Yes We Did– Now What?

February 9, 2009

E.J. Dionne Dubs Obama The Fighting Conciliator

And I love Obama more than ever.

From the Washington Post: The Fighting Conciliator by E.J. Dionne

Monday February 9 2009 page A17

Mr. Dionne writes:

“It took less than three weeks for the real Barack Obama to come into view. He turns out to be both a conciliator and a fighter.

“These are not contradictions in his character. They represent different sides of a politician who sees some issues as more susceptible to compromise than others and who wants his adversaries to know that his easygoing style does not make him a pushover.

“The sudden clarity emerged in the two best speeches of his short presidency and in the ongoing saga of the stimulus bill.

“Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday with a warning against the use of religion “as a tool to divide us from one another — as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance.”

“Obama did not cite Isaiah’s injunction that we should come and reason together, a favorite biblical passage of Lyndon B. Johnson’s, but it seemed to be on his mind: “For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God.”

“That was in the morning. By evening, when the president spoke to Democratic House members in Williamsburg, he had cast aside his efforts to placate Republicans who had no intention of reasoning with him on the stimulus bill. Obama had turned the other cheek often enough.

“Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis,” the born-again campaigner thundered. “We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that, for the last eight years, doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin.”

“Deploying a preacher’s unapologetically judgmental cadences, Obama denounced “the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face.” He reiterated that argument in his Saturday radio address and will press it in speeches on the road this week.”

Read more at the original Washington Post online article here.


February 8, 2009

The deadly for-profit industry that is so called HIV-AIDS

Filed under: a life worth living,AIDS,be the change,children,health care,HIV,oppression — kimwilsonowen @ 5:10 am

Please, please Mr. President. Please look deeply into the issues surrounding AIDS. Please check out the links below, from the Rethinking AIDS facebook page. We don’t have an AIDS epidemic. AIDS behaves like no credible epidemic. We have an epidemic of AIDS testing– no two tests give the same result, so many normal conditions give false positives that will ruin a person’s life in the blink of an eye– and a targeting of marginalized groups such as African Americans and gays.

Then bring the real scientists and clear communicators involved in the rethinking movement to Washington for a hearing– David Crowe, Peter Duesberg, Kary Mullis inventor of the PCR (DNA test)  technology used to detect HIV who says HIMSELF that it cannot work, David Rasnick, all of those whose loved ones died or babies who were brain damaged or whose mothers died or who could not breastfeed because of the incredibly poor science surrounding our current ‘duh, everybody knows what causes AIDS’ mindset, dangerous AIDS drugs being pushed at tremendous profit to drug companies, and the carelessness of doctors and scientists who care not one whit about ‘the kind of people who get AIDS’–  poor, ethnic, gay, ‘promiscuous’– please Mr. President. Just give it a solid hearing. You could save so many lives. If you aren’t convinced, then at least fund research by both sides, not just the Gallo/CDC side, to finally prove, SCIENTIFICALLY, one way or the other. Please.

Join the cause

“Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agreeing over something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had. Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. ” -Michael Chrichton
Start with the documentaries, then move on to the websites to read scientific studies for yourself.
The truth about HIV testing:

Can you imagine receiving a fatal diagnosis without being told the diagnosis is based on an unproven idea and an uncertain test?
Being instructed to take powerful, experimental drugs without being told these drugs compromise health, destroy or suppress functions necessary for life, and were approved for use without adequate testing?
Being informed that you have, or should expect, deadly illnesses without being told that these same illnesses are not considered fatal when they occur in “normal” people?

For anyone who tests HIV positive, getting all the facts is a matter of life and death. The important decisions a person makes should be based on thorough, verifiable data. All of us need and have the right to receive honest and complete information about HIV and AIDS. -Alive and Well
Rethinkers Challenge the Dogmatists
“The best evidence against the HIV hypothesis is that there is no evidence for it. In the vast scientific/medical literature, over 100,000 papers published on HIV/AIDS, we cannot find anywhere in this vast literature, the evidence that HIV causes AIDS, that AIDS is…contagious, or that it’s even sexual transmitted.

If this had been shown that HIV causes AIDS, we should know who these benefactors of humanity are by name, these would be candidates for the Nobel Prize. I challenge you to come up with the names of these individuals…”

-Dr. David Rasnick
Professor of Biology

“If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents…which demonstrate this fact… There is no such document.”
-Dr. Kary Mullis, Biochemist, 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)


What you will find in this group is something that no mainstream AIDS group possesses: A scientific basis for its assertions. Go ahead and search the other facebook groups, you will find a lot of things but nothing resembling hard scientific evidence.


Aids Inc., 2007

The Other Side of AIDS (2004)

The Cause of AIDS: Fact and Speculation(1994):


This is one possible theory
Dr. Peter Duesberg, Professor at Berkley, The Chemical Bases Various AIDS Epidemics, 2003
Questions of Scientific and Journalistic Responsibility
By Serge Lang, Yale Scientific Fall 1994
Visit these well referenced sites:

PLEASE NOTE: Try to reference your posts with citations of sites, or, preferably…

published peer-reviewed articles or papers

Contact Info


Recent News

Gallo’s Egg – A significant investigative report:

Now there is also a Rethinking AIDS page:

And a Rethinking AIDS cause:
Court rules HIV not proven to cause ‘AIDS’.
by Paul King Sunday, Jun. 22, 2003 at 12:28 AM


Fear of The Invisible by Janine Roberts

The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
Henry H. Bauer
Bauer’s blog:

Probable Cause of early “AIDS”:

This paper has 8 pages of cited sources, written in 2003 by Dr. Peter Duesberg, Berkley and Dr. David Rasnick.

Updated September 26, 2006:

Correcting Gallo (the co-discoverer of “HTLV-III” [supposedly a 30-yr latency oncovirus], which was renamed HIV)

Includes 56 topics providing hundreds of references:

Free video clips and documentaries:

January 28, 2009

Anarchy for the USA

Stay with me, now.  I’m a parent and a public employee who works to better the lives of children and families — and all who pass through the doors of my workplace– on a daily basis. The meaning of my life hangs on my hope that each individual will do what he or she can to make a better, safer, happier world for ourselves, each other, and generations to come starting right now, with children, whether our own or children in general. So no machine guns or molotov cocktails needed.

Things have changed a lot for me since I was a college kid.

But Jello Biafra and others who shine light on the hurts and injustices of our society are still heroes.

Why am I experiencing this weird flashback?

Soup is still good food. We’re sorry, you’re no longer wanted or needed or even cared about here. Sacrifices must be made. To save the working man you gotta put ‘im out to pasture.

The tired buzzword and spray painted A with a circle, most often seen on college campuses in the 80’s,  denoted a somewhat immature and ill-considered (or not considered at all, just ‘cool’) rejection of or  revolution against an oppressive civilization.

Just digging through our own thoughts and impressions, no digging through college textbooks we should have burnt long ago or lengthy reading on how do we define civilization and anarchy?

Civilization: orderly, comfortable, safe, lawful, just.

Anarchy: every man for himself, loot and pillage, ruthless profit for the strong and misery for the weak or simply disenfranchised–

Wait a second. That sounds an awful lot like how we are currently experiencing so-called civilization!

This gentleman goes into it at greater length than I shall at this time. It’s worth looking at and worth looking for more dialog in this same vein. I won’t offer that, for your sake, gentle reader who doesn’t have time to read one of my endless tangential Attention Deficit Rants (oh, Lord, too late, sorry!) and for mine because I have things I need to do on my sick day (Yes, even more driven at home, if that is even possible, than at work).

My women’s book group (well about three of us) recently read Tom Hodgkinson’s The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste.

I loved some things he said and others were just not for me. If you’d like to read a couple of each,  to keep these short I’ll post those seprarately.

But at the heart of what I believe in and am willing to fight for is the wellbeing of children, families, the individual and community– sometimes we’re sadly forced to prioritize these, or we act as if they are opposed, but they really should not be.

So when he quotes someone– I wish I could remember who, and I have to paraphrase cause I got it from the library and then brought it back– as saying that anarchy is when public interest and the interest of the family are the same–  sold. I am now an anarchist.

I have a Jeremy Bentham quote–“It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual.

The iGoogle Confucius quote for today:
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”

And I am not talking about a one-man one-woman, two parent, Beaver or even Brady Bunch home. I’m talking about the changing face and growing understanding of families and home– The Village. Single parent families.  Families of choice. Communities. Rich families. Poor families. And every aspect of home– housing, nutrition, parenting and educational style, community, our bodies, our environment, our jobs, wages, vocations, quality of life.

Dearest President Obama, officials in his administration, and loyal supporters of our new Commander in Chief,

You seem like the man, and the supporters of the man, who can bring orderly, comfortable, safe, lawful, and just– for ALL people, not just Americans, not just middle class plus– together with public policy that is in the interest of the individual and strengthens our nation by strengthening the integrity of the home.

Your speeches refer my beloved Ike’s command that all shall have a place at the table — weak and strong, rich and poor.

Your presidency will teach, model, and create public policy which brings together:

*personal responsibility to make good choices that come from the moral compass within rather than fear of punishment (whether corporal in this world or eternal damnation in the next), starting with how we parent and educate children today

*public policy which brings access to the education and resources for all, not  just a privileged few, to develop that caring moral compass and make those good choices, resulting in the happiness and wellbeing of the individual, the integrity of the home, and the strength of our nation.

Back to Confucius (no idea of the validity of iGoogle’s source for these quotes, sorry, it just sounds good and that’s the internet for ya).

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”

Our present situation is absolutely designed to rip apart the integrity of the home– in its narrowest and broadest senses– in America and around the world– and is by no means in the interest of any but maybe 5% of our citizens.

I know you can bring us all to the table, Mr. President. You represent so many of the losses, differences and struggles Americans face and so many of the heights we can attain with loving family behind us and hard work.

Here are my thoughts on where we’re going wrong.

We do not adequately insure that safe and decent living conditions, education, representative government, wealth, health care, and opportunities for advancement are spread over our population in proportion to its makeup– ethnicity, GLBT, ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ areas from within our own cities to countries around our ever shrinking world. Meanwhile we consume, consume, consume, and carry gigantic national, corporate and personal debt. This is absolutely a stain on our great nation’s decency and promise, and a cause for much strife and violence at home and around the world.

I know we live in America, not Baghdad or Darfur or the  Sahara, but I believe we still have a long way to go regarding protecting and nurturing children, working conditions, living wages and quality of life. CEO’s make salaries hundreds of times the salaries of those who produce the goods and services that make those CEO’s rich.

I think someone who works hard and gets rich deserves to be rich. I have no problem at all with that. But a ‘more equal’ distribution of the gifts of the free market would make it possible for all who work to prosper AND give back to those in need, to be part of the solution here in America and around the world.

My family doesn’t make that $250K you were talking about, but I’d still be glad to pay  more taxes if it went to educating, feeding, and nurturing babies instead of to bombs and bureaucracy.

We are doing incredible damage to our physical home– our bodies and our environment.

With few exceptions, the education system most of our children experience quashes creativity and readies children for quiet conformity and to punch a timeclock and then bury themselves in television and computers, not for life– relationships, self sufficiency, mental and physical wellness, hearth and home, good choices, enjoyable and meaningful work at a living wage, joy and participation in culture and community.

We have a terrible infant mortality rate. All but the most well to do and educated parents (usually  mothers, but fathers too) must make horrible choices from dangerous medical interventions that harm more than they help, from abortion to giving up breastfeeding and leaving a six week old or younger child in dangerous childcare in order to go back to work to keep a roof over their heads to risking financial ruin in order to give their children the best possible start– whether through allowing a parent to stay home or because of medical bills for kids born with some sort of special condition or need.

Adoption is a years-long marathon with a cost far beyond most people’s reach when so many people do want children, yet children and babies are desperately in need of a permanent safe and caring home.  And God forbid a gay couple or a single parent try it.

We do not allow GLBT who love each other to enjoy the benefits (and use of the word marriage, if they so desire) of marriage.  I’m with Dolly Parton– let ’em be miserable like the rest of us! Marriage sucks for most of us poor slobs who trot down that primrose path.  But marriage, heck,  even a nonsexual, nonromantic commitment just to live together and contribute to each other’s wellbeing as between roommates or family members is, in the main, better for our society, resulting in greater financial stability, reduced drain on environmental and societal resources, reduced spread of STD’s,  generally greater mental and physical health and life expectancy.

We need to drastically reduce prison population– legalize and regulate certain things which are currently not legal yet are less damaging than legal cigarettes and alcohol. Reduce punishment to fines and community service for victimless crime (or crime unlikely to cause injury to others– reckless driving or DUI, for example, is dangerous whether the person has an accident or not, and so deserves a good hard judicial slap).

Examine the reality that our prison population is overwhelmingly black. Be sure that disproportion isn’t because of racial and class prejudice and poverty and lack of access to competent attorneys and fair trials. If it is (and it is or I will eat my hat), fix it. Let nonviolent offenders go home with the education they need to return to society, take care of their families and build their communities.

I haven’t got my manifesto written yet, but it is going to go something like this.

1. Every American must have access to free basic health care and lifesaving (not dangerous, controversial, inadequately researched) treatments. I know this won’t happen over night, so can we start with those who cannot obtain healthcare for themselves– low income (which threshold needs to be revised upward drastically), those under 18, those over 65, the indigent, mentally ill or otherwise unable to care for themselves.

The face of health care and wellness must change drastically, from treating or attempting to simply cut out symptoms, to considering the whole person– preventive care. Lifestyle choices. Community and social support. Exercise. Pollution and environmental toxins.  Safety standards. Nutrition, food additives, and current agricultural practices.  Stress. Encouraging and making it easy (not just giving lip service to the idea and then making it impossible) for parents to bond with their infants and mothers to breastfeed. Removing the stigma from mental illness and seeing it as a result of a genuine medical condition or ‘dis-ease’ not a weakness, and making holistic treatment– cognitive, medical, behavioral, nutrition– accessible for all. Death with dignity and comfort, rather than drastic and devastating treatments which destroy quality of life right up until the end.

2. Education will prepare us not just to pass tests and punch  timecards and become wealthy regardless of the cost to others or to our environment.

It will nurture creativity and unstructured play, arts and music and expression. Those things need not cost a penny other than educating teachers and mandating curriculum that allows them.

Education will acquaint us with issues that affect us and our future– science, the environment, the political process, how credit and the economy really work, useful skills from balancing a checkbook to conflict resolution and nurturing babies.

3. Every person shall have the opportunity to live in decent, sustainable, comfortable housing with reasonable utilities costs and within safe walking distance,  walking on sidewalks a safe distance from the road according to the speed limit on that road, and/or easy safe and clean public transportation to:

*Decently priced groceries, the majority of which were produced locally and humanely.

*Decent education for children preschool through university including a separate public library built to the highest standards to support recreational reading and media use, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning.

*Jobs that pay a wage that will allow them to live decently in their community.

*Large shared green spaces– parks, community gardens, playgrounds, sports fields

*At the very least, small private green spaces– yards, etc

*Access to offices providing public needs/goods– elected officials, medical care, government agencies offering aid or information, libraries, utilities, fire and police protection.

*Recreational and arts opportunities: Affordable opportunities for children and adults to take part in athletic teams, art or dance or music lessons, indoor and outdoor recreational sports and cultural facilities and programming.

4. Alternative energy (that means NON FOSSIL FUEL) NOW.

5. Smart development/growth including re use and mixed use zoning, substantial green space; walkable communities with wide sidewalks, bike trails, all needs within a mile or an easy public transportation or bicycle ride; sustainable/green construction of new residential and business buildings; preservation of local landmarks heritage and buildings;  education for quality of life and hands-on making a difference to our future (emphasizing subjects from true scientific method to protect us from big pharma and environmental predators to financial management and economics to personal wellness and conflict resolution); making it possible for businesses to thrive in communities while ensuring that they are at least as responsible for their financial misdeeds or mismanagement as us individuals.

This is the rough draft of my manifesto, and my apologia for Anarchy for the USA.

Let’s re-understand anarchy. It is everyone’s job to protect and nurture ourselves, our fellow human beings, our families, our communities and connections, and our nation. It is government’s job not to rule, but to facilitate that protection and nurture, and then step back and let us have it.

Government may also, sadly, have to enforce and protect and so must stand ready to do so on a realistic (but not wasteful) level.

But I guarantee you, with the right combination of education, nurture of community and connection between diverse fellow human beings across the arbitrary lines that we try to allow to divide us– Kids, no kids. Black, white. Old, young. Cool, uncool. Educated, uneducated. Rich, poor.–  and decent living conditions, the need to enforce and protect will drop drastically, in our small communities and around the world.

And I know you and the team you’ve assembled– from your family to your cabinet and staff– are the ones to do it.

I am so glad you are here.

A bit more on Freedom Manifesto

Oh, so you read my latest and you want the thoughts I cut out of my anarchy post regarding The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste?

Okay here they are. They’re brief and trivial, and of course I’ve left out the bits relevant to why I’m suddenly an anarchist again for the first time in 20+ years.

I really recommend the book, and I’d really love online discussion of what you thought would work and wouldn’t work for you and for our culture (he is a Brit after all, and despite their reputation for scrupulous politeness they are notorious nose thumbers, thieves, intemperates and users of foul language).

What I would love to do but I fear won’t work for me:

Moving to the country and inviting friends to stay? Not sure my friends would come. Not sure I’d have any friends. I am not cool enough and not able to provide such hospitality as to bring friends whose lives are as busy and draining as mine to our home on their precious and few days off.  Maybe some day… hopefully before all of our children are too old to run  and play on our vast lawns and meadows and wild gardens…

Quitting voting? Nah. If you don’t get involved, you got nothing to complain about. I’m from the Michael Moore school. Run for office. Start locally. Don’t worry about what people think. Worry about what you believe in. Course starting locally might be a bit easier if one moves to the country…

What did sound good? I paraphrase here because it was a library book and I don’t have it any more.

Kill your television.

Why do you you worry about housework? Invite folks over. Light candles. Enjoy company of guests. Get guests to help with cooking and washing up. Have fun. Stop worrying.

Gardening: Once upon a time there was only drinking, and those old farts working in the garden were boring and pathetic. Now I garden, and I have two joys, gardening and drinking, instead of just one.

(I don’t drink that much, too busy. But it’s a nice thought.)

There you have it. Read the book. Comment so we can discuss.

December 28, 2008

Clean Coal Isn’t

Dearest President Obama,

I believe in you. I am awed by your elegance,  your incredible humanity and genuine decency, the way your heritage and upbringing mix so many aspects of the American experience– cream of the crop as well as genuine struggle and loss– in a way we desperately need in our White House. I pray for your safety, your health, your joy and success. Your intelligence, your attitude toward your wife (a woman of considerable personal and professional gifts, and you never, ever allow anyone to ignore or take away from that) and your immediate and extended family, your willingness to look horrifying social issues right in the eye and apply your considerable calm honesty and intellectual and analytical powers to them– heck, I’m awed by how smooth you look whether you’re in a track suit and a ball cap like Chuck D or Russell Simmons, or an Armani suit. I’m awed that you struggle with nicotine addiction. Welcome to the human race.

I’ve had so much to say but haven’t had time to blog– the months from the second-happiest day of my life– the day you were elected (the birth of my little one being the happiest) until now blew by me like a storm wind.  But now I have to speak.

Clean coal isn’t.

I knew this, because I did some serious reading in books by real scientists about our alternatives for energy in the future. Clean coal is a ‘Hail Mary Pass’– we’re years away from it, it isn’t practicable, the ocean cannot tolerate or absorb the byproducts we expect to inject to save our environment– at our current level of CO2, if we simply stopped producing, it would take 80 years for the oceans to get us back to a healthy equilibrium, and you know we’re not going to stop producing.

The horrendous coal ash sludge spill in Roane County Tennessee is the biggest environmental disaster in the Southeast EVER. I graduated high school in 1987 in a neighboring county, and my brother and the mother of my nephew a few years later.  We all returned with our loving extended family in 2002 when I got married at my little Cumberland Plateau Victorian-era Episcopalian church, and again the last two years to vacation with loved ones at the Wilderness Resorts cabins at Station Camp.

The  mother of my almost three year old nephew  is there, meeting with the scientists and coalitions to protect the environment and those of us who need it to live, crying with exhaustion and consciousness of the effect and how little is being done at the end of a long day waiting anxiously at the site for geiger counter readings, begging for fragments of truth that can be used to protect those affected, dealing with officials who first denied any danger whatsoever and now say a dangerous level of a contaminant they refuse to name is present in the water supply, getting detained by police for trying to bring clean water to a trailer park affected by the spill.

These people are being told to boil their water.

You can’t boil out radioactivity, beryllium, arsenic, mercury.

I love you man, and I voted for you and danced a dance of joy made the more joyful by the fact that I live in Alabama, where people once denied the right to vote, who watched their brothers and sisters die for the sake of simple civil rights and human decencies for African Americans, found themselves able to vote for an eminently qualified (first) African American (second, but pretty damn good when you are voting in Alabama).

Clean coal isn’t. When I heard you use the words ‘clean coal’ in the debate my heart just sank. Not that it changed my joy at your election, not one bit. I know your intelligence, moral compass and calm will shine a much-needed light of honesty and scientific reality on this problem and move us toward solutions.

Coal is NOT an alternative energy source. It is a fossil fuel. It is not renewable or sustainable. I  knew this. I knew that we need to go straight to renewable and sustainable– community supported energy resources, depending upon the geography and values and resources available in each local community– smaller scale solar, hydro, wind, even methane from garbage dumps– I knew this.

I knew Clean Coal was an oxymoron– not even worth pursuing.

But I never knew such a  horrible disaster was possible. How cleverly the risks are covered up by the industries and people who profit from fossil fuels!

Please send– or ask outgoing President Bush to send– real scientists and real medical professionals who have treated the sicknesses caused by these levels of contaminants, not puppets of the coal industry, to the scene immediately, and then consult with them at enough length to get a true picture of the consequences of this situation,

Please get the facts, Mr. President, and force them to be released to the public– the exact levels of each contaminant and radioactivity in the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers, the scientific data on the medical outcome for those whose water supply and the very air they breathe– because coal ash is about the consistency of face powder, easily breatheable–are in the path of this spill. Please send all the aid and assistance you can to the people and the land affected by this horrendous disaster.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the “amount of coal-ash sludge released Monday…was triple what TVA estimated.” The current amount is estimated to be 5.4 million cubic yards, according to the TVA. This is the third estimate released this week, each one more severe than its predecessor.

The Kingston spill is over 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, if local news accounts are correct. This is a huge environmental disaster of epic proportions; approximately 525 million gallons of nasty black coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Environmentalists said the spill, more than 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill, belied the notion of the “clean coal” technology that the industry has spent millions to promote.

The Sierra Club’s Bruce Nilles, writing at DailyKos, notes:

“There are literally hundreds of these sludge impoundments across the United States. As coal has dominated Appalachia, it has left behind a toxic legacy for residents, a legacy that will haunt the region for decades. For example, in Sundial, West Virginia, an elementary school sits just 400 yards downhill from a massive impoundment containing 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge.”
Greenpeace notes that, like Exxon Valdez, the millions of gallons of coal sludge released Monday could take years to clean up, and some of the damage to the ecosystem could be irreparable.

“If the Exxon Valdez was a symbol of pollution 20 years ago, the Tennessee Coal Spill of 2008 is the symbol of it today,” said Kate Smolski, Senior Legislative Coordinator for Greenpeace.

Smolski added that these local impacts represent only a small fraction of coal’s negative impact.

“The really sad thing about this spill is that it’s only a small example of the damage coal causes,” Smolski added. “Add in global warming, tens of thousands of annual premature deaths from power plant pollution, and hundreds of mountains leveled across Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, and that’s the real picture of coal.”

And as you move forward with energy policy, please read David Steinman’s Safe Trip to Eden, Fueling Our Future: An Introduction to Sustainable Energy by Robert Evans, The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook by Greg Pahl, and The Plot to Save the Planet by Brian Dumaine.

I believe in you man. Don’t let us down.

“So it seems you been runnin in circles
Now you can’t even get to first base
& you feel like the tide has turned against you
Welcome to the human race
So you feel like the gods are out to get you
You feel like you’ve fallen from grace
& you’d run again if they’d only let you
Welcome to the human race
Welcome to the human race
So your prophets of finance have fallen
On their collective proverbial face
And you hear muffled voices callin
Welcome to the human race
You made a killin dealin real estate at NASA
Sellin cemetery plots in outer space
Til some fallin coffins crashed upon your doorstep
Welcome to the human race
Welcome to the human race
Open up your heart…

So you sold your ocean home ain’t that a pity
And your mermaids disappeared without a trace
Now you comb the streets of sandcastle city
Welcome to the human raceWelcome to the human race
Now sometimes the truth is hard to handle
But lately it’s much easier to face
We’ll just write it off as just another scandal
Welcome to the human race
Welcome to the human race
Welcome to the human race
Open up your heart”

Timbuk 3

You can hear this hauntingly lovely and timely song from the 80’s at

November 30, 2008

Childhood education is mankind’s most crucial problem.

Filed under: a life worth living,childhood,children,education,oppression,parenting — kimwilsonowen @ 6:11 am

“Those who oppress one part of humanity to the advantage of another succeed only in destroying social unity.”

How we treat children and those who nourish and tend to them is a clear indicator of our character as a society. So many of us, and I am guilty but working on it, are  materially fortunate but emotionally not truly present for our children.

And so many children right here in the US do without or are terribly abused physically and emotionally– it is so bad that our infant mortality (death before 1 year of age) rate is right down there with Latvia– 42nd best in the developed world. Great, right? Go, us! And let’s not even talk about children in places suffering war and famine. No, wait, let’s. This is a global issue.

I worry a lot and write some about various issues surrounding children and family. We force parents to put children in day care that is emotionally devastating at best and often dangerous so that they can go back to work. We see our dangerous medicalized birth practices as not just normal but necessary. I am so grateful to the person who gave me my first book on attachment parenting– I believe she saved my life as a parent and my baby’s life as a growing emotional and spiritual being.

I think a lot about nutrition, food allergies, lack of access to health care, outdated gender roles, the harm we do when we assign or model gender roles and consider them opposites. I know– and now the pro lifers are starting to figure out (I love it when I’m right– that is, when others finally see it) that if we treated parents and children with respect and dignity and insured that no parent or child would have to do without health care, food, shelter, education, meaningful work at a living wage just because they had a baby within or without marriage the abortion rate would drop dramatically.

And some of the most important things we can do for children– staying home to parent, teaching, working in day cares– are also terrible financial decisions– why do we pay those who care for our future so terribly or not at all!

But lately I’ve been reading up on Montessori.

The content of this post is just my notes — I’ll write on what it means to our society some other time.

This is a strange time to be doing this, when my little one just left Montessori preschool to start public kindergarten. That transition tore my heart out too! But perhaps it was best that I did not read these books while she was still in school — too many cooks and all that. Her teachers were wonderful. They didn’t need me nosing around.

I have Maria Montessori’s The Child in the Family, Avon paperback 1970. I made copious notes all over it and need to jot those down before I give the book to my brother who has an almost three year old. I so wish I’d read this sooner– before she was even born.

Oh well. As Maya Angelou says, something to the effect that you did what you knew to do and when you knew better you did better. What parent is perfect? Not I. And even with the very best, most loving parenting it’s the nature of childhood to see things as a child sees, and, depending upon the individual personality and the environment, to randomly sail happily past some junctures and be irreparably scarred at others.

My point isn’t to point out what we’re doing wrong. It’s to lay out what we CAN do, starting now, and why it’s important.

So here are my notes. I claim no part of the below as my own, except perhaps the choice of which passages to highlight. It is all straight from Montessori.

“We all know  that this period of development is the most important in one’s life, that moral starvation or spiritual disease can be as fatal for man as starvation as the body. Consequently, childhood education is mankind’s most crucial problem.”

Children are the most delicate members of the human race. We MUST act because they are weak beings who live among the strong. We do not understand their needs and we are crushing them from birth. Montessori says that such ignorance represents an abyss of unsuspected evil. I wholeheartedly concur.

“No one sees in the newborn child the human being who suffers. No one appreciates the sensitivity of a little body that has never before been handled, or of his reactions to innumerable physical impressions and to every familiar touch.”

Unlike racism or other forms of oppression, the oppression of children spans all societies and economic strata.

Material things (other than basic warmth, nourishment, security, hygiene, safety) are LEAST important at this time of life. Of all the necessities, the one most neglected is the one most needed– spiritual. And our constant demands, commands and punishments sap the child’s vital energy and suffocate his creativity until all that remains is the child’s desire to free himself from everyone and everything.

“…only the immediate observation of children whose freedom was respected revealed some of the laws of their inner being… these same children have sought the way to strength and have found it with the surest of instincts.”

If we pay attention and learn about the child’s emotional and learning styles/desire– not from adults but from children themselves– we can offer them an environment that develops moral and intellectual achievement that comes from within the child’s own desires and motivations rather than from emotional and physical punishment from adults.

If a child is going to grow out of it, don’t punish it! You are only doing harm. Divert. Offer better and more interesting options. Remove gently from the situation. Maintain an environment which nurtures the child’s innate respect, dignity, and drive to learn.

Forcing a child to conform to the adult world, using punishment and based on unquestioning obedience, negates his or her strengths and harms his or her growth irreparably. We must create an environment that offers emotional, spiritual and physical shelter from the adult world.

The child innately knows his developmental work. To mold is to harm.

The child creates,  not the adult. Adults do children irreparable harm.

We see a child only as a future. Nobody pays attention to the becoming in the precious present– the child is full of beauty, dignity and creativity.  We crush it out of him.

A child cannot obey if he or she does not have spiritual balance, cannot collect his thoughts, cannot master himself from within and choose to do what is best for himself and for the group for its own sake because he wants to.

“…Children must be thoroughly strong beings and must possess spiritual equilibrium in order to be able to obey… the strong spirit [will] obey and know to adapt itself to everything. It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong…” Allow him to exercise the essential function of his spirit (concentration; the labor that is repose) in peace and freedom.

Allow the child to be with you. Make amenities so that the environment is safe, attractive, and suits his tiny size and interests.

” When the child goes to bed he must do so in the company of someone he loves. But the person he loves thinks:’This nonsense must stop. We’ll spoil him if we stay close to him before he goes to sleep…’ Who else weeps out of the intense desire to be with us…? How sadly we will say someday, ‘Nobody cries now to have me near him while he falls asleep… Only a child remembers and says every night “Don’t leave me; stay with me!’ and the adult answers, ‘I can’t, I have so much to do’ … and think that the child must be corrected…!

“Most often [parents] say ‘Don’t wake me in the morning’… But how often does it happen in life that someone, just awakened, wants to come to us, despite every difficulty, not to wake us up but simply to see us and kiss us?”

As often as you can, before you move to punish or correct, stop yourself. Inquire. Observe. Wait with faith.

What attracts the child? Use those observations to create learning and developmental experiences that are right for your unique little individual. Create a safe learning environment, and be silent and observe. Solitude and separation are needed, and intervention destroys his or her process of exploring his rich inner world.

As far as our education system, Montessori asserts that outmoded teaching methods hurt a child physically, emotionally and morally. His screams, lying, destructiveness, shyness, disobedience– these are defenses from US!

Create an environment in which a child does not need our constant surveillance and correction– where he can be safe, creative, at liberty. The right environment transforms little nuisances into happy active children. It turns a housewrecker into a good steward, a noisy and disorganized child tranquil and orderly.

Montessori methods help a child to develop qualities they truly long to practice until achieve– safe and courteous awareness of their bodies, care with fragile items, kindness, respect, order, responsibility, understanding of the natural laws that govern our world. When confronted with furniture just his size, he is overwhelmed by the desire to create order in ‘his’ little world. Encourage independence and do not belittle his or her efforts when he does it ‘wrong’. Allow the child to  make errors– the breakage of a loved and lovely item is punishment enough.

Give the child attractive and safe cleaning supplies– pretty cloths and attractive soaps. Children love to clean. [At my house they fight over the next turn with the spray bottle full of water and the dish cloth!] Independence gives a child joy and dignity. She loves to work– she loves to work for the greater good of her family.

Montessori asserts that there is a certain kind of work which renews the spirit rather than tiring it. We find rest in intellectual labor that gives spiritual strength.

What seems to us to be ‘useless’ repetitive behavior gives the child rest, repose and renewal. Begin with objects that attract the child and appeal to his or her senses– it is these which will help begin the concentration crucial to learning. Use those objects to create learning experiences.

Create a loving, safe, attractive, child-centered and -sized environment with meaningful learning experiences– and then step back. Observe. Be a loving but absolutely silent presence, there only when the child needs you. Otherwise, let him or her work.

“To be always there– that is the point.”

November 19, 2008

Yes We Did– Now What?

Filed under: what next? — kimwilsonowen @ 6:03 am

I cannot tell you how precious it was to me to vote for Barack Obama in our primary this year. I felt like both dancing and crying when I walked out of the polling place having voted for him for president. To wake up November 5 to find he is our president elect — well, my happiness was second only to my joy on the day my little girl was born.  

Obama looks fantastic. As my husband said, Damn, there’s our new President.


The guy is just too cool for school.

It is weird. He is so good looking, almost too good looking to be so eminently qualified.

He and his family have experienced and embody so much that is quintessentially American, from one end of the socioeconomic spectrum to the other– struggling and sacrificing in order to have a better life. Being raised by a single parent or a grandparent. Loss of, separation from, or difficult relationships with parents. Racial prejudice. Loving, respectful relationships with strong female figures. Ivy League education.  Ambition and creativity alongside economic struggle. True empathy with and gratitude to our military. (Check out the badass designs on Iraq Veteran Tammy Duckworth’s prosthetic legs.)   obamaduckworth1.jpg

She got special patriotic legs for the DNC

A desire to leave the world a better place through careful, factual thought, care for one’s fellow human being, and truly effective, reality based planning and action. Belief that this desire can be realized.

All those, and so much more, so many of us share wwith our new president. We just have to reach out and try, as best we can.

So… yes we did, but now what?

We have so much work to do. A friend and I were joking– who the hell would WANT that job?

It would have to be someone who was not right in the head, someone who was completely power mad (or a combination of both most likely)– or someone who has the caring moral compass, the intellect, and the instinct to bring all parties to the table to make things better. As my beloved hero said:

“Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.”

My hero DDE was talking about the military, but these words apply to every aspect of American and global life– starvation, violence, lack of the very basics every human deserves.

I believe personal prosperity and wellness, freedom from violence, socioeconomic justice, and a healthy and thriving environment can– must– WILL coexist.

All that fear, freaking out etc. at the idea that Obama wants to ‘spread the wealth’–

How can that dude at my child’s school who told me to ‘Vote the Bible’ that Tuesday morning ignore these words?


for I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

for I was ahungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

I could dig out Bible verses for hours to justify my adoration of this man and my deep belief that his candidacy and victory represent what is best for our nation morally as well as economically. No justice, no peace. I’m no evangelical — by any means. I’m a bit too far into Buddhism and quantum physics and alternative wellness and lots of other stuff for that to be me.

 But I believe wholeheartedly in the spirit of Jesus’ words.

I know everybody is saying this– but we can’t just sit back. We have so much work to do, all of us, as individuals, as parents, as families, as communities, as neighbors, as consumers, as voters.

I find true delight in the prospect of Obama’s presidency– but questions like abortion, racism, segregation, the environment, dependence on dangerous and inefficient fossil fuels and chemicals, factory farming and dangerous and unethical food, pharmaceutical, medical and agricultural practices, hunger, lack of health insurance, lack of a living wage and social injustice in general will haunt us til each one of us turns to the problem somehow and tries to be part of the solution.

My faith in my man was almost a bit shaken a couple of times– he used words like ‘clean coal’ and ‘safe storage’– these are oxymorons!   And natural gas and coal, no matter how clean or safe, are NOT alternative energies.

So we’ve all got to keep informing ourselves, and acting in whatever small way we can. Every tiny bit counts.  Obama’s campaign proved abundandly what lots of like-minded folks could accomplish by each giving what little (or lot!) he or she could and staying united and in communication.

And that is exactly what it will take to save us, Obama or no Obama.  Every little bit.

It could be turning our heat down a couple degrees in the winter and our air conditioning up a couple degrees in the summer. It could be hanging our laundry on a clothesline, having a small backyard or city balcony or community garden, writing letters, volunteering in order to really connect with the true problems, needs and potential  of our society and our fellow human beings, running for public office or working to inform those in public office of the consequences of our current situation and choices and the very real benefits of differerent choices that are more in line with the wellbeing of the human race and the planet that supports us. 

Sometimes there are setbacks– my damn clothesline fell down so the electricity I was trying to save by using it  had to be used to rewash and dry them in my electric dryer. There are some things we’re not ready to change yet. I drive a gas guzzling (but small) SUV.

But every small step counts. Let’s go.

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