Friday, November 09, 2007

Seein' green...

Currently, I am sitting in lovely San Francisco, working at the Green Festival.
Last night I attended the Green Business Confrence dinner. Organic Valley won the 4th annual Green Business Leadership Award and I listened to Simran Sethi talk about the different stories of green businesses. It was an inspirational evening... making all these things we are trying to do, seem like it really does matter.
Green is good!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scorecard Information on 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates

Courtesy of Global Stewards:

This page includes scorecard information for 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates on the environment, civil liberties, women's rights, labor rights, civil rights, education, and animal rights. Votes were compiled from Project Vote Smart.

Joe Biden-
League of Conservation Voters: 95% (2005-2006)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 92% (2005-2006)
Planned Parenthood: 100% (2006)
AFL-CIO: 93% (2006)
NAACP: 100% (2005)
National Education Association: A (2005-2006)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 60% (2005-2006)

Hillary Clinton-
League of Conservation Voters: 83% (2005-2006)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 83% (2005-2006)
Planned Parenthood: 100% (2006)
AFL-CIO: 93% (2005)
NAACP: 95% (2005)
National Education Association: A (2005-2006)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 100% (2005-2006)

Chris Dodd-
League of Conservation Voters: 95% (2005-2006)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 80% (2005-2006)
Planned Parenthood: 100% (2006)
AFL-CIO: 100% (2006)
NAACP: 90% (2005)
National Education Association: 80% (2003-2004)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 100% (2005-2006)

John Edwards-
League of Conservation Voters: 37% (2003)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 60% (2001-2002)
Planned Parenthood: 100% (2001)
AFL-CIO: 100% (2003)
NAACP: 94% (2001-2002)
National Education Association: 60% (2003-2004)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 60% (2003)

Mike Gravel- not available

Dennis Kucinich-
League of Conservation Voters: 100% (2005-2006)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 100% (2005-2006)
Planned Parenthood: 56% (2006)
AFL-CIO: 93% (2005)
NAACP: 96% (2005)
National Education Association: 88% (2003-2004)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 100% (2005-2006)

Barack Obama-
League of Conservation Voters: 98% (2005-2006)
The American Civil Liberties Union: 83% (2005-2006)
Planned Parenthood: 100% (2006)
AFL-CIO: 93% (2006)
NAACP: 100% (2005)
National Education Association: A (2005-2006)
The Humane Society of the U.S.: 60% (2005-2006)

Bill Richardson- not available

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jeffrey: A brave man, his lovely wife and the brain tumor

Last September, Rev. Samurai Sam performed a wedding ceremony for Jeffrey and Lori.
Since then, life was progressing beautifully...
Until this August, when Jeffrey was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. They sucessfully removed the tumor and currently he is going through Chemo and radiation. Jeffrey is looking wonderful and keeping his spirits up!
Lori is working hard to earn some extra funds for the family, as Cancer is EXPENSIVE! You can make a donation here:
Can you spare-a-dollar?
Please keep our friend in your happy thoughts (or prayers if you do them) and lets all celebrate life!

Jeffrey, you are a brave man! We all love you and are pulling for your speedy recovery!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Live Music, Sustainability Workshops, Rural Heritage Exhibits, Tons of Fabulous Food, Beer and Dancing!

If any or all of the above listed things strike your fancy...

Or, if you enjoy the amazing views of rural, South Central Wisconsin...

Come check out the 4th Annual

Kickapoo Country Fair !

This amazing event will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29 on the grounds of Organic Valley's world headquarters in La Farge, Wisconsin, set in the ancient and beautiful hills of the Kickapoo River Valley.

This festival is a showcase of rural cultural traditions, farm and garden exhibits, music, dance, arts, natural and organic foods and cooking, green housing and renewable energy, community health and education, environmental responsibility, and eco-development.

The all-weekend event features organic farm tours, farmers & farm animals, sustainability workshops, hiking, the Butter Churn Bike Tour, tons of fabulous food, artisan vendors, not-for-profit & community exhibitors, family & kdis activities, all-day music, entertainment, and dancing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RIP Jerry Falwell

"The sun is setting in the sky, Teletubbies say goodbye"

Ah... bye, bye.

August 11, 1933 - May 15, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Too Much Insult to Bear

Being a liberal atheist, I've come to accept that I'm going to be in the minority opinion on certain issues. I can live with that. I've also learned to accept that no matter how hard I may try to have a beginner's mind and regard others' views objectively, sometimes the weight is too much to bear. How could it not be? Conservatives in America have drafted a line-up of some of the most vile, ignorant ideologues ever spewed out upon the popular airwaves. Any decent human being should be appalled on a regular basis at the garbage that comes out of the Right's sewer of opinion leaders. But sometimes, just sometimes, enough is enough.
I received an email today that may have finally contained about as much conservative ignorance and bile as I can reasonably tolerate. To lessen the damage to my psyche, I have to share this bit of vileness with all of you and cleanse my mental palate by having my own say. I almost pity the good friend of mine that sent me this; I wouldn't want any part of a political philosophy that espoused this sort of garbage.
And here we go...

Dear God,

Why didn't you save the children at Virginia Tech (and a slew of other schools where children were murdered over the past decade)?

Sincerely Concerned Student Theocratic Nutjob

Dear Concerned Student Rightwing Hack,

Sorry, I am not allowed in schools!



First of all, what kind of wimpy, impotent God are we talking about here that anyone gets to tell him where he's not allowed? That's a pretty ballsy way to talk to the Creator of the Known Universe. That aside, this entire line of thought is complete bullshit. There are dozens of religious organizations on the Virginia Tech campus. Of course, that's not what this little dialogue with the Almighty is poking at anyway. We'll get to that in a moment. In the meantime, it's best to just meditate on the pissy self-pity evident in whomever wrote this little emasculation of God.

How did this get started?

Well, some nerd can't get laid as much as the cool liberal guys on campus so he joins the Young Republicans and grows up to write hate filled screeds from the cool comfort of his mom's basement. Am I close?

Let's see,
I think it started when Madelyn Murray O'Hair complained she didn't want any prayer in our schools. And we said OK.

Pitiful that I had to correct the spelling of O'Hair's name. I'm disappointed when the conservative theocrats can't even get the names of their favorite bogeymen correct. For the record, O'Hair's case, which was decided by the Supreme Court, had nothing to do with prayer. There is no ban on prayer in any school anywhere in the United States. Any student can pray, have a prayer circle, wear prayer beads, dance a rain dance...whatever they want. As long as they're not breaking any laws or harrassing any one else, the First Amendment guarantees their right to pray. The kind of prayer theocrats like the author want is the kind that is enforced by the school. They want my children, and yours, forced to pray to their conservative Old Testament God regardless of whether we want our children taught that garbage or not. We live in a nation of religious freedom and school officials are required to respect that. If conservatives want a Christian theocracy, they can find another country to ruin. This one's mine!

Then, someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible that says "Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal and love your neighbor's as yourself," And we said OK.

Now that's the case that involved O'Hair. See the public, tax-payer funded school her son attended was requiring its students to read from the Bible that O'Hair did not believe in. She brought suit, as did others, and the Supreme Court wisely agreed that a government institution funded by taxpayer dollars had no business forcing children into a certain faith. Sure, the Bible says "Thou shalt not kill". I wonder how well that worked out for the Cathars or the women of Salem or the people of Iraq? And it says "Thou shalt not steal". I wonder how well that's worked out for those crushed by usurious credit card rates, living with the largest gap between rich and poor in the world's history? And it says "Love your neighbors as yourself". How much self-loathing, then, must the people who claim to follow Christ have as they denigrate women for their sexual habits and condemn their gay neighbors as aberrations against the natural order? I wonder if the Bible has a word for someone who claims to believe something and yet acts completely contrary to that belief? If I recall, Jesus had a name for those folks...

Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehaved because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self esteem. And we said "An expert should know what he's talking about so we won't spank them anymore..."

Hey, guess what? Dr. Spock was right, actually. Spanking children teaches them that they don't need to listen unless threatened with violence. It also teaches them that it's OK to use force to impose your will upon the weak. Hitting children is a sign of weakness and impatience. I wish I could say I've never failed as a father and succumbed to that weakness, but I can't. No child has ever yet grown up and lamented the fact that their parents didn't smack them around more often. We teach children that hitting is wrong. Maybe we should practice what we preach.

Then someone said teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to get sued. And we accepted their reasoning...

Just to interject, I have to apologize for the appalling lack of literacy in this email. It's awful even by normal conservative hate mail standards. Back to the substance: again, it's a big load of what the Amish leave on the road in front of my house when they drive their buggies through. School administrators have many tools at their disposal to discipline unruly kids. Thankfully, beating them is no longer one of those tools. It's amazing that conservatives think it's actually preferable to have a government official physically assault their children from time to time. I wonder if those same conservatives would have no problem with being beaten themselves the next time they get a parking ticket or are late on their taxes? Apparently to conservatives, discipline always means corporal punishment of some kind. Kinda kinky when you get right down to it...

Then someone said let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, that's a grand idea.

Yes, because by God how can we properly beat that slut back into submission if she can hide the rightful punishment of for her sin from others? It's so hard to to shame these young whores when you give them freedom of choice over their own bodies! Really, we just need to go back to the days when only the rich got safe abortions. You can be sure that the teenage harlot next door (or in the next room) won't be getting around much any more with a good staph infection from a botched back-alley abortion. Ah, the good old days!

Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said that's another grand idea...

Because as every good conservative knows, if you ban sex education and birth control, teenagers will just stop having sex. How scary is it that certain of these people actually believe that having sex for fun is wrong? And Christians try to tell me that being an atheist must be unfulfilling! Maybe that explains the tremendous divorce rate in our 80% Christian nation. Call me crazy, but I don't think a long, slow death from AIDS is a desirable outcome of a night spent engaging in one of the most natural acts in which any two humans can engage. And I can guarantee that if, one day, some pimply-faced little weasel does the nasty with one of my sweet, innocent little girls, I'll personally give a wet, sloppy kiss to whatever school official gave the little bastard the condom he better damn well be wearing.

And the entertainment industry said let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence and illicit sex...
And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide and satanic themes...
And we said it's just entertainment and it has no adverse affect and nobody takes it seriously anyway so go right ahead.

Dear God this email just gets stupider as it goes along. First of all, no one is claiming that the bad things named above in entertainment are not bad for children. Quite the contrary. It's one of the few issues on which both conservatives and liberals largely agree. However, that doesn't mean we should suddenly throw free speech out the window just because not every shred of entertainment material produced is family appropriate. My favorite show is The Sopranos; it's violent, profane and generally has at least one scene set at The Bada Bing in every episode. I love the show but I damn sure do not allow my children to watch it. There's this magical red button on my remote control that says "Power" and I find it protects my children from pretty much anything I find objectionable on TV. My advice to the folks complaining about our entertainment media's effect on children: get off your lazy asses and start parenting your own kids! Stop expecting the government or the church or the school or whomever to do it for you. If you don't want your kids watching rated R movies and listening to gangsta rap, then don't let them. Grow some bolts and stop being a weak parent whose only solutions are bitching and spanking. Meanwhile, I'll continue watching Tarentino films and listening to Dr. Dre, because I'm an adult and I can handle it. And by they way: What the fuck exactly are "Satanic Themes"? Is it AC/DC ringing Hell's bells or John Constantine verbally sparring with Lucifer? It's Harry Potter again, isn't it? Damn him and his youthful hijinks!

Now we ask ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, class mates or even themselves. I'm sure it has a great deal to do with "We reap what we sow".

First of all, don't lay your crappy parenting on the rest of us, conservative theocrats! My children know right from wrong because I'm teaching them right from wrong. They have a conscience because I'm teaching them to have a conscience and treat others the way they want to be treated. Finally, stop blaming society, the society you're a majority of, Christians, for each kid that goes off on a psychotic rampage. The young man that committed those atrocities at Virginia Tech was mentally ill. He was a psychotic waiting to break and, if our gun laws made any sense at all, should never have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. Indeed we do reap what we sow, conservatives, so stop sowing hypcrisy! It raises a bitter fruit...


At the end of the day, in all seriousness, Virginia Tech is the price we sometimes have to pay for living in a free country. It's a steep price and our hearts at A Beginner's Mind go out to the families and friends of those lost, including the killer's. It's a horrible price but the alternative is a police state; a Christian version of Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the bad guys and the psychotics make victims of us and it's tragic. But far more tragic would be a country that threw away all it's freedoms for the illusion of safety. Conservatives love to talk about the price of freedom, especially when flogging their latest favorite war, but balk when it comes time to pay that price. Virginia Tech has paid it for us all and we should respect their sacrifice by protecting the freedom for which they died.