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THE POWER OF WORDS

 

I’m writing a book, YOUR BODY IS YOUR BILLBOARD, about how astrology and dieting can work together. We all have a message. And the way we look tells people something about how we want to be perceived. And if we quit caring about how we look, have we quit caring about people? Are we isolating ourselves from society? Are we giving up? Is this the real end of civilization? Are fat Americans epidemic of a culture that doesn’t care about each other or themselves?

When you view this amazing video, think about your message and if it says what you want it to say. Oprah was talking about this yesterday on her last show. You have a purpose. You have a mission.

 

Posted May 26th, 2011.

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GLOBAL WARMING BY THE NUMBERS

Chilling statistics to think about!!!

(Posted: 24-Jan-2006; Updated: 24-Feb-2009)

1 — Rank of 2005 as hottest year on record (tied with 1998), according to NASA.

100% — Increase in intensity and duration of hurricanes and tropical storms since the 1970′s, according to a 2005 MIT study.

$100 Billion — Estimate of damage caused by hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast in 2005 alone, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

2030 — Year by which Glacier National Park will have no glaciers left, according to the U.S. Geological Survey predictions.

400,000 — Square miles of Arctic sea ice that have melted in the last 30 years (roughly the size of Texas), threatening polar bear habitats and further accelerating global warming worldwide, according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

15-37% — Amount of plant and animal species that global warming could wipe out by 2050.

1  – Rank of the United States as a global warming polluter compared to other large nations.

6 —  Number of former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leaders who say the U.S. is not doing enough to fight global warming.

0 — Number of bills passed by Congress to cut global warming pollution.

Tell Washington to take action » Get more global warming facts » Click here to visit.

Sources: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2005 Study, Nature Magazine January 2004, National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

Posted November 5th, 2010.

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YOU COUNT & SO DOES YOUR VOTE

This video was made in 1948. Watch it if you have any doubts about voting — Tuesday, November 2. In most states, if you are disabled, you can vote curbside in your car. They will come out to you. There are people who will pick you up — call your party Democrat or Republican. You can also get paid around $100 if you help at your precinct, and it’s not too late to call. They will still need help tomorrow. In California, the precinct inspector can hire you right there in person at your polling place if he/she needs more help. No excuses. You have no business complaining if you don’t vote.

Posted November 1st, 2010.

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YOUR TAX DOLLARS PRODUCE LIGHT SHOW

The most famous of all comets, Comet Halley is noted for producing spectacular displays when it passes near Earth on its 76-year trip around the sun. However, you don’t have to wait until 2061 to see a piece of the comet — you can do it this very week!

Halley’s Comet leaves bits of itself behind — in the form of small conglomerates of dust and ice called meteoroids — as it moves in its orbit, which the Earth approaches in early May and mid-October. When it does, it collides with these bits of ice and dust, producing a meteor shower as the particles ablate — or burn up — many miles above our heads. The May shower is called the Eta Aquarids, as the meteors appear to come from the constellation Aquarius. The October shower has meteors that appear to come from the well-known constellation of Orion the Hunter, hence the name: Orionids.

Orionids move very fast, at a speed of 147,300 miles per hour. At such an enormous speed, the meteors don’t last long, burning up very high in the atmosphere. Last year, the NASA allsky cameras at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and in Chickamauga, Ga., recorded 43 definite Orionid meteors. Most of these appeared at an altitude of 68 miles and completely burned up by the time they were 60 miles above the ground, seen in the graph at right.

Even though the peak isn’t until October 21, the shower is going on now. The NASA camera systems saw their first Orionid on Oct. 15. Unfortunately, the light from the nearly full moon will wash out the fainter meteors, so expect to see fewer than the 30-per-hour rate you might see under completely dark skies.

The good news is that watching Orionids is easy. Go out into a clear, dark sky after 11 p.m. at night — your local time — and lie on a sleeping bag or lawn chair. Look straight up. After a few minutes, your eyes will become dark-adapted, you’ll start to see meteors. Any of these that appear to come from Orion will be an Orionid, and therefore represent a piece of Halley’s Comet doing its death dive into our atmosphere.

Most folks would consider seeing one or two of these a fair exchange for an hour or so of time.

Thanks to your tax dollars at nasa.gov. The video is from 2009.

Posted October 19th, 2010.

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HORSES CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

Congratulations to Suzanne Porter, our new Director of Animal Affairs.

Running into my old friend, Judy, from Fairview Bed & Breakfast at an antique store in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia last weekend, I mentioned to her that I was working on an article for THE PSYCHIC BUBBLE on Madeleine Pickins and her foundation, Saving America’s Mustangs. Judy replied, “Good grief, are they still going on about that?. Do you remember that burro we used to have at the bed & breakfast back in 1997? He was adopted from that program to save wild mustangs and burros.”  Doing the math (2010 minus 1997), I came up with 13 years! Yes, for 13 years the American people have been petitioning our government to save wild mustangs and burros and so far we have gotten nowhere. We are now down to the last 12,000 mustangs and an unnamed number of burros and are still being ignored by our haughty, haughty government. It took the near collapse of ours and the world’s financial systems for our elected officials who seem to forget where their salaries come from to even begin to address some of our country’s deepest problems. So if you are a horse lover and want the government to stop their position of animal cruelty towards wild horses (mustangs), now is the time to stand up and be counted.

The horse species (Equus) evolved and was indigenous to North America but died out at the end of the last ice age approximately 10,000 to 12,000 year ago. Thus, it seems appropriate that North America be populated by wild horses. The American mustang evolved from horses first brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Starting around the time of Columbus, horses descended from Spanish horses, were brought to Mexico and Florida. Most of these horses were of Andalusian, Arabian, and Barb ancestry. Some escaped or were stolen by Native Americans and rapidly spread throughout the western North America. Native Americans quickly adopted the horse as a primary means of transportation. They replaced the dog as a travois puller and greatly improved success in battles, trade, hunts, and in particular, bison hunts. In the Colonial era and continuing with the westward expansion of the 1800′s, horses belonging to explorers, traders, and settlers that escaped or were purposely released joined the gene pool of Spanish-descended herds. It was a common practice for western ranchers to release their horses to locate forage for themselves in the winter and then recapture them as well as any additional mustangs in the spring.

Since 1900 North America had an estimated two million free-roaming horses. During that time mustangs were viewed as a resource that could be captured and used or sold (especially for military use or slaughtered for food, especially pet food). The controversial practice of “mustanging” was dramatized in the John Huston film “The Misfits,” and abuses linked to certain capture methods, including hunting from airplanes and poisoning led to the first (feral) wild free-roaming horse protection law in 1959. Protection was increased further by the “Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.” Today the United States Forest Service administers 37 wild horse or burro territories in several western states.

In 1971 the United States Congress recognized mustangs as “livings symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” which enrich the lives of the American people. And then what did they do? They started a Bureau of Land Management under the now Interior Department Secretary Kenneth Salazar. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is tasked with managing these wild horses to insure that healthy herds thrive. Shooting them or poisoning them is, under the 1971 Act, a criminal felony.

Healthy, adult mustangs have few natural predators aside from mountain lions. To maintain population balance and to make room for cattle, some people say, (please pay attention here) an argument that mustangs are encroaching on cattle grazing land is made though it is well-known that mustangs live in arid areas which cattle cannot fully utilize due to lack of water resources. Horses are better adapted by evolution to lack of water resources and can travel 50 miles a day. They can also obtain adequate nutrition from poorer forage than can cattle, surviving in areas where cattle would starve. The Bureau of Land Management’s responsibility is to determine an appropriate management level of wild horses and burros on public rangelands (lands belonging to the American people) dedicated specifically for wild horses and burros. There are specific guidelines for techniquess used to round up mustangs. One method uses a tamed horse, called a “Judas horse.” (We all remember Judas from the Bible, don’t we?) The Judas horse leads the wild horses into a pen; then the Judas horse is released–job done! And the wild horses, finding themselves penned up, are terrified, rearing up, screaming and colliding with one another. Very often foals are separated from their mares. These captured horses are then offered for adoption to individuals willing to provide humane, long-term care after payment of an adoption fee ranging from $25.00 to $125.00. In order to prevent the later sale of mustangs as horse meat, adopted mustangs are still protected under the 1971 Act and cannot be sold in the first year except when VERY SPECIFIC CRITERIA are met. Smell a rat, yet?

At the moment, there are about 30,000 mustangs in holding facilities, butt to butt, and the taxpayers are footing the bill. The BLM is considering euthanasia as a possible solution. In January 2005 a Congress by former Senator Conrad Burns, “The Burns Rider,” modified the adoption program to allow the sale (with the usual result being slaughter) of captured horses that are more than 10 years old. A horse is fully capable of living 20 years or more. In the 110th U. S. Congress, legislation was introduced to have the “Burns rider” repealed and the original language restored. (We are paying a Congress to do all of this!) The matter passed the house but as of mid-2008 awaited action in the Senate. In early 2009 the House passed H.R. 1018, the Restore Our Mustangs Act (ROAM). ROAM amends the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to expand criminal penalties and would ban the processing and the transport for processing of “a live or deceased wild free-roaming horse or burro.” There are also increased efforts to assist with finding appropriate adoption homes. At this point I’m thinking — which countries eat horse meat?

Enter the lovely, English-born Madeleine Pickins, wife of a gone-green oilman. On the “Breakfast Club Show,” on www.kezw recently she was interviewed and tells of her passion for saving the “old West,” and how she loves cowboy movies. She is heartsick to know that only 15,000 or less of these American mustangs still exist and she cries out to Americans to have a say in our national history. She tells of her plan to save our treasure, the mustangs. She and her husband have purchased 14,000 acres in Nevada dedicated to the mustang and is requesting an additional 590,000 public lands to go with it to be fenced in as a public sanctuary for the mustangs, no cattle. A park where people could visit would be created. She has been ignored by Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar and BLM Director Robert V. Abbey to have 20,000 electronic emails sent in to petition the government to stop the BLM’s horrific summer roundup by helicopter. Yes, they are rounding up wild horses by helicopter. What part of “Yee, Haa, don’t you get?” This is cruelty to animals in a particularly unorthodox way — not part of the current law on rounding them up.

Madeleine has met their cruelty with creative imagination. She had 30,000 letters protesting this roundup delivered to them by the old American Pony Express. Two ponies with saddle bags delivered the letters to the Capitol. We are awaiting the answer.

Watch for Madeleine and her ponies in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day!

Contributor:  Suzanne Porter, Director of Animal Affairs for THE PSYCHIC BUBBLE.

Posted September 19th, 2010.

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FIVE ANTI-CANCER FOODS

This video speaks for itself. Yes, I said Dr. Oz may have/probably harmed animals. But sometimes the message is more important than it’s source.

The definition of angeogensis is the process of developing new blood vessels. Therefore starving cancer’s ability to form new blood vessels could be important to “curing” cancer. Certain proteins, including angiostatin and endostatin, secreted by tumors work by interfering with the blood supply tumors need. Angiostatin is a piece of a larger and very common protein, plasminogen, that the body uses in blood clotting. Endostatin is a piece of a different protein, collagen 18, that is in all blood vessels. Anti-angiogenesis, the “starving’ of deadly cancer cells, is a groundbreaking cancer-fighting strategy.

Dr. Oz, “…a microscopic tumor given a steady influx of blood can grow up to 60,000 times it’s original size in as little as two weeks.

Autopsy studies of car accident victims..show that 40% of women, age 40-50 has microscopic cancer…and 50% of men, ages 50-60 have microscopic prostate cancer…by the time your are in your 70′s…almost 100% of us will have microscopic cancer in our thyroid gland. So we can live with cancer. It doesn’t have to kill us. So the question is how do you starve it?”

The 5 anti-cancer foods:

1. Bok Choy. This type of Chinese cabbage contains brassinin also found in broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Three 1/2 cup servings a week.

2. Cooked Tomatoes. This fruit has lycopene. Heating the tomato changes its chemical structure and makes the benefits more readily available to your body. Two-three 1/2 cup servings a week.

3. Flounder. This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. Three 6-ounce servings a week

4. Strawberries. The antioxidants in this berry help fight cancers. One cup daily including the juice.

5. Artichokes. There are three different cancer-fighting molecules in this flower. One fourth cup of hearts per day.

Posted September 11th, 2010.

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“THE VALUE OF NOTHING” By Raj Patel

Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing is essentially an indictment of capitalism and the free market. According to Patel, we’ve lost sight of what is important: a sense of community and an active participation in the democratic process. The road to happiness is not lined with “things”, as we’ve come to believe, and our only chance for salvation is to become agents of change in a democratic society which is not run by corporations and greed, but by the will of the people. Patel purports that we have been sucked into the vortex of consumerism and in the process have given up our power to control our own destinies. All good advice, and probably all true, but nothing about these premises is really ground-breaking, especially in our current climate of a post-Bush recession and the general malaise many feel about big corporations and our governments’ willingness to bail-out organizations that have perpetuated the economic disaster in which we find ourselves.

The book is broken into two parts, and part one is certainly the strongest. It delineates some of the problems with capitalism, and there are indeed many interesting facts regarding the price tags we place on everything, including a human life. Patel writes: “Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Blimes estimate the coast of American lives lost in the Iraq war by using a standard U.S. governmental and actuarial figure of $7.2 million per life as part of their calculation of the total coasts of the war to the United States: in excess of $3 trillion.” One of Patel’s premises is that what we can put a price tag on changes with time. It was once legal and commonplace, for example, to engage in human trafficking, which most everyone in Europe and the United States found acceptable at that time. Now, of course, it’s not.

Patel argues, moreover, that large corporations, such as MacDonald’s, skirt the effects they render on the environment and the health of the population in the name of their product: “According to one estimate, the energy coast of the 550 million Big Macs sold in the United States every year is $297 million, producing a greenhouse gas footprint of 2.66 billion pounds of CO2 equivalent.” Corporations, in the name of keeping costs lower, do not foot the bill for the environmental and human damage. Rather, the planet is destroyed, and the corporations are protected by the government, in the name of keeping the prices competitive.

Patel’s major thesis is that those commodities we currently put a price tag on, including land, food, labor, and care, should been seen in a truly democratic society as shared goods. Patel is at his strongest in this section, working as the economist and showing the free reign corporations currently have in market society, and the devastating effects of their policies on our planet and our lives. In short, he maintains that capitalism doesn’t work, or works only for a select few. The rest of us suffer the consequences.

The book begins to fall apart, however, in section two. Patel tries to argue for activism in this section, and encourages readers to become the agents of their own destinies. But Patel’s solutions to the problems he outlines in section one seem watered-down, vague, and even non-existent in section two. It seems that Patel understands well enough the problems of our current capitalist climate, but he offers little in terms of practical, real-world solutions. He writes: “The concentration of resources and power in the hands of a few people and economic entities militates against a successful democracy. What we need is a more plastic idea of property, one in which property and markets are always subordinate to democratic concerns of equity and sustainability.” How this change will occur is as much a mystery to this reader as it seems to be to Patel.

The book ends with an optimistic call to action: “In order to reclaim politics, we too will need more imagination, creativity and courage.” Amen. But a more specific schematic is in order.

Contributor:  Dennis Fulgoni, B.A., M.F.A.

Posted July 15th, 2010.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JILLIAN LAUREN AUTHOR OF Some Girls: My Life In A Harem

TPB: First of all, Some Girls is a very powerful memoir, and I enjoyed reading it. When I first came across it, I was struck with the understated poetry of the title. Can you talk a little about how you decided on Some Girls as a title and what the title means in relationship to your individual experiences in the harem?

JL: SOME GIRLS is one of my favorite albums of all time. The refrain “some girls” kept coming popping up rhythmically in my sentences as I was writing, probably because the song altered my cellular structure at some point in my teenage years. I chose it as the title because the song is so raw and politically incorrect, and I believe the book is of the same tradition. I also chose it for the obvious, literal connection.

TPB: I was only familiar with your short stories before I read this book. Did you explore any of your experiences from Some Girls in your shorter work or did the memoir come out all in one piece?

JL: I never dealt with this particular material before I wrote the memoir. I actually avoided it for a long time.

TPB: To piggy-back on the last question, Some Girls is set primarily in your late teens. How has time and the writing of your story shaped the experience for you?

JL: The real lessons for me were learned as I looked back and reflected. I was able to discover a different level of compassion for both myself and for the other people who shared my story. I looked at pictures of myself from that time and I said, “What was so wrong with me? Why did I hate myself so much?” I was beautiful. I was hopeful. I was brave. I was adorable. I can see it now clear as day, but I couldn’t see it then. The story is about struggling to love yourself and learning to forgive yourself.

TPB: In the prologue and all throughout the narrative, there’s this reference to 1001 Nights and the power of the story to save a person’s life. How has writing, not just of this memoir, but in general too, been a positive force in your life?

JL: It was in Brunei that I started writing with some kind of discipline. That’s the only lasting gift I walked away with, other than the story itself, of course. Writing has been tremendously empowering for me. I’ve learned that whatever is going on and however out of control I may feel about it, I always have the power to put my own frame around it with words.

TPB: I was struck by a line in chapter seven in which you write: “I couldn’t summon a tear for anyone I was leaving behind, not even Sean. That, I imagined, was freedom.” To what extent has your definition of freedom changed, and how has your experience in the harem and since helped to shape that definition?

JL: My definitions of a lot of things have changed since I was 18! My definition of freedom, for one thing. My definition of love, for another. Then, freedom was not caring about anything enough that it could cause me pain. Now, freedom is knowing that there will be pain and that Ill live through it. But things like the definition of something as essential as freedom change from one minute to the next for me. In an hour I might have a different answer for you. My experience in the harem certainly shaped my perspective on freedom, but so has my experience as a mother or my experience as a student.

TPB: Another section that really made an impression on me occurs in Chapter 10. When you walk into the party room in Borneo you mention always liking rooms before the party has started. Then you extend that liking to include theaters: “Even more magical are theaters during the day, before the doors open, before the show begins, when the house lights are on and you can see the rafters and the scuffs on the floor. I love the feeling that anything could happen. After the party, when anything already has happened, there’s usually the inevitable fact to face that anything wasn’t all you’d hoped it would be.” It’s a great moment, one I think readers can really relate to. I know I did. Of course it has a sort of romantic, fairy tale feel to it. Do you still have moments of anticipation like this or has experience tapered this romanticism in you?

JL: I’m still a ridiculous romantic. I read somewhere that there are two kinds of writers: romantics and satirists. I’m definitely the former.

TPB: Many of the women in the harem were in constant competition with each other, and through the process of that competition became obsessed about their weight. You write: “This is the Faustian bargain for many women who make their bodies their livelihood. Your body will be worshipped by others but hated by you.” Of course we see women who are not making their bodies their livelihood suffering from the same conundrum. What are your thoughts about the extent to which women will hate their bodies to garner the attention of men?

JL: I don’t think there needs to be a man in the picture to inspire self-hatred and body image issues in women. I think its an epidemic in this culture and it’s one that’s carefully nurtured by the beauty industry to the tune of about one hundred and sixty billion dollars a year. Part of the reason I wrote this book was to be honest about my struggle with this kind of self-hatred and to invite woman into a dialogue about it.

TPB: In Chapter 13 you write, “Any set of circumstances can become the normal shape of your days if you let it.” Is it difficult to live a more tempered life after having experienced such extremes?

JL: I constantly strive for balance in the life I lead now. Sometimes I’m more successful than others. I’m a wife and a mother now, and I have a career where I’m valued for my mind, and that is ultimately so much more rewarding than being valued mostly for my body, even if I don’t get to wear the exciting shoes I once did. I think what I miss about the experience is how fearless I was. But I was extremely lucky that my recklessness didn’t get me into deeper trouble. I don’t have the luxury of being unaware of consequences anymore. I’ve lived with too many of them. I have way too much to lose now to be careless. And I wouldn’t trade it, but I think most of us look back with some nostalgia on the freedom of being young.

TPB: A very compelling moment in the memoir occurs when you are remembering your Bat Mitzvah experience. You mention that you believed God was “. . . in the scroll somehow, in the gaps between the words.” You go on to elaborate about your beliefs at the time a bit. I found it especially compelling that you talked to God during the day, but not at night before bed: “When faced with my nightmares, I had to think quickly and start negotiating with the monsters instead. But those kinds of negotiations/deals struck, promises made/dissolve with the sunrise. Most people I know who are agnostic tend to find God just before bed, because their fear leads them to ask for help.” But you had the opposite experience, which I think may speak to your sense of independence and your survivalist instincts. What are your thoughts and beliefs on God these days?

JL: I think its funny that it’s harder for me to talk about God than it is to talk about some of the more salacious aspects of the memoir. Maybe that’ll be the next book. But I’ll just say that I have a strong spiritual life now and I believe in prayer and in living in a way that’s of service to others.

TPB: There are constant references in the book to Patti Smith, as in “What would Patti Smith do in this situation?” Do you still ask yourself that question, or do you have a different person whom you consult in your imagination these days when youre faced with a difficult decision?

JL: I’m still wild about Patti Smith but I think that heroes are more prominent for teenagers. It’s not that I don’t have heroes now, I just don’t consult with them quite as often.

TPB: In the memoir, you go through a certain progression: dancer to escort to harem girl. What are you feelings about decriminalizing prostitution in the U.S.?

JL: I am all for decriminalizing prostitution. There are a lot of reasons I feel that way, but the bottom line is that prostitution carries terrible and unnecessary risks and that decriminalization will make women safer.

TPB: Any tips on becoming the Queen of the Harem?

JL: Don’t. It ain’t all its cracked up to be.

TPB: Your next book is a work of fiction entitled: Pretty. Can you tell us a little about it?

JL: Pretty centers around Bebe Baker, who is a self-described ex-everything: ex-Christian, ex-stripper, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl. A year after surviving a horrific car accident that killed her boyfriend, she serves out a self-imposed sentence at a halfway house, while attempting to complete her last two weeks of vocational-rehab cosmetology school. Pretty is about trying to find faith in a world of rampant diagnoses, over-medication, compulsive eating, and acrylic nails.

Contributor:  Dennis Fulgoni, B.A., M.F.A.

Posted June 25th, 2010.

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