Category Archives: change

I Am so Ready!

I Am so Ready

(thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

No matter the number of years I’ve thought about it and meditated on what it means to me, the idea that I am ‘so ready’ for that final breath is still, well, stunning. I’ve given myself the freedom to speak openly about my ‘impending’ death for some time now even if it causes a frozen lull in most conversations.

Why would someone speak about dying? Some are simply fed up and think, ‘enough is enough’ while some, if rarely, are eager to join up with their chosen loving deity or whatever. That’s not how it is for me.

Am I dissatisfied with the conditions of Earth as imposed upon it by a ruling species unwilling to control its power and take responsibility for its actions? Certainly but that does not drive me to despair, quite to contrary, since I have an impeccable solution to such problems.

Do I think that I’ve done enough and it’s time for a much deserved break from the merry-go-round and the pig pen? No, quite the opposite: I know I haven’t performed to the best of my abilities and there is so much more to be done. I know that my sudden “departure” would currently leave some people in the lurch.

No, my sense of being ready does not come from selfish motives. It comes from an innate knowing. It comes from a bursting of joy having something good and tangible to take with me after a wonderful day at the fair.

The fair is still going full bore; I could stay and play some more but speaking of bore, any fair will get boring if it goes on too long. I don’t want this to go on past the point where I can enjoy it. I don’t want to just sit in the car as the night falls and the lights come on only to fade.

There is a sense of fullness that is driving me, today particularly. I want to enjoy that quiet if passionate, fullness. I want to enjoy one accomplishment in particular: detachment. There is nothing, and no one that has the power to hold me here. I am the one with the power, all of it and that means I have also managed to get a handle on self empowerment.

I choose, I decide, no regrets. I gave myself a purpose for my life henceforth and that purpose is anchored within my own nature now. Like Leto Atreides II choosing to forfeit his humanity in order to become a sand worm, the Fremen deity called Shai’Hulud, I have forfeited my humanity (or perhaps gained it!) by turning myself over to becoming an avatar of compassion.

This is done now. What comes next, is next. I live in the joy of this accomplishment. I was taught even as a child that it is possible to change one’s nature. I had to prove it to myself and the answer is, yes.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #57

(Continuing with the saga, now back in the slave quarters with their usual, unchanging conundrums – or are they really unchanging, or dare I say, unchangeable?)

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.
[end blog post #56]

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[begin blog post #57]

Chapter 26 – Tiki Tells a Story and An’Tierra Remembers

As the daily treatments of ice-cold water on bare flesh in pre-dawn light causes shock and exhilaration at the same time, so I put my mind through this process.  I do my mantras against fear and for total detachment.  Each morning I push Tiki away from my body and close my heart to her sounds and scent.  She is doing everything in her child-woman power to seduce me to be mother and lover to her.  I am doing everything in my power to give her all she really needs that I can give without falling into the temptation of ownership.  Quasi-legally, because the men decree it so, she is my slave until they (or I) decide otherwise, or until either of us is killed.  I could kill her myself and nothing much would come of it, except maybe I’d have to reimburse her owner (if she has one yet, there is no way of knowing) by taking an extra turn in the arena. 

The lives of females are the cheapest commodity on Malefactus until the betting starts on a fight.  A young trainee without reputation and without an owner has no value at all.  She may earn some points through sexual performance but that’s shaky.  Most of these men, the trainers, handlers, blacksmiths and male nurses or medics aren’t that interested in “performance.”  They just take you when they feel a need and discard you, often with a slap or a kick.  Romance is not their strong point.

Tiki has already been gang-raped twice during her voyage to Hyrete from her segregated crèche in a fortified village in an independent principality east of the kingdom of Elbre and south of the Union of Estáan where she was raised from an infant.  The trip by foot, using male slaves as baggage carriers, took over four weeks of difficult walking through soft and shifting dunes.  There were twenty-four young females when the trek began.  Twenty three arrived in various degrees of exhaustion from starvation, dehydration and physical abuse at the compound in Hyrete.

The soldiers who accompanied the trek to guard against raiders decided that each night they would have a sex orgy.  So each night a couple of the girls were forced to perform erotic dances for which they had not been trained and were then raped repeatedly.  Some were otherwise abused.  One cried out under torture and was killed after they finished with her.  According to Tiki, the soldier guards were drinking heavily and mixing chakr in their brew.  Under the influence of the drink, they mixed the forbidden drink using the dying girl’s blood and chakr.  Then they took pieces of her body and cooked themselves a “sacred” meal.  I’d heard a similar story from Tiegli so I have no reason to doubt Tiki’s account of that ghoulish march.  For these girls the slave compound in the great keep of Hyrete would seem a reprieve, a place of safety… until they find out otherwise. 

There is yet no such place on T’Sing Tarleyn for any woman.  What, you may ask, constitutes a “safe” place for a woman, in any society, on any world?  I would say from personal experience it’s a place where a woman is safe without having to rely on anyone else, especially on a male, to protect her.  Ideally, wherever a woman happens to be, that is automatically her sacred, inalienable and inviolable sanctuary.  In any situation, any role, a woman is approached only by her permission.  Only when she clearly indicates her sanctuary is open can another walk in to “touch” her.  That is how I see it now.

Yes I know Tiki desperately needs a mother figure in her life.  She desperately needs love and protection, however tenuous, from an elder.  I know I can provide some of it for her, but I want her to find it on her own, within herself.  The only place of comfort and safety here is within one’s heart and mind.  There is nothing that can help you outside of yourself.  Nothing.  That is, I realize belatedly, the true “lesson” of the stack worlds, regardless whether they are on the “light” or the “dark” side of the balance equation.

I brought this knowledge with me here, of course.  It’s something all Altarians know, a basic natural awareness.  Tiegli discovered this before she died.  The “Concubines” or twins already know this.  Perhaps the Cydroids also, although their minds do not function like ours so I still do not know how they perceive their reality in relation to natural humans. 

Now Tiki must learn it for herself.  I must allow her close to me while keeping my anti-emotion shields up when we are in contact.  I begin by approaching my handlers and complaining that Tiki is too much of a distraction.  She needs to be occupied.  I address Delton, overseer of handlers.

“Speak sir?”

His gaze sweeps over me with a rather neutral and tired look as I stand with head bowed.  “Speak gora.”  It’s the ritual opening.  A reminder that has lost much of its meaning over the years I’ve heard it, as do all rituals, yet deadly dangerous to take for granted.  Rituals are noticed, not in being performed but in being ignored.  I speak without looking at his face, focusing on a purple blotch above his left knee.

“Young slave 1339-32-19 which shares sleep with me need better employ sir.  She has use, perhaps kitchen?  Perhaps clean the straw?  Too weak for weapons training yet sir.  Too young, waste of time – me.  Need time for older fighters to make better.  Maybe train to help nurse?” 

I display the most abject and humble stance I can muster, using the kind of pidgin they prefer to hear, in the hope he will even listen.  He sneers – another ritual – and motions me away.  I’ve been “heard” whatever comes of it.  I know after so many years that they are good at listening and pretending they don’t.  Females know nothing so they cannot accept any suggestions directly.  They discuss any point I raise privately in their strategy and meeting sessions, taking full credit for any idea they think has merit. 

Later that day Tiki, or should I say slave #1339-32-19 is taken from our cage and escorted into the kitchens.  The number I quote is the last line of numbers branded on her backside.  It refers to year, batch number and number in batch when she was admitted into the training compound in Hyrete.  For example, year #1339 is admission to Hyrete arena compound as trainee at age 13.  #32 is thirty-second batch to arrive that year.  #19 is order of branding as number nineteen in batch.  She has another brand line above that stating the year of birth and class of breeding.  Hers is #1326-04.  Born year 1326 local time; class 4 female fighter.  She is permanently branded as a gladiator.  Any man can thus know instantly what she is – not whom – women have no status as human beings.

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #52

While awakening and being returned into hypnotic “sleep” over and over; being automatically rolled out of the A-M for Dr. Echinoza’s inspection and Yoba Five’s gentle touch, feeding and rolling over, I completely lose sense of time.  It could have been years, or hours.  I feel an unnatural tingling in my hands and instinctively want to scratch but of course cannot.  I’m securely bound to the gurney, face down this time.  It seems that each time I’m sent back in, if I faced down, now I’m facing up and vice-versa.  There is no pain, just total mild discomfort.  Ants are crawling up both my arms and up my leg. 

Another “out” session.  This time I am facing up.  Bal is asking questions.  I have to focus on his voice – I thought I was dreaming again.
[end blog post #51]
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[begin blog post #52]

“Can you feel your implants?”

“I can feel ants crawling up my arms and leg but of implants nary a crawling do I feel.”

“You’re a really bad poet Antierra.  The tingling and itching is normal as the bionic parts are integrating with the biological.  Can you flex your fingers for me?”

He puts his hand in mine and I squeeze.  He yells and commands me to let go.  I do, surprised at his reaction.

“What happened?  Was there an electrical discharge from my body?”

“That would have been easier.  You now have positronic command-linked “hardware” supplementing your biological structure with an approximately ten to one transfer ratio of force.  You almost crushed my hand with your grip.  Here, hold this.”  He hands me what looks like a hard rubber ball.

“I want you to squeeze this with your right hand, then with your left.  I want to measure the stress you put on it.”

“Hard?”

“Try normal, if that means anything.”  It doesn’t.  I squeeze what I think is normal and the ball disintegrates.

“I’m sorry Bal.  I can’t seem to control the effects of the squeeze.”

“Don’t worry, that will come with a bit of practice.  Also, you will eventually feel the pain you cause your own flesh and you will crack your skin when you squeeze too hard.  Your own flesh will bruise until it adapts.  It will adapt very quickly, as will your skin – changing its encoding is part of the treatment.”

“What about my ankle, leg and foot, Bal?  Are they like this, out of control too?”  I feel excitement, elation and fear all at the same time.  So many “what if’s” with this new body.

“I don’t know.  We’ll have to get you standing to test that.  But my guess is, yes, you’ll have the same problems adapting to your implants there.  Would you like to stand?”

“Bal, I feel I’ve been lying down for years!  Yes I certainly wish to stand.”

“It’s only been just over twenty-four hours actually.

Yoba Five comes over and unstraps me and helps me sit on the gurney.  The light fades and I drop in her arms helpless.  Before I pass out I notice she gingerly grabs my arms and holds my hands away from her.  I close my fists on empty space.

As soon as I recover I’m helped to my feet and taken out of the old Jump Scout ship into the open part of Bal’s office.  The “wall” swishes into place.  They let go of me and I stand on both feet but can only feel one.  I lift my feet, one at a time and watch them move.  Gradually a new feeling comes to my positronic side and I manage to take several steps before I get confused and stumble. 

Yoba Five grabs me from behind but again avoids my hands.  Bal hands me a short stick to hold on to and I find I can control how much pressure I put on it.  Then my foot regains some feeling and I walk some more.  Then more.  I stand on the left foot only and keep my balance without feeling any stress.  This is good.  I feel no pain anywhere in my body.  Gradually I grow into a wild euphoric state of body and mind.  I want to run out in the yards, screaming, shouting and laughing.  I want to tell everybody on this stupid world how beautiful life can be if they just choose it so. 

“Well now we know for certain the replacements worked as planned, that the cleaning is thorough and your healing complete, Antierra.”  The soothing voice of Yoba Five fills me with pleasure.

“Thank you Yoba Five.”

The Cydroid’s laugh floats out to me like the music of a limpid mountain stream trickling down over moss covered rocks.  “I’m YBA2.  My twin is resting.  But I can accept your thanks for her.”

“That is amazing.  You are identical to her in every detail.  Even in my heart I cannot tell you apart.”

“Neither can our lover Bal, most of the time, and he’s had us for many years.”  And she leans over to the Doctor and kisses him hotly.  I stare.  She laughs at me.

“YBA5 obviously did not tell you we share everything in our family group.  Everything.  Naturally we share lovers.  Why should they care?  If one of us is in some way occupied or indisposed he does not have to go without our attentions.  I’ve personally accompanied Dr. Echinoza on dozens of trysts to the southern hideaway.  I did not always mention I was not YBA5, even though I know that his preference is for my youngest sister.  Games of love are good if they harm no one.  Cydroids do not chose to experience jealousy.  It’s a thing that would be of no value to us.”

“I’m going to keep you under close observation for another day.” says Bal.  “We still have four days to bring you out of retirement, girl.  Let’s not take any chances with any malfunction of the positronic implants.  You must be absolutely aware of them and confident of your control over them before you can return to your normal life here.  You will be under close scrutiny because it is well known that no one recovers from Warmo’s treatments.  I hope you are working on a solid story as to why you recovered so easily?”

“I have.  If I’m questioned, the Inquisitor’s machine failed to crush my wrists.  It only bruised me severely but never damaged any muscle or bone.  I was released before the mistake was discovered.  And will someone please, please, tell me if my lover has been found?  Can I see her again, please?”

“Very convincing, Altarian.  (He always says this with a barely repressed sneer, as if to say ‘well it’s your story and I don’t have to buy into it.’)  You’re female so they won’t expect too much.  They’ll likely accept your distraught state over the loss of your Cholradil lover and will warn you to settle down or face consequences.  You will meekly accept the rebuke and be quiet.  Things should return to normal.  Just don’t grab any weapon or someone’s arm and crush it with your bare hands.  And don’t be too quick to use that left foot in fighting.  Only as necessary, you understand?  Eyes and ears will be on you, and from you, on us.  We want to destroy Warmo.  Do your part as discussed and desist from doing more than agreed.  Let us do our work.”

“I promise.  Thank you again doctor, for everything.  But mostly, thank you for saving Deirdre.”

“Your lover?  What about me?  Don’t you love me anymore?”  And he smiles and winks at me as he says this.

“I am terribly embarrassed, doctor, I mean, Bal.  You were correct, that was the drug talking, the misery I felt from losing Deirdre and the shock of the torture.  I wanted to cling to someone real.  No, I don’t love you, certainly not that way.  I admire you and I respect you.  You are free from any other attention or intention.  But if you otherwise want me or need me, for that you need not ask.  It’s yours.”

“Very understanding.  I agree, you should be a Cydroid.  We couldn’t do that but we made you a little faster and tougher than before.  You are now a partially bionic being.  Let’s hope our enhancements won’t be looked at too closely if they should get exposed by cuts in the arena.  You will exercise caution?”

“Yes I will.  I understand your concern.  You have your people to worry about here and your hopes for change in this place.  I’m here to help, not hinder.  I will use the advantages you have invested me with to the best of my ability, Bal.  Please convey my thanks and full admiration to XBA9.”

It’s YBA2 who answers.  “That won’t be necessary.  He does not do it for thanks or admiration, but for the experience and being part of an elaborate and complex game.  We Cydroids play many games that endanger life.  It’s often how we seek answers to existential questions that remain beyond ourselves.  We have many abilities you do not have, such as blocking neural responses to pain.  If we had to feel these worlds the way you do we would be in worse shape than the Cholradil.  We will do our part.  Get ready to do yours.”

Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #51

I find my eyes filling with tears as she reads these details in my mind.  I had expected her to find nothing but a chaotic mess of darkness and filth in there.  She holds up a mirror for my mind to heal itself from the “little death” of fear and doubt.  I am indeed, still alive, very much so. 

And I remain, despite all of this pain and confusion, Al’Tara the Altarian. 

I am not lost.  I will pass this test.

[end blog post #50]


[begin blog post #51]

Chapter 24 – ‘Bionic Woman’ faces Malefactus

According to YBA5 I have been granted a week to return ready to train and fight, or be officially terminated as ordered by the Arena Fighter Committee.  For them it’s an easy decision.  I’m old and not likely to produce many more interesting fights.  Since I have served them well they would even save me from the final killing orgy.

A quick explanation of “killing orgy day” —  my name for it, not theirs.  They link these with some kind of “national” holiday.

The purpose is twofold. 

First, it is used to cull old and considered useless females from the fighter line-ups; or those who have lost their owners and no one placing bets on them or paying for their basic maintenance.  Other types earmarked for the killings are the ‘dikfols’(slang; woman gone crazy from blows to head, grief or other pathological cause) held in chains in the back cages specifically for this day; hopeless cases of young trainees; female law-breakers not yet executed; unclaimed “wild” captured females; any “extra” contingent of sex-slaves or workers deemed expendable or purchased from their owners by the Arena Fighter Committee for this purpose. 

These are all lined up for certain death on that particular day and should any women somehow manage to survive the killings they are mowed down with laser rifles by guards or police forces brought in for the occasion.  Point: not a single woman earmarked for a killing orgy can survive it. It is her day of death.  

Second, it is the number one entertainment for the masses.  On that day access to the arena is free.  Each fan is given a number that gives him access to an arena seat.  It is also a ticket for a random number selection which if called, gives him the coveted right to enter the arena proper as an official challenger, provided with a free weapon he may keep as a personal trophy if he survives his fight.

It is a day of the ugliest, most disgusting displays that pseudo-humans are capable of.  The fans are loaded with chakr and carry plastic pouches of home brew.  Drugged and drunk, they crowd the railings, hoping to elude guards and jump into the arena to rape and kill a female. 

The highlight for individuals in these orgies is having their number drawn and receiving official entry into the arena to challenge a female opponent.  It must be said that many of these idiots manage to get themselves slaughtered by the fighters before they too succumb to physical exhaustion and blood loss from never-ending challenges.  I have experienced many of those days, having to stand at the various gates to support guards and trainers in preventing a drugged and boozed-up maddened crowd from breaking through the accesses to the female compounds.  Armed guards, or local police units, are not permitted to intervene in these cases simply because opening fire in such crowded conditions could result in a mass slaughter of men, an unacceptable compromise and there is no guarantee that the guards themselves would not join in the madness and use their weapons on the females!  There is a very precarious balance of power here that can easily shift – always to the detriment of the female slave class.

As for using special forces from the military who are ostensibly better disciplined, that is a no-go mostly because the owners of the female fighters are not willing to spend to money necessary for this extra security.  So they use us, knowing we have a very real incentive in preventing the men from rushing into our compounds: our own life, and the lives of our lovers and friends.  Also our weapons do not normally cause havoc yet still provide a powerful deterrent to the unarmed males.  I must note here that we do not have the least compunction about killing these males.  It’s our way to avenge the victims of the arena. 

They hold at least two of these killing orgy “holidays” a year.  The crowds are mostly made up of the gutter types I encountered when I first came into the city what seems now ages ago.  Most of these “fans” can never afford to attend regular meets where the real fighting and heavy gambling takes place. 

When the women are all killed the “fights” are officially terminated.  Now the killers rampage through the bodies, cutting off appendages until only trunks or torsos of the women victims lie in the bloody sand.  Scavenged appendages are removed as trophies which, I’ve heard from handlers, are carefully preserved by taxidermy and hung in hovels or carried in pouches as longevity charms.  These macabre items are very marketable, though such trafficking is officially banned.  The practice is actually on the increase and has become a serious security problem for owners or renters of worker females who are stolen (they are not considered kidnapped since they are not legally human) from their working stations and slaughtered for their parts. 

I hope that short explanation helps you to understand a bit more about the mindset that rules this planet.  Elbre from what I understand is not an exception but the rule for all of T’Sing Tarleyn.  It is the way of it.

The auto-medic upgrade arrives the day after my long, productive session with the Cydroid YBA5, whom I now refer to as “Yoba Five” with her permission, which she granted when I asked,  “Can I call you YoBa?”

“YoBa?”  She smiles again.  “Why yes, I’d like that very much.  YoBa makes my name more human.  Thank you!  But if you wish to speak only to me, don’t forget to add ‘five’ to the name so my twins won’t listen in automatically.  So, I am Yoba Five to you.”  

And speaking of five, five days remain before my death sentence is carried out.  And I see no way I can ever return to the training and fighting compounds in such a short time.

Two male Cydroids, disguised as guard and trainer, bring the equipment in and after stripping from their regular uniforms to don skin tight suits more suitable to the work, proceed to remove and replace.  I am allowed to watch and even participate in an advisory capacity in the upgrade and my remembered skills,  however rudimentary, as a techie of Old Earth and on Supremacy ships, are useful.  The Melkiar wars provided all of us with an intimate knowledge of the workings of auto-meds on our ships.  They saw much use then.

Wall panels come off carefully, are marked with numbers and stacked.  Wire harnesses peeled off, disconnected, coiled and stored in sealed opaque lead-lined bags.  New harnesses are re-routed and connected to new modules.  Main and auxiliary com boards are installed, plugged in and tested.  New banks of warning lights replace the old.  New arms, sensors, probes mounted on pre-fab flanges are secured, plugged in and also tested for mobility and reach.  Finally comes the re-install of the panels, all but the one which contained the old arms and probes.  The Cydroids have had a new cover made for that section.

The five hours allocated for the change-over are shaved down to less than three.  The unit is tested briefly on XBA4 who is in need of a transplant in the  knee.  There are no flaws.  The unit performs perfectly and now it’s my turn.  Time is of the essence.

I am put on the retractable table and must, regrettably, forego the little “party” of celebration being planned as soon as the doctor returns.  I was going to ask Yoba Five not to forget the info-vid on Warmo, then remembered that Cydroids cannot forget!  I am taken inside the auto-medic and the replacement of my broken and damaged parts begins. 

There is not much to say of an experience like that.  The anaesthetic is local so I remain fully conscious.  I have been fitted with a receiver in my ear and a special pair of “glasses” allow me to view a screen that is otherwise opaque.  I’m treated to acts and verbalized “thoughts” of Warmo.  However much I would rather just shut it off and go to sleep I know I have to remain alert and learn this man’s mind.  It is indeed that of a demon.  There is little here that would resemble even the lowliest mind of a pseudo-human.  He does things to his victims that I cannot describe here – there is a limit to my bluntness after all.  I force myself to study this creature, not because I need more horror in my already overloaded heart, but because I need this information when I meet him in the arena.  Yoba Five has convinced me that the “sting” that will bring a death conviction will succeed and that the rest is inevitable.  The Cydroids have linked minds to “re-create” a tiny slice of my future that will bring me face to face with the monster I must conquer and defeat utterly. 

In many ways, this monster, this Warmo, is but a ghost that has followed me across the barriers, over time, and waited to re-possess me on Malefactus.  He is, indeed, one of those men I remember from my female life on Earth, World War II in Paris, France, when I was tortured and killed at the age of twenty-eight for allegedly belonging to the local underground force that fought the Nazis in the streets of Paris.  A living ghost from those SS cement dungeons I still remember as vividly as if it happened yesterday.  I cannot, here, go into the details of that particularly crucial Earthian life. 

Finally and thankfully, the info-vid terminates and I’m lulled to sleep by some sort of ultra-sound that relaxes every part of my body, so much that every muscle relaxes and I realize I am incontinent – but that too was taken into consideration.  Removal of bodily wastes, even of sweat, is part of the treatment.  When I leave the auto-medic after the final treatment every pore, every hair, every follicle, will be free of anything that does not naturally belong to it.  I will be physically clean.  And my mind will be clear and certain of purpose.

While awakening and being returned into hypnotic “sleep” over and over; being automatically rolled out of the A-M for Dr. Echinoza’s inspection and Yoba Five’s gentle touch, feeding and rolling over, I completely lose sense of time.  It could have been years, or hours.  I feel an unnatural tingling in my hands and instinctively want to scratch but of course cannot.  I’m securely bound to the gurney, face down this time.  It seems that each time I’m sent back in, if I faced down, now I’m facing up and vice-versa.  There is no pain, just total mild discomfort.  Ants are crawling up both my arms and up my leg. 

Another “out” session.  This time I am facing up.  Bal is asking questions.  I have to focus on his voice – I thought I was dreaming again.

[end blog post #51]

The Last Battle – by Chris Hedges

Due to WordPress’ ongoing snafu condition, I was unable to access the following in the usual way so I cannot use the “Reblog” button. Instead I’ve copied the article and pasted it here, in its entirety, with proper credits and links, I hope.  And how would I title this article if I had written it? How about the very first line from Canada’s national anthem?

“Oh Canada, our home and native land…”  …and while you are reading I’ll go and throw up.

DEEP GREEN: ‘Recovery of the Sacred’, The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

by The Smoking Man

Source – truthdig.com

“…The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die”

The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A trans person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Three Guineas – by Virginia Woolf

[Intro comment by   ~burning woman~  ]
My Italian blogger friend Shera made me aware again today of Virginia Woolf’s novel length essay, Three Guineas, on how wars may be prevented. I was reminded of my own claim that if ways haven’t worked in the past there is little point in going back to them to seek answers to repeating problems.  What is desperately needed is open minds that are not afraid to seek for new solutions and new answers to old problems.  Yes such thinking defies the Establishment, the Matrix set-up, the Patriarchy and dethrones the old dogs of war, but hello, isn’t it high time? Speaking for women in particular, how long are women expected to, and willing, to send their own children to be slaughtered in old men’s wars? How long before we all, women and men, realize that the war-makers are now fully engaged in war not just against people but against the very environment that makes it possible to exist on planet earth? How long “must” we support these psychopathic predatory monsters who run governments, banks, militaries, exploitative corporations? If we don’t stop them, we can be sure of one thing: nature will, and it will not differentiate between them and us – we will be eradicated as the virus we have become. Is that then our choice, deliberate self-imposed genocide? Is that our sign that we possess a superior intelligence?

From the source:

Three Guineas is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. Published in 1938 alongside the building world political tensions that would become World War II, it is structured as a letter-form dialogue in a series of questions and answers with a man who starts by asking her how one might prevent war. Woolf wrote Three Guineas in response to three questions that were lingering at the forefront of her mind. The first is the question of how war should be prevented; the second is why there is little government funding for the education of women; and the third is why women are prohibited from doing professional work. Woolf’s dialogue creates the effect of privacy in which truth can be more fully disclosed. It ties together the subjects of war and feminism, stemming mainly from Woolf’s visits to Nazi Germany and Fascist controlled Italy in the early 1930’s.

See the rest of this summary at:  https://www.supersummary.com/three-guineas/summary/

The Age of the Dictators

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of an intervention that not only saved my physical life but sent me off on a 180 degree tangent from what I had been. That can only have meaning to myself, of course, or perhaps to anyone who may have been touched by some of the thoughts and ideas on expressing life which I have spouted quite regularly and annoyingly. After all, who wants change that turns all the known and relative comfortable on its head? Better to stick with the tried and failed, follow tradition. Tomorrow is “Good Friday” as declared by the Roman Church many years ago and subsequently adhered to by all of Christendom. That the concept was stolen from the very “pagans” the Church despised and massacred is of little consequence: we have a TRADITION!

That out of my way, I want to write a bit about some recent observations of the global political processes. Lots of noise and bloody foolishness bandied about as the overcrowded numbties of Earth increasingly go for the jugular over their beliefs and traditions. Not so different than previous slices of historical drama except that now we can “participate” in the processes globally through satellite feeds and the quasi-ubiquitous Internet.

I have noticed a serious difference however, and I call it ‘The Age of the Dictators.’

Man’s civilization is of course familiar with, and his history replete with, dictators but what makes this age different is the global and successful wave of political power grabbing by psychopathic and sociopathic billionaires or military leaders able to circumvent democratic constitutions written to prevent this sort of thing from “ever happening again.” Fledgling democracies established through compromise with totalitarian powers of business, banking and the social security state in the last couple hundred years are being systematically dis-empowered and disarmed by the returning totalitarians.

Temporarily sidetracked, the forces of dictatorship slowly but systematically burrowed into the democratic forms of government, buying stooges, corrupting ideals, installing preferred leaders, developing armies of constitutional lawyers to challenge existing laws that protected the people, particularly the most vulnerable: women, children, the working poor, racial minorities and changing rules that allowed all and sundry to vote, thus in a small way making their voices heard. The stooges of totalitarian power are now overtly active in eliminating free speech and destroying all vestiges of a so-called free press. More: in the USA in particular, 50% of the nation’s income is now barrelling like a train without brakes into the military and much of the rest finds its way into the pockets of its billionaires while a flaming racist and sexual predator rules the country from the White House.

War criminals, torturers, sexual predators, perverts, corrupt billionaires, these it would appear, form the preferred choice of voters in most democracies yet we know that it is ownership of the propaganda apparatus and manipulation of polls that have made this possible. Well, some of us know this but of course those who are trained to react to a ‘score’ as if an election was nothing more than a playoff take it at face value that their team won or lost the game and they’ll have to wait another four years to attend another playoff in which their team with better management, stronger or sexier players and richer sponsors, will have a chance to win.

That’s what democracy and the “popular vote” has become: sports teams, playoffs and a final score.

The conclusion was foregone when this began happening decades ago. No one can change the course of events now all hope and talk to the contrary. Unknown to the spectators of the democratic playoff game was a much more powerful team some have labelled “the New World Order” to be politically correct, to be sprung upon the bewildered spectators. It was funded and manned to crush all opposition and usher in the Age of the Totalitarian Dictators. It’s team consisted of the most mentally weak and morally corrupt psychopaths and the owners made the rules for the final playoff.

The people never clued in that “participatory democracy” did not begin and end at the polling booth but had to be a 24/7 commitment to an ideal. Too bad and so sad: goodbye democracies. Now we lose everything. Now we go to war against one-another and against our natural environment. Now we bleed, suffer and die. Now we pay the price for our apathy and woeful ignorance of the kind of forces that have always manipulated us to kill and die for their enrichment and entertainment.

Let’s follow the leaders and go out on the streets to cheer the final winners, our Dictators.