Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I'm of the opinion that people should be given money for being clever and cute.


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5544142456





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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Business wise I suppose this is bad news for me. Personal wise I would be optimistic but I suppose they're going to charge money for it which wouldn't strike me as cool at all. We'll see. Let's pretend it's good news for now.


http://epaper.ocregister.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:ArticleToMail&Type=text/html&Path=Orange/2004/12/14&ID=Ar04601




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Monday, December 13, 2004

HOLIDAY GIVING GUIDE

As a yearly service to who ever reads this crap I write, I like to give suggestions on how you can do good with your holiday dollar instead of perpetuating evil.
Everyone should give, sure. We all know that. We should all give our money to good causes until we worry a little about how we're going to eat and pay our phone bills. For money is something you throw off the back of trains. Remember that.
Instead of giving money to people on the streets who will probably just spend it on consumer crap, why not give your money to groups that do good things. There are groups out there that do great work, the kind of work you'd like to do or the kind of work you benefit from.
What better time to give your money away to groups than the holiday season. I guess. Anyway, if you don't know what to give somebody for Christmas (or whatever holiday you give things to people) these charities also offer cards saying you made a donation in somebody's name. I love doing that. People like learning that a blind person in a third world country is going to see because of them a lot more than they'd like to get a fleece pullover.

Circle of Life needs money right now.

http://circleoflife.org/

Here's some others I like.

http://www.seva.org/
http://www.peta.org/
http://www.earthfirst.org/
http://www.fum.org/about/memberyearly.html
http://www.foodnotbombs.net/
http://www.cacophony.org/
http://www.chico-peace.org/
http://www.greenpeace.org/international_en/
http://www.mockingbirdfoundation.org/


New York Rob is always telling people to give to the ACLU. I never have myself, but I see his point, times being what they are so...
http://www.aclu.org/

If anyone else has any suggestions out there (and if I like the suggestions) write me and I'll post them.



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Sunday, December 12, 2004

HOLIDAY MAGIC!

another damned cybersermon by Rev. Paul Mathers


I think the Pagans knew how to do a holiday right. And I don't mean the Neo-Pagan movement although they've got some nifty holidays too. I'm talking about the westerners who had religious practices figured out before Christianity came along. Christianity came along and assimilated their holidays, but I think they cut out an important part. The old Pagan holidays seemed to understand when you've got a holy day, a day with a lot of spirituality attached to it, more likely than not there's just as much negative energy about as positive and one needs to figure out how to deal with that situation in an appropriate manner. That’s something very important that I think we’ve forgotten or we’re too afraid to admit or the powers that be think is too powerful a message to let out.
I hope saying those nice things about the Pagans keeps everyone from getting offended as I now go on to talk about Christmas is if no other holiday existed in this time of year.
There's a lot of black magic surrounding Christmas. If you start to study magic a bit you start to figure out (much to my own disappointment that I'd never turn a tire iron to gold) that it's mainly about image and word manipulation, changes of perception, figuring out how to manipulate reality and so forth. I tell you this to try and find an original way to make a terribly unoriginal observation. Priorities seem to have become so messed up concerning this holiday that irony and hypocrisy abound way beyond the point where they're funny.
One example I came across this morning when I was at Quaker meeting. A lady stood up and told us how she'd been in a mall where they had a nativity scene. She heard two people walk by and say, "Look, the right wing conservatives have taken over."
To an alien this would be hilarious. The image is of an immigrant family from one of the lousiest towns in Israel who travel on a donkey until the lady has to have her baby in a barn. If you know a little more of the story, the baby grows up to create a movement to wipe out the reigning religious system of extreme, corrupt legalism. Also, he's famous for telling a rich guy that he can't get into heaven unless he gives everything he owns to the poor. Somehow this image has now become associated with a political party famous for supporting the filthy rich and big business and for trying to legislate a morality based on a strictly literal interpretation of their scripture.
Haw haw haw.
Black magic. Like I say.
This king of all holidays seems to bring out the worst in people. I've been cut off at least 7 times more often than I usually am here in Chico. I've been almost hit while walking a lot more. People in the steam room leave when I'm still in there and leave the door open behind them. And this was all today.
Of course, I'm not saying I'm immune. I can be just as bad. This morning I woke up and four people in the house I share a kitchen with were sick (and still are I believe.) Not only my first thought, but also my first hour of thoughts on the subject had to do with the fact that I'm going to travel at the end of the week and how much it would suck if I got sick. It took a long time for "gosh I hope they feel better" to set in. Also I swore at the guy who cut me off, muttered "jerk" at the guy who left the steam room door open, and thought bad things about the guy who almost hit me when I was walking. Needless to say I did my part to make sure the freight train of irony and hypocrisy keeps rolling.

If our culture were based on one concept, meaning if there was one concept that if it disappeared our whole system would metamorphosize, that concept would be covetousness. Don't believe me? Go turn on one of our nation's many televisions right now. It doesn’t matter which station. Even to one of the stations that masquerade as a news station. Watch for a few seconds.

I had a talk with my niece the other day about Christmas. She was very excited because she gets to have Christmas at her place, her maternal grandparent's, her paternal grandparent's, and her paternal great grandmother's. She encouraged me to think about the large amount of presents she's going to get. She asked me if I was excited about all the presents I'm going to get. I told her not really. Now that I'm 27 it's been about five years since I've really wanted any specific thing. I said that when you get to a certain point in your life it stops being as much fun to get stuff for Christmas and it becomes a lot more fun to watch others get things, especially if those people are children. This was an overgeneralization. I don't think most people would agree with me on that because a lot of people never grow out of the perversion of covetousness. But I say a lot of things like that to my nieces because I know that they listen and it gives me hope. Maybe they’ll buy into the crock I say and the world will be a little better for it. Most of the time it's not necessary because they prove themselves to be much more decent human beings than I.
She said it also made her sad to think of poor people. She really said this without me prompting in any way. She said that Christmas made her sad because so many people don't get anything. She told me that's why she suggested to her dad that they all give one of their old presents to a poor kid this Christmas. Holy crap, I thought. An eight year old can think of things with a clarity and simple goodness that I couldn't even come close to. My brain is too full to be able to think of things with such clarity. That's because black magic has been performed on me for 27 years.
You can't fight black magic effectively with more black magic. All you get is a lot more black magic. Every major revolution has discovered this principle.
Speaking of revolutions, there's a word that means doodly squat anymore. I opened up the Chico News and Review the other day and saw an ad for a place that sells SUVs. The ad said "An American Revolution." I was near a television at the gym where an ad told me that a major makeup company was "a revolution in lip color." I wonder what a revolution in lip color would really be like. They come out with a new lip color that no one has ever seen before. The color is so attractive that we all chuck our bourgeois jobs and the military industrial complex grinds to a quick halt while we all pursue a lifestyle of free love seeking after the color.
Or maybe the lip color is so butt ugly that we all rush on the make up company, tear the buildings apart, and realizing how much fun that is go on to tear apart all the other multinational corporations.

I'd be a liar if I said that I didn't want stuff even though I said I rarely want specific things for Christmas. When people ask me what I want for Christmas I usually answer with something vague like "money" or "a girlfriend." But I do want things.
I'm not trying to make a whole sermon saying we're all devolved cretins for wanting things and we're destroying our planet and eating our own souls to feed our stomachs. The only effective way to fight black magic is with light magic. In spite of the fact that politically I would call Leon Trotsky a moderate, I'm not saying it's inherently bad to want things for yourself.
I want to finish this so I can go make some pasta and make my stomach stop growling. If I didn't allow myself to want that, if I saw that as selfish and didn’t eat, I'd eventually die. In a little less maudlin of an illustration, I'd like to drive a hybrid. They are freakin' rad cars. I'd like to visit Israel. And I've just preordered the final miniseries of Farscape off the internet for myself. None of these things are necessary, but one way the black magic works is in the opposite of its self way. That is to say, I often find myself feeling guilty because I live in such a covetous culture and I find myself being covetuous too. All that is the negativity of the black magic affecting me in the opposite way than it affects the culture at large. It's a mechanism, which works on a subliminal level, to keep the more caring people just as miserable as the ones stuck on the have/havenot treadmill. It's part of the genius of the magic. It cuts both ways.
So the problem is not the symptoms. The problem behind all the black magic is that it blinds. It keeps one from joy. That's why most kids are immune. They have few responsibilities. My niece is one who can want things for Christmas, feel bad about those less fortunate and figure out a way to help those people with what she has. I couldn't do that on my own.
Welcome to adulthood. You've been duped.

This holiday season is most likely the most dangerous time of year as far as allowing yourself to become a robot. I've given my diagnosis. Here's my prescription, which I plan to take five times the recommended dosage for myself (which is what I always do with prescriptions. Which might be part of why I think the way I do.) Practice simple awareness. In the next, what two weeks (HOLY CRAP! IT'S ONLY TWO WEEKS!) make yourself notice when you're in holiday situations. Notice what's really going on. These people are buying perfume. That man is angry that he is in a line. These people are getting blotto at a party and acting in desperate ways. These actors on a lighted screen have been given money to tell me that were I to buy and wear their fleece pullover, the people who have to deal with me will be instilled with a positive holiday spirit.
Baby steps. Start to look around at the holidays, without just being pissed off all the time, and see what you really see. See if that doesn't work to change you. And then see if you can't find the chinks in the armor of the great black magician. It should give some direction. In my experience, simple awareness, real awareness usually offers direction. Then I know how to do the real work I have to do. In other words, if you find awareness, I believe your revolutionary manifesto will write its self. Then you can print up copies and pass them out on street corners. Won't that be fun?
My revolutionary manifesto has a lot to do with joy, loving kindness, and finding the true heart's desire in every other human. Finding what's beautiful in them and falling in love with them.
And there's a lot of pompous, self-righteous stuff in my manifesto too.
As you can see.

That's part of what's crappy about trying to grow as a human. You want to make the world a better place? You want to live in joy, honesty, and loving kindness? Well, you've got a hell of a job ahead of you because a lot of people find it easier to not.
So you're just as sick of the holidays as everyone else? Well, you've got few choices with how to deal with it. You can do what most people do and bull in the china shop your negativity. Or you can keep your hands on the plow.

And if I can ask something of you after all of these sermons, a little favor, if you pray, ritualize, meditate, or just think fondly of things, please please please put in a good word for me that I can actually do any of what I've just been talking about. For the next two weeks, I need all the help I can get.

Selah.




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