Friday, October 31, 2003

Blessed Samhain

Some call it Halloween; others call it Samhain (pronounced "SOW-in" in Ireland, SOW-een in Wales, "SAV-en" in Scotland or "SAM-hain" in non-Gaelic speaking countries). The Pagan sabbat was the first observance of this day. The present holiday of trick or treat and costumed kiddies was inspired by this contemplative time, which was intended to mark summer's end and to honor those who have gone before us.

Celtic Spirit offers a fascinating look at the tradition; here is an excerpt:
Baba Yaga sweeping the autumn clouds & winds 
<br />as she rides in her own 'spaceship' Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween.
The following is from "SAMHAIN, Halloween, & the Day of the Dead," the author's note from MYTH*ING LINKS: An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
This season was the beginning of the New Year (and winter) in many rural areas of Europe. The actual time of transition, from sundown on Samhain to sundown the following day, was a "thin place" in the Celtic world, a place between-the-worlds where deep insights could pass more easily to those who were open to them. In addition to inspiration, through the portals could also pass beings of wisdom, fun, and play (and some of these played rough, requiring common sense and real caution on the part of mortals).

Christianity would declare that these creatures of "otherness" were evil, but that only reveals how clumsy is the relationship between the West's monotheism and much older, archetypal realms of the "imaginal." The creative impulse is inherent in life. In humans, only when it is repressed by too many narrow minds full of rigid "do's and don't's" does it rebel and re-direct its power into malice and violence. At its worst, monotheism impoverishes the creative juices within us, demonizing them, closing us off from multi-dimensional realms all around us. Then we wonder why children use guns in schools which have been starved of the imaginal by the forced withdrawal of the arts, theatre, and music.

In this season of Samhain, we are reminded of other wondrous worlds existing side by side with our own, and we are invited to play, laugh, don disguises, delight in small miracles of human friendship, use common sense, and free our hearts to explore who and what we truly are.
From the inbox, I found this piece from the Goddess Tara. It is part of her sales pitch for spells and such, but the message was so lovely, I wanted to share it for the benefit of my Pagan and Wiccan readers, friends, and loved ones:
Blessed Be!

The wheel has turned, and the New Year is here. Now is the time for remembering those who have gone before us. They can once more come across the veil, letting their presence be felt. Do you have a dream to share, or a question to ask of them? Now is the time. A celebration of the beloved dead - they are never forgotten, as they are always with us. As the old year dies so the new year is born. This is the way of the universe.

"The song of the heart is always heard."

Be true to yourself, love and do not fear the process of your life, let it unfold, for love is true freedom and power. Remember, love is a pure energy, and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can simply be transformed, as it is eternal. So whomever you have loved can never truly die in your heart.

From October 31st through November 2nd is one of the holiest of sabbats. People all over the world will be celebrating this High Holy Day of the Dead. I will be performing my own ritual on the night of October 31st, at 12 midnight PST. My sister has flown in from across the country to be with me on this special night, as we will attempt to communicate with our father, who entered the Summerland earlier this year.

"I know there is NO death, only transformation."

So on this night we will celebrate life, and we will feel with the heart. Go into the mysteries, cut open the veil in the West, and invite the ones we remember to be with us in the sacred circle - between the worlds. We will be together again for a time, between the worlds, coming together again once more.
"Feel the winds of change, let yourself fly free. Remember you have the power to create your dreams."

Moon Times for October / November
Samhain / Halloween
All Saint's Day
Full Moon (The Mourning Moon)
Lunar Eclipse
Veteran's Day
Waning Moon
Sun enters Sagittarius
Solar Eclipse
New Moon
Oct. 31
Nov. 1
Nov. 8 (8:13 pm ET)
Nov. 8 (8:20 pm ET)
Nov. 11
Nov. 16 (11:15 pm ET)
Nov. 22 (12:43 pm ET)
Nov. 23 (2:30 am ET)
Nov. 23 (4:02 pm ET)
Nov. 27

In closing, remember that we are changing the world, and that everything She touches changes. May we have peace, harmony, love and abundance for all.
To all, a happy Halloween and Samhain. Blessed be.

from all facts and opinions

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Identity Crisis

The Right Christians points to a very interesting game: Gender Genie, inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine, uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. You plug in text you have written -- it works best, it says, with pieces of 500 words or more, hit a button, and then tells you whether you are male or female.

Well, I tried it three times, and each time, the finding was that I am a man.

Leaves me with quite a lot to think about...

from All Facts and Opinions

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Bush's Top Ten List Against Women.

Now, what can we do to get someone electable to run against him?

One Short Thought

George W. Bush is a miserable failure.

It's a Google project by a bunch of lefty bloggers. Try putting that phrase and link into your site, if you like. It will be neat to see those connected terms -- "George W. Bush" and "Miserable Failure" -- get major search-engine hits. Could be fun.

Blogging for a Cure

Diabetes can have negative effects on the brain, vision, the circulatory system, the kidneys, and cardiovascular health. Get tested. If you have it, follow your doctor's orders to live a healthy life. I have diabetes. It is very possible that this disease one day will kill me. Not having health insurance, I do what I can to manage the illness through diet, but it is taking its toll. And I am one of the lucky ones. At least I know my condition and can take some steps to preserve my health.

There are at least thousands of people walking around who have diabetes and do not know it. Not knowing can be deadly. And far too many people don't have knowledge of the disease -- the fact that it is on the rise; that it can be managed, and not necessarily through painful insulin injections; that being overweight can play a crucial part in avoiding the disease or in lessening its complications.

Next month, Blogcritics, Blogger, and individual blog scribes will devote time and effort to spread the word about this insidious killer and about the work of the American Diabetes Association. The idea: to let people know the facts about diabetes and to encourage people to get tested so that they can live healthier lives.

If you have a blog or web site, please help the Blogging for a Cure effort. Recruit as many people as you can who have diabetes, know someone with diabetes, or who care about public health to volunteer to write something about diabetes daily, three times a week or once a week on their blog and/or on Blogcritics throughout the month of November. Working together, we can all make a positive difference in helping to cure diabetes and to raise awareness about this terrible disease. And we can do more: fight for increased federal funding for diabetes research and prevention, improved health care and insurance coverage, and an end to discrimination based on a person's diabetes.

If you have any questions, ask away. As more details about the event are confirmed, I will pass them along. And more information can be found at the American Diabetes Association's Action Center.

Cannot find Second Half Recovery - Second-Half Recovery Explorer

Cannot find Second Half Recovery - Second-Half Recovery Explorer

This is priceless...

Monday, October 27, 2003

Unwanted Snail Mail

The previous resident of the apartment forgot to cancel her catalogue subscriptions so for the past couple of months, we've been getting tons of clothing magazines. They've been piling up on the coffee table next to the door and the corner of the living room. We haven't been reading them (let alone ordering from them) and I've been thinking of chucking them into the recycling bin, but what's the point when we've been using them as placemats for hot pots and trays from the oven?

What pisses me off the most about these catalogues, though, are the pictures. Normal people don't look like these models. The clothes are not going to look the same on me as they look on them. I suppose the goal is to make the buyer think that she will look like the model if she wears those clothes. Or if the buyer is like me, she would know that she would never look like the model. Do advertising agencies want to make half the population neurotic and insecure? There's already enough in the world to make one worry. It's like those catalogues just want to add insult to injury.

And I absolutely despise those pouty expressions the models are made to mimic, especially on those underwear catalogues. They're marketing their product to the wrong demographic, that's what. Maybe a better home for all these magazines is a needy frat house.

(cross-posted at Syaffolee)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

A new book focuses on women writers in southern Africa

Margo Jefferson, writing for the Books section of The New York Times, recommends a new anthology of writers.

Sometimes literature itself puts a country on our internal map. At about the same time the South African novelist J. M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize, Oprah's Book Club announced that its next selection would be another South African novel, Alan Paton's 1948 book, ''Cry, the Beloved Country.'' To learn more about South Africa, I turned to the Feminist Press's rich new anthology ''Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region.'' It's an amazing resource, close to 600 pages, and it's a true collaboration, the work of seven editors from four countries. The 20 or so original languages include English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and siNdebele. The traditions are oral and written: there are poems and folktales, stories, diaries and political documents starting from the 1830's.

An anonymous widow's chant from Lesotho (first collected in 1836) has the ring of Greek choral poetry.

Would that I had wings to fly up to the sky!

Why does not a strong cord come down from the sky?

I would tie it to me, I would mount,

I would go there to live.

And here's the black South African journalist Marian Morel describing, with sardonic brilliance, a 1959 Capetown beauty contest:

''The girls -- colored, Indian and African -- had to provide their own dresses. Factory workers, domestic workers, waitresses by day. Now with a dab of powder, a secret twist of their dresses, they were trying to become the Princess for the Night.

'' 'Gonna, I feel like a baggage of nerves,' one girl told me. 'I wish I wasn't competing. I wish I was just spectating like you.' . . .

''The band swung into 'Anchors Aweigh' and the girls sailed in. . . . A fellow in an orange shirt posted himself behind No. 19, and every now and then licked her left ear. She didn't blink an eyelash. I gave her 10 out of 10 for poise.''

I've been a fan of South African literature for as long as I've been politically conscious. When I consider how much my life has been enriched by Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Bessie Head and other writers of the country, I am amazed. Amid its political strife, southern Africa has produced a wealth of observers of what it means to be human in the twentieth century. If the new anthology from the Feminist Press is a guide, that legacy will continue into this one.

Note: My blog is Silver Rights.

After my own... brain?

Way at the top of Blogdex this (Sydney) morning is, a group blog including some of our fellow Blog Sisters talking about women in technology-- a topic after my own, er, brain!

Looks to be an interesting place already! I'm excited to see where it'll go. And I do hope it keeps going. As one of two or three girls in all of my comp. sci. classes in college, I do strongly believe there isn't a lot of support/ discussion for women in at least that technological area.

After reading all the comments about feet getting stepped on in regards to who gets to post on misbehaving, I'm not so enthused about that, so I hope I didn't put my foot in it by my hasty endorsement. But I have liked the published content so far, and I hope that keeps going in a good direction-- whatever I do or don't know about personalities/ relationships behind-the-scenes.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Google Toolbar Installed

Google Toolbar Installed

I like the Google tool bar. I can post to blogger without going to Bloggers main page. So anytime I feel like writing something I have it at hand. That way I'm more likely to write and not forget about it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Spiritual Path of Honesty

When people think of meditation they often think of concentration practices. That is one form of meditation practice, but not the only type. I generally like to follow extremely structured meditation practices, called sadhanas, with a period of mindfulness meditation.

In concentration meditation practice we learn to regain control of the mind enough so that it is sufficiently calm to allow meditation to take place. The practice is not the meditation, but rather the process that creates auspicious conditions for meditation to arise.

In mindfulness meditation practices the goal is to become familiar with the activity of one's mind. What is your mind usually up to? I find mine to often be engaged with attempts to establish the concreteness or importance of my existence. It is of course a goal that has no culmination since it pursues the confirmation of a falsehood, but still my mind seems pretty good at keeping itself busy with the attempt.

In mindfulness meditation practices we don't try to control the mind, we just watch. We say to mind, "I won't try to hold you here. Go ahead and run around all you like. I will just watch." The key thing that makes it meditative is that we do not follow after the mind, letting it drag us around as if it was in charge not us. Instead we center ourselves in spirit, our true identity, and watch the mind the same way we might watch our hands move as we type on a keyboard.

Becoming familiar with your mind is a key step on the path of truth and honesty, enlightenment. In enlightenment we see things as they really are, not as we have been conditioned to see them, not as we have agreed to pretend life is. We are rigorously honest in thought, word and deed. Watch your mind and you will begin to learn the truth of your experience and the nature of your being.

[orignally published at]

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Margaret Cho on Ann Coulter

All this and she isn't even hot. If you are going to be wrong, at least be hot. I am guilty of some of the biases that Ann is, but in reverse. My prejudice and hatred of the establishment, the judicial system, anti- abortionists, racism, misogyny, the integration of church and state - can spiral downwards out of control, and maybe my facts could be discounted and I could be called a liar as well. But I don't give a shit, because at least I am hot. I know I may not be traditionally pretty, but playas line up around the block to make some time with me, and they aren't even getting it right then. The line is just for the wristband, yo. The hotness is not about age, looks, body type, race - it is about honesty, knowing who you are and being who you are, without trying to front like you are better than you are. It is about the down deep authenticity of self, then living it, loving it and looking it.

Margaret Cho has a blog. I dig this woman. But what's up with no permalinks?



Friday, October 10, 2003

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

I adapted this text from one of the sites to Impeach Bush. I sent this to the Presidential Candidates and to my representatives. Feel free to copy the text and do the same.

Please register my strong support for the Campaigns to Impeach George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld.

I believe these men have overstepped their authorities, and have exceeded the powers granted their offices by the U.S. Constitution. Further, they have broken international treaties such as the Geneva Convention, and this increases the danger to our own troops in the field. More of our soldiers have died since the end of our invasion of Iraq than during the operation. It has been proven that the case made before Congress was false. There was no immanent threat. There was no connection to Al Queda. There were no weapons of mass distruction. No elected offical can be allowed to lie to Congress and to the American people with Impunity. No one should be able to put our young men and women in uniform in harm's way under false pretenses. They deserve better, and so do the rest of us.

For the first time in history, the Administration has interfered with the content and the dissemination of scientific information in order to further its extreme ideology. Public money is being used to fund religious organizations in a direct affront to Constitutional principles. Judges and Federal prosecutors are being bullied by the executive branch of government. American citizens are being held without the basic rights of representation and habeus corpus.

These men may have committed War Crimes by ordering the carpet bombing of areas of Afghanistan, in attacking Iraq without provocation, in detaining prisoners and suspects without respect for the Geneva Convention's specific guidelines for the treatment of Prisoners of War. The "Bush Doctrine" of "preemptive" war is illegal under the Nuremberg Charter, and is the same thinking that the Nazis employed sixty years ago.

Their assaults on civil liberties in the United States are unconstitutional, and they directly violate the guaranteed rights of American citizens. They have used lies about dangers which did not exist to justify breaking the social contract between this government and the American people.

The Bush Administration's decision to ignore Freedom of Information Act requests is clearly illegal under that Act. The Bush Administration's obstruction of investigations into the events of September the 11th, 2001 and of investigations into the Osama bin Laden family prior to September the 11th, may warrant Obstruction of Justice charges. Evidence has come to light that the Administration ignored warnings about a planned terrorist attack involving the use of planes as missiles. They failed in their most important duty- to protect the lives of American citizens.

Now, we have learned that during the days after September 11, members of the Bin Laden family were allowed to fly arround the country while our public airlines were grounded, and finally to leave without allowing the FBI to question them. This may have been an act of treason, and I strongly urge you to challenge the administration on this grievous breach of basic investigative procedure.

The exposure of a CIA operative in an apparent attempt to intimidate political oppenents must be the last straw. Partisan politics must not be allowed to endanger the American people by compromising national security. We, the People, will not rest until the source of this leak is exposed and prosecuted.

America has seen nothing like this in her history. The Nixon administration's crimes were minor in comparison to the behavior of these men. They have foresworn their oaths of office and should be removed.


Loving Google

I'm loving Google's toolbar, which I've just put on my computer here at the office and which Robin is installing on my home computer. As Google owns Blogger, all I have to do is press a button to instantly get to my blogging edit function. Way cool.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Undead: Horror for the rest of us?

While I'm sure it'll always be a cult flick, Australia's latest zombie movie Undead has a lot of things going for it that other horror-type films lack. In the campy, self-mocking tradition of the Evil Dead movies, this film takes horror movie subversion to a new level by presenting us with a female beauty queen protagonist who, although screaming and scared as fellow town members start being gored by flesh eating monsters, still has what it takes to pick up that shotgun and start kicking undead booty.

Rene, desperate for cash to keep up the family farm, enters small town Berkeley's local pageant and wins the vaunted title of Miss Catch of the Day. But despite her small success, it's not enough to save the farm from foreclosure, and she's about to head off to the big city for a new start when mysterious meteors start falling from the sky. She's stopped in the midst of her flight by a car accident on the road. It looks like everyone's dead... or are they? But her true spirit shines through as she picks up the steering wheel lock and swipes it through her first zombie.

Not long after, she encounters Marion, the town crackpot who claims he was abducted by aliens. He thinks the aliens are behind the strange meteor shower and the zombification of the town's residents. It's the end of the world, he declares, and only the strongest are left to defend humanity in this final battle. Certainly, it does seem like something supernatural is going on: there's a giant spiky wall surrounding the town and trapping everyone in with the zombies. And why does the rain start to smoke when it hits the few humans left? And what are those weird lights beaming down from the sky and making things disappear?

The zombie invasion turns out to be something quite different in the end, but Marion does get something right: only the strongest are left at the end. Rene is the only one who learns the truth about the meteors. Earlier in the film, someone tells Rene that as Miss Catch of the Day, it's her job to look after the best interests of the town. And in the end, it's the Beauty Queen standing between humanity and a brain-sucking, horrible undead fate, with cowboy boots and a giant shotgun. Rene is a survivor, and in the end it's not her looks that keep her alive.

I know zombie flicks aren't for everyone-- many can't stand the gore, cheesy special effects, the absurd situations, and find the action predictable. And in the case of Undead, there are also plenty of inside Aussie jokes that might pass most moviegoers by. But it also shines as a gem among the throng of Hollywood Night of the Living Dead knock-offs, and certainly there's something compelling about a gutsy feminine hero who subverts the horror genre's female stereotypes.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Radical Cheerleaders in Newsweek

Infoshop linked up this Newsweek article about the radical cheerleaders. I like how they tried to insert drama by making it sound like the radical cheerleaders are somehow treading on the sacred rite of perky females and males everywhere who uphold some sort of cheerleader code or something.

The picture kicks ass, too.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Boobs and identity

I just posted this over at my blog, commenting on this article in The Washington Post: "Breast Implants Linked to Suicide." An excerpt from the story:
The latest study of Finnish women … found that women who had cosmetic implants were more than three times more likely to commit suicide than the general population -- in line with findings from a similar study of Swedish women and one of American women conducted by the National Cancer Institute. ... Some researchers believe the high suicide rate is a result of the psychological makeup of the women choosing implants, that they are, as a group, women with problems different from the general population. Others say, however, that the high suicide rates are a function of the difficulties and pain that sometimes crop up years after the initial breast implant surgery.
I wrote about 1,000 words on it over at Nonsense Verse, so I won't put more here.

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...