Sunday, December 5, 2010

feature: Sita Sings The Blues

Grab the popcorn and the kids. Great message, lots of humor and plenty of great music. Enjoy!



See more at Sita Sites. More about the artists that brought this wonderful story to life here.

  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sacred math and the sacred hoop

words from Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

"You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.  The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it.  The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.  This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.  The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.  Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.  The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.  The moon does the same and both are round.  Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.  Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."




Over a hundred years ago Black Elk had a vision of the time when Indian people would heal from the devastating effects of European migration.  In his vision the Sacred Hoop which had been broken, would be mended in seven generations.

The children born into this decade will be the seventh generation.



  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Petroleum Administration for War Advertisement

Petroleum Administration for War Rationing Advertisement
The Petroleum Administration for War (PAW)
[courtesy of the National Archive]

The PAW was the Federal agency responsible for ensuring the supply of gasoline and other petroleum products during World War II. The PAW worked with representatives of petroleum-industry businesses to ensure that the military had an adequate supply of gasoline while necessary defense industries could still function and that there would be enough left over for civilians to receive the amount guaranteed them by rationing.  This advertisement was published in newspapers in order to encourage civilians to minimize their use of gasoline.  [More below]
View large format for fine print
Do you think the rationale of telling the truth and 'asking nicely' would have worked this time?  Consider how ready most of the Nation seemed to be to 'fight them over there' after 9/11 and you might see how this would have been a reasonable request from the government...like Victory Gardening.  But if you'll remember, we were told to act normally, 'keep shopping' or "they" win (*act normally = whatever particular color on the terror mood ring chart they happened to dictate.  "Hmm, I felt comfortable being orange-normal at the football stadium last week. But maybe we shouldn't take the leap into red-kooky and fly to grandma's this month."). 

With Peak Oil past us and the end of oil being ever nearer - rationing gas and bringing back Victory Gardens would have seemed even more reasonable - and almost nostalgic to the point of admirable, engaging  whole  new generations of patriotism in action by doing their part.  I guess being that honest would have cost Bush and Co. (and friends) an awful lot of money on oil and agribiz stocks...not too mention all the immigrant slave labor. Well, I'm sure everyone will one day look back with pride when recalling  those precious patriotic moments worthy of Howard Zinn's storytelling legacy. All the brave things that terrorists hated most, 'super sizing' in the SUV after trips to America's biggest superstore, employer and Chinese importer, WalMart.

We sure fixed them...



Happy gardening!










  












  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your government is willfully stupid

You are smarter than they are. BLOG, connect, engage others, share, TEACH what you know - create the new system because the old one is broken.

Rethink it.
Reclaim it.




  

What's worse than burning a flag?

Burning down our national home. 

Brilliant open letter to Republicans by Frank Schaeffer, read my Mike Malloy. True conservatives should take heed and back away from this party before you get burned.

You are needed to help put this fire out.


  

Friday, September 24, 2010

H.R.2136 - Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act

What is it?

An act introduced (on 05/03/07) to restrict the use of offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters to inappropriately avoid Federal taxation, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Lloyd Doggett D-TX

Co-sponsored by 47 other Reps...(please note: not ONE was Republican)

Actions:

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Judiciary

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Financial Services

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Ways and Means

May 3rd/07 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on Financial Services, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

May 3rd/07 Introduced in House

Jun 4th/07 Last action: Referred to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

Dead in the water...
Maybe because it requires the Secretary of the Treasury to publish a final rule requiring unregistered investment companies, including hedge funds or private equity funds, to establish anti-money laundering programs and to submit suspicious activity reports.

Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson, Jr. served as the 74th United States Treasury Secretary (under Bush from 06 to 09). He previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.

Timothy Franz Geithner is the 75th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury (under Obama). He was previously the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He played a supporting role to Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, in the decision to bail out AIG just two days after deciding not to rescue Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy. According to some observers, Geithner severely damaged the U.S. economy.

Geithner believes along with Henry Paulson, that the United States Department of the Treasury needs new authority to experiment with responses to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 (...during both their tenures...). Paulson has described Geithner as "[a] very unusually talented young man...[who] understands government and understands markets."

Yeah, so will all of us when we do some research to see who has more than a few tax havens. You can view the entire act here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h2136/text


The only information in I could locate on this subject since it died in referral was from local papers during election season on Congressional candidates that had offshore holdings like, Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan, Republican Congressman representing Florida's 13th congressional district.

So why on earth was it referred to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property? Intellectual property deals with patents and several bills introduced in the 110th Congress address the recently recognized phenomenon of patented tax strategies. These legislative initiatives respond in different ways to the grant of exclusive intellectual property rights by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on methods that individuals and enterprises might use in order to minimize their tax obligations.

Wikileaks article release: Patents on Tax Strategies: Issues in Intellectual Property and Innovation
http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34221_20080110.pdf

Reminder - this election season when Republicans want to extend Bush Tax Cuts - you may want to consider they've been getting more than enough through the loopholes their corporate sugar daddies have created, by manipulating the law during the time Bush was in office. Don't forget how we got here.

Ready for real change?

(Additional sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/)

  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Moments of grace


This post is one part movie recommendation and  discourse. As a photographer I enjoy visually stunning movies and as a writer, I like good scripts that bring perfect harmony to the images.

You may see a post like this from time to time, especially when I feel that a film is artistically significant to current social/cultural events. [And, it is The Refreshment Center, after all!] One of my favorite past-times is viewing a great film and discussing it afterward. Bad movies are fun to discuss, too but rarely do they leave a mark like a great film is apt to do.

Several years ago, I watched the movie "Children of Men". I highly recommend viewing and promise the following synopsis won't spoil the experience. (Release year 2006) From IMDB: "In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child's birth may help scientists save the future of humankind."

I've been thinking a lot about this movie recently after seeing it a second time online. I was struck with the same feeling that was difficult to describe. Upon first viewing, my mind was reeling with thoughts about the attitudes of western society, the apathy that runs rampant when given so many choices and the bombardment of the psyche to consume, consume, consume rather than create, build or dream. Basically, the state of mind of the world today has very little to do with being thoughtful, gracious, kind or sympathetic. Very feminine qualities some might say but I put to you that these are qualities of all human beings.

When the movie was over, I was struck in such a way that I had to jot down a quote that came off the top of my head. It is my intent to describe how a film brought me to this thought and provide some context to what follows.

"Moments of grace are short lived in the world of man."

The future portrayed in the film is not one too far off if we do not become thoughtful, gracious, kind and sympathetic human beings who care for it and for others who share it with us. Lots of things are broken and it is alright to be angry about it. It's possible to repair a lot if we use that anger in a positive way, to build rather than destroy and stand up rather than take things sitting down. And stop praying on your knees for something to happen...YOU have to happen. Because WE have to happen.

Who am I talking to? All my fellow citizens, some formerly known as the 'middle class' (or as lovingly referred to by corporate fat cats, the 'small people'). Those savvy, hard working folks that have a little more time on their hands than they'd prefer. Those people who struggled to pay for a college degree and are busing tables or still looking for work. Those who may be lamenting this past Labor Day for the lack of good paying labor jobs.

You have skills and they are needed. It's a good time to shift our thinking about 'labor' to 'work we've always wanted to do'...or to put it another way: the work we were meant to do. Those things we dreamed of doing and need to focus some time on when we feel the least bit down. Write, paint, sing...join or start a community project or garden. Lend your talents to your city or hometown. Engage locally. If you feel your talents in organizing and planning are going to waste, plan meetings and gather concerned citizens to a cause. I can guarantee you will not be alone in your concern.

My advice during election time is to tune out the radio, TV and seek information in places you never thought to seek it before. Just because it is easy to turn on the television or a radio doesn't mean what is coming out of it is right or good. You can choose to clean and clear the media sludge in your mind that gets left there by corporations pimping goods to all us obedient pharma dumpsters or greedy politicians and their consumer guilt trips. I chose to get rid of my television almost two years ago and I began to focus on what I loved to do. My mind and my life changed for the better...no gadget, car, political party or pill can do that.

You can choose not to listen to idle gossip and drama between people who would rather not be above their little ego's reality TV show dictates. Choose to be tired of molehills becoming mountains while the rich get richer, the middle class disappears and the Gulf is dying. Choose to be tired of no talent, bubble-headed heiresses slowly morphing into poisonous role models while parents weren't paying attention to what their kids were watching because they were too busy listening to a bubble-headed politician that wants to ban literature.

Yes, I'm referring to Palin. What she isn't bright enough to figure out is the little first amendment blow back that's such a pisser for Neocons but good for book sales...if you want to read a really great book, just pick one from a banned book list. (Aunt Gabby says: have fun kids!)

I've heard it said it takes a village to raise a child...and too often, the village has allowed the TV to be the babysitter. But haven't we become the children to an extent? Do we no longer have a village? I challenge all who read this to spend a week away from the television, radio, internet and reconnect with your kids and young family members. More importantly for them in the long run, reconnect with nature, a good book...reconnect with yourself! The slick, pretty, screaming heads on the screen will tell you nothing more...and they will keep selling until they buy you out of what's left of your own mind.

How important would television be if humankind experienced an economic collapse tomorrow? What if we don't remember how to fall back on our own thinking, were never taught to rely on our own wits or never allowed any of our true abilities to shine out? I've often wondered what some Wall Street bankers wanted to be when they grew up; that is, if their paths hadn't already been chosen. It's historical fact that during the Great Depression, many bankers jumped out of windows to their death because they ruined the economy and the lives of millions...or could it be it was because they lost their own shirts? I guess we'll never know but the difference now is that these swine jump with golden parachutes.

So what do you have? When you think for yourself, go with your gut and trust your heart...what you will have are those things 'corporate persons' do not and they and no one else can never take from you:

Wings.

Want to fly? Stop giving consent for your wings to be clipped.

"Moments of grace are short lived in the world of man." - (Know what I mean?)

  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Power of Nightmares

posted by Gabrielle Jones-Price

I watched this series about a month ago and it really shined a bright light on how the Neocon/Neoliberal 'experiment' began to grip this country and turned the American politic into the most illogical, morally bankrupt system known to man. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear is a 2004 television documentary series by Adam Curtis.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in a flag and carrying a cross." ~ Sinclair Lewis







Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On the subject of anarchy...

by Gabrielle Jones-Price 

After an interesting and lighthearted conversation about rules (personal mostly), I was struck by a statement that my friend offered up about anarchy:

"Anarchists don't build roads or hospitals."


My thought was that anarchists would not build more roads or hospitals by the logic that in this industrial age, we certainly don't need roads more than we need to fix what has already been paved. In the same line of thinking, anarchists would not want to build roads that lead to more strip malls and fast food consumerism that in turn lead more people to hospitals where no one gets proper care, even with expensive insurance policies, adding to more consumption within the pharmaceutical realm where CEO's get richer while people get sicker. Being sick in America is profitable -- it's why there is so much garbage in the food.

It's a system that's flawed because the resource extraction to keep it afloat is inherently violent. That is what an empire looks like and all empires fail. I'm glad others are seeking to build something outside of the existing structure that is more localized and community driven.

Anarchists want to turn that system upside down and sometimes break it, so that we can build a better one than exists. Simply put, if anarchists or revolutionaries did not exist, change would not exist and a world without change does not; cannot evolve. Everything is impermanent. Many anarchists understand this Buddhist philosophy more than most westerners and I feel they embody Gandhi's notion of being the change they wish to see in the world.

They may be unorthodox, kooky, strange or bewildering in behavior but in the end, they do it out of love and a passion for something better than the existing mediocrity of an overly comfortable capitalist society that looks the other way [the left] or cheers for more war [right]. Anarchists believe in the beauty of what lies beyond what most people so easily and too often settle for in this country. Many civil rights pioneers might today be considered anarchists.

Not all anarchists are violent but many are angry because they CARE. Anger is a valid human emotion. Suppressing our anger in the face of injustices puts more people in hospitals due to stress alone.

Hug a local anarchist...they are making changes many Americans are simply afraid to make themselves and those changes will benefit the whole.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Woman's role in creation

by Anais Nin

Woman's role in creation should be parallel to her role in life. I don't mean the good earth. I mean the bad earth too, the demon, the instincts, the storms of nature. Tragedies, conflicts, mysteries are personal. Man fabricated a detachment which became fatal. Woman must not fabricate.

She must descend into the real womb and expose its secrets and its labyrinths. She must describe it as the city of Fez, with its Arabian Nights gentleness, tranquility and mystery. She must describe the voracious moods, the desires, the worlds contained in each cell of it. For the womb has dreams. It is not as simple as the good earth. I believe at times that man created art out of fear of exploring woman. I believe woman stuttered about herself out of fear of what she had to say. She covered herself with taboos and veils. Man invented a woman to suit his needs. He disposed of her by identifying her with nature and then paraded his contemptuous domination of nature. But woman is not nature only. She is the mermaid with her fish-tail dipped in the unconscious. Her creation will be to make articulate this obscure world which dominates man, which he denies being dominated by, but which asserts its domination in destructive proofs of its present madness.

[Learn more about Anais.]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Journalism, politics and WTF?

submitted by Gabrielle Jones-Price

I'm one of those Gemini's that is addicted to information. I've never met another Gemini that wasn't in some way, shape or form addicted to something information related. Whether it is computer codes, musical notes, books, electronics or all of the above the Mercurial sign of the twins is certainly ruled by communication.

This can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you decide how to use this specific 'gift'. The kind of minds that race with data can be hard to shut off at night without some other sensory distraction like music or white noise. Meditation is incredibly helpful for the sign of the twins so my racing mind isn't a big problem unless I drink a lot of caffeine or read a lot of news.

Yeah...news. Lots of it now and a lot of it not so good. Working on articles to post is a nightmare because it is difficult to know where to start as a jumping off point. Which story to work, what needs more attention, what will do the most good. I suppose you could ask a lot of journalists what their difficulties are and I'd hazard to guess a lot of them couldn't say 'do the most good' from what I've seen lately...unless it's for the 'good' of a corporation or the war...which is the same. I'm beginning my journey as a writer and in the current climate of the press, it is an exciting time to jump in. For an activist it can sometimes be stressful in trying to find the truth. There is simply quite a lot of bull shit to step around out there.

I've been a long time subscriber of Freepress and Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting newsletters, at least since Bush's second term. I was more involved in trying to raise awareness about what this administration was doing by networking with activists and marching, especially after working the polls. People were very frustrated. I had hit a brick wall and experienced burnout along with other friends who were active. Some people moved away, others took on different causes and I was a single mom whose daughter just moved away. I experienced a whole new kind of personal freedom and a lot of things happened during that time. I was working two jobs and trying to get a photography biz jump-started. That summer, I survived an attack but escaped relatively unharmed...at least on the outside. It was also the summer I saw something terribly, terribly wrong with media when Katrina hit the Gulf coast.

After what amounted to a PTSD spiral, I took a break from activism to recoup and regroup. I found I couldn't stay away from it long because it helped me deal with a lot of things. It brought me together with like minded people for something bigger than myself. So any circumstance or event that seemed bad in my life simply paled in comparison to what I saw going on in the world. I went to the big march on DC in January of 2007, which was a life changing experience for me and I wouldn't trade that for the world. But with little to no media coverage on the largest march since Vietnam, it seemed the momentum had gone out of the activism for awhile after, personally. I felt as if I'd reached some plateau of thinking that there wasn't much else one person could do. So I focused on myself and did a lot of reading and reconnecting with my camera. Photography was my catharsis.

I still did a lot of writing, blogging and posting on social media especially during election time, when I wasn't taking pictures. I have always been a cheerleader for the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment and especially after the Patriot Act was passed. It was dumbfounding to me that I might actually be considered an 'enemy combatant' so I found and supported several groups including one that supported third party candidates. Democrats simply left many anti-war activists a lack of choice (which I find highly unpatriotic, Patriot Act be damned). Whether anyone voted for my choice of candidate didn't matter to me, as long as people were involved in the process. They might just be curious enough to investigate on their own.

I don't know...call me crazy...but I still have this idea in my head that people are inherently good and will make good choices if they are presented with good information. Kooky, I know.

Just before the last presidential election, I was following the candidates as closely as I had before but didn't write too much at that time. I simply had some living to do and my brain felt like there had been a perpetual campaign going on (little did I know how correct that assessment was). The big three that were up to bat were Edwards, Clinton and Obama...the current President was my last choice. Edwards called for a pledge from his fellow Dems running against him to join him in declaring that they would not take lobbyist money. I thought that was a courageous play and Obama took the pledge. Hillary did not. Of course I want to see a woman in the White House one day...just not that one. She lost my vote, much to the chagrin of some of my female counterparts but bless 'em, they were resilient and got over it rather quickly. After Edwards indiscretion (still making news...for cry-eye-eye), I decided there was a lot of homework to do on Obama before I cast my vote.

The run up to the election was coming at me through bits and pieces after that time - I was busy moving and getting ready to take a leap in a new house, new studio and a bold risk with the photography. I got rid of my television, listened to debates on NPR radio and got my news via the internet. I remember the day I heard that McCain had chosen a female as his VP running mate and initially thought that was a very smart move...

I'll just say after hearing the debates, it wasn't an option not to try to get Obama in the White House. Any respect I had for McCain dwindled fast during his campaign...all the way up to his concession speech which was a day late and a dollar short. The kind of ugly campaigning they did had taken its toll...and that mud slinging ugliness is still alive and well. The perpetual campaigning is to the point where there is no damn governing going on in DC.

Any respect I had for journalism was dwindling just as fast as Palin's career should have. And now I'm hearing that one of her offspring is going to be on Dancing With The Stars...and that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the WTF?

There is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seeing without a camera...


Yeah, well...I've been doing an awful lot of that lately. It's important for photographers who are geeks about their cameras and their craft to occasionally stop looking at life through a viewfinder and actually interact with it. Something about being behind a lens gives a photographer somewhat of a sense of detachment, which can be a good way to learn to be objective. That has its limits, however. 
Photo courtesy of John Brooks

I enjoyed going to live shows to see bands of all kinds for awhile. At some point, I stepped outside myself and asked where this was going. I was attending shows and working seriously (I don't know any other way to shoot) but it seemed the payoff was door cover, beer and seeing my pics on social media. I had a very nice web site for about a year, thanks to a good friend and musician who offered to work a trade. I took on a few projects that were outside my comfort zone and stretched myself. But what I learned was that in making this a business and dealing with attitudes I wasn't used to, it sucked the passion right out of it. I sold enough art pieces to cover the cost of the site, decided not to renew and after a year, went in another direction with a music project. That's when the writing muse returned.

Shows aside, I made money shooting a few weddings, events, parties, and sporting events over a handful of years. When I'm shooting, I'm shooting...I don't talk much when I do so my other senses begin to heighten. I heard a lot of funny anecdotes and stories at weddings. There were shows in particular that I enjoyed and others where I heard a lot more than I wanted to hear. Overhearing conversations can be fortunate (or really unfortunate depending on the club). The unfortunate ones cannot be unheard and that was another kind of burnout altogether. Drama gets old...especially when it's the same play over and over again with the same characters. The word of mouth from my work was good but in the end, door cover and beer wasn't worth the drama or the drive. What leads did come from it didn't pay, so I had to stop and ask, "Am I being taken seriously?" Because for awhile I felt treated like a twenty-something fan grrl with a camera.

Don't get me wrong, trades and backscratching are a good thing for artists to do for each other. It's good for networking and getting your name out there. Perhaps photography is just a different animal. There are a lot of decent digital cameras on the market so anyone can shoot a show and have decent shots to share. But if there is a particular style of photography you would like to use that's outside the realm of auto/point and shoot, you're going to need to find a photographer that knows manual camera settings for that. Point and shoot lacks a lot of feeling and that's not what good music photos should portray.

Being behind the camera is always more fun for me when there is music playing. It has inspired my photography since the beginning and now it's just a matter of getting back to the simplicity of the thing. Whether blaring tunes in the car looking around for a shot or listening while setting up shots in a studio...that's when I'm in my element. I will always be learning to see with my camera. Sometimes, it's just the photographer's vision that gets unfocused.

It's times like these that you just have to go with the flow and abide.

You can support The Refreshment Center through purchasing prints of my photography, a one time gift via Paypal, or a recurring podcast patron at Patreon. Thank you.