Thursday, September 30, 2010

Madame M.

One day in July Madame M. appeared on our porch. She was skinny and skittish, but not too shy. She probably was too hungry to be really scared.

My husband gave her some left-overs and she did not even bother to touch the "food". We had no choice, but to run to a store and buy some cat food. We decided to buy some dry food first and see if she would touch it. She did. She also loved my organic, lactose-free milk.

She would come over, have her food. She would demand that we scratched her back. Then she would have some more food, roll in dirt, get some more scratches to finally finish her meal and get some rest in the rose bush.

She would disappear for hours only to come back in the evening to have her meal and the scratches. We are allowed to pet and to scratch her. Only then would she eat the food.

Few days later we decided to buy her the "wet" food. We both stood in the supermarket in front of the cat food shelf pondering what she might like. We got juicy chicken, juicy beef, and some fish. The cat almost lost her mind when she tried the chicken delight. She also loved the beef, but she wouldn't touch the fish. Not even the succulent giant prawns that we bought for our dinner. I gather, we spoiled the alley cat. She does not like the dry food anymore. she would eat it, but would scream for the juicy chicken.

She goes hunting and catches tiny lizards. She even caught a bird and brought it as a gift for my husband.
In no time she started to explore our house. At first she only took a few steps inside and would then run out as fast as she could. When she saw that it was safe to enter, she would go around and stay a bit longer. Now, she comes inside to have her breakfast and goes under the table to take a nap. On some days she does not even have the desire to go out again so we leave her at home. But when we come back for lunch, she dashes out like mad only to come back immediately to see if we give her something to eat. A really funny cat.

No cat in the neighborhood is safe. She chased away every single one. We belong to her. So does the porch. So does the house!

Madame M. is such a sweet creature. She is still very young and very playful. In no time she managed to leave her paw prints on our hearts. She is waiting patiently at the door every morning for us to wake up. She drops by for lunch sometimes and is back for dinner. If she is a bit late we worry that someone might have hurt her or that her wild instinct took over and she decided to abandon us. She is a free creature and we do not want to enslave her. But we both wish she stayed with us for ever.

The cold season is coming and we will have to figure out what to do with her. Hopefully she will be comfortable indoors at night and during the day when we are away...

Dominique Allmon

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Dogs and a House Full of Mirrors

By James W. Allmon 

Long ago in a small, far away village, there was a place known as the House of a Thousand Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced cheerfully up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked inside with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at a thousand other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with a thousand great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the house, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house as well. Upon arrival he slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he peered through the door. When he saw the thousand unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see a thousand little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again.”

The universe is filled with mirrors of all types. There are situational mirrors, emotional mirrors, physical mirrors and, oddly enough, all the people in the world are mirrors. What do you see reflected in the faces and mannerisms of the people you meet? Are they happy? Miserable? Cruel? Generous? Playful? Fearful?

What you see and feel depends on you. Your spirit, aura, feelings, or whatever you choose to call it, create a reaction from everything and everyone you encounter. Make a decision of how you want to be. It really is as simple as that. Take a look at the mirror in your bathroom in the morning, or now, if you want, and see what sort of face is looking back at you. If it’s grumpy, smile and tell it, “Hey, knock it off! You have more important things to do than be miserable today! Besides, I love you anyway!” If it’s already smiling, you’re on your way! But don’t forget to brush your teeth!

James W. Allmon © 2009

Article source here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Power of a Symbolic World

By Clay Routledge

Why burning the Quran is such a symbolic threat?  

Many philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists have pointed out that humans are uniquely symbolic creatures. We are chained to a physical reality, like all other animals. But we also have the capacity for imaginative and symbolic thought. The anthropologist Ernest Becker nicely illustrated this with the example of water. Water is part of the physical world and a critical component of our physical existence. But humans are the only animals that symbolize water with a chemical symbol of H2O and, critically, the only animals that magically empower water by blessing it and making it holy.

Look at the diverse tapestry of human cultural life. We go to great lengths to fashion a symbolic world. If you don't believe in the power of symbols, try attending a local sporting event wearing the jersey of a rival team. In certain places, this little experiment could be a rather painful lesson in how important the symbolic world is to humans.

But the question is still unanswered. Why is the symbolic world so important to us? Many scholars have argued that the symbolic world is critical to humans because we are smart enough to fully understand the implications of being physical beings. We understand that life is fragile, we often have little control over it (e.g., I could be hit by a bus tomorrow or a tumor could be growing in me right now), and, critically, it is finite. However, the same advanced intellect that allows us to contemplate the grim reality of physical existence also allows us to construct a symbolic world.

With the construction of a symbolic world we can ease the pain of understanding our physical limitations; that we are merely, as Becker asserted, worms and food for worms. That is, we create a cultural world of meaning in which humans are not merely animals, but are symbolic entities. We are part of something larger and more enduring than our physical existence. In other words, in the symbolic world we can be immortal. Each of us will die, maybe even tomorrow, but our religions will live on. Our nations will live on. Even our favorite sports teams will live on. If we are lucky, our names may even live on through enduring societal contributions. In short, we invest heavily in the symbolic cultural institutions and identifications, in part, because they help insulate us from basic fears about our mortal predicament.

As discussed in some of my previous posts, there is a very large body of empirical research in support of this basic position. When people are reminded of health vulnerabilities and physical limitations, they cling to the symbolic world. For example, they become more religious and patriotic, engage in efforts to feel more socially significant.

Considering the specific issues of the Quran burning, in 1995 Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, and colleagues published a series of experiments testing specifically this idea that cultural symbols are important because they help us cope with our awareness of physical vulnerability. In these experiments, participants completed some questionnaires that they were told measured personality. In one of these measures, they were asked to write down their thoughts about death or a control topic (a non-death related topic). Then they were given a problem-solving task. Successful completion of the task required the inappropriate use of a cultural symbol. For example, in one task, participants had to hang a picture on the wall but the only object in the room that could be used to hammer in the nail was a crucifix. Participants who had previously been asked to write about death took longer to resort to using the crucifix as a hammer than participants who did not write about death. These participants also tried to come up with more alternative means of hanging the picture and expressed more reluctance about using the crucifix in that manner. In another study, similar findings were observed when participants had to damage an American flag to resolve the presented problem.

Cultural symbols provide psychological security. And when we feel insecure, we are more sensitive about these symbols. Thus, it is not surprising that when someone threatens these symbols, the people who value them take offense. This was the goal of Rev Jones. He wanted to take a symbolic stance against Islam. The problem is that too often wars fought in the symbolic world bleed over into the physical world, and real lives are lost.

About the author:
Clay Routledge, Ph.D. is a social psychologist at North Dakota State University. He studies the various ways people defend themselves from psychological threats. His research touches on many topics of social life such as prejudice, personal relationships, self and identity, social cognition, attitudes, culture and belief systems, and health and well-being. He regularly publishes in the top social psychology journals.

Article source here

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Obama Thinks

President Obama trying to enter the White House through the window

The President isn't exactly a socialist. So what's driving his hostility to private enterprise? Look to his roots.

By Dinesh D'Souza for the FORBES Magazine

Barack Obama is the most anti-business president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling - but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro - not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.

More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources." Obama railed on about "America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?

The oddities go on and on. Obama's Administration has declared that even banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed's "stress test" was it eligible to give taxpayers their money back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Administration might force banks to keep the money.

The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama insists, aren't paying their "fair share." This by itself seems odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays 70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does indeed seem unfair - to the rich.

Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.

Recently the London Times reported that the Obama Administration supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people, mostly Americans. This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama Administration publicly and appropriately complained. The Times, however, obtained a letter the Obama Administration sent to Scotland a week before the event in which it said that releasing Megrahi on "compassionate grounds" was acceptable as long as he was kept in Scotland and would be "far preferable" to sending him back to Libya. Scottish officials interpreted this to mean that U.S. objections to Megrahi's release were "half-hearted." They released him to his home country, where he lives today as a free man.

One more anomaly: A few months ago NASA Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America's space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he got the word directly from the President. "He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering." Bolden added that the International Space Station was a model for NASA's future, since it was not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese. Obama's redirection of the agency caused consternation among former astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the President's supporters: Most people think of  NASA's job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to here?

Theories abound to explain the President's goals and actions. Critics in the business community - including some Obama voters who now have buyer's remorse - tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist - not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.

These theories aren't wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they could account for Obama's domestic policy, they cannot explain his foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse - much worse. But we have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history. In the process, we ignore Obama's own history. Here is a man who spent his formative years - the first 17 years of his life - off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.

A good way to discern what motivates Obama is to ask a simple question: What is his dream? Is it the American dream? Is it Martin Luther King's dream? Or something else?

It is certainly not the American dream as conceived by the founders. They believed the nation was a "new order for the ages." A half-century later Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of America as creating "a distinct species of mankind." This is known as American exceptionalism. But when asked at a 2009 press conference whether he believed in this ideal, Obama said no. America, he suggested, is no more unique or exceptional than Britain or Greece or any other country.

Perhaps, then, Obama shares Martin Luther King's dream of a color-blind society. The President has benefited from that dream; he campaigned as a nonracial candidate, and many Americans voted for him because he represents the color-blind ideal. Even so, King's dream is not Obama's: The President never champions the idea of color-blindness or race-neutrality. This inaction is not merely tactical; the race issue simply isn't what drives Obama.

What then is Obama's dream? We don't have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is writing about the dreams he received from his father.

So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anti-colonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.

I know a great deal about anti-colonialism, because I am a native of Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after my country's independence from the British. Anti-colonialism was the rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the 20th century. To most Americans, however, anti-colonialism is an unfamiliar idea, so let me explain it.

Anti-colonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America. As one of Obama's acknowledged intellectual influences, Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races."

Anti-colonialists hold that even when countries secure political independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors. This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites. These forces of neocolonialism oppress not only Third World people but also citizens in their own countries. Obviously the solution is to resist and overthrow the oppressors. This was the anti-colonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own relatives in India.

Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the anti-colonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country?"

As he put it, "We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." The senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that "theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed."

Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.

While the senior Obama called for Africa to free itself from the neo-colonial influence of Europe and specifically Britain, he knew when he came to America in 1959 that the global balance of power was shifting. Even then, he recognized what has become a new tenet of anti-colonialist ideology: Today's neo-colonial leader is not Europe but America. As the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said--who was one of Obama's teachers at Columbia University--wrote in Culture and Imperialism, "The United States has replaced the earlier great empires and is the dominant outside force."

From the anti-colonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage. For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11 provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the anti-colonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and tramples the people of the world.

It may seem incredible to suggest that the anti-colonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neo-colonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neo-colonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anti-colonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.

Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America? Obama believes that the West uses a disproportionate share of the world's energy resources, so he wants neo-colonial America to have less and the former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America's carbon consumption. Both as a U.S. Senator and in his speech, as President, to the United Nations, Obama has proposed that the West massively subsidize energy production in the developing world.

Rejecting the socialist formula, Obama has shown no intention to nationalize the investment banks or the health sector. Rather, he seeks to decolonize these institutions, and this means bringing them under the government's leash. That's why Obama retains the right to refuse bailout paybacks--so that he can maintain his control. For Obama, health insurance companies on their own are oppressive racketeers, but once they submitted to federal oversight he was happy to do business with them. He even promised them expanded business as a result of his law forcing every American to buy health insurance.

If Obama shares his father's anti-colonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more. The anti-colonialist believes that since the rich have prospered at the expense of others, their wealth doesn't really belong to them; therefore whatever can be extracted from them is automatically just. Recall what Obama Sr. said in his 1965 paper: There is no tax rate too high, and even a 100% rate is justified under certain circumstances.

Obama supports the Ground Zero mosque because to him 9/11 is the event that unleashed the American bogey and pushed us into Iraq and Afghanistan. He views some of the Muslims who are fighting against America abroad as resisters of U.S. imperialism. Certainly that is the way the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi portrayed himself at his trial. Obama's perception of him as an anti-colonial resister would explain why he gave tacit approval for this murderer of hundreds of Americans to be released from captivity.

Finally, NASA. No explanation other than anti-colonialism makes sense of Obama's curious mandate to convert a space agency into a Muslim and international outreach. We can see how well our theory works by recalling the moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969. "One small step for man," Neil Armstrong said. "One giant leap for mankind."

But that's not how the rest of the world saw it. I was eight years old at the time and living in my native India. I remember my grandfather telling me about the great race between America and Russia to put a man on the moon. Clearly America had won, and this was one giant leap not for mankind but for the U.S. If Obama shares this view, it's no wonder he wants to blunt NASA's space program, to divert it from a symbol of American greatness into a more modest public relations program.

Clearly the anti-colonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. goes a long way to explain the actions and policies of his son in the Oval Office. And we can be doubly sure about his father's influence because those who know Obama well testify to it. His "granny" Sarah Obama (not his real grandmother but one of his grandfather's other wives) told Newsweek, "I look at him and I see all the same things - he has taken everything from his father. The son is realizing everything the father wanted. The dreams of the father are still alive in the son."

In his own writings Obama stresses the centrality of his father not only to his beliefs and values but to his very identity. He calls his memoir "the record of a personal, interior journey - a boy's search for his father and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American." And again, "It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself." Even though his father was absent for virtually all his life, Obama writes, "My father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!"

The climax of Obama's narrative is when he goes to Kenya and weeps at his father's grave. It is riveting: "When my tears were finally spent," he writes, "I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America - the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I'd felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd witnessed in Chicago - all of it was connected with this small piece of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain that I felt was my father's pain."

In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that "I sat at my father's grave and spoke to him through Africa's red soil." In a sense, through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his father's spirit. Obama takes on his father's struggle, not by recovering his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr. failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.'s hatred of the colonial system becomes Obama Jr.'s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right defines his son's objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the family tomb, the father's struggle becomes the son's birthright.

Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anti-colonial. Emerging market economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top, we have to compete in an increasingly tough environment.

But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

About the author:

Dinesh D'Souza, the president of the King's College in New York City, is the author of the forthcoming book The Roots of Obama's Rage

Article source here
Image credit here

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Craddle to Craddle Ecological Home

Cradle 2 Cradle Home by Coates Design Architects
Roanoke, Virginia

The C2C Home takes "green" literally.

When Matthew Coates and Tim Meldrum won the 2005 C2C Home competition (judged by William McDonough, Daniel Libeskind, among others), they hoped to see their renderings develop into an actual residence. But three years later, the team is waiting for technology, and funding, to catch up to their vision of a home that is off-the-grid, thanks to the help of Popeye’s power: spinach. 

The C2C design reinterprets an age-old concept: the hearth. Made from concrete and steel, the 1,600-square-foot L-shaped home is topped with a tapered whirling chimney-like core that extends high above the roof plane. This core serves as a louvered skylight and temperature-stabilizing heat sink for the one-story home, and could one day support its revolutionary cladding: a conductive material that produces photosynthetic energy generated from spinach protein. 

Based on emerging technology and scientific research, spinach protein cells sandwiched between glass may have the potential to generate energy. This living facade would not only be photosynthetic, but phototropic too. It would grow to follow the path of the sun, generating electricity.  

c2c house interior

The facade is not the only green element of this home. Glass and metal panels insulated with soy foam comprise the exterior walls. A green roof absorbs and filters storm water through vegetation and soil while two large openings in the roof funnel rain to the building core. There, the rain is stored to serve for plumbing, flushing toilets, and other household needs. A bio-filtration system naturally breaks down and separates solid human waste from black water and then filters the black water under and alongside the house through a series of subsurface gravels and soils, from coarse to fine. Thus, the house does not require connection to a sewer or septic tank.  

Image and article source here & here

Architect Information:
Coates Design Architects
921 Hildebrand Lane
Suite 210
Bainbridge Island WA 98110 

Also of interest


Friday, September 24, 2010

The Sense of Wonder...

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. - Anais Nin 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Obama: We Can Absorb a Terrorist Attack


By Marc Thiessen

A shocking insight into Obama’s thinking when it comes to the terrorist threat appears on the front page of today’s Washington Post, which previews Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars

During an interview with Woodward in July, President Obama said: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

These are stunningly complacent words from the man responsible for stopping such a terrorist attack. Obama uttered them last July, after America suffered two near misses - the failed attacks on Christmas Day and in Times Square. Rather than serving as a wake-up call and giving the president a sense of urgency, these attacks seem to have given the president a sense of resignation. He is effectively saying: an attack is inevitable, we’ll do our best to prevent it, but if we get hit again - even on the scale of 9/11 - it’s really no big deal.

In fact, it would be a big deal, particularly to the people who would bear the burden of “absorbing” another attack - the victims and their families. Obama’s statement is unimaginably cavalier about the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and disturbingly resigned to the prospect of thousands more perishing in our midst.

And naive, too. Who is to say the next attack would be limited to the scale of 9/11? If al Qaeda succeeds in its ongoing efforts to obtain chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons - an objective report by a former CIA official says the terrorists continue to pursue unabated - they would not hesitate to use them. Which means the next terrorists attack could make 9/11 pale by comparison.

This statement should come as no surprise - it simply echoes what Obama has been saying since his first days in office. In April 2009, after Obama took the CIA out of the interrogation business, the president went to CIA headquarters and told officials there he knew he had made their jobs more difficult: “I’m sure it seems as if that means we’re operating with one hand tied behind our back,” the president said. “So yes, you’ve got a harder job. And so do I. And that’s okay.”

Think about that. The president has, by his own admission, forced the CIA to try and stop the next terrorist attack with one hand tied behind its back. He has, by his own admission, made the agency’s job of protecting us harder. And he says that’s okay.

It’s not.


President Obama gave us hints of his mindset before, but this new book by Woodward gives us all we need to know: protecting the USA is NOT his top priority, sliming us all down into a socialist hell is, and so we can't trust him to protect us. For that, Mr Obama deserves to be fired, but we can't do that for two more years. We'll have to be content with the next best thing: firing all his sycophants in the Congress, and in our State and local governments as well. - D.A.

Article source here
Image source here
CBS News article here

Mid-Autumn Festival

 Traditional moon cakes

Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Harvest Festival or the Moon Festival, is one of the most popular Chinese Festivals.

It falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in Chinese lunar calendar. Since the new moon day is the first day of a Chinese Lunar Month, the Mid-Autumn Festival coincides with the full moon. In 2010 the Festival is celebrated on September 23. 

According to a folk legend, this is also the birthday of the earth god T'u-ti Kung.

In the traditional China this festival indicated the end of hard work in the fields with only the harvest left to attend to. People used this opportunity to express their gratitude to heaven, which was symbolized by the full moon, and earth symbolized by the earth god,  for the blessings they have enjoyed during the year past.
The Chinese were praying to the moon god for protection, good fortune and unity in the family.

Moon cakes were, and still are, exchanged as gifts and eaten on this festival. They symbolize the unity and closeness in the family. 

Pomelos that look like a full moon, are also eaten on this day. The Chinese word for "pomelo" yu, is homophonous with the word for "protection". The word play expresses the hope that the moon goddess will provide the protection they need.

Moon gazing is another essential part of this festival. On this day, the moon is at its roundest and brightest.  

To celebrate the light, homes and streets are decorated with lanterns of all shapes and sizes. The lanterns are also carried in processions.

Mid-Autumn Festival is also a time for lovers to tryst and pray for togetherness and unity which is symbolized by the perfect roundness of the moon.

Unlike most Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a family holiday, characterized by peace and elegance, contemplation of nature and poetry writing.

The moon cakes giving tradition

Moon cakes have always played a central role in the Mid-Autumn Festival tradition. Once, according to a Chinese legend, moon cakes helped bring about a revolution. 
It was during the Yuan dynasty (AD 1280-1368), which was established by the invading Mongol tribes from the north. The Mongols subjugated the Han Chinese and expanded their rule over the vast territories of the Middle Kingdom.

According to Chinese folklore, a Han Chinese rebel leader named Liu Fu Tong, who wanted to bring an end to the oppressive rule of the Yuan dynasty, devised a scheme to arouse the Han Chinese to a rebellion against the Mongols . He sought permission from Mongolian leaders to give gifts to friends as a symbolic gesture to honor the longevity of the Mongolian emperor. Delicious moon cakes seemed to be a wonderfully auspicious gift for the occasion. 

The sweet pastry was a perfect way to circulate subversive messages. The Han Chinese were to begin their rebellion on the fifteenth night of the eighth month. The message was written on a piece of paper that was inserted into the cakes.

Avoiding suspicion of any kind, Liu was able to deliver this important message to his people who secretly prepared the rebellion to overthrow the Yuan dynasty and put an end the humiliating rule of the Mongols. 

Like in the past, moon cakes make a wonderful gift today. They are either filled with red bean paste or a lotus seed paste, with seeds and nuts, and often have one or two egg yolks within to celebrate the beauty of the perfectly round mid-autumn moon.

Wishing everyone a very happy full moon gazing -

Dominique Allmon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Moon Cannot Be Stolen


Once upon a time there was a Zen Master who lived a very simple, one could even say austere, life in a little hut at the foot of a tall mountain. One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing at all in it for him to steal.

When the Zen Master returned home he found the disappointed thief on his porch. 
"You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty handed. Please take my clothes as a gift."
The thief was bewildered, but took the clothes and ran away as fast as he could.

The Master sat naked and admired the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, " I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote of the Day


"The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt."

Dr Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Principles of a Free Society

From the page of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights

What makes a society free? What does it mean for an individual to be free - free to pursue his rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness? Just how free are we in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”? And most importantly, what must we now do to achieve the type of free society that our Founding Fathers envisioned? What did they miss that we must now fight for?

In a free society the government’s role is crucial but delimited: the government possesses only those powers delegated to it and necessary for the protection of each citizen’s individual rights against force and fraud. So long as men are voluntarily dealing with one another when they can reach agreement and going their separate ways when they cannot (i.e., exercising their individual rights), the state has no role to play in the affairs of men.

A free society is one where the government does not interfere (by penalty or reward) in thought, production or trade.

A free society requires a separation of:
  • Church and State
  • Science and State
  • Education and State
  • Economics and State
Consider the following questions: In a free society, should there be:
  • regulations imposed on businesses in addition to objective criminal and civil laws?
  • a public education system implementing state-influenced curricula and teaching methods?
  • restrictions on free speech in the name of not offending others?
  • an ability for the government to seize real estate in the name of eminent domain?
  • a central banking system that holds a monopoly over the supply of money?
A free society requires a limited government that enacts and enforces objective laws for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights.

Explore the website to learn more about Ayn Rand’s answers to these and many more questions. Learn more about the principles necessary for a truly free society. 

Image source here

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Constitution Day and The Forgotten Man

 The Forgotten Man by Jon McNaughton, 2010

Constitution Day, also known as the Citizenship Day, is an American federal observance that recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.

"All the American Presidents of the past gather around a man sitting on a park bench. That man, with his head bowed, appears distraught and hopeless as he contemplates his future. Some of the past Presidents try to console him and look in the direction of the modern Presidents as they exclaim, “What have you done?” Many of the modern Presidents behind Barack Obama seem to congratulate each other on their great success oblivious to the man on the bench. In front of the man, paper trash is blowing in the dust. Crumpled dollar bills, Amendments of the Bill of Rights and like a whisper - the U S Constitution beneath the foot of Barack Obama." 

Jon NcNaughton, Artist

Image source here
Please, watch the video

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Claude Chabrol Dies at the Age 80

 Claude Chabrol June 24, 1930 - September 12, 2010
“Stupidity is infinitely more fascinating than intelligence. Intelligence has its limits while stupidity has none. To observe a profoundly stupid individual can be very enriching, and that’s why we should never feel contempt for them.” - Claude Chabrol
Au revoir, maître! Tu nous manques déjà...

The fabulous French film director Claude Chabrol died in Paris on September 12. He was 80 years old. In a filmmaking career which spanned more than fifty years and around seventy films for cinema and television, Claude Chabrol was one of the most highly regarded and prolific of French film directors.

Widely credited as the founding father of the French Nouvelle Vague movement, Claude Chabrol (June 24, 1930 - September 12, 2010) is responsible for a body of work that is as prolific as it is boldly defined. 

A master of the suspense thriller, Chabrol approached his subjects with a cold, distanced objectivity that has led at least one critic to liken him to a compassionate but unsentimental god viewing the foibles and follies of his creations. Inherent in all of Chabrol's thrillers is the observation of the clash between bourgeois value and barely-contained, oftentimes violent passion. This clash gives the director's work a melodramatic quality that has allowed him to drift between the realm of the art film and that of popular entertainment. 

One of the founders of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement, Chabrol began his filmmaking career in 1958 as the director, writer, and producer of Le Beau Serge. Modeled after Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, the film charted the visit of an ailing city-dweller (Jean-Claude Brialy) to his hometown, where he is reunited with his childhood friend (Gérard Blain), who is now a self-pitying alcoholic. Their transference of personal guilt, and then, in the words of Chabrol scholar Charles Derry, "exchange of redemption," gave audiences an initial taste of the deeply-psychological situations Chabrol would continue to examine with chilly objectivity throughout his career, and established him as an important new talent.

Towards the end of his career, Claude Chabrol showed a late flourishing, returning to themes that are characteristic of his oeuvre: the insidious venality of the bourgeois milieu and the perversity of human nature.  His best films from this era include the trilogy that comprised La Cérémonie (1995), Merci pour le chocolat (2000) and La Fleur du mal (2003).  His last film was Bellamy (2009), a thriller featuring Gérard Depardieu.  During this period, Chabrol continued working for French television, his last work being episodes in the anthology series Au siècle de Maupassant

His legacy is an impressive body of work that has justly earned him the reputation of one of France’s finest and best-known filmmakers. Although Chabrol never received a César or a Palm d'Or, he was highly celebrated at various film festivals all over the world.

Image source here
Article source here & here

If I Know a Song of Africa...


"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?" 

From Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen  (1885-1962) - a pen name of Karen von Blixen-Finecke

Image source here

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Choice is Yours


"We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what's wrong in our life, or we can focus on what's right."

Marianne Williamson 
Spiritual Activist, Author and Lecturer

Friday, September 10, 2010



People are starving for love, not knowing their heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your heart is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world. - Don Miguel Ruiz, Mexican writer


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

They Talk About Me Like a Dog

 President Obama
"If I said the sky was blue, they'd say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no. They just think it's better to score political points in an election than to solve problems."- President Obama
It appears President Obama sees his opponents as dimwitted nay-saying morons who just don't get it and would say "no" to anything he says just for the sake of saying "no". Although we cannot exclude the possibility that there are people who oppose everything the President says or does, the reality is more complex than that. Unfortunately it seems that the President does not even consider that someone might oppose his policies because they are flawed or wrong.

Obama's opponents had a very difficult time from the beginning of his Presidency. The critics were accused of racism. They supposedly criticized or disliked him because he was black. And while this might be true for some dissatisfied Americans, the truth, once again, is more complex.

It is a sign of hubris not to even consider that one's own actions may give rise to doubt or discontent just for what they are. The skin color of the President does not have anything to do with the fact that so many people are dissatisfied with the proposed solutions and policies.

The previous President had to endure public humiliation. People even threw eggs at his limousine on inauguration day. He was booed at and his rallies were disrupted. Blacks who opposed George W. Bush were never accused of racism or of criticizing the President because he was white. Such argument seems ridiculous although, for the sake of discussion, we cannot exclude the possibility that there were black people who disliked Bush because he happened to be a white man.

The Republicans, the Tea Party Movement, and a growing number of Democrats oppose the proposed policies because they do not believe that they will bring the expected improvement.

The disenchanted electorate has its voice heard in the primaries. The prevalent mood will find its culmination in the mid-term elections. And while the elections are still few weeks away, it is very probable that the Republicans will carry the victory. Some clever minds are working on solutions to the mess the country is in and the Nation puts a great hope in a Republican-dominated Congress.

Remember to cast your vote November 2nd. Vote for change!

By Dominique Allmon 

P.S. "They Talk About Me Like a Dog" is a phrase which President used in his speech on Labor Day in Milwaukee. The phrase comes from a Jimi Hendrix' song.

"That's been at the heart of what we've been doing over these last twenty months, building our economy on a new foundation, so that our middle class doesn't just survive this crisis, I want it to thrive. I want it to be stronger than it was before. And- and over the last two year(s) that's meant taking on some powerful interests. Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time, and they're not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog." President Obama said to the crowd in Milwaukee

Lou Dobbs - a popular radio host - stated in an interview that what really hurt the President were not the lies that were told by his critics, but the truth. He suggested that it was critical for the White House and this President to "Quit whining and start leading".