Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

A New Leaf

20 February 2018
fruit tree shoot

Springtime in Seattle, 2012.

In English we have an expression “turn over a new leaf” which means to make a new start. It literally refers to a page in a book, but of course this meaning of leaf is closely related to the one illustrated above.

As has already been mentioned in the previous post, my desire to build a new relationship with my church led me to the realization that my public-facing communications could use a change of context.

The Situation

Early this lifetime I came to a conclusion that I hope most can agree on: There is a situation on this planet. Situation is here defined as a major departure from the ideal scene.

In my younger years (the early 1960s) I was under the impression that we as a nation (the U.S.A.), if not the entire planet, were working towards an ideal scene. Here it is as expressed in one of our founding documents:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Then near the end of 1963 a duly elected – and rather popular – President was shot to death in public during a parade while he was visiting a city in Texas. A new administration took over from that man, which resulted in our country becoming very deeply involved in Vietnam, a war Kennedy hoped could be kept under control using only Special Forces troops. As more and more of our men died there, our involvement in the war in Vietnam became more and more unpopular, and was finally ended. The “Communists” then won the war, because they were more sensible rulers than those left in power by earlier colonizers and other outside interests.

Our government had immensely failed in effecting our “safety and happiness.” That failure was so obvious, it’s almost as if it was planned; and it may well have been.

To this day, there are huge holes in our understanding of what was really going on during the first half of the 20th century. And those holes only increased in size when we tried to look at and understand more recent events.

Doctors?

 

In the early 1980s I learned that the psychiatry or “Mental Health” movement was being pushed forward by men who shared certain personality traits that most of us would recognize as insane or psychotic. Those persons had their friends installed in various media and political organizations. If we want clean and honest public communication lines, we must remove those persons from control of those lines.

In the early years, those lines consisted mostly of English-language newspapers. Later those lines became dominated by radio and television. And now, since the the 1990s or so, we also have the internet which now feeds into a vast network of mobile “smart” phones.

These communication networks are not evil in themselves, but the persistent attempts by persons of criminal intent to dominate those lines has drastically reduced their usability (and believability) to the point that many people will not use those lines for anything other than gathering the most mundane forms of information, or commercial uses like shopping and banking.

The Search for Reliable Information

I didn’t get on the internet in any big way until 2009. Wikipedia was already very well-developed by that time and had become the de facto source of information about almost anything. However, on topics where facts or intentions are hotly contested, the “establishment” position tends to win out on Wikipedia, on TED, on all the major news sites, or any site attempting to present reliable information. This goes for almost any topic other than the most mundane (weather forecasts?) or boring (electronics and coding?).

What I did at that time was to start my own blog. There I would present and compare data from multiple sources in the hopes of giving readers a more insightful view of things than what was being fed to them by the mainstream sources.

This activity had two main problems: 1) nobody read it, and 2) too many data sources were questionable or antagonistic to real spiritual betterment. I was trying to demonstrate to my readers that there existed certain basic phenomena of life that were widely agreed on and widely researched. Yet I kept falling over false data that others were going into agreement with.

My plan is to revise this site to make it more resource-oriented and less discussion-oriented. Discussion has its place, but that’s not what is happening on the web as it is currently organized.

Technical Limitations

The internet was created to provide its initial users (mostly data scientists in academia and the military-industrial complex) with faster data sharing capabilities, which data might include – in the case of the military – strategic and actionable data of a confidential nature.

Some of the earliest websites looked basically like search windows and were used to find scientific papers and other technical information, somewhat on the order of a giant library.

Additionally, any services that earlier used telex lines were obvious candidates for switching over to the internet. This included news feeds, stock tickers, and private messaging of course.

But it was not long before commerce was being conducted over the internet, and this use quickly became the dominant use. About 1/2 of all internet websites today are .com sites. And this means that what most website designers are trying to do is maximize traffic. Today, social networking is widely understood as a way to give commercial sites access to a lot of potential customers. The sharing of useful information on the internet, its original educational use, has been buried under all the subsequent traffic; a development that should have been quite predictable.

The blog is a sort of personal news feed service. It presents your posts in reverse chrono order, most recent on top, like the news. “Free” blogs are used – often blatantly – for advertising, and so are “free” e-mail and social media accounts.

About two-thirds (68%) of internet users disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior for the purpose of ad targeting.
– Pew Research, 13 March 2012.

While internet shopping is very popular compared to using the internet to seek useful data or advice (except as it concerns which product to buy), many people use the internet for that purpose or assume that it can be used that way. This group especially includes young people in school. I know it also includes all sorts of engineers and other “geek” types.

People want good data, but the internet concentrates on giving them news, blogs, ads and messages commonly associated with entertainment or commerce, not associated with making smart decisions.

Thus if I want to use my blog to help people make smarter decisions in their lives, I must realize that this is not what my blog was designed to do, and I am going to need to compensate for that.

The changes I will be making in the site reflect that realization.

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The Lands

8 February 2018

dead trees along american river
…Some background on a new writing project and WordPress site…here…

Inspirations from odd places

I had recently been exposed to a film story called “Blade Runner 4049.” Though I found the story overly complex, its vision of our future is not that unusual in contemporary fiction. I particularly recall from the movie an area called “San Diego” that had become a huge dump and salvage yard for the Los Angeles metropolis. The piles of junk went on for miles and miles in all directions. It was also pointed out that there were no living trees in the environment. It was noted that at a “rebel” outpost, a dead tree had been kept standing using steel cables.

The Blade Runner story is a “loose adaptation” of a story by writer Philip K. Dick. Philip is considered an important science fiction writer. Born in 1928, he was influenced by the somewhat older sci-fi writers of the pulp days, such as Hubbard and Heinlein, but also the “beat” writers like Jack Kerouac. He died at only 53 under circumstances that remain poorly understood. He was a drug user, that is for sure.

In Dick’s book, the dystopia evident on the West Coast was brought about by war. In the movie this is not mentioned, except for a reference to a “high radiation” area near Las Vegas. In both stories, androids apparently designed for robotic tasks (I don’t believe it) acquire their own sense of humanity and wish to have equal rights with humans and an end to the control programming. Science fiction writers who have gone down this road seem to be of a mind that something like this could happen. They don’t try to understand why. The difference for me is that I now know why. The design and manufacture of human-like androids would be seen as a dangerous and stupid activity by anyone who understood the likely spiritual outcome of it. The androids in the film, called “replicants,” would be even more susceptible to this problem, as they are almost totally biological.

Bicycling downtown through the riverside park, I noticed a large stand of dead trees that has always been there, but seemed unusually gloomy with no spring foliage to offset the grayness. And I thought, “this is the Land of the Dead Trees.” And so I began to formulate the starting point of a story.

I am incapable – even if I wanted to – of writing an ordinary fiction story. I have been exposed to too much actuality that is much stranger than most “fiction” written these days. The trick would be to start with how things are now and somehow show how the situation could be improved.

That leads to Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” which employed a similar technique. But I have no use for his time traveler. I can simply assume a viewpoint of some future time and “look back” to now.

phto with added effects

The photo above with two effects added to it: “oil” and “sepia.”

Wheat Penny

27 June 2017

what penny both sides

Every so often I run across a “wheat penny.” So called because of the heads of wheat depicted on the back. Though I collected all sorts of things when I was a kid, including coins and stamps, I never studied those subjects seriously.

The study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects is called Numismatics. I am not a student of this subject. I also have older pennies called “indian head.” They were produced from 1859 to 1909. The wheat penny followed this one, up to the year 1958.

This one I think I got at the Tandy Leather store. That’s how I recall it. It is dated 1951.

Operation Stupid

23 October 2016

I just watched a film titled “Operation Terror.” I didn’t use its real title in my title as I didn’t want that to be over-inflammatory. It’s about 9/11.

This film was released in 2012; I just heard about it yesterday. It was written and produced by a guy named Art Olivier. Art is about 3 years younger than me, had a technical job with Boeing and/or McDonnell Douglas (his bio says “Engineer”) for about 20 years, and became self-employed after that time. He was also interested in politics and ran for many offices in and around the town he lives in (Bellflower, CA), and became a Libertarian. He also ran for State offices, and US Vice President in 2000.

What is not clear in watching the film is that a sizable portion of the dialogue is taken from documents generated during the 9/11 investigation or that turned up later. So, in the film’s fictional re-creations, many of the characters say exactly what they were recorded as saying per those documents.

The idea that the whole operation was organized and run by a CIA agent, as directed by a senior member of “the Council” (Council on Foreign Relations?) is fiction. As far as I know, we have no documents or testimony pointing directly to who’s idea it was, or who ran it. That it was the creation of a demented mind should be obvious to anyone, which is emphasized when Art in a later interview refers to all the occult symbolism surrounding the event.

An example is the number of deaths at the Pentagon, reported as 125. This is 5X5X5, the Pentagon being a 5-sided building. It is also believed that both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were exactly placed at significant geographic locations when they were built.

For his movie, Art went with the theory that none of the actual planes with passengers hit any of the buildings. Their real pilots could not have been bribed to do it, and their supposed hijackers would not have had the required skill, assuming it was even physically possible to do so. That means: 1) Something else hit the towers and the Pentagon (the movie suggests drone planes); and 2) Something else killed the crews and passengers. The movie shows them being ordered into a giant NASA autoclave (a special kind of oven), telling them it is a bomb shelter. The one who resists is summarily shot in the head.

Assuming this event was planned by “our side,” it means almost 3,000 people were sacrificed for this operation, on purpose. Now, that’s what I call insanity.

The movie ends with the youngish CIA operative believing he has botched the operation due to all the stupid mistakes involved in carrying it out. However, his boss from “the Council” assures him that he did a good job and was a true American patriot.

Rocks and Shoals

6 October 2016

Literally, rocks and shoals are some of the most common ways that ships come to their doom, particularly in the older times of wooden ships and no sonar.
This is also the slang term most sailors use for the Navy code of conduct, or any similar set of rules.

It’s not easy to take good photos from a train or bus.

But I wanted to share with you some of what I saw and wondered at during my recent travels.

Though there are areas on earth where one can go for miles in any direction without seeing any exposed natural rock, for a large part of the earth’s surface, that is not the case.

In gazing out at all these hard and craggy surfaces – as well as the soft places in between – I had to wonder: How did it get like this?

And so began a short investigation into the basics of geology as a preparation for sharing these photos and info with you.

I was most impressed by the sights I saw on my initial trip from Pullman to Boise, yet my photos from that ride are few and poor. I was more productive during my ride from Denver to Omaha on the train. There are enough scenes here to give you some idea what I was gazing at for hours during my trips back and forth across the West.

cliff face detail

This stone cliff appears to be eroded by water.

rock layers in cliffs

Here some layers seem flat while others are slanted.

green slope with cliff

Brush-grown slope beneath a harder upper layer, with starker cliff in background.

layered rock above river

Layering of rock is very evident above this river.

eroded rocky projection

Though this rocky projection is very eroded, huge areas remain bare.

According to the geologists, rock formation on earth started soon after the planet formed (soon in geologic time anyway). It was only one or two hundred million years after initial accretion of the planet when we started having bonafide surface rock.

After that, things get a little more complex. But it took a long time. As little as 35 million years ago, the earth’s surface was still changing quite a bit. The Rocky Mountains didn’t really start forming until 35 million years before that. What we see at about 70 million years ago is some major disruption that really gets the various crustal plates cracked up and moving relative to each other. Large parts of the ocean floors have formed since that time, and many of our most famous mountain areas did not exist before then.

One oddity is that the continent as we know it today was largely covered by water before the uplift that formed the Rockies even started.

And so the layers. In most cases, the lowest layers will be the original crust. If it were not for the great upheavals of the mountain-building period, those rocks would remain hidden below the layers that formed above them. But a combination of erosion and severe buckling has exposed them in many places. Above the lowest layer are layers created by wind, water and ice erosion, as well as volcanic activity. In the millions of years involved, the upper sedimentary layers have had time to become very hard, though not as hard as the bottom layer granite, nor the volcanic basalt, where that exists. So in an area once covered by a sea, you could have the bottom layer covered by sandstone layers, limestone layers (created by shell-forming living creatures), clay layers, which are basically eroded older rocks moved by water to new locations where they turn back into rock, and conglomerated layers deposited by ice. Then if volcanism occurred later, you might have a layer of lava over all that, or basalt squeezed into below-ground pockets. When volcanic rock forms in cracks in softer rocks, if that structure is then exposed to erosion, the softer rocks will wear away faster, leaving the harder rocks, often in rather odd shapes, or standing as “towers.”

jagged ridges near Las Cruces

These formations in New Mexico are incredibly jagged and probably created by ancient volcanic activity.

In the uplifting of the Rockies, all these different scenarios played out at different locations, leaving all sorts of odd formations, with combinations of newer and older rocks both exposed to view.

In Kansas City I saw a lot of limestone, both quarried as a building material and exposed in place in parks. That suggests the area had been covered by a warm and very alive sea in the distant past, and those layers subsequently uplifted to well above sea level.

I was also amazed at all the mountain meadows we went through on my trip to Boise. These were created mostly by glacial activity that started less than 3 million years ago.

mountain meadow and lake cascade

This Idaho meadow, full of pasture land and farm fields, is about a mile above sea level.

Dinosaur extinction event

About 75 million years ago, something happened on Earth that killed off all the dinosaurs. It killed off a lot of other species, too, but the disappearance of dinosaurs is the most notable. The current popular date for this is 66 million years ago. This also corresponds to when the Rocky Mountains were forming, which means a lot of tectonic activity.

The most persuasive scientific hypothesis is that a very large asteroid hit the planet at that time. However, this is not the only possibility.

 

my train by a river in a canyon

Yes, I really did take a train ride across the country last month, and it’s really hard to take a photo of your own train while you’re riding in it!

Goose Poop

6 October 2016

geese in park Omaha

Geese feed on a lawn in Omaha downtown park.


We’ve all seen Canada Geese stop over at some local lawn on their way North or South. But these weren’t Canada Geese, and they acted like they’d been living in this park for a while. These geese, in fact, look more like domestic geese.

I don’t remember geese of any description living in parks. But when I visited the favorite park of my boyhood, Nicholl Park in Richmond California, Canada Geese were obviously living there.

geese in Richmond park

“Wild” geese living in Richmond.

What’s going on here?

Google “urban geese” or “goose poop” and you will find plenty of reading materials on this subject. But they most all say the same things.

What certain sites (such as Cornell’s) will tell you is that the U.S. government started a program in the 1930s to re-establish the Canada Goose population which had dwindled considerably due to hunting. They did this with captive birds. These birds did not know to migrate, and they didn’t migrate; they stayed put. These are the birds filling our city parks and causing most of the problems we are having with goose poop, noise, and aircraft interference.

They are safe in cities because no one can hunt (with guns anyway) in cities.

I wondered after getting back home if no one was using the Nicholl Park lawn because of all the goose poop in it. And that probably is a factor. There was a lot of it, and per all the materials I’ve read, it’s not very healthy to be in contact with it.

As it turns out, the real key here is lawns. These birds love lawns, and will seldom settle anywhere other than a grassy field.

Odd coincidence

Oddly, last night I attended an event titled “12th Annual Palouse Basin Water Summit.” We listened to the usual local speakers on the subject of the Palouse water supply, plus we had one international speaker, Maude Barlow, a Canadian water activist.

Right now, the Palouse gets most of its fresh water from underground sources (aquifers). Agriculture and industry are not significant users of aquifer water in the Palouse. Even so, the aquifer water levels have dropped over 100 feet since we have been pumping out water for human uses.

The most attractive and realistic way that most residents can reduce water use is to switch to gardens around their houses that require little or no irrigation. This is no panacea, but it got a lot of attention at this meeting because it is a fun and interesting way to reduce domestic water consumption.

Most residents are already aware of low-flow toilets and shower heads, waiting for full loads before washing clothes or dishes, and generally being stingy with water. These are all part of “going green” and have gotten a lot of attention in many urban areas because many urban areas have had water shortages.

Lawns

Lawns have reached a kind of iconic status in the American and European psyche. Anybody’s dream house has a lawn in front of it, possibly quite a large one. All those photos of our little kids playing on the lawn at home or in a park…it seems an essential part of life.

Yet lawns are atrocious water hogs. They require tremendous amounts of water to keep them green, but will tend to drain off excess water, rather than pull it into the soil. They are like many of our crops that must be irrigated to survive. And so, though grass can be very green, lawns are not very “green.”

What’s odd about me going to this conference then wondering about goose poop is that lawns are related to both issues. Lawns. Odd.

There are still some municipalities (Orlando, Florida is cited by Wikipedia) that mandate front lawns. In more hip communities, the problem is more likely to be front no-plants-at-all. But people in general are gradually coming to realize that the more soil that is covered with plants that will help it soak up, rather than reject, any precipitation that comes its way, the more pro-survival that soil will become for all involved.

So, the answer to both goose poop and water over-use is getting rid of lawns and replacing them with more natural gardens or vegetable gardens.

I have recently posted a lot of photos of urban parks. They all have lawns. You might say, “What would a park be without a lawn?” To which I would reply, “A lawnless park.” I have absolutely no sympathy for golfers, either. None.

I have not begun to even scratch the surface! After we de-lawn, we are going to have to confront re-forestation. And that involves our current methods of agriculture, both mass crops and grazing animals. I’m not sure how far we can take this, but I know that the ideal scene would be to phase out our impact on the surface ecology almost entirely.

I wanted to show you a picture of Bird Hills, but couldn’t find one, so here’s Discovery Park in Seattle.

discover park seattle trail to beach

My ideal park.

TED busts out…

10 April 2016

…and other developments.

I got my usual weekly email from the popular TED Talks site last week, but it was oddly different.

Perhaps it was because they had started releasing videos from their latest event in February, or perhaps it was for some other reason. But not only did all the featured talks seem interesting – including an interview with Linus Torvalds, the original developer of Linux – but the featured playlist on “secrets” included talks as old as 2005 that I had never been aware of.

I downloaded about 20 talks, filling up my C: drive (but happily emptied into my “network storage” computer, which I finally got back up and running last week).

The presenters were mostly “journalists.” This category seems to include a very wide range of people these days. Several “techies” besides Torvalds were also represented, including a lady who works at Pixar Studios (they make completely CGI – computer generated images – movies), and another woman working to bring the US federal government’s digital services into the 21st century.

Topics included the search for life in outer space, understanding shifts in global development, the recent growth of organized crime and other “non-traditional” economic and social changes.

I was introduced to an extremely esoteric photographer / journalist named Taryn Simon who had some interesting things to say, a journalist named Will Potter who has been documenting government’s complicity in the crackdown on anti-corporation activists, and Robert Neuwirth another journalist who specializes in the study of “alternative” urban social structures growing up across the Third World.

 

Vaxxed

In other news, a film made to document the story of a Center for Disease Control doctor who claims he was pushed into going along with a plan to hide data linking some vaccines to autism, has been getting considerable attention.

It has been taken off the program of a high-profile film festival in New York City, and more recently, another showing in Houston, Texas was stopped.

In the eyes of the “common man” the whole narrative, starting perhaps even before the development of Darwin’s theories into a sort of new religion for academia, is becoming worn out and useless.

It is obvious that the general population is being lied to, and this film just points out another example of this.

Without a firm understanding, though, of how this whole situation came to be, it is very unlikely that any popular movement, no matter how well-intended, can succeed in turning the situation around.

As Taryn Simon tried to express in her own words, the human race seems to be on a collision course with its own past mistakes. Until the ignorance is lifted, the planet has little choice but to dramatize a past we have all lived through yet have almost totally forgotten.

Storm Clouds Gathering

27 September 2015

A peace activist speaks out

About five years ago a young man who wanted his children to live on a war-free planet started a website called StormCloudsGathering.com and started making and posting videos on the subject on his site and on a YouTube (a Google company) channel.

His videos were short and to the point. He used reasonably reliable information, had a very good announcing voice, and learned how to make videos of quite good quality using images from the web. His audience on his YouTube channel started growing. At some point, he made a decision to “monetize” his YouTube videos and work at the project full time. With the income flow from the channel, he could scrape by and have time to cover more topics that were important to him.

Today his YouTube channel has 468,555 subscribers. His total views is over 46 million. Then just recently, according to a post he made on the 23rd of September, some, then all, of his videos were demonetized by Google. Apparently they have a new policy that monetized videos can’t be controversial. However, it’s not clear that they are enforcing this rule fairly, and this rule itself demonstrates the anti-free-speech middle-class belief that controversy is not commercially viable, though, oddly, large sectors of the economy totally rely on conflict.

So this young man is no longer able to make a living acting as an “alternative” media outlet (and a very popular one, at that). He will have to cut back on his video production to make time for some other sort of income-making activity, or appeal for listener donations all the time the way National Public Radio (and TV) do.

George Orwell (pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, an anti-totalitarian British writer) fancifully placed a nightmare story of complete state control, apparently based partly on what he was seeing in Russia under Stalin, in the year 1984. Though our loss of freedoms was not quite as described in his book by that year, that isn’t to say that no one was working on it.

A “middle-class” (for lack of a better term) distaste for controversy in personal opinion, regardless of how bad things look in general, has overtaken much of the “free” world. We find this segment of the population locked into a system where personal comfort for a lifetime seems possible, as long as no one rocks the boat. That others in different circumstances have not felt personal comfort for many lifetimes does not make that much difference to these people. That’s why we have charity, they reason. And that’s what is criminal about the middle-class approach to life. In leaning towards the comforts of materialism, they have also turned away from the spiritual realities of the situation. They think they live but once. No. They will all be returning, unaware of past existences, but back none the less. And they will have to reap the harvest of the seeds of neglect they sowed in earlier lifetimes. If things get really bad, most of them will most likely simply give up; they are spiritually that weak.

I feel no great pride or sense of superiority for being aware of these things; just a little more hope. If I can become aware of these things, if StormCloudsGathering can find some way to keep making videos, and people keep watching them, then more people can become aware of these things. And maybe some day it will be enough to make a difference.

My bench gets some upgrades

My work bench may one day be an important source of income for me. In some ways it is already, as that’s how I kept up with electronics, which is partly why I was able to land my current job.

So I have been investing in it a bit. I recently procured a tool cabinet (made of steel sheet metal) to help me get more control over my storage problems. And I have pushed by “tower #3” – the Tower of Power with Bungalow – up to an operational status.

Unlike my previous two towers (see Tale of Two Towers), this one resides in a rear corner of my bench, and only a small desktop unit (the bungalow) is within reach. All the contraption does is supply power for my projects before the boards are assembled into self-powered enclosures. I decided that this was the most-needed function. Another bench-top unit houses a couple of digital multi-meters and a continuity tester. I use these all the time.

The “work bench improvement project” continues with various efforts to consolidate parts storage, create modules for prototyping, experimental, and demonstration purposes, and throw away redundant and trashy stuff. The current effort focuses on finishing projects that I started earlier.

Matilda

1 January 2013

Matilda is a story written by the famous British writer, flying ace and intelligence officer Roald Dahl and made into a movie (released 1996) by Danny DeVito.

On the surface it is a simple fantasy of good overcoming evil. But considering its genesis and content, I give it more credit than that. It falls into a long line of stories about beings with supernatural powers overcoming villains who also seem to have supernatural powers. These stories include the stories of Krishna and all his struggles against his enemies, the comic book super hero stories, and many others.

In this story, a little girl is the super hero. In order to make an ordinary little girl into a being with supernatural powers, she is given parents who barely took care of her (her father is a dishonest businessman) and thus she is free to take care of herself. She begins reading at an early age, and by the time of the story is totally literate, has impeccable manners, and has begun to discover her “powers.”

The villain is the headmistress at a private school. She is almost pure evil, but manages to restrain herself from killing anyone – except maybe once. And it is on that one foul deed that the plot of the story hinges. The whole school lives in fear of this woman, so when she is finally exposed and runs away, the school blossoms, as do the lives of all involved, including that of Matilda and her teacher (only daughter of the man murdered by the evil woman).

With a plot this thick, one need not strain over much to draw parallels.

Dahl himself was simply a well-read man, and a person familiar with the pains and perils of war, and perhaps some of its underlying causes. He also had personal clashes with sadistic school personnel when he was a child.

DeVito is very active in the entertainment industry, seems to have a somewhat independent position in the industry, and apparently is a traditional liberal and a supporter of peace efforts in the Middle East. In addition to that, all his children knew this story, and it was partly because of them that he wanted to make it into a movie. It is also because of this that Dahl’s story was not watered down for the screen. Thus, his vision shines through, even though the movie story happens in a place like Los Angeles (or Las Vegas) while the original story is set somewhere in England.

Are special abilities required to vanquish evil?

My short answer is “yes.” You could say, to be simplistic, that special abilities were required to create evil, and so are also required to undo it.

The hero of this story, in addition to her intellect and her ability to control objects with her thoughts (or intention), has a perfect sense of ethics and is always honest with other people. It is quite possible, in fact, that she could have vanquished her opponent without supernatural powers. These powers, however, gave her the courage to try.

If you are no good at bending spoons using your mind, I strongly suggest that you work hard on developing the other abilities demonstrated by this little girl. You never know: With those abilities strengthened, much more may become possible. And I have that on very good authority.

Basia

17 December 2012

Basia was born in Poland six days before I was born in Berkeley.

Her full name is Barbara Trzetrzelewska.

She listened to many different music styles as she grew up, and came to love Brazilian music in the early 1980s, as I did. She wrote and performed many songs in the style of Brazilian jazz.

I was aware of her because she had some hit songs in the US. But I didn’t know who she was until a fellow volunteer in Portland (Ken) clued me in. I had thought that she was younger than me and probably Brazilian. She isn’t. She’s white and almost the exact same age as I am.

What the biographies don’t mention is her approach to life and music. I only know a bit of this from an interview and her lyrics. She’s an optimist. So am I. She prefers a celebratory declarative style in music. So do I. She is a bit cynical and suspicious of popular culture and the entertainment industry. So am I. She likes running her life according to her own preferences, hopes, and dreams. So do I.

In addition to the above, she also lost her mother in the 1990s, and so did I. The loss led her to change her focus temporarily, as mine led me to do.

But now she is back and I hope we will hear much more from her before she leaves us.

Basia-official-website