Monday, November 13, 2006

Io Station (a work in progress)

Research Items

Periods of rotation for Io and Calisto
Periods of orbit for Io and Caalisto
Size (in km) of orbital paths for Io and Caalisto
Distance between the orbital paths of Io and Caalisto
What moons lie between Io and Calisto? Their orbital periods?
Is it necessary to travel only in the orbital plane, or could one go, as it were, above or below the orbital paths of intervening moons?
Do intervening moons have sufficient gravity to use any or all for gravity assist, depending on the distance between Io's and Calisto's orbital paths? Would this be necessary or desirable?

How would Io station and Calisto Station communicate? Radio, microwave transmission? Other forms of transmission?
What would the delay time be? Are the orbits far enough apart and large enough that the delay time would vary? What about when the two moons were on opposite sides of Jupiter?
When Io and Calisto are occulted with respect to each other, could transmission relays on other moons/space stations in Jovian orbit maintain uninterrupted communications?
Is it possible that delay times would be low enough to allow "normal" conversation between someone on IO Station and someone on Calisto Station, or someone in low orbit around Io and someone on Calisto?
What is the delay time from Io to Earth?

Intersystem Travel
How long would it take for a two seater, Ferrari-type spacecraft to get from Calisto to Io? How large would the differentials be with regard to relative orbital positions? Minutes? Hours? Days?

Some Answers
Io, 1.77 days, 422,000 km
Europa, 3.55 days, 671,000 km
Ganymede, 7.15 days, 1,070,000 km
Callisto, 16.69 days, 1,883,000 km
Thus the distance varies from 1,411,000 km to 2,255,000 km or 5 to 7.5 light
seconds. Round trip time, for answer to statement, varies from 10 to 15
seconds, uncomfortable but manageable for a conversation. Io zips around
Jupiter so quickly that every second day there might be a period of ten
minutes during which communication is impossible. The two intermediate moons
might block communications for a few minutes every so often, but this would
be only a brief inconvenience.

Io Station

Frank was dead; and, I knew who murdered him. Not the name of the person who had tampered with his suit so cleverly that no one except me so much as suspected that his blocked air feed was anything other than a tragic accident caused by human error, his own error. But, I knew whom his findings would damage and who, for that reason, had wanted him dead as soon as their spies discovered why he was really on Io Station, and whom he was really working for.

As for me, I could only trust that they didn't know he had given me the information. It was a pretty thin thread to hang a life on; and, if it weren't for the vital importance of that information and, more important by far to me, Frank's urgent appeal that I get it to the admiral, I wouldn't have cared about any threads. My Frank was dead, and without him I couldn't bear to go on living. But, he'd given me a job to do. If they murdered me once it was finished, that was okay by me. But, right now, I had to make them believe I was harmless.

That wasn't, actually, very difficult. The other crewmembers had never taken me seriously. A poet on Io Station? They all assumed, in their smug, insular fashion, that I couldn't be the chief engineer's intellectual equal. Their patronizing attitude towards me had infuriated him and hurt me. After all, our friends back in Green Belt understood that, though my Master's was in Creative Writing and my poetry had achieved a certain amount of success, including a Reisling Award, I was also an amateur cosmologist, well able to follow the broad outlines of planetary science and even some of the finer detail. Frank Lange was a planetary engineer, for Pete's sake! He wouldn't have married some nitwit who didn't know an asteroid from her ass. But, that was exactly what, to a person, the crew of the Io station thought I was.

Frank had come home fuming about three standard weeks after we arrived. "Do you know what that lousy SOB Stafford had the unmitigated gall to ask me?" he demanded, suit jacket forgotten, in one hand and dragging on the floor.

Stafford didn't concern me; but Frank's blood pressure did. So, I calmed him and settled him with a cold Coke before asking as blandly as possible, "So, what did Stafford ask you?"

Frank spluttered. "He asked me what we find to talk about. He asked me why I hadn't married someone more suitable. More suitable! Can you believe it? As if there's something wrong with me because my wife isn't a physicist, or astro-biologist, or whatever his timid little mouse of a wife is." He took a long, cooling drink.

"I am the only spouse who isn't a scientist, practicing or otherwise," I pointed out. "Have some soy pasta chips." He munched them absently. "Then too," I continued, reaching for a chip, "You - well, and I - seem to be the only people on the station who realize there's a world beyond NASA. We've been in the Greens' quarters, and the Kowalski's. Do you remember seeing one volume of Dickens, or Dovstoievski, or Cardinal Newman? Or even SF: McCaffrey or Le Guin or Kim Stanley Robinson? And no poetry, no history, no reading matter at all but technical monographs and journals." Frank agreed thoughtfully and got up to refill our glasses. "And, do you remember what Joanna Kowalski said when she saw all our books and CD's?"

His eyes flashed. "Yes," he growled. "She asked me why I had let you bring so much extra weight. 'After all, you're only going to be here three Earth years. She could have left all that junk in storage' Junk! Elliot Gould playing Bach and G.K. Chesterton are not junk! And so I informed her. But, she just gave me a pitying, condescending look, as though I were some besotted old fool."

"Well," I said mischievously, "you're not old, anyway." It took a moment, but he had laughed. And, it was that evening that we realized that we might turn their attitude to our advantage. As long as they thought I didn't understand his day-to-day work; then, if they discovered his true work, they certainly wouldn't think I could understand that. And therein lay hope. For I could channel information to Admiral Sing, or at least to my Brother, Stacy, who was his aid, without attracting suspicion or even attention.

It was soon after that that frank came up with the idea for the bracelet. It was a cheesy idea, which is why it appealed to us both. It was so totally brainless that no one would ever suspect its true purpose. Once in Greenbelt, while in bed with the flu and too weak and miserable even to read, I had paused my channel surfing on the Jewelry Channel to watch a demonstration of make-it-yourself jewelry in which you take an empty setting, of a pendent say, select the gem stone you wan too mount, and just snap it in. I'd told Frank about it, and we'd had a good laugh. But, I'd begun to think about it. Would it be possible to de-mount the stone if you got tired of it? And, did it have to be only one stone? To my amusement, Frank had become so intrigued that he actually bought a jewelry making kit. It included a bracelet. We'd never been bored enough to mount stones in the bracelet, but now he suggested that he could mount his data crystals in it. We'd give out that we'd decided to mount one stone for every month of our tour. Frank took it as a good omen that the bracelet contained mountings for thirty-six crystals. Since our colleagues on the station already thought me silly and eccentric, the bracelet caused little interest.

Frank had to work quickly, but undetected. If he was right, the Io station had a little more than half those thirty-six months. A previous whistle blower had been silenced by being thrown out of a helicopter without a parachute. Things like that happened to people who criticized the President's brother's construction company. That company had, surprise, surprise, been awarded a no-bid contract to build the Io station. And, if what Frank and his friends suspected was true, the failure would make Morton Thyicol's failure with Challenger's O rings and the failure of Columbia's heat shielding tiles look like church picnics.

Seventy people lived and worked in Io's habitat, a habitat which was built not on but in Haemus Mons. Admitedly, this mountain near the South Poll was not volcanic, to the best of our knowledge. Nonetheless Io, third out of Jupiter's satellites, orbited close enough to the giant planet to experience, among other things, tidal action and consequent internal heating so severe as to make this little world, barely larger than Luna, the most volcanic body in the known Solar System. Such atmosphere as it had was mostly sulfur dioxide, and the mean surface temperature was -143°C. I'd never bothered figuring out what that came to in Fahrenheit. It was undoubtedly below the survivable range for humans. And, if the unbreathable air or the cold didn't get you, Jupiter's radiation would. And yet, even a "minor" failure of the station's superstructure or systems would send seventy shirt sleeved or pajamad residents rushing for the space suit lockers.

We weren't allowed to keep our suits in our quarters. "Contamination," Rothstein had explained, the miasma of contempt thickening almost visibly with each syllable. "We can't risk contaminating Io with any, anything from our habitat, and we can't risk contaminating the hab, uh, habitat with anything from out on Io. So, everybody and every suit is thoroughly decontam, cleaned before going out and after coming back."

Bristling at his "I'm talking to a retarded three-year-old" tone, I managed to keep my own tone light and conversational. "Yes, I understand that. But, what if there's an emergency?" Rothstein glared. "Some sort of breach or failure of the hab in which we'd need to suit up fast?"

"Obviously, Mrs. Lange," he said, leaning all his considerable weight on the Mrs., "you don't understand anything about the construction or management of this station." He turned away. "There are failsafes, backup systems…." He glanced over his shoulder, his sneer almost a snarl. "Nothing on this station can fail." Not till we were settled in and Frank had a chance to run unofficial background checks on the station personnel, about the beginning of our second week, did we discover that Chief of Security Robert Roghstein was one of some half dozen crew members employed by both NASA and ConStel (Construction Stellar International Inc.)

But, if my hunch was right, not even the sneaking, spying, eternally damnable bastard who killed my Frank knew that I understood the nature of Io, much less the nature of Io Station and the terrible danger it was in. Naturally, if I didn't know what Frank had been working on, I didn't pose any threat to them. But, just in case, I had to play the shattered widow to the hilt; the devoted wife so devastated by her loss as to be worthless from the standpoint of intelligence gathering. It was an easy roll too play, not a roll at all, really. I was shattered. I was devastated. The only thing that kept me from losing my mind altogether was the ingrained memory of what Frank had told me every morning before he left for work, every night before he went to sleep, and on the rare occasions that he left the station. He'd always said two things: "Remember, if something happens to me, Jill, get the information to Sing. And, remember that I love you."

Now, as I stood, suited and helmeted at the small port beside the outer lock of the Prometheus, one of Io Station's two shuttles, I remembered our last kiss before he'd gone in to suit up for the unexpected EVA. He'd gone through his little spiel as usual and, as usual, I'd said, "I'll remember. I love you, darling."

Then he said:
"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight, watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way."

And he'd kissed me again, holding my shoulders in his big, strong, gentle hands. And then, without a backwards glance, he'd strode into the suiting up chamber. I'd stood still for a moment, looking at the closed door, before making my way back to our quarters with an uneasy feeling firming into certainty about the significance of those lines from "The Highwayman."

I'd called Stacy, insisting a little hysterically on a super secure line, and told him. "So," he said, speaking slowly to reduce the stutter that excitement or anxiety always brought on," you think King George's m-men will come m-marching, or already have?

"Yes. The more I think of it, the more certain I am that he's been compromised or caught outright." I swallowed. "Stace, I don't think he'll come back."

Stacy was silent for a long moment. Then he said even more slowly and deliberately, "I think, I think you're in for a very rough time, Jill. Remember what Frank told you - _everything_ he told you!" As I started to reply he broke in firmly. "Sorry, Sis, gotta go. Talk to ya soon. Love ya." With that, he'd broken the connection, leaving me to speculate miserably about his safety as well.

About four hours later Rachel Green, Director of Io Station, had called me to her office and told me, as gently as possible, that Frank wouldn't be coming back. She'd been very kind, had made all the arrangements with NASA, and had brought me up on the Prometheus for the burial in space. So now I stood in the air lock with Director Green, Deputy Director Ivanov, Roger Roberts, Prometheus' pilot, and the body bag wrapped in the American Flag that contained the mortal remains of my husband. I had asked, at some point, to see him; but Director Green had told me gently but finally that it would be better for me not to. And, I hadn't asked again.

"Taps" was playing over the com. I switched my com off. "Taps" made me cry under the best of circumstances. And these were not the best of circumstances. I blinked and clenched my teeth. The outer hatch opened, and I watched through the port as the flag-wound body bag shot out of the lock and floated amid the stars.

"They couldn't even give him a casket," I thought bitterly. Startled, I realized this was the first coherent thought I'd had in hours. Then there came into my mind the lovely lines Robert Heinlein wrote to be sung to the Navy Hymn:

Almighty Ruler of the all,
Whose Power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe,
O grant thy mercy and thy grace,
To those who venture into space.

I whispered the words as the slight shuddering of the wall beneath my hand signified the closing of the hatch. After what seemed like a long time, I felt a touch on my arm. Without switching on my com, I turned and followed Director Green inside.

My fingers were clumsy, and the simple act of popping my helmet seemed to take long minutes. As soon as it was finally off I said, more querulously than I intended, "I want to go to Calisto, to Stacy."

Rachel paused in the act of stepping out of her suit trousers, and looked at me compassionately. "Of course, Jill. Demetri and I have to get back to the station; but, I can have Roger fly you over. I'm sure he wouldn't mind under the circumstances."

"Sure wouldn't," Roger said. Glancing at him, I saw the slight, milk chocolate complected pilot, already unsuited and stowing his gear, pass the back of his hand across his wet cheeks. He was young, on his first off-Earth posting, and Frank had befriended him.

Watching him as he closed the locker and eagerly turned towards me, it struck me that we were the only friends he had on Io. Yet, I couldn't even trust dear Roger. For all I knew, he had killed Frank and would kill me, or take me to ConStell headquarters to be tortured… I couldn't trust anyone from Io. I had to get away from all of them.

"No," I wailed, feeling the hysteria finally rising as inexorably as Prometheus' lava. "I want Stacy to come get me." Dropping my gloves on the floor, I sank my head into my hands and burst into tears.

I was vaguely aware of Rachel speaking quietly with Roger. Then, after a few moments, I felt Demetri's arm about me. He was a big man, almost as tall as Frank, and he supported me effortlessly. "I understand," he said in his rumbling, heavily accented English. "Everything and everyone associated with Io Station is repugnant to you now. You want only to see your brother, not even to stay on the Prometheus any longer than you can help." I could only nod against his shoulder. "Of course. We understand. Let us help you out of your suit, and you can go call him."

Like a child, I stood still as they quickly and efficiently unsuited me. As soon as my arms were free, I touched my right hand to the bracelet on my left wrist. It held eight crystals. Frank had mounted the eighth the night before he, he was lost. Since the stones were ostensibly to mark each completed month of our posting, Frank had mounted each on the last day of the month. So, it was now October Second, about twenty-four hours since he had gone away. October Second. Something stirred in the back of my mind, but I was too distraught to grasp it and it fluttered down into oblivion again.

By the time I spoke to Stacy, he and a hanger crew were already going through final check outs on the Galactica, his personal, two-passenger space plane. "Your friend Roger called and told me you needed me to come get you," he said; and, I was so distraught that this didn't strike me as odd.

Frank had suggested we drive out to the beach. Though, loving the Maine coast in all seasons and weathers as I did, I gladly agreed, it did puzzle me that he, not a beach person even in August, would make the suggestion. But, at his troubled look, I suddenly remembered what this all too rare holiday had, briefly, allowed me to put out of my mind. In a few short weeks, we would move in as part of the inaugural crew of Io Station. The quaint inn where we were staying seemed ordinary and safe enough. But, as Frank said, "I'm not paranoid if someone really is trying to kill me."

We drove with little conversation. Leaving the car in the otherwise deserted parking lot, we trudged across the dunes and the wide stretch of sand, sepia under the cloudy sky, to walk on the firm sand at the water's edge. We took our time. And I thought, not of the deep, soft sand under my boots nor of the salt-laden wind, soft as a June breeze, that brushed my face, but of the world we would soon call home.

I'd visited space and research centers on Tarra. The day at Kennedy Space Center my bemused parents had given me for my tenth birthday remained in my memory as one of the chief occurrences of my life. Less than two months later, the Delta 5 rocket carrying the first payload of nuclear waste being shot towards the Oort Cloud had exploded on the launch pad, destroying a large part of the Southeastern U.S. Later, I'd visited ESA and CSA facilities with Frank and, had toured the Cosmodrome at Vaikanor with almost as much excitement and enthusiasm as the Cape itself. We'd travled to the International Space Station, the Lunar Tri-Cities of Armstrong, Collins, and Aldren, and the Martian city states of Lewis, Bradbury, and Burroughs. And, of course, I was familiar with Calisto and Ganymede Stations. But, I'd never seen anything like Io.

The station had been built, ostensibly, as a research center. But, that cover story had never made sense to me. The research center an Ganymede was generously sized and amply equipped. It was operated by ESA, sure, but parochial considerations of what tarran flag an off-Tarran base or colony nominally had been established under meant little to most people and less to space scientists nowadays. Any research NASA wanted to pursue could easily have been accommodated at Ganymede. Of course, ConStel had lost the contract on Ganymede, unfairly as th CEO had screamed across the media like a toddler whose favorite stuffed toy had been taken away, to British, French, and Icelandic companies. Since Pres. Arthur A. Chester had, to his astonishment and chagrin, been unable to bully and threaten ESA, the EU, the UN and the international Space Consortium into nullifying the contracts and awarding the entire project to ConStel, he had arranged Io as a consolation prize for his baby brother's firm. That was an open secret in the space community. But, it didn't answer the question of why Io? What did this volcanic little satellite have that ConStel or anyone else could possibly want?

As we strolled, looking out to the grey expanse of the Atlantic, I put this question to Frank. He paused and looked at me with a mischievous, almost a boyish grin, which slowly faded to his now accustomed expression of vague worry. "They've found a life form," he said, "a microbe, on Io. An extremoophile that actually feeds on radioactivity, breaking it down into harmless chemical compounds."

I stared, momentarily speechless. "The first extraterrestrial life," I breathed. "Frank, it exists! We're not alone!" I drew a long, shuddering breath. "Microbes on another planet, well, satellite. They should name them Saganoids, or something."

Frank smiled sadly. "Yes, they should. I doubt they will, though." He glanced around nervously. The bleakly beautiful beach was deserted; not unusually for Castene Maine in mid December. "This is highly classified material, known only to a very few outside the NASA and DOD highest circles."

I frowned. "but, surely, such a discovery is the story of the century, of the millennium. We've finally found ET. What's more, ET can do something of tremendous service to Tarra…" I paused, a chill running through me. Just about every plant, animal, and chemical compound that might conceivably be of use to Man had long ago been patented by the pharma-chem-ag mega-corps. "They're going to patent the Saganoids?" I said, but it wasn't a question.

Frank nodded. "But, that's not the half of it."

I shuddered again. "What could be worse than that?"

"Lots of things," he said grimly. Sen. Harper and Admiral Sing think a fundamental design flaw in the station on Io was glossed over, covered up." I gulped, a chill sweeping through me that owed nothing to the large, fluffy snowflakes floating on sea breeze. He scuffed the sand with his boot toe. "Best estimates are," he said quietly, "that the habitable part of the station, which is the important part, after all, will fail about eighteen to twenty-four months after completion. Although the station is built in one of the few relatively stable parts of the world, it's still mainly underground and the tidal flexing will eventually breech its integrity, not because such a breech is inevitable, but because of the methods and materials used in its construction, in combination with an inadequate design." He sighed. "With only one of those problems, even the poor design, the danger would be far less immediate. With all three…" He waved his hand.

He laughed humorlessly at my shock. "What do you expect? Constel uses its own designers, engineers and architects. They use their own proprietary methods and materials. What else would they use? And, their inspectors approve every bolt and man hour. We can't have OSHA, or the Mine Safety Administration or any other government body, not even NASA, unduly interfering with their business, now can we? And, hey, it's good enough for government work. Who cares how many people are killed in the eventual structural failure? It won't disturb Constel's bottom line."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Voices in Wartime Newsletter: A Teachable Moment?

A Teachable Moment?
By Andrew Himes

I spent my high school years during the 1960s growing more and more outraged by the war in Vietnam. Every day I came home from school and watched Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News reporting on yet another cycle of death and horror, destruction and dismemberment. Every day I heard about dozens or hundreds of new US casualties and hundreds or thousands of new Vietnamese casualties. I heard about atrocities like the killing of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai, and the carpet-bombing of the jungles by endless flights of B-52s, and pointless slaughter at places with names like Khe Sanh and Hue and Ia Drang. I was saddened by the killing. I was angered by the lies told about why we went to war and the fraudulent speeches by politicians like Lyndon Johnson who spoke dignified phrases about democracy and freedom while launching the most horrific bombardments and assaults against human life and dignity. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was sickened and horrified by the war and deeply opposed to its continuation.

In the fall of 1968 I went off to college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison bearing an extraordinary burden of self-righteousness. I lived in a permanent sense of outrage combined with an extraordinary feeling of freedom. I had escaped from the narrow confines of my family and church and high school, and the context of my escape was the ongoing war in Vietnam. By the end of my first year in college I had become a fulltime political activist. I gave up attending all but a few of my classes, and devoted myself to passing out leaflets, helping to organize rallies, attending antiwar demonstrations, and running the mimeograph machine in the Student Union to help organize yet more demonstrations.

Not only was I against the war, I was also against any soldier who had become part of the machinery of the war, whether by volunteering or consenting to being drafted, and then had gone off to take part in the war. I was sure such an act was the result of a moral choice made by an individual who was morally accountable. I believed soldiers knew what they were getting themselves into, that they were fighting an immoral war against civilians on behalf of an invading and occupying force. They were available for my sanctified disapproval, and I condemned soldiers along with their actions.

By the fall of 1969, these frequent demonstrations had become a source of irritation to the Regents of the University of Wisconsin, and they passed a law forbidding the use of loud speaking equipment on the public college campuses of Wisconsin for any political purpose. Antiwar activists on my campus at Madison held a quick planning meeting and concluded this was an egregious violation of our right to free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Far from being outraged, we were actually quite pleased, having been granted a perfect excuse for a demonstration and a gift of the moral high ground in our dispute with the Regents. We had the ideal occasion in mind. October, 1969 would see a national demonstration in Washington DC, supported by student strikes and other demonstrations on hundreds of campuses across the country. It was called the Vietnam Moratorium, and over two million American would march against the war in the largest political demonstrations in US history.

In Madison, several thousand students gathered in the square between the University Library and the Wisconsin State Historical Association. We had prepared for a dramatic yet peaceful demonstration. We selected four volunteers to be speakers at the rally and targets for arrest that day. Marge Tabankin was a vice president of the student body, a woman of large presence and strong ideas. Elrie Crite, a slim black man with a large round Afro, was the first director of the brand new Black Studies Center, which had been created in response to a campus wide strike called by the black student union the previous year. Billy Kaplan was an aggressive, eloquent, and fearless speaker and chairman of Students for a Democratic Society, the potpourri assemblage of radicals on campus. And I was the fourth person selected for arrest.

The other three speakers were set up on the steps of the library surrounded by the largest physical display of loud-speaking equipment we could muster, assembled from rental equipment stores up to a hundred miles away. We had gigantic amplifiers and massive microphones and ten foot tall speakers designed for use in rock concerts and political rallies.

Three of our designated arrestees were surrounded by a phalanx of the campus police, led by Chief Ralph Hansen, a genial, balding, and somewhat portly gentleman with a liberal disposition and a desire to keep the peace in a civilized sort of way. Ralph knew me well enough as a burgeoning troublemaker on campus, and I had acquired the permit for the demonstration in his office the day before. A large round fountain occupied the middle of the yard in front of the Library where we held the rally. During the summertime the fountain was uncovered and active, but in October it was covered by a metal sheathe that protected the fountain from the ice and snow of the coming winter. By 10 AM that morning, I was perched high above the rest of the crowd atop the metal sheath, which made a perfect speaker's platform.

As the rally began, Marge, Billy, and Elrie each stepped up to the microphone in turn and began to speak. As they did so, each was arrested and carted off to the Madison City Jail, leaving no one on the platform except for the police. The crowd then began to stir, with no immediate focus for their attention except for the cops, who were doubtless worried about what might come next, given the history of violent protests in Madison. At that point, I opened the cardboard box I had brought with me to the top of the fountain cover and pulled out my portable bullhorn to carry on with the rally. As soon as I started speaking, the crowd recognized what was happening. They turned their backs on the police and began chanting and shouting. Several cops led by Ralph Hansen started shoving their way through the crowd in my direction. And the crowd, while offering no active resistance, also provided no assistance to Ralph and his cohorts. When Ralph reached the bottom of the fountain, he looked up at me, waggled his finger in my direction, and shouted, "Andy, you come down from there right this minute!" To the delighted cheers and catcalls of thousands, I hollered back, "Ralph, come up and get me!"

That moment was one of the supremely glorious moments of my life. Two cops clambered up the slanted metal sides of the fountain cover and hauled me down, placing me in handcuffs at the bottom of the fountain where Ralph waited impatiently. I was hustled into a squad car and taken to jail, where I was charged with "illegal use of a bullhorn." I spent no more than twenty minutes behind bars before our lawyers got me bailed out, a newly-minted minor hero of the peace movement. The next day in the New York Times, I read a small article about our arrests in Madison. The case itself was thrown out a few months later by Federal Judge Frank Johnson, who declared the law unconstitutional.

35 years passed and I grew up a bit. I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as I had been opposed to the war in Vietnam. But I was looking for how we could create a dialogue that transcended political arguments and led to an exploration of the human cost of war. I helped produce a film called Voices in Wartime that included an interview with Jonathan Shay, a psychologist who has treated hundreds of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. One afternoon in the spring of 2004 I sat in front of a television with my laptop, transcribing the raw footage of Jonathan's interview as he talked about how soldiers experienced war. Jonathan said, "We are talking about a clicking in of some very deep emotional mechanisms that bond soldiers to each other. The grief that a soldier feels when a comrade is killed or severely maimed is akin to the grief of a mother whose child has just been killed." That last phrase of Jonathan Shay's hit me hard. At a deep emotional level, I understood as never before the personal cost of war for soldiers.

In August of 2006, I was a speaker at a veterans' conference in Seattle. I told the story of my first arrest, in October of 1969, to those present, an audience of some 50 or 60 veterans, many of them from the Vietnam War. I looked back and remembered myself as a nineteen year old kid, full of self-righteous energy and disdain for anybody who disagreed with me, contempt for Ralph Hanson and Lyndon Johnson and my own parents, full of righteous anger directed at anyone who was in the military or in any way a part of the political superstructure that justified, supported, or funded the war. It would have been far from my consciousness on that long ago October morning, I said, to consider what might be going through a soldier's mind, or what the sufferings of any soldier might amount to or how they might matter. I was sure I was right and that anybody who made any choice contrary to my own was morally wrong. I was a fool, I said, full of my own sanctified disapproval of soldiers and disdain for their sufferings. I had been right to oppose the war. But I was wrong to oppose the warrior. I had failed to understand that soldiers themselves were victims of the war. I knew nothing of the sorrows of soldiers, of the fear and pain that attended their service and the nightmares that followed it. I was ignorant of their motivations and of the terrible cost they had borne and continued to bear. I had refused to grant them humanity, and in my refusal I had diminished my own humanity.

When I finished speaking, the first person to stand in the audience was a burly vet about my age. He was an ex-marine named Michael Patrick Brewer wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt. Michael was crying, and had trouble talking. He said that my story had opened his memory to a story of his own from that same time - October, 1969. And he said he had never told his story to anyone for 37 years. On that day he was a young active duty soldier who had just returned from Vietnam after a year's tour. He was in Chicago that day, only 100 miles away from Madison where I was. And he was also at an antiwar demonstration, part of the national Vietnam Moratorium. He was wearing his Marine uniform, and after much struggle and thought he had decided to speak at the demonstration.

Michael told us how he'd gone to the rally and up onto the platform where he had been invited. He knew just what he would say. He planned to make a short speech in which he would say that we needed to stop three kinds of hatred. We needed to stop hating the Vietnamese. We needed to stop hating each other. And we needed to stop hating ourselves. As he was waiting for his turn to speak, someone else on the platform saw his uniform and attacked him, screamed that he was a baby killer, and kicked him, driving him off the stage. He said he had never before spoken of his shame at being so treated.

"You know," he said, "that was more traumatic to me than anything that happened to me in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969."

After the workshop, Michael said to me, "You used the word 'sanctified.' You talked about your 'sanctified disapproval.' I've never heard anybody use that word before in that way. Nobody's ever apologized to me for what happened that day. And I never knew how much it mattered to me. I've always known what I did the next day - I walked into Hines Hospital in Chicago looking for help for my sadness and depression, though I didn't stay because they were just looking for guinea pigs to medicate. For some reason I never put those two events together until right now. I didn't go for help again until October, 1997, the same month as the Moratorium. 28 years of repression. Ain't the brain amazing? When repression is perfect you can't find it."

By giving me his forgiveness in so graceful and compassionate a way, Michael helped me understand that I was much in need of it. That day was important for both of us. As Michael told me, it was a big emotional "clear" for him, helping to close a chapter of his life in which he had difficulty trusting others or committing himself to being part of a community working for social change. He needed to hear how I had learned I was wrong, how much I wanted and needed to hear his story, and how I had come to feel compassion for him and other veterans. Michael needed to experience the liberation that came from forgiving me.

A gulf of perception, personal experience, expectation, and memory separates us from each other. On one side is who I am, my relationships, my pangs of hunger and desire, my terrifying loves and magnetic fears. On the other side are those others, like Michael, unknown and alien to me, whose emotions, experiences, and deepest beliefs I can only view "as through a glass, darkly." Even as I tell myself the story of my life, it changes. The story finds new pathways, enters new dominions. I discover new metaphors to filter and explain my memories and reshape my learning. I discover new connections and synchronicities between myself and those whom I identified in the past as my opponents.

For my part, I needed help from Michael to reach across that gap. I needed Michael to tell me his story, and I needed him to hear mine without judging me. We both needed to understand deeply the fear and sadness that had motivated each of us. And then we could begin our lives anew, having reconfigured the gap, having changed each other and ourselves. We could become each other's salvation. We could become each other's brother.

Now, five years after 9/11, we confront one of the most critical moments in our nation's history. With much blood and treasure, we have paid for some powerful lessons and deep wisdom. Out of the wreckage of this war, might we come to a new understanding of the terrible human cost of war, and the legacy of trauma created by war? Are we nearing an historic "teachable moment" when we may be open to new insight into how we can live in a more sustainable and peaceful world? The world is waiting.

Go to the essay on the Voices in Wartime web site
Help on Organizing a Community Screening of the Voices film

Voices in Wartime Anthology Available!
To order the book or DVD, go to
Voices in Wartime is a 240-page book containing the most powerful and eloquent voices - poets, writers, reporters, and veterans - testifying to the trauma and devastation of war, and the need for healing. Voices in Wartime is also a feature-length documentary that delves into the experience of war through powerful images and the words of poets - unknown and world-famous. Poets around the world, from the United States and Colombia to Britain and Nigeria to Iraq and India, share their poetry and experiences of war. Soldiers, journalists, historians and experts on combat interviewed in Voices in Wartime add diverse perspectives on war's effects on soldiers, civilians and society.
See a Trailer of the Film: Go to
Learn More about the Film: Go to

Hear the Poems from the Film
Featured poems from Voices in Wartime are now available in MP3 and Windows Media audio formats on the web site. Visit the Poems in the Filmpage to download and hear the audio clips.
Go to

Sign Up get this monthly e-mail from the Voices in Wartime Education Project, a newsletter of art, essays, and ideas for healing conflict and the trauma of war, plus news about Voices in Wartime.
Go to

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Radio, Art & Music changing El Salvador

Supporters like you have been keeping us busy this fall!

In Olympia, friends organized a successful benefit concert with folksinger Greg Brown. They packed the house and raised nearly $4,000 to support the work in El Salvador!

Here in Austin, a great team of volunteers put together an art show and reception. They've helped promote the art project and create more visibility in the community for the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency! You can read more about the event here.

You should also know that Mangrove Radio, the community radio station in El Salvador, has completed 3 great years now! One of the highlights of their third year has been a weekly show with an environmental theme. You can learn more about how this educational program helps the Bajo Lempa's sensitive ecology by clicking here.

Isaac "Ike" Trevino & Jose "Chencho" Alas
Executive Director Founder & Peace Project Director

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Poet At Center Of Firestorm

Further developments on the Nikki Giovanni/Ken Blackwell story.

In an article in The Cincinatti Inquirer, poet Nikki Giovanni is quoted as follows with regard to her Saturday poetry reading in Fountain Square:

Giovanni isn't happy about the criticism or controversy. But she's not apologizing, either.

"All I have is my voice," she said. "I don't want it silenced. We were on (Fountain Square) where the Klan gathered to speak. I'm not sure as many people called to complain about what the Klan had to say as what I said."

Giovanni said Fountain Square has a long history as a place where controversial and sometimes unpopular issues are voiced.

"There's never an appropriate place," she said. "The square is a place for free speech and public dialogue."

Giovanni added, "I think Kenny is not a nice person. I think you can tell that by what I wrote."

Miss Giovanni's remarks are balanced by the following:

Keith Fangman, vice president of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, was unhappy about a line in the poem that referred to police shootings of young black men. He called the reference "inflammatory."

"What a great way to welcome the cop-hating, racist element back to Fountain Square," he said sarcastically.

Fangman said 3CDC leadership was to blame for the "PR nightmare" created by Giovanni's remarks. "Any imbecile should have known that Nikki Giovanni is an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, left-wing, political militant and should never have been invited to speak at this celebration."

If that's not an imflamitory, militantly Right-wing, not to say vicious remark, this blogger doesn't know what is.

Moreover, I find it highly inappropriate for a police officer to make such nakedly partazan remarks in a newspaper, especially when he is specifically identified as Vice President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. Frankly, a poet *is* free to express her private views in any place and in any way she sees fit. A police officer is not. If Mr. Fangman had been speaking as a private citizen, he, too, would have been free to be as partizan as he wished. However, for him to speak as he did in his capacity as an officer of the law is distasteful and shows poor judgment on his part, to say the very least.

We wholeheartedly support Miss Giovanni's courage and artistic integrity, as well as her inalienable right to free speech.

Thanks to Renee*in*Ohio at Howard Empowered People for highlighting this controversy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

No Laurels For Nikki If Ken Wins?

Yesterday, Plunderbund ran this story about poet Nikki Giovanni:

I Am Not A Son Of A Bitch Like Kenny Blackwell

It is unclear whether the entire text of Miss Giovanni's poem is included in the article, or only most of it.

A strong, evocative poem, "I Am Cincinatti" is not necessarily well served by the hypertopical refferences IMO. My hunch is that they may be removed when the poem is printed. Still, Miss Giovanni demonstrates the power of poetry and the public engagement that I feel is an integral part of being a poet. She also showed no little courage.

We applaud Nikki Giovanni for her poem and the courage to perform it.

Read more:
Nikki Giovanni's web site

New U.S. Poet Laureate

Donald Hall has been named U.S. Poet Laureate. A prolific essayest as well as poet Mr. Hall, who lives in New Hampshire, writes movingly and vividly about the natural, day to day world around him.

Asked about the future of poetry, he expressed optimism. Poetry is infinitely more popular today, he told The News Hour's Jeffrey Brown, than when he was a boy. Today, Mr. Hall pointed out, it seems that there's a poetry reading on every block.

We congratulate Mr. Hall on his achievement.

Read more:
Poet Laureate Donald Hall Reflects on Age and Nature
PBS News Hour: Poet Profile - Donald Hall
Donald Hall's poetry at the Poetry Foundation's web site

Interestingly, while the just departed Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky wrote a statement of conscience supporting Sam Hamil and the Poets Against The War movement, Mr. Hall does not appear to have any material at their site. One cannot help but wonder whether this nonappearance has anything to do with Mr. Hall's appointment. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Poetry On The News Hour

Throughout this year, The PBS News Hour is carrying an occasional series on poetry. The series profiles American poets and discusses the role of poetry in America today.

Click the title to go to the "About" page for the series, from which you can access the entire sub-site.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz In Unstable Condition

Egypt's Nobel Prize-winning writer Naguib Mahfouz is in intensive care at hospital in the capital, Cairo.

Mahfouz, in his mid-90s, has been in hospital since a fall last month. He is said to be in an "unstable" condition.

His vibrant, colourful portrayal of capital in his Cairo Trilogy won the 1988 Nobel Prize for literature.

Click the title to go to the BBC article. Our prayers are with Mr. Mahfouz and his family.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Call For Solidarity From Poets Against War

Dear Poets Against War:

Fernando Rendón, poet and workhorse for peace, directs the Medellín International Poetry Festival. We at Poets Against War support his petition whole-heartedly.

Please go to
and add your signature.

Sam Hamill & the PAW Board

Medellin, March 22nd, 2006.
Dear poets:

Greetings from Colombia.

We invite you to sign the attached letter to express as soon as possible your solidarity with this cause and then to circulate this letter electronically among your friends.

All the best,
Fernando Rendón
International Poetry Festival of Medellin

Cease hypocrisy on the issue of Human Rights
The 62nd Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights will begin next March 20 in Geneva, coinciding with the broadcasting of new footage of US military torturing Iraqi prisoners.

The United States and its EU allies have successively prevented this Commission from condemning the massive and systematic violations of human rights promoted in the name of the so called war against terrorism.

The EU governments have refused to admit the testimonies and evidences submitted by citizens of their countries, who have been victims of several forms of torture at Guantánamo navy base. They have also allowed the flight of CIA aircrafts carrying prisoners to illegal detention centers in Europe and elsewhere.

We the undersigned call upon intellectuals, artists, social activists, and men and women of goodwill everywhere to join our claims: the Commission on Human Rights or the Council that will substitute it, must demand the immediate closing of the arbitrary detention centers created by the United States as well as the ceasing of all these deliberate violations of human dignity.

Friday, March 24, 2006

In Memoriam: John Morressy

from the Blind SF listserv

Forwarded (I think) from Joyce Scrivner:
SF and fantasy writer John Morressy died Monday, March 20, 2006, of a heart attack at his home in Sullivan, New Hampshire, at the age of 75. Morressy wrote more than 20 books, from space opera to humorous fantasy, and was best known for his novels and stories (mostly in F&SF) about Kedrigern the wizard.

» The SFWA obituary includes funeral details

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

From mataliandy via listener: The Impeachment Wagon is Ready to Roll

(Oh you know you want it...)
All aboard!

Vermont's Impeachment document known as the Rutland Resolution has wheels, and we're hitching our wagon to it.

The Rutland Resolution is a resolution passed by the Rutland Vermont County Democrats on February 28 that takes advantage of a little-known US House rule for impeachment charges to be transmitted to the US House from the states. It's building a groundswell of support in Vermont, and starting to leak into other states. Rhode Island already had their own version in the works, and there are rumors of action elsewhere.

We need to keep the momentum going!

mataliandy has just posted a do-it-yourself impeachment guide on Kos and MyLeftWing, which includes the text of the Rutland Resolution, link to a pdf of the US House Rules, as well as steps to creating your own state's resolution.

Recommends are needed, but we also need swarming. The most helpful thing right now is to get rolling thunder - make it sweep across the landscape before it can be stopped. Once the word is out there, we can keep people excited by reporting on what's happening with it around the country. If we can't get it into the media, we can at least get it into our communities.

That's where you come in. If you can get folks to recommend, please do, but also, if you have a blog or know someone with a blog, please post about it - feel free to use the entire thing wholesale if you're short on time. The important thing is to get it disseminated.

While you're at it, please email the diary to any email lists you belong to. The more people who are aware of the option, the better

For more information email:

Thank you!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ads For The War On Iraq, Coming To A TV Near You

TruthOut reports today:

TV Ads Push Iraq War Support
In an early sign of the imagery that may flood the nation's television screens as congressional elections approach this fall, a conservative political group closely aligned with the Bush administration has launched a blitz of television ads to shore up sagging public support for the war in Iraq.

I don't need to read the story. The summary alone is enough to raise my blood pressure. I'll only say here that the purchase and broadcast of such adverts seems to me to be an abuse of the public airwaves and of the cable services many Americans pay for.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cardinal: Ash Wednesday, 2006

Cardinal in lilac bush 1"All artists are mystics in some way."

~ Franciscan Br. Robert Lentz,
(known for his riveting rendition of the Stations of the Cross)

Cardinal in lylac bush 2Br. Robert's work can be found at Trinity Stores.

Friday, February 24, 2006


listener writes:

Soldiers in Iraq must be having a very scary week, with the situation there deteriorating so rapidly. And the medical units must be running on exhaustion.

I am thinking these days of my friends' son Aaron who left for Iraq in November when his firstborn daughter was only two weeks old. He's younger than our youngest, so about age 21. I've been wishing we knew how he is, and wondering how to ease the strain on our friends here in Vermont.

Well, I just got word through my sister Patti, who is now an Air Force Captain, that there are some specific items that a medical unit serving injured soldiers could use. It might take a little of the strain out of this time to do something which is kind and useful, at least to add a little balance to the Universe.

If you would like to send something, here are the particulars, which come from Capt. Maureen A. McCann, Life Skills Nurse. Typical of a nurse, Maureen says, "Many of you are asking what you can send, do we need anything? Well, we don't, but our patients do."

She elaborates, saying: Many can't continue to wear the uniforms they come in with and do not have anything else. Here is a list of what we can use (many of you are connecting with your church or job, but even one set is great!).

  • Large size:
    • Sweat pants

    • long sleeve T-shirts

    • T-shirts

    • gym shorts (blue, black, gray only; they need to be conservative due to the area we are in)

    • mens underpants

    • small pillows (great for stuffing under or around the patient's injuries/casts to make them more comfortable for their long flight while they are on a litter.)

    (We get tons of socks and toiletries.)


Mailing address for packages:
Capt Maureen McCann
APO AE 09315-9997

Thursday, February 23, 2006

From The Inbox: The Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America

Last month we went to El Salvador so Ike could get better acquainted with the people and projects. In El Salvador, this included a variety of meetings with community leaders and the staff of the Coordinadora, our local partner. In Guatemala the Mesoamerican Peace Committee had its annual meeting (which drew the attention of the international press); Ike shared a pipe ceremony, a part of his Native American spirituality, with the participants from Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

One of the things visitors to El Salvador always want to see is the Rays of Light Youth Art Project. The communities are truly proud of their young people and how they are channeling their creativity into works of beauty. Balbino is one such artist, who has already received international recognition in El Salvador. You can read more about him here. To learn more about the advances of the art project last year, click here for a report and pictures. Remember that there's still time to sign up for our summer tour, July 22-29. Contact us if you'd like to participate.

Isaac "Ike" Trevino & Jose "Chencho" Alas
Executive Director Founder & Peace Project Director

PS, We will be in Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 22nd to celebrate Romero's anniversary with Rep. Jim McGovern. The event, from 7-9pm, will take place at The College of the Holy Cross's Rehm Library. For more information on this event, call (508) 831-7356 or click here.

The Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America does NOT share your email address with others.
You received this email because you either gave the FSSCA your email address, signed a mailing list at a special event, or a friend thought you would be interested in our work.
If you want to subscribe to or be removed from this list, send an e-mail to with either "subscribe" or "remove" as the subject.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quilts For Veterans

Rutland Herald
February 21, 2006

Fifty Iraq war veterans from around the state were presented with "Quilts of Valor" at a ceremony Monday night at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in White River Junction.The quilts were made by nationwide volunteers taking part in the Quilts for Soldiers organization based in Silver Springs, Md.

VA Hospital director Gary De Gasta said the quilts were in part a response to the poor attention given to veterans of the Vietnam War."I hope we've turned that around," he said.

Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was scheduled to be guest speaker for the event, but had a scheduling conflict. Samuel Haskins, a Vietnam veteran and aide to Sanders, read a statement stressing the importance of adequately funding the VA to give veterans the help they deserve.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Blue Jay
I heard the first blue jay today. Spring can't be long off now.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

On The Money

Different countries and cultures have different ideas about who it is appropriate to portray on their money. At present, the Swiss Frank is graced by portraits of figures from the arts. The previous series displayed portraits of scientists.

If the U.S. were to place American artists (native born and naturalized) on our bank notes, who do you think those artists ought to be?

Images and Blogger

Some Blogger blogs, this one among them, have user pics in comments enabled. This means that, if you have an image stored on your Blogger profile, that image will show on your comments on the Blogger comments page. User pics do *not* show next to comments on the individual pages for each thread.

Blogger does not allow you to upload images directly to your profile. Instead, you must provide a URL of up to 86 characters. The image must be in .png, .gif, or .jpeg format. If you have a graphics program such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop, you can simply "open" an image with the .jpg extension and "save as," giving the file the .jpeg extension. Then, upload it to your online storage area, free web space, or whatever, and enter the URL in the blank on the profile form. Click the orenge save button at the bottom of the form to save your changes.

As to the uploading itself, you have a choice. If your ISP provides free web space, as many do, you can upload your images to that space for storage. To use this option, you'll need an FTP program to transfer the image files to your webspace.

A simpler, less expensive alternative is the Hello software system, offered free to Blogger members. According to the info on the Hello page, this system is fully integrated with Blogger and will allow you to upload images to your Blogger blogs with minimal effort or knowledge of the particulars. This system may also allow you to create a URL accessible to the Blogger profile.

You can upload images on the fly to your post threads by means of the "add Image" function on the post creation screen. This function permits you to upload images directly from your computer.

Morning Prayer

Ocean Sunrise (stock photo)
Lord, thank You for a beautiful morning,
The hope and promise of a beautiful day.
Grant me the strength to fulfill that promise.
Help me to be kind, thoughtful and generous
And to think of others before myself.
And help me to do something good this day.

Protect those I love and all Your people,
And keep the world in peace till evening.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Well, Knock ME Over With A Feather!

Have you ever had a moment, as a writer or other sort of artist, when you received unexpected recognition or worthwhile comment on your work, and the experience just knocked you over with unimaginable joy?!

This is not a rhetorical question; please share your "bluebird of happiness" stories!

Mine happened TODAY!

An article I wrote was published in December in a magazine that comes out every two months. This morning I received word from a peer in R.I. that the new issue includes "a full page of letters to the Editor (including one from the Executive Director herself) affirming" the article! A short while later I received word from another peer in MA saying: "Did I share with you that copies of your article were given to us at the Residency? Excellent and so important to the dialogue."

Given that in the past whenever I have gone out on a limb and spoken out about something regarding the ministry I offer, I have been met with resistance and disdain, I am feeling a bit startled! So, it may take awhile to receive this news, but I will continue to savour it.

Now, I really DO want to hear your stories!
Tell us your "greatest response" and JOY story.

With Amazed and Delighted Gratitude, listener

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

In Memoriam: Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley, novelist, shark lover and advocate for ocean concervation, died Saturday. He suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal lung disease. He died at home, in Princeton.

Most recently, Mr. Benchley wrote articles for National Geographic and did radio ocean reports and educational films on ocean conservation. He believed deeply in the vital importance of the seas and of rain forests, and worked to educate the public, especially young people, about the need to care for this planet.

Mr. Benchley is survived by his wife of forty-one years, Wendy, and his three children.


Related Links
Jaws Author Peter Benchley Dies at 65
Jaws Creator Loved Sharks, Wife Reveals
Jaws Author Dead at 65 from (China)
Peter Benchley, The Author of Jaws, Dies at Sixty-five

Monday, February 13, 2006

Words of Wisdom from the Good Gray Poet

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men - go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families - re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

From the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Snowy Day

It's been snowing here in W. MA all day, the same snow JC had in KY a couple of days ago. It's quite lovely, and put me in mind of this poem, which I wrote in 1986.


The slow, steady creak of my boots sounds
loud in the silent street; until I pause
to raise my hood, and a crystal soft swish
and patter enspheres me, in whose center
I soon grow still. More now, and faster falling
around me; and I walk In a world, without,
yet within, alone, yet one with the sounds
of the waking street: Shouts of playing children,
barking of a dog, ring of an ax on wood.

For hearing has eclipsed sight in the silver-strung
morning, where distance deceives and even gravity stands
still, content to straddle the shoulders of the wind.
And the wind, with a conjurer's hand, sets the snowflakes
dancing in spinning spirals that bewilder the unwary
watcher, winding him - me - in a wandering reverie.

The houses, the trees, the passing people of the familiar
street seem strange through the shifting screen of snow,
unreachable, and yet I could dance with them all, whirling
and wheeling in the wind's hands like the softly sifting
snowflakes. I stop and draw a long breath, blinking
away visions of forbidden freedom in the singing circles
of the stars. Earthbound again, I feel my fingers, nose
and feet chill. Heedless of higher things, they crave
cocoa and curling up in a warm corner. Smiling, I turn
and quietly walk home through the crowded, snowy morning.

First published in Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal

Saturday, February 11, 2006

One Year At The DNC

Howard Dean
Howard Dean is about to complete his first year as Chair of the Democratic National Committee. How are you going to commemorate the anniversary? Some people are contributing to the DNC. Others are planning tributes, greetings and gifts. Ideas?

Kudos for Edwin: From the HEP blog

Puddle's Edwin was reviewed in today's Wall St. Journal--

The same caveat applies to the acting. Most of the performances in "The Right Kind of People" are cartoonish, albeit agreeably so (Keith Jochim and Evan ******** are especially sharp as an odious pair of arch-snobs). But Edwin C. Owens, last seen in the Irish Repertory Theatre's unforgettable revival of "Philadelphia, Here I Come!," is so believable as Frank, the upper-middle-aged businessman whose 40-year marriage is unraveling, that he seems to have wandered in from another, better show down the street.

AND there was a photo of Edwin and 2 of his co-stars. He's identified as 'Ed Owens.'
Corinne | 02.10.06 - 7:27 pm | #

Valentine's Day Haiku Contest: DEADLINE LOOMING!

I just learned that Breakup Girl is running a haiku contest to be judged by Jason Reich, "Emmy-Award-winning writer for Emmy-Award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

You'd better get going, though, the deadline is midnight tonight!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Writing Contests

The NFB Writers' Division's Poetry and Fiction contests are now open. Nonmembers, blind and sighted alike, may enter. Come to think of it, I'm not altogether sure the contests page says so, but the deadline is June 30. See the contest page for all other details.

Join The Team: Donate To Habitat

On Monday, I posted about the team associated with this community to assist Habitat with their Home Delivery project. Checking the team page, I see that the donation total stands at $25.00, the same level it was at when I published that post.

We can do better than that!

I know that $25.00 is sometimes a lot to give all at once. But, can you afford $5.00 this month? $5.00 to help people who have nothing regain some measure of security and dignity with a new home. $5.00 that will mean as much to the family you help as it means to you, maybe more.

When I check the team page on Saturday, please let me see a total higher than $25.00. Do it for The Arty Blog. Do it for Howard. Do it for our brothers and sisters who are in such desperate need.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Get Involved In The Arty Blog Community

Since I am *not* the only person with keys to the blog, it would be extremely helpful if other members would post here. Thoughts, news items, anything at all related, however vaguely, to the Arts, handycrafts, politics, Howard Dean - ideally some sort of synthesis of two or more of these, but not necessarily. Also, if anybody has time on their hands and just wants to update us on their doings, that would be great too.

I simply can't maintain this blog alone. Besides, it's supposed to be a community. Please, friends, get involved in this community, or it will wither and die.

Posting Hints
To post a main blog entry, click the orenge "Blogger" button in the uppermost left corner of any of the blog's pages. This takes you to your "dashboard," a control pannel displaying (as hyperlinks) the titles of the blogs you own/participate in. Click the green plus sign marked "Create New Post. You'll be taken to the post entry page.

Please make use of the "Title" field near the top of the post entry page. Adding a title makes identifying the post easier for everyone.

If you want to include a pic in your post, look for the "Add Image" function on the post entry page. This will allow you to upload or enter a link to an image resource already on the web. You must know the exact URL (web address) of the image to link to it.

Proofread your post for grammatical errors, omitted words, and the llike. It's probably best to compose long posts in a word processor, where you have the benefit of spellcheck and grammarcheck. You can also use the spellcheck function on the post entry page.

The length of the post is *not* important. Your participation is what's important. A community is only as strong as its members. We're Deaniacs. We're strong; we can do anything!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Arty Bloggers For The Gulf Coast

You may have seen the NBC Nightly News report (Jan. 23, 2006) on Habitat's project to build a Musicians' Village in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orliens. This seems to me an ideal project for us to pitch in and help with. Doing so is easy. Just go to this online donation form. If you do not use the Address Line 2, as for an apartment No. etc., use it for Artists For Dean.

In addition, I have created a "team" to help with Habitat's more general Home Delivery project. Having created the team, I'm the team captain. Don't worry, though; I won't be breaking out the cat o nine tails. *grin* I do, however, ask that all Arty Bloggers and friends join the team and give as generously as possible.

Additional Links
"Through building with Habitat, Bon Jovi helps ‘make volunteering hip'"
Some of the world’s leading songwriters and singers are supporting Habitat for Humanity's hurricane response efforts with their lyrical talents
Harry Connick Jr. Addresses Lawmakers, Urges them to Help Rebuild the Gulf Coast

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Purpose and Project

With her usual acumen, listener nutshells our problem and suggests some solutions.

We need a common purpose, a short-term project perhaps. What do the Poets Against the War need by way of support from kindred blogs? Or do we simply want to choose our own "project" and go for it?

One idear is to link with some of the people who visit veterans, such as Anne*from*Vermont and see if there are some vets who have written poetry about their struggles.

In addition, are there some among us who have written poetry during this difficult time? Or who have painted, or created music, or whatever OUT OF their sorrow or hope related to the war and/or the state of this country?

What if we all tried to create or uncover at least one item to share with one another by...Valentine's Day?

~ listener

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

In Memoriam: Columbia

Crossposted at Disabled Americans for Democracy

Columbia crewThe STS-107 crewmembers strike a flying pose. From the left, bottom row, wearing red shirts, are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. From the left, top row, wearing blue shirts, are astronauts David Brown, William McCool and Michae Anderson. --NASA

We remember that terrible Saturday morning, three years ago today when, rather than reporting on the safe return of Columbia, audibly shaken newscasters reported the Space Shuttle's destruction during reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

May they rest in peace.

STS 107
February 1, 2003

Seven souls released in fire,
Vehicles sublimed between air and Earth,
Their courage and love set free to fill
Our hearts and the universe.

God takes his own in his good way and time,
Not for us to fathom the emptiness behind the taking
Or the mind so vast its love looks like death.
For us is only grief and, looking up,
To reach again for the stars.

Published in Slate & Style: Magazine of the NFB Writers Division

Additional Links Special Report
BBC In Depth Coverage
NASA's Columbia Site

Monday, January 30, 2006

In Memoriam: Wendy Wasserstein

Pulitzer and Tony award winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein died Jan. 29 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan at the age of fifty-five.

The New York Times' Obituary
In Memoriam: Wendy Wasserstein

Related Links
Stage Scene

Thursday, January 19, 2006

CodePink Antiwar Petition

Crossposted at Disabled Americans for Democracy

CodePink Women for Peace has an international petition to end the war/occupation in Iraq, endorsed by leading women writers and artists. Please join me in signing it.

For More Information:
CodePink Women for Peace
"Women's Anti-War Petition Circles the Globe"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poets Against War Newsletter

Dear Friends:

It is three years since we began Poets Against War. It seems altogether appropriate to note the occasion with three comments from Walt Whitman. It was, after all, Whitman to whom I turned that cold January afternoon after reading my invitation to the White House. The real war is not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in the hearts-and-minds of people around the world. I turned to Whitman. And I knew in that instant my life had been changed forever. I could go play nice with a murderous establishment or I could live as I have tried to live all my adult life-by the revolutionary path I first glimpsed in Whitman when I was still a boy.

We have walked a long way together. We have a long way to go. While it remains essential for us to continue to be engaged with fellow groups and individuals working for nonviolent solutions, it is also good to remember that we sometimes accomplish the most by working alone, daily, with a few good words from the heart. In either case, Whitman is good company. Not only are we not alone, but our company, our majority, grows- one by one, day by day. Namaste. We have good work to do.
-Sam Hamill
Anyone interested in obtaining a DVD copy of Tim Robbins' utterly brilliant satire, Embedded Live! or Cinema Libre's Peace! may do so by contacting:

Does anyone wish to offer a few polite remarks to Henry Kissinger? Among his many accomplishments besides Viet Nam, the Nobel Peace Prize winner gets credit for overthrowing the duly elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile on September 11, 1973.

On March 10th and 11th this year the fourteen Presidential Libraries and the National Archives will host a conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on "Vietnam and the Presidency." Many of the leading U.S. "decision makers" of that war will be present , including former Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, who rarely makes such public appearances. Unfortunately, perspectives will be limited, as will access to the conference: currently no seats are available. In an effort to address these issues, across the road at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences will host a series of events offering those who have lived the consequences of these decisions to make their own testimonies and present their perspectives. In an effort to provide individulas unable to attend the same opportunity we are offering to deliver letters and emails directly to the conference, and to Mr. Kissinger. We ask these letters be addressed to Mr. Kissinger, personnally, since he will be the chief architect of the war who will be present. In a time when the same issues of Presidential power and the abuse of that power we saw in Vietnam are again in the air, we feel this conference offers a unique opportunity to deliver a message.

email may be addressed to

Please keep us advised of poetry-related events as appropriate for our calendar.

In the coming weeks we hope to find about a dozen volunteers to become contributing editors to our Poetry Matters section. We want to build a library of important links and to be notified of important events.

The Winter edition of Poets Against War Newsletter is on line and features the first installment of William O'Daly's commentary on poetry and torture along with poet-translator-doctor Fady Joudah's memoir of recent work with Doctors Without Borders.

Walt Whitman
From Specimen Days
The Real War Will Never Get in the Books
AND so good-bye to the war. I know not how it may have been, or may be, to
others-to me the main interest I found, (and still, on recollection, find,)
in the rank and file of the armies, both sides, and in those specimens amid
the hospitals, and even the dead on the field. To me the points
illustrating the latent personal character and eligibilities of these
States, in the two or three millions of American young and middle-aged men,
North and South, embodied in those armies-and especially the one-third or
one-fourth of their number, stricken by wounds or disease at some time in
the course of the contest-were of more significance even than the political
interests involved. (As so much of a race depends on how it faces death,
and how it stands personal anguish and sickness. As, in the glints of
emotions under emergencies, and the indirect traits and asides in Plutarch,
we get far profounder clues to the antique world than all its more formal

Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal
background of countless minor scenes and interiors, (not the official
surface courteousness of the Generals, not the few great battles) of the
Secession war; and it is best they should not-the real war will never get
in the books. In the mushy influences of current times, too, the fervid
atmosphere and typical events of those years are in danger of being totally
forgotten. I have at night watch'd by the side of a sick man in the
hospital, one who could not live many hours. I have seen his eyes flash and
burn as he raised himself and recurr'd to the cruelties on his surrender'd
brother, and mutilations of the corpse afterward. (See, in the preceding
pages, the incident at Upperville-the seventeen kill'd as in the
description, were left there on the ground. After they dropt dead, no one
touch'd them-all were made sure of, however. The carcasses were left for
the citizens to bury or not, as they chose.)

Such was the war. It was not a quadrille in a ball-room. Its interior
history will not only never be written-its practicality, minutiæ of deeds
and passions, will never be even suggested. The actual soldier of 1862-'65,
North and South, with all his ways, his incredible dauntlessness, habits,
practices, tastes, language, his fierce friendship, his appetite, rankness,
his superb strength and animality, lawless gait, and a hundred unnamed
lights and shades of camp, I say, will never be written-perhaps must not
and should not be.

The preceding notes may furnish a few stray glimpses into that life, and
into those lurid interiors, never to be fully convey'd to the future. The
hospital part of the drama from '61 to '65, deserves indeed to be recorded.
Of that many-threaded drama, with its sudden and strange surprises, its
confounding of prophecies, its moments of despair, the dread of foreign
interference, the interminable campaigns, the bloody battles, the mighty
and cumbrous and green armies, the drafts and bounties-the immense money
expenditure, like a heavy-pouring constant rain-with, over the whole land,
the last three years of the struggle, an unending, universal mourning-wail
of women, parents, orphans-the marrow of the tragedy concentrated in those
Army Hospitals-(it seem'd sometimes as if the whole interest of the land,
North and South, was one vast central hospital, and all the rest of the
affair but flanges)-those forming the untold and unwritten history of the
war-infinitely greater (like life's) than the few scraps and distortions
that are ever told or written. Think how much, and of importance, will be-
how much, civic and military, has already been-buried in the grave, in
eternal darkness.
Nature and Democracy-Morality
DEMOCRACY most of all affiliates with the open air, is sunny and hardy and
sane only with Nature-just as much as Art is. Something is required to
temper both-to check them, restrain them from excess, morbidity. I have
wanted, before departure, to bear special testimony to a very old lesson
and requisite. American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in
factories, work-shops, stores, offices-through the dense streets and houses
of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life-must either be fibred,
vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths,
farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or
it will certainly dwindle and pale. We cannot have grand races of
mechanics, work people, and commonalty, (the only specific purpose of
America,) on any less terms. I conceive of no flourishing and heroic
elements of Democracy in the United States, or of Democracy maintaining
itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part - to be its
health-element and beauty-element - to really underlie the whole politics,
sanity, religion and art of the New World.

Finally, the morality: "Virtue," said Marcus Aurelius, "what is it,
only a living and enthusiastic sympathy with Nature?" Perhaps indeed the efforts
of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been,
and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same - to bring
people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions, to the
costless average, divine, original concrete.

* *
From the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass
Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to
everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income
and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience
and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or
unknown, or to any man or number of men-go freely with powerful uneducated
persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families-re-examine
all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss
whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem,
and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent
lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in
every motion and joint of your body.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Poetry Matters

I was just looking at the Poetry Matters section at the Poets Against War site.

Yeah, the written word is only one facet of who we are. Still, I think it would be cool - and possibly very useful - to get ourselves sufficiently organized to get linked to from their page. I don't quite know what that would entail. OK, I don't have the faintest idear what it would entail. But, I think we need to begin seriously thinking of ourselves as an organization, a progressive, activist organization with one goal (TBA) striven towards through several means: the written word, music, photography/painting/graphic arts, handycrafts, etc. I'm not a great fan of structure, but I think we need to start seriously considering the structure of this org., its purpose and means.

Any idears?