Taro Aizu’s Fukushima Gogyoshi


In honor of the continuing victims of the Japanese national tragedy in Fukushima (3/11/11), and on the occasion of National Poetry Month, here is a moving and sobering poem about those whose lives continue to erode daily from the effects of radioactive pollution.

Videos from Gogyoshi Art Project: My Hometown Fukushima
Read more about the Gogyoshi, a poetic form invented by Taro Aizu.

Klaatu barada nikto!

Former Canadian Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer attests that at least four species of extraterrestrials have been visiting earth for thousands of years, and some are living with us in the Nevada desert, kept under wraps by the military, and helping the U.S. government develop zero-point energy and cold fusion. He has a lot to say on the subject of earth-extraterrestrial relations and about how we should manage our own planetary affairs; check out the video above to hear it.

Have you seen the movie Paul (2011)? It’s about an extraterrestrial who has been living in Roswell, New Mexico since his spacecraft crash-landed, and who hitches a ride with two overgrown “kids” attending a ComiCon festival. It’s a really funny film. It may be based on more that pure imagination. Whether you believe what Hellyer says or not, his message about saving the planet (so we can continue to live on it) and working for peace on earth and acceptance of other races (terrestrial or other) makes a lot of sense.

Surveillance in the Emerald City

from Mtro-Goldwyn-Mayer, "The Wizard of Oz"
from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The Wizard of Oz”

A recent news report from Reuters (click to read entire article), found on Yahoo News, mentions that:

“The Guardian reported last week that the super-secret National Security Agency has been mining phone records from millions of American customers of a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

“The Washington Post revealed a separate program, code-named Prism, that gives federal authorities access to data from companies including Google Inc., Apple Inc and Facebook Inc on emails, photos and other files.”

Should this news give cause for, if not alarm, at least some genuine reflection on the state of the state? Many of the former hippie generation, the baby boomers, and even the generations immediately preceeding and following, remember how carefully we guarded our right to privacy and freedom of expression; how we protested and fought for these things. We explored the theoretical social order that would follow the disappearance of these personal freedoms in dystopic literature such as George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Books would become illegal (and would be burned), and those who kept them would be publicly humiliated and jailed. Huge wall-sized, two-way TV monitors would feed people the latest “news,” while “Big Brother” would observe them in their homes to determine whether they were behaving “appropriately.” The news was manufactured and updated (changed) daily, depending on which nations we were currently allied with, and which we were currently at war with. There was no room for dissent. Interpersonal contact and relationships would be stringently monitored, and unapproved interpersonal contact was punishable by imprisonment or, ultimately, death. Surveillance cameras were present everywhere, so there was no place to hide. While the stories in these novels were futuristic, and fell more into the genre of science fiction than non-fiction, their underlying themes grew out of  real trends and international events within recent memory of the authors. The technology for video surveillance, wireless communication devices, large-screen video monitors and two-way surveillance systems was still a few steps into the future. But not any more. The implications of these futuristic technologies for the privacy of the individual were chilling.

Jump to 2013. The current generation, enamored of the convenience of instant communication media such as cell phones and Facebook, seem to have little or no regard for personal privacy; they have grown up in a world where that concept is not even discussed; where sharing every intimate detail about yourself is seen as a good thing, to the extent that they feel compelled to update their “status” every few hours, to post and identify pictures of their friends and acquaintances (actions made readily accessible through macros pioneered on Facebook and now insideous even to iPhoto and other photography storage and manipulation software). In fact, we have witnessed an apparent total reversal of the parental (or grand-parental) understanding that “a man’s home is his castle” (a place where a family can expect to be left alone to think, act, and behave as they see fit without fear of intrusion or surveillance). Those who have lived through violent regime changes all over the world have learned the hard way that it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself, lest you stand out to be identified as “the enemy,” or as an example of how not to think or behave.

Continue reading “Surveillance in the Emerald City”

Terrorism Defined


Terror is a funny thing. Some people would say that terror is not funny at all, and that it’s—well, terrifying. And they would be right. But hear me out. I believe that if we examine the term closely, we have a greater chance of seeing it for what it is, and not letting it… terrify us.

If you look closely at the word ‘terror’, you will see that, by definition, it is fear: a heightened and intense fear.

According to my 1971 Oxford English Dictionary (the old-fashioned, paper edition),

Terror is:

“1. The state of being terrified, or greatly frightened; intense fear, fright, or dread.”…

2. The action or quality of causing dread; terrific quality, terribleness; also, concr. a thing or person that excites terror; something terrifying.

3. King of terrors, Death personified [biblical references]. …

4. Reign of terror, a state of things in which the general community live in dread of death or outrage; esp. in French Hist. the period of the First Revolution from about March 1793 to July 1794, also called the Terror, the Red Terror, when the ruling faction remorselessly shed the blood of persons of both sexes and of all ages and conditions whom they regarded as obnoxious.

Hence also White Terror, applied to the counter-revolution that followed the Red Terror, and to other periods of remorseless repression in other countries. …”

Terror, then, is a heightened, distilled fear that makes people go crazy and do crazy things. The Red Terror in France spawned the retaliatory White Terror, both of which caused people to live in fear and dread, and to commit acts of violencehate crimes—upon one another.

Terror is a great motivator; it is very compelling. A state of heightened emotion, it incites the same emotion in others, either to rally with the terrorists or against them, but in equal measure of passion, not of reason. No one is thinking calmly or rationally; adrenaline and the worst of our primal instincts take over.

I don’t think it can be argued that the ends, or acts, committed while in this heightened emotional state, this state of terror, can be viewed as reasonable or justified, or grounded in any kind of rational or humanitarian thought (for you have to understand that the perpetrators of violent, terrible acts are as terrified as are their victims).

“Terrorism” is defined in the same dictionary as:

“1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in France during the Revolution of 1789-94; the system of the ‘Terror’ (1793-4) …

2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized. …”

“Terrorist” is defined as follows:

“1. As a political term: a. applied to the Jacobins and their agents and partisans in the French Revolution, esp. to those connected with the Revolutionary tribunals during the ‘Reign of Terror’.

b. Any one who attempts to further his views by a system of coercive intimidation; spec. applied to one of the extreme revolutionary societies in Russia.

2. Dyslogistically: One who entertains, professes, or tries to awaken or spread a feeling of terror or alarm; an alarmist, a scaremonger.


Terror is a dangerous thing. Once you get caught up in it, it is hard to pull away. Like jealousy, hate, and lust, it is a strong emotion with a great capacity to absorb and entangle people. The best thing you can do is to maintain a calm, balanced, and rational outlook, and not to get caught up in the heat of the moment.

It is always a good idea to look calmly at the emotions, from within or without, that occupy our attention and vie for control over our lives.

It is also a good idea to go back to the source of terms we use every day, and re-examine their roots, their meanings and their connotations, in full.

How do you define “terrorism”? Has the definition changed over the years?

Source Cited:
The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. 1. Oxford UP, 1971. Print. 2 vols.

A Peace of Picasso

everyday gurus



My first glimpse into the horrors of war did not come until after college. On a surf trip to the Basque Country of Spain, I asked a local friend what I should do since the waves were flat. He said I should go visit Guernica.

“Why would I go there?” I asked.

“It’s the city depicted in Picasso’s painting,” he said raising both his hands high in the air.

I had no idea what he was talking about. I never took art history at UC Santa Barbara. To tell the truth, all I really cared about as an undergrad was getting “some tasty waves and a cool buzz.”

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Every man must …

Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light
of creative altruism or the darkness
of destructive selfishness.
This is the judgment.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
What are you doing for others?

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wouldn’t it be Amazing?

By Banksy
By Banksy

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all decided that all weapons of mass destruction—especially the most damaging, long-term ones that poison the environment for thousands of years and make people suffer needlessly for generations upon generations—were a really stupid idea?

And that we would have nothing to do with an unsustainable and enormously harmful technology that not only takes more energy, money, and time to clean up than the energy it could potentially provide; but for the limited benefits of which we burden all of our succeeding generations with the Sisyphean task of trying to dispose of lethal and carcinogenic radioactivity, when no known containment medium exists?

And wouldn’t it be amazing if, instead, we looked to the sun, the wind, and the water for our earth-friendly needs?

Wouldn’t it also be amazing if we tuned out of the paranoid drivel that makes us suspect and hate other people, and, instead of assuming the worst and making enemies, we assumed the best and made friends?

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one …