Category Archives: Knowledge

Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:  https://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/apollo-moon-landing-anniversary-opinions-contributors-cost-money.html#2e1736181d04

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)

How I got from There to Here-part 2

 

[getting it together    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

From the last post on this topic:

“The frightened child had grown into an adult. I had learned to bluster my way into the adult world even if I felt I were an alien or something weird. I hid my real thoughts and feelings and expressed only those I thought would make me seem normal and acceptable. I used ideas and words from books, magazines, the radio, songs, sermons, political speeches, and that seemed to satisfy people even though it polarized them. For a time I was a complete stranger to myself but at least I had some peace and a pretense of belonging and power.”

So this was the time when marriage, kids, responsibilities and full time employment ganged up on me as I plunged headlong into environmental and social activism and into politics. Obviously a perfect condition to bring in mental implosion. Certainly I learned much in those crazy years and the outworking of central power patterns began to make a bit of sense but I overloaded on the smorgasbord.

It was “too much of nothing”* The peace I knew was fake. The belonging I felt was from those who wanted to use me, or my ideas, or my mouth. The power was the same that all revolutionary leaders use and I saw the pointlessness of using it yet knew of no other source. It took me ten years to implode in which time I lost everything that meant anything to me ending up without home or family or real friends along with a seriously deteriorating health, and I was only thirty four. I could barely walk or get in a vehicle and drive. What had been diagnosed as collapsing disks in my late teens had worsened and I was looking at a wheelchair condition.

I reached the edge of the abyss and looked down the black hole but it no longer scared me. I decided enough was enough and planned my quiet exit. The fateful day came but things did not go as intended. There was an “intervention” which at the time, being still a believer, I attributed to God. I was “miraculously” healed of my symptoms and given some very strict directions on how I should proceed with the rest of my life. There were conditions, not that the healing wasn’t real but it would not “take” if I did not change my entire perception of what one’s life is for; what it’s all about.

“We’re not going to ask you to change your world, just your own nature. Will you agree to that? Will you agree to trust us?”

I had no idea what that “trust” would entail but at that moment I felt there was nothing left to lose so I agreed. I made the commitment to change. Christianity calls it being born again and that’s what I called it except that this wasn’t to be a ritual, it was to be a tough and often harsh time of life change. Every new idea about myself I came up with I had to put to the test. Those who watched over me at that time I dubbed “the Teachers” and nothing would get past them. I still did some ghastly stupid mistakes and they had to save my life a couple more times but I meant to change and they knew it better than me.

Let me introduce, in name only, my three life savers and changers: YLea, El Issa and Phaelon. They never said why I was the recipient of their attentions, only that I should pay close attention for their time would eventually be up and they stayed around at great risk to themselves. I wouldn’t understand that until years later when I came to figure out the workings of the “Powers” in this universe.

As I worked through their many teachings I discovered how we are programmed and so easily brainwashed. I went through the process of arguing for the shutting down of my “soul implant” with a representative of the Powers and achieved the neutralizing of it. Sounds like la-la land doesn’t it? Well, much more could be accomplished on this world if such information was taken at face value. The reason nothing, and I mean nothing, ever gets resolved here is because of that programming implant. It’s there, in everyone, whether one believes it or not: not knowing a thing does not make that thing unreal. Many, oh so many, however, believe the programming that their “soul” is their very essence, and so it is for it’s a matter of belief and practice. That keeps the wheel of fate, or karma, turning.

Once the implant was neutralized and the tendency to repeat bad performance was under control of my own mind I saw things I had never understood. Three things I’ve gone on about a lot came up for review: faith, hope, love. After much analysis and testing I unilaterally rejected all three as having any sort of value to me. They belonged to the Powers, their systems of oppression and of course to the Earthian cooperative called civilization, as did their opposites: faithlessness, hopelessness and hate. I realized that if I held on to the three positives I’d have to remain enslaved to the three negatives. Oh the joys of living in duality.

Many things were explained to me, or became obvious through tests and trials. False morality could be replaced with living a compassionate life. That took years to understand because compassion can only be understood by living it. It cannot be taught. To live compassion it was obvious that I would have to become detached from all the things that were of convenience, importance or comfort to me – they could no longer matter. “When none of it matters it will all be yours.” said YLea. Make no mistake I’m still struggling with that after almost forty years of experimenting.

I learned the necessity of living the self empowered life. Ultimately every decision I made for or in my life had to come from me and only me. Nothing anyone else offered or proposed could I accept at face value (except the Teachers, but after their twenty year “tour of duty” with me they were gone and I was truly alone. Everything had to be weighed on a personal scale and every decision was signed in blood, i.e., I had to put my life on the line – and I continue to do this.

No more games, no more pretense, no more Earthian shenanigans. No more religions, politics or even allowing myself to think that money could ever solve any problem. No more social contracts. I had become a Watcher and an avatar of compassion. I had broken free of the programming of social conditioning. No more gregariousness or attraction to the herd. I had become one and although my new nature made me inclusive in terms of outreach to others, I was now an exclusive individual, a kind of spiritual lone rider or knight errant.

Why is reaching such a condition so important? I’ll tell you straight: the Earthian social condition is corrupt to the core. It is led by corruption and it feeds on corruption. It is endemic to the entire complex called civilization and it has no cure. Any individual so motivated can find an individual cure for her/himself but that comes at the extreme price of mental and spiritual independence from all that is of Earthian provenance and systems including independence from any Power, God or Goddess recognized or worshiped by any collective.

That is how I got from there to here and that is how I will go from here.
________________________________________________

Too Much of Nothing
Bob Dylan (1967) – The Basement Tapes

Too much of nothing
Can make a man ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot.

(More at MetroLyrics)

Our World is Essentially a Violent Place (or if you wish, How did I discover myself here from there?)

[scattered remembrances from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

This may come across as a strange piece of admission but…???

When we are young we live as if we were immortal. That is a truism except that for some of us, we do not want that immortality which translates as eternity. It demands responsibility we have no idea how to deal with.

Some of us are born watchers, observers of our world, perhaps because at birth we partially broke out of the programming, or because it didn’t take. So what do we see, or to be more personal (and honest) what did I see?

I saw that the weak and the meek get the raw deal. Though I sometimes saw the other side of the coin what hit home was its dark side: the fear, the hate, the distrust, the anger – the IN-JUST-ICE!

I cringed when the parents fought each other and there was no place to hide except under useless blankets if I couldn’t get dressed quickly enough to run for the barn and hide among the cows, not for protection but for their warmth and so as not to have to listen and feel the “terror” taking place in the house, a terror that could quickly turn against me as the convenient scapegoat.

Then I got older and saw that the family squabbles resembled the world squabbles only these were on a much greater scale. I was learning responsibility too at the same time. More choices.

Mine, I judged, was a harsh world with little leeway in terms of forgiveness. You made a mistake, you paid a price, often way beyond the weight of the mistake. The same was true of nations and races; of the poor and for the powerless gender, all claims and propaganda to the contrary.

I so desired to do away with myself but what to do? I had a life and my religion stated unequivocally that if I took that life I was damned to exist in a burning hell for eternity: again, no escape, not even the warm flank of a milk cow there. I would stare at a pitch fork and try to imagine what it would feel like to be endlessly prodded by that as a punishment for something I had done out of despair millions of years ago. I would also know that despair was another mortal sin that was added to my punishment, of course.

So no escape, just choices. I saw and felt pain, my earliest recollection. Then I saw jealousy and senseless expectations. I saw injustice and how it nurtured fear, doubt, distrust, hate, anger and brutality. Where in that did I fit in? Nowhere, but since there was nowhere to hide from all of it, and as my knowledge expanded exponentially, I sensed a growing awareness of the essential brutality of the world and I was forced to make hard choices.

I saw two: I could choose to accept and suffer the arrows of injustice upon myself and for the most helpless of the world (I did not know that was known as being empathetic) or I could fight back. Fighting back meant using violence, no matter what word is used to hide that fact and using violence meant losing my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted but it seemed to be the only logical choice.

At the beginning of this journey and still much in the dark as to who I was and what I would choose to become, I chose anger as my companion and then violence just seemed to make sense. It took several years before I realized that my reliance on anger was eating me up and then came more guilt: was I committing suicide? I wanted to leave this world desperately but was I willing to risk the potential consequences? I had already sacrificed my heart to one choice, would I lose myself for eternity?

The frightened child had grown into an adult. I had learned to bluster my way into the adult world even if I felt I were an alien or something altogether weird. I hid my real thoughts and feelings and expressed only those I thought would make me seem normal and acceptable. I used ideas and words from books, magazines, the radio, songs, sermons, political speeches, and that seemed to satisfy people even though it polarized them. For a time I was a complete stranger to myself but at least I had some mental peace, a pretense of belonging and discovered I had accessed some power.

I might continue this and explain how I came to the edge of my own personal black hole and found myself inexplicably pulled out of it.

Judging U.S. War Crimes – a reblog

Judging U.S. War Crimes

Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the U.S. military, is again imprisoned in a U.S. jail. On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center for refusing to testify in front of a secretive Grand Jury. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months, and the U.S. courts could allow formation of future Grand Juries, potentially jailing her again.

Chelsea Manning has already paid an extraordinarily high price for educating the U.S. public about atrocities committed in the wars of choice the U.S. waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea Manning was a U.S. Army soldier and former U.S. intelligence analyst. She already testified, in court, how she downloaded and disseminated government documents revealing classified information she believed represented possible war crimes. In 2013, she was convicted by court martial and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks. On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence. In May of 2017, she was released from military prison having served seven years.

“Where you stand determines what you see.” Chelsea Manning, by virtue of her past work as an analyst with the U.S. military, carefully studied footage of what could only be described as atrocities against human beings. She saw civilians killed, on her screen, and conscience didn’t allow her to ignore what she witnessed, to more or less change the channel. One scene of carnage occurred on July 12, 2007, in Iraq. Chelsea Manning made available to the world the black and white grainy footage and audio content which depicted a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. Twelve people were killed, including two Reuters journalists.

What follows is part of the dialogue from the classified US military video footage from July 12th:

US SOLDIER 1: Alright, firing.

US SOLDIER 4: Let me know when you’ve got them.

US SOLDIER 2: Let’s shoot. Light ’em all up.

US SOLDIER 1: Come on, fire!

US SOLDIER 2: Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’.

US SOLDIER 2: Alright, we just engaged all eight individuals.

Amy Goodman described the next portion of the video:

AMY GOODMAN: Minutes later, the video shows US forces watching as a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded. They again open fire, killing several more people, wounding two children inside the van.

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly picking up bodies and weapons.

US SOLDIER 1: Let me engage. Can I shoot?

US SOLDIER 2: Roger. Break. Crazy Horse one-eight, request permission to engage.

US SOLDIER 3: Picking up the wounded?

US SOLDIER 1: Yeah, we’re trying to get permission to engage. Come on, let us shoot!

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.

US SOLDIER 1: They’re taking him.

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.

US SOLDIER 4: This is Bushmaster seven, go ahead.

US SOLDIER 2: Roger. We have a black SUV —- or Bongo truck picking up the bodies. Request permission to engage.

US SOLDIER 4: Bushmaster seven, roger. This is Bushmaster seven, roger. Engage.

US SOLDIER 2: One-eight, engage. Clear.

US SOLDIER 1: Come on!

US SOLDIER 2: Clear. Clear.

US SOLDIER 1: We’re engaging.

US SOLDIER 3: I got ’em.

US SOLDIER 2: Should have a van in the middle of the road with about twelve to fifteen bodies.

US SOLDIER 1: Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha!

Democracy Now, in the same segment, asked former U.S. whistleblower Dan Ellsberg for comments about releasing the video. “What were the criteria,” Ellsberg asked, “that led to denying this to the public? And how do they stand up when we actually see the results? Is anybody going to be held accountable for wrongly withholding evidence of war crimes in this case…?”

Chelsea Manning’s disclosures also led to public awareness of the Granai massacrein Afghanistan. On May 4, 2009, Taliban forces attacked U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan’s Farah province. The U.S. military called for U.S. airstrikes on buildings in the village of Granai. A U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber was used to drop 2,000 lb. and 500 lb. bombs, killing an estimated 86 to 147 women and children. The U.S. Air Force has videotape of the Granai massacre. Ellsberg called for President Obama to post the videotape rather than wait to see if Wikileaks would release it. To this day, the video hasn’t been released. Apparently, a disgruntled Wikileaks employee destroyed the footage.

Were it not for Chelsea Manning’s courageous disclosures, certain U.S. military atrocities might have been kept secret. Her revelations were also key to exposing U.S. approval of the 2009 coup against the elected government in Honduras and U.S. dealings with dictators and oligarchs across the Middle East, which helped spark the Arab Spring rebellions.

Prior to her arrest in 2010, Chelsea Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are. Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Chelsea Manning’s principled and courageous actions provide guidance for us to control our fears. We must seek an end to war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas where the U.S. terrifies and kills civilians.

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

March 11, 2019
Kathy Kelly

Judging U.S. War Crimes
Nick Pemberton

Killing a Mockingbird
M. G. Piety

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Evaggelos Vallianatos

Robots in the Vast Memory Palace of Myth
George Ochenski

Dying to Make a Living: the Shame of Industrial Mortality
Louisa Willcox

Action Jackson: Of Poachers, Grizzlies and Coexistence
David Schwartzman – Quincy Saul

The Path to Climate Justice Passes Through Caracas
Norman Solomon

Biden on the Relaunch Pad: He’s Worse Than You Thought
Martha Rosenberg

The Downside of the World’s Love Affair with Shrimp
Dean Baker

What’s Behind the Weak February Jobs Report
Ralph Nader

Who will Displace the Omniciders?
Laura Flanders

Making American Journalism Great and Different
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Don’t Panic: The Retail Apocalypse Isn’t Disaster, It’s Progress
Elliot Sperber

Dragonfly or Drone
Weekend Edition
March 08, 2019
Friday – Sunday
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Border Security: What and Who is it Good For?
Paul Street

As the World Burns: Hurtling Towards an Unlivable Planet
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Gender, Class and Capitalism
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Roaming Charges: Flag Humpers
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Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Bomb
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Capitalism and the Reactionary Power of White Identity Politics
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“Deaths of Despair”: Trump and the White Working Class
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No Strategies to Erase Damage Already Done
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The Conflict of Our Time: U.S. Imperialism vs the Rule of Law
Kenn Orphan

The Blindness of Empire
Jeff Mackler

U.S. Gears Up for War on Venezuela
Sarah Gertler

Criticizing Israel isn’t Anti-Semitic, Here’s What Is
John Feffer

The Trump/Kim Bromance: It’s Gross, But Let’s Hope It Leads to a Third Date
Nino Pagliccia

Washington’s Escalation for Venezuela’s Oil
Brian Cloughley

Trump Moves the World Closer to Wars
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Biblically-Legitimized Imperialism
Ron Jacobs

Hijack the Starship, Major Tom
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Ilhan Omar’s Choice
Binoy Kampmark

Militarised Conservation: Paramilitary Rangers and the WWF
John W. Whitehead

Forced Blood Draws & Implied Consent Laws Make a Mockery of the Fourth Amendment
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Venezuela Wins Round One Against the Empire
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Worse Than a Wall
Seth Sandronsky

Police Violence and a Safe Black Space
Dean Baker

Medicare for All is Doable and Most Americans Want It
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Realtime Training for the Cascadia Megaquake
David Swanson

Has NATO Met Its Match?
Raouf Halaby

The Whoes Hectoring Ilhan Omar
Neve Gordon

The Witch Hunt at Westminster
Jérôme Duval

The “Hirak” Movement in Algeria Against Bouteflika’s “Mandate of Shame”
Olivia Alperstein

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Start a Nuclear War
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

Our Preoccupation with the Presidency is Killing the Planet

When I was Nineteen

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~ ]

“When I was nineteen,” she said, “I thought about committing suicide.
Everything seemed cut and dried.  Art and music were fine, but could they
explain anything?  Could they tell me why I was alive or what the world was
all about?  I didn’t think so.  And ever since, I’ve lived a compromise: I
wouldn’t try to kill myself, because there was always a chance something
would happen to explain everything.”  (Songs of Earth and Power – Greg Bear)

It is the end of another year, my seventy-second year, which isn’t bad considering I’d set my “best before” termination year at fifty. It seemed reasonable at the time, what could I possibly accomplish of anything worthwhile past fifty in a society that worships (fake) youth and gobbles its world as if it is a melting chocolate ice cream?

“When I was nineteen,” she said, “I thought about committing suicide.” So did I, definitely, but my reasoning was much more pathetic: my lover dumped me. It wasn’t the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but each one brought its own degree of particular inescapable hurt.  It would be many years later, having survived (dig the maudlin self pity!) the many losses, that I realized these experiences in an otherwise sated and bloated consumerist society was how I manipulated reality to grow a bigger heart.

I began to sense that my personal pain was but one of endless extensions of this world’s pain. I began to look at ways I could use that sorrowful “me” to become a part of the rest; to make sorrow my bed partner. I learned to cry in the night and though the tears were mine, gradually they were no longer for me.

Unlike Greg Bear’s heroine in “Songs of Earth and Power” however, I did not hang around for the chance that something would happen to explain everything. I used my awareness as a key to that explanation. Since I am my awareness, my own mind, I would be the key that would open the door and allow the “something that would explain everything” to come into my life and claim me as its lover. Once more, I fell in love, this time with a very dangerous character, an actual terrorist, someone for whom there would be no secrets, the ultimate WikiLeaks.

If I desired to know, all I needed was ask and he took me upon secret paths, through mined fields, under electrified fences of razor wire, into secure, severely guarded places where explanations were taking place.  He made me listen in and I discovered that official secrets were constantly being made up with all seriousness.

The first time I saw this, I wanted to laugh out loud. Only my dangerous lover’s hand over my mouth saved me. We would leave those places, return to city traffic, lights, pedestrians, noises, smells and facades of endless body accomodations, find our own and talk through nights that became ever shorter.

“There is nothing new under the sun” he’d quote from Eclesiastes.

“But I still don’t understand” I protested. “How can there be secrets, then? How do we not know everything?”

“I will not lie to you. The truth is, there are no secrets. You’re a victim of gross mis-direction, all of the time. That is the System, how it controls you, makes you fear; makes you hope. Then it dashes your hopes, deliberately, and starts the whole thing all over again. Each time you are left drained, like losing a lover, and while you are in this heart-mind weakened state you are taken by something else, on the rebound. You don’t want to let go of that last thread of hope and the next lie weaves itself into your dying hope and pulls more out of you. This goes on until you die. Nothing is ever explained because there is nothing to explain – that’s the realization that made you want to laugh when in the vault of secrets: there are no secrets, just manufactured lies.”

“So, if I choose knowledge, what should I do?”

“Use your key. Use you. You are your own source of all the knowledge that exists; all you need do is free your mind. Trust your imagination and go along for the ride.”

“How will I know where I am going?”

“You won’t; you can’t. If you did, that would be another false path, another lie. Where is the freedom in following an already existing path? Obviously it wouldn’t be yours and if you can see it, someone designed it as a trap for you, to seduce you once again upon a way that isn’t yours and will prove disempowering and end in loss, again.”

“Why do the great teachers ask us to follow them? Their teachings?”

“Because they are lovers, not great teachers and their teachings are powerless to change anything.  Because they want you for themselves and have no intention of ever giving you anything of themselves.  Because they are liars.”

“So, no great teachers, and I know everything?”

“Yes, potentially. You need to trust yourself; believe in yourself. You need to realize you were meant to walk this path alone. In fact, there is no path, just endless choices, the best ones seemingly impossible but remember this: nothing is impossible.”

“What happens now?”

“Now I will leave you because you no longer need me. You are equipped to live your life as a self-empowered being. You not only possess the key to all knowledge, you are that key. Much of that knowledge does not pertain to this, your reality, so you must learn to choose wisely, what you keep in your pockets, in your pack, and what you leave behind for the time being.”

“I am scared to be so alone!”

“Fear is the mind killer. I will not fear, I will face my fear… do you remember that? You learned it because you already knew you would need it. Now is the time. You walk alone, you never look back, you never doubt yourself.  Goodbye, lover.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scattered Bits and Broken Pieces…

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

A quote from the movie, Trial and Error(1997) “The guy’s an asshole, Charlie.”
“I know.”
“Do you know why he’s an asshole? Because he’s never taken responsibility for anything he’s ever done; ’cause he’s got a story for everything and if the truth catches up to him then hey, he just tells one more lie to stay ahead of it. That sound familiar?”

If someone, anyone, after some discussion, ventures the remark, expresses the opinion that, “…you surely have had a hard life” it is wisest to reply, “yes, I suppose I did” and always add, just as you would add a spoonful of sugar to a cup of black coffee, “but never as hard as many others and no harder than some” thus making an end of the matter by not allowing pride to take root in false humility.

The candle flickered, throwing around a bit of unsteady light only it wasn’t a candle, it was the gas heater in the corner of the dark room, the flickering light coming through the glass front. It was the fire I was looking at while a line, a quote, kept going through my head: ‘Those who would give light must endure burning.’ I’ve watched many a combustible give light being eaten alive by fire, consumed, not by choice but by nature and position.

It’s discouraging to realize how many people are shocked by [political] honesty and how few by [political] deceit.

I am a truth teller; I always tell the truth and I am lying to you right now, everything I say is a lie.

“The world’s debt currently exceeds $86,000 per person on average, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The US, China, and Japan are the top three global borrowers, accounting for more than half of the global debt. Source: Global debt hits all-time high of $184,000,000,000,000” — RT Business News RT.com 15 Dec, 2018

“I am reading the book of human sin. When I’m done I’ll cast it into the fire and all their sins will be gone.” (The Island – Russian movie)

To ponder: Electricity is NOT an energy source.

Some statistics on the great pyramid: Weighs 6 million tons. Covers 13 acres. 750 feet per side, 481 feet high. Contains over two and a half million individual blocks of stone.

Theremin: the only musical instrument played without being touched. Invented by a Russian physicist in 1919.

Most people are other people; their thoughts are someone else’s opinions; their lives a mimicry; their passion a quotation.” (Oscar Wilde)

“What is the meaning of it, Watson? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose or our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what is that purpose? That… is humanity’s great problem… to which reason, so far, has no answer.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

It’s not ‘jurybuilt’ it’s ‘jerrybuilt’ for quick, cheap assembly or construction. It’s not ‘jerry rigged’ it’s ‘jury rigged’ – quick assembly for temporary use.

“We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” (movie: Midnight in Paris) [yes that remains the artist’s job. The priesthood and science have both glaringly failed in finding that antidote.]

The third major cause of blindness is cataracts. The first two causes are politics and religion.

I understand that practicality and realism are alien concepts in American politics, to be approached with trepidation, but maybe, just once, we should think before sticking our private parts into a wood-chipper. Just once. I do not propose consistent rationality, forethought, or intelligent behavior. I profoundly respect my country’s traditions. (Fred Reed)

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. (George Carlin)

A woman’s mind is a strange pool to slip into at birth. It is set within parameters by the first few months of listening and seeing. Her infant mind is a vast blank template that absorbs all and stores it away. In those first few months come role acceptance, a beginning of attitude, and a hint of future achievement. Listening to adults and observing their actions builds a storehouse of preconceptions and warnings: Do not see those ghosts on bedroom walls—they aren’t there! None of the rest of us can see your imaginary companions, darling… It’s something you have to understand. And so from some dim beginning, not ex nihilo but out of totality, the woman begins to pare her infinite self down. She whittles away at this unwanted piece, that undesired trait. She forgets in time that she was once part of all and turns to the simple tune of life, rather than to the endless and symphonic before. She forgets those companions who danced on the ceiling above her bed and called to her from the dark. (Wind from a Burning Woman – Greg Bear)

“‘Til next time!…” ~burning woman~

Copied from https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/07/spare-me-the-american-tears-for-the-murder-of-jamal-khashoggi/

Oh, and here we go again… Yes, it seems I never get tired of contemplating and pondering the level of criminal shamelessness that accompanies American intervention throughout the world, and its bald-faced lies to shrug off any embarrassing questions.

All an open-minded observer is left with is abysmal contempt for “Amerikkka” and the sincere desire that that pile of putrefaction will collapse upon itself soon… very soon. The following is what I have been trying to express in my own posts recently but Fisk is a professional writer and journalist, hence does a much better job, written and researched, than I could ever do.

My intent in posting such articles isn’t to instill guilt in Americans, Lord knows they already have way more than anyone can bear of that, but to provide much needed information and backgrounders.  With such information one can no longer ignorantly play the official social media game called “Let’s Blame Russia.”

Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

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Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

US government leaks suggest that Haspel knew all about the shrieks of pain, the suffering of Arab men who believed they were drowning, the desperate pleading for life from America’s victims in these sanctuaries of torment in and after 2002. After all, the desperate screams of a man who believes he is drowning and the desperate screams of a man who believes he is suffocating can’t be very different. Except, of course, that the CIA’s victims lived to be tortured another day – indeed several more days – while Jamal Khashoggi’s asphyxiation was intended to end his life. Which it did.

A generation ago, the CIA’s “Operation Phoenix” torture and assassination programme in Vietnam went way beyond the imaginations of the Saudi intelligence service. In spook language, Khashoggi was merely “terminated with maximum prejudice”. If the CIA could sign off on mass murder in Vietnam, why shouldn’t an Arab dictator do the same on a far smaller scale? True, I can’t imagine the Americans went in for bone saws. Testimony suggests that mass rape followed by mass torture did for their enemies in Vietnam. Why play music through the earphones of the murderers?

But still it goes on. Here’s Democrat senator Bob Menendez this week. The US, he told us, must “send a clear and unequivocal message that such actions are not acceptable on the world’s stage”. The “action”, of course, is the murder of Khashoggi. And this from a man who constantly defended Israel after its slaughter of the innocents in Gaza.

So what on earth is going on here? Perhaps the “world’s stage” of which Menendez spoke was the White House – an appropriate phrase, when you come to think about it – where the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has been no stranger. Yet when at least one recent US presidential incumbent of that high office can be considered guilty of war crimes – in Iraq – and the deaths of tens of thousands of Arabs, how come American senators are huffing and puffing about just one man, Mohammed bin Salman, who (for a moment, let us set aside the Yemen war) is only being accused of ordering the murder and dismemberment of one single Arab?

After all, world leaders – and US presidents themselves – have always had rather a soft spot for mass murderers and those who should face war crimes indictments. Trump has infamously met Kim Jong-un and invited him to the White House. We are all waiting for Rodrigo Duterte to take up his own invitation.

Obama lavished hospitality at the White House on a host of bloody autocrats – from Gambia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon – before we even recall Suharto, whose death squads killed up to half a million people; and Hosni Mubarak, whose secret police sometimes raped their prisoners and who sanctioned the hanging of hundreds of Islamists without proper trials, and his ultimate successor, Field Marshal-President al-Sisi, who has around 60,000 political prisoners locked up in Egypt and whose cops appear to have tortured a young Italian student to death. But Giulio Regeni wasn’t murdered in an Egyptian consulate. This list does not even include Ariel Sharon, who as Israeli defence minister was accused by an Israeli inquiry of personal responsibility for the massacre of 1,700 Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila camps in Beirut in 1982.

So what is this “clear and unequivocal message” that senator Menendez is rambling on about? The message has been clear and unequivocal for decades. The US “national interest” always trumps (in both senses) morality or international crime. Why else did the United States support Saddam Hussein in his attempt to destroy Iran and his use of chemical warfare against Iran? Why else did Donald Rumsfeld plead with Saddam in December 1993 to allow the reopening of the US embassy in Baghdad when the Iraqi dictator (a “strongman” at the time, of course) had already used mustard gas against his opponents? By the time Rumsfeld arrived for his meeting, more than 3,000 victims had fallen amid Iraqi gas clouds. The figure would reach at least 50,000 dead. Which is, in mathematical terms, Jamal Khashoggi times 50,000.

Yet we are supposed to recoil with shock and horror when Haspel – who might herself have a few admissions to make to senators on other matters – suggests that America’s latest favourite Middle Eastern tyrant knew about the forthcoming murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Does Menendez think that Saddam hadn’t signed the death sentences of thousands of Iraqi men and women – which, as we know from his later “trial”, he did – before meeting Rumsfeld? Or that Duterte, who has compared himself to Hitler, doesn’t sign off on the killing of his murdered drug “suspects”? Or that Suharto had absolutely nothing to do with half a million murders in Indonesia?

It’s instructive, indeed, that the thousands of innocents killed in the Yemen war, an offensive undertaken by Mohammed bin Salman himself with logistical support from the US and UK – and it doesn’t need Haspel to tell us this – hasn’t exactly left US senators shocked. Just another bunch of Arabs killing each other, I suppose. Starvation didn’t get mentioned by the senators emerging from Haspel’s closed hearing. Yet the senators know all about the mosque bombings, wedding party bombings, hospital bombings and school bombings in Yemen. Why no tears for these innocents? Or is that a bit difficult when the US military – on every occasion by accident, of course – has bombed mosques, wedding parties, hospitals and schools in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria?

No, the shock and horror and the need for full disclosure about the Saudis is primarily about Trump, and the need to tie him in to the cruel murder of a Washington Post journalist and US resident whose gruesome demise has been blamed by the American president upon a “vicious world”.

But there is something more than this, the appalling fact – albeit only a folk memory, perhaps, for many with scarcely any institutional memory at all – that 15 of those 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, that George W Bush secretly flew bin Laden family members out of the US after 9/11, that the Saudis themselves are heir to a blighted, rural, cruel version of Sunni Islam – based on the pernicious teachings of the 18th century Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab​ – which has inspired the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Isis and all the other killer cults whom we have proclaimed to be the West’s Enemy No 1.

Nailing Mohammed Bin Salman to a crucifix – a method of execution favoured by the Wahhabis – is an easy kill for US senators, of course. You hit the president and smash those unhappy historical details all in one fell swoop.

But don’t bank on it. Oil and arms are a potent mix. Old Abd al-Wahhab’s home is protected in a new tourist haunt in the suburbs of Riyadh. Come to think of it, the national mosque of Qatar – hostile to rapacious Saudi Arabia but another recipient of US weapons and a supporter of Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq – has a capacity for 30,000 souls, was built only seven years ago and is named after Abd al-Wahhab himself.

This is the dangerous world in which America and its allies now tread, disdainful of the thousands of Muslims who perish under our bombs and missiles and mortars – proxy-delivered by those we should distrust – ignorant of the religious currents which rumble on beneath our feet and beneath the House of Saud. Even the virtually useless information Haspel learned in the CIA’s “black centres” could have told senators this. If they had bothered to ask.

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Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared.