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She changes everything she touches
and everything she touches changes
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Go add to the list and vote on priorities...

http://fixthisbarack.com/

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Critically important ones.

New Scientist magazine, special issue: An economy based on constant growth uses up the planet.

end of the world graph

Got this from Terri Moore in Johannesburg, and also like her commentary.

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Starting October 1, an active-duty army brigade is being deployed within the US for homeland security. In case of terrorist attacks and natural disasters... or for crowd control at protests. Same thing, right?

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/
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voldy-umbridge-08

(thanks, Rose!)

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Thanks to Cat for the heads-up on this.  As summarized at The Wild Hunt:

In the past few days news has emerged that Internet book-selling giant Amazon.com has been pressuring small publishing houses who use print-on-demand services like Lightning Source (owned by Ingram), Lulu, and PublishAmerica to switch to Amazon's own in-house POD service or have their "buy" button removed.

"Reports have been trickling in from the POD underground that Amazon/BookSurge representatives have been approaching some Lightning Source customers, first by email introduction and then by phone (nobody at BookSurge seems to want to put anything in writing). When Lightning Source customers speak with the BookSurge representative, the reports say, they are basically told they can either have BookSurge start printing their books or the "buy" button on their Amazon.com book pages will be "turned off." The book information would remain on Amazon, and people could still order the book from resellers (companies that list new and used books in Amazon's Marketplace section), but customers would not be able to buy the book from Amazon directly, nor qualify for the coveted "free shipping" that Amazon offers."

This policy was confirmed by Amazon spokeswoman Tammy Hovey, who called the move "a strategic decision", and that it wasn't "an ultimatum" for smaller publishers to switch to Amazon's POD service. While it may not be an "ultimatum", it does put smaller publishers who use POD services between a rock and a hard place according to Lupa, an author and employee of Immanion Press.

"So why not just switch over to [Amazon's] Booksurge, you may ask? Two reasons ... They're more expensive - they want a significantly larger cut of the profits than many others ... Their distribution isn't as good ... So why not just have accounts at both Lightning Source and Booksurge? Because the cost to upload books would double ... So why not just use offset and other traditional forms of printing? Because you need thousands of dollars up front, even for a small run, plus warehousing space--and you have to hope that they all sell or else you're out a good deal of money. Given that the big box stores are already biased against small presses, big losses are a major possibility ..."

Lupa's post is also useful for more info.

It's no surprise that pagans are concerned about this, because we have a strong interest in access to books that there is not going to be a mass market for, especially once you get past the "Paganism 101" level.  But my problem with this is not just about the small Pagan publishers.  Amazon is no stranger to the economics of The Long Tail, and I would have hoped they'd recognize the values that go with it:  it's not just that there's profit in making available the huge amount of good stuff that few people have heard of, but also that the world is by far a better place when people have access to more ideas instead of just the most popular ones.  That's what's at stake here.  Crunching the small publishers means that people thinking outside the mainstream will have a harder time getting published.

This is apparently not a done deal yet, and there's hope that Amazon can be convinced to reverse the policy.  I've just written to them, and told them they've lost my business until it's reversed.  If you want to contact them, the form is here.

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So it took me until last night to go back and read Obama's speech in response to the kerfuffle in the media about his former pastor. I only bothered to look at it because SO MANY people told me it was not just good, but amazing. Now I'm doing my job and putting the word out there too: if you haven't yet, take the time and read the thing, or watch it on YouTube.

It's worth it even if it won't influence how you vote. Even if (looking at you, here citabria ;-) the ideals Obama articulates are no reason to prefer him to the practical experience Clinton has, and that's not going to change -- this speech was historical. I can't think of another time in decades that a politician with major national exposure has talked directly about race in a way that GETS IT like this.



Also: MoveOn is asking the major news networks to stop following the lead of the republican rhetoric machine that is FOX. Here is a video they put together showing how this attack on Obama started with FOX and spread, and a petition to sign if you are so moved. </lj>

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Just heard about this through Icarus.  We know that the CPS system can be good and scary.  We also know that schools and "the system" frequently don't know what to do with kids with Asperger's / Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Now, combine the two...  big fat ugly mess.  Kid who was doing OK at home has been taken away, institutionalized, and is NOT OK.

Please go sign this petition.
http://www.getnatehome.com/

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Ugh.  Sounds like the new owners are pretty nasty.  No more new basic accounts???
Philosophical question under here:  should the decision-making power for a tool like LJ be held entirely by the people who own the boxes it's running on and write the code, or should the people who provide the content have a vote?

Reason for content strike


Interview with a nasty man

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As promised, my contribution to the online celebration of the day.  These are two very old favorites of mine.  Thanks to miriamjoyce for calling my attention back recently to the latter one.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

-- Mary Oliver

The influence coming into play: The seven of pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beanse
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

-- Marge Piercy

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From Branches Up, Roots Down:

You are invited to the Third Annual Brighid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading


WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2008

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link. Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than I could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.

Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.

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The Lakota have seceded from the United States this week.  Thanks to thatpoetrykid for writing about it.

I am having a really strong reaction to this.  I absolutely identify with their side and wish I could be there, despite all the reasons it would make no sense for me to be there.  My pagan practice is not their religion but I strongly believe that we honor the same truths in similar ways and I have much more in common with them than I do with "white america."  They are standing up for what is most important in a really critical context.  It strengthens me just to know they are doing it, and challenges me to think about what it would even look like for me to respond to my own context in such a brave truth-telling way.

My favorite quote from the press release:  "The actions of Lakota are not intended to embarrass the United States but to simply save the lives of our people."

I am terrified of what the US government may do to them.  Watch this.  Talk about it.  Do not let the media silence it.

Mitaku Oyasin - We are all Related

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So apparently, today the US Senate passed an amendment giving a vote of confidence to General Petraeus and condemning MoveOn.org's recent newspaper ad questioning Petraeus' report on the success of the surge in Iraq.

If it strikes you as B.S. for the Senate to reprimand a citizens' organization for publishing an ad raising legitimate questions about the war, I encourage you to sign on to MoveOn's statement about this, so they can show they've got support.

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BirthNet bringing BOLD to NY's Capital Region on September 30th
The Naked Truth about Childbirth
 
WHAT: BirthNet is hosting special staged readings of the critically acclaimed play Birth by Karen Brody, as part of the global Birth On Labor Day movement to make maternity care Mother-Friendly.

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twinkletoze has found a way to post to LJ from Burundi.  First 2 posts (previously sent to some folks by email) are here and here.  She kicks ass, as usual.  Read, write back, and send her love!!!
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On Sunday night, I witnessed over 50 sane-ish adults singing "Row, row, row your boat" in a round at the top of their lungs.  It sounded awesome.

The people in question were gathered for the big a cappella sing at the annual GottaGetGon folk festival.  Usually they don't sing children's rounds.  But since the event takes place in a big open barn-like building with a metal roof, and it was POURING, things were not going as usual.

The sing had just gotten started when the downpour opened up.  It quickly became evident that no one could hear what was going on very well, especially when one song ended and someone wanted to start up a new one.  Before long, the guy with the most humongous voice in the group was standing up in the center and bellowing.  We still couldn't hear the words, but at least we could follow the rhythm well enough to join in at the right parts, so we could sing along.

It felt a little like a test.  The "reasonable" thing to do would have been to stop trying to sing, at least until the rain let up a bit.  But this was a rare opportunity for this crowd to sing all together, and we would be damned if we were going to give it up before we absolutely had to.  We didn't talk about it, we just kept going.  One by one, the group's loudest singers nearly shot their voices leading a song.  We needed to choose songs by a notably different set of criteria than we usually would, selecting for things everyone knew, with the highest chorus-to-verse ratio, and as simple and easy to follow as possible.  Hence "Row, row, row your boat."

It was a surprisingly powerful experience to be in the middle of that.  These sings build up a magical feeling about them even under more usual circumstances.  This time the will and power in our voices were released with no holds barred, focused toward the clear goal of making it through the storm.  I also guess that I may not have been the only one who found that permission to sing as loud as I possibly could without any social consequence was a very effective little opportunity to release some extra, unrelated emotion.  It was a groundswell.  From my perspective, anyway, we weren't fighting against the storm, we were just building up enough power to be able to sing WITH the storm.  It rocked.

I think it was about 1.5 hours that the rain poured down.  The sing kept going long after that. 

There were a million other awesome parts of this festival too.  Especially noteworthy that kombu, yip95, hyoter, bmenyuk, iccubis, and their kids all came this year, and rlilyth was back visiting from California, and twinkletoze came up from DC to remind us to actually process the fact that she is really actually about to go to Africa for 6 weeks.  There will be festival photos to post as well, but not until Flickr is back online.  :-p

Have I mentioned I love my folky community?

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Everyone has things they always do on Memorial Day weekend.  Mine is the GottaGetGon Folk Festival.  Most of y'all have heard me talk about this... but for once I'm remembering to put the info up in time that you could decide to come check it out if you want to!  It's a lovely, mellow little festival.  Four paid performer acts doing concerts and workshops, a family-oriented contra dance on Saturday night, a big a cappella sing on Sunday night (and others on the other nights, informally)...  and lots and lots of informal jam sessions and socializing going on everywhere all the time, which are really the point of the whole thing.  It's at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds, in Ballston Spa, NY.  Plenty of camping space for those who want it.  Bring your own food, and/or if you want to join in a very yummy collective cooking enterprise run by chezjake, let us know ahead of time so we can plan for the numbers.

Information including performers, price, schedule of concerts & workshops, and directions can be found here
For a discount, get your pre-registration form here and send it in before May 15.
If you want a flyer to print and post, they're here.

It's almost festival season!!!!

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The next Albany Skillshare will be on Saturday, September 29.  From the call for participation:

due to the increasingly dire warnings about the catastrophic and immediate
effects of global warming, we would like to focus exclusively on workshops
which deal with decreasing our use of fossil fuels and self
sustainability.  of course this includes any workshop that would help
people meet their basic needs (food, clothes, shelter as well as energy,
water and transportation), such as knitting, water systems, pottery,
bikes, natural building, etc.

due to our commitment to reach people of all income levels, workshop
facilitators will not be paid, in order to keep the skill share
affordable.

i am especially looking for someone who could do a workshop on how to set
up a solar, wind, or micro-hydro energy system.  of course a solar hot
water system would be great too.


Interested parties are invited to contact them at albanyskillshare at riseup dot net.

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A chance for people to talk to presidential candidates without the mainstream media in the middle. Don't know if it will live up to the potential, but it seems like an idea worth encouraging.


Join MoveOn.org's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq




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I have always had a hard time explaining to anyone what kind of music I like.  Partly that's because I grew up listening to a lot of folk music most people have never heard.  But that isn't all of it...  I run into other people who like obscure folk and as likely as not, they're focused on a completely different aspect of it than I am.  And the collection of stuff other than folk that I like is equally hard to categorize.  Everyone's relationship to their music is personal and idiosyncratic, of course.  But I like to try to be articulate about these things, and there's an idea knocking around in my head about it.

In Hinduism, being in the presence of a sacred person or thing (a guru or an image of a deity, usually) and just looking at them can be a way of experiencing and worshipping deity through that guru or image.  The word for this is darshan -- for example, I received darshan of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi when she visited NYC last summer.

I think the music I like, and especially the music I like to see live, is music performed by people in whose presence I feel that I am receiving darshan.  What I think that means: the performer's own life is integrated enough and basically at-peace enough that they can be a clear channel for Life to pour through them when they perform.  (By the way, can I tell you how pissed I am at ClearChannel Communications for making those words fraught with nasty associations?)  If the performance feels ego-driven, I'm not interested.  If they're trying to do what they think someone else will like, might as well not bother.  I want to hear you play music that you're playing because it feels Right, music that your whole self resonates with, for which your self has stepped out of the way to let the music come through.

Last night I received darshan of Scott Ainslie again.  He plays the blues.  I don't even like the blues that much, but I will sit and listen to Scott Ainslie play the blues as often as you let me.  He sings about love gone wrong in a hundred different ways, tells the stories behind the songs, talks about the history of the blues, about finding the history of where in Africa clawhammer banjo technique evolved from. All the while you can feel that he is loving all those messed up people (himself included) whose love has gone wrong, and honoring everything they do right, and lovingly laughing at it all.  You sit there feeling like all the heartbreak in your own life is going to be OK because yeah, life is like that, but it's so good, too.  His playing builds up the energy in the room, a prayer that "hard times come again no more," an offering in gratitude for everything that doesn't hurt, and you can silently (or singing along) join your mind to all that and just soak it all in.  You leave feeling nourished and grateful.

That is the kind of music I like.

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