Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Split Pants

This picture cheers me up. A (Chinese?) baby wearing the traditional “split pants” or kaidangku. Eden would say this kid is “free in the breeze”. Having been a cotton dipe mom, this image intrigues me. How? Hmmm. All I’ve ever been able to discover is that the Mom of this kid knows his/her “elimination cues” and can jump to the rescue at a moments notice. Learn more about this form of communication at diaperfreebaby. Seems like this would work well out on the farm where mishaps could be absorbed by the great outdoors. But what about indoors? On the street?

Apparently this toddler fashion is on the outs in the big cities of China. Why? Does the sight of baby buns offend? Piddle on the cement, maybe. Poo piles on the sidewalk, certainly. But does that actually happen? I couldn’t find many details. What I did find is that purveyors of disposable diapers, the makers of such favorites as Pampers and Huggies, have a huge hand in pushing out this “quaint” and “unhygienic” practice. (More here) They have their sights set on duping millions of toddlers’ parents into converting to disposables on the grounds that it’s cleaner, more modern, better for “mental development” (?!) and the environment (!!!!!) and raking in the big bucks while they're at it.


Sooo, let’s take a centuries old, natural, practical and free solution to baby poo that happens to require an intimate parent/child bond and replace it with what? Something manmade, unbiodegradable, possibly toxic (dioxin, sodium polyacrylate) and expensive in so many ways (the energy required to manufacture and the cost to poor families). I acknowledge that the answer isn't cut and dried (diapaerdebate) but is probably easier than we think. Like reprioritizing and putting profit lower on the list. Or better yet, let's redefine profit!

When, oh, when will we wise up? Until we do, I will enjoy this picture of a babe “free in the breeze’.

Photo: I have had this picture in my image files for years because it makes me smile but I don't know who took it. I call it "China Pee"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Don't Do Anything Stupid

Here's one answer to the question: Why Do Women Live Longer? More here. This guy embodies idiocy. He's welding his gas tank! Eden Fay says:"Is that a person under there? That doesn't seem safe." From the mouths of babes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Citizen Spocko

The future is arriving. Striding in through this tangled nexus of tangential tubes, the “Internets”.* I’ve watched in awe as this phenomenon of almost instantaneous interconnection has matured into a realm of self governance in action. It’s very close to my na├»ve teen conception of Anarchy. (I once considered myself an anarchist…the individualist, “rule of conscience” sort, who eschewed violence). This web seems to have revealed itself to be nothing less than “a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace” where the only law is the Golden Rule, as John Perry Barlow writes in his Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (here).

There has been a rash of editorials in these past few months about Big Media writhing uncomfortably in their seats, wringing their hands in response to what the Internet has spawned: the Citizen Journalist. It seems the influence of the Blogger can no longer be ignored. On Gandhi’s road to acceptance, bloggers seem to be at stage two: "then they laugh at you" (i.e.“kooks with keyboards”) but moving quickly into fighting territory.

The power of the individual connected to the internet community is playing out right now in the still unfolding story of Spocko vs. KSFO Hate Speech Radio. What happens when a one guy gets fed up with the venomous talk he hears spewing from the public airwaves targeting liberals, Democrats, Muslims and Arabs? He probably wants to give the foamers a Vulcan nerve pinch but instead he shares his frustration with his fellow bloggers and an idea forms. Do the advertisers on this program know what kind of talk they are supporting with their dollars? He samples some of the most offensive bits and sends them to those businesses in order to give them an informative earful. Consequence: VISA, MasterCard and Bank of America pull their ads. KSFO goes into panic mode. Threats to sue ensue. Blogs spread the word. Electronic Frontier Foundation backs up Spocko's right to use copyrighted material (the audio samples) under fair use laws. Newspapers pick up the story (NYT). Folks listen to the clips themselves on YouTube. ABC and Disney are the parent companies of KSFO so now a boycott is brewing. (Here’s a list of KFSO and Disney advertisers)
End result: the issue of hate speech in America is right now sifting up to high visibility. Amazing.

Though a two-edged sword
, the Internet can be a powerful agent of transparency. Misinformation and corroboration coexist but that just means we need to oil up a most basic faculty: critical thinking. And that's nothing but good.

The Internets have come of age. It's a sign of the times. The future is now.

"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of the Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you posses any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear."

From the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

* Nod to Senator Ted Stevens, Republican from Alaska who explains the "Internets" as a "series of tubes".

Happy Birthday

Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, Georgia 1966 Photo by Bob Fitch

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Santa Secret

Well, the bubble finally burst. The other night Eden asks me point blank if Santa is real. After all, she is eight and a half and the magic of the tooth fairy, Easter bunny and all has been fraying just a bit at the edges. This based on various clues: slips of the tongue, intercepted knowing looks and hanging with the big kids. I’m a staunch advocate for the magical childhood and myself a believer in faeries. After all, who was it that said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." and “"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking." Oh, yeah, Albert Einstein. Imagination and great thinking seem like the same coin. The more I delve into quantum physics and ponder deeper reality, the firmer my belief in “magic”.

So, here is my bright daughter, who owes so much delight to the concept of the mysterious Santa, questioning his existence. Of course, I’ve seen this coming for a long while. She’s queried before. Sort of. (When it comes right down to it, who would want to spoil something that brings excitement, sweets and playthings into your life?) I usually answer with a question heavy with implication “What do you think?” or “Do you really want to know?”. Hmmm. Serious doubt. What I’ve always added is that there is a secret about Santa, one that she would figure out when she was ready.

Well, I guess she was ready. She’d figured correctly. Basic 2 + 2. But that question: “Is he REAL?” That’s a big one that can lead to some sticky philosophical territory. What makes something real? Funny, my mind strikes simultaneously at both “The Velveteen Rabbit” (being loved makes you real) and “The Quantum Self” (reality is excitations upon the Bose-Einstein condensate ground state of the universe or, to put it another way, “thoughts in the mind of God”. Yow!) Neither love nor thought can be identified by a red suit. Are they real? Is Santa? Is it a question of believing?

This answer I’ve always found to be most satisfactory:
”Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.” From the Editorial Page of The New York Sun, "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus" written by Francis P. Church, September 21, 1897.

So, we didn’t do in Santa the other night. We spared his life. He will continue to bring us treats and delights because he embodies that impulse in us to share, gift and surprise. We believe in those things, so he still exists for us. But now Eden gets to enjoy a whole new aspect of an old beloved. (And she got to enjoy a bit of Santa's leftover stocking stash last night. Just another perk of being in on it.)

Picture: Vintage Santa from an old postcard looking very Caucasian. I envision my Santa tromping through a snowy woodland, dark-eyed and luminous, gentle-spirited and kin to animals. Like a combo of a Green Man, St. Francis and a veiled Helios (riding his chariot across the sky). I like this Nick. He's in green, holds an evergreen tree embellished with candles and a five-pointed star and a curious tell tale heart-shaped package dangles from his hand like a Valentine.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Power Shift

Congress convened today, Dems took power and Nancy Pelosi became the first woman in the history of the United States to be elected Speaker of the House. It’s this last fact that really registers as a power shift with me. There has never been, in 200 plus years of American history, a woman in this position of political power. In the mix of powers and duties, the Speaker holds sway over the committee process, is the authoritative voice of her party when opposite that of the Prez AND happens to be second in line for succession to the presidency if our Dear Leader and Cohort should be unable to fulfill their responsibilities (hmmm). Standing in the face of unending war and a looming multi-faceted national crisis, a woman at the podium is refreshingly appropriate. Yes, I guess I am succumbing to a kind of sexism because I think her ascension is significant simply because she’s a woman.

In a piece by Alice Walker, “All Praises To The Pause” , she cites John Perkins* relating the very distinct role woman play in the indigenous Amazonian Swa society. Men are considered to have a destructive nature and woman a nurturing and conserving nature. The woman’s role is not only caring for the kids, home, animals, garden but most importantly, she tells the men when enough is enough.

"It is the woman who says: Stop. We have enough firewood and canoes, don’t cut down any more trees. Stop. We have enough meat; don’t kill any more animals. Stop. This war is stupid and using up too many of our resources. Stop. Perkins says that when the Swa are brought to this culture they observe that it is almost completely masculine. That the men have cut down so many trees and built so many excessively tall buildings that the forest itself is dying; they have built roads without end and killed animals without number. When, ask the Swa, are the women going to say Stop?”

In modern Western society, I don’t think the lines are so clearly drawn between men and woman. For one thing, distinct gender roles are a thing of the past and another thing: I just know too many wise nurturing men (and witnessed warmongering power hunger in women a la Margaret Thatcher) to rationalize our troubles as a gender issue. Realistically, it’s a Masculine/Feminine duality and an issue of Balance. We need some pendulum-swinging after too many centuries of the masculine modus. We are standing on an edge, waiting to see whether “Speaker Pelosi” can capably steer the ship away from the precipice of war, corruption and business as usual and turn us just a little closer toward compassion, collaboration and maybe even healing.

Yes, the world is so ready for a feminine perspective.

*This is the same John Perkins who wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (a sobering read). Now he writes about the indigenous Amazon people, shamanism and shape-shifting. Picture: "Mother Power" painting by me.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


We have lift off! Fire, friends and food all factored into our celebration of the New Year. On the Eve we joined our Tumbleweed friends for a kid friendly New York countdown (to 9PM) complete with fireworks and impromptu stage show. Yesterday dawned bright and clear. We convoyed to the coast with Meredith and Steve for a bonfire, cookout, hooping, kite flying and tidepooling. Here's Eden with the schooner kite Rob got in Bali. Flying high! The sky was clear, the air warm and the pools were full of life. We even rescued a young octopus stranded on high ground. Auspicious signs all. Our year is off to a solid start.

Quan Yin Communique

What tidings for the new year? Speak into the flower. Big, bright, beautiful and wide open. I think I understand flower tongue.

Photo: Red amaryllis and Quan Yin- taken by me.

No Pickles!

Here are some goodies Rob and I got in our stocking on Christmas morning. Yes, Santa mysteriously returned after we hit the hay and placed this lovely sock near the others. It is carefully handstitched from a cloth map of New Zealand, stuffed with dark chocolates and goodness. Rob got the cute felted jet (seen here flying out of Auckland) and a photo frame. I got the little doll and a very cool capo. Yes, we were usurped in our role as the Bestower of Bounty. India had succeeded in surprising us. She handcrafted and assembled it all on the sly, waited quietly for us to finish our work on Christmas Eve and then crept downstairs at 2Am to silently lay out her handiwork. We were touched and amazed and I think she felt really good.What a sweet generous soul.

Our family tale says if you misbehave you just might get a pickle instead of candy in your sock. Eden was a little worried this year that she would get the Pickle. I guess she felt like she hadn't been on her best behaviour as of late. Most likely she was influenced by the story of someone we know actually getting the Pickle. For real. Bummer. It's funny, there was a pickle involved this year. On the tree India had also hung ornaments for Rob and I. Mine was a handblown red heart. Rob's was a handblown green pickle. Sweet.