 2014

Deal with the Devil

When you enter into a deal with the devil

It isn’t you who wins, you know

The devil is the one who wins.

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal — carries the cross of the redeemer — not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” – Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces [quoted by Guy McPherson on the 'Nature Bats Last' blog ...  here]

** tons of pithy, inspiring quotes gathered up in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

29

03 2014

Three Mile Island: 35 years

The anniversaries of the Chernobyl nuclear accident (April 26, 1986) & the Fukushima accident (March 11, 2011) are so firmly embedded in my mind now that I could never forget them.

With respect to the Three Mile Island accident, this is only newly the case.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of that accident. I am sorry to say I was not paying much attention back then. Teensy bit all caught up in my own little life at that point.

Recently I’ve been learning more about it.

Here are some sites useful for learning more about that accident on March 28, 1979.

  • A book by Libbe HaLevy called Yes, I Glow in the Dark! was released recently. It’s about her life since the TMI accident, which she happened to be not too far from when it took place. Her Nuclear Hotseat site will give you the info on her book!
  • Beyond Nuclear. Tons of great info about all things nuclear in general + a 6-page newsletter about the Three Mile Island accident here.
  • Fairewinds site has quite a bit of information about TMI here. And also here. Of course there is tons of other great info on the site also. Check it out, people!
  • Sierra Club blog posting
  • Three Mile Island Alert

 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The lesson of TMI (and Chernobyl, and Fukushima)? Shut ‘em down before they melt down!” – Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear

Runners-up:

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants.  And so, the one way to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.”former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated recently [April 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] at an international conference on Emergency Management that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

** btw, gobs of great nuke-related quotes gathered up here!

28

03 2014

Women’s Work

<March 4/14.>

I’ve been doing “women’s work” all my life.

(Duh.)

Some of it appreciated.

Some of it not.

 

Just like all women

(or many/most; exceptions to every rule, as we know)

 

We work at this, we work at that

Some of it paying

Much of it not

 

Some of it appreciated

Much of it, not

 

We seldom beat our breasts

Insist on recognition

Expect awards, or adulation

 

No need to be heroes

(though much of what so many do is truly heroic)

 

We speak quietly (mostly)

We’re very polite (mostly)

 

We get walked on quite a lot.

 

My point?

 

There isn’t one, really.

 

Just sayin’

Just sayin’

Just sayin’

***

(It’s all just patriarchy, of course.

 

Yawn.)

 

Janet

** & what is “women’s work?” Oh, anything a woman does. Family stuff, work stuff … whatever. By definition, anything a woman does is always worth less than anything a man does. Or this seems to be the way patriarchy has always viewed things. Female-ness = of less value than male-ness. You don’t have to look far to see this attitude still very much in evidence, I’m afraid.

Patriarchy again.

Patriarchy …. still.

Sigh… 

p.s. I am aware it may be considered … churlish … of me to post this. Just a woman being a nag. Bitching again. “Bossy” woman who is never satisfied. Men, of course, are never bitchy, or bossy … & they never nag. They are simply firm, strong-minded, assertive, sure of themselves. Language can really be interesting, can’t it??

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of [hu]mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never seen.” – Matthew Arnold, quoted in Utne magazine

Runners-up: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian/writer

“Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.” – Jane Jacobs in CBC interview with Eleanor Wachtel, Oct. 6/02.

Thomas Merton said it best: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark )

“It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

“Her grief was dignified and hidden, as is most grief, which is partly why there is always so much of it to go around.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real

 

 

22

03 2014

Thursday morning thoughts (on Fri.)

Thoughts/phrases while riding the subway early-ish, something I don’t “normally” do (after walking up to the Bloor line, & after seeing the stupid TV screen in the coffee place, another thing I don’t “normally” do):

  • Teen-age girls: all drama, all the time 
  • Headlines: Fire! Murder! Shootings! All bad news, all the time
  • Damn: forgot to wear my Stop Harper! button  
  • Keep us busy; keep us fearful, keep us in the dark, keep us unconscious 
  • How many people can you be really honest with?  
  • Too late, too late, too late, too late, too late…

 

Listen. Watch this. It’s called ‘The Box – Simon’s Cat.‘  It will make you laugh. (You have time; it’s only 2 minutes long.) You need to laugh. Trust me.

Happy Friday!

Janet 

p.s. tons of pithy, inspiring quotes gathered up in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

21

03 2014

The New Normal

You know how we say now there’s no such thing as “normal?”

Or maybe we refer to “the new normal?”

I’m thinking the “new normal” is a whole lot wackier than the old normal … that “normal” back when we all still believed in normal, & while really things were highly abnormal all around us, & we were all quietly certain it was just ourself (& our own family maybe) that was so weird.

Now EVERYthing is super wacked & weird & abnormal – & we know it – & sometimes it feels like one is just spinning, you know??

Trying to gain a sense of equilibrium &/or equanimity in the midst of this maelstrom of weirdness & wackedness that is “the new normal.”

(Is it the new normal?)

Well. It took us decades (or was it centuries?) to figure out there’s no such thing as “normal.”

What now? Relax & “enjoy the ride”??

(& laugh as much as possible; see below!)

Janet

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Rick wants a great big crowbar to crack him open so he can take whatever creature is sitting inside him and shake it clean like a rug, then rinse it in a cold, clear lake, and then put it under the sun to heal and dry and grow and come to consciousness again with a clear and quiet mind.” – from the Douglas Copeland novel Player One: What is to Become of Us

Bonus Quotes:

“Normal is someone you don’t know very well.” – Joe Ancis

“The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.” – Molly Ivins

When asked why the cellist is risking his life every day to play his cello on the street in the spot where 22 people were killed while waiting at a bakery to buy bread, the character Dragan says to Emina, “Maybe he’s playing for himself. Maybe it’s all he knows how to do, and he’s not doing it to make something happen.” ‘And he thinks this is true. What the cellist wants isn’t a change, or to set things right again, but to stop things from getting worse. Because, as the optimist in Emina’s mother’s joke said, it can always get worse. But perhaps the only thing that will stop it from getting worse is people doing the things they know how to do.’” – from The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway <pg 126>

When asked “Why are we here?” writer Kurt Vonnegut’s son, Mark Vonnegut, then somewhere between being a patient in a mental hospital & a student at Harvard Medical School, replied “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.”

Thomas Merton said it best: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark)

** tons of pithy, inspiring quotes gathered up in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of the blog

19

03 2014

Connected

I recently (Feb. 25/14) attended a talk in Toronto by Jon Young. The event was sponsored by the P.I.N.E. Project.

The motto of the PINE Project is “Be more, Need less.” Gotta love that! The organization works to bring families & Nature together. Gotta love that too!

Young is a very long-time outdoor educator dude, & an absolutely captivating speaker.

Among other greatly interesting things he said in his talk about humans, the benefits of having close ties with the earth & our loss thereof, he named 8 attributes he believes are characteristic of people with a deep nature connection:

  • Happiness
  • Vitality
  • Ability to sit quietly & listen
  • Connection & empathy
  • Being really helpful
  • Love of life, valuing it deeply
  • Love of people. Forgiveness, kindness, compassion … & finally
  • Quiet mind.

 

He added that the last one kind of comes first; that you leverage it & the others then come along more quickly.

****

So many of us lack this deep nature connection, now. You can see how people who do not have a deep love of this planet are liable to abuse it with abandon.

Some of us (many of us?) now believe we’re past the point of being able to turn things around. The sheer momentum of destruction, on every possible front – air, water, every square inch of land – is literally mind-boggling.

My mind boggles often!   But then, I walk often, too. Every day, pretty much. Each day, as I do, I am reminded of this planet’s great beauty & abundance. This is what sustains me. I am carried by the incredible beauty of what is, what still remains. (& yes, also heartbroken at what is lost, trampled, abandoned, destroyed … of course. How could it be otherwise?)

But…. I am connected! To Nature, to the earth – & also to a great many great people.

I highly recommend being connected – the more connected, the better. Whatever else will help us get through – both the good times & the bad?

Janet

p.s. gratitude is also essential. Without it, nothing seems to be worth much, & nothing ever seems like “enough.” There was a speaker at the Jon Young event Gerry Brody who spoke movingly about gratitude. He quoted the Melody Beattie item on gratitude that is so outstanding & so beautifully true; I’m adding it in below, & you will also see it on the gratitude quotes/posting page on this blog.

p.p.s. the rewards of nature connection? Sometimes you get positively buzzed!

Quote of the day’ with this post: “Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist

Couple others:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, in The Language of Letting Go [more on gratitude]

“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains. – Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.” – Wendell Berry

“What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains.” ~ from the film ‘Home

** the ‘Quotation Central!’ section has OODLES of pithy & inspiring quotations gathered up. Check it out!

 

18

03 2014

Fukushima: 3rd Anniversary – March 11/14.

Today marks 3 years since the start of this horrific ongoing nuclear disaster. It’s possible the “average person” does not give this crisis much thought, but my e-mail Inbox doesn’t allow me that option. I receive multiple messages daily about the situation in Fukushima.

Last year (March 2013) I attended the Helen Caldicott symposium that was held in New York City to mark the 2nd anniversary & to share important scientific & medical information from a large number of scientists & researchers. I did several postings that are listed & linked here (included are a link to the Webcast, some great quotations, & a guest posting that gives a thorough summary of the entire symposium). An important lesson is that it is important to make disasters personal. Always. A lesson that is easy to forget. (I myself always have to be reminded of this.)

This year, I’ll attend an event in Toronto tonight that aims to help us prevent a nuclear disaster from happening here in Ontario. There are 18 reactors operating at 3 large nuclear stations (2 big ones in Durham Region, east of Toronto; the Pickering reactors are within about 30 km of downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city; & up at the Bruce Power site near Kincardine, on the shores of Lake Huron, one of the, if not the, largest operating nuclear station on the planet). So there is plenty to be concerned about, right here in Ontario (or, for that matter, anywhere there is a nuclear plant or nuclear waste site; dear me, this latter is also a very “hot” topic right now).

The problem with nuclear energy is, there is simply no way to make it safe. Problems & risks (& emissions & serious health consequences) abound all the way along the nuclear chain, & the tonnes of extraordinarily dangerous wastes that are created will be with us forever. Forever, & ever, Amen (not).

In this post I will simply provide a list of recent items I’ve seen/heard that speak about the ongoing disaster in Fukushima. If you find it overwhelming, join the club! Don’t think for a moment I “enjoy” obsessing about this issue, & these threats. It isn’t “fun” exactly, & there are assuredly other things we anti-nuclear activists could be doing with our time!

The people of Fukushima & Japan have no option but to pay attention – their lives have been devastated!

A Fukushima-type accident could happen anywhere. I sure don’t want to see one happen here, near the scads of people I know & love in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA, as it’s called). That’s why I go on (& on) about this. Just for the record.

(In a posting here I wrote about the issue of collusion. An investigative committee in Japan determined that the accident was not due to the tsunami or the earthquake; it was a human-made disaster. An article by Karl Grossman here points out that this collusion between “regulator” & industry is not limited to Japan, it is a worldwide problem. This is soooo important to understand!! This is why I say one of these accidents can happen anywhere. Can happen here.)

OK. The list.

*******

Telebriefing: Fukushima+ 3 days before the 3rd anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Japan. This is 100 minutes long & entirely worth listening to!  Listen to the 3 speakers (listed below) here 

 

 

You can listen to the March 6th program on-line here (100 minutes), OR by right-clicking on the slide-bar of the on-line player, you can download the MP3 file…LARGE FILE: about 45 MB.

On the 3rd anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi Catastrophe‘ — long-time journalist Karl Grossman – professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. Karl is also the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and other books on nuclear technology, as well as hosting numerous TV programs on the subject including Chernobyl: A Million Casualties, Three Mile Island Revisited and The Push to Revive Nuclear Power.

Fukushima: We Must Not Forget! - blog posting from Greenpeace site

Interview with Mayor of town that hosted Fukushima nuclear plant (this mayor was pro-nuke until the unthinkable happened, btw)

Three Years On: Lives in Limbo, Dr. David McNeill (co-author of Strong in the Rain book; see below)

Latest issue of No Nukes News just in…. more info about nukes, & Fukushima.

2 Books: 

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disasterby David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman and Susan Q. Stranahan of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by David McNeill, the Japan-based correspondent for The Independent, and Lucy Birmingham, Time magazine’s Tokyo-based reporter.

N.B. I could add in a ton more stuff, but I think this is enough for now. You will have observed that each of these sites has many other items you can also check out.

***** Now, if you’re a “local” reader & have concerns about the safety of the Pickering reactors that Ontario Power Generation is pushing to … push beyond their 210,000-hour design life, that would be a sensible attitude!

Here are some links about that situation:

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates on safety at Pickering:

  • Short: interview on Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) Facebook page (scroll until you find it. It’s very short, about 3 minutes, but very worth your 3 minutes!) Theme: 40 good years….. & 1 bad day.
  • Longer (18 minutes) — what Gundersen said to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) last year about Pickering’s “safety.”

 

Greenpeace’s Shawn-Patrick Stensil Time To Shut Down the Pickering Nuclear Station

& his presentation to the CNSC last May.

Emergency Planning Inadequate

** Upcoming Pickering hearing info here

I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So, it is out of question to put anyone, i.e. us, the workers, the public, and the company, in a situation of risk in the nuclear realm.” – Thierry Vandal, head of Hydro Québec

** Great essay about The Age of Nuclear Waste by Dr. Gordon Edwards here.

____________________________________

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “We need to get a lot more women involved [in nuclear activism].” – Mary Olson, NIRS (Nuclear Information & Resource Service)

Runner-up Quotes: “Nuclear energy is unnecessary, uninsurable, uneconomic, and most importantly, unsafe. The fact that it continues to exist at all is a result of a ferocious lobby, enlisting the autocratic power of government, that will not admit that its product is unfit for use in the modern world. Let us not allow the lessons of Fukushima to be ignored.” ~ Ralph Nader

“We have to kill them [nuclear plants] before they kill us.” – David Freeman, former nuclear proponent & former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority — speaking at the Helen Caldicott Symposium in NYC March 11-12/13. (It was a trip to Chernobyl that turned him around on the nuke issue, btw. Powerful YouTube of this feisty, take-no-prisoners, formerly pro-nuclear speaker here.)

“You have to make it personal.” – Bob Alvarez, Institute for Policy Studies, explaining that politicians confronted with “angry widows & angry workers” were more inclined to be generous with benefits than the “pointy-headed” bureaucrats. In other words, facing real actual living, breathing people who have been harmed by nuclear energy is more likely to cause a change in attitude than hearing about it from a safe distance. (A posting on making it personal here)

”All nuclear power plant systems, structures, components and personnel are potential sources of failures and malfunctions. Problems can arise from defects in design, manufacturing, installation and construction; from testings, operational, and maintenance errors; from explosions and fires; from excessive corrosion, vibration, stress, heating, cooling, radiation damage, and other physical phenomena; from deterioration due to component aging, and from externally-initiated events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and sabotage.” – Daniel F. Ford (from a Stop Plant Vogtle brochure)

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 [more MLK quotes]

** Tons more relevant quotations here (you really do need to check them out!!)

** Full listing of nuke-related postings on this blog

 

11

03 2014

Buzzed

I got very buzzed in Algonquin Park one night last summer.

This had nothing to do with alcohol – or any other artificial “intoxicating substance.” There was an intoxicating substance, though, & the only way to describe it is … Nature. Or … hmmm. A sort of powerful sensation of mystical connection with … the great outdoors/everything.

I was out in the park with friends, on our annual August camping trip. (The photo at the top of the blog is of a rock across the lake from where we usually camp.) It was our 4th night out & two of us were just sitting around. We’d eaten & cleaned up after our meal. Just sittin’. Being pretty quiet.

The sky was clear, the moon almost full.

It was quiet around us – probably the only sounds we could hear were water lapping & maybe the occasional splash of a beaver. We were on an island, surrounded by water, & lots & lots of trees. An incredible sense of space, & spaciousness.

I can’t really explain what the feeling was like, exactly. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt it before – or if I have, never so intensely. It was as if my body was just kind of humming with exhilaration – a natural sense of joy, & intense … be-ing. (Although these are just words, & quite wholly inadequate to describe how I felt.)

The exhilaration of being outside & fully a part of it all – not separate.

It was like being blissed out. Only it wasn’t like being blissed out; I was blissed out.

It was extraordinary.

Long pause……………….

You can’t order up that kind of experience. It just happens.

(Or, mostly, doesn’t happen.)

I am very-very grateful for the experience, & for the annual trip with these awesome friends.

& also grateful for being reminded of this special experience last week. I was at a Jon Young event hosted by the P.I.N.E. Project in Toronto. Extraordinary man! Extraordinary event! So thankful that friends KL & AB caused me to be there, all of it pretty “flukey” & unexpected. 

Well.

Down below are a few photos of scenes from around the lake. There is no having a “bad” time there, it seems.

What an extraordinarily beautiful planet we have been gifted with!?

Janet

p.s. I keep re-wording my description of how I felt. I can’t seem to get it quite right. It was intoxicating, that much I do have right!

p.p.s. a couple weeks later: here’s what it was like: like the Earth’s heart was beating, & I was pulsing right along with it. I was its heartbeat… or the Earth was breathing me … & I could feel it. I was it.

p.p.p.s. which reminds me of this Joseph Campbell gem: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” – Joseph Campbell

& also this one: “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” – Joseph Campbell

p.s. # 4: other canoe trip-related postings

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 – 1987) [more JC quotes]

 [I think if you click on the images, they get bigger.]

 

 

 

05

03 2014

That Ship Has Sailed

I love this expression!

I think a lot of ships have sailed.

I think a lot of us are still waiting, though

Standing on the (now-dangerous) shoreline

Waiting for ships.

Ships that have already sailed…

 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “However, it is to Earth itself that I owe the most gratitude. It has strongly attracted me and engaged my respect and wonder all of my life.” – Dr. Rosalie Bertell, in the Acknowledgements in Planet Earth – The Latest Weapon of War, Rosalie Bertell (2001)

** many more quotes about gratitude; many more quotes of ALL kinds gathered up under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading

04

03 2014

Yesterday

Yesterday I had the most glorious walk.

I was appropriately bundled for the cold.

The sun was shining most spectacularly.

The lake was positively shimmering.

The sky was a gorgeous, gorgeous blue.

I walked for longer than I had intended. Some other things didn’t get done, as a result. But I needed that walk.

I reminded myself of a few of my top Janet sayings:

  • Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.
  • Stay on the path. Don’t look down.
  • I don’t have to figure that out right now.

 

& I made myself chuckle (I’m such a great audience) with a very uncharitable thought about a person who is a bit of a thorn in my side these days. (I will spare you the wicked thought. )

Walking is my salvation, pretty much!

Thank goodness my legs keep permitting me to keep this up!!

Janet

p.s. good quotes (& some other linked posts) about walking here.

*** Lots more pithy, inspiring quotes of ALL kinds in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.  

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White, physician (1886-1973)

03

03 2014

Contents Under Pressure

<drafted March 2013>

My phrase for today.

Just muse on it, Reader.

I am contents under pressure.

You are probably contents under pressure.

The whole darn world is contents under pressure.

Think about what happens when a pressure cooker blows.

Doesn’t matter if you’re busy doing yoga or meditation when the pressure cooker blows.

Or whatever you were/are doing.

Whatever you’ve been doing, all your life, to keep that darn pressure cooker from blowing.

You’re still going to get splattered. We all are.

I have no easy solutions to offer. Just doing my thing, one day at a time, is all.

Janet

p.s. walking every day helps. Talking/being with friends/loved ones. Music. Always remembering one of my very-very favourite quotations: “It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show

p.p.s. these are challenging, challenging, challenging times…

p.p.p.s. I drafted this almost a year ago now. It’s just been sittin’. Ran across it & figure “Oh what the heck. I don’t feel all that “contents under pressure”-ish at the moment — but then too, I’m not the only person on the planet, am I?? Probably some folks are feeling this way, especially after fractious February (seems like every February is fractious).” Sometimes, even just articulating honestly what we are … honestly feeling, helps move the mood along. When it comes to fractiousness, moving it along seems like a not-bad thing to do.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “…the idea of work – work, with its immense banality – strikes me as so absurd I wonder how the economy lurches on. Does anyone, anywhere, perform daily tasks of value? Even doctors treat boredom and loneliness as much as any real physical complaint. What do the rest of us do? Make useless shit to sell to each other so we can buy more useless shit. I buy a venti latte so the Starbucks employee can buy Billy Blank’s Boot Camp workout so Billy Blank can buy a new Volt so a GM exec – my brother, for instance – can rent a Yo Gabba Gabba bounce house for the kids’ party. And so on. Where along this line is anything necessary, anything of true human benefit, accomplished?” – from A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins (2012) 

*** Lots more pithy, inspiring quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.  

02

03 2014

Problems Problems Problems

Got remembering a neat quotation about problems when chatting with a friend the other day. Went to my ‘Quotations’ document to do a ‘Find’ on the word “problem.” Well! Plenty came up. Great selection, or so it seems to me. So I’m adding this collection to the quotations collection to be found in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of this blog. Enjoy!

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” (phew! ) – Theodore Rubin (1923-), U.S. psychiatrist   ** this is the one I went looking for

“The dominant thinking on the left, I suppose, is some variety of a “false consciousness” argument, that the elite have pulled the wool over the eyes of the vast majority of the population, and once the latter realizes that they’ve been had, they’ll rebel, they’ll move the country in a populist or democratic socialist direction. The problem I have with this is the evident fact that most Americans want the American Dream, not a different way of life. Endless material wealth based on individual striving is the American ideal, and the desire to change that paradigm is practically nonexistent. Even the poor buy into this, which is why John Steinbeck once remarked that they regard themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” – historian & cultural critic Morris Berman being quoted in ‘Why the American Empire Was Destined to Collapse,’ by Nomi Prins [2]  [very worth reading, btw!]

“I was at a conference about peace and freedom and so on, and I was asked, being the only native there, what I saw as the solution to the problems that we have on Earth. So that’s what I suggested, you know – getting rid of private property and nation states. They asked me, really sneeringly, to please be more realistic, because, they said, private property and nation states are here to stay. And my answer to them was, that their very best scientists are trying to tell them that human life is not necessarily here to stay. So it’s time for a radical change, there’s no time for anything else.” – Native Gawitrha’in an essay in the book Circles of Strength, edited by Helen Forsey

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I awake in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E.B. White

“You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.” – Paul Hawken, entrepreneur & author, The Sun (April 2002) – quoted in July/Aug. 2002 issue of Utne Reader

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.”  Howard Zinn [more quotes on civil disobedience] + Howard Zinn on democracy & civil disobedience on YouTube here

“The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them.” – Albert Einstein [more Einstein quotes]

Thomas Berry on the environmental crisis: “It is something like being in a lifeboat. There may be problems of distribution of food, there may be people that need medical care, but if something happens to the boat, the boat has to be taken care of immediately or else everything else becomes irrelevant.”

“Adding highway capacity to solve a congestion problem is like buying larger trousers to solve a weight problem.” – Magazine article

“There isn’t a problem on this earth that a doughnut cannot make better.” – Roseanne Barr

“There is not a problem with the system. The system is the problem.” – Source unknown

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men [people??] who can dream of things that never were.” – John F. Kennedy

“The capacity of people to get on with what they have been doing all their lives, even when they know it is not in their best interests, is a marvel. Denial is one of the strongest of human emotions. It gets us through the shock of chronic illnesses or sudden deaths, and often it is what keeps us from making changes in life. Thus it is not enough to have a good idea or even a great one to bring about social change. People have to believe that the problem being addressed is so bad that something must be done, and they must believe that something can be done.” – Devra Davis, Ph.D in When Smoke Ran Like Water – Tales of Environmental Deception & the Battle Against Pollution – 2002

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

“Not the least of my problems is that I can hardly even imagine what kind of an experience a genuine, self-authenticating religious experience would be. Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.” – Frederick Buechner (quoted at the front of John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany)

“What’s really important is not what’s wrong, but what is right… No community was ever built on the needs and problems of its people. It has always been built on their gifts and capacities, and the use of the assets that are there…” – Professor John L. McKnight, Director of Community Studies, Northwestern University, Illinois

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, in The Language of Letting Go

“If I am practicing spiritual poverty, which says that I own nothing, then the problems aren’t mine and neither are the energy and compassion pouring through my heart to try to solve them. I am just a link in the process. If I don’t take anything personally, then I can do great work without flagging. The Dalai Lama once said, ‘Try with all your might — to work very, very hard — to make the world a better place, and if all your efforts are to no avail . . . no hard feelings!’” – Bo Lozoff, *Utne Reader*

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis

*** Lots more pithy, inspiring quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.  

 

01

03 2014

Can’t Hear What You’re Not Saying!

So. Once upon a time I was in a relationship with a man who said to me “Janet, I wish you could hear what I’m not saying.” 

   (Still wondering what the heck it was he wasn’t saying. No kidding!)

The phrase is kind of an interesting one, & I was reminded of it today.

Those of us who are activists (some of us cannot bear to be passive-ists) can’t hear what you are not saying.

What you are not saying about Canada’s prime minister, for example, who is laying waste to all we Canadians have ever held dear. Environmental regulations. Democratic government/leadership. Nature. The voice of scientists. (Go here for a good summary. Here’s what I’m doing about it, among other things.)

What’s that you say? Too busy? Listen, I’m busy too. Busy working on your behalf, on everyone’s behalf. Speak up already. Before it’s too late.

I also can’t hear what you’re not saying about nukes. About living in Toronto (Canada’s largest city) with a nuclear plant over on the eastern border, perched on Lake Ontario, a mere 30 km from downtown, people!    

Can you say Fukushima? Chernobyl?

Can you say, What the Hell are we thinking?????

(Great podcast about the Pickering nuke scene here on the Fairewinds Associates Web site. Take a moment, will you?)

Speak up! I can’t hear what you’re not saying.

I wrote recently about the personal being political. (The posting about patriarchy is actually a case in point. Patriarchy rears its ugly head every single day of the week. It’s very personal, & very very political.)

I’ve been doing some speaking up in my “personal” life lately. There have been some little … situations … I’ve been a little too quiet about. No one likes it, exactly, when you rock the boat, of course. Sometimes, though, the boat needs rocking.

I think many, perhaps most, situations on Planet Earth are “too late” for us to fix now. I get that. I’m not going to candy-coat things for you. Things are in a mighty pickle.

Things could be worse (will almost certainly get a good deal worse, for sure) – & as long as we keep quiet about things we ought to be noisy/speaking up about, they’ll get worse in more unpleasant ways than any of us might care for (that too is both political & personal!).

Please speak up. Use your voice.

Raise a little hell.

Protesting is good for you; I mean it literally, good for your health!

Janet

p.s. sign up for the No Nukes News here

p.p.s. The Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) group’s Facebook page is here. It has a very recent post about last year’s Pickering hearing & what expert Arnie Gundersen believes people in the Pickering/Durham Region/Greater Toronto areas need to know (scroll down to find the 3-minute interview).

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 [more MLK quotes]

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1964), a Nazi victim who was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen & Dachau

** Quotes on conscience

Civil disobedience

Courage 

Nukes

 Tons of great quotes in ‘Quotation Central!’ section.

 

26

02 2014

Worrier or Warrior?

No time to explain why I’m on this right now, OK?

Visit this site about being a worrier, or a warrior.

Or this one.

& Hey! If you’d rather be a worrier than a warrior, you go for it!

Me, I’ll take warrior-ing over worry-ing any old day.

Janet

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “If you need to feel hope, you’re courting despair, and if you court despair you will stop working. So try to wean yourself from this need to have hope. Try to have faith instead, to do what you can, and stop worrying about whether or not you’re effective…Worry about what is possible for you to do, which is always greater than you imagine.” ~ Oscar Romero

More:

“So long as I breathe and have the strength to do it, I will not cease philosophizing, exhorting you, indicting whichever of you I happen to meet, telling him in my customary way: Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige – while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?” – Socrates, Greek philosopher, 469-399 B.C.

“Don’t worry about what others think, they don’t do it very often.” – Source unknown

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.” – church sign board

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973

“A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.” – Source unknown

“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen

“I have, despite all disillusionment, never, never allowed myself to feel like giving up. This is my message today; it is not worthy of a human being to give up.” ~ Alva Myrdal, Nobel Peace Prize winner [I needed to hear this!!]

23

02 2014

Patriarchy (again)

I did a posting about patriarchy several years ago now (May 2/09; it’s here).

Patriarchy never goes away; would that it had, or would!

It’s in my thoughts again after a friend told me of a dream she had recently. As is so often the case with dreams, she couldn’t recall any details – just that it seemed she was announcing the answer to a question about what “the problem” was. In the dream she shouted “It’s patriarchy!!”

Makes me chuckle every time I think about it.

As I say, patriarchy doesn’t just go away because we wish it.

& I have way too much other stuff to work on right now to get down in the weeds & talk about it (again).

I do recall an amazing indictment of patriarchy that I’d kind of forgotten about, & ran across recently.

It’s in the form of a prayer, by the very brilliant Matthew Fox. I’m going to paste it in below. It’s a corker.

Why now? Well, the personal, as they say, is political. One is confronted with certain situations in life that inevitably remind one that patriarchy (& the devaluation of all things female) is still very much with us.

Sucks, eh? But c’est la vie, as they say.

Janet

p.s. in the posting here, I reference books by 2 men who understand patriarchy from the in-side out, & how it affects men (& all of us) today & always. I think you’ll find the posting (& especially the books it references) quite worth your time. I’m grateful to have been reminded of the posting/the books. Thanks, blog watchers!! 

Matthew Fox’s brilliant prayer:

 A Litany of Deliverance – A Prayer by Matthew Fox

From Patriarchy’s dualism,

From Patriarchy’s proneness to self-pity,

From Patriarchy’s sentimentalism,

From Patriarchy’s violence,

From Patriarchy’s lack of imagination,

From Patriarchy’s intellectual laziness,

From Patriarchy’s lack of authentic curiosity,

From Patriarchy’s separation of head from body,

From Patriarchy’s separation of body from feelings,

From Patriarchy’s preoccupation with sex,

From Patriarchy’s fear of intimacy,

From Patriarchy’s reptilian brain,

From Patriarchy’s anthropocentrism,

From Patriarchy’s cosmic loneliness,

From Patriarchy’s crucifixion of Mother Earth,

From Patriarchy’s envy and manipulation of children,

From Patriarchy’s abuse of women,

From Patriarchy’s homophobia,

From Patriarchy’s righteousness,

From Patriarchy’s idolatry of nationhood and national security,

From Patriarchy’s forgetfulness of beauty and art,

From Patriarchy’s impotence to heal,

From Patriarchy’s sado-masochism,

From Patriarchy’s parental cannibalism and devouring of its children,

From Patriarchy’s lack of balance,

From Patriarchy’s savaging of the earth,

From Patriarchy’s quest for immortality,

From Patriarchy’s ego,

From Patriarchy’s waste of talent and resources, human and earth,

From Patriarchy’s human chauvinism,

From Patriarchy’s compulsion to go into debt to finance its bloated lifestyles,

From Patriarchy’s matricide, spare us O Divine One.

 Prayer by Matthew Fox.

**To be found in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, (Appendix D), Matthew Fox, HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion – not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don’t know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” – Pema Chödrön in the chapter ‘Intimacy with Fear’ in When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997)

Bonus Quote:

“When we light

a candle at midnight

we say to the darkness

we beg to differ.”

– graffiti on Queen St. West wall [in Toronto], quoted in the book Say to the Darkness, We Beg to Differ, by Mary Jo Leddy (1990)

20

02 2014

Stop Harper ++ GP Petition

** don’t miss P.S. # 4 down below!!

So, my new button.

 

(This image from “Stop Harper.”)

Of course inspired by Brigette DePape — blessed young woman.

Got mine the other day (while at a rally in downtown Toronto) from a woman also named Janet, after I admired it.

The one she gave me is hand-made. Good size. Attention-grabber, I notice, as I walk down the street.

Hope to see lots & lots & lots more of them in the days ahead.

Thanks, Janet!

Janet

p.s. the Green Party petition is about serious election nonsense the Harper government is up to. Please check it out, sign it, Facebook it, Tweet it, send it to friends via e-mail … & do not let up!!!!! We are now into a serious battle to defeat this rapacious (& not even remotely democratic   ) government. Your energy is needed!

p.p.s. you might want to visit a site that has plenty of info about “Harper’s Crimes Against Humanity.”

p.p.p.s. & also — ** Report called “Thinking Outside the Ballot Box: How People Power Can Stop Harper’s Agenda and Create Fundamental Change,” by Brigette DePape (written for the Council of Canadians).

p.s. # 4: & if you go to this page, you can order some cool Stop Harper stuff of your own!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “People will say with pride: ‘I’m not interested in politics.’ They might just as well say, ‘I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.’” – Martha Gellhorn

Runner-up: “The Barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the reins of power.” – Letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star, January 18/14.

** Many more great quotations about politics/democracy here – in the ‘Quotation Central!‘ section of the blog.

18

02 2014

The Personal IS Political

You bet your sweet fanny it is!

I’ve been (apparently) attending a little life workshop on this, of late.

Feelings of being “left out” on the personal level (details not important) making me realize that Leaving People Out is what Capitalism/Corporatism/ (let’s not forget Colonialism) do best (well duh, eh?).

Small example: We get diagnoses of cancer as individuals – but cancer is not only epidemic because of the aforementioned capitalism/corporatism (& radioactive fallout going back decades & decades too, mind you; can you say military-industrial complex?) … it’s become Big Business!

The sicker we all get, the more business we create in cancer diagnosis & treatment: machines, drugs, bureaucracies, careers, jobs.

Sickness & oil spills contribute to “The Economy” … before which we must all bow down & pledge our undying allegiance … of course!

This is all so sickeningly self-evident to those of us who’ve been activists over a long period of time, I’m almost embarrassed to articulate it. It’s so “Duh!!!!!”

But I mention it anyway.

I remind us all – especially those who think they are somehow outside, or “above” all this:

The personal is very very very political indeed. You just need to step back a little sometimes, in order to catch the big picture. We are indeed all part of the big picture, & for sure everything isn’t about our own wee paltry selves & lives & problems…you know?

Janet

p.s. consider watching the film “Thrive” if you’re interested in getting a better handle on the way things really work on this planet. I’ve only seen about the 2nd half of it – but am very glad I watched it. The money stuff is pretty mind-blowing. It’s stuff we all need to know, trust me!

‘Quote of the day’: “It takes time to connect the dots, I know that. But I also know that there can be a day of reckoning when you wish you had connected the dots more quickly.” – Al Gore (I’ll say!!      )

Bonus Quote: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein [more great Einstein quotes]

*** Lots more pithy, inspiring quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.

17

02 2014

Inconvenient Truth

Turns out, I myself am (frequently, in some respects, apparently) an inconvenient truth.

(I don’t just tell inconvenient truths, it appears I am one.)

Are you perhaps one as well?

Shoot. No one signs up for this, exactly, do we??

We are seemingly cast in a role not exactly “of our own choosing.”

Well, I guess we must simply do our very best with what Central Casting has laid on for us…. hmmm?

Janet

‘Quote of the Day with this post:  “It takes time to connect the dots, I know that. But I also know that there can be a day of reckoning when you wish you had connected the dots more quickly.” Al Gore

** lots of great quotes about truth here (in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section)

17

02 2014

Fallout is Forever

There are different kinds of fallout.

Some last merely a lifetime.

(the fallout from divorce, say.)

The nuclear kind? Forever.

Sucks, doesn’t it?

Janet

p.s. some “half-lives” are very very long.

p.p.s. ‘A brief history of global nuclear accidents’ here.

p.p.p.s. an MD in Tokyo believes folks need to get away – speaking of fallout….

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “…the fears and dangers of radioactive fallout… Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard—and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby—who may be born long after we are gone—should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent.” — John F. Kennedy, July 26, 1963.

***** Tons of other great nuke-related quotes here!

16

02 2014

Strange St.

Strange St. is a short street in the east end of Toronto.

(I am not making this up.)

It’s not the street I live on.

But really

Let’s face it

I do live on Strange St.

(As do we all now … yes?)

 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post:

“Work for a cause, not for applause.

Live life to express, not to impress.

Don’t strive to make your presence noticed

Just make your absence felt.” – Anonymous

15

02 2014

Resistance. & Hell.

<Feb. 1/14.>

If resistance is Hell

(& it is, it is

Just this morning I got that.

Right down in my guts)

 

Then what was all that old nonsense?

Fire & brimstone

& the devil

& burning burning burning

for Eternity

 

What was all that about???

 

Janet

p.s. OK, OK, so I do know what it was all about. Fear, & fear-mongering, & patriarchy, & hierarchy – all that “good old” stuff to “keep people in their place.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Institutions gotta have their rules. I get that.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Just imagine how good it would feel if we all got together once in a while in large public gatherings and admitted that we don’t know why we are alive, that nobody knows for sure if there is a higher being who created us, and that nobody really knows what the hell’s going on here.” – Wes Nisker, meditation teacher, Inquiring Mind (Spring 2005) – quoted in Utne Reader, summer 2005

A few others located when I did a ‘Find’ on the word hell in my Quotations document:

“The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who, in times of crisis, preferred to remain neutral.” – Dante, in The Inferno

Pema Chödrön on heaven & hell:  “There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

There isn’t any hell or heaven except for how we relate to our world. Hell is just resistance to life. When you want to say no to the situation you’re in, it’s fine to say no, but when you build up a big case to the point where you’re so convinced that you would draw your sword and cut off someone’s head, that kind of resistance to life is hell.” — page 31-32 Chapter 7 – “Taking a Bigger Perspective” – The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, Shambhala, 1991

“The hellfire of life consumes only the select among us; the rest stand in front of it, warming their hands.” – Friedrich Hebbel

& this one, just ‘cos I feel like it, though the word hell is not mentioned:  

Pema Chödrön on life’s work:  “Life’s work is to wake up, to let the things that enter into the circle wake you up rather than put you to sleep. The only way to do this is to open, be curious, and develop some sense of sympathy for everything that comes along, to get to know its nature and let it teach you what it will. It’s going to stick around until you learn your lesson, at any rate. You can leave your marriage, you can quit your job, you can only go where people are going to praise you, you can manipulate your world until you’re blue in the face to try to make it always smooth, but the same old demons will always come up until finally you have learned your lesson, the lesson they came to teach you. Then those same demons will appear as friendly, warmhearted companions on the path.” ~ page 32, Chapter 7 – “Taking a Bigger Perspective” – The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, Shambhala, 1991

13

02 2014

Ego

This is one of those “fluke” postings. Was noticing the word “ego” in my head in the past day or so, & thought just now “Okay! Why not a posting with the quotations I have on hand about ego?”

So here they are. Okay, so there may not be many, but they are good ones!

“At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. Then, there would be a real New Age.” ~ Ken Wilber

“How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout to be in your service is the trick.” – Joseph Campbell [more great JC quotes here]

“…the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing … because these activities preclude awareness of the Divine.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book I’m God, You’re Not (reviewed in Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011 issue, their 25th anniversary issue. Theme: Transforming the World)

“There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can’t get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.” – from Shambhala Mountain Center’s Learning to Stay, 2003

“Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting.” – Sidney J. Harris

Janet

** I’ll have to try & harvest some more from my great books by Pema Chödrön & Eckhart Tolle

** Feel free to send me some good ones via a comment to the blog … please!!

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “But now comes the daunting revelation, that we are all called to be saints – not good necessarily, or pious or devout – but saints in the sense of just caring for each other.” – Joanna Macy in World as Lover, World as Self Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal

“The world shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  – Anaïs Nin

Another Anaïs Nin (just ‘cos I feel like it): “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Lovely blog posting I came across by “fluke” here!)

** Note: many categories of pithy, inspiring quotations gathered up under the ‘Quotation Central!‘ heading!

 

11

02 2014

Crazy!

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple marketing phrase (apparently)

Runners-up: “What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” – Ursula K. LeGuin

“I imagine there’s probably so much quiet where you are when you’re cold and dead, you might as well say how crazy you are about people while you have a mouth and teeth and tongue.” ~ Fictional character Ruth, in The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton

Tom Robbins on “crazy wisdom”: “Crazy wisdom is the wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one’s gaze from the sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything. Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, the gods immediately placed his or her heart in one pan of a set of scales. In the other pan was a feather. If there was imbalance, if the heart of the deceased weighed more than the feather, he or she was denied admittance to the afterworld. Only the lighthearted were deemed advanced enough to merit immortality.”

10

02 2014

Emotional Baggage

So, a flight attendant on the Westjet flight yesterday was going through the usual pre-take-off routine.

Asking people to stow their carry-on luggage under the seat.

Then he added, “Stow your emotional baggage too,” & all the passengers cracked up.

Some of us on the flight (or perhaps only moi??) sat there wishing emotional baggage was that simple to deal with!!!! Some days, it feels as though my own is leaking out all over the place.

In a manner of speaking…

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” – Richard Rohr

Couple Runners-up for today’s honours:

“[T]hose who insist they’ve got their ‘shit together’ are usually standing in it at the time.” Stephen Levine

“…the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing”… “because these activities preclude awareness of the Divine.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book I’m God, You’re Not (reviewed in Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011 issue, their 25th anniversary issue. Theme: Transforming the World).

“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” – Tori Amos

“When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.” – Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born English writer

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941

“What other people think about me is none of my business.” – Karen Buxcel

“It is good to realize that falling apart is not such a bad thing. Indeed, it is as essential to evolutionary and psychological transformation as the cracking of outgrown shells.” – Joanna Macy in World as Lover, World as Self Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal

“Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” – Golda Meir (1898 – 1978), Israeli prime minister

 

 

09

02 2014

Metaphor for Today

So, I was walking along the beach this morning (see previous post).

& I had told myself in no uncertain terms: No More Seashells!!!!

But I am a greedy woman … when it comes to seashells, anyway (are we not all greedy for one thing or another? Even if it’s just for enlightenment… or peace?)

Anyway. So, inevitably I wound up picking up yet more shells – almost more than my one hand could carry.

So in one hand I was carrying a plastic bottle I’d picked up, planning to put it in the garbage, while the other was brimming with “new” seashells.

The hand with the plastic bottle (& one funny hole-y shell) was not very full, while the one with all the other shells was very full.

& I thought “Yes! It’s a metaphor for life! A small amount of “garbage,” & a great-great-great abundance of good & wonderful things.”

You know?

& I am so grateful that I am able to, that I choose, to see it that way. Because you know? Some days, & some weeks, really, are quite quite quite challenging… for all of us, no doubt … hmmm?

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

08

02 2014

Today

So, I began the day in Costa Rica, waking up in a cabina – a small simple charming screened-in cabin I was sharing with an incomparably wonderful friend, in a stunning retreat spot. The day began with

  • A warm breeze
  • Gorgeous blue sky (tinged with pink, to start)
  • Gratitude
  • My first sighting of howler monkeys after 7 days in C.R.; yay!!    
  • A spontaneously-conceived-of plan to walk down to the beach before departure.

 

As I walked down to aforesaid beach, I thought of some phrases for the day:

  • Live from the in-side out, not the out-side in (as so many do)
  • Bloom where you’re planted!
  • Don’t worry; your path in life will find you … if you let it
  • De-clutter: your mind, your life
  • Let go. Let go let go let go let go let go
  • Get messy! Life is not a neat affair
  • Surrender. Over & over & over & over & over again
  • When life hands you a lemon….

 

Once down at the beach, I gratefully took in the sights of sand & sea & waves & birds & sky – & I collected more beautiful shells (I’m afraid I am greedy when it comes to seashells)

& I thought, “My word but this is a wildly abundant life, & planet!”

& I felt grateful. Grateful grateful grateful grateful grateful … even though I knew I had to fly back to snowy Canada today; after all, my life in snowy Canada is also wildly abundant!

Ahhhhhhh.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

 

08

02 2014

Quote of the Year!!

(for me, anyway)

So, I am in a stunning retreat spot in a very beautiful warm country (a country, as it happens, with no military, which is rather cool…. a very very long way from home)

& I could do plenty of “chat” about why & how this particular quotation is so very very very timely for me at this very particular juncture

but let’s just skip all that, shall we?

Last night, someone articulated something I am sooooo happy she put into words for me just then:

“What other people think about me is none of my business.”

Yes!

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Thank you!!!!!

Janet 

p.s. I really needed to hear that.  

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “What other people think about me is none of my business.” – Karen Buxcel (yoga teacher student at Peace Retreat)

07

02 2014

DO Something!

Don’t just stand (sit or lie) there – do something!

Okay. Last week I woke up one morning feeling as though there was an elephant (a LARGE elephant) sitting on my chest. (I can only assume we all have the occasional day like this.)

I remembered posting this poem by Robertson Davies in November 2012. (I also circulated it to a bunch of friends, at least one of whom put a copy of it up on her fridge, so every time I visit her, I’m reminded of it.)

It really helped get me going on that not-nice elephant morning last week, & I proceeded to make a batch of soup for someone who was feeling poorly. Made me feel tons better. (Her too!)

So, I’m sort of recycling it. Well, re-using, I guess.

Good bit of wisdom here!

Do Something for Somebody Quick!

 

There’s an excellent rule I have learned in life’s school,

And I’m ready to set it before you.

When you’re heavy at heart and your world falls apart,

Do not pity yourself, I implore you.

No, up with your chin, meet bad luck with a grin,

And try this infallible trick.

It never will fail you, whatever may ail you –

DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEBODY QUICK!

 

OH –

Do something for somebody quick,

It will banish your cares in a tick.

Don’t fret about you – there’s a good deed to do –

DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEBODY QUICK!

 

 ** Robertson Davies in Murhter & Walking Spirits

 

Janet

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of [hu]mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never seen.” – Matthew Arnold, quoted in Utne magazine

A few others: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

WHOSE JOB IS IT?

This is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY and NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was asked to do it.  EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein [more Einstein quotes]

“One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something.” – Henry David Thoreau

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson [more Emerson quotes]

“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen

“The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.” – Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – quoted in Utne magazine

** New page of mother-related quotations here, in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.

20

01 2014

Silence of the Labs

Silence of the Labs.’

Recent episode of CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)’s Fifth Estate TV program about the Canadian government’s slashing of federally-funded scientific research & labs. Shocking!

Unfortunately, I think you can only watch it if you’re in Canada.

Canadians, please watch! You need to understand what the Stephen Harper government is up to — if you don’t already know.

 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “The Barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the reins of power.” – Letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star, January 18/14.

 

 

19

01 2014

Aliens

How could we ever explain

To someone from another planet

Why we guard truckfuls of green paper

With guards carrying guns

 

While children go to bed hungry

And homeless people sleep on freezing streets?

 

‘Quote of the day’ used: “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” – Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife, Brazil & then, after a day or two, “Strong people stand up for themselves … stronger people stand up for others.” – seen on Facebook


15

01 2014

Potato/Chickpea/Tomato Soup (a recipe)

** Another soup recipe! Others to be found under the (new) Soup Recipes heading, here

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½-2 tsp. curry powder
  • 28 oz. can of tomatoes (drained, i.e., save the juice & drink it separately; don’t put it in the soup – it really does taste best that way, in my experience)
  • 2 cups of cooked chickpeas **
  • 4 cups stock or broth (I use organic vegetable bouillon)
  • ¼ c. minced fresh parsley leaves (I never use this)
  • salt & pepper

 

  1. Heat oil, cook onion & potato ‘till onions are tender.
  2. Add garlic, cook 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder & cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, then chickpeas.
  4. Add stock & bring to boil.
  5. Simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes.
  6. Stir in parsley (if using; I never do) & season with salt & pepper (if desired).

 

** makes 9 cups (if you have room in your freezer, it makes good sense to double it!)

Note: I use organic ingredients.

** As for the chickpeas, since I greatly dislike canned ones, I buy organic ones dry, then cook up a big batch in my pressure cooker & freeze small quantities of them in glass mason jars. As of yet, there has not been a big disastrous pressure cooker accident, & I’ve been using the durn thing for about 20 years.  (If you like canned chickpeas, go right ahead & use ‘em!! I am not the chickpea police… )

p.s. I LOVE this soup!!

<origin of this recipe: Mary McGrath, Toronto Star>

14

01 2014

BOOKS FOR 2014

* Just for fun, I’m starting a list of the books I’m reading this year. We’ll see how long I manage to keep this up!? NF stands for non-fiction, F for fiction. (I read both genres routinely; usually have one of each on the go.) I’ll have to update this as the days & months proceed… (& will likely move this onto a “Page” under the “Recommended” tab up top). * adding in at the top as the year goes along.

** on May 18/14: should have known — cannot keep this up! Have read at least a dozen books since I’ve added any to the list below. Pace of life is just too fast, too many things on the go.   It was a fun idea, though!

I ought to add that I choose books at the library pretty much by “fluke,” usually, & don’t read the reviews they are now linked to until I post them here. (If I read the review first, I might not read the book at all! As in the case of We Are Water, down below. Had I read the scathing review, I’d never have dived in.)

Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys (Humour), by Dave Barry. Have owned this one for years now & returned to it yesterday in my spirit of existential despair (or whatever the heck that mood was). Barry is hilariously scathing about the shortcomings of the male of the species, & absolutely laugh-out-loud funny. I am so glad I own this book & can go back to it again & again!! I occasionally wonder what other men think about it. He’s absolutely ruthless on the idiosyncrasies of his own gender!

What Was Lost (F), Catherine O’Flynn. I loved this book! But then, I was a huge fan of Harriet the Spy when I was a young girl. Lots of mystery, shots of humour, & insights about the emptiness of modern human existence. I really recommend this one!

This Is How You Lose Her (F purportedly), Junot Diaz. Mixed feelings about this book. I think the character’s bottomless need to bed an infinite # of women (frequently leading to his own heartbreak, of course) just made me tired. Yet I did read the whole darn thing…

Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster (NF), Lucy Birmingham & David McNeill. This was a re-reading for me (being rather obsessed with all matters nuclear). 2 journalists who make their careers/homes in Tokyo report on the earthquake as they experienced it themselves – then go on to tell the stories of 6 individuals from Japan’s east coast who were hugely affected by the quake, tsunami & nuclear disaster. Moving, disturbing, insight-ful.

We Are Water (F), Wally Lamb. Positive take on the book here. Negative (almost scathing) one here. (I think that reviewer got out of the wrong side of the bed, frankly. Glad I had not read that before reading the book – which I personally did enjoy.)

The Solitude of Prime Numbers (F), Paolo Giordano. Somewhat heart-wrenching tale. Read the review!

The Son of a Certain Woman (F), Wayne Johnston. A boy born with a massive facial (& other) disfigurements & his very non-conformist mother’s many challenges dealing with him in a city under the stranglehold of the Catholic Church in Newfoundland. Enjoyed it, not sure I understood all the underlying themes – but then, I seldom do!? Must say, the picture painted of the church figures is not a pretty one.

Nineteen Minutes (F), Jodi Picoult. Disturbing tale of a high school shooting & again, the complexities of people’s lives, childhoods, the way they parentall in the face of this mixed-up modern world we inhabit. I always enjoy Ms. Picoult’s novels!

The Interestings (F), Meg Wolitzer. Characters who first meet at a special art camp, as teen-agers, & how their lives move into the inevitable crises & events of adulthood. I quite enjoyed this story of people from different backgrounds & their lives in New York City. Lots of thorny complications – just like our real lives!

Still Foolin’ ‘Em – Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? (NF-memoir), Billy Crystal. Enjoyable, fun read!

Bel Canto (F), Ann Patchett. SUCH an enjoyable novel! Fascinating characters & amazing plot. Timely for me to read this, what with worrying about wars & planetary breakdown & such-like, & especially in light of my own contention that we could all get along if only we actually tried to do so. Great read!

A Tale for the Time Being (F), Ruth Ozeki. Man Booker Prize Finalist. Fascinating novel – not your average  novel, either. Read the reviews! I found it insightful, inspiring, intriguing. One insight about anger & broken hearts near the end set some tears loose, a welcome development in my world. You’ll learn about Japanese culture, bullying, how families’ failure to communicate can break hearts (& lives). Insights about environmental destruction, Buddhism … life! Good piece about the book in Common Ground magazine, here.

Never have your dog stuffed and other things I’ve learned (NF – memoir), Alan Alda. What an interesting life this honest & down-to-earth man (seemingly, anyway!) has led. Highly highly highly enjoyable!!

Big Brother (F), by Lionel Shriver, an author I have greatly enjoyed before. Mixed feelings about this one, I have to say. But check it out; it might be right up your alley!

And The Mountains Echoed (F), by Khaled Hosseini is a great rollicking read. I particularly enjoyed the way one particular character illustrated so well how our excessive lifestyles in the West can seem more than a little absurd stacked up against the realities of so many human beings whose lives make ours look, well, excessive. Interesting characters, maybe a few too many characters? – but I enjoyed learning more about Afghan life & history.

This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage (NF), by Ann Patchett. Fabulous & wildly varied collection of stories by this writer I’d never before encountered. Don’t be put off by the title (I was, initially) – Patchett’s honesty about her life & limitations make clear she is merely human & imperfect like the rest of us. She’s a very fine writer, though!

Wild – From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (NF), by Cheryl Strayed. Amazing memoir of the author’s 1100-mile solo hike through mountains, all the way from southern California to Washington state. Her honesty is mind-blowing & so incredibly welcome to this truth-lover. Another flukey occurrence for me, the timing of this book throwing itself into my path after just writing about being “buzzed” in Algonquin Park last summer. I can’t hold a candle to Ms. Strayed!? But we sure both love this beautiful planet…

The Yellow Birds (F), by Kevin Powers. A soldier in Iraq tells about his harrowing tour there. Very much enjoyed this novel, although it wasn’t easy to read. Very well-written. Have recorded some neat lines about grief, & this line: “It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” Love the way that is put…

The Pure Gold Baby, (F) Margaret Drabble. Loved it. Always greatly enjoy Drabble novels. She seems to “get” it about everything, & everything is always there in any of her novels. Wish I had recorded some of the narrator’s clever asides. Read it for yourself!

The Signature of All Things (F), Elizabeth Gilbert (2013). Thoroughly enjoyable story. O Magazine calls it “The novel of a lifetime.” Its message about dignity was very timely for me. (I will never forget Gilbert’s The Last American Man & what the man in question said about living in boxes.)

Wave. A memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala. Spare prose, punishingly honest. Her loss is so well described, so poignant & tragic, it will make you shed tears for the authors losses … & for your own.

Flight Behavior (F), Barbara Kingsolver (2012). Won many awards. Great novel about climate change; so well-written. Wonderful characters, compelling action. Monarch butterflies in starring role. Must-read!

Junky novel I’m too embarrassed to name – while on vacation for a wedding. (The novel did have some fun moments.)

Trains and Lovers (F), Alexander McCall Smith. Maybe not quite as fun as the usual AMS books (I’m a big fan!!) — but enjoyable to read.

Touchy Subjects (F), Emma Donoghue. Short stories; good writer, enjoyed them very much!

Tailings of Warren Peace (F), Stephen Law. Great read!

Currently re-reading: Sea Sick – The Global Ocean in Crisis, Alanna Mitchell. & also When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chödrön.

Married to a Bedouin (NF), Marguerite van Geldermalsen. Fascinating! A young woman from New Zealand visits Jordan & winds up falling in love & making a life there.

Friday Nights (F), Joanna Trollope. Fun read!

Novel to remain unnamed: Ugh! Not sure why I read it. Can’t recommend it, don’t want to hurt the writer’s feelings (by saying who wrote this awful novel) or the feelings of the friend who lent it to me. Yech! Onto another…

Bury Your Dead (F), Louis Penny. Inspector Gamache story. Detective stories are not really my thing, but I enjoyed this. Every novel has some insights about human nature (or I wouldn’t read them so obsessively!!). Fun reading about the “Anglos” in Quebec City. (I grew up Anglo in the province of Québec, though not in Quebec City.)

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (NF), David Sedaris. Witty insightful essays; laugh-out-loud funny at times. Pretty funny guy!!

Seven Good Reasons Not to be Good (F), John Gould. Some really great lines! E.g. “Yeah, okay,” he said, “so the planet’s pretty much trashed. Pollution, terrorism, fundamentalism, bigotry, bird flu, blah blah blah.” Next page: “And okay, even when things are good they aren’t really good, are they? You know they’ll go bad any minute, and they’re already bad for almost everybody else.” <pages 62-3> On the meaning of post-modernism  – a term I confess I’ve never understood: “It means everything’s broken, everything’s in pieces…. It means you have to do what you do without knowing why anymore.” “Really?” “I don’t know. Nobody knows what postmodern means, that’s what it means.” <page 274>      …I love this!!

Blink (NF), by Malcolm Gladwell. Police forces everywhere need to read this book! Explains (among other things) how physiological changes in our bodies (e.g. heart rate) affect our ability to perceive stressful situations in a rational (or at least semi-rational) fashion. In light of all the killings of civilians in Toronto by police officers in recent years, for example, seems to me the police need to study up on this book & on de-escalation tactics!! (It is also for sure interesting for anyone who is a human being. Helps us understand better how we all think & make judgments, & the value of our “guts” or intuition/s.)



13

01 2014

Making Sense

Nothing makes sense.

We live on a planet where nothing much seems to make sense anymore

(In the human realm, anyway.

Did it ever??)

I keep trying & trying & trying

Year after year

Decade after decade

Trying my hardest to make sense out of things…

In a culture in which almost nothing really makes sense.

I guess it doesn’t make sense, does it?

I guess I don’t make sense.

Ah well. Since nothing else does, I guess I am in good company!

Janet

p.s. after some time away from this draft posting: Well heck, love still makes sense, hmmm? Always has, always will! I think I will say no more on that score, as it would be far too easy to become sappy or preachy. Anyway, it’s time for a walk!  

p.p.s. couple previous posts somewhat related to this: ‘Figuring it Out’ & ‘Crazy People

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain [more Twain quotes. + TONS of other great quotations in the 'Quotation Central!" section]

Runners-up: “There is not a problem with the system. The system is the problem.” – Source unknown

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

“…as the Buddha told his cousin Ananda, the whole of the holy life is good friends. Our relationships – and our love – are ultimately what give depth and meaning to our lives.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

 

11

01 2014

Ice. Fire & Ice

So. Lots of ice these days, especially icy sidewalks, where I live (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). We had a major ice storm just before Christmas (Dec. 21/22) & then earlier this week, unusually frigid temperatures. All making for a winter to remember for Torontonians (not just Torontonians, of course!) – who are rather unused to the humdinger winters some of us experienced growing up in other parts of Canada, in places such as Winnipeg (Manitoba), Regina (Saskatchewan), Edmonton (Alberta), Ottawa (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) or Deep River (in eastern Ontario), say … to name but a few.

As a die-hard long-time daily walker (but only because it keeps me more or less sane & cheerful), I several years ago now (while living in the aforementioned eastern Ontario town of Deep River) bought myself a pair of “Gripons.” There was all too often freezing rain that would otherwise have kept me house-bound, & that just wasn’t working for me. These spike-y little critters that I strap onto the bottom of my boots are billed as “snow tires for your feet” & I must admit, I’ve found them utterly indispensable in the past weeks … or on any icy occasion I happen to encounter in whichever part of Ontario I happen to find myself.

I sometimes wonder if fellow pedestrians are eyeing me with suspicion & wondering how the heck I can walk so briskly on a treacherously icy street (or the boardwalk along Lake Ontario). Only because of these snowtires on my feet!  Others may look down their noses at me, as these things are not what you’d call “elegant” in appearance. At least some young women I know would rather risk a fall than ever-ever-ever risk looking “weird”; me, I prefer to stay safely upright while out & about!

I bought my Gripons at a Canadian Tire store … though they were manufactured in Taiwan. We don’t make much of anything here in Canada anymore; mostly embarrassing &/or greedy &/or dishonest beyond-the-pale politicians (too many of those to link to just one, but do check this out!), cars & greenhouse gas emissions? Some of us make lots of noise, but not nearly enough of it, pretty clearly!)

Climate change is bringing us all kinds of weird weather. You can debate, if you like, ‘till the cows come home, as to what’s causing it. Fact is, it’s here, it’s now, & it can be kind of scary (see here & here). For some climate-related humour, check this out!

As I’ve said before, the crazier life gets, the more I find I need that daily walk. It’s essential. Gripons it is, if icy sidewalks are going to be part of the deal!

Janet

p.s. we all recall that Robert Frost poem “Fire and Ice,” yes?

p.p.s. another kind of “fire,” of course, is the ongoing crisis at Fukushima. My latest pass-on-able bits of news on that are here here & here (Always plenty of useful information at the Beyond Nuclear site also) Oh. This one too, about the Pacific Ocean. Yikes.

p.p.p.s. next day — just came across (by fluke) a winter-related posting I did last year around this time. Enjoyed seeing it again. It’s called ‘Changing the World.’

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!” – Chip Giller, founder of Grist.org

09

01 2014

Quote / Word of the Year

Could be a busy year for elections. Here is a favourite quotation that I hope others will like & share around:

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958

I am not a fan of apathy in general, or of people who don’t vote. So I sure hope there will be greater voter turnout for all elections in Canada, municipal & otherwise, from here on in!

Word of the year?

Coalitions.

We need lots & lots (& lots) of coalitions & coalition-building to deal with the huge # of serious (even life-threatening) challenges facing our species right now.

OK. That’s all I have to say for now!

Janet

p.s. this quotation would look good on a button, wouldn’t it?

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”  Plato, Greek philosopher, 427 B.C.- 347 B.C.

Runner-up for Q. of the day: “Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt

** Lots more quotations relating to politics & democracy & so on here, btw, in the ‘Quotation Central!‘ section. Some of them are real humdingers!!

 

08

01 2014

Health Matters

Health is one of those “things that matter.” (Things that matter being the ever-recurring theme of this blog; look up along the top!)

There are continuing revelations lately about the un-reliability of our so-called “health care system.” Of drugs, of theories about disease causation, false cancer diagnoses, etc. etc.

I personally lost faith in the conventional medical/health care establishment quite a long time ago now. I don’t really remember when or why, but I suspect it was a gradual process. I now usually say our health care system is good for broken bones & gushing blood. Not so sure what else, really. (& likely this is not entirely accurate … but it feels accurate enough to me.)

What is motivating me to write about this now are repeated instances recently of friends surprising me with their continued reliance on this terribly broken system.

Friends I might expect to have dropped any naïve faith in technology & drugs & conventional medicine to “save” themselves … or anyone else.

I’m going to provide a list below of relevant resources to check out so that you as a reader can embark on your own fact-finding mission & start putting the pieces together for yourself (&/or share them with others who may need to know these things).

First, let me tell you about an Ah-ha moment I had many years ago now.

****

When I was pregnant with my second child (who’s now in her 30s), I had an ultrasound done at the halfway mark (20 weeks), as was then routine (perhaps still is, I don’t know).

I was told that I had “placenta praevia” & that if this situation did not reverse itself, I would need to have a Caesarean section. However, many weeks later I had the second ultrasound, the problem had reversed itself, &, to my great relief I went on to give birth vaginally.

For some reason, what came to me at the time was this: I wondered whether this was a situation that had perhaps often occurred in the past, but had not been known to us until the ultrasound technology came along. I thought “Hmmm. I wonder if maybe this has been happening forever, & we just didn’t know it. Nor did we perhaps necessarily need to know, because it was a situation that would later usually resolve itself.” Just a (possible) intuition that came to mind.

***

Many years later – 20+, actually – I wound up ordering a book recommended in a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives newsletter. The book is called Should I be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here’s Why. It’s a mind-blower of a book, & I highly recommend it.

For me the book became the final nail in the coffin for medical procedures such as mammograms & colonoscopies. Mammograms had fallen by the wayside for me some years previously, after I’d learned they can initiate cancer.The film ‘Exposure: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer’  had twigged me to this.

As for colonoscopies, besides the ever-present risk of false positives & false negative results with diagnostic tests (as well explained in the book), surgery of any kind is inherently risky & always best avoided if at all possible.

(An article about false diagnoses of cancer has just recently come my way. You can read it here )

Now, this is important: While I (after much careful deliberation) don’t “do” mammograms or colonoscopies, get flu shots, or take the osteoporosis medication that was prescribed for me, I am not advising anyone else to do as I do just “because I say so.” You need to dig into things yourself – but I do think you’ll find there is plenty of evidence to suggest that blindly trusting medical practitioners may not turn out to be a particularly wise or safe course of action.

Couple key things:

  1. Cancer has become big business. I don’t want to insult anyone who’s in the biz – but make no mistake, it’s become a very big job-creator & money-maker. There are industries that both cause cancer (with their toxic products) & then turn around & profit from their cancer creation (e.g., with mammography machines). It’s sick & horrible & I try not to think about this any more than I have to. 
  2. I have friends who’ve chosen not to follow the advice of their doctors when given a cancer diagnosis, who’ve healed themselves without the recommended surgeries/chemo/radiation. (It took research & lots of effort, yes. No question! In one case I can think of, it actually took just leaving things alone. This is something that sometimes works. Partly because of this problem of over-diagnosis. You need to read the book!!)
  3. The stories of medical/hospital mistakes are scary. My own mother, a retired nurse, had at least 2 serious errors made when she was in hospital. One of them, had she not caught it, would have killed her. A recent CBC re-broadcast of the ‘White Coat, Black Art’ episode called “Lessons from the Hudson to the Hospital” is very eye-opening in this regard.
  4. Prevention of illness (& problems of any kind, when it comes right down to it!) is always the best way to go, yet never receives proper energy, attention or funding. You see, in order to prevent illness, we’d have to re-think our lifestyles. We’ve become big “consumers” – & consumers want to keep doing & having the jobs that will pay for all this costly stuff we have become accustomed to consuming. We have not landed where we are overnight, Reader. It took us work & time & ingrained habits to get here. It’s made an awful lot of people an awful lot of money, too!
  5. Healthy skepticism is probably a good attitude to develop toward the so-called “health care system.” You are the person who is really in charge of your health – so what you eat, how you exercise, & so on, are utterly your responsibility. I myself have been a consumer of organic foods for longer than I can now recall. When asked by friends with vastly greater financial resources “How can you afford this?” I reply “I see it as an investment in my health!” I’m also a person who buys & consumes less than many folks, in general, being a believer in that saying “Live simply so others may simply live.”
  6. Along with seeing many instances of medical mistakes or worse, I’ve seen that our so-called Health Units do not always (or perhaps even often??) truly have health in mind. They will promote the use of chemicals to kill mosquitoes when more people would be harmed by the chemicals than by the West Nile virus they are supposedly fighting. And/or sit on their hands while the nuclear industry does its thing, never questioning (or even acknowledging) “routine releases” … and all the while discouraging proper research into health impacts of local nuclear facilities. Or fail to chase down cancer clusters in an area because they are not “statistically significant.” (Have you read the book A Civil Action or seen the movie?? Or the books Welcome to Shirley – a memoir of an atomic town, or Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Shadow of Rocky Flats?) Nosirree, you can certainly not count on your local health unit to keep you healthy or safe.

 

Enough, enough; make me stop!! I could go on about this practically forever…

(& of course I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this big & important topic … I know, I know! It’s a start, though, & there are good resources listed below.)

Janet

 

Articles / Books to check out

 


** apologies re: formatting weirdnesses. Arghhhhhhhh!!!!!

 

  • BOOK & YouTube: The Enemy Within – The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors, by Jay M. Gould. Great 9-minute YouTube about the book (an interview with the author) here

 

Films / YouTube / Radio Segment 

 

 

**** Walking, btw, is surprisingly good for our health.   ‘Why walking is a wonder drug for your health.’

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “No matter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, TURN BACK!” – Source unknown

Bonus quotes:

On the dangers of un-guided technology: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose, looking backward.” – Ralph Lapp, Scientist-turned-writer

“The sum of the whole is this: Walk and be happy, walk and be healthy.  The best way to lengthen our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.” – Charles Dickens

“People will say with pride: ‘I’m not interested in politics.’ They might just as well say, ‘I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.’” – Martha Gellhorn

“We live in a world that has practiced violence for generations – violence to other creatures, violence to the planet, violence to ourselves. Yet in my garden, where I have nurtured a healthy soil-plant community, I see a model of a highly successful, non-violent system where I participate in gentle biological diplomacy rather than war. The garden has more to teach us than just how to grow food.” ~ Eliot Coleman, ‘Four-Season Harvest’

“The healthy, the strong individual, is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he has an abscess on his knee or in his soul.” – Rona Barrett

“We are told over and over again these days that the economy is the bottom line. But as a biologist this never made any sense to me…It is the biosphere that is the source of everything that matters because it is the health of the biosphere, including the water, soil and air we all breathe, that is responsible for survival and our quality of life.” – David Suzuki

 

03

01 2014

Quotations for 2014

The world is a pretty challenging place these days – more so by the day, perhaps, even? Inspiring quotations seem to help me get through. I hope they’ll help you too! 

An obsessive quotation collector for many years now, I offer a short list of some of my strong favourites. Bear in mind, with a 106-page Word document chockfull of great ones to choose from, it’s not easy for me to create a short list. 

****

Talk – Action = Zero ……… ad in Jan/Feb. 2009 ‘Watershed Sentinel’ magazine

Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.” – Alice Walker 

“Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre LordeSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches 

“It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show

“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Albert Clarke, quoted in Speak Peace in a World of Conflict – What You Say Next Will Change Your World, by Marshall B. Rosenberg [more gratitude quotes]

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain [more MT quotes]

“A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka 

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White, physician (1886-1973) [more walking quotes] 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 [more MLK quotes]

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” – Joseph Campbell [more JC quotes]

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.” ~ Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird – Some Instructions on Writing & Life

“Two centuries of philosophers stand in opposition to the modern American recipe for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t amuse yourself in. You can’t even expect falling in love to deliver you. The most promising way to happiness is, perhaps, through creativity, through literally creating a fulfilling life for yourself by identifying some unique talent or passion and devoting a good part of your energy to it, forever.” ~ Kalle Lasn/Bruce Grierson in Utne Reader

“The Psychotherapeutic Value of Activism: Psychologist James Hillman says that taking action to correct social and economic injustice in the world can serve as powerful psychotherapy. In some cases, it may even be a more effective way to transmute one’s personal pain than talking about the pain with a therapist.” – from Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny

“A study by psychologists at the University of Sussex in Great Britain has found that taking part in campaigns, demonstrations, strikes, and protests is good for you. Interviews with activists revealed that participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria in being involved in protest events.” – quoted in Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny

“I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” ~ Robert Fulghum 

WHOSE JOB IS IT?

This is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY and NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was asked to do it.  EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986) 

“Only when the last tree has died…and the last river has been poisoned…and the last fish has been caught…will we realize that we cannot eat money.” ~ 19th century Cree saying

“What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains.” ~ from the film ‘Home: A Hymn for the Planet

Brenda Ueland on creativity:  “Why should we all use our creative power? … Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” – Brenda Ueland (American writer, 1891-1985)

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” – Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 B.C. – 347 B.C.)

“Your wealth is where your friends are.” – Plato

“Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

“Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” – Gandhi

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein [more Einstein quotes]

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton 

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” – Rumi

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [more Emerson quotes]

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

** many categories of great quotations collected under the heading ‘Quotation Central!’ Check ‘em out!

01

01 2014

Christmas Eve 2013: HUA Attack

<Dec. 24 & 25/13.>

Generally, I’m pretty good at diagnosing others as suffering from Head-Up-Arse disease (yes, please forgive me my occasional lapses of … decorum ). 

Today I realized I suffer from somewhat regular attacks of the syndrome myself.  

Pretty much every Christmas, Easter & Thanksgiving, actually – with the Christmas season (that annual bumpy emotional roller coaster ride) the star of the show. 

So, earlier today, I had a severe attack.

The world is of course, as ever, falling apart around our ears.

There are typhoons, ongoing nuclear disasters, ice storms for which large cities (like Toronto, Ontario, Canada) are ill-prepared – along with the “everyday” glaring (one might also say appalling & disgusting) income & social disparities/inequalities that we have apparently come to accept as a species, & as individuals (those of us who have accepted them, that is). 

& then there are those of us who have our predictable little meltdowns at certain times of the year.

As I do. 

It’s complicated, & I’m not even remotely interested in trying to “explain” it. So much of it is irrational, & how well can one rationally articulate the irrational? Philosophical question for the day. 

So, from time to time (fortunately relatively infrequently), I get downright self-absorbed about my (so-called) “troubles.” 

Troubles that probably at least 90% of humanity would likely thank you for (given their own deeply deeply difficult circumstances). I need to get a grip … hmmmm? 

A lot of  “negative” emotions run through me when I’m undergoing one of these HUA attacks. 

  • Sadness
  • Self-pity
  • Envy
  • Regret

 

What came over me today, after realizing what an ass I am, is how humbling, really, these occasional attacks are.

They force me to sit up & take note of how gold-plated my life is (something I am normally quite adept at doing). I am genuinely blessed in a great many ways, & my problems, such as they are, are what you might call “small potatoes” compared to those of so very many HBs. 

So when I catch myself in a full-blown HUA episode, I quickly become ashamed at how absurd I am, but then too, compassion wells up in me for those whose problems are so much bigger “potatoes” than my own. It’s good to have compassion for all of us – myself included! (Heck, I’m allowed to wallow a little, once in a while, no??  As Joanna Macy says, it is appropriate to “honour our pain,” & as Stephen Levine says, many of us have “unattended sorrows.”) 

We are in many ways a rather sorry lot, we humans. (Or worse, even; bear in mind I’m an anti-nuclear activist. The word evil comes to mind often-ish; “sorry lot” really just doesn’t quite cover it. )

***

Anyway, so the next thing is, I wind up hearing CBC Radio doing a repeat of its Ontario Today call-in show on gratitude.

This turns out to be JUST what I need to put a final end to the HUA episode. A shot in the arm, totally. It reminds me of my posting ‘Gratitude, Remembered’; even a regular practitioner of gratitude can forget sometimes…hmmm?

***

No doubt I’ll suffer future episodes of HUA at some point, being merely human. A human bean just like all of us. Merely another “bozo on the bus,” hmmm? 

Life is a challenging business, dear Reader. Especially when one is paying full attention to the madness that is raging & seemingly ramping ever upward all around us. This Wendell Berry quotation springs to mind: 

“You can describe the predicament that we’re in as an emergency, and your trial is to learn to be patient in an emergency.” (Wendell Berry) 

Off for a walk!

Janet 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Albert Clarke, quoted in Speak Peace in a World of Conflict – What You Say Next Will Change Your World, by Marshall B. Rosenberg 

A few bonus others:

“It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.” – Rumi, “In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad” 

“I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” – Henry Miller

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” – Joseph Campbell

“Do not follow where the path may lead…go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) 

“He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [more Emerson quotes]

 

 

 

26

12 2013

Enough

Once upon a time, we knew there was enough

There was! There was plenty.

 

But some pied piper, internal or external,

I don’t know

Said

“There isn’t enough

Live in fear; there isn’t enough!”

 

& so the fear & the fracturing began

Controlling the Earth

Controlling each other

 

10,000 years of fear-based culture

5,000 of patriarchy

 

Now? Now there is too much of so many things

  • Greed/hogging/hoarding
  • Inequity
  • Exclusion
  • Population
  • Religion / religious intolerance
  • War
  • Violence
  • Guns
  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Divorce
  • Hydro wires
  • Leaf-blowers 
  • Cars
  • Highways
  • Apathy
  • Emptiness
  • Alienation
  • Neurosis / psychosis
  • Loneliness
  • Despair
  • Device addiction
  • Cancer
  • Celebrity worship
  • Climate change
  • Storms
  • Nuclear energy, nuclear meltdowns, nuclear waste (Nuclear waste is FOREVER)
  • Fracking
  • Ozone depletion
  • Chemtrails
  • Acidified oceans

 

(I could go on.)

 

We have certainly long since “lost control”

(Control: the great illusion.)

 

Still.

 

There can never, even now, be too much

  • Love
  • Compassion
  • Potential
  • Smiles
  • Sharing
  • Forgiveness
  • Atonement
  • Creativity
  • Generosity
  • Good ideas
  • Celebration
  • Gratitude
  • Fun
  • Laughter
  • Letting go
  • People to love
  • Hugs
  • Rivers
  • Nature
  • Bike/canoe/kayak outings
  • Walks
  • Friends / Friendship
  • Walking
  • Surrender
  • Speaking the truth

 

& I could go on…

Is it not so?

 

Quotes for Today:

“Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

“Your wealth is where your friends are.” – Plato

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” – Gandhi

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.” – Edith Sodergran, Scandinavian poet

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

 

 

 

 

23

12 2013

Looking Good (take 2)

Long long long time ago now

Human beings replaced being good

Doing good

 

With looking good

& look where that’s got us!

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

A few bonus others:

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” – Thomas Paine (Introduction to Common Sense 1776)

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” ~ Agnes Repplier

22

12 2013

Christmas Giving

Christmas. I call this an emotionally complex time of year. (& I am the mistress of understatement, hmmmm??)

For sure, I have always been a big fan of generosity!

Some of us on the planet have a lot – probably rather a good deal more than we need. Most of the folks I know are definitely in this category.

So I encourage us all to be charitably generous. All year-round, preferably, & for sure right now, when “the spirit of Christmas” is upon us.

Here are some last-minute ideas for giving. You can give to any one of a zillion charities on behalf of someone for whom you might otherwise buy something they don’t really need. People have sometimes done this for me, & I have always been super-grateful! To protect forests, rainforest, children in need, support Doctors without Borders. Etc.

Okay.

  • Fukushima Kids: more info at the post here. I donated to this group back in August, & encouraged others to do so too. Please join me! (18 minute YouTube here might help motivate you. Also, this documentary called ‘The Next Wave.’)
  • Philippines Typhoon Relief: the post here provides 3 Web links for groups you can choose to donate to.
  • Unicef - a group I have long, long had a soft spot for. ** (see below)
  • Their Survival Gifts are a great idea!! Numerous, varied, modest & affordable even for those of us on very limited incomes.

 

I am only sorry I didn’t post this sooner.

But good ideas are never too late, right??

Janet

p.s. I daresay that having been one of those kids who took a Unicef box around with me at Hallowe’en, collecting pennies for children less privileged than us (old school program for those of us born before Hector was a pup, as they say; never mind, my own kids did it too! & I was the Mom who ran the Hallowe’en program at their school & counted & rolled the pennies!), may very well have been my first experience at charitable giving! How cool is that, & I only realized this the day after posting this. Hurray for Unicef!!

p.p.s. I mentioned emotional complexity — just checked & saw that I’ve posted 8 or 10 Christmas-related items over the years. If you go to the Index & scroll down to ‘C’, you’ll find all those other posts. But don’t just read stuff, DONATE to someone/a group who needs it. It will make you feel great!!!! Generosity is a lovely circular phenomenon, you see. (& btw too, all the world’s problems will still be there after Dec. 25th. In spades. So don’t worry about being “too late” with your donation!? It’s never too late…).

‘Quote of the day’ remains: “I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” ~ Robert Fulghum 

A Few Relevant Quotations:

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen

“You must locate your deepest private feelings – philosophical, religious, spiritual – and then decide to live out these beliefs in a commensurate way, in public, as much as possible without compromise.” – Marv Davidov, peace activist (quoted in Nukewatch Quarterly, Spring 2012 issue)

19

12 2013

Pied Piper

That pied piper

We call “culture”

Put us all to sleep

Such a long, long, long time ago now

 

But we’ve woken up

We’re waking up

(well, some of us are waking up)

 

It’s a little late

(A lot late, actually)

 

It’s too late, dammit

 

Dreams have turned to nightmares

The Earth laid to waste

& the future?

The future has been cancelled

 

Still.

It’s good to be awake

 

Great to be alive 

Don’t you think?

 

Conscious.

Fully conscious.

 

No more phoney “wizards of oz”

No more happily ever after

 

No more bullshit

 

No more fairy tales

 

Please.

 

Janet

p.s. I want to acknowledge the great importance in my life of a certain book that is sort of the backbone for me in understanding so very, very much about humanity & how we’ve landed in the spot we’re now in. It’s called In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations, by Jerry Mander. I blogged about it under the heading ‘Most Important Book I’ve Ever Read.’ It really is!

p.p.s. & I’m still an active activist!! As a young activist explained to me years ago now, even when there is no hope, there is still action! I like what Derrick Jensen says about that…

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” ~ Robert Fulghum

 

17

12 2013

The Lake

<Dec. 14/13.>

The lake is VERY riled today

Most riled I’ve ever seen it, I think.

Gorgeous

Storm a’comin.

 

I love the lake

Love all bodies of water.

Always have, I guess.

Grew up on a lake

Swam in it to the age of 6

Then couldn’t anymore

Polluted, they said

Not “safe” anymore.

So we switched over to the pool,

Swam there instead

(considering what chlorine does to us

this wasn’t “safe” either.

Whatever, eh?

Nobody knew a thing back then.

“Better living through chemistry”

I guess people really believed it.)

 

At the hearing the other day

When someone heard I’m in the east end now

He seemed appalled

 

Too close to Pickering, he said

(He’s right! I am.

Damn )

Lake full of toxic crap

Radionuclides (tritium) included

 

& I thought about how long I’ve known Lake Ontario

Is full of toxic thises & thats.

LONG time now… Very long.

 

Am I to stop loving Nature now??

Sure, I might swallow some “routine emission” while merely taking a breath

& Fukushima is EVERYwhere

Have you heard about the ocean??

OMG OMG OMG.

 

Or inhale some dangerous chemical

(Smells AWFUL at the water filtration plant some days. 

Toxic toxic toxic.

Chlorine again??)

 

But you know?

I’ve spent a ¼ century fighting

All this horror

While many sat in comfy armchairs

Quarterbacking from afar

 

Now it is what it is.

We’re ALL GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

by now

don’t you think?

 

Babies born “pre-polluted

 

Yet we still love those babies very much

Yes?

 

Still love the Earth

& each other

 

We’re all we’ve got!

 

We don’t abandon loved ones

Just because they’re sick

 

Don’t get me wrong

I’m horrified too. Let’s be honest.

 

Don’t want any more nuke plants

Going ballistic on us.

Tired to death of the cancer explosion.

 

I do what I can

I do my fair share

& I refuse to live in dread

Or live in fear

Or live in silence

(Apathy infuriates me)

Joy is urgent, as some wise person has put it.

“Urgent joy.”

 

I’ll keep on walking

Keep on squawking

Being grateful every day every day every day

For life. Life

 

Keep loving the lake

& the people I love

(I kind of love all of us

Some of the time, anyway)

 

I’ll be sad

& keep getting mad

 

But I still love the lake

& the people I love

 

We’re all made of water.

Water is Life.

 

Janet

p.s. have written twice now about the lake & its riledness, lately. But only just now (Dec. 17th) finally saw the film ‘Watermark.’ So glad I did!! Quite extraordinary, beautiful, moving, informative. See it!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening.” – Rosa Luxemburg

Some others thrown in for good measure

“What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains.” ~ from the film ‘Home: A Hymn for the Planet

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains. – Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

“To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it.” – Wendell Berry

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the worst of failures.” –  George Edward Woodberry, quoted in Reflections of Eden – My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, by Birute Galdikas (Little, Brown & Co., 1995)

“You can describe the predicament that we’re in as an emergency, and your trial is to learn to be patient in an emergency.” – Wendell Berry 

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“The power within – the more you give, the more you have to give – will still be our source when coal and oil are long gone, and atoms are left to spin in peace.” – Gary Snyder, “Turtle Island”

“Recognizing our despair over the ravages to the biosystem is necessary. However, when we become paralyzed by despair, we opt out of the organism which is our proper home and become part of the destructive force…Nature is still the provider of epiphanies. One does not abandon one’s mother in her illness…” – Peri Phillips McQuay (nature writer)

“A spiritual life is not about being self-conscious, or wearing a button that says ‘I’m a bodhisattva!’ It is about doing what you have to do with no attachment to outcome.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death 

“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer 

15

12 2013

Exhausted

** Watch the NFB film ‘Uranium‘!!!!

After three days spent down a nuclear rabbit hole (GE-Hitachi public meeting in Toronto, a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission gig, or, as I prefer to call them, the Canadian Nuclear Danger Commission) – & yes this “meeting” was only 2 daze long, but the day before was spent mostly (in my case) preparing my remarks to the members of the tribunal.

As I pointed out when I spoke to them, it was the 8th time I’ve “intervened” at a CNSC hearing (& yes, 2 of them have been to “Joint Review Panels” or JRPs, & this one was a “meeting,” not a hearing, but it’s all the same all the same all the same darn thing – & taking part in these things, I said to them, is draining).

It is psychologically & emotionally & mentally exhausting debilitating draining – find whatever word helps you understand that sensation of feeling like a limp dishrag, & you’ll be getting my drift.

& it takes a certain amount of intelligence & determination & courage to get up & sit in front of these self-important guardians of all things nuclear

& speak your truth to them.

We activists know we are there to “Speak truth to power,” knowing full well all the while that power is almost never really listening.

& this occasion was very very different in many ways from all previous ones I’ve attended & taken an active part in (been going to CNSC gigs for 7 years now, on & off), & I am still too exhausted to attempt to describe those differences – still digesting & reflecting.

So I’m just going to do a brief list of things I feel exhausted by today (today I am allowing myself, permitting myself, a day off, a day to “recover,” chill out, reflect, sit & stare at a blank wall if need be, because I feel so utterly drained).

I am exhausted by

The arrogance & intransigence & sheer disgusting ugly power of the nuclear industry & its many minions, & its horrible embeddedness in the military-industrial complex 

& by

The insights I have about the human race, & about us as individuals, at this oh-so-critical, even apocalyptic, time in the history of our species, & how few of us are even paying attention. Porch light’s on, but nobody’s home, mostly, you know?? Hardly anyone is listening, or watching, or seeing, or understanding. It’s draining, witnessing all this in what feels like a vacuum, a moral vacuum, an awareness vacuum.

I am exhausted by

  • Human neurosis/neuroses
  • & male ego (well, ego period, I suppose. In males, it seems it can be quite utterly debilitating. Not just that, also dangerous…)
  • & power games, power trips (by people of either sex & in whatever role they may occupy)
  • & witless humans who think making a big salary is the only game in town
  • & most people’s apparent ignorance of, or willful ignoring of, the incredible privilege in which so many of us live, while so very very many around us are hungry, in danger, poor, miserable, dealing with violence in a myriad of forms

 

I’m exhausted by materialism & consumerism, & the great annual thoughtless, mindless buying & spending extravaganza we call Christmas

& by, well, I guess I’ve already said it, people’s lack of consciousness about this dénouement our species is living out

How unconscious most of us seem to be to the real forces at play here, in ourselves, & in the world.

I am just really really really tired today.

Janet

p.s. later I will probably go for a lovely long walk by the lake, but for now I’m going to read a novel (its writer, Alexander McCall Smith is probably just as exhausted by the world as I am, some days, but Bertie Plays the Blues is wonderful, smart, witty, wise, funny & insightful, & it’s making me laugh out loud repeatedly, & I need some of that good medicine today) – for now, it is definitely chillout time.

p.p.s. maybe also gratitude time. I am soooo grateful for the wonderful wonderful fierce, feisty intelligent activists I know, & even though I cannot agree 100% all the time all the time all the time with all that they say & do (we each of us live in our own world, after all), I love their intelligence passion courage & feistiness. Especially especially their courage

World-changing is messy, isn’t it?? Messy, messy, messy. & noisy. Not sure that too much of it happens in quiet, comfy living rooms… Or sterile office places. 

p.p.p.s. & courage IS contagious.

But then too, so is anger, unfortunately… 

p.p.p.p.s. & this hearing or meeting (this gathering) has left me feeling very very ambivalent.

  • Confused
  • Buoyed up in some (unexpected) ways
  • Moved
  • Frustrated
  • Inspired
  • Disgusted
  • Saddened/disappointed – also in unexpected ways, by unexpected things, & circumstances, & people

 

Very very very ambivalent.      

Can you see now why I am feeling so exhausted??

** there is a line in McCall Smith’s Bertie Plays the Blues about some bouncers with “faces untroubled by metaphysical doubt.” Just love that phrase!! Some days I sure envy folks who are “untroubled by metaphysical doubt.” I guess I might feel less exhausted today if I were one of them…   

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Runners-up:

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” – Gandhi

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

“Only when the last tree has died…and the last river has been poisoned…and the last fish has been caught…will we realize that we cannot eat money.” ~ 19th century Cree saying

 

** Many nuke-related postings on this blog, under the headings ‘No More Nukes‘ & ‘Darlington Daze.

** Tons of great nuke-related quotes gathered up here 

 

** Article about the hearing: Activists Are Lashing Out at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

12

12 2013

Good Call, McNeill!

I’ve been saying this little phrase to myself lately.

The world’s insanity keeps ramping up … seemingly by the minute. I often feel as though I’m spinning – & I sense that others around me feel much the same way.

So much to do. So many tasks, so much work, phone calls, administrative nonsense, social gigs, books to read. Craziness.

& TIRED. Sometimes I feel almost scarily exhausted.

I’ve revealed in previous posts that I no longer have much faith in the concept of “the long-term.” My clever original Janet McNeill phrase? “I believe in the non-existent future.” Heh heh.  Between climate change & nuclear threats (Fukushima is an ongoing global nuclear catastrophe of truly frightening proportions; perhaps you’ve heard??) – & not to mention “routine” chemical assaults to air & water & our bodies by a 100 or more different toxic agents – & always the possibility of a catastrophic storm crash explosion fire disaster of one sort or another, we have to wrest a little bit of sanity from the jaws of insanity… don’t you think?

I do. 

So, I walk every day (I feel much saner & calmer out in Nature, especially by a body of water; I think most of us do) & read novels & see friends & go to bed early when I feel as though a virus is nipping at my heels, & sing & just generally try to enjoy myself in the midst of all of the world’s utter craziness.

(I also read too many emails & nuclear disaster-related messages, & sometimes despair, & want to scream & yell a little. Or even a lot… )

but what I try to do more & more & more, is stay in the moment, listen to my body, heed my instincts & intuitions, & give myself little pats on the back for the good stuff I do, & say, as often as possible, “Good call, McNeill!” (or maybe, Well done, McNeill!)

Life is short, & very unpredictable, very uncertain. We all need (I think) to hear words of affirmation & encouragement … don’t you agree? (For sure, they can’t hurt, right??)

Janet

p.s. I’m also still doing my fair share of anti-nuclear work, btw. (Good call, McNeill!  )

p.p.s. I think a lot of us are pretty hard on ourselves. Perhaps today’s young people are being raised with an over-abundance of kind words & even excessive un-earned (maybe even largely, dare I say it? phoney) praise – but us old fogies didn’t get that stuff. Most of us didn’t, anyway. I think we need to lighten up on ourselves. Stop beating ourselves up all the time. (I’m not a fan of selfishness & self-absorption; don’t even ask me what I think about some of the drivel I see on Facebook, & “selfies?” Oh help !?) – but I think many of us could stand to be a wee bit kinder to ourselves.

p.p.p.s. had a lovely woodsy walk with a friend the other day. She told me she remembers her aunt saying to her, on her deathbed, that one thing she wished was that she had spent more time in Nature. Outside time is healing for all of us. Taking a daily walk is the most sanity-inducing thing I do for myself. The crazier things get, the more I insist on it. Essential for both body & soul, I always say…

p.s. # 4: Walking is wildly good for our health; don’t trust me on this, check this out!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Zen Poem:

A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.

The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet it tasted.

** Gotta enjoy those strawberries, eh??

Brenda Ueland on creativity:  “Why should we all use our creative power? … Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” – Brenda Ueland (American writer, 1891-1985)

 

 

08

12 2013

Riled

<Friday, Nov. 30/13.>

The lake is riled today

Huge waves crashing & smashing

 

I love it like this

now I can breathe

 

Seems to me the Earth is riled

Climate change

Poisoned waters … air

Toxins oozing from/injected into every pore

 

Can you blame her for being pissed?

 

I’m pissed too

Lotta things riling me

Most I can deal with … surrender to.

 

Some folks think I should be more polite

To the NBC

(The Nuke Boyz Club)

& their minions

To the Man

 

That riles me

The NBC is not polite to us
Not to any single one of us

Not to our beautiful, fragile planet

 

They are trashing every inch of this still-stunning

Now hugely damaged planet

Poisoning every square inch of our home

(It is our only home, you know)

Every inch of all of us – creatures large and small

Every square inch

 

It’s like asking someone to be polite to her/his rapist

Do you see?

 

I am good with pleases & thank-you’s

Ask anyone who knows me

Return my mug when I’m done

Pick up garbage off the street

Bits of plastic off boardwalk & beach

Very very polite I am

Try hard to be considerate, I do

 

Please don’t ask me to be polite to planet-destroyers

Especially the ones from the nuke boys club

 

There are limits to my politeness.

 

Janet

p.s. Can you really tell me anger is not justified?  Look at previous post if you need to. 

p.p.s. drafted when I was feeling quite riled. Posted, now, when utterly calm. Surrender is wonderful. Sometimes anger is justified. Action, too, needless to say.

‘Quotation of the day’ with this post: “You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” – Gandhi

 Some Other Relevant Quotations:

“You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” – Richard Grossman

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are people who want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass, Canandaigua, N.Y. 3, Aug. 1857

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” – Gandhi

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” – Howard Zinn (** civil disobedience quotes here ) 

“Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it. 

“Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt 

** many great quotes in ‘Quotation Central!’ section 

** many nuke-related postings under ‘No More Nukes

** plenty of nuke quotes here

05

12 2013

Nuclear Nightmare

I did not intend to do a posting about this, today. I had some other, “clever” things I was considering saying.

But I’ve just run across a Web site listing the 10 Most Radioactive Places on Earth.

That’s all I can say for now.

I apologize in advance if this posting ruins your sleep tonight.

It may…

Janet

p.s. many nuke-related postings on this blog under the heading No More Nukes!

p.p.s. many many quotations about nukes here

 

25

11 2013

Why I am an eco-terrorist ……..not

Well, I’m not a terrorist of any kind at all, of course. That’s just the way our right-wing government views people like me.

 (I am utterly committed to non-violence, btw.)

Activists are seen by those “in control” to be terrorists. Being a passive-ist (consumer) is seen to be the acceptable, even the patriotic thing. Of course too, being an activist requires … action. Action takes energy & work. It is very very easy indeed to be a passive-ist. (Well, not for me, apparently – but for many, or so it appears.) Apathy is a great way to not spend your energy, or to hoard or harness it mostly for yourself. & as I said, it is seen as pretty much the proper & patriotic thing to do. You can also claim to be “too busy” to do anything. You’re in good company (or at least a lot of company) if you always say you’re too busy to do stuff.

I guess for most or for many, it is easy to argue that politics/politicians are so hopeless & corrupt that you can’t be bothered to vote … thus assuring that more corrupt & horrid politicians continue to win or keep their seats. And to keep on being distracted by all the celebrity worship & nonsense that passes for programming on the air waves (wonderful rant on Jian Ghomeshi’s CBC Radio show ‘Q’ yesterday on this: the rant came right at the end of the show & was a wonderful appeal to people to start paying attention to real heroes, not the phoney ones too many of us spend so darn much time wasting our energy on).

This is the “Do whatever turns you on” time in history, after all. Right?? Distractability raised to an art form. Or a duty. Or something. 

Well. I’ve bought a copy of Will Potter’s Green is the New Red – An insider’s account of a social movement under siege.

Usually too busy or too tired to read it. The work tilting at nuclear windmills (now there’s an image, eh?? ) wears me down, so for sport I read novels or fun books like the one I just read of Nora Ephron’s collected columns, screenplays, & including the “novel” Heartburn. The MOST of Nora Ephron. Must have laughed out loud about a hundred times.    Funny, honest, self-deprecating, insightful woman & writer. Had a blast reading the book.

After some of my recent anti-nuclear work (which can admittedly be quite challenging on occasion), this was a really welcome relief.

Some of us eco-terrorists do get tired. Friends sometimes thank me for my “tireless efforts,” but I tell them “Heck no, I get very tired indeed at times. And you’re welcome! & please for heaven’s sake, join the party!!”

Sometimes I do wonder why oh why I keep on, in the face of Fukushima spills & leaks & climate change that threatens to knock us all out perhaps sooner than most of us can bring ourselves to contemplate?

Good question. Not quite sure of the answer. 

Too tired to think about it any more today.

Your weary eco-terrorist/anti-nuclear blogger,

Janet 

p.s. next day: now I remember why we keep on keeping on: Activism is its own reward. Plus, we meet the most extraordinarily awesome people…  

p.p.s. great site for keeping informed on nuclear matters is Fairewinds Associates. I am listening to the podcast on Tepco removing the fuel rods from reactor # 4 as I write this p.s.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt

Runners-up for Q. of the Day:

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller

“Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” – Albert Einstein (1946)

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein [more Einstein quotes]

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Jackson Brown, Jr., writer

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1964), a Nazi victim who was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen & Dachau

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958 

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi 

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” – Mohandas Gandhi 

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

“It’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.” – Bill Watterson, comic strip artist (1958- ), in his comic strip ‘Calvin & Hobbes’

WHOSE JOB IS IT?

This is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY and NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was asked to do it.  EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.  

** plenty more quotes gathered up here  

 

 

21

11 2013

Alive!

We are alive. Woo hoo!! 

What an awesome, amazing privilege & blessing!!

I had the oddest thought the other day. (Of course I have a plentitude of odd thoughts parading through this busy head of mine )

It was this:

It only matters what we do while we’re alive!

This sounds a little … self-evident, I know.

But it’s also kind of … bracing.

I get the impression that some of us are putting off living – really living – for “later.”

But later might come down the pike sooner than we think.

I think it would be best, wisest, for all of us to live fully now.

While we’re alive.

Full out. With energy. Enthusiasm. Generosity. Passion.

We can’t take our energy & enthusiasm to the grave with us (as far as we know, anyway).

This we do know for sure. We for sure can’t take our things, or our bank accounts (quick question to ponder: do you own your possessions…or do they own you?).

I’ve quoted this one before, but I think it bears repeating: “Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” (Sarah Bernhardt, actress, 1844-1923).

Life is becoming more & more uncertain & unsettling here on Planet Earth. Economies are crashing. Politics/politicians more & more absurd, dangerous & out of touch. Wars & “religious” violence/intolerance rampant. The rape & pillage & pollution of the natural world, of course, ever-accelerating. Scary storms/typhoons/etc. “the new normal.” (Climate change is scary. Full-on scary.)

There is really no guarantee that “the future” will be a long one. Near-term extinction could be nearer than we think. As one book puts it, the party is over.

So what are we waiting for??

Janet

p.s. I am not waiting. I do what I love, & I love what I do. I love this beautiful world, & there are lots of people I care about. I like spending time with them. I do. I am generous with my energy & impulses & charitable donations. I know I can’t take it with me. I am enjoying this party, this life, now.

p.p.s. writing is one of the things that makes me feel alive

p.p.p.s. I drafted this on a nice day while I was on my way, on the train, to a meeting I was more or less dreading. Durham Nuclear Health Committee. (Now there’s an oxymoron for you, eh??) Predictably, the meeting & plenty of the bilge spewed there made me feel a little sick (also angry). But I spoke up, & asked questions, & called the bullshit, & so did some other residents of nuclear plant-dominated Durham Region (east of Toronto, Ontario). That felt good. It’s all about the people, you know. The people & this stunning planet we’re on here. Alive!! (Alive & also grateful.)

p.s. # 4: when my kids were little, about a million years ago now, I came across the books of American writer/illustrator Bill Peet. We loved his stories. One of the ones I own a copy of is The Wump World. Peet & Dr. Seuss were on the same page about the way the world was headed – & they were both writing decades ago now. I get a chuckle every time I think of the picture of “the Pollutians” – the two-legged critters busily trashing the Wump world. Peet (& Seuss) had the whole thing nailed way back in 1970. I only wish they had called it wrong…

p.s. # 5: off to a protest later today. Protesting is good for you! (Would I lie to you??)

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein (more Einstein quotes here in ‘Quotation Central!’ section.

A few other that spring to mind:

“Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries.” ~ Corita Kent, artist

“The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.” – Edith Sodergran, Scandinavian poet

“Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha

“Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” – Gandhi

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“I imagine there’s probably so much quiet where you are when you’re cold and dead, you might as well say how crazy you are about people while you have a mouth and teeth and tongue.” ~ Fictional character Ruth, in The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you have lots fewer decisions to make.” – Joseph Campbell, quoted in the fascinating biography A Fire in the Mind – The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen [more J. Campbell quotes]

“What magnifies a voice is its human character, its compassion, honesty, and intelligence, and against the weight of things as they are the best resource is the imaginative labor of trying to tell the truth.” – Lewis Lapham, Harper’s Magazine [more truth quotes]

“When in doubt, speak the truth.” – Mark Twain [more MT quotes]

“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.” – William Sloane Coffin

 

16

11 2013

Typhoon Relief: please help!!

I want to say more about this, & tie in some thoughts about Christmas giving, but for now, pressed for time, I offer these options for generous, compassionate readers of this blog to donate & provide practical help to the human beings suffering the devastating impacts of Typhoon Haiyan.

 

Donating to efforts such as these makes you feel great!

(I would never lie to you. I do speak from quite a bit of experience!!)

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1964), a Nazi victim who was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen & Dachau

Another old favourite that springs to mind:

WHOSE JOB IS IT?

This is a story about four people named EVERYBODY, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY and NOBODY. There was an important job to be done and EVERYBODY was asked to do it.  EVERYBODY was sure SOMEBODY would do it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got angry about that because it was EVERYBODY’s job. EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done.

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Jackson Brown, Jr., writer

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

“Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

14

11 2013

Rob Ford. Drama. Shame. Integrity. Trust. Musings.

So. Here we are, in the thick of this Rob Ford mayoralty implosion/explosion in Toronto.

Parenthetical thought: not the only implosion/explosion we’re in the thick of. The nuclear industry has been imploding for years now; of course, it’s also unfortunately exploding. I suppose the same could be said of climate change. Or… hmmmm. Maybe even the human race itself. Lots of implosions/explosions these daze. Quite the party, isn’t it??  

Woke 2 days ago with the words “Plutonium has a half-life of…” on my brain (correct answer = 24,000 years). What a way to start the day. (Of course I am an anti-nuclear activist, after all, & all too aware of the Fukushima disaster & the disasters there yet likely to take place … possibly imminently.)

But for sure you can’t get away from the Rob Ford drama in Toronto currently – not if you’re a resident here & listening to “the news,” anyway. (Hmmmm. Note to self.)

I’m a pretty big fan of CBC Radio, so I’ve been almost drowning in this … drama.

Needless to say, it’s become a bit tiresome.

  • Boring
  • Excessive
  • Tedious.

 

But then, I’ve never exactly been a big fan of drama anyway. It’s just so bloody draining

Anyway, so the CBC noon interview show [on November 6th] was about shame. Asking listeners whether perhaps we’ve lost more in ditching shame than we’d quite entirely banked on.

I sure as heck haven’t lost my ability to feel shame. I spent decades of my life feeling ashamed of something that was for sure not for me to feel shameful about at all.

& heck, I’d just been to a shopping mall (on my personal list of 100 things I’d rather not do, shopping tops the chart, at shopping malls ESPECIALLY); had to do this exchange, & while there could not bring myself to buy a supply of the underwear brand I’ve bought for years, seeing on its label that it’s manufactured in Bangladesh (burning factories? Inhuman treatment of poverty-stricken workers?  & also # 1 in the already-referenced climate change im/explosion?) … because I would feel … ashamed of myself.

As I was driving out of the absurd gargantuan suburban shopping mall parking lot, a brown guy actually spat on my windshield. I had probably given him kind of a dirty look as I headed toward him, given the way he was walking right in the middle of the darn road. The dirty look wasn’t because he’s brown & maybe Muslim – as it happens, I have a very lovely brown, Muslim son-in-law, & there is a pretty wide streak of disinterest in intolerance that runs through my life, happily, happily.

What made me feel ashamed was when I contemplated telling city friends about this encounter, I realized I would have to confess to having been in my car. Most of my activist friends don’t do cars; they’re activists, & cyclists, & I keep quiet about ownership of my (very fuel-efficient) little Yaris, & I do ride the TTC or walk or bike 99% of the time.

Besides, as previously referenced, I’m not a big fan of drama anyway.

That guy who spat on my car knows pretty much diddly about the person whose car he spat on (except that it was being driven by a white woman who gave him a questioning look). I also know pretty much diddly about him – except that he is a brown male person who spat on my car … & speculating about him & his motivations would suck up too much of my precious psychic energy (as all my dearest friends who know me know, there’s already a pretty busy party going on inside this head all the time, pretty much).

But back to Rob Ford. On the noon CBC call-in show, several callers expressed ongoing support for this mayor of Toronto who has already been given (alright, taken) 3rd, 4th & 5th (or 25th) chances by now.

People who continue to say they continue to support him have apparently failed to see any connection between misbehavior & shame & actual guilt … & also a complete, 100% lack of integrity.

Or the notion of trust. Can anyone seriously want this man to represent the city of Toronto in any situation, forum or venue of any kind whatsoever, anytime, anywhere. Ever? Does anyone actually think he can be trusted??

I mean come on….

Don’t get me wrong. I think our current senators’ scandal is equally appalling. Certain Canadian senators seem not to have clued into the fact that their behavior was shameful, if not criminal, & certainly at the very very least, extremely unethical.

Hmmm. Begins to look to me as though some of us are too easily shamed.

While others among us lack even an acquaintanceship with the meaning of the word.

& listen, readers, I’m not a complete idealistic, naïve moron. I’ve worked in the psychiatric & correctional businesses, & am currently actively engaged in being … an activist.

I am daily exposed to the shenanigans (okay, wrong word) – the evil, planet-& people-destroying practices & proclivities of the nuclear industry. Sick puppies, to put it rather mildly.

Well. Maybe I should just say I’m ashamed of the entire human race … which, actually, now that I come to think of it, I guess I pretty much am.

& leave it at that.

We really are quite a piece of work, aren’t we??

Holy smokes.

Janet 

p.s. like many determined activists, I no longer spend my time dwelling on hope. Some do continue to “hope.” For many of us now, I think, hope has left the building … but that does still leave us with action!

p.p.s. petition demanding that Ford resign.

p.p.p.s. on the day after I posted this: I suspect we all need to be drawing on our compassion often. I know I do. I need to dig for my compassion for Rob Ford. & for that guy who spat on my car windshield. And. Hmmm. Probably for myself, too. Life is tough, & challenging. For all of us. For sure, for sure, for sure…

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Others that spring to mind:

“Are we at the crisis point? We’re way beyond it. The crisis point was thirty years ago. Aldous Huxley said, in the 1930s, that the greatest danger was that people would come to love their servitude. The crisis comes from not only the reality of that, but also from the fact that this economic model that people have bought into is completely unsustainable in environmental and social terms. It gives the greatest power to a small number of people who happen to be chewing up the planet at a fantastic rate. That whole model of consumption and corporate celebration and living by corporate models is killing us, and will continue to do so until everything collapses – which, judging from climate change, ozone depletion and other measurements, could be fairly soon.” ~ Jerry Mander, quoted in Adbusters magazine, Nov/Dec 2001 issue

A letter to Greenpeace magazine in the May/June 1990 issue: “Your insightful feature was titled ‘How We Can Save It.’ This is too optimistic. It should have been phrased as a question – ‘Can We Save It?’ – the answer to which is “no.” The multitudes will not voluntarily make the personal sacrifices needed for the environment until they are choking to death from such disregard, and by then it will be too late. Don’t get me wrong. I’m in this battle to the end, but I fully expect it to come to that.” – Louis Philips, Albany, New York

Bumper sticker: “Politicians should dress like racing car drivers; at least then we’d know who their corporate sponsors are.”

“Successful politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies.” – Walter Lippmann, American writer & political commentator (1889-1974)

“A politician is required to listen to humbug, talk humbug, condone humbug. The most we can hope for is that we don’t actually believe it.” – Character in P.D. James’ A Taste for Death

“He who doesn’t know is an ignoramus. He who knows and keeps quiet is a scoundrel.” – Bertolt Brecht in ‘Galileo’

“These sectors of the doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce basic social values: passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear of real or imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered.” – Dr. Noam Chomsky, from ‘What Uncle Sam Really Wants,’ censored ex parte from WUTK radio’s Alternative Nation, Summer 2001

“We tell lies when we are afraid…afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” – Science fiction author Tad Williams, quoted in Deep Truth – Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny, and Fate, by Gregg Braden 

“All the high-sounding speeches about liberty and justice are meaningless, unless people – you and I – breathe meaning and force into them.” – Robert Kennedy, 1961

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are confident and the intelligent full of doubt.” ~ Bertrand Russell – quoted in CCPA Monitor, April 2008 

“THE WORLD NEEDS a new weapon: the estrogen bomb. Imagine: you drop it on an area of violent conflict, and men throw down their guns, hug each other, apologize and say it was all their fault, and then start to clean up the mess.” – from the UTNE Reader — Original from THE GUERRILLA GIRLS, activist artists

“Live simply so that others may simply live.”Gandhi 

** Tons of great quotations gathered up here  Main nuke-related section is called ‘No More Nukes!’ & can be found up at the top of the blog.

 

 

08

11 2013

Pandora’s Promise: debate tonight!

p.s. on Dec. 19/13: Great short book called Nuclear Roulette: the case against a nuclear renaissance can be found (free) here. Great debunker of the false promises of the so-called “renaissance.”

Beyond Nuclear‘s Kevin Kamps (a native of Michigan) will debate Michael Shellenberger (re: the film Pandora’s Promise) on CNN Headline News, Thursday, November 7th at 7:45 pm! Everyone tune in!

Pandora’s Promise on CNN – cnn.com 9 PM ET Thursday
www.cnn.com/ PandorasPromise
What Price Would you Pay to Power the Future? Watch Thursday 9p ET.

Pandora’s False Promises [from Beyond Nuclear


Pandora’s Promise, is a new pro-nuclear propaganda documentary released theatrically in the US in July 2013. It is funded in part by individuals with a vested interest in seeing the development of new reactors and is seemingly a vehicle by which to raise the profile of the anti-environmental Oakland think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, whose personnel feature prominently in the film. Despite the film’s premise and early claim that it features “a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists” who now support nuclear energy, no one in the film ever led the anti-nuclear movement. Nor was any credible, independent scientific or medical professional with expertise in the areas covered in the film consulted or featured. Beyond Nuclear has bird-dogged the film from the beginning, and has produced numerous critiques. We have also published a definitive report – Pandora’s False Promises: Busting the pro-nuclear propaganda – and a two-page synopsis. These documents address virtually all of the myths, lies and omissions typically found in pro-nuclear rhetoric and are intended to address these long after Pandora’s Promise fades into deserved oblivion.

Help Counter Pandora’s Promise on CNN – Atomic States of America will air free online Nov. 6 – 8.

CNN will nationally broadcast the much criticized, pro-nuclear power film Pandora’s Promise on Thursday, November 7. CNN is airing the film without offering any opposing viewpoints despite requests and petitions from Beyond Nuclear and others. To help provide balance and a critical perspective on nuclear power, The Atomic States of America film will be available to view free online from November 6 – 8. Atomic States provides a comprehensive exploration of the history and impact of nuclear power to date, and investigates the truths and myths about nuclear energy. Please help promote the film’s availability to your networks and friends. More

** Atomic States of America is SO worth watching; take advantage!! Then, spread the word…

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “To call nuclear “clean” because it doesn’t produce CO2 is as absurd as calling coal clean because it doesn’t produce plutonium. Nuclear power is not clean. It produces the most toxic waste byproducts of any industry on earth.” ~ Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

07

11 2013

Things I wish everyone knew…

** things that seem true to me. But who knows, eh? I could be full of … well, the proverbial *hit for all I know…

We all need a tribe to belong to. None of us can carry alone all the joy, work, responsibility, pain, happiness & potential (etc. etc.) we humans possess / are capable of. Seems to me we now don’t get born into a tribe; we have to seek out & find (or maybe help create?) the one we belong to. No one ever tells us this, btw. You won’t hear it on the nightly news. (I was helped by the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, that Pall Mall-smoking old fart who always made a big point in his books of saying we humans are lost souls & need more community – more good people in our lives. I got turned onto Vonnegut decades back. What a treasure he was ). I feel so fortunate that I found my tribe quite some years ago now… (& trust me, I could expound almost endlessly on this topic of tribe & community, but how about I spare us all?  ). I do believe it, though. I believe we become lost souls with dried-up spirits if we don’t feel we really & truly belong to something a good deal bigger than our own puny-ish selves (plus, we all have plenty to bring to whatever tribe it is we happen to belong to. Synergy is the grandest thing, isn’t it??)

Things are not liable to make you happy, no matter how frantic & furious the advertising in this ‘Shop ‘till you drop’ culture of ours. Possessions bring us rather fleeting joy, mostly. Had the thought yesterday that that is really the “One True Religion” in the world now: Shop ‘till you drop.** It will make you happy! (So the ads claim.) But it doesn’t, & it won’t. Sorry about that, disillusioned Spaceship Earth inhabitants.  The sooner you clue in, the better!! (btw too, contributing very likely will make you happy. See awesome quote about this down below.)

We all need to practice gratitude on a regular basis. But only because it’s free, it’s magical, it’s transformative … & if we had all done this all the way along, we would perhaps now not be facing the likely/possible imminent (or soon-ish) demise of our species. But never mind that. I say all I say in the face of this likely imminent demise – & most of my days are quite joyful, in fact. You see, the magical thing about gratitude is, it’s a wonderful circular phenomenon. You learn to be grateful for things (your list grows, the more you practice; how-to here), you begin expressing your gratitude to the people around you; they “catch” the disease & appreciate you back, & all that wonderful circulating gratitude makes you feel wonderful. It also energizes you. How cool is that??  Gratitude is really worthy of being its own religion, I think. For sure, it’s basically the one I live by. But a religion we need not create institutions around, thank you very much, with all kinds of rules & regulations & admission criteria & control freak-ism run amok & the resulting intolerance, violence & war-making. You dig?? Just simple, garden-variety gratitude. Ahhhhhhh. If only we humans had always “kept it simple,” eh?? 

Janet

p.s. solitude & silence are good things to partake of on a pretty regular basis, I think. I think too many of us get too little, or none. Doses of honesty & truth probably don’t hurt too much either.

p.p.s. all this drafted in still-chaotic surroundings, with the shards of a broken wine glass (oops, got careless while washing big load of dishes, using too-small dish drainer ) needing to be swept up, & countless neatening, straightening, organizing tasks breathing noisily down my neck…

p.p.p.s. a gratitude habit is the closest thing I can offer you to a magic wand. I’d love-love-love to have a gigantic magic wand to wave over the inhabitants of Planet Earth, but alas, I do not possess such a thing. Gratitude will have to do. (& I am not making up how transformative a thing it is, btw. Would I lie to you??)

p.s. # 4: I say ALL this in the face of possible imminent global nuclear disaster. The thing about gratitude (mixed with Nature appreciation, it can be quite intoxicating!!) is, even when there is nothing else left, it will still serve us all well. (I think. I’m prepared to gamble on it, anyway…)

p.s. # 5 – ages later: another thing folks don’t know & need to: it is pretty amazing how much a small # of people can accomplish. No shit. Not making that up. Activism rocks, & so does protesting. Apathy deadens; activism energizes. Don’t take my word for it – try it out for yourself!!

** btw, Guy McPherson articulated this (& quite a bit else) in this presentation. Hard-hitting dude, this one! No candy-coating whatsoever.

Quote of the day’ with this post: “I would not interfere with any creed of yours or want to appear that I have all the cures. There is so much to know… so many things are true… The way my feet must go may not be best for you. And so I give this spark of what is light to me, to guide you through the dark, but not tell you what to see.” – Author unknown

 

Some Other Relevant Quotes

“Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” – Doris Mortman (according to the little piece of paper with that saying, the one that’s up on my fridge )

“Two centuries of philosophers stand in opposition to the modern American recipe for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t amuse yourself in. You can’t even expect falling in love to deliver you. The most promising way to happiness is, perhaps, through creativity, through literally creating a fulfilling life for yourself by identifying some unique talent or passion and devoting a good part of your energy to it, forever.” ~ Kalle Lasn/Bruce Grierson in Utne Reader

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Norman MacEwan

“Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” – Pat Conroy (now ain’t that the truth??)

Don Henley songs with relevant sentiments: ‘For My Wedding’ & ‘My Thanksgiving’ (& the whole darn ‘Inside Job’ CD, frankly )

Quotes from the queen of quotations (that’s me!) on

 

05

11 2013

Getting High

<Oct. 16/13.>

I’m very fortunate in that I feel I “get high” pretty often. Pretty readily. (I like to joke that I’m a “cheap date.” Easily amused. Easy to please, easy to make laugh. Though there may be some who would debate this. )

(& btw, like Toronto’s rather controversial mayor, Rob Ford, I can say with truth that, once upon a time, I used to get high quite a lot. In my very-very-very much younger days. Decades ago, in my case. Smoking marijuana used to be a lot more fun. Yech! It’s much too strong these daze, & it actually just turns me off now. Bummer. )

Anyway, here are some things that get me “high” these days on a fairly routine basis:

  • Singing
  • Music
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Time with friends / loved ones
  • Nature in its myriad forms & manifestations – esp. water & waves & trees & birds (etc.etc.etc.)
  • Walking 
  • Writing
  • Protests
  • Feeling/being useful
  • Generous impulses
  • Little kids
  • People
  • Piano riffs in music I’m listening to
  • Doing a good job / working at something that matters
  • Getting out of the city
  • Getting back to the city
  • Heron sightings
  • Owls hooting
  • Wolves howling
  • Etc.

 

Janet

p.s. I get low, too. Being merely human & all. Don’t we all?? Just had a day the other day that I described to friends as a ‘Lost Day.’ Shoot. Given the state of the world (check these out: Guy McPherson in Colorado & ‘Fukushima: far worse than global warming‘), I’d have to guess we all have an occasional Lost Day. We’d have to be pretty deep into denial to NOT have the occasional one…don’t you think??

p.p.s. meant to post this a while ago. Good day to do it today, though. More Rob Ford (Toronto’s wildly controversial mayor) kerfuffle — & I got pretty high walking along a very-very windy boardwalk & beach with wondrous waves washing & crashing… 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” – Vernon Howard (more quotes on success here)

Runners-up:

“In the end, we realize how simple life is when we accept this moment, just as it is, without pretending to be other than who we are.” – Richard Miller

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923)

01

11 2013

Hallowe’en Horror: the real thing (Fukushima)

So, I came across these this morning. Real horror for Hallowe’en day.

 

** hate to wreck anyone’s day…but we do expect Hallowe’en to horrify, do we not?

Soberly,

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “All nuclear power plant systems, structures, components and personnel are potential sources of failures and malfunctions. Problems can arise from defects in design, manufacturing, installation and construction; from testings, operational, and maintenance errors; from explosions and fires; from excessive corrosion, vibration, stress, heating, cooling, radiation damage, and other physical phenomena; from deterioration due to component aging, and from externally-initiated events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and sabotage.” – Daniel F. Ford (from a Stop Plant Vogtle brochure)

31

10 2013

Insanity (take 2)

<Sept. 21/13>

(Take 1 is here)

Insanity ain’t what it used to be.

Or is it?

For sure my own ideas about it have taken a 180-degree turn. Or something like that.

People say “Insanity is doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results.” [1]

By that definition, most of us are just plain cuckoo…wouldn’t you say?? Most of us seem to be doing the same old, same old, same old. Over & over & over again…

I know I continue to be an activist – although the world continues to “go to Hell in a hand basket,” & at an ever-increasing pace or velocity (even scarily so, I’d say). The politicians become ever more corrupt, the corporations ever more rapacious, the environmental damage ever more gargantuan, widespread & irreparable.

Apathy is the stance or response many people I know seem to have favoured for decades now. In some cases you might call it, alternatively, ineffectual handwringing or ineffectual armchair quarterbacking. Of course that too has exactly the same darn results. More corruption, more damage, more…

Am I repeating myself??

Well. This much I (still) know.

Activism beats apathy hands down. In my little world, anyway. (If nothing else, I’m pretty sure it’s more FUN!! )

A friend & I used to say we’d “go down fighting.” She’s already gone, bless her incomparable soul & spirit (which continue to inspire me daily). & here I still am, still rassling with insanity.

OMGoodness. Just got a funny thing there.

In my very earliest daze as a wide-eyed recent university graduate, out to (earnestly) save the world, I worked (very earnestly) with released psychiatric patients. I developed plenty of compassion for the folks I worked (so earnestly) with – but soon switched over to the correctional biz – ‘cos I found ex-penitentiary inmates more, hmmmm, well … articulate, & easier to talk to (earnestly) than my “crazy” people had been.

Now I am dealing with crazy criminals who make those released psychiatric patients & “common criminals” look like a walk in the park. (The corporate rapists & pillagers I mean…)

& I am no longer quite so earnest…  

Well. Who knows.

For sure, I’ll take the common, garden-variety “crazy” people & “criminals” over corrupt politicians, soulless bureaucrats & corporate pillagers any old day of the week.

Yup.

People who knowingly & willingly go on & on viciously viciously viciously raping & running roughshod over our beautiful, beautiful beautiful stunning wonderful planet?

They are just not the sort of people with whom I care to spend my precious time.

Let’s be honest.

QED.

(Even we crazy little peasant people get some say in choosing our companions, hmmm?)

Janet

p.s. but I tellya, apathy still REALLY burns my ass. Guess it always will…  

Quote of the day’ with this post: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Runners-up:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“Damn what anybody thinks of you – do what’s right. It’s really fun.” – Lucy Lawless, N. Z. actor & activist arrested with 6 Greenpeace activists on Save the Arctic campaign (from Sierra magazine Jan/Feb. 2013)

“If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.” – Paul Wellstone



[1] There is disagreement over who actually said this first. It’s usually attributed to Albert Einstein, but sometimes Benjamin Franklin gets the credit. I have no way of knowing for sure!

30

10 2013

War. Worry. Wealth.

<Friday AM>

Early morning thoughts…

War.

We’re ALL at war, aren’t we?

Inside. Outside.

at war with each other

at war with the Earth

at war inside ourselves … with ourselves

It’s war here on Planet Earth

24/7/365.

(& no “winners” in sight)

 

Worry

About the chaos I am living in. Will I ever get sorted out??

Relationships … endless challenges.

Fukushima. Those rods gonna blow?? Don’t look so good.

The bees. No bees, no me’s…

Back to sleep feeling despondent

Resigned to one of those head-under-the-covers sorts of days.

 

Woke up later – sun shining 

Thoughts of

Wealth

I have much. Not the bank-able kind, you understand

  • Awesome friends. (Truly, truly awesome friends!   & you know what Plato said: “Your wealth is where your friends are.” It’s true.)
  • Great kids. (Motherhood is pretty wonderful, gotta say.**)
  • Bounce-back-ability. I don’t usually stay down for long.
  • Worthwhile work. Always always always.

 

Sun is shining! 

Worthy chores I am keen to do/get done

Going to really relish that strawberry. ***

Janet

*** Pema Chödrön on joy: “Joy has to do with seeing how big, how completely unobstructed, and how precious things are. Resenting what happens to you and complaining about your life are like refusing to smell the wild roses when you go for a morning walk, or like being so blind that you don’t see a huge black raven when it lands in the tree that you’re sitting under. We can get so caught up in our own personal pain or worries that we don’t notice that the wind has come up or that somebody has put flowers on the dining room table or that when we walked out in the morning, the flags weren’t up, and that when we came back, they were flying. Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our lives.” ~ The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, Shambhala, 1991

** much as I am crazy about babies & toddlers & “kids” of all ages in general, & about motherhood/parenthood (which has been a highly wonderful experience in my own life!), this is not a recommendation to anyone to bring children into the world at this time. While I am not permitted to say so in all venues, on all occasions, I do not personally recommend embarking on new parenthood at this time in human history. There, I said it. (My ‘Let’s Be Honest‘ post has a few things to say on this matter…)

Quote of the day’ with this post: “Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt, actress (1844-1923) 

p.s. My own personal favourite mantra, the one that so often helps get me through? I don’t have to figure that out right now

28

10 2013

Rulers. & Owls

<Oct. 2/13.>

So, I’ve just moved to the Big City. Spent the past three months living in places so quiet you could practically hear the grass growing. Ahhhhhhh. So peaceful…Whip-poor-wills whip-poor-willing (sometimes irritatingly, it must be admitted). River rapids rushing.

Just moved. As of yet I do not own

  • Bed
  • Couch
  • Desk
  • Table
  • Toaster

 

I do still own the items referenced in the posting ‘Have Pressure Cooker, Will Travel’. But I’ve stopped the wandering gig. So now I need to acquire bed, couch …well, you get the picture.

Turns out I do own, count ‘em, four rulers.

Needed one tonight for a new-shower-curtain-cutting gig. One would’ve done the trick. A sharper pair of scissors wouldn’t have hurt either, as it happens. No matter. All things in good time. Between friends & Value Village/2nd-hand stores, it will all come together.

Judging by the amount of noise I am hearing on this very busy street, I may need to break out the old earplugs, too. (I think the young person in the family above here must bowl on the living room floor. Not sure what else would explain the very loud noises I often hear. Either that or cartwheels with work boots on?? It is a puzzle. Ah well. It’s just noise…right??  )

The place I just moved from was so quiet, I often heard owls hooting at night … when I slept out on the porch (which I did 99.9% of the time). Sometimes wolves howling.    

As I said to someone yesterday, I’d started my day in a place where, if I’d screamed, no one would have heard me. And I ended it, as my companion pointed out, in a place where if I screamed, no one would care. **

Big City Life, eh??

Well, I’m adaptable. I can bend.

& besides – that new shower curtain that I needed the ruler & scissors for? It will be a daily reminder of where I just came from. It’s got owls all over it. 

Janet

** but it isn’t true that no one would care. This is a nice neighbourhood. People/someone would care. I’m pretty sure. 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Be like a tree in pursuit of your cause. Stand firm, grip hard, thrust upward, bend to the winds of heaven, and learn tranquillity.” – Dedication to Richard St. Berbe Baker, Father of Trees

17

10 2013

DGR: Humour

(Not. Well, sort of … pretty hard to see the humour in any of this, really…)

& btw, all acronyms are explained down below … just scroll down)

<Sept. 25/13>

** this posting is not even remotely timely, for which I offer a mild apology. Reason? Life is a busy-busy affair, you know? So this posting is not timely & that, as they say, has to be that.

*****

So off we went to the DGR

the DGR

the DGR

hearing 

 

Where we heard the CNSC

& the OPG

& the NWMO

talking to the JRP

 

& we could have talked to the OPP

They’re very friendly

(they’re into building relationships, don’t you know)

but the OPP hadn’t knocked on our doors…

 

then too

we know if an emergency happened

we might hear from the OPP

 

For sure, the dudes from the EMO

Or maybe the DEMO

Or the dudes from the BNGS

(all depends on which nuker blows)

Would be talking to the OPP

(or maybe the DRPF

Like I said

All depends on which nuker blows)

 

They’re all pretty smart, eh?

They know all about the PNERP

& the DNERP

(they work at the PEOC

& the DEOC)

 

& it’s all so much FUN

(no acronym intended here)

when it isn’t making you feel sick, despairing or crazy…

or wanting to WIPP yourself

Trying to get straight which government department (& whether provincial or federal?) is responsible for which little piece of the extraordinarily large pie it seems to take such a wildly inordinate # of government departments to manage, can be very very challenging indeed

We could run a contest maybe?

How many government departments

How many bureaucrats?

How many offices & municipal &/or regional &/or federal government locations/installations

Does it take to “support”

This wildly wildly wildly complex

& wildly wildly wildly dangerous

industry???

 

** On the fun side, a kangaroo showed up & did a few dance steps while carrying a sign that said “Kangaroo Court In Session.” Someone took a photo:

** Kute, Klassy Katie Kangaroo Komes to Kincardine

After all, we all need a little FUN & some laughs occasionally…hmmm??

Acronym Explanations:

BNGSBruce Nuclear Generating Station

CNSCCanadian Nuclear Safety Commission (oxymoron alert!)

DEMODurham Emergency Management Office

DEOC (I just made this one up ‘cos surely there ought to be a DEOC? I mean, there’s a PEOC, why not a DEOC??)

DGRDeep Geologic Repository  (or DUD – Deep Underground Dump) for nuclear waste

DRNERPDurham Region Nuclear Emergency Response Plan

DRPF – Durham Regional Police Force

EMOEmergency Management Ontario 

JRP Joint Review Panel 

KKK – Katie Kangaroo in Kincardine

NWMONuclear Waste Management Organization 

OPPOntario Provincial Police 

PEOCProvincial Emergency Operations Centre

PNERPProvincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan

WIPPWaste Isolation Pilot Plant  *** this kind of blew up later. Check media reports here.

** Sign petition in opposition here 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I am shocked that we still operate under a long discarded idea that we can solve our planetary pollution problem by adopting the practice of out-of-sight-out-of- mind. We have to stop using the ground, air or water as a repository for our toxic wastes. It only provides a short term illusion that we have solved what will become a long-term disaster.” – Dr. David Suzuki, award-winning Canadian scientist, environmentalist, broadcaster, Companion of the Order of Canada, holder of 25 honorary degrees, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (the alternative Nobel Prize)

** Dec. 15/13: ** Webcast & transcripts at this spot on CNSC Web site.

13

10 2013

DGR: Media Coverage Summary **Updated often

** Note: Recent items about the WIPP leak issues are being added in because this nuke waste storage facility in New Mexico is seen (by the nuke industry) as some kind of standard-bearer. Like the proposed DGR’s big brother or something. But Oops! Big Brother has failed. After only 15 years, no less. 

** Additions to this are being made often! (Scroll down below the ***** to see recent additions.)

Dec. 15/13: ** Webcast & transcripts at this spot on CNSC Web site.

Oct. 2/13: ** List of communities with resolutions OPPOSING the DGR here(+ lots of good stuff on the Stop the Dump site here.)

A lot of media attention is being paid to this issue.

Just providing links to a summary of news items I’ve seen (thanks to friends!) since the DGR hearing began on September 16th. 2 previous posts (Courage is Contagious! & DGR: Kincardine-area Resident Speaks Out) have been about the DGR Hearing currently taking place in beautiful Kincardine, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron.

(It’s a plan to dump nuclear waste within a kilometre of Lake Huron. For many, it’s not the DGR but the DUD – Deep Underground Dump. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians has said “…this is an act of insanity, this would be a crime against future generations, this is a crime against nature.”  I think Ms. Barlow has put this rather well.)

OK. The news items. Most recent is at the top (I am adding them in as I hear of them).

& please note: At this link on the Save Our Saugeen Shores site there is also a media summary. Not sure if our lists are the same, &  no time to pore over both – best you check both to be sure you see all there is! (This can all be rather confusing: the nuke boyz are looking for 2 nuke dump sites, 1 for so-called “low” & “intermediate-level waste,” one for used fuel or “high” level waste. This posting & my others on this blog are about the so-called “low” & “intermediate” level DGR planned for beside Lake Huron, near Kincardine. Check out Know Nuclear Waste for tons more great info about the waste search/scene.)

*******

August 28/14. Congressman will unveil major plan to block nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron (The Macomb Daily)

August 23/14. Sen. Phil Pavlov leads outcry against nuclear waste dump   (The Voice, Michigan)

August 18/14. WIPP employee sues over respiratory issues (August 2014)

August 6/14. Lake Huron nuclear dump scheme in trouble: Walkom (Toronto Star)

August 2/14. Michigan legislators, residents protest nuclear waste facility on shores of Lake Huron (Times Herald)

July 16/14. A Nuclear Waste Dump on the Shore of the Great Lakes? (EcoWatch newsletter/David Suzuki)

July 14/14. Nuclear plan unsafe, panel hears (Globe & Mail)

June 27/14. Great Lakes Communities Struggle in Fight Against Proposed Nuclear Waste Facility (Nation of Change)

June 15/14. Closure of WIPP casts long shadow (Albuquerque Journal)

June 13/14. (The Voice News) Michigan Senate unanimously passes legislation opposing Canadian nuclear waste dump

June 5/14. Breaking Bad: A Nuclear Waste Disaster (DC Bureau National Security News Service)

June 2/14. Nuclear Radiation Releases Continue in New Mexico (Reader Supported News)

May 30/14. More hearings in the works for nuke site under Great Lakes basin (Daily Tribune)

May 27/14Nuclear-waste facility on high alert over risk of new explosions (Nature – International weekly journal of science)

May 21/14. Michigan lawmakers step up fight against nuke dump (CTV news clip + text)

May 20/14. 53 Million Gallons Of Nuclear Waste May Soon Be Stored Right Next To The Great Lakes (The Huffington Post)

May 20/14. Plan to store nuclear waste near Great Lakes is drawing fire (Detroit Free Press)

May 17/14. Lawmakers protest Ontario nuclear dump  (The Times Herald)

May 16/14. Dr. Gordon Edwards: Maxims for thinking about toxic industries and their waste (The Voice, Michigan)

May 14/14. Scientist sheds new light on proposed nuclear waste site on Lake Huron (radio interview)

May 1/14. County opposes proposed nuclear waste facility near Lake Huron (Huron County View)

May 1/14. Nuclear waste site should be moved away from Great Lakes  Oakland Press (Michigan)

May 1/14. Dr. Gordon Edwards: The eternal legacy of nuclear waste  (The Voice, Michigan)

May 1/14. DOE ‘exacerbated’ lax safety culture tied to nuclear waste accident (Fierce Homeland Security Newsletter)

April 2014. U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) Accident Investigation Report (WIPP leaks)

April 25/14. What’s wrong with proposed nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron? (The Voice, Michigan)

April 18/14. Proposed nuclear waste site triggers fears for Great Lakes Drinking Water (Windsor Star)

April 18/14. Leak from nuclear waste site would be diluted: experts. (Toronto Star)

April 4/14. Dr. Gordon Edwards, star of Canadian anti-nuke movement, to speak at SC4 (The Voice, Michigan)

April 2/14. Updated map showing communities opposing the DUD (Deep Underground Dump).

March 25/14. Nuclear Waste Panel Wants More AnswersA panel considering a nuclear waste site near Kincardine wants more information following an accident at a site in New Mexico.

March 21/14. New Mexico cancels permit to expand leaky nuclear waste site

March 17/14. Reader View: WIPP accident cause for concern

March 7/14. U.S. radiation leak raises Ontario questions

Feb. 28/14. OPG: Nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron will be ‘harmless forever’

Feb. 28/14. Bruce waste site radiation understated, says former OPG scientist

Feb. 26/14. United Tribes of Michigan Joins in Resistance to OPG’s Proposed Nuclear Dump [news release]

Feb. 24/14. Kay Cumbow: Nuclear waste site discussion ought to be open to the public

Feb. 20/14. Trace of Plutonium is detected outside WIPP

Feb. 16/14. Possible Radiation Leak at New Mexico military nuclear waste site

Feb. 10/14.  Update planned on nuke dump

Feb. 4/14The Canadian plan would store nuclear waste items under the Great Lakes

Jan. 16/14. No nuclear waste for two Bruce County communities

Jan. 6/14. Nuclear Waste Decisions Loom 

Jan. 2/14Concerns about nuclear waste dump start locally, reach internationally

Dec. 15/13. Ohio, Mich. riled over plan to bury radioactive waste

Nov. 26/13. Nuclear Waste Burial Site Near Great Lakes Attracts Debate

Nov. 26/13. AP “Big Story”: Nuclear Waste Burial Debate Produces Odd Alliances

Nov. 26/13. Proposal to bury Canadian nuclear plant waste along Great Lakes draws criticism from US lawmakers

Nov. 21/13. Don’t Bury Waste Near Our Water Supply

Nov. 20/13. Video News Clip of London, Ont. meeting

Nov. 14/13. Toronto City Council passes resolution to stop the creation of a proposed nuclear waste repository on the shores of Lake Huron [news release]

Nov. 12/13. Lakeside Nuclear Waste a risk worth protesting

Nov. 12/13. Dumping on the Great Lakes. Port Clinton Council asked to oppose Canadian plan to bury nuclear waste

Oct. 31/13. OPG asked non-profits it funds to back burial of nuclear waste

Oct. 30/13. SON delivers closing remarks in DGR hearings

Oct. 30/13. OPG looking to bury nuclear waste

Oct. 29/13. Nuclear site is safe, panel told 

Oct. 27/13. Proposed nuclear dump near Lake Huron pushes fears to surface

Oct. 22/13. Mich. Senators to Kerry: Stop Canadian nuclear waste near lake

Oct. 22/13. Senators against proposed nuclear site 

Oct. 21/13. Michigan senators seek Kerry’s intervention in Canadian nuclear waste storage site

Oct. 21/13. Ontario Power Generation’s nuclear waste assessment panel: Mission impossible?

Oct. 15/13. How do you safely store 40 years of radioactive waste?

Oct. 11/13Science, hubris and Ontario’s planned Lake Huron nuclear waste dump

Oct. 3/13. Nuclear waste site assessment is “suspect”, critic says

Sept. 30/13. Michigan lawmakers  sound alarm over Canada’s proposal to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron

Sept. 30/13. Michigan politicians protest Ontario nuclear waste site

Sept. 30/13.  U-S Politicians at DGR Hearing

Sept. 27/13Nuclear Dumb and Dumber

Sept. 27/13. Deep Geological Repository opponents getting leg up at hearings, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says

Sept. 26/13.  Nuclear waste hearing is valid, says OPG

Sept. 25/13. First Nations must speak for themselves, nuclear hearing told

Sept. 24/13. Nuclear watchdog says it warned OPP against visiting dump opponents

Sept. 23/13. Impartiality of Federal Panel Reviewing Nuclear-Waste Plan Under Scrutiny

Sept. 22/13. OPP quizzing U.S. witnesses too at Lake Huron nuclear waste hearing

Sept. 21/13OPP quiz opponents to Lake Huron nuclear dump prior to hearings

Anti-dump activists charge intimidation as police query those planning to speak at controversial nuclear waste hearings

Sept. 20/13. Nuclear waste: Hearings raising lots of new questions. A few days of hearings into plans for a nuclear waste site in Ontario have raised more questions than they’ve answered 

Sept. 19/13. Planned Ontario nuclear waste dump hits heavy weather It won’t be just irradiated mops that are buried in Ontario Power Generation’s proposed Lake Huron nuclear waste dump 

Sept. 17/13.  OPG unclear about nature of radioactive waste: environmentalists

Sept. 17/13. First Nations reveal concern at DGR hearing

Sept. 16/13. Securing approval for nuclear waste site won’t be ‘quick or easy process’: First Nations

Sept. 13/13.  Deep-set differences split OPG and opponents of the proposed nuclear waste site near Lake Huron

Sept. 13/13.  Kincardine nuclear waste site debate heats up

Sept. 12/13. How Ontario plans to deal with tonnes of nuclear waste: Bury the problem

** if I’ve missed out on any, please let me know via a comment to the blog!

******

** NOTE: Sign the petition to stop this at Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump site

To find all other Hearing Documents (quite a lot here) including daily agendas, transcripts of past hearing sessions & other documents generated by the Hearings, go to the Hearing Documents page.

 

28

09 2013

DGR: Kincardine Area Resident Speaks Out

Dec. 15/13: ** Find Webcast & transcripts at this spot on CNSC Web site.

p.s. on November 6/13 — I shld have linked to a posting on the film ‘Into Eternity‘ – a film about the deep repository being constructed in Finland.

* DGR = Deep Geologic Repository

** This is the submission given to the DGR Panel on Tuesday, September 24th, by Ralph Splettstoesser. In my view, it’s an awesome & articulate indictment of the DGR planning process. I am posting it here with Mr. Splettstoesser’s permission. (It was his submission, btw,  that prompted my insight “Courage is contagious!” that I posted about yesterday.) It took a heck of a lot of courage for Mr. S. to say all these things publicly in his own community. I salute him hugely!

Dear Dr. Swanson, Dear members of the Joint Review Panel:

My name is Ralph Splettstoesser. I am a local farmer and business owner living in Kincardine Township. I have lived here for 47 years now, and I have many friends in this area. Friends that often also work at Bruce Power. So, I know this community very well.

Being a farmer, it is extremely important for me to be as rational as possible. Thoroughly investigate an issue before I talk about it with any degree of confidence. For that reason I can without hesitation state that a DGR or DUD – whatever you want to call it – Burying nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin is testing the limits of insanity.

I challenge you to conduct your own personal study one-on-one in your travels around the province. Just meeting any random person, ask them a question: “Have you heard of OPG’s plan to bury low and intermediate nuclear waste roughly 1km from Lake Huron?”
Invariably the response I have received, and you are sure to receive, is a mix of shock and disbelief! The phrase, “Now who ever came up with such a stupid idea!” is commonplace.

Now I want to make a clear distinction between people outside of the Bruce Power Misinformation Bribery Zone. If you meet someone in this area that is for the nuclear waste dump, always ask where they work, for there is a defined code of conduct for employees at Bruce Power. For example, employees of Bruce Power are not to be competing with the nuclear industry by selling electricity. For example, by installing solar panels on their own property.

I also want to make it clear to you that the local newspapers are very biased in support of nuclear over renewables. But also biased in favor of the nuclear dump. For example Troy Patterson is the editor of the Kincardine News paper. He regularly prints his (the editor’s) views so embarrassingly pro-nuclear in every way. The previous editor of the Kincardine News, Marie Wilson, got a job as spokesperson for OPG and NWMO. Readers of Kincardine newspapers have to know by now just how biased the reporting is.

Yet I believe in this area, even considering all the misinformation spewed by OPG and Bruce Power, the average person “would not support this,” even with most families having family members working at the nuclear plant. The point I want to make is that this town and area is bought by the nuclear industry.

Looking back to the mayor that started this whole process back in 2001, Mr. Glen Sutton. He was working for OPG at the time. Now how is that not a conflict of interest? To the secret meetings the local mayors had with CNSC staff and their president, Mr. Binder himself. To the ridiculous phone poll of mostly year-round residents, purposely leaving out as many seasonal residents as possible to the statement by the current mayor, Larry Kraemer, that he was in favor of a referendum on this very important issue, but time ran out and so we couldn’t have one for that reason somehow!

To the withholding of its vast amount of information collected over the last 40 years concerning the pollution of our lake water. The pollution of our ground water and the air pollution released.

We asked for that information back in August 2012 because of their statement that “OPG has safely stored its nuclear waste for 40 years” already. With many requests made for this information to date, we have only “snapshots” of average data, but in no way have our requests for information been satisfied. OPG shows every confidence that they can get away with that.

So this points to a shameless process that is secretive and that is in collusion with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Considering that commission after commission since the Three Mile island disaster has warned about accepting industry claims without truly third-party independent review. But what is actually happening here? Exactly what those commissions warned against!

I’m sorry, but this process has been a very undemocratic one. When democratic rights are trampled and bulldozed like this, it only shows the degree of desperation this industry has. But I ask you to, in your findings, make clear in your recommendations to audit all the pivotal players in this serious game of nuclear Russian roulette.

I say this for it should be obvious to all people who have followed nuclear issues and dealing processes and practices in the past.
After all, if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat those mistakes. We all should know then that SNC Lavalin, the big engineering company in Canada, the company that has built the nuclear projects in Ontario, has been convicted of routinely bribing public officials to get contracts. I think it is obvious that this is also how the nuclear industry works in Ontario in general.

I believe that to be an obvious fact, but I know that it needs to be thoroughly investigated because of the very seriousness of this issue. I believe, and most people who know what is going on in the energy sector know, that nuclear would have ended in the 1970′s without this backdoor approach that the nuclear industry in Ontario absolutely must have. The nuclear industry stinks of this.

All I can say is: Investigate and try to prove me wrong if you don’t believe me. I am not anti-nuclear personally. If it can be proven that something nuclear can be cost-effective and environmentally responsible, I am all for it. It stands in our Canadian constitution that it is the duty of each citizen of this country to avoid pollution and minimize waste.

Someone from OPG should explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make you a terrorist.

This process needs to end right now! Because the nuclear misinformation is that this is all about safety. Yet we all know that to be a lie. This is really all about money!
Safety has almost nothing to do with this insane idea to bury nuclear waste close to the lake.
How dare you all put so many great people through this purposely flawed process?

This process was run by the industry, for the industry, purposely trying to stifle every attempt to bring in third-party unbiased people to have a meaningful democratic discussion together. But OPG purposely decided not to attend any Q&A meetings set up. If this was a fair, open and democratic process, why did they not attend? What are they afraid of? Are they afraid of a fair and democratic process?

And for that reason I believe those people who have publicly stated that this DGR process has been fair and open or in some way democratic truly need to be investigated thoroughly, and as I have stated before, follow the money! For this is not about safety. It is truly all about money.
How much money was actually given to interested third party speakers concerning this issue? How much money did OPG spend on “their” advertising campaign?!!

This process has been horribly flawed, that is certain. Does anyone seriously believe that this happened by chance, like this?

For a multi-billion dollar project like this? Nothing much happens by chance, I am sure.

Please, do your part to at least bring justice to this process!
I demand as a citizen of this township that OPG, NWMO and CNSC will guarantee that burial of high-level radioactive waste will not be considered in the Great Lakes Basin.

Will you ensure that honesty OPG, NWMO and CNSC? Yes or No answer please! For the record.

Thank you.

******

** NOTE: Sign the petition to stop this at Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump site

** To connect to the live hearings on OPG’s proposed nuclear dump (only when they are in session – next session begins Monday, Sept. 30 at 9 AM Eastern) go here.

To find all other Hearing Documents (quite a lot here) including daily agendas, transcripts of past hearing sessions & other documents generated by the Hearings, go to the Hearing Documents page.

The old link that still takes you to transcripts, agendas & webcasts (all 3) seems now only to be accessible through the front page of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (English version) & click on the blue-green icon at the right-hand top of the page that says: “Deep Geologic Repository Hearings.” The only reason you need to go there, via this roundabout path, is if you want to watch archived hearings or want other information on the main CNSC page besides these hearings. Otherwise skip it! Too many Web pages to click through!

** many thanks to the friend who sent me this useful hearing-related information!!

26

09 2013

DGR: Courage is Contagious!

Dec. 15/13: ** Webcast & transcripts at this spot on CNSC Web site.

Addition on Oct. 2/13: ** List of communities with resolutions OPPOSING the DGR here

So…couple daze spent at the DGR (4-week) hearing currently being held on the shores of Lake Huron, in the pretty lakeside town of Kincardine, Ontario.

** DGR = Deep Geologic Repository for nuclear waste – a repository being jointly planned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) & the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). DGR to be located on the grounds of the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station (BNGS) on the shores of the incomparably beautiful Lake Huron, one of the amazing Great Lakes jointly shared by Canada & the U.S. that provide drinking water to 40 million people.

Some of us characterize this proposed “repository” as a DUD — Deep Underground Dump.

Have more I’d like to say about all this, but am going to do my last observation first.

Courage is contagious.

The activists at the hearing (or even just the “average” citizens who never set out to become activists; they just have this nuclear nonsense rammed down their lives, pretty much) were “speaking truth to power,” as activists are wont to do, & many or all are intelligent (even brilliant) & articulate & insight-full…

& each person’s intelligence & courage in speaking truth to power affects each person present who hears her/him.

& it all adds up to some pretty wonderful feelings of solidarity!

So even though the nuke biz can give a person a severe case of the willies (to put it very-very mildly indeed)

These hearings are also always inevitably a celebration of what is very best in the individuals of our species

So while I wish the folks in the nuke biz would grow more intelligence & courage & ethics themselves, that may not happen either tomorrow afternoon or quite as soon as we might hope for.

So in the meantime, hurray for the fact that courage is contagious!

Janet

p.s. & not just courage. Also integrity, & fits of conscience, & even also charitability (a nice example of this experienced a short while ago while waiting for the GO train), & also compassion, so … sure looks like not all forms of contagion are a bad thing, hmmmm??

p.p.s. awesome local person’s presentation here

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “All nuclear power plant systems, structures, components and personnel are potential sources of failures and malfunctions. Problems can arise from defects in design, manufacturing, installation and construction; from testings, operational, and maintenance errors; from explosions and fires; from excessive corrosion, vibration, stress, heating, cooling, radiation damage, and other physical phenomena; from deterioration due to component aging, and from externally-initiated events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and sabotage.” – Daniel F. Ford (from a Stop Plant Vogtle brochure)

Runner-up for Q of the day: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

** lots of nuke quotes here 

** quotes on courage here & conscience here

** many-many other good quotations in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of this blog

25

09 2013

My Religion (take 2)

<Take 1, from 3 years or so ago, is here>

I decided to squeeze it all into a simple A-B-C format. Only had to cheat a little .

A

  • Appreciation/gratitude
  • Ambulatory activities (i.e., walking & let’s include biking & canoeing/kayaking too, shall we?? That way, we are including Nature: the great outdoors.)

 

B

  • Being in the present moment (takes constant internal reminders to Be.Here.Now!)
  • Breathing
  • Buddhist thought**

 

C

  • Conversation
  • Community (this takes in love & family & friendship, OK?)
  • Compassion (key component in aforementioned Buddhist thought)
  • Contributing (or service, or activism)

 

Janet

p.s. I like to joke that I am not a big fan of organized religion – I prefer the disorganized kind . Truthfully, I have a lot of trouble with institutionalized religion. If you don’t get why, I suggest you muse on the words “intolerance” & “war” for a few moments.

p.p.s. but we are frequently advised to refrain from discussing politics & religion. As if, eh??? 

p.p.p.s. other musings about religion on this blog:

 

** I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, btw. I’m far too un-virtuous, & a terrible meditator to boot (well heck, let’s just be really honest here, I don’t meditate at all, though I do keep meaning to start ). I do like the concepts expressed in Buddhism of compassion, non-judgment & “detaching from the outcome” (that is to say, acting from one’s conscience & not obsessing over whether one’s actions result in a particular desired outcome. So, I continue to be an activist even though lots of my activism does not appear to bear the results I most desire. Still feels “right” to do the stuff, so I keep on doing it). I also very much enjoy the thinking & writings of Buddhist thinkers like Joanna Macy, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, & probably others whose names are escaping me right now….

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I can’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas, I’m afraid of the old ones.” – John Cage

A few others:

“4 Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.” Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha 

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” – Carl Sagan, astronomer (1934 – 1996).

“Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” – Gandhi 

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” – Dalai Lama

“The best meditation is critical thinking — followed by action.” – the Dalai Lama, quoted by Elisabet Sahtouris in her film “Crisis As Opportunity: Living Better on a Hotter Planet.” 

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~ William James

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“Damn what anybody thinks of you – do what’s right. It’s really fun.” – Lucy Lawless, N. Z. actor & activist arrested with 6 Greenpeace activists on Save the Arctic campaign (from Sierra magazine Jan/Feb. 2013)

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains.” – Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892) 

** many great quotation gathered up in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section!

 

 

09

09 2013

Privilege

<July 5/13.>

I return often to thoughts about privilege.

I myself have led a quite privileged life – though I certainly didn’t grasp that during my dysfunctional childhood in a dysfunctional family. It was a trip to Barbados at the age of 14 that rubbed my nose in my previously-taken-for-granted privilege, & catapulted me into a different way of seeing the world.

It seems that something in me, down to my very bones, resists the idea of privilege & entitlement. Not sure why this is so, & let’s face it, I have at times felt as falsely “entitled” to things as anyone. (I did observe on another trip, decades later, when being put up in a very fancy place indeed, that if one does not watch it, one can quickly experience that sensation of entitlement – of having “earned” the fancy treatment/privileges. It was a good insight to get, & I’m happy to have had the experience for the insight it brought me.)

I know many people who have positively gobs of invisible privilege. In fact, most of the people I know are pretty much awash in it.

The privilege(s) of:

  • Living in Canada
  • Living middle-class lives
  • Money – most folks I know are plenty comfortable (or even quite a bit more than just comfortable)
  • Intelligence
  • Good looks
  • Good education (or what we view that way in middle-class circles)
  • Background
  • Cushy childhood, maybe (very relative term )

 

All these things give one what you might call “unfair advantages” in life – as compared to those who are lacking in these visible or invisible forms of privilege.

George Monbiot wrote an interesting column a couple of years back, called ‘The Self Attribution Fallacy’ in which he points out that most rich & powerful people have actually had most of what they possess handed to them on a silver platter, pretty much.

Most are not rich & famous because they are just so fabulously smart & deserving & wonderful, although many may think these things are so, & that they richly “deserve” all the perks.

Well. These are aimless musings, really…I am not actually going anywhere with them. I have no great insights or solutions to offer here. Sorry about that! 

To be honest, I’m kind of past believing in “solutions” at this point, really. Of course I still enjoy musing on what got us into all these messes, & all the things that keep us here – ‘cos I’m an analytical sort of gal.

I do like to think we’d all have been a lot better off on this planet if we’d always been honest with ourselves & each other, less driven by self-absorption & greed, & had always worked collectively to create a fair & equitable world for all. It’s a bit late for such idealistic notions now, of course…

Janet

p.s. thanks to Tim S. for sending the Monbiot item my way! 

p.p.s. I continue to be a person with tons of privilege, btw, in spite of having been essentially downwardly mobile, economically speaking, all my life. I have friends to die for, plenty of worthwhile work & purpose, adventures a’plenty, & a huge appreciation for the “simple” things in life. Right now, for example, I’m living (temporarily) by a river, surrounded by trees & a wonderful assortment of birds & other critters. It’s peaceful & green & the herons I keep seeing are an absolute delight. More than one kind of privilege in this life, that’s for sure! (I always say wealth has nothing whatsoever to do with money.)

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “We are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” – John O’Donohue, Irish poet, philosopher and former priest

Spare quotes to throw in: “I’m proud to be counted as one of the lunatic idealists who passionately endorse the notion of a better, safer, kinder world.” – Singer Annie Lennox in Resurgence (Jan/Feb 2007) quoted in Ode, a magazine “for intelligent optimists,” May 2007

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” – Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892) 

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

“Two centuries of philosophers stand in opposition to the modern American recipe for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t amuse yourself in. You can’t even expect falling in love to deliver you. The most promising way to happiness is, perhaps, through creativity, through literally creating a fulfilling life for yourself by identifying some unique talent or passion and devoting a good part of your energy to it, forever.” ~ Kalle Lasn/Bruce Grierson in Utne Reader [more great quotes on work & purpose here]

 

07

09 2013

Leek & Potato Soup (a recipe)

So, I’ve posted soup recipes twice before (pea soup here & lentil-vegetable here). Don’t ask why I do this; I haven’t the slightest idea!   Maybe just that I have some pretty good soup recipes, & might as well share them around – is that a good enough reason??

Here goes:

Leek & Potato Soup

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced *
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 6 – 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced **
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken/or vegetarian broth (enough to barely cover potatoes)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (milk will also do!)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

 

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add onions & leeks. Cook, stirring, until onions are limp & just slightly brown.

Add sliced potatoes to saucepan, then pour in enough broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash & stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes & the soup thickens, turn down heat & stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom.

Add one cup of heavy cream (or just plain milk, including rice milk) – more if you desire – & salt & black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat… & serve. Delish!!

 

* Make sure to clean leeks thoroughly & slice only the white & light green part

** You need not peel the potatoes, as the peels add to the rustic texture of the soup. But make sure to scrub the ‘taters thoroughly, & remove any obvious blemishes before slicing.

 

*** & truthfully, I must admit, I don’t always use russet potatoes… Full disclosure from your truth-telling blogger! 

 Janet

p.s. thanks to Kylah & Zach for this recipe!!  

p.p.s. I ought to add that a) I use organic ingredients & b) the reason I made leek & potato soup this week is that I happily bought some (organically-grown) leeks at the farmers’ market last Saturday. 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you have lots fewer decisions to make.” – Joseph Campbell, U.S. folklorist & expert on mythology (1904-1987), quoted in the biography A Fire in the Mind – The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen & Robin Larsen [more Joseph Campbell quotes]

06

09 2013

Un-Favourite Things

  • Amoral, rapacious corporations
  • Apathy
  • Bullies
  • Dishonesty
  • Greed & hoarding
  • Lack of appreciation / gratitude
  • Sleazy politicians
  • Thugs in suits (the ones who run things; you know)  
  • Violence / War
  • Waste  

 

Janet

p.s. posted after a posting about ‘Favourite Things‘ — a pretty long list of them!!  

05

09 2013

Favourite Things

These are a few of my favourite things:

  • Sitting by a river, writing a little essay called ‘Favourite Things’
  • Sitting by any river/stream/lake – doing anything … or nothing
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Riding my bike
  • Conversation
  • Friends
  • Solitude
  • Silence
  • Favourite meals?
  • ——- any meal eaten with friends in Algonquin Park
  • ——- any meal/anywhere eaten with friends/family
  • Listening to owls hoot
  • Listening to / watching loons
  • Fall
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Laughing
  • Music / singing
  • Heron-watching (just spotted one! )
  • Hanging out with friends/loved ones
  • Watching beavers in the water
  • Canoeing
  • Seeing a mink running along the shoreline
  • Realizing “I don’t have to figure that out right now
  • Making a hearty, rib-hugging soup (& here too)
  • Fudge (darn that sweet tooth of mine )
  • Feeling loved
  • Feeling free
  • Doing any work with real purpose & worth
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Food co-ops
  • Activism (why I love activism here)

 

Pretty fine life this planet lays on for us!! 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Only when the last tree has died…and the last river has been poisoned…and the last fish has been caught…will we realize that we cannot eat money.” ~ 19th century Cree saying 

Runner-up: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” – Kurt Vonnegut (who wanted us to think & say this as often as humanly possible  )

** quotes on work & purpose here, tons of other great quotes listed/linked in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section.

03

09 2013

Have pressure cooker, will travel

<August 3/13>   I’ve been doing this sort of nomad gig for several years now. House-sits, short & sometimes long-ish. This & that, here & there.

It’s an unusual life – a good one, in many ways. I’ve gotten pretty good at it!  

There is lots of stuff I really haven’t cared about not owning anymore – e.g. my own house, my own furniture.

The thing I miss the most is my book collection. I do love my books! (mostly boxed up in a friend’s basement, at the moment.)

Here’s what I tend to haul with me wherever I go. These are the things I always need:

  • Pressure cooker (for cooking up chickpeas)
  • Steamer pot (my favourite pot ever!)
  • Recipes
  • Clotheshorse (I hate using a dryer )
  • Large cookie sheet (granola-baking)
  • Books (but never nearly enough of them  )
  • Bicycle 
  • Notebooks & pens (duh)

 

& wherever I go, the most essential things are already there:

  • Friends / people
  • Purpose

 

Off I go!    

Janet 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “To find our calling is to find the intersection between our own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.” – Frederick Buechner [more great quotes on work & purpose here, tons of other great quotes listed/linked in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section].

 

 

 

 

29

08 2013

Batten Down the Hatches

<Aug. 15/13>    Are you familiar with this phrase? (I had to look up the spelling of “batten”; wasn’t quite sure about it.)

It’s basically nautical language for “prepare to be swamped, submerged, inundated with water … whatever.”

& it’s in my mind right now, as the weather where I am at the moment (Algonquin Park) is a tad unpredictable. (Heh heh. Where is weather not unpredictable, these days??  )

& I thought it might rain & even storm, so I “battened down the hatches” at our camp site, &, as it happened, the storm-that-might-have-been passed us by

(though it may very well have wreaked havoc elsewhere)

& I am grateful the storm passed us by

& I hope it did not do harm anywhere else

& on the whole I think we HBs (human beans) had best at least mentally batten down the hatches

as I think many a storm is heading our way.

Oh yeah.

I used to think I had an idea what battening down the hatches consisted of … & now I am not so sure.

I think what’s coming – the events headed our way – are too numerous & unpredictable – to predict. To call.

So I have no idea, really, what I actually mean when I say “Batten down the hatches, people.”

Maybe, Be Ready for Anything?

Looks to be an … interesting ride ahead.

Be In The Moment.

Always, always, always.

(The only place anything actually ever happens is Right Here, Right Now…right??)

Janet 

p.s. & I stick by my 2 top life-saving, sanity-preserving habits: walking often, preferably daily, & being actively grateful … also daily! 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Bob Waldrop, the man behind the Oklahoma City Food Cooperative

 

 

27

08 2013

Pissing People Off

<Aug. 15/13>

Now there’s a topic for you, eh??

It has just occurred to me that I have all my life had a rather inordinate horror of pissing people off.

I suspect it arose from those Complicated Family Dynamics in that dysfunctional family I was born into (me & everyone, I know, I know… ).

Okay. So I have this possibly extreme horror of PPO.

Pretty much anytime I have busted the PPO meter & PPO in a big way, Disaster (with a capital D) has quickly (sometimes VERY quickly) Followed Suit.

People who know me know I risk PPO daily, pretty much, with this blog & in my life as an activist.

Probably no one but I has any idea of my real horror of PPO … on the down & dirty personal level.

It’s very-very odd, I grant you. I will risk – even court – arrest, for PPO – the ones in “authority” – those strangers – the faceless bureaucrats & technocrats – the ones who Really Run Things (& Really MESS THINGS UP ).

But I am terrified of PPO on what you might call the “micro” level.

[btw, if you wish to understand the source of this proclivity of mine to use capital letters, you can blame the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. I am Much Influenced by Milne’s Bear of Very Little Brain.  ]

Okay. There you have it!

Today I have probably pushed the PPO meter pretty hard. & I may go on pushing it.

Just because. Because, because.

Becos’ – I dunno why.

Because I can??

It’s a Scientific Experiment, you see. How Far Can JM Push the PPO meter? Will there be Lasting Consequences? Will it Change My Life? How Brave am I, really?

Janet

p.s. I probably wouldn’t bother posting this silly little (let’s be honest, probably slightly beer-enhanced) item except that I bet there are lots of other people who also rassle with an inordinate fear of PPO, whether at the macro or the micro level.

p.p.s. How to PPO without Really Trying. Very quick tutorial!

  • Simply Be Utterly Yourself – yourself, unfiltered
  • Tell the Truth – the whole, unvarnished “nothing but the truth” truth.

 

(Just don’t tell anyone you got that advice here, OK?  )

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I didn’t mean to be brave, it just happened when I panicked.” – Allegedly said by Piglet (a character in the A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh stories)

Runners-up: “Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966.

“For every nine people who denounce innovation, only one will encourage it… For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door. Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” – Za Rinpoche & Ashley Nebelsieck in The Backdoor to Enlightenment (Three Leaves) – quoted in Oprah Magazine Jan. 2008

 

26

08 2013

Chains

This post consists of a list of things I’m so passionate about I’d be willing to chain myself to something over them. Stuff that really really really bugs me big-time.

So here is the list of things I’m willing to get into trouble over. Full disclosure: I’ve courted arrest, been arrested, been to many a so-called “protest” over the years – & I think tons more of us need to do tons more of this … not that I’m exactly holding my breath on this happening (delighted to see that plenty of protesting is taking place all around us over the issues named below, & many others).

Our lives are being positively steamrolled into extinction by our governments & the corporations that run them.  Only wish I were making this up.

We need to speak (& act) up!!

Worth chaining myself to something over:

 

Janet

p.s. My clever phrase: “I believe in the non-existent future.” (I like to tell myself it’s clever, anyway.  )

p.p.s. as regards further cuts to CBC, could a bunch of us DO something, please?? I have heard the ‘Ideas’ 3-part series on depression so many times now, as a so-called “encore presentation,” it is making me depressed!?   Honestly, it’s very-very frustrating, all this repeating of shows…

p.p.p.s. lots of great quotations on this blog, if I may say so. Political/democracy quotes, civil disobedience ones, courage onesetc. etc. etc.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I didn’t mean to be brave, it just happened when I panicked.” – Allegedly said by Piglet (a character in the A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh stories)

Runner-up Quote: “I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer 

 

 

 

24

08 2013

Operating Instructions

<August 15/13>

Semi-random musings from beside a favourite lake in Algonguin Park (Ontario, Canada) one lovely August morning…

Seek the sun

and the shade

the wind

& the not-so-windy spots

 

Seek balance

Enjoy it when you find it

Knowing it’s one of Life’s perennial challenges

 

Wear your hat

Eat when you’re hungry

Rest when you’re tired

 

Water (& friends) are essential

 

Stay in the moment

Don’t try to hang on

Go with the flow

Drift

Let go

Breathe deeply

 

Love with abandon

Live fully

Love fully

Grieve fully

 

Fear is best left mostly behind

 

Know war & peace exist side by side [1]

Don’t resist reality

(Though you may need to take occasional “breaks” from it)

 

Pack carefully

Jettison freely when something no longer serves you

 

Practice gentleness

With others…with yourself

 

Stay on the move

(Except when it’s time to be still)

 

Veer to the left

Take the fork in the road

 

Have it All

& let it go gracefully when you must

 

Go slow

Enjoy the detours

 

Just…Be

 

Learn to yield

Share

Live simply (but with elegance)

 

Cultivate community, & conversation

& also solitude, & silence

 

Clean up after yourself (No littering!)

 

Watch your step

Embrace Mystery

& be open to wonder

 

Be open to change

(knowing transition times are challenging)

 

Make mistakes

Apologize. Atone, if need be.

 

Be yourself.

 

Interfere/intervene when necessary.

 

Love Nature

 

Overcome obstacles

Avoid gluttony & greed

 

Take a second look

Pay attention

 

Pace yourself!

Janet

p.s. I came up with this funny little list as I was walking around the island we were camped on. Poetry literally in motion, only it isn’t really poetry… just … musings.

p.p.s. & my buddy & I swam over to that rock that’s featured at the top of this blog, & said hello. One of my very favourite rock-y spots!!

p.p.p.s. about 4 days after I wrote this, I was “back to civilization” & watching an episode of ‘Real Time’ – the Bill Maher show – with a friend, & was delighted to encounter Tom Shadyac & his book Life’s Operating Manual. Betting it may be one of those books I’ll be buying multiple copies of, & giving away as gifts! Great YouTube of him talking about the book here. He is one of those people on the planet who really gets that life is really not about money. If only we had all “gotten” this a whole lot sooner, eh? 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.” – Victor Frankl



[1] The great peace of this lake in Algonquin Park is sometimes broken by the sounds of war from nearby CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Petawawa. So incongruous, the occasional whump-whump of arms being set off when most of what one hears here is silence … or the call of loons…. or maybe the slap of a beaver’s tail on the water. Or fish jumping. You know??

23

08 2013

No Spin

<July 29/13>

For some reason, today the phrase “No spin” was on my brain.

As I went for my morning walk, I thought

What would it be like

looking out at the world

and seeing it

really seeing it

with no “spin.”

No spin

No speculation

No preconceived ideas

No assumptions

Inaccurate inferences

No assigning/ascribing (quite possibly inaccurate) motives

Just The Real Deal

An empty mind

No mind

***

Why?

Clarity. Clarity is what I am after.

Clear vision.

Quiet is required

Not frantic, relentless, constant, thoughtless activity

Background:

Last night as I lay in bed out on the porch, I heard rustlings & scufflings outside in the dark. The word “furtive” came into my mind. That made the rustlings seem a little … scary. But they were only scary because I’d assigned the word “furtive” to them!

The sounds – the critters making the sounds – weren’t furtive. They were just critters, doing their night-time rustling, hustling & scurrying.

No spin.

And then, on the walk, as I thought the words I thought (& wrote) about “no spin,” & thought about clarity – clear vision

I heard day-time rustlings

Big ones

Something crashing about in the woods/brush beside the path I was walking along

“Deer,” I thought (they abound in these parts)

A few steps later, a fence

& behind it, two gorgeous big horses, eying me

I’d assumed the noises were made by deer

More likely, or at least equally possibly, the noises were made by the horses

Spin. No spin.

There was no spin at all about the heron-sighting! 

It flew up in its graceful flight, up out of the swamp

Made a big, wide arc in the sky

& landed right back down in the swamp again

(how suddenly they land!! No long runway for this bird!)

just at a different spot

The swamp smelled wonderful.

It smelled … fertile.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: The thing is this: You got to have fun while you’re fightin’ for freedom, ‘cause you don’t always win.” – Molly Ivins

 

 

11

08 2013

THIS Moment (a reminder)

Look neither forward

(in fear despair dread anticipation)

Nor backward

(with regret nostalgia pain longing)

But downward

At the laces of the boots you are at this moment un-tying.

Janet

p.s. thoughts upon returning from a lovely walk in the woods — where being “in the moment” is really the only way to be!

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post:  “There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

A few others, just ‘cos I feel like it:

Zen Poem:

A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.

The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet it tasted.

Thich Nhat Hahn writes: “The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.”

“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.” – Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love

“I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.” – Dorothy Dix

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

“Who breaks the thread, the one who pulls, the one who holds on?” – James Richardson, poet, professor (b. 1950)

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

08

08 2013

Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2013

I am seeing much bad news today about the situation at Fukushima (more here), on this the 68th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima – ostensibly “necessary” to end world war II.

As I wrote on Hiroshima Day 2 years ago, that bomb didn’t need to be dropped, & lots of people understand that now.

2 great articles you can read on this complex topic are

 

If you are in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) today, why not attend this event?

Janet

p.s. & consider making a donation to the Fukushima Kids project … wherever you live!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I deeply regret believing in the security myth of nuclear power.” – then Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the 2011 Hiroshima Day commemorations [many more excellent, inspiring, hard-hitting quotations about nukes here]

 

 

06

08 2013

Funny Thought

So, I was just thinking that, all my life (well, until pretty recently), I’d always thought I was pretty dumb.

You know – can’t understand high finance, say, or … most of the world’s wars (most of them have never made sense to me at all at all at all).

Or deeply technical or complicated scientific or mathematical stuff (it’s true my mind doesn’t seem to excel at that kind of thing at all    ).

I used to think I wasn’t smart enough to go into politics – not realizing that many politicians are as dumb as a bag of hammers, pretty much, besides which most of them don’t exactly go into it for shall we say the “right” reasons in the first place. (Can you say corruption?)

One more thing: I used to think that just because someone has a Ph.D., this necessarily, by definition, makes her/him smart. Well, think again!! Some folks with Ph.D’s are dumber than a bag of hammers too. In fact some of them make the hammers look pretty darn smart . (At least hammers aren’t arrogant!?)

Anyway, there’s a good news & bad news aspect to all this, which is the funny thing:

Good news: Turns out I’m not nearly as dumb as I’d always thought! Cool!! Just maybe more than a wee bit naïve, is all.

Bad news: It took naïve me a very long time to realize that, as it turns out, the world is run mostly by people who are not very smart, not deep or long-term thinkers, & far too many of whom have distinctly lousy motives for wanting to be in charge anyway. There are likely even lots of psychopaths in high places, & stuff like the nuclear industry (& many other seriously planet & people-destroying industries, like, um, the tar sands & arms-making & war, say) are pretty much evil.

(Did I say this was a funny thought?? Sheesh.   )

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” – Woody Allen  

p.s. honestly, though, I realize I am often much TOO serious. And since we all need lots of laughs in this life in order to remain at least vaguely sane, consider checking out this link – at which you’ll find a boatload (or 3) of great laughs. Enjoy!! 

05

08 2013

Fukushima Kids: please help!

Yesterday I listened to a podcast on the Fairewinds Web site.

It’s about a Japanese mother who is helping Japanese children living under the fallout of the Fukushima nuclear accident – helping them in a very loving & also intensely practical way.

She’s working to take children to Hawaii (where she moved with her family after the nuclear accident) so they can get out from under the ongoing fallout, at least for a good chunk of time.

What a great project!!

The podcast is here

It’s only 14 minutes long, so I’m sure you’ve got time to watch it!

Please watch, then please very quickly make a donation to this initiative.

I’m making a substantial donation myself, so I’m not asking anyone to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself!

As the old saying goes, Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Janet

p.s. Arnie Gundersen is a hero of mine, as this posting ‘Arnie for Man of the Year’ clearly indicates! This man has done (& continues to do) so much since the Fukushima accident – practical, feet-on-the-ground work & information-sharing – he has more than earned the designation, in my view. I highly recommend his Web site – where you can sign up for emails/newsletters/podcasts.

p.p.s. another item on his site that is of utter relevance regarding the children of Fukushima/Japan.

p.p.p.s. A friend & I attended the mind-blowing March 11&12/13 Helen Caldicott symposium in New York City held to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident (good summary of it here & a posting called ‘Fukushima: Making it Personal’ here). Incredible line-up of expert speakers – many MD’s, many Ph.D’s. We learned plenty about both the Chernobyl & Fukushima nuclear accidents. You can hear all of it! Just go here 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Chernobyl is a word we would all like to erase from our memory. But more than seven million of our fellow human beings do not have the luxury of forgetting. They are still suffering, every day, as a result of what happened…The exact number of victims can never be known.” – former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [lots of other great nuke-related quotations here]

Couple more quotations:

“True Charity:  C.S. Lewis didn’t talk about percentage giving. He said the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us. If we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little. Obstacles to charity include greed for luxurious living, greed for money itself, fear of financial insecurity, and showy pride.” ~ KathrynAnn Lindskoog

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen

“One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something.” – Henry David Thoreau

01

08 2013

Honesty

What is the value, or purpose, of honesty

(I wondered, this morning, while out on my walk)

In a world brimful with deception, outrage & lies?

Hmmmmm.

Peace of mind.

That’s all.

(some things are really quite quite simple, aren’t they??)

 Janet

p.s. a posting called ‘Let’s Be Honest’ here.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941   

Another favourite: “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton

& “When in doubt, speak the truth.” – Mark Twain

& “Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

& let’s not forget this one!

“A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

[many more quotations about truth here; more on conscience here ]

31

07 2013

Letters

<July 22/13>

I am a woman of letters.[1]

By which I mean, I’ve always been a letter writer. As long as I’ve been able to read & write, I’ve been writing letters.

As a kid I wrote to a good friend who lived up in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. We were close friends & had a ton of fun together as young girls. How I loved visiting her family’s wonderful home in its spectacular setting (on their own lake, no less!). The letters, alas, are long gone. (Nomad ladies must part with quite a bit, as frequent travellers. Travelling “light” & all that.)

Later on it was “love letters.” Letters to the editor. (Gracious sakes I wrote a lot of those! I bet there were people who wished I’d just shut the heck up.)

  • Letters to politicians
  • Letters to the men in my life
  • Letters to my daughters
  • Letters to Rebecca…

 

Oh. & letters to writers, too. Several of those. Sometimes nothing would do but that I write someone whose book or books I’d enjoyed so much I just had to write & let them know. (Even got a response from Kurt Vonnegut, one of my very long-time favourite writers! Not handwritten, typed on a typewriter. Heartfelt. Very special.   & a nice postcard from Anne Tyler. Such a delight.  )

I’ve been thinking about writing some more letters to the men in my life – some of them living, some of them “passed on,” as we so delicately put it.

I won’t mail them (to the living or the dead) – they’re really just for me.

To maybe help me sort out a few things. (There is always more to figure out, isn’t there??)

With luck, get a little more “closure” on a couple relationships that ended badly. 

I guess it would be fair to say I’ve had a “checkered” relationship with men in my life – right from my father on down. Men really do seem to me to live in another Universe altogether, pretty much.

Elizabeth Lesser says in Broken Open - How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow (one of my top favourite books ever) … “Nothing about my journey from unconscious girl to full-fledged woman felt particularly graceful. In fact, it has been the gracelessness of my relationships with men that has broken, changed, and transformed me more than any other life experience.”

And I guess I would have to say “Ditto” to that sentiment.

My relationships with women are numerous, joyful, fertile, life-affirming.

The ones with men?? Hmmmm. Considerably more nuanced, shall we just very politely say.

Still, always, trying to figure out all that “Mars & Venus” stuff. And not doing all that well at it, seemingly…  Still trying, though! 

Janet 

p.s. a week later: got the letters done. Feels like a weight off my shoulders. Glad I did it.  

p.p.s. I ought to have added that I’ve just finished reading a quite mind-blowing book called I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real. Not kidding when I call it a mind-blower!! There is a review of the book here. Yet another book that everybody & her cousin really ought to read…

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss 

Some random bonus ones: “Damn what anybody thinks of you – do what’s right. It’s really fun.” – Lucy Lawless, N. Z. actor & activist arrested with 6 Greenpeace activists on Save the Arctic campaign (from Sierra magazine Jan/Feb. 2013)

“I wonder if what makes a family a family isn’t doing everything right all the time but, instead, giving a second chance to the people you love who do things wrong.” – Jodi Piccoult in her novel Lone Wolf

“The greatest joy in nature is the absence of man.” – Bliss Carman, Canadian poet (1861-1929)

“Predominant opinions are generally the opinions of the generation that is vanishing.” – Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1804-81)

“Those who know the truth are not the same as those who love it.” – Confucius

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



[1] Defined by the Free Dictionary as “A woman who is devoted to literary or scholarly pursuits.” Which of course is not the sense of meaning I have in mind at all.

 

 

 

30

07 2013

Why do I walk?

I walk when I am well

or when I want to be well

Walking makes me well

That’s why.

 

Quotations & postings about walking here

29

07 2013

Lost

<July 23/13>

Or

  • Morning off the rails
  • Invisible Conservation Area
  • Emotions almost ran away with me…

 

So, this morning I went out in the car, quite excited, to head for a nice walk at a nearby conservation area a new friend had told me about. I had Google-mapped it, but hadn’t really paid close attention to the details (truth = I can be a tad too cavalier about details).

Well OMG.       

What a debacle!

Short story: I never did find it!?

I returned home a chastened, frustrated & very hot Janet.

What was sort of notable to me was the parade of emotions/moods I passed through in a fairly short space of time.

I left feeling cheery, optimistic, excited

Enjoyed the beautiful scenery I was passing through

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful     

When it became apparent I was “lost,” the mood changed fast.

I became impatient.

When I wanted to stop the car by the side of the road to consult a map & possibly turn around, I couldn’t for miles & miles: nowhere to stop + obnoxious driver so close on my butt I could barely breathe (drivers who do not take advantage of their passing opportunities drive me nuts!). I grew angry.

& swore at the woman.     

Oops! No prizes for equanimity for me today, nosirree Bob.  

I kept driving.

Stopping. Looking at maps that gave me no help whatsoever. It was like trying to find a word in a dictionary when you haven’t the first CLUE how to spell it (maybe it starts with a silent letter you are not suspecting??).

I was close to tears, I was so frustrated.

I felt that sensation around my throat that I feel when I am really sad or lonely, or Shitty with a capital S.

(I reflected once again that when ET – Eckhart Tolle – says to get quiet & feel the life in your body, I always think “Oh dear. Flunked that assignment!”)

There are many sensations I can feel in my body. (Not going to get naughty here.)

There’s the aforementioned gripping sensation around my throat.

And, when I get really angry, my heart starts to pound noticeably in my chest. (I’ve been known to ask more than one person “Could we please stop talking now? My heart is pounding & I know I’ll just blow if I keep on talking. Time-out, please!!”)

Other things came up.

  • Bitterness
  • Oh poor me
  • Blame.

 

I wanted to blame the friend who told me about the blasted conservation area. But she did give me some directions, & she also suggested I Google-map it. This getting lost business was strictly my very own fault. 

I think there are some nice metaphors in this little escapade.

Life as map? Well – directions help, but they only point to things. We have to get down in the muddy gucky swamp ourselves to find out what things are really like.

For sure, it was a stark lesson in how rapidly our emotional “weather” can change.

& not to try & “hold on” to any of it.

It’s intense! Whether joyful or painful.

& it will pass – especially if we let go & let it blow right on through.

(All the wise Buddhist teachers have known this forever, of course. Leonard Cohen too…)

Sometimes I think I’ve gotten a little better at standing back & watching the play of things from a bit of a distance. For which I am grateful.

No question though, I still get “carried away” at times. (A very notable one of those instances pretty recently. Ahem. And then, of course there was today…)

What can I say?

We human beings are all too human.

QED.

Janet 

Part II:  <July 28>

Yes, I tackled it again! This time, having Google-mapped it & carefully written down directions on a piece of paper.

Didn’t help much. I STILL got lost. Even more lost, I’d venture to say.  

Of course it didn’t help that a road I needed to turn down was not marked. No sign whatsoever. That didn’t help matters at all. As I drove along, lost & frustrated, & looking for the metaphors in my situation, I thought “Yeah. In life there is never a sign that warns you ahead of time, down that road lies serious heartbreak” … is there?     

Maps are good, but they don’t guarantee too much.

It was a fairly hellish excursion. When I did finally find the blasted conservation area, I’d no sooner gotten out of the car than it started to spit. (I had looked at the weather forecast before I left, & rain was being forecast for the afternoon. But I should have been there, had my walk, & got back home again before afternoon!)

It’s alright. I did get a bit of a walk in – it was indeed a lovely spot, & I had it all to myself.

Then I got lost some more on the way home (one thing I haven’t explained is that there are 2 quite different routes to get to this place, & I’ve tried & thoroughly bunged up both, by now. The “way home” was not as straightforward as it sounds).

I did manage to put together the thought that the sensation I get around my throat when I am very sad or lonely is the same one I get when feeling lost, & that feeling lost feels pretty much like feeling abandoned.

Not sure there’s much of use in that.  

I also think, now that I’m back safe & sound (& have vowed never to attempt that outing, ever again, thank you very much!), that all this getting lost & going ‘round in circles is not so very far off the mark right now. I am feeling a bit lost & a bit as though I’m going around in circles these days.

So, as in life, so in life!

Or something like that…

jm

p.s. it’s possible I got so lost this 2nd time so the Universe would give me the opportunity to hear the re-broadcast of the awesome interview CBC host Michael Enright did in February 2013 with Paul Saltzman about the documentary ‘The Last White Knight’ that he made about his own experience with a KKK-er who assaulted him 40 years ago when he was involved in the civil rights movement in the southern U.S. Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating interview! 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 B.C. – 347 B.C.)

 

29

07 2013

Quotes for Today (July 26/13)

I’m not getting much blogging time right now. 

But, was just reminded of this great Stephen Levine quotation “[T]hose who insist they’ve got their ‘shit together’ are usually standing in it at the time.”

Love that one…   & thought it worth passing along.

(Lots of great other Stephen Levine quotations here )

In figuring out where I’d heard that line, I ran across a posting I did called ‘Sadness, Books, Friends’ & (am I allowed to say this?) enjoyed re-reading it. It was timely.

Okay. That’s it!

Oh, except for this: I also just found a Web site with a ton of neat quotations about “ecology.” They’re here.

C’est tout for today!

Janet 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepherd 

Runner-up: “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” 
~ Ansel Adams

(Now ain’t that the truth!         )

     

 

 

26

07 2013

Let’s Be Honest

Now, I lay claim to being a truth-teller (it’s right up there in my job description) – but let’s face it, I hold back a fair bit…in my writings, as in life. Most of this is due to simple getting-along-with-people politeness. Some of it, the fear of laying myself a little too bare. How will I feel if I scrape off yet another layer of skin?

Well. Here goes:

  • 18 years into a divorce, divorce still sucks. I guess I knew from the start it would always suck, given that there were/are children involved, and even though you could probably call ours a “righteous” & “very civilized” divorce. Probably an unavoidable one? Nonetheless, it has been (still is, for me at times) a gutwrenching experience/life circumstance. Why? Hmmm. That’s another essay altogether…
  • Sometimes, often, I’d say, most of us “pull our punches.” Hold back from telling deep (or even rather minor!) truths that might better be articulated. On the personal level, on the cultural/societal. Maybe we all need training in some new language/communication skills. Maybe a course called ‘How to Tell the Truth Politely, Diplomatically, & with the Least Amount of Painful Fallout for All Parties Involved 101.’ Something like that, maybe.
  • Loneliness can be very brutal. It cuts like a knife. But I think alienation & anomie are much, much worse – & I suspect that many suffer from these much more nasty & pernicious feelings/phenomena.
  • Solitude is a balm & a blessing. I know that without a decent bit of solitude & silence, my spirit pretty much shrivels right up. I don’t think most of us get anywhere near enough of either in this very noisy, device-addicted, device-driven world.
  • Truth is sometimes (often) painful, disturbing, shocking, even. I suspect we all need that kind of jolt from time to time.
  • A lot of HBs (human beans), I think, are not really adults. We’ve never really grown up. We’ve never “recovered” from the various & sundry debilitating assaults of childhood. Never satisfied, never at peace. Driven by emotions buried so deep we don’t understand the impulses that drive us. Sentenced to lives of self-absorption, over-sensitive emotionally, easily flayed. Consumed by pettiness. All quite tragic, to say the very least. Tragic & very, very poignant.
  • The state of the world is rather terrifying. Floods, storms, exploding factories/tanker cars, burning factories, grotesque social inequities/exploitations of all kinds. Etc. As Don Henley sings in the brilliant ‘Goodbye to a River,’ “The captains of industry, & their tools on the Hill, they’re killing everything divine, what will I tell this child of mine?”   Perhaps we middle-class Canadians, a tad too smug & self-absorbed, thought none of this nastiness would ever land on our doorsteps. But alas & alack, it’s definitely arrived. It was always here, of course, in one form & another – now, we can no longer avert our eyes.
  • Here’s a possible truth that is no walk in the park, Readers, gentle or otherwise. There is a suspicion now that we humans have only a rather short time left to run. They’re calling it Near-Term Extinction (inevitably, NTE for short; several links listed below in the p.s. section). Most people I know won’t hear of it, won’t talk about it, shut me down if I attempt to do so. Me, I rather suspect we ought to acknowledge it as a possibility…consider it, & start talking about it. (Maybe in sort of the way that the family of a terminal cancer patient needs to get real, in the palliative phase, & stop pretending a “cure” is in the offing.)
  • Let’s be honest. It isn’t as though I like the idea of near-term extinction. (Big duh, hmmm??) I just think I’d rather take off the rose-coloured glasses & deal with (what looks to me to be) the truth. It kind of renders a lot of our usual pursuits & preoccupations a little … moot, wouldn’t you say? I wonder what it might mean if more people started telling the truth about NTE. Quietly, you understand. “The powers that be” will never do so – we have to do it for ourselves. But I wonder what it would mean. People might begin doing some sensible things with the time that is left, possibly. I really don’t know. I’m curious.

 

A little shout-out here to 2 people for helping jump-start this little essay. New acquaintance AJ lent me her copy of the very lovely Starting Out in the Afternoon – a Mid-Life Journey into Wild Land, by Jill Frayne. This writer grabbed me powerfully within the first few pages (I’m only on page 19 as I write this). Her disarming honesty disarmed me, utterly!

It’s so liberating when people are honest about their feelings. Especially the ones we all share, but have trouble admitting … even to ourselves.

It’s occurring to me that right now, I have very little patience for people who are still living completely up in their heads.

I often reflect lately that I am heartbroken – about personal “stuff,” & about the state of the world.

“Head” stuff just doesn’t interest me very much at all right now.

Let’s be honest.

Janet

p.s. earlier this week I watched a Stephen Jenkinson lecture entitled ‘The Skill of Brokenheartedness: Euthanasia, Palliative Care & Power.’  It struck me as powerful & very timely, & I’m delighted to have come across it by “fluke.”

p.p.s. here is something Jill Frayne said in her book: “People think that because it’s common for families to break up, children must weather it okay, but I don’t think they do. I work with families for a living, and for their sake and for mine I’ve held out against the idea that breakups are apocalyptic―but they are. For children, it’s an atom bomb going off, no matter how tactfully parents manage it. Family life, whatever the quality, is the medium children live in. They’re not separate from it. An individual self that can prevail, that can withstand change and loss, is a wobbly construct at the best of times. It’s theoretical or, if it exists at all, must come sometime later. Maybe by middle age we have a self. In a child it doesn’t exist. A child has no skin. When the adults come asunder, the child does too. They just do. I know this mournfulness in Bree [her daughter].” – from Starting Out in the Afternoon – a Mid-Life Journey into Wild Land, by Jill Frayne.

p.p.p.s. links for relevant items regarding NTE from Guy McPherson’s ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog:

Nov. 9/11 Three paths to near-term human extinction 

Aug. 10/12Not even a spoonful of sugar could help

Aug. 23/12Conspiracy Theories or Conspiracy Facts?

Aug. 30/12What are we fighting for? 

Sept. 19/12Let go, or be dragged 

Jan. 6/13 & frequently updated — Climate-Change Summary and Update 

April 28/13 – The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction  [Daniel A. Drumright]

May 6/13Preparing for Near-Term Extinction  [Carolyn Baker]

May 21/13On the Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction [Gary Gripp]

July 17/13 – Can We Really Walk Away from Empire?  [Carolyn Baker]

Sept. 5/13Fukushima, Climate Change, Near-Term Extinction: Resignation vs. Surrender [Carolyn Baker]

* & no doubt many more!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein (quoted in Voltaire’s Bastards, by John Ralston Saul)

Runners-up:

“You can describe the predicament that we’re in as an emergency, and your trial is to learn to be patient in an emergency.” – Wendell Berry

“So long as I breathe and have the strength to do it, I will not cease philosophizing, exhorting you, indicting whichever of you I happen to meet, telling him in my customary way: Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige – while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?” – Socrates, Greek philosopher, 469-399 B.C.

“What magnifies a voice is its human character, its compassion, honesty, and intelligence, and against the weight of things as they are the best resource is the imaginative labor of trying to tell the truth.” – Lewis Lapham, Harper’s Magazine [more truth quotes]

“When in doubt, speak the truth.” – Mark Twain [more MT quotes]

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – JFK (John F. Kennedy, U.S. President assassinated in 1963)

“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.” – William Sloane Coffin

“We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.” – Blaise Pascal in Pensées, quoted by Chris Hedges in the article on ‘The Careerists’) 

“Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you have lots fewer decisions to make.” – Joseph Campbell, quoted in the fascinating biography A Fire in the Mind – The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen [more J. Campbell quotes

“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer 

19

07 2013

Goat Therapy

<July 7/13.>

So…day 9 of a 9-day goat-sit.

What have the goats taught me? Think, think, think.

Okay, here goes:

  • The obvious ones I already knew from last year. Close all the gates, all the doors, all the time, ‘cos
  • Goats are mischievous as heck & often want to do & be what/where you don’t want them to do or be (& young males delight in jumping on your back ).
  • I may be getting to be an old geezer, but I’m not too old to learn!
  • Rules are rules & some of them make sense & are more or less immutable, but then too, there is always room for one’s individual creativity & good sense & you know?
  • Common sense can never be underestimated!
  • Intuition, also. I don’t suggest anyone ever discount her/his intuitions or gut feelings. They can even save lives!!
  • No two days are ever the same (with goats or without). The weather is different, which goat is the most pesky on any given day varies from minute to minute, even…& of course one’s moods are also ever-changing. Never the same way, never the same day, twice.
  • Mucking out stalls can be a very Zen-like, meditative experience during which some pretty interesting thoughts & even insights are likely to bubble up out of the deep.
  • It sure never pays to be smug, does it?? Just when you think you’ve got everything all figured out & “under control” (Hah! The gods laugh…), some crazy, unexpected thing will happen…as it did today when somehow, a fence I didn’t even know existed, actually, was open, & the whole darn herd romped in on me while I was mucking out stalls (doors & gates open, for airing purposes) – & these critters are devilishly challenging to roust out of places they want to be & you don’t want them to be. (See above.) 
  • Goats are bullies, too. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t nice, it makes me crazy – & you know what? It is what it is. QED. **
  • It sure pays to be assertive & stand one’s ground in this life, with goats or anywhere! Goat-wise, Bess may be determined to establish that she is the Big Boss Lady – & I have no big problem acknowledging her as the Alpha Goat Lady of this herd – but one still has to stand one’s ground & remain firm. Steady. In charge of one’s deeply-held intentions & convictions. (In relationships with children, for example, it is always wise to remember who the adult in the situation is. Ahem.)

 

Janet

** re: my use of ‘QED.’ I don’t think I understand how to use this properly – but every once in a while, I just feel like throwing it in. Bear with me. I’m just a kid, really.   

p.s. with many thanks to Olga for her phrase “goat therapy.” No question; it has been very, very therapeutic indeed!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It’s antithetical to the definition of power in this culture that a person might derive power by service rather than control, but that’s the essence of midwifery.” – Elizabeth Davis, Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, quoted in Rob Brezsny’s Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia 

 

18

07 2013

Things I’ve Managed to Figure Out

<July 4/13.>

  • I am a verrrrry slow learner. 
  • Relationships are the whole darn ball of wax in this life. You know??
  • Being single sucks (sometimes). But then, being in a mucked-up relationship no doubt sucks too. & some of the people I know are probably actually lonelier in-side their relationships, than I am without one. So there you go.
  • Learning to be grateful for what I have – as opposed to lamenting what I don’t have, or have lost (or maybe never had) – transformed my life. No word of a lie.
  • Goats are a hoot!   Wish they wouldn’t bully poor little Freddie, though. I guess goats are like people. & people are like goats. & people are like sheep. (I could go on.)
  • It’s a pretty crazy (not to say perilous, although I could say perilous) world…isn’t it?
  • Swimming is AWEsome. (So is sleeping outside in a tent.) Such simple things, eh??
  • The hanging drying rack at C & B’s is very cool.
  • CD is an absolutely amazing massage therapist. Hooey     I feel like a brand-new HB (human bean)…no kidding!
  • There is a TON of stuff on this planet I don’t have a frickin’ clue about.
  • There is still (always) so much to learn!
  • Then too, I am not dead yet. 
  • (Eeek!! In fact sometimes, I swear, I am about as dumb as a bag of hammers. Sheesh!!  )
  • Then too, I am not dead yet. (Did I already say that??) 
  • I need to take a break from e-mail from time to time. Note to world: This summer, I am going to do just that!!

 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist, once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’” – from Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser

Runners-up for Q of the day:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

“War is what happens when language fails.” ― Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

17

07 2013

Apologize. Explain.

By the time you get to be an old geezer like me, you figure out what really matters in life.

People. Family. Relationships.

(If you still think money & power are what it’s all about, you haven’t been paying attention. Get with the program, already!!)

Conversation is (in my opinion, humble or otherwise) the whole darn karmic enchilada.

If you don’t talk to people, how can they understand you? How can you understand them? How can we possibly make all these so-important relationships work??

TALK, people.

Apologize. Explain.

Pulllllleese…

(most of us are not mind-readers, you know??)

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show 

Runner-up: “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck 

Gotta love THIS one: “War is what happens when language fails.” ― Margaret Atwood

& this: “Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre LordeSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

 

04

07 2013

What did they do RIGHT??

So, I’m riding my bike home from downtown Toronto the other night, from a fun visit with 2 awesome women friends & our copious quantities of great conversation.

Unexpectedly, we talked personal stuff the whole time – not work stuff, as I had sort-of-without-really-thinking-about-it expected.

& I start thinking about the universality of all this human stuff we are all always going through.

These feelings we all feel, the ones that are so overwhelming & often, sadly debilitating & energy-draining.

  • Abandonment
  • Loss
  • Alienation / loneliness
  • Failure
  • Guilt / shame
  • Fallout from failed marriages / failed relationships / failed …whatever
  • Feeling left out, misunderstood, like a failure, like not enough, like…

 

(We’re women, okay? We women are always-always-always struggling with stuff like this. It never ends. Okay?

Well. Does it ever end for any of us??

I guess it doesn’t end for any of us. Not until The End.)

Anyway.

So I’m riding my bike, feeling a bit like a kid with a new toy (riding a bike in Toronto is pretty new to me, & I’m not young anymore, okay? So it’s kind of fun to be doing this unexpected thing at my age, & hey… I have totally loved riding a bike all my life. The feeling of freedom & mobility it brings is just so exhilarating).

And I’m starting to mentally list these human emotions I think we all feel

& feel overwhelmed by, very often

& then I think about my daughters (& my failures as a parent, with divorce right up there at the tippy-top of the list; divorce is just such a supremely galling one…if frequently unavoidable)

& then I think of how I’ve turned out

& my good qualities, or strengths (such as they are)

& what my own parents did right

(& trust me, I could fill a page or three as to all they did wrong)

& I think

“Yeah. Why don’t we all just focus for once on what went right??”

& build on that. Be thankful for that.

You know?

Just for a change. Just for something completely different. As it were.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist, once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’” – from Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Growby Elizabeth Lesser

Others that come to mind:

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, until it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the time and place that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe (quoted in Ms. Magazine, Fall 2012)

“The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (more quotes on success here ) 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 B.C. – 347 B.C.)

“Your wealth is where your friends are.” – Plato

“Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha 

** Quotes & posts on gratitude 

21

06 2013

Activism Rocks!

Sometimes it’s exhausting, frustrating, crazy or even despair-making.

(Just being 100% honest here, OK?)

Often, though, it’s exhilarating, exciting & fun!

& gives you an awesome feeling that you’re doing stuff that really matters.

& while all that is happening, it is also building community (i.e., you are making great friends!)

Listen to this!

“The Psychotherapeutic Value of Activism: Psychologist James Hillman says that taking action to correct social and economic injustice in the world can serve as powerful psychotherapy. In some cases, it may even be a more effective way to transmute one’s personal pain than talking about the pain with a therapist.” – from Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny

I rest my case.

Now, I’m going to go & rest myself.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “It’s antithetical to the definition of power in this culture that a person might derive power by service rather than control, but that’s the essence of midwifery.” – Elizabeth Davis, Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, quoted in Brezsny’s Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia

p.s. big oops! I also needed to add in this one: “A study by psychologists at the University of Sussex in Great Britain has found that taking part in campaigns, demonstrations, strikes, and protests is good for you. Interviews with activists revealed that participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria in being involved in protest events.” – quoted in Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny

p.p.s. I’ve written about activism a lot – shoot, I’m an activist & writer; it’s who I am & what I do! But I did write these others very specifically about the whys of activism…for me, anyway:

07

06 2013

Pickering Hearing – Gofman Tribute

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

*******

Still “down the rabbit hole” at the Pickering relicensing hearing (thank goodness it’s the final day!?).

I’m hearing nonsense about “safety” being bandied about by the industry. Nuclear energy safe in any possible respect?? Give me strength (it’s not about safety, & never has been — it’s all-all-all about centralized control & money money money. The industry makes HUGE profits every day of the week, & it bribes its bigshot employees with astronomical salaries. Don’t trust me on that; check out the Sunshine List!)

Got remembering all the awesome quotations of Dr. John Gofman – a brilliant, dedicated long-time foe of nuclear power (who began his career as part of it, btw — his story is a very interesting one!)

So. Enjoy these brilliant quotations lifted from Gofman’s book Irrevy (there is a blog page of these quotations here)

*******

“My particular combination of scientific credentials is very handy in the nuclear controversies, but advanced degrees confer no special expertise in either common sense or morality. That’s why many laymen are better qualified to judge nuclear power than the so-called experts.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power (from the cover of the book, which was published in 1979 by the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility)

“The pay [for the professional apologists] has to be relatively high, because the job commonly requires the sacrifice of intellectual honesty.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2007) in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 55>

“In 1979 the NRC admits the Rasmussen Report ‘greatly understated’ the range of chances for a nuclear accident. The proper translation is what nuclear critics have been saying all along, before and after the Rasmussen Report: no one has the foggiest notion what the probability is of major nuclear power accidents.” –Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 59>

 “This episode taught me never to trust people simply because they should not act against their apparent self-interest. The vastly overwhelming self-interest is the current job, with all its perquisites and privileges. Death oftheir children from cancer or leukemia is quite effectively rationalized away.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.(1918-2007) in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 63>

“The casual dumping of persistent pollutants into the biosphere by the “advanced” nations may already have cursed our descendants worldwide with a miserable load of genetic degradation. So it is almost impossible to be polite when people try to justify nuclear power by bleating forth pure fantasy about cures for whatever will ail us.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 64>

“So it is that an insane technology, from your point of view or mine, is the darling choice of the privilege elite. That the Congress & the Executive Branch of government lend their full support to this insanity is not at all surprising, once one is clear in his head that these branches of government have nothing to do with serving the best interests of the larger public. They never have had, and they don’t now.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 73>

“Perhaps you have noticed that every time a radioactive release is known to have occurred, officials announce, ‘but the amount released poses no danger to public health.’ There must, by now, be 100,000 such announcements. How many ‘small’ releases can we have and still have the total ‘small?’” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 101>

 “But I can generalize. The straightforward answer is that neither the nuclear industry nor the governmental regulatory agencies have the foggiest notion of how well or how poorly they are doing at their containment task.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 103>

 “If the laws don’t seem to be achieving the goals dreamed of by the screwees, they can turn Tweedle-dum out of office and elect Tweedle-dee. When Tweedle-dee turns out to be a carbon copy of Tweedle-dum, then there is always the privilege of electing Tweedle-dum’s cloned brother.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg.114 – see full, long item about screwers & screwees below>

“Nuclear reactors are NOT a good way to cope with our energy needs, but that fact is highly secondary and even irrelevant, because they keep the bureaucracies in business (including the regulatory bureaucracies), and they are expected to make profits for the corporations which mine and mill uranium, and which construct and operate the plants associated with the whole enterprise.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg.120>

 “The only trouble with these agencies is that they have lied so frequently and covered up so often, that they can’t even begin to keep track of their lies. There may be, somewhere in the hinterlands, some gullible souls who still believe what these agencies tell them, but certainly there is no rational reason to believe anything they say. I’ve often wondered why these agencies did not heed Gina Lollabrigida’s credo, when she said she never lies simply because it’s just too damn hard to keep track of the lies.”  – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  inIrrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg.120-121>

“I have examined the arguments of the promoters of nuclear energy, and they always boil down to the same absurdity: If everything goes perfectly, then everything will go perfectly.”  Or, “Trust us! Even though we have come close, we still have our first major city to knock over.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg 122>

 “We are treated to a remarkable spectacle. If we don’t like what is being done in our name and with our dollars, we can change things through law, by electing Tweedle-dee instead of Tweedle-dum. If we object to the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we have the fabulous privilege of “intervening” in license-hearings. Citizens are expected somehow to hire lawyers in such processes, while their tax dollars go to support an army of lawyers at the beck and call of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds. Short of direct proof that a nuclear reactor is sitting on Mount Vesuvius at the height of its eruption, there is little doubt that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will approve the site. Probably some of the Commissioners would suggest coming back next week … maybe the volcano will quiet down.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg 125>

“Control is the main attraction making nuclear power so popular with the power-privilege class of both the Soviet Union and the Western democracies. Every aspect of society is arranged, if possible, to centralize control, to guarantee the exacting of tribute from the peons of society. The control of energy supplies is just one of the manifestations of control in general. That is why decentralized solar power gets only lip-service from our rulers. One very successful way to control peons is economic blackmail. Do as we want, or you will lose your job. In general, it is not presented as bald-faced blackmail, but rather as the dictate of an impersonal economy. It is a most effective ruse, for a normal survival instinct is present in people at all levels. And not too many people out of the total are more than a few paychecks away from the breadline. There is no other way except economic blackmail to account for the scientists, the engineers, and the physicians, who know about the real hazards of nuclear power, for example, but do not speak out. Or, if they do speak out, they repeat such rubbish as, “A solution for managing radioactive poisons will be found,” or another variant like, “A cure for cancer will be found.” The panic of coping with their immediate survival requirement, which is the secure income, is so great that they construct a wall of rationalizations which prevents them from clear thinking about their own long-term welfare or that of their children, and their children.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2007) in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg 189-90>

“Nuclear power is simply incompatible with human health. That became obvious to me as a chemist and as a physician.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power<pg 203>

“I mentioned above that nuclear power starts to commit murder even before the plant goes into operation. It does so by guaranteeing that people are going to be poisoned for hundreds of thousands of years by radon and its daughter products brought to the surface of the earth in the course of mining the uranium needed to operate the nuclear plants. Had these substances remained in the bowels of the Earth, they would have done no harm.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 224>

“There is no way I can justify my failure to help sound an alarm over these activities many years sooner than I did” & added that he feels many scientists are “candidates for Nuremberg-type trials for crimes against humanity.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power<pg 227-8>

“Protest is always justified when it is the only means to make a deaf government listen.” – Dr. John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (quoted on pg. 160 in Full Body Burden – Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, by Kristen Iversen)

“If you pollute when you DO NOT KNOW if there is any safe dose (threshold), you are performing improper experimentation on people without their informed consent.  If you pollute when you DO KNOW there is NO safe dose with respect to causing extra cases of deadly cancers or heritable effects, you are committing premeditated random murder.”  John W. Gofman, Ph.D., M.D. (1918-2007), associate director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 1963-1969) — Comments on a Petition for Rulemaking to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, May 21, 1994.

“This is a recommendation for a moratorium on the construction & licensing of any new nuclear power plants, breeder and non-breeder, plus a termination of licensing of all nuclear power plants now in operation.

Obviously, those environmentalists who have worked toward making nuclear power “safe” may, at first, consider this extreme. Quite the contrary. I would suggest that continued operation of existing plants & the licensing of any new ones represents reckless extremism coupled with an abdication of man’s moral obligations, to this & future generations. I know of no valid evidence to suggest that nuclear fission power can be made acceptable or that we shall ever need nuclear fission as an energy source. And the essence of the problem at hand is moral, not technical.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2007),’Reacting to Reactors – The “peaceful atom”: Time for a moratorium’ <Nov. 25/72>

(This long item about screwers & screwees is also posted on my blog here )

“There are two fundamental groups in society, the screwers and the screwees. The screwers have all the apparatus of power, the sycophantic henchmen who do their bidding, and they have unflinching devotion to the preservation of their privileges at the expense of the screwees. Further, the screwers have enormous difficulty understanding why the screwees should ever raise any questions about the super-wonderful system which they have in place.

Generally speaking, screwees have never particularly enjoyed being overtly known as such. Therefore, a subterfuge is essential. The subterfuge which has emerged is the myth that the screwees are the ones who are really running the show, and that they do so through a democratic government. The ostensible purpose of government is to protect the rights and security of its citizens. This is done through a system of laws, drafted by hordes of those individuals we call lawyers, such laws being written as to defy comprehension by virtually anyone, but never written so as to be neutral in any conflict between the screwers and the screwees.

There is not necessarily any desire to be evil on the part of the screwers. All they want is an absolute guarantee that they can preserve and extend their privilege at the expense of the screwees. Stated otherwise, they wish to acquire an ever-increasing share of all the means of production and resources of the Earth, so that they can still further increase that share. And to these ends, we have the so-called “economy,” which through ceaseless churning, steadily allows those with power and privilege to increase both. Thus the top 19% of families owns about 76% of all the privately held wealth in the USA, while the bottom 25% has no assets at all (Dr. L.C. Thurow, M.I.T. Department of Economics). The concentration of wealth and power is such that recent estimates are that the top 5% of the American population owns more assets than does the bottom 81% combined (also Thurow).

What is manufactured in this “economy” is really quite irrelevant to the screwer-class. The only criterion is that what is manufactured be saleable at a profit. Hula hoops, arms, oil, cars, cigarettes, nuclear power plants, food, all are viewed through only one lens – can they be sold at a profit. Better still are those products which, through built-in obsolescence, can insure that the purchaser becomes locked into the system of dependence. Best of all are those products which become absolute necessities in the contemporary way of life, and which cannot possibly be made by the screwee himself. Thus, for example, nuclear power plants to create electricity are lovely, whereas small solar systems are a disaster – from the point of view of the screwers.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D, (1918-2007), in Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 113-115>

****

31

05 2013

Quotation for Today

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

<from the Pickering nuclear hearing>

The most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen, and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.” – Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, speaking recently at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa in April 2013.

The same situation prevails here in Ontario!

30

05 2013

Analogy

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

<from the Pickering nuclear hearing>

For as long as I’ve been attending Canadian Nuclear Safety (CNSC) hearings (on & off for about 6 years now), I’ve been saying that when you’re at one, you really feel as though you’ve gone down a rabbit hole (like Alice, in the Alice in Wonderland story).

Like you’re attending a Mad Hatter’s tea party.

It’s kind of hard to explain what I really mean by this (which is why I’m always saying to people that they really need to attend one themselves, to see what it’s like).

But let me give it a bash.

I think it would be a little bit like this:

Someone in a position of “authority” (e.g. parents in a family) allows the little people in the household to speak up (after they’ve done some squawking about stuff they’re pretty upset about).

Then the whole extended family (a markedly dysfunctional one, I might add) shows up & chimes in with their big authoritative voices (& their power advantages), & everyone bafflegabs things to death for an hour or 3.

Meanwhile, the energy is really kind of going out of the discussion, kind of like the air out of a balloon, & the little people are sitting there feeling kind of perplexed.

& are left thinking more or less

WTF?

WTF?

WTF?

That’s kind of the way it feels.

(but you really have to experience it for yourself!)

Janet

p.s. & then, btw, later on, Mom & Dad go on & on & on doing all that same awful stuff they were always doing. Like none of the so-called “adults” was actually really listening. ‘cos of course, they weren’t.

 

30

05 2013

Brilliant! (Arnie G. at Pickering hearing)

******** p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

<from the Pickering nuclear hearing>

Presentation by Fairewinds Associates Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen.

Former nuclear insider himself.

With an interesting history (got fired down in the U.S. for simply telling the truth)

Points out a nuke plant can have 40 good years & one bad day.

& we all know that, in the case of a nuke plant, 1 bad day is no joke.

His report for Durham Nuclear Awareness is here 

Watch the CNSC site for a Webcast of the hearing

That will be on their site for 3 months

When the written transcript becomes available in pdf format, I will post a link to it here.

Janet

p.s.  I voted Arnie ‘Man of the Year‘ & I stand by that nomination!!  

p.p.s. btw, during Mr. Gundersen’s time in discussion with the CNSC tribunal, Tribunal Prez Michael Binder had a bit of a mini-meltdown (which he is somewhat wont to do) & spoke in a very rude manner to the American nuclear expert, when Mr. Gundersen spoke about regulatory capture. Unfortunately I did not record exactly what Mr. Binder said. You can read about the global nature of regulatory capture here

 

 

30

05 2013

The Scary Thing

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

<from the Pickering nuclear hearing>

Here’s the scary thing about the people who run things on Planet Earth.

  • Governments
  • Bureaucracies
  • Corporations
  • Nuclear regulators

 

Some of us (especially a lot of us women) have had this unfortunate & lifelong tendency to believe that other people (especially males & especially people in positions of authority)

are smarter than we are

& you know what?

Some of them are

But an awful lot of them are not

A lot of them are not just as dumb as a bag of hammers (& maybe as corrupt as a terribly shocking number of our politicians & corporate types unfortunately very clearly are)

They seem to think they’re terribly-terribly clever.

& along with this self-deception on their part, comes an awfully considerable amount of arrogance.

& these are the people who run things

(& have been running things for 1000s & 1000s of years now)

It’s scary.

Janet

‘Quote of the day’: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are confident and the intelligent full of doubt.” ~ Bertrand Russell

 

 

 

30

05 2013

Pickering Hearing: 5 Questions

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicensing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

There have been a few fun & light (& definitely some inspiring) moments here today [May 29/13] so far, but altogether too often I keep feeling my blood boil.

So here are 5 questions I’d like to pose at this point (5:30 pm on Day 1):

  1. How much profit does the nuclear industry clear every day from its sales of energy from the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station?
  2. How many employees with salaries over $100,000 are there at Pickering? How many over $500,000?
  3. If the nuclear industry is as “transparent” as it claims to be, why are individuals & NGOs forced to pursue complicated FOI (freedom of information) requests, many of which never do result in the production of the information requested?
  4. Is anyone in this absurd spider web of bloated bureaucracies/bureacrats able to actually believe even a fraction of the bumph, bafflegab & bullshit that is on offer here today??
  5. How DO people sleep at night, knowing how much damage their cushy salary & lifestyle source (i.e., the nuclear industry) is doing to the planet & the health of the real, live people who suck up the nasty consequences?

 

 

Just wondering…

Janet

29

05 2013

The Easter Bunny

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

<from the nuclear hearing taking place in Pickering, Ontario>

Do you believe in the Easter bunny?

I personally lost my faith in the old EB quite a few years ago now.

But the nuclear industry & its “regulator” apparently believe in the Easter bunny still.

Looks like they think it’s OK to give OPG (Ontario Power Generation) the go-ahead (at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station) to extend the reactors’ operations beyond their 210,000-hour “design life” – & not bother worrying about the decommissioning wastes

‘cos there’s a plan for decommissioning wastes

& even though the “plan” doesn’t really exist, as a very astute intervenor group has just pointed out (it was sort of really just a half-baked idea cooked up for “financial planning purposes”)

& even the plan for a plan seems to have enough holes in it to drive a fleet of trucks through

but that’s OK, becos’ THEY believe in the Easter bunny.

(so they think you should too.)

Janet

p.s. it was FUN believing in the Easter bunny, wasn’t it?? But as someone brilliant once said, & I am merely paraphrasing, “When I became a grown-up, I had to put aside childish things.”

29

05 2013

Kangaroo Court in Session!

 

p.s. on Aug.6/13: Listen here to Fairewinds Associates Arnie Gundersen share his remarks at the Pickering relicencing hearing. Theme? 40 years & 1 bad day.

Wikipedia definition: A kangaroo court is “a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted.”

I am attending a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in Pickering, Ontario.

You can watch it via Webcast live here (not easy to locate this on CNSC Web site).

These hearings always drive me crazy really, really fast. I have a very low tolerance level for bullshit & bafflegab, & it went off the charts this morning right away, as it always does.

So far, these are the things I want to know:

  1. How much money do these kangaroo courts cost? Echo chambers for the nuclear industry & the various federal & provincial government bureaucracies that prop up the nuclear industry. How many taxpayer dollars do these stupid spectacles cost us?
  2. Why does it take SO many government departments & bureaucrats to prop up this obscenely dangerous industry? “Average” citizens would be flabbergasted to know how much government bureaucracy is devoted to providing huge quantities of resources to this hugely profitable & obscenely dangerous industry.
  3. Why does the nuclear industry get to download the response to a nuclear emergency/accident to a bewildering # of taxpayer-funded agencies, & apparently consider its own responsibilities to end at the fence line?
  4. &, of course, why does the nuke biz only have to pay out $75 million in the event of an accident (Nuclear Liability Act)??

 

There will be lots more that will make my blood boil, & having my blood boil is probably not very good for my health, so maybe it’s time I stopped attending these absurd spectacles.

Sincerely,

Janet 

p.s. they are talking all kinds of B.S. about emergency planning right now. Such SWILL is being spouted that I am in danger of bursting a blood vessel. Oh help!! 

p.p.s. lots & lots & lots of hot air & whitewash here today.

p.p.p.s. also now there have been 2 awesome citizen presenters who have done AMAZING & powerful submissions — so YAY for that!!  

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So, it is out of question to put anyone, i.e. us, the workers, the public, and the company, in a situation of risk in the nuclear realm.”  – Thierry Vandal, head of Hydro Québec

  ** lots more great nuke-related quotes here

 

 

 

 

29

05 2013

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Just sayin’.

Janet

p.s. must-read!! Chris Hedges’ latest - We, the Vast Underclass, Must Rise Up Against Global Mafia – or Die

p.p.s. thanks for making my day to those 2 people who made my day!   (the legless guy in the wheelchair who gave me a great smile & morning greeting, & the coffee shop woman I chatted with. People are still the best!!)

‘Quote of the day’:  “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

Runners-up for Q of the day:

“’Be fair,” say the temporizers, “tell both sides of the story.” But how can you be fair to both sides of a rape? Of a murder?  Of a massacre?” – Edward Abbey, “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness” 

“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

 “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen

“Growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell.” – Edward Abbey

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the worst of failures.” –  George Edward Woodberry, quoted in Reflections of Eden – My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, by Birute Galdikas (Little, Brown & Co., 1995). 

“Environmentalists have been looked on as the dreamers of the world, when in fact they are the realists.” – Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned entomologist

** GOBS of other great quotations listed in the ‘Quotation Central!‘ section.

21

05 2013

Emergency!

<April 30/13.>

So, the world is doing all the stuff it’s been doing lately.

  • Bombs
  • Plants exploding
  • Factories burning
  • Corporations continuing with the rape & pillage that is almost beyond our ability to fathom
  • Leaders threatening nuclear war
  • Myriad other instances of sheer insanity

 

It’s been a time.

It IS a time.

I sort of get the impression that a lot of people are getting that the human race is shall we say not on the most positive trajectory these days – I mean even people who perhaps didn’t get it as recently as 2 months ago.

Of course there’s long been

  • Chemical pollution
  • Ozone depletion
  • Air & water pollution
  • Habitat loss
  • Species extinction
  • Nuclear fallout & threats
  • Nastiness, war & greed

 

It isn’t as though any of this is new – it’s just that things seem to be reaching a sort of deafening crescendo that is no longer possible to shut out/deny/ignore.

So I was woken up in the night last night by the cat, & couldn’t get back to sleep.

& I started thinking about how much food there is (or more to the point isn’t) in the house right now, & decided I ought to lay in at least a few supplies.

& even make a point of always ensuring there are several days’ worth of things to eat, just in case an “emergency” of some kind should happen.

& I wondered, are most people prepared for a minor emergency? (Let alone a major one.)

I am betting many are not.

So maybe more of us should give this at least a bit of thought.

The way climate change is going, some crazy storm could come along at any time, knock out the power for a day or 3, & we might just as well be ready for that, hmmm?

Janet

p.s. after writing this, I watched the ‘Doc Zone’ documentary about volcanoes (you used to be able to watch these on-line afterward, but not anymore??) & learned that, if Yellowstone blows, we would need to have enough food set aside for 6 years. Yikes!! I had no idea Yellowstone was considered to be “overdue” for a big blowout – most enlightening!

p.p.s. most Canadian communities seem to have an emergency preparedness brochure/Web site & I have just discovered to my considerable surprise that this past week (May 5-11) was Emergency Preparedness Week here (who knew??). Maybe we need to be paying attention?? Toronto info here & Durham Region’s here.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a recent interview with Bill Moyer 

12

05 2013

Poignant Irony

How very very hard we try

not to look “crazy”

(or different, or heaven help us all, weird)

in a world gone utterly, utterly, utterly mad

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post was: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

10

05 2013

Psychopaths & Fairy Tales

So, I’ve been reading The Psychopath Test – A Journal Through the Madness Industry, by Jon Ronson.

  • Amusing
  • Fascinating
  • Disturbing
  • Frightening, actually

 

when you get to the point where the author points out that psychopaths have a tendency to “rise to the top” – so our governments, corporations & bureaucracies are rife with this very kind of (very) scary individual.

Psychopaths have no conscience or morality, no empathy with their fellow human beings, an utter lack of remorse for whatever acts or crimes they commit, and “shallow affect” to boot (i.e., they don’t seem to feel things deeply that other humans do). We can all think of some outstanding, horrible crimes & their perpetrators, & fervently hope these criminals will be locked up forever.

Many psychopaths will probably never be locked up at all, unfortunately. (Use your imagination as to whom I might have in mind when I cast my eyes about Canada & the world in general.)

I know I have (personally) met a psychopath or two in my life over the past, oh, 4 or 5 decades, & they certainly do give one pause.

Pause.

I feel somewhat foolish, truth to tell, that I did not intuit decades ago that our world has for far too long had too many psychopaths in charge of too many things (& people, & countries). I feel I’ve suffered a dangerous case of Terminal Naivete. (I also believe I am far from being alone in this.)

I recall recently coming across a really disturbing Chris Hedges article, “The Careerists,” in which he suggests that our increasingly insane & dangerous world is run by people trained to coldly & thoughtlessly keep the machine going – seemingly with no concern for those being hurt or killed, whether it was the Jews (& others) slaughtered in World War II, or those being murdered or gang-raped or exploited or starved in countries too numerous to name, right now, right now, as we speak.

Brilliant article! Very sobering. Very sobering indeed.

Which brings us nicely along to

Fairy Tales

So, I think too many of us think we are somehow miraculously entitled to some sort of privileged little storybook life – that we can expect to live our lives as some kind of personal little fairy tale. Kiss the prince(ss). Live happily ever after. Comfort & sanity guaranteed forever.

I wonder if some of us think we were born into that kind of privilege. Perhaps by virtue of our gender? Or that we can buy (or marry) our way in, with money &/or social class &/or by way of exercising power/control over others, one way or another.

In some ways, I feel as though at a certain point in my own life, I did lead a fairy-tale-ish existence, & there is this peculiar thing with any kind of privilege or entitlement – one can come to believe almost that one is entitled to it. As though one has somehow earned it.

I suspect this kind of thinking takes place beneath consciousness. I think we have to deliberately become conscious of these unconscious assumptions & privileges we lug around with us.

Meanwhile, the world is shouting at us to be aware of the psychopaths &/or bloodless bureaucrats & “careerists” who make things keep ticking – & not, shall we say, in a positive way.

And now, here we find ourselves!

In a world in which

  • Our air is full of killer pollutants
  • Our oceans acidified due to climate change. Coral reefs dying, fish stocks overfished
  • Earth & soils/crops filled with poisons/pesticides
  • Fertility-destroying agents present in our air, water & soils
  • Factories/corporations run on exceedingly shoddy practices, with workers exploited shamelessly so we in the privileged west can eat & clothe ourselves cheaply
  • Unsafe nuclear plants (watched over by unreliable regulators) with this scary propensity to go ballistic on us at any moment
  • Some populations being subjected to dangerous radioactive fallout or waste, from big accidents or long-term chronic exposures (think Chernobyl, Fukushima, Port Hope here in Ontario)
  • Governments of so-called “democratic” countries behaving ever more like pretty scary dictators
  • Climate change positively galloping away on us
  • Canada’s shame, the tar sands: the rape of the century – proceeding apace in so-called gentle & lovely Canada (Hah!)

 

& I don’t know about you, Readers, gentle or otherwise

but it seems to little old Pollyanna me to be getting harder & harder by the day to think about long-term ANYthing.

It’s a bleak picture. Can’t candy-coat it for you, I’m afraid.

I’ll tell you what I’m continuing to focus on, every day. My priorities for coping in these stressful times.

  • Gratitude for what I have
  • Remembering to live in the present moment (it takes effort!! I have to keep working at it, all the time all the time all the time **)
  • Activism/work that is meaningful to me (not financially remunerative, in my own case, as it happens – but very meaningful & rewarding, all of it aimed at making the world a safer, saner place. Much of this blog is really dedicated to the world of activism!)
  • Simple joys (e.g. walking, bike rides, a cold beer on a hot day, reading great books)
  • Hanging out with the people I care about the most

 

A day at a time, a day at a time, a day at a time…

Janet

p.s. just finished reading a quite amazing, disturbing, enlightening memoir by Ashley Judd called All That is Bitter and Sweet. Not always an easy read, I have to say, given its chilling subject matter about women in developing countries subject to the slave trade, forced prostitution, AIDS, poverty, rape, etc. No, the subject matter is not easy to take. But it’s a book I’m glad I read. Ashley Judd is a woman not born into privilege – who earned her way into the life of a movie star after a challenging childhood, yet who now spends a huge amount of her life energy working with others on behalf of women so horrendously treated it makes you shudder to think about their daily realities. Hard to read, but so glad I read it! (& yes! I borrowed it from my local library, where I get so many wonderful books!)

** writers & spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle & Pema Chödrön provide wonderful, practical tips for this being-in-the-moment stuff… They’ve helped me tremendously & I’ve blogged about both of them any # of times.

‘Quote of the day’: “There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.” ~ Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. 

Runners up for Q. of the Day: 

“We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.” – Blaise Pascal in Pensées, quoted by Chris Hedges in the article on ‘The Careerists’) 

“…the idea of work – work, with its immense banality – strikes me as so absurd I wonder how the economy lurches on. Does anyone, anywhere, perform daily tasks of value? Even doctors treat boredom and loneliness as much as any real physical complaint. What do the rest of us do? Make useless shit to sell to each other so we can buy more useless shit. I buy a venti latte so the Starbucks employee can buy Billy Blank’s Boot Camp workout so Billy Blank can buy a new Volt so a GM exec – my brother, for instance – can rent a Yo Gabba Gabba bounce house for the kids’ party. And so on. Where along this line is anything necessary, anything of true human benefit, accomplished?” – from A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins (2012)

“We Americans are locked in an asylum for the criminally insane with the criminally insane, and they are armed to the hilt. We are in a dangerous place. Yet we continue to call ourselves free. Psychosis and delusion is not freedom.” – Charles Sullivan in ‘Contesting the Systems of Power’ 

“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in an interview with Bill Moyer  that I blogged about here

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller

“Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” – Hannah Arendt 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White, physician (1886-1973)

“Two centuries of philosophers stand in opposition to the modern American recipe for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t amuse yourself in. You can’t even expect falling in love to deliver you. The most promising way to happiness is, perhaps, through creativity, through literally creating a fulfilling life for yourself by identifying some unique talent or passion and devoting a good part of your energy to it, forever.” ~ Kalle Lasn/Bruce Grierson in Utne Reader (many good quotes about work & purpose here

“Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre LordeSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

** More awesome Audre Lorde quotes

07

05 2013

Libraries (& windmills)

I’ve been saying for years now that I think the library is humankind’s most civilized invention.

I mean it!

Libraries provide equal access to books (& learning) to any & all who wish to take advantage. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, what your skin colour or background is, or what your religious or political views (or utter lack thereof) are.

The books are there for everyone!

I’ve been a huge fan (& regular user) of libraries ever since I was taught to read in Grade 1.

Books to me are like … hmmm. Like breath, almost. Books (& words, & conversation) are life!

Libraries not only provide patrons with a wild array of fascinating reading materials, they also provide a safe (& quiet, although perhaps less so than formerly) haven for anyone who needs one. I know more than one person who firmly believes libraries kept her alive during a very very challenging time as a teen-ager.

Yesterday at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival I saw the Ben Nabors documentary “William and the Windmill” – a fascinating story about a Malawian boy who “builds a windmill from junk and rescues his family from famine.”

William had to leave school in his early teens because his parents (farmers coping with famine) were unable to pay for him to stay. He began visiting the library, where he picked up a book about energy, & the rest, as they say, is history! And a fascinating tale it is, too, of resourcefulness, resilience, generosity, energy, hard work & inspiration.

Libraries (am I repeating myself??) are surely the most civilized achievement of our species.

Long live libraries!!

Janet

p.s. I too had some challenges as a kid growing up, & feel libraries & reading pretty much saved my butt. I have the warmest memories of the library in the small town I grew up in. And how I looked forward with excitement to the visits of the Bookmobile that came to our school!

p.p.s. I’ve heard some people complain about this library or that library, or for that matter, this bookstore or that bookstore. My own take is, I’ve never met one I didn’t like. They’re full of books; what else matters??

‘Quote for the day’: “A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka 

** lots of recommended reading here & here & great quotations under the heading ‘Quotation Central.’

29

04 2013

The Moral Crisis of Our Age

I’m a long-time fan of activist/scientist/cancer survivor/poet/writer Dr. Sandra Steingraber.

Oh yeah.

Just watched a Bill Moyer interview with her here

& was moved to tears by her so-inspiring words/actions within 10 minutes.

Please watch.

This woman is a heroine. A mother, scientist, & also a person who is serving 15 days in jail for a trespassing offence – protesting fracking in New York State (non-violent civil disobedience, btw — nothing violent or crazy, I assure you!).

Ms. Steingraber is simply brilliant, which I’ve known for quite some time. Also, she is integrity personified.

An amazing heroine for our time. I personally am moved by her words & actions well beyond what I can possibly articulate here.

Especially as a mother. What she says about her role as a mother in these unprecedented times, all mothers need to hear.

Please watch, listen…& then act!

Janet

p.s. what is the moral crisis of our age? The environmental crisis. Watch the interview all the way through, & hear Steingraber talk about the “end of the world symphony” & what your role in this symphony might best be. Do you want to be a “good German” … or a member of the French Resistance? The choice is yours.

p.p.s. sooooo much wisdom is shared in this interview. You simply must watch it!!! (& then, share it around like crazy!!!!!)

p.p.p.s. thanks, DGR, for sending me the link to this interview!!

p.s. #4: a letter from Sandra S. in jail, here

 

22

04 2013

Revolution

It’s been a revolutionary sort of time!

Last week I watched ‘Whispers of Revolution.’  Loved it, learned lots.

Monday night a group I’m involved with showed ‘The 4th Revolution – Energy Autonomy.’ I love that film!!  (Have seen it about 5 times; love it every time!)

Last night I attended a Toronto screening of the Rob Stewart film ‘Revolution.’

It’s a Wow kind of film – must-see!

Filmmaker Rob Stewart is a passionate ocean-lover – has been since he was 9 years old.

He discovered in recent years that the oceans are acidifying (due to carbon deposition & all tied in with climate change). Coral reefs dying & species being depleted by over-fishing, pollution & acidification.

Passionate about the way sharks are disappearing due to overfishing, he made the film ‘Sharkwater‘ in 2007.

which has helped the movement to slow global consumption of shark fins.

His brand-new film ‘Revolution’ is a stunning panorama of beautiful ocean & forest scenes, accompanied by explanations of ocean acidification, climate change, species loss & environmental destruction of all kinds. Many insights & calls for action from leading scientists from all over the world.

& scenes of activism/activists who are changing the world, changing the narrative.

It concludes with super-inspiring footage about youth activists passionate about preserving a future for us all.

& a success story of a class of kids in Saipan, who got local politicians to take action to stop the heedless destruction of sharks for their fins.

As I watched I felt devastated by scenes of shark slaughter & the news of 400 dead zones in the ocean; tar sands rape footage, which always sickens me (& has moved me to protest & be arrested twice now).

Then I realized the film is not a funeral dirge, it’s a celebration – of the world’s beauty, of the beauty of human beings coming together all over the world to change how things are done. Outstanding individuals, awesome & inspiring collective action.

Please watch the film! It’s showing in locations across Canada right now. Check it out!

Janet 

p.s. I love what the brilliant Van Jones says near the end of the film. “Be unreasonable,” he says. Be guided by your emotions – by your heart. Be unreasonable. Have unreasonable dreams & expectations. Yes!!

p.p.s. “If you go to one movie this year, it must be Revolution.” – David Suzuki testimonial 

p.p.p.s. I neglected to mention that this film has won a whack of awards:

  • Best Documentary at the Atlantic Film Festival
  • Best Documentary runner-up at the Toronto International Film Festival
  • Most Popular Environmental Film Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival
  • Audience Award at the Victoria Film Festival &
  • The fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film , Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

 

 

 

12

04 2013

The Most Dangerous Man in America

This is the title of a tremendously inspiring documentary I watched with a friend the other night.

It’s the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 released “the Pentagon papers” & changed the course of American, & world, history.

You can watch the 2009 documentary here. (If you like, catch a short Woody Harrelson testimonial on the film & on Daniel Ellsberg here )

Ellsberg was a U.S. government insider in the Defense Dept. & the Rand Corporation, who during the 60′s helped fuel the flames of the Vietnam War. After being on the ground in Vietnam & seeing with his own eyes both how the lies of U.S. President Nixon were bearing evil fruit in destruction, tragedy & death for the people of Vietnam (2 million of whom were killed) & the American soldiers who fought there, Ellsberg began to deeply regret his own part in perpetuating it, & to actively oppose it.

The Rand Corporation had been ordered to conduct a massive study of the War by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (this unbeknownst to his boss, President Nixon) in which the truth of the war was laid bare. President after president had carried out a huge conspiracy of secrecy & lies, & the war kept being escalated basically as a face-saving exercise for the U.S. government. The revelations in this Rand Corporation study are what later became known as the Pentagon Papers.

The Ellsberg story is one of conscience, courage, conviction

Action & atonement

Personal responsibility

Truth-telling

Did I already mention courage??

Ellsberg gave up his career & risked life imprisonment for his principled decision to leak the Pentagon Papers to the U.S. media. At one point, he was threatened with a sentence of up to 115 years for the various charges levelled against him for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the press.

Along the way, circumstances, people & conversations had made him realize that he was prepared to go to jail in order to stop the immoral Vietnam War.

As he says at one point in the documentary, “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.”

Ellsberg’s personal courage inspired courage in others. As it turned out, his ccourt case was ultimately dismissed due to government misconduct & illegal evidence-gathering.

Soon, the Watergate scandal brought Nixon down. Funding to continue the war was finally stopped, & Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment.

Apparently, the Pentagon Papers court case over the rights of the press to publicize materials the government does not want published is cited daily in current 1st Amendment court cases.

What Daniel Ellsberg chose to do – as an individual acting out of his conscience – is huge, & bore huge consequences.

****

I don’t know about you, but I find I need to be inspired over & over again. I get mighty discouraged at times, & lately has been one of them. I won’t bore you with a sad song & dance about how the current state of the environmental crisis & the utter corruption of our government makes me despair at times. (I live in Canada, but governments everywhere tend to be corrupt. Not that I am minimizing how corrupt Canada’s federal government is; it sickens me utterly.)

With nuclear threats, tar sands rape & pillage & pipeline building & potential leakage & accidents, the sickness of fracking & sundry other frightful & literally sickening issues grabbing my attention constantly, I’ve been finding my spirits a little low of late.

This documentary – & the life & example of Daniel Ellsberg (who by the way has spent his adult life opposing war, working for social justice, & occasionally being arrested to back up his convictions) came for me at just the right time.

It’s Easter weekend, & while I am not a religious (or even “spiritual”) person, I do pay attention to this annual reminder of re-birth & resurrection – the ever-renewable nature of the cycle of life to burst forth, flower abundantly, die back, lay dormant, then spring forth once more.

I personally view resurrection as the potential each new day brings us.

I was overdue to have my spirits resurrected, & this film is helping!

Ellsberg reminds us we all have our own consciences to heed, our own personal actions to take.

He reminds us that what we each do does matter very much, & that each of us can inspire others with our own choice to act out our convictions.

That we can each do as Daniel Ellsberg has done, & always choose “the highest right” action – regardless of the consequences. Like him, we can choose to put a priority on conscience, rather than on career.

That if we associate ourselves with people like those in the U.S. government who never asked “Is this the right thing to do?” it is time for us to resurrect our own conscience & convictions.

& finally, that there is never any replacement for the power of making things personal. This means exposing ourselves to the people who are bearing the consequences of our possibly rather heedless decisions. It seems to be something that those in power are quite practiced at not doing. It’s at least one key element of the constellation of circumstances that set Daniel Ellsberg on his world-changing mission.

We seem to need endless reminders that individuals have enormous potential to change the world.

Thank you, Daniel Ellsberg!! So glad I watched this documentary, learned your story, & can now add another hero to my list of people to admire for outstanding, stellar examples of courage in action!

Janet 

p.s. quotes on conscience & courage.

p.p.s. Ellsberg published an absolutely fascinating article for Hiroshima Day 2009 entitled ‘America has been asleep at the wheel for 64 years.’ It discusses (among other things) how Ellsberg intially lost his faith in the infallibility of authority figures, & how he & his father wound up making huge revelations to one another almost by “fluke,” in conversation, many years after critical life events & historical world events had taken place. Also, how his father was inspired by the young Daniel’s reaction to nuclear war after having read John Hersey’s book Hiroshima shortly after its publication. It’s a very moving and thought-provoking article.

p.p.p.s. it is possible you may enjoy the posting ‘Quote of the Year 2010‘ – the quote is a true stunner, & there is at least one amazing article link you’d likely find of interest.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The courage we need is not the courage, the fortitude to be obedient in the service of an unjust war, to help conceal lies, to do our job by a boss who has usurped power & is acting as an outlaw government. It is the courage at last to face honestly the truth & reality of what we are doing in the world, & act responsibly to change it.” – Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, in the documentary ‘The Most Dangerous Man in America.”

Runner-up for Q. of the Day: “No matter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, TURN BACK!” – source unknown

 

31

03 2013

Helen Caldicott Symposium Summary (March 2013)

** this summary written by Hattie Nestel & re-produced here with permission.

‘The Medical & Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident,’ March 11 & 12 2013, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York City. Sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation & Physicians for Social Responsibility.

My battery is totally recharged! It was more than stimulating to be in a like-minded crowd that was totally onboard with the mission: end nuclear power & create a renewable energy future. I am so glad I went. Thank you all who encouraged & supported my going. So, here is my report.

There were some 200 in the audience in rapt silence as many videographers recorded more than 25 presentations about the March, 2011 meltdowns of the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daichi nuclear reactors. The catastrophe was examined by leading world experts in radiation biology, epidemiology, oceanography, nuclear engineering & nuclear policy. The talks were insightful, well-researched, poignant & based on solid science & medical practice. And quite understandable for some in the audience, like me, who have none of these backgrounds.

Both days started promptly at 9 AM & ended promptly at 6:30 PM. During each morning & afternoon coffee break, there was a great buzz as we met people from all over the world, including Ukraine, Australia, Japan, Canada, & all over the US.

The conference opened with a video sent by & featuring former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was in office when the catastrophe of the Fukushima meltdowns occurred. Mr. Kan stressed that design flaws & human error caused the meltdowns. Mr. Kan stated emphatically that nuclear power cannot co-exist with human life & must be abolished worldwide. Mr. Kan said releases of cancer-inducing Cesium-137 amounted to 400 to 500 times the releases of the Hiroshima bomb & that radioactive releases continue from the site. Despite TEPCO’s wish to the contrary, Mr. Kan said he made the difficult decision to require workers to remain on site in order to contain the catastrophe.

Mr. Kan emphasized that Fukushima is a man-made catastrophe which was engineered by GE & sold to Japan by the US

Dr. Alexey Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Sciences drew a standing ovation as he explained his unique methodology for assessing cancer incidence from the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown & his book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.

Dr. Yablokov has concluded that official estimates including the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) & Soviet & Russian governments underestimate both mortality & cancers caused by radiation from Chernobyl.

Before Monday’s lunch, we heard testimony from two US Navy veterans, Jaime Plym & Maurice Enis, who are among 5,000 sailors caught in Fukushima’s radiation fallout aboard the USS Ronald Reagan just off shore of the meltdowns for 80 days. The veterans were given no protective gear, no potassium iodine pills, & no information that they were being exposed to high levels of radiation. Before disembarking the ship, they were ordered to sign papers saying they were in good health & agreed they would not sue the US for any heath problems they might experience in the future. They say they now suffer serious health problems & no health insurance to cover their medical bills. With other Navy personnel who accuse TEPCO of providing “false and misleading information” about Fukushima while being “aware that the potential health risk was greater than its agents were reporting.” (See CBS News report: ‘Navy Vets Say Fukushima Meltdown Made Them Sick’ 3/11/13).

During Tuesday’s lunch break, we heard from several Japanese women about societal & medical effects of Fukushima on Japanese family & culture. The women cite the Japanese government’s failure to inform citizens of the real dangers & further note the Japanese government’s failure adequately to compensate citizens for loss of property. Further, the Japanese media failed to investigate & report on the Fukushima disaster in timely fashion. The women are worried about their health & the health of their children since the meltdowns.

Many speakers pointed out that there was little planning for the possibility of a disaster of the magnitude of the Fukushima meltdowns. There will undoubtedly be long-lasting & serious health effects incurring DNA damage going forward for many, many generations.

The consensus of speakers acknowledges no possible remediation of widespread high levels of contamination. Any genuine clean-up would be impossibly expensive & time-consuming. It is clear that there is nowhere to put enormous amounts of contaminated soil, water & debris. In addition, the 80% of radiation that leaked into the Pacific is irretrievable: even if we COULD clean things up, it is too late. The horse is out of the barn.

The physicians stressed their oath, “Above all, do no harm.” Prevention is the most important thing. Nuclear energy’s capacity to do damage is beyond human control, & the only way to prevent harm is to abolish nuclear power.

Others spoke of the failure of US engineers when they sited the Fukushima reactors in a high-level earthquake area with a long history of tsunamis, some of them measurable at considerable height. To provide easier road access to the reactors, Fukushima developers blasted a natural cliff sea wall down from 30 feet to 10 feet with a 14-foot man-made sea wall. The 2011 tsunami crested to 46 feet & flooded basement diesels so that they could no longer provide auxiliary power, thus leading to the meltdowns.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen spoke of economic pressures to curb costs, thus undermining the stringency of inspections, oversight, & maintenance. As in the United States, Japanese oversight agencies often draw from the nuclear industry. Oversight agencies are, therefore, corrupted by close ties. Mr. Gundersen also mentioned that spent fuel rods stored at Fukushima in dry casks on site were unharmed by the effects of the earthquake & tsunami. Spent fuel stored in pools high above the ground portend much more danger, but as at United States nuclear plants, TEPCO resisted putting rods in casks because of the cost: about $1.2 million each.

Mr. Gundersen further reported that Fukushima radiation monitors recorded 30,000 times the usual background radiation yearly dose in 10 minutes on March 12, although those readings were not made public at that time. Mr. Gundersen visited Tokyo in November, 2012 & took soil samples. He found the soil he measured contained radioactive hot spots.

Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum called Fukushima a foreseeable disaster in large measure because of its flawed design. Because of the flawed design, including basement back-up generators flooded by the tsunami, Fukushima’s reactors were without necessary auxiliary power for 9 days. Therefore, fuel rods heated up to meltdown without pumps to circulate cooling water.

In the immediate wake of the meltdowns, there was a muddled chain of command & a climate of profound cover-up.

Many speakers noted the acknowledged flawed design of Fukushima’s GE Mark 1 boiling water reactors. GE itself described the design’s deficiencies in the early 70s, but reactors modeled on the prototype were nevertheless installed in many places, including Fukushima & more than 30 US sites, many of them still operating. Akin to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Japan’s oversight agency is corrupted by the industry it purports to regulate, according to many of the symposium’s speakers.

It is notable that if the Japanese government acknowledged the true extent of radiation contamination, compensating the millions of affected people and businesses would bankrupt the country.

Presenters observed that the US has 63 military installations throughout the Japanese islands with some 60,000 military dependants including men, women, & children. These people, too, are potentially eligible for compensation & evacuation if the extent of contamination were to be honestly acknowledged.

Maps of radiation from Fukushima demonstrate a variable path because of prevailing winds, uneven concentrations, & fickle meteorological conditions. One thing is clear: more radiation will leak from Fukushima and, if Reactor 4 is not contained, future leakage will occur.

Some speakers shared studies of radiation exposure demonstrating that women, children, & especially fetuses are much more vulnerable than young men to damage & possible cancers from radiation exposure, although the standard for measuring harm from radiation is young men. Other studies show high infant mortality rates in both Japan & the US west coast at almost precisely nine months after the disaster, a phenomenon also observed within nine months of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.

Presenters also charged that International Atomic Energy Agency & World Health Organization statistics from the Fukushima tragedy understate its extent.

“The Fukushima crisis is actually an issue of global public health,” said Dr. Caldicott in her concluding remarks. “We are already observing a demonstrable, increased incidence of thyroid abnormalities in children in the Fukushima Prefecture. This may be an early indicator of an eventual increased incidence of thyroid cancers.

“Further, plumes of radioactivity from Fukushima are currently migrating in the Pacific Ocean towards the West Coast [of the U.S.],” Dr. Caldicott added. “The crisis is far from over . . . and worst of all, Fukushima Daichi’s Building #4, which holds 100 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, was seriously damaged in the earthquake & could collapse in another quake. This would cause the fuel pool to burn, releasing even more massive amounts of radiation. All of these have profound medical & public health implications.”

Dr. Caldicott implored her audience to work for a renewable energy future well within our ability to achieve. “Within nine months of Pearl Harbor,” she observed, “the United States completely re-tooled its industry to make war. It would be entirely possible within nine months, for the US to completely re-tool its industry to make & install solar panels & wind turbines to replace fossil-fuel & nuclear energy sources.”

Dr. Caldicott also encouraged conservation & urged people to examine their lifestyles, turning off their dryers, hang clothes on clotheslines, & develop mindfulness of energy-hogging lifestyles.

** Many thanks to Hattie Nestel for this thorough summary of the Symposium!

 For videos of the proceedings: 

Webcast here (if you click on the ‘Play’ button, it will show you the list of presenters. You can jump to the ones that you most want to see/hear)

Some short YouTubes (right-hand side of page)

1 hour Karl Grossman interviews

Former Japanese PM’s remarks 

24

03 2013

Fukushima: Making it Personal (March 2013)

** Other posts about the symposium on this blog: ‘Helen Caldicott for Woman of the Year!‘ ‘Quotations from the Symposium‘ & ‘Helen Caldicott Symposium Summary.’

Some short YouTubes of presenters  ++ 1-hour Karl Grossman interviews with some presenters 

** Entire Webcast of the Symposium is now available 

*******

A week ago (March 11/12th), I was in New York City to attend the 2-day Helen Caldicott ‘Medical & Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident’ symposium.

I learned plenty!

The line-up of speakers was wildly impressive – an incredible array of scientists, MDs, people from Russia & Japan, including Japan’s former PM (by video, in his case) — many nuclear experts. (All listed here).

Nuclear technology is complicated, & nuclear matters can be made to seem so complex the “average person” can’t fathom them at all.

When you boil it right down though, it’s really quite simple.

Nuclear energy is a technology that is simply too dangerous to keep going.

What became clear to me at the Caldicott symposium last week is something I seem to keep needing to be reminded of over & over & over again (whichever issue I happen to be working on, btw).

We always need to remember to make it personal.

The speakers who were there from Japan helped make it very personal for me.

Here is some of what they shared:

  • In the early days of the accident, both some children & some adults had nosebleeds & fever (even as far away as Tokyo)
  • People are absorbing dangerous levels of radiation from air, water, soil & food
  • This applies to children
  • Who are already being seen to have thyroid nodules at a disturbing rate
  • The government is lying to its people
  • There is no safe way to handle all the radioactive waste
  • People are returning to areas with dangerous levels of radiation
  • This includes children!
  • Who have to be kept inside, cooped up like captive animals
  • Relationships are cracking & breaking under all the strain
  • Families are being destroyed
  • Women are encountering high levels of domestic abuse

 

& yet the “nuclear village” is determined to crank up, once again, its earth- & people- & life-destroying nuclear plants.

There is not only no “easy” solution to the problems facing Japan & its people, post-Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is really no solution at all. But some things are just insane.

Cranking up the nukes again is the absolute OPPOSITE of a solution or sane response.

& you know what?

All of this could happen here.

It can happen anywhere this unforgiving, unforgivable, unbelievably dangerous technology is in use.

***

KISS.

The KISS principle = Keep It Simple, Stupid

I have a proposal for a new guiding principle for what we loosely call “civilization.”

Let us always, always, always

Do what’s best for the kids.

All of the kids.

Janet

p.s. with many thanks to AB, whose parents were wise enough to be guided by this simple, sane principle. Imagine the amazing-ness of having parents so sensible, unselfish & wise. Boggles the mind, really (although it shouldn’t!).

p.p.s. “Seeing is believing.” This too is very simple & basic. It was seeing the impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear accident that was a game-changer for David Freeman (which I learned by watching the Karl Grossman interviews from last week’s symposium here)

p.p.p.s. So. 3 simple, 3-word phrases:

  • Keep it simple (don’t let the nuclear industry bafflegab you with its fancy, complex talk).
  • Seeing is believing (take a look at the heartbreaking images of Chernobyl’s damaged children, for one small example)
  • Make it personal (the people affected in Chernobyl & Fukushima are people just like you & me. With families & jobs & so on. This could be us, & our lives too!)

 

p.s. # 4: So, what to do?? Get active. As was said over & over & over again at the symposium, we need to prevent any more accidents from happening. This will only happen with a ton of active voices & bodies, raising a ruckus. Apathy is deadly, didn’t you know?? Check this list for groups to help, & start helping!! (Tons of great motivating, get-you-off-your-butt quotations here) Also, if this is an option for you, visit the people in Fukushima. Twice now I have been told that people there want very much to be visited by people from other parts of the world. Such visits would accomplish at least 2 things I can think of right off the top of my head: decrease the feelings of abandonment & isolation of the people there who undoubtedly do feel abandoned & isolated, & create ambassadors who will return home prepared to work for a saner, safer world for us all.

Quotes for Today:

” …the fears and dangers of radioactive fallout… Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard—and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby—who may be born long after we are gone—should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent.” — John F. Kennedy, July 26, 1963

”All nuclear power plant systems, structures, components and personnel are potential sources of failures and malfunctions. Problems can arise from defects in design, manufacturing, installation and construction; from testings, operational, and maintenance errors; from explosions and fires; from excessive corrosion, vibration, stress, heating, cooling, radiation damage, and other physical phenomena; from deterioration due to component aging, and from externally-initiated events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and sabotage.” – Daniel F. Ford (from a Stop Plant Vogtle brochure)

“Child-bearing women (or women intending to have children) shouldn’t live within 5 kilometres of nuclear reactors. Woman and nuclear facilities don’t really mix.” – Dr. Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist

 

19

03 2013

The F Word

<Dec. 25/12.>

  • Family
  • Friends / Friendship / Friendliness
  • Fellowship
  • Faith
  • Forthright
  • Freedom
  • Forgiveness
  • Food
  • Fun!
  • Full

 

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

** More awesome Audre Lorde quotes

Tags:

17

03 2013

Greedy Lying Bastards

Now there’s a film title for you, eh???

Just saw it last night at the Bloor Hot Docs theatre in Toronto.

An exposé on the big climate change deniers (the top 2 of which are the wildly wealthy/influential Koch brothers & Exxon Mobil) & their tactics, lies & games.

Greedy lying bastards. Pretty apt description, I gotta say.

Using the same game as the tobacco industry did – only this time around, it’s the entire planet that is burning up as a result of corporate (& political) greed & manipulation.

Footage of homes burning…tornadoes…flooding. Interviews with some victims of these devastating events.

The Pacific island of Tuvalu, which will have to re-locate its inhabitants. A town in Alaska, already embarked on evacuation (& wholesale cultural destruction) … thanks to climate change impacts.

A plea at the end of the film to become involved. With a recommendation to visit here & find out more.

Nice touch at the end of the film, when the director was contacted via Skype & answered questions from the audience.

Well worth checking it out!! (probably coming soon to a city near you…)

Janet

p.s. there is of course plenty you/we can all do to help put the brakes on climate change & also, most importantly, put pressure on politicians. Here are a few things I personally have chosen to do:

  • compost/reduce/reuse/recycle
  • consume less, conserve more
  • get arrested for climate change/tar sands-related actions/civil disobedience
  • make a personal pledge to stop flying (I’ve broken it once so far, since I made it in 2007, I think it was)
  • own a small, very fuel-efficient vehicle
  • turn out lights
  • turn down the heat
  • use a clothesline & clothesline rather than a dryer
  • walk, ride a bike, carpool, use public transportation

 

There is undoubtedly more I could be doing, but it sure does feel good to do the things I am doing.

As a young man said to me recently (when I was buying yet another clotheshorse), good habits are hard to break. Wouldn’t it be cool if more of us developed more of the good ones?

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “You can be absurd and reject the science; you can be reckless and say we can adapt to whatever happens; or you can be unethical and disregard the future.” – former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, speaking of Canadian Premier Stephen Harper’s refusal to legislate to slow climate change.

** tons of other great climate change-related quotes linked to on the page here 

Runner-up for Q. of the Day: “The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.” – Molly Ivins

 

16

03 2013

Helen Caldicott for Woman of the Year! (March 2013)

** p.s. on March 21/13: Webcast of the Symposium is now available here

** p.s. on March 18/13: great interviews here with several speakers from the symposium. An hour of insights about Fukushima, Chernobyl, renewable energy, disproportionate impacts of radiation on women & children, the links between nuclear energy & nuclear weapons, David Freeman admission that “Seeing is believing” (from his trip to Chernobyl in 1991). Plus 2 interviews with Japanese women. Must-see!!

****

Helen Caldicott gets my vote for Woman of the Year.

Maybe Woman of the Decade (or several decades!).

Dr. Caldicott has been raising a ruckus about all things nuclear for decades now. Look it up! She’s done more to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear energy than anyone I can think of.

I’m in New York City right now – I came to attend the symposium Dr. C. organized to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Check out Dr. Caldicott’s Web site. I understand that video proceedings of the symposium will be posted soon on this site.

I’d say more (I am very seldom at a loss for words), but am feeling pretty fried right now (also my laptop is just about out of juice).

So watch her site & listen/watch to some of the talks given by people who are the real experts on the whole nuclear scene.

Dr. Caldicott said “The Earth is in the Intensive Care Unit now. and we are all physicians to save the planet. Will we dedicate our lives, like a lioness protecting her cubs?” I think she’s bang on.

David Freeman (former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority & a humdinger of a feisty character) advised us to “kill them [nuclear plants] before they kill us.” He also said “The road to the bomb is the nuclear power plant.”

A great deal of wisdom & good advice were shared during this 2-day symposium – absolutely brilliant speakers. Some doctors, many scientists – a full array of amazingly knowledgeable people took part in this event (all listed here) — including several speakers from Japan. Their words were very moving to hear, & I will confess, I shed quite a few tears in my time at the symposium. (I believe in this I was not alone.)

We all need to listen up!

Janet

p.s. At this link you can find some YouTubes of some of the symposium speakers (look over to the right).

p.p.s. other postings about the 2-day symposium: Fukushima: Making it Personal Quotations from the Symposium

& Helen Caldicott Symposium Summary; great summary of the whole thing!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Child-bearing women (or women intending to have children) shouldn’t live within 5 kilometres of nuclear reactors. Woman and nuclear facilities don’t really mix.” – Dr. Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist

** many other great nuke-related quotes here

13

03 2013

International Women’s Day 2013

International Women’s Day seems like the perfect time to share information about a really inspiring interview I heard the other day.

Canadian journalist/activist Sally Armstrong was interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti on ‘The Current,’ to talk about her just-released book The Ascent of Women.

Armstrong has long been an advocate for women all over the world, & has been particularly active in Afghanistan.

I recall hearing her speak some years ago now (2003, maybe??) & encouraging women to host potluck dinners to raise funds to pay for teachers’ salaries in Afghanistan. A friend & I gladly did this & our friends happily joined us to raise the small amount of money needed to pay for a teacher’s salary for a year. What a simple thing to do! What could be more fun than having a potluck dinner that you know will benefit women halfway around the world?? I’d forgotten about this, it happened so long ago, but hearing Ms. Armstrong’s voice on the radio brought it back.

Well. It was wildly inspiring (& moving) to hear this interview, in which Armstrong emphasizes the importance of women speaking up. Also included is the voice of an Afghani woman activist who is almost certain to bring tears to your eyes.

The way Sally Armstrong put it: “Silence is violence.”

Now me, I’m a big fan of conversation (& speaking up) & just wrote about it here a very short time ago — saying that in my view, conversation is the whole darn shebang, the whole darn karmic enchilada (as it were).

I’m a big fan of a lot of the same kinds of things the very courageous Sally Armstrong stands for: women, activism, speaking up, changing the world in ways that will benefit us all.

Thank you for your work, Sally Armstrong (& thanks for the book!) Thanks to Anna Marie Tremonti for the interview!

Blessings on us all, on this International Women’s Day!!

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

08

03 2013

February: Freaking Fractious February

There’s just kind of something about February, isn’t there? It seems to make us fractious.

I know I’ve been feeling fractious for a while now, & if I was like a lot of people, I might make the mistake of thinking it was “just me.”

But I’ve been speaking to a # of my friends, & it seems none of us is alone. A lot of us have been feeling out of sorts – impatient, angry, even – even maybe losing our cool with folks we love.

Now, I live in Canada – I don’t know if this fractious February thing is a Canadian or even just a (province of) Ontario phenomenon. I do know this winter has been pretty cuckoo (a friend & I spotted a caterpillar yesterday – on top of a couple inches of snow ????????? Climate change is proceeding apace, one can only deduce).

Well. Lots to do today (as always).

All I really want to say here is this:

Sometimes when we feel antsy or angry or … fractious, a good cry can be a big help. I am not one to cry easily, as a rule – but the tears have been helped along lately by this little list of things I’m about to provide for you.

Seems like my heart is breaking/broken, & I’m guessing that in that, I am not alone, either.

This world, eh??

Yikes.

So, here is a little list of things that might make you cry – which might make you feel better (maybe worse, first; can’t say for sure). The list concludes with a link to a rousing documentary that may also make you cry, & with any luck, also make you decide to DO something about all that other stuff that just made you cry.

Here goes:

 

It’s now March, readers! Time to leave behind your freaking February fractiousness & march forward!! (Marching requires getting off one’s backside, hmmm??)

Janet

p.s. I wrote about fractiousness last February too!?

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” – Henry Miller 

Runners-up: 

“The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.” – Molly Ivins

“He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973 

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” – Thomas Sowell

“When the Earth has been ravaged and the animals are dying, a tribe of people from all races, creeds and colours will put their faith in deeds, not words, to make the land green again. They will be called ‘Warriors of the Rainbow,’ protectors of the environment.” – Native saying 

** oodles of great quotations/quotation collections in the ‘Quotation Central’ section!

01

03 2013

Bullies

Bullies come in all shapes & sizes

Both sexes

Wear many a clever disguise.

 

Intimidation tactics vary widely

(read between the lines)

 

Dealing with bullies?

Now there’s a task

 

It takes more than just grit & courage

Fierce determination

 

Most of us are just not up to it

Blinded as we are, by our own self-interest

(tripping endlessly over our supposed self-interests)

 

What do we do instead?

 

Shoot the messenger

Hunker down

Circle the wagons of privilege & entitlements

 

(Treasured illusions about “democracy,” “fairness” & “freedom” die hard

Especially when eyes & ears are only partly open)

 

Watch the games of divide & conquer

The not-so-thoughtful among us are all too prey to

 

Fear tactics abound.

 

After all, whose “side” are we on?

(Circles have no sides)

******

I wonder:

Are we all both the bullied

and the bully?

 

The colonizers

& the colonized?

 

Janet

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “We Americans are locked in an asylum for the criminally insane with the criminally insane, and they are armed to the hilt. We are in a dangerous place. Yet we continue to call ourselves free. Psychosis and delusion is not freedom.” – Charles Sullivan in ‘Contesting the Systems of Power 

 

26

02 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My Mom would be 93 today if she was still alive.

Happy birthday, Mom!!

 

I was with her when she drew her last breath

That’s when I learned that to be present at a person’s death is an honour

A gift.

 

So glad I was able to be there

So glad Mom was my Mom!

 

She had a lot of problems.

A lot of challenges in her life

 

She went down some pretty hard roads

(My father was a very hard road to go down

Ask anyone who went down that road)

 

But Mom was feisty

She was strong

She refused to be bullied

Or, well, she tolerated it for a while (a long-ish while, to be fair)

Then one day, she’d had enough

 

She was a good role model for me

She wasn’t perfect

She made her fair share of mistakes

(can’t think of anyone who hasn’t)

 

But I am thankful she was my Mom

***

On one of the anniversaries of her birth, I found myself in court

Ironic how one’s life can take so many twists & turns, hmmm?

How someone who used to help “enforce” the law

Would later see the need to resist it.

To challenge “the powers that be.”

 

My “disobedience” is always very “civil

Violence could never be my way

 

I use my voice

My words

Sometimes, my body

Sitting somewhere, somewhere I am not wanted

Just sittin.’

 

Sitting in “protest

 

I’m not ashamed

Not ashamed at all!

But proud

I’ve sat in some fine spots, with some very fine people, waiting to get arrested.

It’s a lot more fun than you might suppose!

 

On Mom’s birthday, I pause

I know she’d be proud of me too

 

Sometimes we really must have the courage to say to the bullies

Stop. You have to stop this now.

It has to stop.

That’s enough.

Janet

Quote of the day’ with this post: “May the world’s feast be made safe for women and children. May mothers’ milk run clean again. May denial give way to courageous action. May I always have faith.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, author, poet, ecologist, mother, cancer survivor, activist

 

23

02 2013

Conversation

& what I have learned…

Bottom line?

Conversation is the whole darn karmic enchilada (WDKE for short).

Meaning, it’s the whole darn shebang.

Talking is wondrous & inspirational & energizing & even, in my view, miraculous.

Talking & conversation

  • make us feel better…they heal
  • lighten our (emotional) load
  • teach us things
  • spark inspiration
  • spark memories
  • sort through mental/emotional knots & confusion of all kinds
  • make us feel connected…they fuse connections

 

Talking through things shines light on truth – on areas of confusion – draws attention to possible bumps in the road ahead.

It

  • enlightens
  • joins
  • inspires
  • connects **

 

As Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show, said so brilliantly, “It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.”

Is that not a humdinger?? And it’s true.

‘nuff said already.

Let the conversation begin!

Janet

** I’ve just noticed my repetition on the subject of connection. I’ve decided to let it stand. What could be more important than connection, & emphasizing its importance??

p.s. what I have also learned:

What I have also learned is that conversation is meant to be honest; there is an element of telling the truth…yes??

& if you dam up the flow

& keep the truth/your truth locked up inside

The spirit shrivels.

It isn’t just the truth that begins to shrivel

The spirit does also.

It has to flow

& it has to keep flowing

Otherwise, negative thoughts & deeds & thoughts of deeds just keep recycling & recycling & recycling

And that is no good for a living spirit…or world…is it?

p.p.s. several postings about telling the truth

 

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Rick wants a great big crowbar to crack him open so he can take whatever creature is sitting inside him and shake it clean like a rug, then rinse it in a cold, clear lake, and then put it under the sun to heal and dry and grow and come to consciousness again with a clear and quiet mind.” – from Douglas Copeland novel Player One: What is to Become of Us 

23

02 2013

Social Skills 101

<August 2012>

Truth? I can’t tell you whether social skills are something one is born with, or whether they can be learned if one wasn’t born with them. I just honestly don’t know. I also don’t know whether people who don’t have good social skills know they don’t have them. And I somehow doubt that one can come right out & say to a person “Um. You seem to have kind of low social skills.” (Maybe if you are a social worker or something…)

I do hope that maybe people who don’t have them (& know or suspect they may not have them) could take a look at this list & see whether any of these suggestions are helpful. Maybe try them out as an experiment, & see whether they seem to help simplify life at all.

(People with good social skills may be taken aback at this list, that such utterly simple & seemingly self-evident things are even being mentioned. I have given all of this quite a bit of thought. If the tips are useful to you, they are useful. If not, just turn the page!)

Okay, here goes:

Ask questions (or ask for help) when there is something puzzling you or something that you need or want to know. I am pretty sure most human beings actually actively enjoy being helpful. Asking a simple, direct question is soooo much more sensible than just jumping to a (frequently) inaccurate conclusion, or making an assumption that turns out to be wrong-wrong-wrong. (Trust me, reader, I am articulating this one as much for myself as for anyone! I sometimes need to hear & listen to my own good advice!? ) Not making assumptions, btw, is one of the 4 “agreements” so well explained in the book The Four Agreements, a book that has proven endlessly helpful to me, that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Be helpful & considerate as much as humanly possible – it feels ever so much better inside than being witchy & grumpy. Good manners are really an awesome thing. People really appreciate them (& their absence is very quickly noted!). Consideration is a lovely circular phenomenon: when you are considerate to others, they are very often considerate in return. How lovely is that, hmmm?

Say please & thank you often! Gratitude is positively magical, & really, so are simple appreciation & good manners. They smooth relations between people – even strangers – & they just make everyone feel good. I always say it’s never too late to say thank you, & of course remembering to say please is always a good idea!

Apologies are utterly magical. Apologize when you have stepped in it, or neglected or insulted or lost your cool with someone or something or … whatever. One of my favourite quotations is “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” It was Margaret Lee Runbeck who said this, & I couldn’t agree more!  

Apologize. Explain. You know that saying “Never apologize, never explain?” In my opinion, this is absolutely terrible advice. Apologize! Explain! Apologies & explanations clear the air in almost miraculous fashion, they really do. (I think we all know this, really, hmmm??) btw, too, I wrote once about men & apologies; you’ll find it here. [Later post called 'Apologize. Explain.']

Be authentic. Most of us can spot phoneyness a mile away (I bet even really phoney people can!), & children sniff it out like bloodhounds. It’s challenging at times, finding the balance between authenticity & consideration/politeness – but that balance is worth striving for!

Introduce people to each other any time you find yourself in a situation where you know the people who are present, & others don’t. Sometimes people with low social skills don’t realize they should do this, so just jump in. For example, just introduce yourself if no one has thought to introduce you. “Hi, I’m Janet, & you are —??” will do the trick, cut through the awkwardness & jump-start the conversation.

Speaking of which, conversation is really positively magical. I’ve even been known to say it’s the whole darn karmic enchilada! (WDKE for short.) Good conversation cannot be forced, directed, or made to go in a direction you feel determined to have it go (if you force it, it will not be good conversation!). Good conversation is organic; it just happens … it flows. Essential elements: listening well. Not interrupting. Not trying to hog the floor. Being open…patient…generous with your listening. Greatly, greatly rewarding when you learn to do this!!      Another favourite quotation: “It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” (So said Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show.)

Let friendliness be your default position. There is no need to look out at the world with a scowly face or attitude – unless you want the world to reflect this back at you! I once saw a sign on a cottage resort billboard that said “Smile at the world, and the world will smile back,” & I really do believe this is true. Being friendly rather than unfriendly also helps you be in a better mood! This is not to say you need to grin wildly at every person you pass on the street. I am now living in Canada’s largest city & find I am having to adjust my behaviour here somewhat, compared to when I lived out in the country or in a small town – for the sake of simple safety, obviously. But still, I am friendly & polite with sales clerks or bus drivers or coffee shop staff or any fellow humans with whom I do wind up engaging in conversation. It just feels good! (It also comes utterly naturally to me, but I am not so sure it always did. Practice makes perfect!)

Avoiding eye contact with “strangers” is a simple but important way we keep ourselves safe in the big city. On subways & buses it’s best not to look directly at people who, for the most part, we can assume, don’t want to feel as though their privacy or anonymity is being invaded. One thing you can do on a crowded subway (or streetcar) sometimes is to simply sit with your eyes closed. This is very restful, & it makes you feel as though you are not on that crowded subway car at all!

Don’t pick your nose in public!  EEEEEEEEEEkkkkkkkkk. No one wants to watch you do this, OK? Trust me, you need to trust me on this.

Watch out for other people when walking down a sidewalk (or standing in a crowded subway car, or navigating the aisles of a crowded store). Don’t hog all the available space, as though you’re the only person on the planet who really matters. A little bit less of this self-absorbed “Everything is all about ME” attitude would probably be a pretty helpful thing in this troubled world of ours…don’t you think?

Secrecy & lies breed more secrecy & lies. Being authentic (which is good for your soul; all the wise folks say so!) & a culture of secrecy/lies are mutually exclusive. Look for a good balance between 100% in-your-face truth & lying every time you turn around. (Hint: “little white lies” are sometimes necessary, & telling everyone what we think 100% of the time would clearly be neither helpful, desirable, advisable nor necessary.) I personally do believe quite passionately in telling the truth (that’s what this whole blog is about, really!) – & I also care quite a lot about not hurting people’s feelings. Yes, it’s all a bit of a delicate dance & balancing act – & one worth spending some of one’s energy learning to navigate well!

Learn good cell phone manners. Please! The world is not dying to know the minutiae of your life, I feel quite sure (for sure I am not at all interested. In return, I will refrain from subjecting you to listening to the minutiae of mine!). In many cases, cell phone use is simply rather rude. Please take a moment to learn how to turn your cell phone off. Please also learn to keep your voice down while talking on it. & remember! Our answering machines/services exist for a reason. We need not respond immediately to every call that comes in!

Respond promptly to e-mail & phone messages. People are not able to know what you think or are planning or have on your mind until you tell them! Most of us are not mind-readers!!    Staying in touch with people you care about (heck, sometimes even people you don’t care about  but are obliged to stay in contact with) is meant to be a 2-way street, not 1-way. 

Pay people compliments – authentic ones, mind you, not phoney ones! If someone looks really good, say so! Be specific, e.g., “I love your new haircut” or “That sweater looks great on you!” I am not great at this myself, btw, but am working on it. What comes to me is that it’s a good exercise to always look for the positives in life in general…in our relationships, & in the people we love, in particular. Whatever you do, though, don’t be phoney about this. Phoneyness will cost you your credibility, & that is something you really don’t want to lose. (Think how little we trust politicians & corporate hotshots, for example; these are people who are widely perceived to be very inauthentic indeed.)

When someone offers you something, accept it with grace. I love the Don Henley song ‘Wedding Day’ & the line “To want what we have, to take what we’re given with grace.” Even if you don’t really like or want the item, accept it with grace. Say thank you. (You can always give it away later if you don’t like it. But when someone offers you something, it is churlish not to accept it gracefully. I just went against my own good advice on this today, & feel quite cruddy about it.)

Leave notes for people you are staying with, or living with, or otherwise let them know what you are up to (most of us are not mind-readers; see above!). This is just simple consideration, really, & it helps make life run ever so much more smoothly.

Understand that not everything that happens on Planet Earth is all about you. Sorry about that! In another cool Don Henley song, ‘Nobody else in the world but you’ Henley sings, “There’s lots of other people here too.” Yup. Yup, yup, yup. A very important life lesson to learn is to not take everything personally. (This is another of The Four Agreements, all of which are really very helpful!)

“Can I be the space for this to happen?” is a useful phrase to say inside our head sometimes. I’m pretty sure I picked this up from reading Eckhart Tolle (one of my modern-day heroes, for sure!!). When someone is boring you or ranting or otherwise being maybe just a tad on the annoying side, but you have enough presence of mind at that moment to see that this person needs to have an audience for whatever it is s/he is saying, it can be useful to just basically be present for the person. (Not to put too fine a point on it, Eckhart Tolle, or on Janetsplanet, ET for short, can change your life. No kidding! I’ve posted items about him here, here, here & here. ET is soooooooo helpful….)

** I am pretty convinced that good social skills can help make our lives easier, more enjoyable & just generally run a lot more smoothly. If this little essay’s tips help even one person, I’ll know I haven’t wasted my time thinking (& writing!) about this.

Janet  

p.s. I’d really enjoy getting some feedback on this essay! Please let me know via a comment to the blog if you feel these suggestions are helpful. (If you think they suck, please be gentle with me; use your good social skills. ) 

p.p.s. a few more thoughts on this topic, several days after posting this: whether or not we have “good social skills,” it is not always easy to broach awkward topics with people one feels the need to discuss challenging topics with. I have sometimes thought that people who seem to have low social skills are more awkward to have a really rollicking good conversation with on a regular basis — & for now, I stand by this thought. But I do want anyone who reads this who suspects s/he is somewhat deficient in the SS dept. to understand this: that sometimes we really need to discuss deeply difficult things with people we care about very deeply — & that sometimes we just can’t seem to find our way to doing it. And that can lead to unfortunate consequences. (I have been there, & more than once, I’m afraid.) Humour can sometimes be a good way to deal with sensitive things. But….sometimes there is just no easy way to do really hard things. On occasion, maybe a sensitively-worded letter is a better option. (Sometimes, maybe one attempts the sensitive written communication & receives no feedback.       ) How can I summarize all this? Communicating with people is a challenging, challenging business; there’s just no getting around that. Hmmmm. I think I am being driven back to Marshall Rosenberg, a man who really knows a lot about how to have the difficult conversations. Yup. (You can check him out here )

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “We bless the life around us far more than we realize. Many simple, ordinary things that we do can affect those around us in profound ways: the unexpected phone call, the brief touch, the willingness to listen generously, the warm smile or wink of recognition. We can even bless total strangers and be blessed by them. Big messages come in small packages. All it may take to restore someone’s trust in life may be returning a lost earring or a dropped glove.” – Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., in her book My Grandfather’s Blessings – Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

 

19

02 2013

Climate Change & Hope

These 2 words/phenomena don’t always seem to fit comfortably in the same sentence, do they??

In any case, below is an essay written by Hugh Robertson which it just seems to me timely to post now (with Hugh’s permission, I might add) the day after the massive climate rally in Washington, D.C.

This btw is not Hugh’s most recent posting about climate change; his most recent is here. This essay, the one about hope, can also be found on Hugh’s blog here

CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOPE

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther

Crisis has usually been the generator of major changes throughout human history. Whether it was the political changes wrought by the revolutions in the US and France or the economic impact of the Great Depression or the social crisis of the Civil Rights era, change has frequently been driven by turbulence.

We are now facing turbulence of a different type – climate turbulence. But the climate crisis is different to all earlier crises because the physical forces it will unleash, once the point of no return is passed, will plunge the planet into an irreversible downward spiral, affecting everyone regardless of socio-economic status.

As Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker points out, we may not be able to control the climate but we can still determine its direction. The window of opportunity to change direction, however, is rapidly closing as demonstrated by the extreme weather in North America this year.

The crucial question is how we motivate people to change their lifestyle behaviour to avert the impending crisis, especially when apathy is so widespread. Doom and gloom is not an effective message, fear depresses many and information overload seems to paralyze most of the rest. But demoralization and ignorance is no excuse for inaction.

President Roosevelt nailed the issue succinctly in one of his fireside chats during the Depression: We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Now, we need a new narrative for the climate crisis: Hope itself is our only hope.

Hope, however, is a double-edged sword. Delusional hope and illusory optimism, devoid of action, is dangerous and “stiff upper lip” fortitude simply entrenches inaction. On the other hand, positive hope driven by passion and action is inspirational and contagious – it is our only hope.

Alexander Pope’s well known line “Hope springs eternal from the human breast” from An Essay on Man written in 1733, no longer inspires the same optimism. Today, we are more skeptical of Pope’s confidence in hope and faith and his notion of an ordered and divinely inspired universe.

Hope in action

A spirit of hope that is in harmony with nature, suffused with love and humility and underpinned by a program of action must be our objective. Faith, optimism and hope all need action for fulfillment. Constructive action nourishes our souls.

As the Lappes point out in Hope’s Edge, hope is an action verb, not a passive noun. We establish a self-perpetuating chain reaction when our actions inspire a hope that in turn re-energizes the passion for further action, driving an irresistible momentum.

We will need courage and tenacity because building a secure future for the planet will require a herculean effort. The challenge will not be for the meek of heart. It will demand in Churchill’s stirring words: Blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice.

No species, certainly not humans, can claim entitlement to life on a stable planet. Optimism and hope for the future have to be earned. We have to learn to live within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. That is hope’s one and only bottom line.

Initially, the focus of our activism and advocacy must be on minimizing our individual carbon footprints. A carbon campaign, focused on fossil fuel reduction, is essential to slow the growth of greenhouse gases that are inexorably warming the planet. Our personal footprints, carefully quantified using the various calculators available, are powerful symbols of our level of hope and commitment.

Hope for the future then, means taking individual responsibility for our lifestyles. We cannot make excuses for our shortcomings, blame others or project our guilt on society. We cannot criticize unless we have set a personal example. We have to live our hope as individuals and in our communities and places of work.

Illusory hope

An artificial optimism seems to pervade our society today. Being endlessly up-beat has become a dominant cultural trait. But the social critic, Barbara Ehrenreich, has shown how the relentless promotion of positive thinking is crippling North America. By masking our feelings, by denying our dark sides and by trying to inure ourselves against pain, we are, in fact, living a lie.

Are we also hiding behind hope? By professing positive feelings and optimism for the future, as opposed to expressing our anxiety and fear, are we absolving ourselves from the moral responsibility of acting? It may be easier to assuage our consciences by a Pollyanna approach to global warming rather than confronting our personal demons, such as excessive consumption that is really driving environmental degradation.

Why do we seem to latch on to doubt and denial so easily? Misguided optimism may actually be a type of denial. Just as patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel according to Samuel Johnson, so has hope, short on action, become the last refuge of the climate denier.

It is a utopian myth to believe that governments or markets or technology will solve our environmental problems. Simply tweaking our lifestyles by changing light bulbs in the hope of slowing global warming is an irrational dream. Optimism can so easily lull us into complacency but glibly professing hope for the future is akin to living in a delusional bubble if it is unaccompanied by a determined commitment to adjust our lifestyles to the needs of nature.

The downside of hope

A school of writers that include Derrick Jensen and Paul Kingsnorth, founder of the Dark Mountain project, argue that not only is hope futile but it could also be detrimental to initiating essential societal changes.

Jensen is regarded as the philosopher-poet of the environmental movement. In a widely read article in Orion Magazine in May/June 2006, he addressed the issue of “Hope.” He writes that hope is a longing for a future condition over which we have no control. It is false hope to expect that a mythical savior will rescue us. Once we stop hoping for external assistance, we are then forced to do the hard work ourselves. When hope dies, action begins.

Why, he asks, are we afraid to express despair and sadness about the environment? It is a perfectly natural response to our present plight. Perhaps there is an underlying concern that, if we actually allow ourselves to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, we may be forced into taking action. Despair, therefore, may be an excuse for inaction.

Giving up hope is liberating, he suggests, because we cease relying on others, such as governments and environmental groups, to solve our ecological problems. It also frees us from fear. When hope dies, the culturally conditioned “you” who allows others to exploit your hopefulness also dies, Jensen contends. The real “you” survives, sustained by your innate feelings of love for life and reverence for nature.

Both writers argue that hope is a construct of modern society and a control mechanism keeping us psychologically chained to a destructive political and economic system. Hope is a secular way of keeping us in line. Enchained by hope, we become puppets for politicians.

In a recent column entitled The Mendacity of Hope, George Monbiot of The Guardian echoed the concerns of Jensen and Kingsnorth that we can be easily co-opted by hope. Writing during the Rio + 20 Conference in Brazil in June, 2012, he describes how a series of abortive international meetings since the success of the Rio Conference of 1992 have kept us hoping for decisive action and positive environmental developments. Nothing changes from one failed conference to the next – from Kyoto to Durban – but we never cease hoping.

Governments, bankrolled by elites, keep promising and the masses keep hoping, securely shackled by their naïve optimism. Society is powerless to mobilize and initiate change because “we are endlessly seduced by hope,” he writes. “Hope is the rope on which we hang.”

Shades of Benjamin Franklin, who exhorted his colleagues at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to hang together otherwise they would surely hang separately. To give the adage a modern climate twist: unless we all hang together now, we will all surely hang together ultimately.

Our only hope

It matters not whether your passion for change is driven by negative feelings, such as fear, anger or despair, but it is important to convert these sentiments into a positive activism rooted in compassion and gratitude. Anchoring our aspirations in action must be the watchword of our age.

Gratitude is our acknowledgement of the gift of birth and the privilege of life. Georg Simmel, the German philosopher, described gratitude as the moral memory of mankind. There can be no better expression of gratitude – and morality – than a campaign to revitalize the divinity of the trinity: air, water and soil. They constitute the source, soul and sustenance of all life on earth.

The path of restoration and revitalization is not only courageous but it is also ennobling because the benefits lie in the future, well beyond the horizons of our generation. But it is our role and moral responsibility as empathic trustees and guardians of the future to ensure that our descendants inherit a healthy planet. We must make our hopes a reality for them.

** reprinted with the author’s permission

Many good quotations about climate change can be found here

Interesting George Monbiot column here about how the super-rich keep action on climate from happening.

‘Quote of the day’ used with this post: “The message, so firmly, is – don’t give up. Don’t hang with the cynics, the angry-hearted, the whiners, the blamers, the negative minded. Hang with those who believe in love, hope, and beauty – and then work with them to make this a reality. This is our planet. This is our time. This is our call to action.” – Guy Dauncey, author of “The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming

18

02 2013

Crazy People

I think a fair # of people think of me as at least a little crazy. (It’s OK everyone; I know you think that! I don’t mind. Thick skin, you know?).

But then, I think lots of us are crazy. As my father used to say, “You don’t have to be crazy to get by in this world – but it sure helps!”

So, I saw a recent job ad, & it gave me quite a chuckle. It said “We’re also looking for someone who’s relatively normal and can fit in well and get along with everyone.”

Looks like they‘ve been burned a time or two!

The topic of craziness came up in my latest Rob Brezsny astrology post: “Afrikaner author Laurens van der Post told a story about a conversation between psychologist Carl Jung and Ochwiay Biano, a Pueblo Indian chief. Jung asked Biano to offer his views about white people. ‘White people must be crazy because they think with their heads,’ said the chief, ‘and it is well-known that only crazy people do that.’ Jung asked him what the alternative was. Biano said that his people think with their hearts.’”

Call me crazy — I am a white person, & I definitely think with my heart.

It has seldom led me astray!

Janet

p.s. not only are we all crazy, in one way or another, we’re all impossible, in one way or another; that’s what I think, anyway!

A Few Relevant Quotations:

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple marketing phrase (apparently)

“Love the earth and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and the crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants and argue not concerning God.” – Walt Whitman

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” – Ursula K. LeGuin

“I imagine there’s probably so much quiet where you are when you’re cold and dead, you might as well say how crazy you are about people while you have a mouth and teeth and tongue.” ~ Fictional character Ruth in The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton

“Normal is someone you don’t know very well.” – Joe Ancis

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

13

02 2013

No Regrets?

So I was at this very neat event the other day – Paul Hawken addressing a Toronto business crowd for a special ‘Inspired Future’ day**, & it really was a treat for me to hear him speak, being a long-time Hawken admirer (see Blessed Unrest quotes page here. I also read & much enjoyed The Ecology of Commerce in its first edition, quite a few years ago now).

The man who organized the event quoted his father having said we should live our lives so that at the end, we have no (or maybe few??) regrets.

& I thought about regrets. & of course I do have a few. Don’t we all? Let’s be honest.

The regrets I’m thinking of now, though, are not personal, exactly. They’re sort of global.

Well, some of them (most of them??) are kind of both – what with “the personal being political” & the political being personal & all.

So here is a list of some sort of global regrets – that definitely definitely definitely do intersect with one’s personal life in a variety of ways:

  • That the human race has taken so long to “grow up” (still hasn’t, actually, far as I can see) & made so many horrendous, appalling, grievous mistakes during our (apparently eternal) adolescence
  • That it’s taken so long for us to recognize our true species & individual value & infinite potential & the value of all species, all peoples
  • That we so long ago (10,000 years or so?) lost our deep, instinctive understanding of the power of community, shared work, cooperation, collaboration
  • & got so caught up in patriarchy, competition, ego, turf wars
  • That we so long so devalued the true contribution of “the feminine principle” (birth, nurturing, sharing), the real incomparable value of motherhood, the importance of family – & continue to this day to undervalue these things…that are not things – & overvalue things that are things, & that, frankly, bring us much less joy than we suppose they will, or do. “The best things in life are not things,” hmmm? (Can’t tell you who said that, but do know it’s true!)
  • That women so often made the mistake in our excitement about “liberation” of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, undervaluing our own contributions & inner knowings, thinking we needed to become “more like men”
  • That we have become so reliant on the bloody personal automobile that has caused (continues to cause) so much horrendous pollution on our lovely planet
  • That we have this terrible tendency to ignore facts/truth & have such a kneejerk resistance to change that we fail to see the forest for the trees most of the time, or to be willing to put on the brakes, hard, when we so desperately need to do so
  • That we developed these horrid, unfair, absurd disparities of income & privilege – so few with so much, & so many with so very little
  • That we have had such insufficient gratitude for the blessings in our own “small” personal lives, & the infinite gifts of the Earth, that we come to believe we “own” things, & our privileges & entitlements come to define us, & we defend them at the cost of the Earth, & each other
  • Waste. How I regret that so much is wasted – whether we are talking about the earth’s resources, or our “own” individual ones, & our potential

 

& now, as I compose this sad, regretful list, I regret that I am being such a downer, everyone, & so full of what my “spiritual” friends would call negativity.

I am being honest, you will grant me that, yes??

& now, back out onto the snowy streets of Toronto, post-snow-dump, for more shovelling & walking & “fresh” air.

Janet

p.s. & to lift my spirits, after I drafted this draggy, dirge-y blog posting, I once again watched the awesomely inspiring film ‘The 4th Revolution – Energy Autonomy’ – & yes, that definitely elevated my spirits!

** p.p.s. btw too, another speaker at this event the other day was Peter Busby, someone of whom I had not heard, who was also an enormous inspiration – do check out his firm – & the projects they are making happen. Woo-hoo!!!! (He’s behind the Dockside Green project in Victoria, B.C., & UBC (University of British Columbia)’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability – quick short but impressive YouTube if you scroll down!).

p.p.p.s both men had plenty to say that was both interesting & inspiring – one thing I would like to point out that Hawken pointed out: talking about “alternative energy” as though it is something new is an absurdity, & he cited examples of solar/wind-powered projects from a long time ago. There isn’t “alternative” energy (language that is off-putting to some folks, dinosaurs, admittedly) – there is just energy. & clearly, some energy sources are a good deal less destructive than some others!! I always like to remind myself that every single thing that happens on Planet Earth is a solar event. It’s true! 

Quote of the day with this post: “I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” ~ Robert Fulghum, author of numerous books – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten being perhaps his best-known.

09

02 2013

Conscience

Is yours asleep??

Acting out of your conscience means more than knowing what the right thing to do is & then just going ahead & doing what you (mostly selfishly) want to do anyway, “because that’s what everybody else is doing.”

That’s what I think, anyway.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post:  “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

(Quite a few other good quotations about conscience here).

 

08

02 2013

Frat Boys (& girls)

I’ve had the thought for some time now that the boys in the nuke biz (I call them the NBC, or the nuke boyz club) act like a bunch of frat boys. (Not that I actually have any experience with frats, or frat boys. I don’t.)

Or maybe like the members of a football team. Whatever.

I expressed the thought here (along with a couple of other short, interconnected ones) that men are team players.

I think it’s wired into them.

I guess at one time, being a team player – being both male & a team player – was utterly vital for survival. Everyone’s survival.

Hunt the beast. Feed the tribe.

The work needed a team. It instilled (righteous) pride.

Things are different now. The world is different now.

Do the nuke boyz (or the chemical industry boys, or the mining industry boys, or the oil boys, or the pharmaceutical industry boys, or the government boys, or the bureaucratic boys & all those other “boys” in those other professions I have left out because the list is just too long) – feel that same sense of (righteous) pride?

As they feed their families – with world-destroying work, & acts?

Might there be times, boys (& girls) when being a good “team player” might require a broader vision?

A bigger “team”?

******

We all need to be needed, I know this, & to belong. We still need to feed our families.

It just kind of sucks (don’t you think?) when what we are feeding them (feeding ALL of us) is death.

Janet

p.s. I ought to have pointed out (for those not already aware of this, that is) that the nuclear industry is a heavily male-dominated one. Yes, there are women in the nuke biz. & no, not all that many.

p.p.s. a very very sobering read by Chris Hedges here about “the careerists.” Trust me, I really think you ought to read it…alright? (Have I ever lied to you??)

Quote of the Day with this post: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein [more Einstein quotes in ‘Quotation Central’ section of the blog, here]

Runner-up: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968 [more MLK quotes in the Quotation Central’ section of the blog, here]

 

02

02 2013

Victory! (on nuke front)

It strikes me as a good idea to list a # of victories against the nuclear behemoth, since it’s awfully easy for fellow citizens to say to me (or to any anti-nuclear activist), “You’re just wasting your time! You can never win against the military-nuclear-industrial complex.”

It’s a David & Goliath struggle, definitely. It’s big, & it’s very nasty. The deck is heavily stacked against us. They have all the money, & tons of power. They own the politicians & the governments (or an awful lot of them, anyway).    

It’s also true that there are victories! You can bet your sweet fanny the nuclear industry never admits that the anti-nuclear camp ever achieves any victories.

But we do.

This I know for sure: sometimes when citizens take on a nuclear proponent, they win a significant victory or cause significant change to take place (e.g., much lowered tritium emissions at SRB Technologies in Pembroke, Ontario, for one instance). You will never hear the anti-nuclear community being given any credit by the proponent, though. The nuclear industry is very loath to ever admit that the citizens who take them on have incredible chutzpah, energy & fierce smarts (& they do! Not speaking of myself here, but of my remarkable colleagues. Woo-hoo are these folks brilliant & determined!!  )

Okay – so check out these links to learn more about each of the victories cited below. I’m sorry I don’t have time to become intimately familiar myself with each of these, & to write at length or knowledgeably about each one; these are “teasers” so you can learn more on your own.

The Clamshell Alliance (see below; I’ve put stuff in alphabetical order only because it makes things look nice & neat; I have to create order somewhere in my life, right?? ) helped prevent the building of a boatload of new nuke plants in the U.S., & inspired the Abalone Alliance. We should all be very grateful for both groups’ determined, principled efforts on our behalf!! 

** Please note: all these victories (which in fact are buoying up my spirits even as I list them ) took thousands upon thousands of hours of activists’ time. They were hard-won, is what I’m saying. Lots of work, collaboration, energy & time – tons of it! But as you can see – these efforts did pay off!! 

** Please also note: some of these links may be a bit lame, in your view. By all means, send me a better item to link to, via a comment to the blog…okay? Feedback is most welcome!!

Abalone Alliance  – came together to fight Diablo Canyon nuke plant 

Brookhaven National Laboratories — what a crazy story! Check the link. Watch this about the ‘Atomic States of America’ film, or this film trailer &/or read Welcome to Shirley – a memoir of an atomic town (massive tritium polluter makes a boatload of people, including young children, get very sick &/or die, gets shut down, becomes a Superfund site, but is still functioning as a world-famous lab. I sure don’t get it. You couldn’t make up stuff like this!?)

Clamshell Alliance – fought various nuke plants in the northeastern U.S. &, as pointed out above, inspired the Abalone Alliance

GE victory in Peterborough, Ontario – youth activists put a halt to GE plans to enrich uranium within sneezing distance of a local elementary school.

Judith Johnsrud, American activist & victories to which she contributed

Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin shut down

No Radioactive Dump in Cumbria, UK 

Nuke Waste, NRC “Con Game” court case 

San Onofre Shut Down!

Shield Source Inc. (Peterborough, ON) shut down

Shoreham (nuke plant built, never operated due to stubborn opposition post-Three Mile Island accident) ** Note: inadequate emergency planning involved.

Skull Valley Goshutes parking lot dump defeated 

SRB emissions in Pembroke lowered as a result of persistent citizen opposition 

Steam generators from Bruce Power not being shipped through the Great Lakes & Atlantic Ocean to Sweden & again, later, here 

Uranium Mining Proposal Abandoned in Virginia (ABC News, Feb. 1/13.)

Vermont-Yankee to be shut down

Waste Confidence Rule rejected by U.S. Court of Appeals (June 2012)

Yucca Mountain – the never-ending story  

The Nuclear Era is Ending in

 

Battles That Need YOU (right now!!)

 

** Many useful resources on this blog, listed here  & on this page ++ links to many active groups/useful links here  

** Many pithy nuke-related quotations here & John Gofman ones here 

Feel free to send more victories/resources/battles/&/or corrections to add to this list! Just send the info via a comment to the blog. 

FINALLY — my undying gratitude, admiration & respect to all the people whose work & lives made this posting possible!!!!     

01

02 2013

Sadness Books Friends

I’m a little sad today.

It’s a challenging life, isn’t it??

There are some sorrows that seem to sort of just linger below the surface.

& there are 1 or 2 things in my life right now that I would change, if I had a magic wand.

(There is A LOT in the world I would wave it over, & change, if I had one. To put it mildly.)

& I have a good life. A grand one, even.

But today, this morning, I was sad.

So I plucked 2 favourite books off the shelf

(my life is pretty much about people-people-people & books-books-books)

I picked up Unattended Sorrow – Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart, a Stephen Levine treasure I once posted about here, & read the first 2 chapters, & it was a great comfort to my sorrowing soul.

Then I picked up Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser, looking for a particular line in one of her stories, & of course landed instead at ‘For Hugo’ (a perennial favourite), & oh my oh my oh my

How this story

& Lesser’s insights

& her compassion

blew me right of the water (the way they always do)

I have a lot of literal friends (living, breathing, busy people) & dearly loved family members who mean everything in the world to me

& work that will last me a lifetime

but I couldn’t manage life without these other “friends”

The writers who speak to me

& who seem, miraculously, to understand me, even though we’ve never met

Whose wisdom & compassion & generosity of spirit run so deep, it’s as though they’re an ocean wide enough for all of us to swim in

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Stephen Levine & Elizabeth Lesser & Rachel Naomi Remen & Pema Chödrön & Anne Lamott, & others whose names I am forgetting right now.

******

So. I still have a bit of a lump around my throat (I don’t cry very easily).

But I know now, I’ve been reminded, that I am not alone

Stephen Levine has given me compassion for myself

& Elizabeth Lesser has reminded me that just “showing up” is right at the top of the list of what life needs from us, & that “we are sent here to love each other and to help each other – that our lives are about each other.” That “all of my ideas about life meant nothing; the experience of being alive with those that I loved – that meant everything.” (1)

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Ahhhhhhh.

Thank you, Elizabeth Lesser, for those words & for the whole incomparable essay & book.

Onward ho,

Janet

p.s. Lesser goes on after the words quoted above to quote Thomas Merton, monk & social activist, who “once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’” (2)

p.p.s. & goloptious thanks to Ms. P – who introduced both of these books to me!   

p.p.p.s. other posts about Broken Open on this blog:

 

Quote of the Day with this post: “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepherd

 

(1) pages 261 & 263.

(2) page 263.

30

01 2013

Changing the World

Or, thoughts while shovelling the driveway this morning…

So, I’m shovelling the driveway at my house-sitting spot at 7 am, little country-mouse-recently-moved-to-the-Big City me, & it’s a shared driveway (my own car sits in the garage 99.9% of the time, as I love to walk & make use of public transportation), & I’ve been told there is no real need to shovel it (Torontonians are not really into winter, you see, & truthfully, winters here are a bit of a joke…)

But snow had fallen overnight

& freezing rain was predicted

& I’d rather have the freezing rain fall on bare pavement than make a great big snowy icy mixed-up mess

So I’m out there rather enjoying myself (to be honest) – it’s fresh air & exercise & also thinking time

& I remember how I used to have a shared driveway in my Deep River daze, & being frugally-living me, fully expected to be shovelling the driveway myself, but the couple with whom I shared the driveway (who didn’t actually live there; they were living down in Toronto at that point, & only visiting their Deep River house once in a blue moon), paid some guy to plow the driveway, & were very generous-minded & told him to just plow the whole durn thing

& so their generosity & their shall we say “paying it forward” gesture is popping up in my brain today

& I’m thinking about how we change the world (admittedly I have given up trying to “save” it), & I’ve got a conversation in my head about the deep, deep very long-standing systemic problems Canada’s First Nations people have had visited upon them for oh, the past 500 years or so (the conversation was on Michael Enright’s Sunday morning show; podcast of ‘First Nations Governance’ here), & a truth (or what sounded like one to me) was spoken, & it was this:

Nobody can wave a magic wand over really seriously, deeply entrenched problems from the outside only – people must take leadership themselves to find solutions (with, presumably, plenty of practical help from appropriate agencies, of course!)

& as I shovel the driveway I think we need (always) the right tools for the job (even shovelling snow requires the right tools – a plow-y kind of shovel & a lift-&-heave kind of shovel, or so it is in my world, anyway) & strategy too of course (in a big city it takes strategy even to find a place to put the snow one is shovelling!?)

& some of the right tools for world-changing are

  • appreciation of diversity in people & methods & solutions
  • cooperation
  • courage
  • energy
  • heart; lots & lots of heart. More heart, less mind
  • leadership
  • neighbourliness
  • paying it forward
  • resilience, resourcefulness

 

& some of what we need to lose, in world-changing activities, are

  • a need for hero worship
  • an “oh poor me” mindset
  • ego
  • hierarchy
  • thinking one’s way to do things is the only way to do things (that “It’s my way or the highway” kind of thinking)

 

‘cos even my snow-shovelling gig is an example of how there is always more than one way to do things

I’m a very sort of anarchic snow-shoveller – I’m kind of here, there & everywhere, unpredictable & sort of sloppy as opposed to working in a neat orderly predictable fashion, & I can just hear all the men I know saying patronizingly “Oh no, Janet, that is NOT the way to do it, you see, you have to do it THIS way” (all the women I know would just say “Oh Janet THANK YOU for doing this,” & wouldn’t give a darn how I went about it)

& you see I think there are as many ways to shovel a driveway as there are people prepared to shovel it, & as many ways to change the world as there are people prepared to work on changing it

& finally, a big thing I think way too many people don’t GET about work (or what you might call service) is that doing it FEELS SO GOOD, & it feels even better when it’s shared with others in a spirit of cooperation, & better still when one feels appreciated for one’s efforts, & I think overall it just can’t be said any better than this:

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” (Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate, 1861-1941)

Janet

p.s. & I thank the delightful writer Anne Lamott for reminding me of this amazing, inspiring quotation, which she includes in her lovely book Help Thanks Wow – The Three Essential Prayers, on page 23.

p.p.s. & thinking all these thoughts reminded me of the wonderful Mary O’Brien, & her 15 always-useful & really quite awesome campaign tips, which are posted here

p.p.p.s. & if you want to be totally totally totally blown away by a passionate & articulate plea for help, for Heaven’s sake go & read this amazing letter by the incomparable Dr. Sandra Steingraber.     What a woman!!!!!!!

Quote of the day with this post: “For every nine people who denounce innovation, only one will encourage it… For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door. Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” – Za Rinpoche & Ashley Nebelsieck in The Backdoor to Enlightenment (Three Leaves) – quoted in Oprah Magazine Jan. 2008