Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More obscenity...


An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job. The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset.

The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum.The parents had signed permission slips allowing their children to take part in the field trip. McGee's lawyer said the principal at Fisher Elementary School admonished her after a parent complained that a student had seen nude art. McGee said the principal had urged her to take the students to the museum.Now, McGee, who was honored with a Star Teacher Award two years ago, is on paid administrative leave until her contract with the school district expires in March.

What is Texas, Iran?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Light blogging for the next few days...

I have an upcoming trip, a report, a presentation, and oh, yeah, I just discovered the best thing since sliced bread, and I've got to prove it's the best thing since sliced bread in triplicate a week before my upcoming trip.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The "bin Laden is dead" rumor

It's either:

  • Black Ops designed to "smoke him out" through generating chatter on the "terrorist network" and thereby spring "the October Surprise" OR
  • Designed to get bin Laden to make a video, hopefully before the election, which the Repubs will use to claim that "bin Laden really hates us Repubs, so vote for us."
Nonsense however you put it.

Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters, Dylan said.

Great advice.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Work, Family Practice and the Blogosphere

This is one of those posts, that posted on Kos, would go nowhere. It'd be posted at the wrong time, for one thing. Posting in the early morning puts in right in a rush-hour at Kos...

And besides, this post isn't really so well suited for Kos. Street Prophets, maybe.

This post is about work and family practice...and blogging.

Blogging often threatens to get in the way of the other two. As people who have visited this site regularly know, it isn't being as updated as it used to be. That's for two reasons, or three...

  1. It's political season, and frankly the stuff at Kos is more fascinating. The left blogosphere threatens to be the first method of organizing people to take on the religious rights. I don't often see the need to cross-post here in any depth.
  2. Work practice: Recently work has increased in its intensity. It is amazing the degree to which mindfulness directed in a stressful work environmnent allows one not only to simply get by, but to flourish. True; I need a vacation. The three or so days off in the summer haven't been enough, and it's time for me to schedule them. But the blogging just doesn't seem as interesting as the work.
  3. Family practice: This I could increasingly write a book about.
The zennist recently wrote:

Much of what is marketed as Zen in popular books and in Zen centers, bears very little resemblance to Zen as described in its own traditional texts. When Zen master Tsung-mi explains the principle of Zen he writes:

“The fundamental source of Zen is the fundamentally awakened True Mind also called Buddha Nature which is the primordial mind. Awakening to our Buddha Nature is called "wisdom" (hui, prajñâ). Practicing this is called "concentration" (ding, samadhi).”

How many Westerners who attend Zen centers have heard this? For the most part, not even Asian Buddhists hear such ideas from their teachers. All of this is buried in the voluminous Mahayana canon. Often, it only comes to the light of day when students are doing their dissertation or scholars are doing research.
I like this guy, and I guess you could say I go to an American Zen center (though my teacher is more in Asia these days than the US). But I can assure zenmar where the rubber meets the road is practiced today.

But as I do this I do find that one aspect of zenmar's criticism is spot on...this teaching is indeed not prominently displayed in the world...

Which brings me to the blogosphere... and Beliefnet's Blog Heaven.

It's high time they updated it.

When I think about the deep richness of the moments when I'm trying to figure out some obscure link between aspects of a particular protocol and a Stiefel manifold, and am completely, utterly, absorbed in it to the extent that the ki (気) being generated is causing me to sweat...frankly, the blogs that beliefnet pushes don't seem that relevant (with the notable exception of....Woodmore Village).

They skew way too far to the right, and ought to include Street Prophets.

But I think so much of this is so irrelevant.

I can understand zenmar's point: so much "dharma," so much "religion" so much "spirituality" is completely useless.

I think there are sites that I just won't visit because they never edify...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What he said...

Geez, even in print Olbermann's eloquent:

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Sept. 11, 2006 | 3:19 p.m. ET

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lao Tzu vs. Dobson via Lakoff: The essential danger of conservatism

I said I was going to write more on Lakoff and Dobson, and while I forgot why I was going to do that, I'm not at a loss for a viewpoint.

First, let's start here:

The conservative family values agenda is, at present, being set primarily by fundamentalist Christians. This is not a situation that many people are aware of. Probably the most prominent figures in the fundamentalist Christian family values movement are Dr. James Dobson, who is president of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, and Gary L. Bauer, who runs the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. These groups have been most explicit in developing a Strict Father approach to childrearing and have been extremely active in promoting their approach. On the whole, they are defining the conservative position for the current debate about childrearing, as well as for legislation incorporating their approach. Since the ideas in conservative Christian childrearing manuals are fully consistent with the Strict Father model of the family that lies behind conservative politics, it is not at all strange that such fundamentalist groups should be setting the national conservative agenda on family values.

I should say at the outset that virtually all of the mainstream experts on childrearing see the Strict Father model as being destructive to children. A nurturant approach is preferred. And most of the child development literature within the field of developmental psychology points in one direction: childrearing according to the Strict Father model harms children: a Nurturant Parent model is far superior.

Lakoff has it wrong: the "Strict Father model of the family" is really the undisciplined Father model of the family...

Here's a few choice quotes from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching...

Chapter 29

1. If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect
this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom
is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who
would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses

2. The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil. Hence the sage puts away excessive
effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.

No matter how much one tries to actively "seize the empire," whether the empire is one's domicile or the United States of America, one will come to failure.

What Lao Tzu is referring to here - and this Taoist perspective mirrors similar sentiments in Buddhism- is that neither a "strict" nor "indulgent" stance in executing authority will be useful.

Chapter 57

1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war
may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's
own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

2. How do I know that it is so? By these facts:--In the kingdom the
multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of
the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people
have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more
acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances
appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves
and robbers there are.

3. Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and
the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping
still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take
no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich;
I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain
to the primitive simplicity.'

This is neither strict nor indulgent: but rather empowers all.

Contrast that with Dobson, as interpreted by Lakoff:

Dobson is clear about the need for punishment, as are the others.
Rewards should not be used as a substitute for authority; reward and punishment each has its proper place in child management, and reversals bring unfortunate results. (Dobson, 91)

The point of punishment is not for some specific offense, but to enforce the parent's absolute authority in general, as a matter of principle. Any rebelliousness of spirit must he broken.

When youngsters display stiff-necked rebellion, you must be willing to respond to the challenge immediately. When nose-to-nose confrontation occurs between you and your child, it is not the time to discuss the virtues of obedience. It is not the occasion to send him to his room to pout. Nor is it the time to postpone disciplinary measures till your tired spouse plods home from work.

You have drawn a line in the dirt, and the child has deliberately flopped his bony little toe across it. Who is going to win? Who has the most courage? (Dobson, 20)

The only issue in rebellion is will; in other words, who is going to rule, the parent or the child. The major objective of chastisement [that is, physical punishment] is forcing the child's obedience to the will of his parents. (Fugate, 143)

The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the child's will is broken. It should last until the child is crying, not tears of anger, but tears of a broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his own will, the spanking should continue. (Hyles, 99-IOU)

In the [biblical] command of obedience given to children, there is no mention made of any exception. It must be set forth and impressed on them without any exception. 'But what if parents command something wrong?' This is precocious inquisitiveness. Such a question should perish on the lips of a Christian child. (Christenson, 59)

Require strict obedience. The obedience should always be immediate, instant, without question or argument. What the father says to do, the son does. He does 'a well, he does it immediately, he does it without argument. The parents allow no exceptions to the rule. Hence, obedience is the law of the land and the child should not deem it necessary to have an explanation for orders he has received from his parents. (Hyles, 144)

Obedience is the most necessary ingredient to be required from the child. This is especially true for a girl, for she must be obedient all her life. The boy who is obedient to his mother and father will some day become the head of the home; not so for the girl. Whereas the boy is being trained to be a leader, the girl is being trained to be a follower. Hence, obedience is far more important to her, for she must some day transfer it from her parents to her husband. This means that she should never be allowed to argue at all. She should become submissive and obedient. She must obey immediately, without question, and without argument. The parents who require this have done a big favor for their future son-in-law. (Hyles. 158)

Swift and painful punishment is thus seen as the basis for all character development:

Obedience is the foundation for all character. It is the foundation for the home. It is the foundation for a school. It is the foundation for a society. It is absolutely necessary for law and order to prevail. (Hyles, 145)

The means of punishment is also generally agreed upon. The "rod" in "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is meant literally:

The Biblical definition of the rod is a small flexible branch from a tree (a wooden stick) ... a number of rods [should be kept] throughout the house, in your car, and in your purse (so that you can] apply loving correction immediately. (Tomczak, 117)

The rod is to be a thick wooden stick like a switch. Of course, the size of the rod should vary with the size of the child. A willow or peach tree branch may be fine for a rebellious two-year-old, but a small hickory rod or dowel rod would be more fitting for a well-muscled teenage boy. (Fugate, 141)

The use of the rod enables a controlled administration of pain to obtain submission and future obedience. If a child's rebellion has been to disobey an instruction willfully, the parent can stop after a sufficient number of strokes and ask the child if he will obey instructions in the future. The parent is the best judge of the correct number and intensity of strokes needed for a particular child. However, if the child repeatedly disobeys, the chastisement has not been painful enough. (Fugate, 142-43)

Since such punishment is necessary to form character, it is a form of love.

Disciplinary action is not an assault on parental love; it is a function of it. Appropriate punishment is not something parents do to a beloved child; it is something done for him or her. (Dobson, 22)

Because I love you so much, I must teach you to obey me. (Dobson, 55)

This is clearly a) bound to fail, and b) cruel. Moreover, it creates a cycle of increasing abuse. Not a pretty picture for society.

If this is the Republican model, then it is simply Americans' patriotic duty to keep these people from power.

Just this...


A monk told Joshu, "I have just entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me." Joshu asked, "Have you eaten your rice porridge?" The monk replied, "I have." "Then," said Joshu, "Go and wash your bowl."
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

Mumon's Comment:
Joshu opened his mouth, showed his gall-bladder (true mind) and the depth of his heart. If this monk did not really listen to and grasp the truth, he indeed mistook the bell for a pitcher.

He made it so simple and clear,
It might take a long time to catch the point,
If one realizes that it's stupid to search for fire with a lantern light,
The rice would not take so long to be done.

Suzuki Shosan's response to a practitioner who asked about this koan was amazingly brilliant: in giving a down to earth answer advising the practitioner just to mindfully go about is everyday business and not to engage in any kind of meta-speculation beyond that, (and never, in fact, explicitly referring to this koan), Shosan provides one of the most profound, yet down to earth explorations of this koan ever.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I am optimistic

There's some teeth gnashing over at Kos about the fact that it is unlikely the mokumentary whitewashing the failure of the Bush regime to do anything about 9/11 will be pulled from ABC's Sunday lineup. But I'll have none of that: I am very hopeful, especially because of the firestorm this has ignited.

The truth - operating from within it, operating with sincerity, is the only way to live one's life.

Being true to yourself is the only way to live one's life, and I think that is true for the nation, as well.

That's why I'm optimistic: the liars and deceivers and schemers who currently rule us are destined to fail, simply because their lies cannot, will never, keep track with reality, and the more lies they tell the more warped and distorted lies and actions they have to create to keep the inevitable from happening. But the inevitable will happen; maybe not Sunday, maybe not election day, but soon, and eventually decisively in American history, just as surely as the defeat of Nazism was decisive to eradicating it as a serious political philosophy in Germany, just as even today the vast majority of Japanese reject their militarism, and as today in China the Cultural Revolution is an event of shame.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another site worth exploring

I'll have more, much more to say about this bit on Dobson and families.

Joe Carter: career trajectory

Joining the FRC? I myself would have a problem - especially if I were formerly a marine - working for an outfit that was headed by a guy who saw little trouble with buying David Duke's Rolodex or the C of C.