Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Heart Is Breaking For NOLA

Since I have been avoiding the MSM fairly assiduously since Feburary, I've been getting my news and views primarily from the Internet during the wee hours of each day. I broke my MSM fast briefly the night Katrina was approaching New Orleans and I breathed that big sigh of relief when the storm jogged east by a notch and dropped its windpower before making landfall. When the sun came up Monday morning and the pictures and talk seemed to confirm that the anticipated worst case scenario had once again been avoided, I shut off the TV and did not succumb to the temptation to peek in for the macabe photos of shredded buildings and lives....

And then I logged online well after midnight this morning to be confronted with the news that the levies had broken and the city was filling with water, that thousands were trapped, that the water was toxic with sludge from chemical facilities.....

So much more. So much loss, pain, heartache. Am typing through my tears.

Sources: NOLA.com, New Orleans Metroblogging, The News Blog

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Brought To You By the Culture of Life

I usually don't opt to open pages with lots of photos or graphics when I get fair warning they exist, I've got better things to do than watch little meter bars change color from left to right all night long. I dream of the day when I have my dream machine and broadband with WIFI and thus 24/7 access to all my files and the www and plenty of time to watch downloaded video from independent media, write novels, stories, essays, poems, multiblog and manage the three plus websites said blogs would interweave, operate an eBay store and grow a community of readers, writers, thinkers and progressive apologists ... maybe someday. Yes, and maybe someday they'll put me in the rubber room along with other non-reality based dreamers--like those who dream of an America loving, free market, democratic government with equality and mutual tolerance for ethnic and religious factions in Iraq bought with blood and bombs and a billion bucks per week. (oh, I forgot. freedom ain't free) I'm sure it would be our mutual hell to share a space. We can spend our time bouncing our heads together when we aren't bouncing them against the wall. It would be about as productive as the neo-con Global War on Terror and the DLC's arrogant assumption of the loyalty of its base no matter how many of their interests they vote against. (oh, I forgot, political offices ain't free either)

Meanwhile, I was led to this Solon.com article by a couple of photos presented on a blog stumbled onto recently via my Blogexplosion surfing for credit. The picture presented there of the bloody body of an Iraqi infant held aloft by Iraqi hands, lured me to the Solon site where I earned my free pass by watching a thirty second ad and loaded this page with a dozen graphic pictures of the reality of this war. Anybody who gives allegiance to the Culture of Life creedos and then supports this and this and this must have a mind made of rubber and easily formed into this.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Sidebar Woes

Have been working on several items for posting the last couple days but have yet to get any of them polished. Little things like permalinks whet missing among my chaotic notes, fact checking is hitting snags. So all I have to offer today is several new additions to my sidebar in the links lists and in the area below that where site promotion related buttons and banners are. There are also several Web Rings in the footer. Note that I just recieved a favorable review by Blogadvance. :)

But I am having problems getting the code for these items pasted in properly or something. The gifs are showing up any which way. I don't like the crowding or the alignment. i would prefer each item stacked one above the other and not side by side. And something weird happened to the TTLB Javasript as it is dividing itself, leaving part of the text way up at the top of the sidebar next to the top post. Can anyone suggest a solution to these irritants?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scrap Metal, Not Soldiers

Will the newest addition to city streets be a guy sitting
in front of a Starbucks with a cup and a cardboard sign that says IRAQ WAR
VET?


So asks Anna Quindlen in her August 8th Newsweek Column in which she remembers the 1946 Oscar winning movie, The Best Years of Our Lives, about sodliers returning from WWII, their disorientation and their family's and community's distaste for their horror-ridden war stories and dismay at their inability to just get on with living the lives they had, after all, not lost. Quindlen asks if we haven't learned enough in sixty years to avoid such insensitivities and the disgrace of not ensuring that our vets have every resource for retrieving their shattered psyches and fractured families, their livelihoods, their health and their hope. Or, in a word, their dignity.

When I hear all the ballyhoo about support the troops, I look carefully at the context, because so shamefully much of it is little more than camouflaged cheerleading for the war. For when it is truly about supporting the soldiers themsleves, there is no tolerance for inadequate armor and ammunition, inadequate nutrition and sanitation, inadequate training and stress management. All of this while they are still on the field of battle. The story only gets more shameful when they come home as they struggle with compromised health and finances under the burden of a frangible emotional balance.

So whether you are hawk, dove or chickenhawk, your cries for 'support the troops' will ring hollow until the consensus of ALL of you brooks no tolerance for homeless vets, servicemen qualifying for foodstamps, weeks long waits for Doctor appointments, reservists denied the jobs they left behind....and so on and on and on. Such should be the epitome of un-American--but, sadly, it is not. Thus, I am with Anna Quindlen when she says:

Never mind the yellow-ribbon magnets; patriotism is an empty, dumb show if it doesn't include adequate health care, a living wage and decent shelter for people who laid down their lives.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Joining Blogcritics

I spent the bulk of my available time this session preparing my post to Blogcritics. Even though it was essentially an edited and slightly expanded version of my recent post, Cindy Sheehan Reframes It For Us, it was time-consuming as I had to learn new protocols, new rules, set up my profile, search Amazon.com for the product code (one is required to find at least one product on Amazon.com which relates to the content of your post) and search out the permalinks to the three posts on Joystory which related also. It should get easier and speedier with practice. Plus, I will probably tend, in the future, to simply cross-post a current Joystory post. But this time I knew that most of my focus would be on learning my way around a new site's technology and that was no time to be also trying to compose new material. Thus this morning's post is basically just an announcement that I have joined Blogcritics in hopes of soliciting more traffic to Joystory, more exposure of my writing and discussion on the themes dear to me. I like the concept of Blogcritics. I hope it works.

Meanwhile, I apologize for not posting the last two days. Sleep depravation caught up with me. But that is just part of the story. I was reading the old-fashioned way in books that you hold in your hand. I was reading Hamlet, the play by Shakespeare and Hamlet: Poem Unlimited by Harold Bloom, Light in August by William Faulkner, The Exception To the Rulers by Amy Goodman. And still another part of the story is that all this past week, I've been distracted throughout my sessions by frequent Instant Messaging with my sister who is on a road trip to Tennessee From Vancouver, Washington. I was traveling vicariously though her descriptions and the numerous photos she sent as she passed landmarks like the Grand Canyon and the London Bridge.


Update: This may be a case of getting what you asked for and then finding it isn't to your taste after all. My post at Blogcritics generated feedback allright. Eleven comments ranging from vitrolic to vibrantly thoughtful. I need to compose myself before I can compose responses. I prefer thoughtful, well defined arguments based on facts. How does one respond thoughtfuly to 'moonbat'? What is a 'moonbat' anyway?

The respondents comments tend to support the thesis of my post which is that we all view events through the bias of our conceptual models of the world.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Name of This Blogging Game is 'Self-referential'

I surrender.

While perusing my states at Site Meter, I discovered that two of my visitors had clicked onto Joystory via www.msnbc.msn.com. I blinked three times but it still read the same. I thought: What??? I mean, I have this fantasy/hope/delusion that someone from an established media might someday discover Joystory and find something here worth linking back to, or responding to via comments or email or--and this is the most over the top fantasy/hope/dellusion of all--discover my awesome [;)] writing talent and point me toward a paying gig in which I can support my habit with my habit. My 'habit' being reading, writing and thinking. But I am not yet deluded enough to think that less than one month's worth of amateurish promoting could have brought me anywhere near such a dream come true. So since Site Meter offers active links to the referrer pages, I was able to click over to the page where some one (two some ones) had clicked over to me. And this is what I found:

Blog Talk
Conversations in the blogosphere about Anna Quindlen


This title headed what appears to be a live feed of a Technorati Watch List which monitors all blogs mentioning the target 'Anna Quindlen' who just happens to be a columnist on Newsweek. It seems they have done this same thing for each of the Newsweek columnists.

Anyway. This was the link to Joystory which I found there:

Summer Reading
... for Nicholas by James Patterson How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen The Sound and the Fury by William ...
Posted 3 days ago in
Joystory 2 links

And I just had to laugh. For of all my posts this one was the least likely to showcase my 'awesome [;)] writing talent' for it is nothing but a list of some of the books I have read this summer. I posted it when I was desperate for a post but too cross-eyed and brain-fried with fatigue to compose anything of substance. And yet this throw away post has generated more search-engine referrers than any of my other posts. And is one of the few that has generated both comments and emails. Go figure.

Maybe I should blog the entire list of 100 books that I finished in 2004.

And, yes, I completely planned this post as an attempt to reproduce the effect. It's at least as effective at promotion as hours and hours of bleary-eyed browsing on Blog Explosion. And self-referential seems to be the name of this Blogging Game. If I can't shake the feeling that calling attention to myself is unseemly if not downright sinful, I might as well get out of this game.

Update: Sorry Anna for misspelling your name in the first attempt. I'm so embarrassed. So much for that awesome writing talent.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Reframes It For Us

Having advised Progressives in the previous post to learn to apply George Lakoff's concept of value framing, I thought it behooves me to conduct an experiment in looking through Lakoff's lenses:

Cindy Sheehan probably hasn't read George Lakoff's books, but she has instinctively enacted the principle of reframing which he espouses. I don't know whether Cindy sympathizes with the Progressive agenda across the board (how many Progressives do anyway?) Nor do I know how she viewed the world and her role in it before she lost her son and then lost the moral justification for his sacrifice and hers. But it is obvious that she is now embodying the Nurturant Parent Model as elucidated in Lakoff's Moral Politics and don't think of an elephant! But not as the parent figure. No, she stands as citizen/child before Bush as President/Father-figure requesting an explanation for why her most precious asset has been taken from her under false pretenses. As such she claims the right to be heard and assumes the right to an explanation with a bit more substance than "Father knows best."

In contrast, Bush himself continues to embody the Strict Father Model in his response which is essentially the unyielding stance of a quintessential Patriarch. As such he claims the right to unquestioned obedience and assumes no obligation to explain himself--right or wrong, he is the Head of the Family and "Because I say so!" is the only explanation he owes her.

The rest of the nation views this morality play through whichever lens they view the world. If their primary conceptual model is the Strict Father, they will see Cindy as a child throwing a tantrum. Worse yet, as a girl-child with the gall to cry foul against her father! They view her behavior as justification for her husband filing for divorce--such flouting of authority obviously makes her an unfit wife. (Would they, I wonder, turn on Carville's wife were their marriage to disintegrate under the myriad pressures of a traumatic grief lived in the public eye?)

Meanwhile, those whose primary conceptual model is that of the Nurturant Parent will view Cindy as the abused child whose father took her prized possession and smashed it instead of putting it in service for the good of the family--for which it had been required of her and for which it had willingly been offered.

The reason Cindy is attracting so much of both praise and vitriol from all sides is because she has tapped into the power of the unconscious metaphors that generate our most profound reactions to the world. And she has dared to ask the question which so few of those whose role and responsibility it was to ask ever bothered: Why? Cindy asks, Why did Casey die? Which is essentially another way to ask, Why did you lie?

And the reason Cindy has had so much more success than other ant-war spokespersons to attract and hold the notoriously fickle attention span of the MSM is the power of her story to move those who hear it and the power of the symbol she has become of a courageous citizen who, having already sacrificed that which she held dearer than her own life, stands before power as an equal requiring that truth be spoken to her.

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Lakoff's Lessons In Value Framing


Why is there not already much more pushing by Progressives of George Lakoff's cogent explanation of the source of the differences in the Progressive and Conservative value systems and his urgent plea to Progressives to learn what the Conservatives have learned so well--the art of value framing.

First pointer is that values do not arise in a vacuum. They are a natural fruit of one's largely unconscious conceptual model of the world. The trick is to make your own conceptual model conscious and then see how your values are logical consequences of it. It is also helpful to be able to discern another's conceptual model by observing how they project their values via word and deed.
Second pointer is that all language is rooted in metaphor and it is the metaphors that rule the mind's ability to comprehend its milieu. All perception is funneled through these metaphors before language can be applied to describe it to self and other.

In a nutshell the difference between Progressive and Conservative values is rooted in their two very different models of how the world works, each one based on the metaphor of Family. The Strict Father Model and The Nurturant Parent Model. Guess which is which!

I'm still reading Lakoff's Moral Politics so I'm still not ready to do it justice in a comprehensive review. And that is going to have to wait even longer because I have to return the book to the library and may have to wait in queue for weeks again to get another turn with it.. But I didn't want to wait that long to get the meme out there that there is an important prescription for a future Progressive renaissance: Know your Frame (conceptual model), Claim and then Proclaim your Values, and when replying to Conservative challenge (or denigration) stay within your own Frame--Re-frame by translating the value(s) under discussion into your Frame. Thus can Progressives stop being blindsided and constantly on the defensive appearing confused and divided--not just as a body but in their individual minds.

Seriously Progressives, you must read and comprehend and then proceed to apply the advice from Lakoff's Moral Politics and don't think of an elephant!
It could be the key to our come-back in 06 and 08.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reading On the Roller Coaster

Have been busy the last several days tending to a number of things that got neglected due to the extra (excessive?) time I spent promoting Joystory coupled with the emotional roller coaster of my personal life--smashing my foot four weeks ago, the family retreat two weeks ago, my Dad's brain surgery last week. Among the many things that got neglected were the library books. A great many of them went back this month having spent their 3, 6 or 9 weeks in my possession with little, and in a few cases no, face time. This was very discouraging, especially considering that for several of them I'd had to wait in queue for weeks or months for my turn and the queue is still quite long behind me.

One such book is Moral Politics by George Lakoff. It was due last Friday and I still have it--one could say I am renting it now at 20 cents per day. Lakoff is the author also of don't think of an elephant! which was a spin off of Moral Politics, a kind of handbook for progressive activists introducing and elucidating in light of current events the themes introduced in this more formal, academic presentation eight years prior to the 2004 presidential campaign.

My review of Moral Politics may have to wait until after the next chance I have with it as I doubt I'm going to finish it this week in spite of the time I've invested into it. Right now I am trying to find a good stopping place. And that is not just a matter of leaving off at the end of a chapter. The chapters are grouped in themes and the related chapters are carefully laid out arguments-in the strict academic sense of that term with hypotheses, evidence, conclusions. The main proposition Lakoff is arguing is that the beliefs and behaviors of both the Conservatives and Progressives can be shown to have an internal consistency and predictability if one factors in the distinct model of the world which organizes their perception and thought. The overarching model is that the nation is a family. The Conservative's model of the family is that of the Strict Father. The Progressive's model is that of the Nurturant Parent. I hope to do the book justice in a review eventually, meanwhile many of the salient points were covered in my review of
don't think of an elephant!

So, in spite of the roller coaster my body and emotions have been on this summer, I never gave up reading entirely. I never could. Even on my own deathbed, I imagine that my fingers would fumble for the edge of that next page to turn. See the list of a few of my summer reading encounters in the previous post: Summer Reading

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Summer Reading

The following are a few of the books that I have encountered since May:

Books I've finished recently:

Writing Fiction: An Introduction to the Craft by Gary Disher
Move On's 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to find your political voice and become a catalyst for change by moveon.org
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo
Deep Writing: 7 Principles that Bring Ideas to Life by Eric Maisel
Blue Horses Rush In by Luci Tapahonso
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff
Corregidora by Gail Jones
Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta by Gore Vidal
The Judas Testament by Daniel Easterman
Beyond Theology: The Art of Godmanship by Alan Watts
If Grace is True: Why god Will Save Every Person by Philip Gulley & James Mulholland
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Books I've been reading recently:

The Dialogues of Plato (Euthyphro & Apology)
Feudal Society by Marc Bloch
The Search for the Perfect Language by Umberto Eco
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
Fractal Horizons: The Future Use of Fractals by Clifford A. Pickover
Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff
In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest by David A. Neiwert
Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
Paradise Screwed by Carl Hiaasen
Don't Worry, Make Money: spiritual and Practical Ways to Create Abundance and More Fun in Your Life by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.
Hamlet by Shakespeare (Barron's Shakespeare Made Easy: Modern English Version side-by-side with full original text)

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Remembering What Matters

Thank-yous are due to those of you sending your prayers and well wishes regarding my Dad. The latest news is that he is doing so well post-op that he may get to go home a day sooner than anticipated--today instead of tomorrow.

Spent Saturday sitting with my husband's elderly grandmother and watching a Little House on the Prairie marathon on the Halmark Channel. It was already in progress when I arrived at two-thirty and we watched until it finished at eleven. It was a major nostalgia kick for me. I Remember watching the shows with my family for years. It was a whole family event with pop-corn, chedder cheese sticks and apple slices, sometime smores. I've been trying to remember all day how old I was when the series started and could not pin it down. I was going to Google the show to discover it's start date but I forgot and now I've run out of time for this session. Anyway, I have also been reading George Lakoff's Moral Politics this weekend and the concepts in the book were dancing an intricate tango with the plots, themes and metaphors in the Little House stories today. I was thinking all day about bloging on this but I have run out of time and steam to do it justice right now.

Another one of the impacts this story marathon had on me was to remind me how much I crave stories and how I have been denying myself of them so much lately as I have gravitated with the obsessive grasp of anxiety to the anxiety inducing and perpetuating reading of all politics all the time. Which reminded me too that it was not the original intent for this blog to focus exclusively on politics as I know that I do not have the passion or the expertise to compete with those who are doing it very well indeed, and the blogosphere does not need another dabbler in that genre.

So watch over the next days for the balance to shift back towards what the subtitle above claims for Joystory. A little more of the purely personal like this one here. And a lot more about reading, writing, thinking and being as they relate to my continuing spiritual quest which has bogged in a quagmire with my focus on war and political corruption. But note, I say the balance will shift towards the orginal intent. I'm not going to stop ruminating and ranting on politics as I continue to believe that the personal is political and the political is personal. And I will never stop obsessing on the necessity of freedom for body, mind and spirit and sending up alerts for any potential curtailing of them.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Freely Marching Towards Fascism

The Pentagon along with major media and a number of businesses and organizations are sponsoring a 'Freedom March' in DC on 9/11 to 'support the troops'. Digby alludes to analogous marches in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, in North Korea and in Castro's Cuba. Then shares a lengthy quote from Christopher Hayes who questions the propriety of major media and the military colluding to stage a blatant propaganda stunt on the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

I question the propriety of anyone colluding to co-opt this anniversary away from the memory of its victims and the mourning of their families. But I especially question the sanity of an entire country which seems to be buying into the proposition that untold multiples of
this is a fair exchange for this.

Even more disturbing for me is the concept of setting a precedent that could easily morph into a tradition of commemorating the lives and tragic deaths of the 9/11 victims, and of the trauma inflicted on our nation, with an exercise in military muscle flexing and the invocation of the euphoric Spirit of War.


The power of shared emotion is nothing to play with. The entire nation's emotions are in a vulnerable and volatile state each year as the 9/11 anniversary approaches. It is unconscionable to take advantage of that to entrain the masses to sublimate their grief by celebrating the glories of violence and vengeance.

Because it is not really about supporting the troops. If it were, the Pentagon, Congress and the Administration would have done ALL in their power to insure the soldiers had the appropriate armor, ammunition, numbers and meals; they would never have rewarded Haliburton's incompetence with more contracts to 'serve' the troops; they would not have invoked 'stop loss' to essentially enslave our soldiers; they would be making sure that none of the troops' own children are going without the necessities; they would be making darn sure no returning vet becomes homeless in the America he laid his life on the line for.

So don't buy into the 'support the troops' theme. Because, if you do, you will help fool yourself along with the nation and possibly a good portion of the troops that a big noisy party with marching, flag waving, martial music, blown kisses and lots of flowery speeches is an equitable exchange for the support they are truly owed. And you will be letting yourself be led one more step down the path to fascism which is notorious for these manipulative displays.


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Friday, August 12, 2005

In Recovery

My Dad's surgery went well yesterday and he is in recovery. They don't know yet how mean and nasty the small tumor they removed from his brain is.

Meanwhile I spent almost the exact same hours he was in surgery with an extreme headache and violent nausea. Was this some bizzare sympathy thing? Or did I just forget to wash my hands before our dinner of sandwiches and chips Wednesday evening?

At any rate, the mental angst and physical anguish has left me fairly wordless this morning.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who's Milking the Cows?

Here is a short little post for those of you who don't have time to read a long essay. It's just a flippant question which probably reflects how tired I am more than anything else:

Why have I not seen or heard anyone playing with the acronym for the Coalition Of the Willing? COW aka herd beast. What does that make the US leadership but wards of the cows aka COWARDS. And what are those whose task it is to solicit men, money or material from the COWs if not milkmaids? I never wished so that I had the talent for drawing. I can picture half a dozen cartoons playing off this meme. Yeah, I know, its juvenile. So sue me. Or have a little fun with the meme yourself. You know you want to.

Now if you want to know why herd beasts and their herders are on my mind, you'll have to read the long post below, Giving America Away to Terror.

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Giving America Away to Terror

Some of the most level headed writers, thinkers and academicians are using the word 'fascism' to describe our current government. I am not wrong to be afraid. I am not over-reacting! We are losing America and it is not the terrorists who have taken it. We are giving it away to the power drunk crooks whose god is $ because they have mastered the art of saying 'Boo!' I spent my childhood and young adulthood with the strong sense of someone looking over my shoulder and making judgments on what I was reading or what I was watching on TV. These people had the power of approval and disapproval over me which is a strong force and not to be taken lightly. But they did not have the power of imprisonment, nor of life or death over me. They used the specter of God’s power for the purpose and that served to keep me in line until I was past thirty years old. I have fought a hard battle for the freedom of my own mind and conscience and it has been only a decade since I wrested them from the specters created by the religion I was raised in. Ever since then I have watched in horror as those very freedoms were being called into question by various political groups from both the right and the left. I fear the recent renewal of the PATRIOT ACT has sealed our fate.

Some of my earliest memories are of scenes from WWII movies that I saw unbeknownst to my parents and grandparents who were watching them while the children were safely playing in the other room or another corner of the room where the TV was. The adults may have thought we were too busy with our own games, our coloring books, our Tinker-Toys, our Chutes and Ladders. But I soon mastered the art of sneaking peaks and then long eye-popping gazes at the TV screen which so mesmerized the adults. TV was as much a magnate for my eyes from the first time I saw one. We didn’t have one at home until I was nine and no color TV until I was eighteen so whenever I was where one was I was paying attention even if it seemed I wasn’t. I learned early to pretend to be occupied elsewhere and unaware of the TV else one of the adults would send me in the other room. Even then, I would sneak back. Slither on the floor behind the overstuffed chair and peak around it. Or go to the bathroom and dawdle as I walked thru the dining room that gave me line-of-sight of the TV. And dawdle on my way back or even slide to the floor around the corner where I could see and not be seen. I would even crawl under the dining room table among the chair and table legs. The things I saw then were as often funny as scary. Or at least the grownups thought so. I appreciated the slapstick physical humor for the most part (i.e. Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis and Lucille Ball) but often the spoken jokes left me clueless. It was as interesting to watch the grownups reacting to what was on the TV as it was to watch it myself.

The scenes I saw which are relevant to this essay were from WWII movies that showed men in dark uniforms, wearing dark helmets and carrying long black sticks. They busted down peoples doors in the middle of the night. Drug them out of bed. Drug them into the street. Loaded them on trains. They ransacked their homes. They tossed bushels of books out of windows and built bonfires with them. Even then, before I was yet seven, I loved books more than life. (Well at least more than eating, sleeping, playing, bathing etc so it amounts to the same.) I was horrified.
I’ve been haunted by those scenes ever since. Scenes of jack-boots marching down residential streets, the helmeted men with big sticks and guns breaking down doors and herding people into the street in their pajamas. Those men found hiding places where women held infants with a hand over their mouths. They yanked the mother out and threw the baby against a wall. They threw burning rags inside bottles through the windows of bookstores and into the rooms where printing presses were printing newspapers. and into churches. (Actually they were probably synagogues but I didn’t know that word then nor the significance of the difference and the rooms on fire often reminded me of the building our congregation met in which we did not call a church so at that time I probably didn’t think the word ’church’ but either Meeting Hall or Bible Chapel which we used for our house of worship.)


These scenes stayed with me. They filtered into my dreams and became a part of who I am. At three, four. five and six, I was too young to know with my head the meaning of what was depicted. But I knew that the adults in my life were watching theses stories like they were as real to them as the room we sat in. On more than one occasion I saw my Mama weeping, my Dad patting her knee. I was too young then to know the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Or the difference between fiction based on historical events and fiction that was more fantasy than fact. But these scenes bit so deep for me that I never was able to remember them or view them or similar scenes later without shivering deep in my soul. My vivid imagination went to work on the memories of these scenes and wove them into my memories of my own life so that I sometimes thought that I had lived through one of those scenes myself. I was a small child hiding in a hole under a floor. A little boy hiding in a hole in the wall behind a heavy bookcase. I was a woman hugging a stack of books to my breast until a black stick knocked against my head and the books were yanked from my arms and thrown in the fire. I was a mother who held her hand to the mouth of a crying baby to quiet it until it was still and floppy like a rag doll.

When I was about sixteen I was allowed to go on a double date with a girlfriend and her boyfriend’s best friend. Even though the boys were both over eighteen. I was quite surprised by my parents agreement but I think it was the movie we were going to see that convinced them. It was the movie based on Corrie ten Booms experience in a Nazi concentration camp after being caught hiding Jews in her home. It was the story of her witnessing for Christ among the prisoners and the guards. Mom had read the book as had I, and I thought I completely understood what to expect. But this had been only the third big screen theater movie I had ever seen and I had no clue how overpowering the visual and audio effects, the moving images, the oversized human figures acting out the violent events in a dark room could be. I was transported. I was stunned like a rabbit in headlights. After the movie my friend had to sit with me in the lounge outside the ladies' room, talking me down as I bawled uncontrollably and shook and shivered so fiercely I could not walk.

This is one of the reasons why I am so distraught over what the current administration and the far right is doing to our country. We are on our way to a police state if we aren’t already there. Most of the average Americans just won’t be aware of the danger until they’ve already crossed the invisible line and then find the police knocking at their own door. It disturbs me that more people were not horrified by the stories of the FBI and the Home Land Security Agency showing up on college campuses all over after there has been a peace rally, or seminars on the Middle East or Islam. They requested lists of attendees and speakers. And if these speakers or the organizers of the event are an organization other than the school, they want lists of all the members of that organization. Is that scary or what? The government is compiling lists of people who are showing a propensity to question their opinions, methods, policies etc. Once you get on that list then what? The possibilities terrify me. In the name of fighting terrorism or in the name of making America safe or saving democracy we are destroying that which makes America the blessing that it once was for its citizens and all the citizens of the world. Without freedom, what is America?

Today I know much more than I did as a child about the power invested in the state authorities. And I am aware of the advances of technology since then. I’ve read Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum and equivalent NF accounts that purport to show what the new technologies are capable of in the wrong hands. And this knowledge worries me a thousand fold more than the thought of another 9/11. So it is that it is the new laws and the new methods of law enforcement since 9/11--what seems to have become the new normal--that terrify me more than the events of 9/11. Maybe that wouldn’t be true if I’d been in New York or D.C. on that day. Maybe. But I think not. My imagination is as vigorous as it was at three and six. I can still imagine the horror of that day even though I witnessed it only via endless replays of the video. But I am more terrified of the men in dark uniforms and dark helmets with black sticks that bust down doors in the middle of the night. Men who throw books on bonfires and babies against brick walls. Men who throw people to the ground and strip their clothes off and then herd them into small chambers that slowly fill with deadly gas. Men who would club your face to a pulp rather than let you speak.

They have only gotten bolder since the election, believing it gave them a mandate. How much bolder do they have to get before we all sit up and take notice than to target the Quakers as an organization of interest in the war against terror? It is because they intend to equate the whole concept of protest and dissent with terrorist activities. Thus they have loosely defined, for legal purposes, terrorism as any activity intended to intimidate for the purpose of achieving a political change--change of leaders, laws or policy. Large crowds can be seen as 'intimidating' in and of themselves even when they are comprised of people with strong convictions against violence. Think about this. If protest and dissent equal treason and even the Quakers are already blatantly targeted by authorities as persons of interest in the war against terror--who will be exempt from suspicion?

And so it begins:

Translator convicted of aiding terrorist
Esp. take note of: Professors from "City University of New York, where Mr. Yousry was an adjunct lecturer, testified on his behalf at the trial. His academic colleagues were alarmed that prosecutors had used excerpts from early drafts of Mr. Yousry's unfinished dissertation, seized by federal agents from his computer, and books on militant Islam found in his library to accuse him in court of radical Islamic sympathies."
The possession of a book is enough to proove your sympathies with its author? In America? Since when?


War Plans Drafted To Counter Terror Attacks in U.S.
re military plans for use of troops on home soil for crowd control and assistance of local law enforcement and emergency responders in case of another terrorist attack.
--see also: http://russbaker.com/blog.html Russ Baker's August 8 post, Army Troops In US Streets?, for commentary on this article


Patriot Games

Justified Murder: Don't Ever Become a Terror Suspect!
(As if You Have a Choice)


Keeping Watch Over the Wrong People

Libraries at the Center of Efforts to Change Patriot Act

Schwarzenegger -- People's Governor or Flouter of First Amendment Rights?

Parts of Patriot Act are Offensive, American Bar Association Says

Americans Deserve Look at US Emergency Defense Plans
This is an article by Andrew Greeley, an author of fiction and NF who has been at the top of my fav list for almost twenty years. He is a Catholic priest and a sociologist. He is very level headed, a true academic. And even he is using the word fascism: ' ''Fascism'' is not an exaggeration. It is, among other things, a political philosophy that says that the leader is above the law, that a commander in chief in a time of war has unlimited power in the name of national security. This is a claim that has been made seriously by lawyers in the White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department in recent years. '

Who's A Terrorist?

Destroying Democracy
Re the tactic in Congress of keeping the vote open until the votes the GOP require have been strongarmed

ACLU Seeking FBI Files on Activist Probes
Who's looking at you?

Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism

Misconceptions Relating to Fascism

The Rise of Pseudo Fascism
This links to part 1 of a 7 part essay by David Neiwert of Orcanus. You can follow the links at the end of each part or you can download the whole essay in PDF format from the sidebar. The same is true for the following two multi-part essays by Neiwert

Bush, the Nazis and America
4 part essay by David Neiwert

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis
15 part essay by David Neiwert.

____________________________________


[I've been collecting links related to the theme of this essay for nearly a year. Which is how long I've been writing on it. Most of them were dead when I went to vet them in preparation for posting this. The writing of this was finally completed and edited before I left for Bend two weeks ago. I had hoped to post it as my hiatus kick-off post but the dead links prevented me. I spent this past week vetting the links and looking for alternatives for the dead ones. Thank God for Commondreams.org. This is probably still a work in progress as I intend to update the link list as I run across more.

This is a theme you can expect more of from me as this is the area in which I feel I have a truly unique contribution to the dialog. I'm not an expert in an academic sense. My expertise is experiential--my experience in having grown up in a Fundamentalist religion and then having broken free gives me a unique perspective on current events. If you are new to Joystory, you can find more of that story in the archives--especially the first several months. The struggle to free my mind from the totalitarian stranglehold it spent more than thirty years under left me with a profound sense of just how precious and rare freedom is. I will never again submit my mind to another mind's authority--either singular or collective. I would rather be dead than led!]

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Slacking Off

I was trying hard all this week to get a long essay regarding the Patriot Act ready to post. Thought I was going to be able to do so this morning so I did not prepare anything else to blog about. I was thrown off track by the news I was greeted with as soon as I logged online shortly after midnight. My sister was waiting for me and sent me an IM. My Dad, who has been fighting cancer for 19 months, has been admitted to the VA hospital in Portland, Oregon. Either a tumor or swelling is affecting his vision and the deterioration over the last week has been significant. So I guess I can be excused for not having my homework done on time today. Even for someone with no history of a mood disorder and indicators for ADD would have trouble assimilating news like this in a few hour's time. I guess I can cut myself a little slack.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Anti-discrimination Solution

Every wisdom tradition has the solution but no religion nor any culture nor any legal system has been able to implement it: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Or to restate: Do not do unto another as you would not have done unto you.

And to restate again: Love your neighbor as yourself (where neighbor is defined as everybody you encounter or could possibly encounter, which in this global society is pretty much everybody)

The reason why no religion, culture or government has been able to enforce such a rule is that it is not something that can be coerced without violating its premise.

The principle relies on the acquisition of empathy and responsibility by the individual. I mean by this that one must be able to imagine oneself in the other one's place (empathy) and then be able to respond (response ability) to the other one's pain or joy as if it were their own.

The bad news is that only individuals can implement the solutions to discrimination of all kinds.

The good news is that only individuals can implement the solutions to discrimination of all kinds.

Has no one ever hear of the power of mathematical iteration? Of the exponential growth factor in multiplying 2x2x2x2x2x2 ad infinitum?

Imagine if two neighbors change each others lives with kindness and compassion and then each change another's life and then those two each change one other's life....

Better yet if each person changed the life of three others and those three changed the lives of three more...

How long would it take to change the world?

There was a good movie in America on this principle implemented by a Jr. High School boy. Pay It Forward was the title. Worth seeing if you can get a hold of it. It was based on a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde and I have it checked out of the library and will be doing a review of it here as soon as I read it.

Meanwhile...Imagine the possibilities.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

The Working Poor: Invisible in America

This is my review of Shipler's book. It is also posted on my site, Joyread.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America
By David K. Shipler
© 2004
Alfred A. Knopf
300p

“The term…’working poor’ should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America.” p.ix

So says Shipler in the opening paragraph of his preface to this insightful indictment of an economic system that we should blush to call American. It is rife with injustice and weighted in favor of wealth over against work. But this is just what makes it so shortsighted. Work is the engine of the economy, the ultimate source of wealth, and the very well-spring of our self-worth as individuals and as a society.

So how is it that our vaunted democracy--purported to be “of the people, by the people and for the people” has allowed a system to be established that denigrates, disenfranchises and demoralizes the vast majority of its citizens? One explanation is found in a Time magazine survey in 2000 that found 19% of Americans believed themselves to be in the top 1% of income while another 20% expected they would be someday. Thus self-deluded, many are inclined to vote against their own class-interest.

Ah, but there is another rub. The vilified term of class in a country which has worked hard to convince itself it is classless. Or at least that there are no barriers keeping individuals imprisoned in a sub-par class. And the current climate in politics at all levels has made even discussion of the issues almost verboten by crying foul with the accusation of ‘class warfare’ thrown at anyone--whether politician, academician, or pundit--who attempts to point out the injustices of the system or suggest alternative policies, new programs or more money invested in proven programs which address them.. But, as Shipler makes clear in his closing chapter, Skill and Will, it is not the raising of the issues or the discussion and debate which amounts to class warfare. Rather, the class warfare is in the very policies and programs and laws and codes that have created a structure which, instead of serving the people as Government is supposed to do, serves instead to create obstacles, pitfalls and catch-22s for those who struggle the hardest just to maintain. It is in the actions of the policy makers and law makers who enact the laws that structure the tax codes and pay scales that favor the wealthy and penalize the working poor. It is in the actions of the employers who prevent their employees from acquiring the benefits they would be entitled to with a fulltime position by keeping their hours just under the wire and occasionally requiring them to work off the clock. It is in the actions of the aid agencies when they refuse to give out application forms upon request as required by law and instead ask a few perfunctory questions and turn the would-be applicant away. It is in the actions of teachers who buy into the stereo types and lower their expectations. It is in the actions of child-welfare workers who remove a child from home rather than helping the mother find affordable child-care or advocating with her boss for flexible hours. And it is in the actions of a President, who in 2003, asked Congress for $100 million for the 1996 Earned Income Tax Credit, which has proven to benefit employer as much as employee. But President Bush did not wish to augment the payments which had barely kept pace with the cost of living increases since its enactment. Rather, he wished to hire an additional 650 auditors to look for fraudulent claims. This at a time when the auditing of both wealthy individuals and corporations had dramatically declined. Now that is class warfare.

But this book is not a dry rendition of statistics nor a partisan harangue. Between the Preface and the short final chapter, which summarizes and proposes potential solutions, Shipler has compiled a series of vignettes based on intensive interviewing over three to six years of a number of struggling families. He also interviews employers, teachers, medical professionals, social workers, lawyers and others with hands-on experience with the system--those who have reason to know what works, what doesn’t work, and what might work if it were adequately funded. These are stories of real people and Shipler made a point of emphasizing in his preface that there are no composites. These are real people confronting the everyday realities of being poor in America at the turn of the 21st century.

_________________________

This is the link to the text of the keynote speech by Bill Moyers at the Inequality Matters Forum at New York University June 3, 2004. It was published first on Wed. June 16 by Inequality.org. In it, Moyers discusses some of the very same issues as Shipler:
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0616-09.htm

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Am In No Mood

The link in the title to this post is to an earlier post, Pity Hearty, you could also find by scrolling down. It is for those of you who don't yet know the story about the duck that has it in for me. Or is that the duck I have it in for. What is it with this obsessive thought that kicking that #^%$ duck again would solve anything. Even make me feel better. Is this some primitive taproot into a primordial brainspot? Anyway, I keep envisioning that @#%! duck lofting over the backyard fence into the trailor park's dinky swimming pool. At least this time off the point of a pair of steel-toed boots. If I had any that is. It has been nearly three weeks!!! Since I kicked into this cast iron doorstop and severly buised the top of my left foot. It still hurts. Just enought to anoy. Throbs like a fresh bruise. Actually it was feeling quite a bit better Thursday. And then Friday afternoon I put my hiking boots on for the first time since it happened. Laced them up loosely but still the little bit of presure across the top of my foot was tre uncomfortable. I still went ahead and walked the half mile to the library and back in 100 degree heat, careful to keep my left foot flat the whole time. a typical 15 min walk took 35 minutes each way. And my foot has yet to forgive me.

It is so odd. The bruise has never turned dark purple. It has stayed pale but there is a mushy pouch under the skin once the size of a tennis ball now the size of a golf ball. I worry I am subject to bloodclots escaping into the bloodstream. But that is probably just your typical anxiety junkie's obsessive worryitus. I don't know. I just feel like such a wimp. A limping wimp. I feel I should be able to focus on the so many more important issues at stake right now. Instead my thoughts are syncopated to the beat of my heart in the throb in my foot.

Sorry if there are a lot of typos or mispellings. I don't feel like editing. Forget editing. I don't feel like re-reading this. I don't much feel like posting it but it's the only thing I got this morning.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Feeling Is Apparently Mutual (The DLC Devalues My Values)

I could rip the logic in this critique of the Democrats' supposed neurotic ambivalence regarding "projection of force" and thus their incoherent expression of patriotism which then leaves them open to charges of Anti-Americanism.....

I could. But I am still fuming too incoherently. And my eyes are crossing with fatigue. And
Publius and Digby have already done a great job of it. So I will just make my point: That if this is the current stance of the Democratic Party they are essentially slamming the door in my face. And if this is what Hillary stands behind, then she has lost me. For if we are expected to minimize the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo scandals as minor deviations; if we are expected to dismiss evidence that our government formulated policy to encourage the atrocities committed in our name; and we are supposed to ignore the lies that led to the war and the corruption that now permeates it; if we are supposed to continue spending a billion dollars, sacrificing the blood of a dozen Americans and uncounted Iraqi's each week--all this just so we won't look like sissies and so Democrats won't be subject to 'Swift Boat' smearing in elections--if this is the understanding of 'patriotism' that the DLC is promoting, they are trashing every value I hold dear. And here I was thinking there was room in America for the values of Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, Sojourner Truth....

If Jesus was a sissy than so am I
If Gandhi was a sissy than so am I
If Peace Pilgrim was a sissy than so am I
If Martin Luther King Jr. was a sissy than so am I
If The Dalai Lama is a sissy than so am I


Sissies Rock!


And just to make my point even more explicit and in honor of the anniversary of America's darkest moment (possibly the moment she lost her way) I offer these links in hopes that some of you will read and contemplate the ultimate truth behind those euphemistic phrases:
'projecting force' and 'getting the job done.'

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Labels are for Little Minds (Why I Am Not a Democrat)

I hate labels. And due to past experience, I have an aversion to joining. That is why, when I registered to vote, even though I knew with certainty that I would not touch a GOP candidate with mile long chop sticks, I still could not bring myself to declare for the donkey's. Since then they have proven my reticence wise over and over and over. When Zell Mullethead stood up and shilled for Bush at the GOP convention, I knew I had been right to claim Independent. Since then the Dim Dems have completely lost me with their ultra-flexible backbone contortions on issue after issue. Maybe W could have gotten most of his wishlist passed without any Democrat votes. Even so, they didn't have to sign on and as much as give their blessings to it. Tort reform. Patriot Act renewal. Gonzalez confirmation. Bankruptcy reform. Medicare Prescription. etc etc. All of these were bad enough. But the one issue that disturbs me the most, is one that hasn't been voted on. In fact little has been said that hasn't been processed and canned by PR, by any of them. And that is the Prisoner Abuse scanals at Abu Ghraib & Gitmo, the Extraordinary Renditions and the Dissapearing of Detainees. I do not understand why no one is standing up, screaming foul, and generally just making so much noise that even the MSM would have to take its head out of their sponsor's pockets and take note (if any still know thier history) that when ever a people has acquiesced to the mistreatment of any minority, it isn't long before most of them are subject to the same. What could the motive for silence on this be? Could some of the Democrats be secretly condoning these tactics? Could they possibly want them confirmed as acceptable so that they will be available when next they hold the reins? For be not fooled all who still care--this kind of abuse of power is not unique to the Right.

This is why, I am not a Democrat. Labels are for little minds anyway. But I will never put my whole heart behind a candidate that does not make clear and unequivocal their stance against abuse of power and in favor of liberty of mind (and body except with due process). And they better be careful how they define due process!

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Unsung Hero

I am with Amygdala that there is far, far, far from enough interest in stories like this one. The shame for letting stories of courge like this one sink into the abyss of memory lies squarely on the shoulders of the media. Both the MSM and the Blogosphere. I expected no better of the MSM. But shame on all you bloggers with the audience share and other resources for not flogging this and other similar stories the same way you have proved you know how with the Bush service records story, the Valerie Plame outing story, the Social Security hi-jacking story, the Tom Delay hi-jinks stories and the Duke Cunningham kickback story, ad infinitum... Thus I know you can do it and I know that several of you have sources at least as good as the typical MSM journalist. There is no excuse for letting the prisoner abuse scandals keep on fizzling out when it is in your power to keep the heat on.

One way to keep the heat on and possibly to encourage more heroes like Sgt. 1st Class Micael Pratt to step forward as witnesses would be to cover every such story in such a way that it becomes clear to every potential witness of such abuses of power that we here at home will hold their witness up as a standard of heroism and will protect them from retaliation. How will our representatives & senators know how much we care, if we don't?

Since I didn't have an audience yet when I first posted these related musings, I am going to leave a list of their permalinks here:

Abusing Jesus
By Any Other Name

A Day That Will Live In Infamy
We Are All Torturers Now
None Dare Call Us Sane

Comments are still open on each of these as well as here. Get a dialog going.
Where is everyone's outrage?
Where is everyone's sense of self-preservation?
This is the issue that should be at the top of everyone's list of priorities.
For this is more dangerous for Americans as individuals and America as a nation than terrorism itself. I know that I am more frightened of this becoming the norm than I am of another 9/11 type attack on our soil.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Still Recouperating I Guess

Slept 12 hours on Tuesday and still can't stay awake. Can't keep eyes or mind focused. Feel like I've lost 50 IQ points. Don't know if I really need more sleep or if I'm just having trouble waking up again after sleeping so hard for so long. Or it is possible that with the sleeping and the dreaming, I am finaly starting to process the emotional elements of the family retreat--seeing my Dad & my Mom's twin sister slipping into what appears to be the late stages of terminal cancer; seeing the two couples reminisce & share congrats on the 50th anniversary of their double wedding August 7, 1955 while coming to terms with the probability thier won't be a 51st for either couple; seeing my neices and nephews all so grown up--no more babies, the youngest is eleven; having my fears of a fundamentalist grilling not pan out & trying to wrap my brain around some subtle evidence and some outright statements from father, brother & uncle that many of the beliefs, doctrines & expectations once held have been either set aside or morphed beyond recognition; seeing my 15yr old neice get a birthday present that meant the world to her--a pair of riding boots and a visit to the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch to meet the horses recued from abuse and neglect; meeting those horses myself and having a 30 odd year fear of horses evaporate in minutes--a fear induced by having been bucked off a horse my first time on one at age 12. And so much more. Much of it not even processed to the point I can name it in a list like that.

So I guess maybe I need to be patient with myself a day or two or even three longer. Which means any blogging over the next few days will probably be more such personal ramblings. I haven't the wherwithal of mind to compose formal essays; am not in a mood to rant; am at least a week behind in the national and global news events and having a hard time caring--both of which would have shocked me just ten days ago.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Relatively Speaking

Am back. Relatively speaking. Have had 7 hours total of sleep since last Friday afternoon! Family retreat went well. Not one disagreeable encounter. Including with the weather. No preaching only relative reaching out to relative--heart to heart. Much sharing of tears and fears. Much laughter echoed in the rafters. Lots to blog about but will have to wait. flogging the keys again is such a relief but i can't stay awake. Can't see straight. Cannot tell whether reality meets my eyes' double-takes. Am about to flounder. May soon halucinate if i refuse to sucumb to the greed for sleeping. Of dreams this night there should be no lack.

yes i'm aware of all the rhyming. and that it is tacky. but the effort to stiffle is no triffle. sleep depravation often results in such oddities of word flow. don't know if the phenomenon is unique to me

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