Category Archives: Women

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

(…that goes on, this goes on… another short episode from Antierra’s life – and I did not forget to add a title to the blog post this time. Gets confusing when I don’t number them and if I don’t get better at blogging from a cell phone, I’d better remember to drag my combination laptop/tablet Asus computer wherever I go! The problem with that is, it only works where there’s WIFI whereas the cell phone works anywhere there’s phone coverage. Decisions, decisions…)
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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]
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[begin blog post #53]

She is a typical T’Sing Tarleynan, small, stocky, with short fingers and stubby toes.  Her hair is almost black, cut rough and short.  She has a thin-lipped smile that reveals pointy, gapped teeth.  She makes no move towards me as I lie down on one side of the cage.  She just watches, her black eyes glinting in the pale light, as if waiting for a signal from me as to what I want from her.  I motion for her to move beside me and she does quickly and quietly.  Waits again. 

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

“Here in the cage I’d rather you don’t call me that.” 

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

“It means I fighter and now family for you.”  And for some reason not yet clear to me, I suddenly decide to imitate the paucity of words in her language – to make myself more like her and the others in the compound.  I get the impression that I need to lower my standards even more to be accepted, if not understood.  Better late than never. 

“Ah good.  And what I be called by you, please?”

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

“Little animal from an old world.  It kills snakes.  You know snakes?”

“Oh yes, in desert and in grass prairies?  Many snakes.  Dangerous.  The black people, they tell stories of big snakes to take a man, crush and eat whole.  Is mongoose so strong?”

“Yes Tiki.  Mongoose is small but fast and strong. Kills poison snake called cobra that has big head with marks and small body.”

“There are those here…”

“Yes and they be called men…”  I do not hide the bitterness of my statement from her but this is not Deirdre.  Such subtleties are lost to her, as to most women I have met.

“Oh!  You mean I mongoose, kill cobra men?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.  When you are trained you kill men, many men.  They fear you then.  Fear your power of woman.”

“I like you telling of my power Anti.  I come here three days and they burn my number under old one, see?” She shows me her fresh brand and I remember the pain of it in my own buttock, and the shame to go with it too.  “And I feel so scared and small.  No friends.  No one to care.  The men, they have sex with me, many men.  They hurt me so much, aiiee!  They, you say, torture me, make me cry down there in a room behind great stone doors.” 

She points in some vague direction I locate as north-east.  “They put metal string inside me and make me burn – terrible pain, terrible.  Now they give me to you.  Say you lose your lover – she dead they say, yes?  Maybe I be her now for you?”  She touches me lightly on the thigh and I feel her shaking remembering her pain.

“Yes Tiki, she dead.  She run away and not come back.  I too now all alone and very sad.  Like you.  Like you they take me in torture room under walls, deep under the ground.”  And I point down to make her understand my meaning of ‘down.’  “They hurt me and make me scream – so much pain, Tiki.  All of us here, so much pain we endure.  What you think, we should all have so much pain always, from men, huh?”

As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]

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]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #50

…“I’ve cursed Malefactus and every male on it.  I’ve looked into the sky at Albaral and cursed that too.  I’ve used the doctor to my own ends instead of just taking it like everybody else and dying as I should have.  In the end it seems to me that I am the one who brought all these diabolical things to Malefactus; that I made a most terrible mistake long ago and now everybody is paying for my foolishness and my false sense of redemptive properties.  I’m an idiot, YBA. 

“You are looking at a wreck and a wretch of a once human being!  To seek more vengeance, and along with letting myself fall in love with a man I can never really be with – you heard me earlier and heard his response – what can I say? 
[end blog post #49]
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[begin blog post #50]

“Yes, of course I can feel your thoughts, human.  I also know that you love Dr. Echinoza – and so do I.  I’m his mistress.  When he disappears at times it’s to spend time with me.  We have a place hidden deep in the southern hemisphere, beyond the great desert and beyond the land of the black ones.  A simple little fold-up hut by the sea that we collapse and hide when we are away.  We enjoy each other’s company and we are in love, as you put it.  But I would never place my joy before yours.  If he chose you, I would serve you as the one who is me.  Perhaps, since you are human you could give him the child I can never.  Cydroids cannot impregnate nor become pregnant.  We can only be cloned.

“As for your concerns regarding vengeance or compassion, “methinks you doth protest too much.” Your conundrum is not a problem to us.  If Warmo is convicted of his crimes, or at least one of them, he will forfeit his life.  He will be offered something he cannot refuse: to meet you personally and fight you to the death in the arena.  His hate for the doctor and specifically for you, not only as the one who survived the special treatment he had planned for you and escaped from his misogynist sadism, but as a woman who has a reputation for killing that surpasses his own; who stands higher in stature than he and who has the concerns of the King whereas he has lost his – all these can only mean one thing.  He will be eager to kill you.  And you will find him a tougher match than anything you’ve ever known.  It is good that you should fight him to honour all the ones whose lives he has broken and devoured.  This task belongs to you, Antierra.

“I’ve studied your experiences from your mind.  In Old Earth as you call it, you have an expression, “He fought like a cornered animal.”  That is what you will be fighting: a cornered animal.  But not just any animal.  This Warmo I can compare to your memories of a creature you called a “wolverine” – a large rodent-like weasel family predatory creature that used to wander the wilds of your adoptive homeland on Old Earth; a loner that dangerous predators much larger than itself carefully avoided.  There is another creature I could compare Warmo to that also exists in your mind from your adoptive home world: a Tasmanian devil.  That is what this pseudo-human is comparable to.  But do not dwell on that now.  Your subconscious will inventory my words and present you with a way to defeat this creature. 

“When you enter the auto-medic for your replacements – you will be in there for two and a half days minimum – I will connect you with the info-vid and give you, in pictures and words, all that we have collected on Warmo.  When you are ‘returned’ after your treatment you will possess the rudimentary inner workings of Warmo’s mind. 

“He will think you are literally reading his mind when you meet him.  So the challenge will be both physical and intellectual.  Get close enough to hold the mirror.  Speak to him, however you must, in whatever tone.  He won’t be able to stop you then.  The key to defeating him is to play on his subconscious superstition and fear of the unknown.  All sadistic types do so from their pathological fear of the unknown, of the place beyond death they fear above anything.  So display his death – show it to him.  Let him feel it, over and over.  That is how you play him down and defeat him.

“You seem so sure about everything.  How can you know all this?”

“Cydroids never operate without knowledge, Antierra.  We project constantly into the immediate future and shape it to our needs based on our previous experiences in similar situations – or so it seems to us.  Or we shape ourselves to its needs.  Our nature possesses the innate ability of instant adaptation to any and all contingencies.  If we fail to grasp existing information based on knowledge, that is, based on experience, we run instantaneous simulations in our mind – in linked pattern with our twins whenever possible, and we operate based on that approach.  We must “know” before we “do” and so we always know because we have already “done” what we are about to do.”

“YBA, I’m overwhelmed and amazed by you.  You are the most human non-human I’ve ever encountered, as far as my memories can reach at this moment.”

“Do you realize that when you call me “YBA” you are directly accessing the minds of all my twins?  That you are speaking to all of us?  We respond to our name-stamp.  YBA – all of us, from 1 to 5.  Say ‘YBA5’ and the others won’t  listen.  I don’t mind either way, just thought you should know.

“I paid you the highest compliment any Cydroid can give a human.  Now you have reciprocated by giving me the highest compliment any true human could give a Cydroid.  I think we have a mind-link now.  That is, in your language, we are friends.”

“How can you consider me your friend when I’ve openly stated I loved Bal, that is, Dr. Echinoza as a woman loves a man?”

“Ah, but all the more reason you see.  The choice between us, if one needs to be made, must be his.  You and I, we are females, women.  We do not need to make this choice at all!  He must be the one to know his own feelings about us.  Why could he not love both you and I simultaneously without any problem?  I certainly would encourage it.  Wouldn’t you?  We understand what it means to love a man.  The more women love that man; the more he is truly loved by the many women, the better that man will be in every possible way a man can be.

“Our role, ultimately, if nature ever gave us one as humanoid females, is to make men better than they are, or think they can be.  And we do this by pleasing them and satisfying them.  Not as rutting animals, but in love.  You see, if we love them, no matter how much all they ever want to do is “fuck” as you call it, they will receive the full benefit of our love.  And if we are true to our nature, giving such love will only strengthen us.  It will never diminish us as long as we are not interacting from either enforced submission, expectation or jealousy, meaning in competition with other females.”

I had anticipated her reply.  “Your words would not sit well with some of the women I have known, especially on Túat Har of C-20!  But you are right, I would also encourage the sharing.  Actually YBA5, I don’t want to love him like that.  I don’t want to bear his child or be his mistress, wife or have any other attachments to him.  Logically, I don’t need the complications, even were circumstances different, for example, were I on Koron with him.  If as you say I’m to be repaired and live, I must concentrate on what I came here to do.  Let him find sexual pleasure with me when we are together if he still wants that from me.  I will certainly give him that out of friendship and gratitude, and with love.  That is if he doesn’t just take it!  But that’s not what he expects from me.  He wants to know what I know of the workings of our universe, information he does not have. For the rest, he has you.

“But tell me this.  Has he ever, even when in your idyllic hideaway, turned on you and hit you, or cursed you as he did me?” 

“Well, of course.  It’s not as intense down there, away from this concentrated world of men but it happens regularly that he is taken by the fever.  He beats me.  He curses me, yes.”

“How do you respond?”

“I can only respond as would your Deirdre.  I let him beat me and curse me.  I allow it to flow out of him.  But unlike the Cholradil, I do it for love, deliberately and knowingly, neither because I can’t help it, nor out of a sense of submission.  I could certainly stop him.  I could easily disable him, even harm him.  But by allowing it to flow I heal him that way.  Afterward I make sure he does not go into his guilt-based depression.  I fully understand the sickness and I separate the sick from the disease, Antierra.  I am programmed for this but I also do it by choice, as a doctor and healer.  Now let me check the condition of your mind before I give you a half-cube of stim because your pain should be returning full force, yes?”

“Yes it is.  By force of habit I wanted to bear it and not take any medication for it.  Hold it and absorb it, you know.”

“That is good for the fights and in the long nights of pain from blows and wounds when you lie in the cages, yes.  To identify with the others, to understand in empathy, in compassion?  But it is unnecessary here.  I will not allow it.  Here, take it now.”

She hands me the half-cube of stim from Deirdre’s parting gift – and if only she could have known how it would help me! – then holds my arm, careful not to disturb its current resting place and puts her other hand on my temple.

“I sense your thoughts.  They are clear now.  The effects of the sedating drug we gave you are fading and you are thinking properly.  Yes, you have created good wiring in your brain.  I like touching you, getting your impressions.  I’ve never seen such openness, such divergent worlds.  I like your world of Altaria.  I like that last place where you sat and waited for the right moment to leave.  What a sad journey to take, yet so beautiful.  You gave up everything to come here.  You “died” all alone after all those days spent just looking into the great Rift valley, without sleep, food or water.  Your sea birds, the giant osoleys, they are such beautiful creatures.  I can almost reach out to them and call them to sweep gracefully beneath your falling body and carry it out to the ocean for a proper burial – where it is generally believed all biological life comes from and returns to.

“I must add this regarding your outburst earlier.  All those evil, diabolical things you insist you’ve done.  Self-pity, Antierra.  Hyperbole.  You are a true and straight Altarian.  Do not let any horror, on any world or place, take away the honour you owe yourself.  Never let doubt dishonour who you know you truly are.  It would be a sad day for all of us if you gave up.”

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]

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/

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”)

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/

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #46

… “Another eternity and the doctor comes over and releases the mechanism that holds my wrists and ankles and keeps me from falling as I try to put my weight on my feet.  I cannot walk at all.  So he throws my limp form over his broad shoulders and carries me out through tunnels that seem to go on forever; that in my mind I want to go on forever. 

It feels so good to be dead; to be in a place where no one can ever hurt you; to be carried to your final rest by someone who cares for you.  Death by torture has a way of changing your perspective on life.  I think it has made me soft.” …
[end blog post # 45]


[begin blog post #46]

Chapter 22 – Conversation with a Cydroid

I am not dead, I’m in a place where death is always the best choice if it is given. 

Bal and a female I recognize as a Cydroid assistant sedate me and proceed to do their difficult and painful work.  They explain what they have found: two crushed wrists and an ankle dislocated that must be re-set.  More pain.  Another deposit in the bank of love.

When I come to I’m bathed in my own sweat and stink. I’ve been bandaged up tight.  I guess dislocated joints are best taken care of by human hands than the auto-medic?  I’m rambling incoherent in my head. 

I had hoped I could go through it again and be rejuvenated, I mean, as long as I’m still alive, why not?  Think of all the fun I can have, with men taking me for their sexual pleasures as they please, beating me to an inch of my life for any reason, trying to kill me in their pleasure arenas while ogling and mocking my nakedness and finally taking me into their dungeons to torture me to death, sharing this fun with hundreds, thousands of spectators. 

We girls do know how to have fun on Malefactus.  Even better than Old Earth at times. 

I don’t do so well under partial sedation or under the influence of any other drug.  The Cydroid assistant has removed the cool sheet that covered me and is washing my body gently and carefully as I lie on that same “gurney” I recognize from before.  I remember Deirdre holding me up and I feel my heart breaking into pieces again.  Deirdre…

Don’t go there stupid.  Let her go.  That was another time, another life.

“Bal?”  I ask weakly from my prostrate state.  I can’t even move my head to look at him.  He comes over and leans over me taking my pulse from inside my thigh.

“Ah, our patient is awake again.”

“Introductions?  I want to thank you,” and turning my eyes to the Cydroid, “and my healers for saving my life…”

I extend my bandaged hands only to have them flop down again.  I have no strength in my arms.

“Don’t be alarmed.  It’s the effect of the drug we gave you.  You’ll be fine, Antierra.  Meet YBA5.”

“Please to meet you, YBA5”  I continue in a hoarse whisper, still not my voice.  “What does that name mean?”

The Cydroid answers this time, with a beautiful lilting voice, singsong in quality, unlike anything I’ve heard.

“It means that I am a legally adopted member of Doctor Balomo’s Cydroid clan.  I’m number five.  The Y indicates female, X male.  I’m the fifth female Cydroid to be added to his family.  It was a proud day for me when I graduated and he accepted  me.  Dr. Balomo is not only a renowned medical healer but famous anthropologist as well.”  I notice she beams at him as she praises him and he turns away. 

She continues, “My particular specialty apart from being a spy (something to entertain you with later) is human anatomy.  I like your body – very well made.  I would like to congratulate the creator of such a wonderful unit.”

“I guess that would be me. Thank you, but I was aiming for an external effect I could project on the people here, not a near-perfect body.  I’ve had quite a bit of practice using different types of human bodies and I can tell when one will suit my needs or fulfill my requirements.  I just wish I’d made it out of whip-steel, not flesh.”

The weak attempt at a joke is not lost on her.  She smiles warmly, her small perfectly shaped mouth opening wide as if to include all of what I wish to convey that has no words.  And she pays me the highest compliment from a Cydroid point of view:

“That body, hah, you should be Cydroid, not human.”

As my head clears and the drug still holds the pain at bay, I realize I have a thousand questions for the Cydroid.  Bal notices I wish to speak with her and excuses himself.

“You have things to discuss.  I have work to do.  I must contact the King and bring myself up to date on developments.  I have to ensure the people I forcefully released from Warmo’s dens have been dutifully returned and that any wound has been properly treated.  Hhhhh.”  He turns to leave with that deep sigh.

“Bal?”

“Yes?”

“I’m scared to tell you this, but I love you.  I don’t know yet what kind of love I have for you, but I know what I feel.”

“We will talk of this later.  You are under the influence of a powerful sedative and if you remember, you yourself told me your body cannot handle drugs.  Do not speak of feelings now.  Wait.  Remember, you just lost your lover, or had you forgotten?”

“No doctor.  Not forgotten – trying to forget.  Deirdre is no longer a part of my life here.  She is gone, forever.  I will never see her again.”

“I’m disappointed in your analysis of the situation, Altarian.  Let’s just say it’s the drug talking.  Enjoy your time with YBA5.  She is a wonder healer and a font of knowledge.  She’ll keep you amazed.  Take care.”

“When will I see you again, Bal, please?”

“When you see me again, Antierra please.  Don’t cling to your temporary good things.  Let others have their space also.  We all need to breathe.”   

That was a warning to get myself together, and quickly.  More effort, when all I want to do is lie here, be taken care of and let the world go on without me.  Oh, to just wallow in self pity and pure wonderful misery.  To be a bitch.  To be dead!

He walks out of his office looking pensive and the automatic door swishes closed.  I got a glimpse of the sky, still cloudy and windy but not raining.  A cold draft finds my back and I shiver.  It’s not just the cold I am reacting to.

[end blog post #46