Thursday, November 30, 2006

Don't Think Of An Elephant

A few months before the election I began reading George Lakoff. He does an amazing job of clarifying the conservative world view and how it underlies their arguments and positions. I remember feeling physically ill reading about this toxic ideology. But I think it's very helpful to see where these folks are coming from and, as Lakoff would say, how to reframe the issues to highlight our own values.

Excerpts from George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant

On the conservative world view:

The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore, they have to be made good.

What is needed in this kind of a world is a strong, strict father who can:

Protect the family in the dangerous wourld

Support the family in the difficult world, and

Teach his children right from wrong.

What is required of the child is obedience, because the strict father is a moral authority who knows right from wrong. It is further assumed that the only way to teach kids obedience—that is, right from wrong—is through punishment, painful punishment, when they do wrong. This includes hitting them, and some authors on conservative child rearing recommend sticks, belts and wooden paddles on the bare bottom. Some authors suggest this start at birth, but Dobson is more liberal. “There is no excuse for spanking babies younger than fifteen or eighteen months of age”.

The rationale behind physical punishment is this: When children do something wrong, if they are physically disciplined they learn not to do it again. That means that they will develop internal discipline to keep themselves from doing wrong, so that in the future they will be obedient and act morally. Without such punishment, the world will go to hell. There will be no morality.

Such internal discipline has a secondary effect. It is what is required for success in the difficult, competitive world. That is, if people are disciplined and pursue their self-interest in this land of opportunity, they will become prosperous and self-reliant. Thus, the strict father model links morality with prosperity. The same discipline you need to be moral is what allows you to prosper.

Applying this metaphor to Adam Smith’s “law of nature,” if everyone pursues her own self-interest, then by the invisible hand, by nature, the self-interest of all will be maximized. That is, it is moral to pursue your self-interest, and there is a name for those people who do not do it. The name is do-gooder. A do-gooder is someone who is trying to help someone else rather than herself and is getting in the way of those who are pursuing their self-interest. Do-gooders screw up the system.

In this model there is also a definition of what it means to become a good person. A good person—a moral person—is someone who is disciplined enough to be obedient, to learn what is right, do what is right and not do what is wrong, and to pursue her self-interest to prosper and become self-reliant. A good child grows up to be like that. A bad child is one who does not learn discipline, does not function morally, does not do what is right, and therefore s not disciplined enough to become prosperous. She cannot take care of herself and thus becomes dependent.

When the good children are mature, they either have learned discipline and can prosper, or have failed to learn it. From this point on the strict father is not to meddle in their lives. This translates politically into no government meddling.

Consider what all this means for social programs. It is immoral to give people things they have not earned, because then they will not develop discipline and will become both dependent and immoral. This theory says that social programs are immoral because they make people dependent. Promoting social programs is immoral.

And what does this say about budgets? What you have to do is reward the good people—the ones whose prosperity reveals their discipline and hence their capacity for morality—with a tax cut, and make it big enough so that there is not enough money left for social programs. By this logic, the deficit is a good thing. As Grover Norquist says, it “starves the beast”.

Think for a minute about what this says about foreign policy. Suppose you are a moral authority. As a moral authority, how do you deal with your children? Do you ask them what they should do or what you should do? No. You tell them. If you are a moral authority you know what is right, you have power, and you use it. You would be immoral yourself if you abandoned your moral authority.

And who is in the United Nations? Most of the United Nations consists of developing and underdeveloped countries. That means they are metaphorical children. Should the United States have consulted the United Nations and gotten its permission to invade Iraq? An adult does not “ask for a permission slip”! You do not need to ask for a permission slip if you are the teacher, if you are the principal, if you are the person in power, the moral authority. The others should be asking you for permission.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tonight I tricked the girls into learning some geography. They thought they were playing a fun game. Ha Ha Ha! I stumbled across this great website which includes games for the US states, and countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America (as well as capitals and monuments and really hard stuff). Anyhow, here it is.

Back to Thanksgiving

I had thought I'd posted this video already and it's a bit late now, but oh well...
This really shows some of what I'm grateful for, personally. Probably not too interesting unless you're family (or enjoy guitar music and noisy kids).

Russian Parkour

I found this video stumbling around the web. You can read all about parkour on Virtual Magic. Or you can just watch the video--which, I should warn you, gets a little sketchy right after it starts. It sort of keeps breaking up for a bit. And it's about 8 minutes long. But I loved it, so here it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

New Wings

new wings
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Eden has been trying out her new wings. Still a little wobbly.

Wolf House

Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Aja came over today and we drove out to Jack London State Park and hiked to the Wolf House ruins.

New Glasses!

New Glasses!
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Funny. This looks a little blurry.

Over the river and through the woods...

Over the river and through the woods...
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Actually, we only live 5 blocks away, which is one of the things I was thankful for. It used to be 500 miles!
We had a lovely day and you can see the photos here and over on Flickr.

Joyce--bearer of cranberries

Joyce--bearer of cranberries
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Gwen and Denver

Gwen and Denver
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Krista's brother's partner's mom and brother. Denver played us an awesome song on the guitar after dinner. They were very good company!

My Plate

My Plate
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

No turkey for me, thanks. Baked tofu and two kinds of vegetarian stuffing. Homemade winter squash ravioli (India helped make) with parmesian cheese, yams cooked with maple syrup and pecans, green beans with crimini mushrooms, too much gravy and green salad with killer garlicy green goddess dressing.

Walking it off.

Walking it off.
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Ugh. I over ate. And since I've been eating mostly raw food for a few weeks it really felt heavy! Fortunately it was one ot those exquisite California autumn days and we had a nice walk (before eating pie).

Great Grandma Sylvia

Great Grandma Sylvia
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Krista's mom's mom, Sylvia, was supposed to join us for dinner, but wasn't feeling up to it. So after dinner we trundled up to her 'managed care facility' and had a nice visit.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lots of little news...

On Saturday our friend Jay stayed over. He was up from Santa Cruz, taking a weekend training with the Red Cross and we were very happy to put him up and feed him mushroom barley soup with kale salad.
In return he told us wild stories of traveling to Great Briton and visiting many sacred sites and standing stones, etc. All the way up to the Outer Hebrides north of Scotland. Brrrrrrrr.
While he was telling us stories, Krista was keeping Eden happy by doodling little figures on scraps of scratch paper. Eden would color them in and show them to Jay (whose appreciation was apparently like divine nectar to Eden). India colored the top middle one and Eden drew a couple figures as well as coloring them.
Anyhow, I thought them charming enough to keep. Drawings on scratch paper have a very short life span around our house, so I scanned 'em. Here's an assortment I worked on while Aja was over visiting.
The other big news is I finally got my glasses! I got to test them out tonight, driving Aja home to Sebastopol. My god, what a revelation. Everything crystal clear. Much less stressful at night. Woo hoo.
But it's weird taking them off. Ugh. I have to figure out when and where to wear them. They are distance glasses. It's all new to me.
I'll have to post a photo of myself wearing them. At first Krista wanted me to get 'dork' frames. You know, thick black plastic ones. She imagined I'd look cute. Didn't pan out.
So I've got "Norman Rockwell" wire frames. I still don't look cute, but at least I don't look dorky and uncute at the same time.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Leopards Etc.

Last night we took the girls to see a presentation on big cats by Leopards Etc. We got to see a Lynx, Ocelot, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard and a King Cheetah! Even from our seats near the very back of the room it was an incredible experience.
The animals are so intensely powerful! And WILD!
The point of the show was, of course, to raise awareness of urgent conservation issues. All of these cats are endangered and with expanding human populations they need help. The focus is on preserving wild lands and education to promote co-existence.
We learned a great deal about the cats. I was fascinated!
A few tidbits are floating around in my head--a mountain lion can leap 18 feet in the air! And can leap up to 40 feet across a chasm. They said that in the past 100 years there have only been 19 reported human deaths from mountain lions in all of Canada, America and Mexico! We probably taste awful.
It was weird sitting in a room full of chattering primates come to see the felines. And mostly college students, who seem to be getting younger all the time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another Hike

Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

I took the girls to Crane Creek Park for a sunny hike. I fully expected all the creeks to be full after so much rain, but only the main one had water and not very much water at that.
I guess the ground was thirsty.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Up a little late.

Yesterday was am amazing day. I went to the Green Festival in San Francisco with my good friends Meredith and Steve. We drove in their bio-diesel VW bug (so that was pretty green).
They had the good sense to get us there early, as it became incredibly packed by afternoon. It was a very happy crowd, what with the recent elections and all. But it was a very big happy crowd. It became difficult to get around, as the aisles were so crowded. All the lines for food and the bathrooms were super long. It was extremely noisy too. But very green! It was still an uplifting experience.

That morning I had gotten up early and did some EFT and gratitude work. I'm hoping to 'get in the habit' of feeling grateful by deliberately focusing on it every day. And yesterday it really worked! I wandered into an absolutely ecstatic state. I was practically laughing out loud and whooping for joy after a while. Everyone else was still asleep so I whooped very quietly.
This is not my usual state of mind and it kept me buzzing all day.

Alas, I did not replicate the experience this morning. My nervous system got seriously french fried at the festival and on the chaotic drive back through the saturday night streets of San Francisco. So I slept in, got up late with the rest of my family and danced around everyone else's needs and lost my momentum. That's okay. This is a long term project.

I feel that I've already cleared out a huge space in my psyche, by doing the EFT work on old memories and emotions. Old junk from school, issues with my folks. Old guilt or shame over things I'd done years ago. I'll be setting to work on one issue and a quiet little memory will sort of pop up in the corner, patiently waiting in queue.

It isn't especially traumatic working on these things. It isn't a question of re-living the feelings, thank god. It's more a matter of just remembering them and grasping the significance of the long buried emotions.

All of this work has left me with a curiously empty feeling. Not empty in the negative sense of being meaningless or hollow or destitute. It's just that any sense of being driven, by subtle anxieties or other unexamined inner pressures has mostly faded away, leaving me standing, blinking, and wondering what I want to be doing.

I get to decide!

The process of sitting down and deciding what I want to do and who I want to be is weird. It's not the sort of thing most of us do very often. I have done it several times over the past twenty years, usually after reading some inspiring new age self help book. And some of what I sought to put in place actually manifested.

But with this new feeling of "emptiness", this increasing freedom from old emotions, and the return of all the energy it was taking to contain them, it's really really different. It has new significance.
I still have plenty of limiting, self-sabotaging thoughts to clear out, but the affirmations I'm starting to plant have a pretty good chance of sprouting in this newly composted psychic soil. I have very little doubt they will bear fruit. And when I find those little doubts, I'm tapping them away.



Sand and Petals
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

I just dug up some old photos from our trip to Moorea last year and posted them (with comments) on Flickr.
This was the last stop on our three month journey. We basically got a free stopover on Tahiti and decided to make a holiday of it. I had this idea that we'd just rest, bask in the hot tropical sand and plosh about in the water, and arrive home rested and tan after fleeing the onset of New Zealand's winter.
We knew it would be really expensive. Each night's lodging was way more than two weeks in Thailand. And we weren't going out to any resturants! We'd read that one hamburger and coke would cost about $45.00!
But how often do you get to go to French Polynesia?
So we went for it and had a lovely time. We stayed at three (very) different places and each had it's own charms.
We were a little disappointed by the coolness of the water--it was winter after all. And the coral wasn't looking too good. That was a bit sad.
But we saw lots of cool fish, got to see yet another culture (or two). Of course I've already written about it on this here blog. June 2005 I think.
But check out our photos if you like. (This one taken by Krista).
Just in time for our own chilly weather here.

Pineapple God

Pineapple God and Rob
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Our first day on Moorea. We bicycled over to the "Chinese store" (for some reason all the food stores on the island were called that. We discovered they have fresh bagettes delivered two or three times a day! And NZ butter! Yum! And French cheese and wine. And NZ apples too, which happened to be in season. And that's about all we ate for the next 8 days.

Dreamy Waters

Dreamy Waters
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The water really was this color. It really seemed to be glowing too. I'd never seen the like.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Whistleblower

Okay, so the Electoral Turning Point affirmations went pretty well. Yahoooo!
So here's my next law of attraction project. See if you want to join in:

A whistleblower has come forward. There's a national televised press conference.
He tells America and the world that the 2004 presidential election was stolen and that Kerry won. He admits that he was a major player and submits hard undeniable proof.

Bush and Cheney flee to Paraguay. In fact many members of his administration seem to disappear. Further evidence is found in Cheney's secret bunker, along with millions in cash.

Kerry and Edwards are sworn in by Christmas to serve the remainder of their term.

All of the bills Bush signed into law in his second term are annulled and sent back to congress for review.

All of his second term appointments are dismissed, pending re-confirmation. This includes all judicial appointments, including the supreme court.

The 'bunker records' lead to the recovery of billions of dollars from Halliburton and other corrupt corporations. Their assets are frozen and their corporate charters revoked. A new mania for corporate reform is begun.

With the Dems solidly in control, the first thing they do is scrap electronic voting altogether. We adopt the Canadian system of pencil and paper and volunteer hand counters.

All elections are now 100% publicly financed with free media time and strict new laws regulating honesty in campaigns. Bribery of candidates/officials becomes a very serious and vigorously prosecuted crime. Public officials are now prohibited from becoming lobbyists.

With these major reforms, politicians become free to honestly address the major issues of Universal Health Care, Energy Independence and Global Warming, and repairing America's status with the rest of the world.

Okay, so amp up your 'good lucky feeling' and get affirming today!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Secret and EFT

A friend of mine challenged my recent posting of "The Secret to Riches ~ Visualization Tool" google video. He said he wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a joke, or maybe a parody of new age materialism.
Fair enough. After watching it again it does seem a bit silly. Especially out of context of the original program.

What I had meant to post was a link to the full hour and a half film "The Secret" (but I had trouble finding it again). At any rate, if you'd like to see it Click Here.

The film is about the law of attraction. Some of the folks who were in What The Bleep Do We Know are featured. I think it's worth watching and wrestling with any resistances you might have.

Personally, I think the time is getting late for conventional political and 'scientific' solutions to save our collective ass. I think this film (cheesy though it might be in parts) represents an evolution in human consciousness. An empowering. I'm now inclined to believe just as much in the law of attraction as in that other crazy law of gravitation.

My big project right now is to combine intentional use of this law of attraction with erasing my negative unconscious and conflicting emotional programming, using a technique called EFT - emotional freedom technique. Erase and replace is my mantra these days.

The basic idea is that it doesn't work well to stand in our house and recite affirmations when all around us the walls are scrawled with ugly grafitti such as: you're a failure life is hard you have to work hard for everything you aren't special failure! things never work out for you you never finish anything you don't deserve it if you're rich you'll lose all your friends
EFT is about scrubbing those walls clean. It turns out to be pretty easy! And you don't even have to relive all the old trauma. I love it.

I'll post more on EFT soon. Or you can click here for the web site.


Electoral Turning Point - My Affirmations

Here is what I’ve been affirming lately:

The upcoming elections are going to be an amazing turning point for all of us.

All across America people are waking up to the need for dramatic change in government.

So many people are speaking out, the poll numbers are so bad for the Republicans, that there is no way to steal most elections. The people in charge of stealing them freak out and walk away. The few attempts to manipulate vote counts are exposed and backfire.

Every smear campaign backfires. Every attempt to lie and mislead the public backfires.

The Democrats sweep every election. They take back both houses, the governorships, state assemblies and mayoral races.

Their victory is unprecedented. Their mandate is clear and absolute. Progressives within the party are emboldened and empowered and set forth new policies for peace, disarmament, de-funding the military budget, setting up universal health care and the Apollo project for energy independence.

Alternative renewable energy flourishes. Biofuels and super efficient plug in diesel hybrids are mass-produced. Mass transit is revitalized. Suburban sprawl is curtailed and urban infill development takes over. Agriculture is restored to small-scale organic family farms. These movements revitalize the American economy and tax revenues soar.

CO2 emissions are reversed. Massive tree plantings here and abroad are undertaken.

Much of the former military budget is given over to a new “war” on global warming.

The Democrats become the new “right wing” and the Greens become the “left”. Both parties agree on corporate reform and anti-trust measures.

As universal health care is established new medical and dental schools are established in every major city to increase the supply of health care professionals. Pharmaceutical manufacturing is nationalized. This investment pays for itself immediately and along with full employment from the Apollo project, sets the stage for a new broad prosperity.

New regulations, including a ban on foreign ownership, reform corporate media control.

Elections become 100% publicly financed. It becomes a serious crime to bribe a public official.

Drugs are decriminalized. Marijuana is legalized. Crime rates plummet and jails are emptied of non-violent drug “offenders”.

A basic level of living becomes guaranteed for Americans and our foreign policy becomes actively centered on exporting that standard of living everywhere. New trade pacts are negotiated which feature fairness and environmental concerns. The flow of illegal immigrants dwindles drastically.

People begin to love America again as we help set a new stage for a beautiful future.