Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Yes He Can
By Zachary Ochieng (The Big Issue, Scotland)
When Barack Obama was declared leader of the free world, the streets of Kenya were filled with a new spirit of optimism. Zachary Ochieng from The Big Issue in Kenya traveled to Obama's ancestral village to witness the celebration.
While America threw a ticker-tape parade for freshly minted president-elect Barack Obama, in Kenya we showed our love in a different way.
As the streets erupt in singing, dancing and wild ululations of joy, a bull is slaughtered in Nyango'ma Kogelo village and a feast is declared in honor of the man decreed leader of the free world -- whose economist father was born right here.
Katrina Victims Face Homelessness (Again) While Feds Stand By Idly
By Jeremy Weir Alderson
In a matter of weeks, thousands of people who survived Hurricane Katrina and, in some cases, the formaldehyde-contaminated FEMA trailers, will be evicted from their housing and made homeless again. These are primarily elderly and disabled people as well as single parent families with young children. This isn't being perpetrated by cruel landlords but by government on all levels.
Not Promising the Earth, Ethical Banks Win Custom
By Ingrid Melander & Lorraine Tturner (Reuters)
As the financial crisis hit a climax in Belgium with the split-up of its largest bank Fortis in October, new clients were rushing to a small, "ecologically correct" bank. Triodos - investing not in derivatives but in tangible products such as wind turbines, which the general public can understand and even applaud - was not the only alternative institution to benefit Europe.
Voices from the Streets: A Loving Touch
By Edward J. Portella, Sr.
On a fall Tuesday morning I stood inside Wendy's on Massachusetts Avenue, waiting to get a cup of coffee. As I sat and sipped the warm, caffeinated liquid, I watched Central Square, the morning hustle and bustle, the usual hectic pace. People of various ethnic backgrounds and walks of life rushed around endlessly with expectations of completing their individual, daily plans, toward an accomplished end by the evening, only to join the traveling madness again on their trip home.
Swan Song for Sammy
By Alexia V. Hauk
"And the world tastes good cause the candyman thinks it should."
Some say the phantasmal wisps of subway steam on Tremont are ghosts. It's easy to believe if you wander onto the red line platform of the Park Street Station, where the supernatural presence of Sammy Davis Jr. still plays to a packed house.
When I met Eric McIntyre, "The Showman," he was bellowing Davis's hit cover of "Candyman" from the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Commuters like me waited for their train, arms folded, cautiously forming a circle around the 66-year-old artist. With his slight frame, sturdy jaw line and unmistakable 'stache, McIntyre is a dead ring-a-ding-dinger for the Rat Pack alumnus, a fact he found irritating until it became a way of life.
Greece a "Prison" for Migrants Amid EU Policy Mess
By Daniel Flynn (Reuters)
The West's war against the Taliban drove Khalid Mohamed from his home. But his search for asylum in Europe has left him trapped in a shantytown in Greece, ignored by the government and abused by police.
Greece's western port of Patras has become a frontier for Europe's unwanted migrants. Hundreds of Afghans live crammed into dirty shacks in a slum overlooked by plush apartment blocks, hoping to stow away aboard a ferry bound for Italy, where asylum conditions are easier.
For Mohamed, who fled central Afghanistan last year after losing friends and family in the war, it is a prison camp. He is caught in a limbo without papers or rights: forbidden to stay in Greece but prevented from leaving.
Movie Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By Jenny Halper
Ignore the British accents. And the improbable ignorance of a Nazi commandant's wife. And the fact that two eight-year-old boys -- one Jewish, one German -- would and could never meet when the camp that separated them was Auschwitz. Although The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, adapted b Mark Herman (Little Voice) from John Boyne's novel of the same name, tells the credulity-straining story of a friendship between Bruno (Asa Butterfield), the always-dreaming son of a ranking Nazi officer, and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a little boy imprisoned in a concentration camp run by Bruno's father, the emotions are honest, the message is important, and the film is made with tact and imagination.
Voices from the Streets: Elysian Fields (excerpts from a formerly homeless woman's novel)
By Julie Scanga
I was close to my friends -- if I was thirsty or hungry they would help me. If I needed cigarettes, they would help me. They shared the newspapers, a joke once in a while, and when my friend got beat up, I took it upon myself to stick up for her -- once her enemy and I pulled apart, she apologized to my friend for giving her a bloody eye. Susan, the woman I fought, agreed to be friends. We were over with fighting.
There were many things I learned in my spring and summer at the Boston Common. Eventually I called the Boston Common "Elysian Fields" because it was a spiritual and magical place to spend so much time. So much went on among us who had survived the chaos that hits each of us who find dreams of one type or another upon leaving the streets.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. "
-Barack Obama in his presidential acceptance speech
Historic Vote, Historic Turnout: Local Voters Tolerate Longs Lines on Election Day
Alexis Hauk with contributing reporting by Emily Johnson
The morning of Nov. 4 was off to a busy start across the country, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting on its Web site that lines were sprouting up hours before the polls opened at 7 a.m. In Boston, one M.I.T. graduate student who voted in the South End said he missed a class because of the long wait, over an hour. Although Boston is generally considered a Democrat stronghold, the massive turnout may have had to do with three referendums on the ballot this year.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design student Franchelly Acosta, 18, was exercising his right to vote for the first time, in favor of Senator Barack Obama.
"We want change in this world and have to do something about it," he said. "We always argue that we want something new, but people don't do much about it."
CHAF Brings Stability, Aid to Homeless and At-risk Population
In its tenth anniversary year, the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund (CHAF) is taking a new approach to its annual fundraiser: celebrity chefs and reggae.
CHAF’s fundraiser, Home Sweet Home, will be held on Nov. 14 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. A $50 ticket buys guests a night of dancing to live music by Toussaint and the China Band and dessert samples from local restaurants and celebrity chefs, who will compete for best dessert. For $75, guests can also enjoy appetizers and a dessert and port wine tasting. The event will feature chefs Judy Rosenberg of Rosie’s Bakery and Jed Hackney of Harvest Restaurant, and Billy Costa of NECN’s “TV Diner,” who will be auctioning off a guest critic spot on his TV show.
All event proceeds will benefit CHAF’s work of providing homeless and near homeless people with the startup costs of rental housing. Their fundraising goal for 2008 is $200,000, which will help about 225 families and individuals secure housing.
In these hard economic times, organizations like CHAF will become even more necessary. The slowing economy “affects people who are vulnerable a lot more than the rest of us,” Pap said. “In this economy, there will be more and more homeless people. We will have to call on our neighbors for help.”
CHAF hopes there will be more success stories like George Caponigro’s, a CHAF recipient who compares himself to a phoenix, the mythical bird that burned to death but rose alive again from its ashes.
Caponigro became homeless after struggling with bipolar disorder and losing his business. He lived on the Boston Common for three years before getting connected with CHAF, who helped him obtain stable housing. Today, Caponigro lives in Quincy, is reunited with his family, and has been a homeless advocate for 15 years.
“I’m a very fortunate man. I feel I have a responsibility to give back,” Caponigro said. “I try to make a difference for every homeless person behind me – reaching out, pulling the next person out of the fire.”
CHAF fundraiser tickets are available at www.CHAFund.org
Voices from the Street: Why Lesbians and Gays Should Be Banned from the Military
I'm a radical. I'm pro lesbian and gay and therefore, I support a ban on gays in the military. Equal access for all? No: No access for anyone. Discriminate against everyone. Ban everyone from serving in the military. Shut the military down. No one should be allowed to fight and kill.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
My work with the Arlington Farmers Market began in the spring of 2007 when I sent a proposal to market manager Oakes Plimpton to provide nutrition services. I proposed to facilitate a community service-oriented food table that would circulate recipe flyers and a health newsletter and answer consumers’ food questions. I highlighted my background in dietetics at MGH and the Nutrition Education Outreach Project and my internship in nutrition at the Boston Food Bank. Oakes Plimpton read my proposal and in May of 2007 invited me to join the Arlington Farmers Market.
From June through October, I distributed recipes and conducted fresh fruit and tomato taste tests. These taste tests were conducted to educate people on the varieties of fruits and tomatoes available at the market. Three farmers were cooperative and contributed fruit and tomato samples for our demonstrations. Great Oaks Organic Farms gave us tomatoes. Kimball Fruit Farms provided peaches and heirloom tomatoes. Nicewizs Family Farms contributed a variety of fresh fruit. I noticed immediately that the fresh fruit and tomatoes looked fresh and were exceptionally sweet and colorful. In particular, the apples and peaches were far superior to anything that I had tasted at Star/Shaws supermarkets or even Whole Foods.
Great Oaks Organic Farms, founded by Steen Bentzen, is one of a select group of Massachusetts-based farms that is certified as organic. GOOF was certified as an organic grower by a joint program operated by the New England Organic Farm Organization (NOFA) and the Bay State Organic Certifiers. GOOF records are inspected yearly by the USDA to ensure that they are following federal regulations for organic farming.
GOOF does not use any insecticides other than a garlic-based spray. Bentzen elaborated that his insect problems are not severe because of the fertility of the soil. He went on to say that the soil has been built up from an initial 1.5 percent organic when he took over the farm to 10 percent organic today. GOOF grows a variety of salad and cooking greens like lettuce, kale and Brussels sprouts. In addition they grow tomatoes, including plum and beef-stake tomatoes. GOOF is located in Berlin off of Route 68, not far from Route 495.
Kimball Fruit Farms was founded by Allen and Forster Kimball in the early 1930s when they purchased a fire damaged dairy farm. They quickly planted apple and peach orchards. In the late 1930s, Allen's brother-in-law Harold Hill joined the farm staff. The farm struggled through the Great Depression and World War 2 with its changes in eating habits. Forster and Allen became the farm owners and Harold the harvester. In 1967 Allen died and Forster sold the farm to investors. Harold and his son Carl leased the farmland until 1999 when Carl purchased the property. The farm has continued and has expanded its core business today. They go to a total of 11 farmers markets, have an on-site farm stand, sell to the Chelsea Produce Market and have a successful restaurant distribution business. KFF is located in Pepperell.
Nicewicz Family Farms was founded by Julian and Catherine Nicewicz, who emigrated from Poland and settled in Clinton, Massachusetts. They purchased a farm in Bolton in 1929 and grew apples, peaches and pears. They also harvested blueberries and cranberries on a bog on the property. Their son Walter married Vera Veria from Hudson. They lived on the farm and raised four sons – David, Allen, Tom and Ken, and one daughter, Joann. The four brothers run the farm full-time, and Vera runs the farm stand. The farm business has expanded and they now sell at 11 farmers markets and have a ‘pick your own fruit’ program on the farm. In 1994 they received an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) wavier from the state protecting the farmland from future development.
Kimball Fruit Farm contains 4,000 apple trees that yield 12 to 16,000 bushels yearly. KFF grows over two-dozen different types of apples. The summer apples ripen in August and are not as sweet. This is particularly true of the Lodi, a green variety. The other summer apples include Puritan, Jersey Macs, Paula Red and the Red and Golden Delicious. The late fall or winter apples include Red Gala, Fuji, Cortland, Macintosh, Red and Golden Delicious and Empire. KFF is located in Pepperell near the New Hampshire border. KFF sells at 11 farmers markets like Arlington and Davis Square (Wednesday) and Central Square (Monday). Carl’s wife Marie sells at the Davis Square and Central Square farmers markets, and Carl’s sister Wendy sells at Arlington on Wednesday.
Nicewizs Family Farms grows 17 varieties of apples that yield over 10,000 bushels yearly. They grow summer apples like Paula Red, Vista Bell and Honey Crisp. They also grow fall and winter apples like Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, Cortland and Macintosh. NFF is located out in Bolton off of Route 117. NFF sells at 10 farmers markets including Arlington and Davis Square (Wednesday) and Central Square (Monday). Allen sells at Arlington on Wednesday and his brothers sell at Davis and Central Square.
As December rolls around and cold temperatures set in, the peach and apples trees are pruned. They are cut back usually by 1/3 to stimulate new growth. Pruning in particular stimulates the main stem of the tree, the central leader. Pruning is used to channel the energy into better-formed apples. Pruning eliminates many small apples, which would contribute to mold and blight.
GOOF, KFF and NFF sell weekly during the farmers market season at three local farmers markets. They sell in Arlington, Davis Square, Somerville and Central Square. They sell at these farmers markets from June through November. The only exception is Arlington, which closes the last week of October.
The Arlington farmers market is located in the Russell Commons Parking lot and was founded in 1997. Pat Jones collected 300 signatures of contacts from her restaurant career and submitted them to the local board of selectmen. She contacted Oakes Plimpton from Waltham Fields Community Farm and a town resident to help manage the market. They applied for a zoning variance and opened on July 16, 1997. Over the past 11 years Arlington has grown to include 25 vendors incorporating farm grown produce, cheese, herbal teas, bread and pastry, Chinese vegetables, fresh herbs, flowers, meat and fish. Arlington is open from June through the last week of October.
The Central Square Farmers Market opened in 1978. This market is located in Central Square, Cambridge one block north of Massachusetts Avenue in the municipal parking lot adjacent to the Harvest Coop Markets. It is a moderate-sized farmers market with 12 vendors incorporating farm grown produce, cheese, herbal teas, bread and pastry, Chinese vegetables, fresh herbs, flowers, meat and fish. CSFM is managed by the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets. It is open from June through the last week of November on Wednesdays.
The Davis Square farmers market started up in 1979. It is located at Day and Herbert Streets one block east of Holland Street and the local Starbucks. It is a moderate-sized farmers market with 12 vendors selling farm grown produce, cheese, herbal teas, bread and pastry, Chinese vegetables, fresh herbs, flowers, meat and fish. DSFM is managed by the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets. It is open from June through the last week of November on Mondays.
I recommend that consumers stop by Arlington and purchase organic vegetables from GOOF. Steen sells very high quality kale and lettuce. I recommend the peaches that KFF sells. These yellow peaches are sweet and have an exceptionally firm texture. I also recommend the apples that NFF sells. These apples are sweet, tangy and firm. In the summer 2007 edition of Edible Boston, author Francis Moore Lappe recommended that we buy locally grown produce, even if it is not organic, over California organic foods to help reduce fossil fuel production. She elaborated that saving fuel will help fight pollution and global warming. Buying organic or low spray foods at the farmers market helps farmers financially and creates a consumer-oriented market place. Buying at the farmers market helps Massachusetts’s agriculture industry expand.
New England fruit growers have adapted Integral Pest Management to control pests while reducing pesticides, improving worker and food safety and protecting the environment. IPM calls for monitoring pests out in the fields during the growing season by an entomologist who will work to developing a pest control plan. KFF and NFF use IPM to grow apples and peaches in the multi-seasonal New England environment. If pest levels are low farmers, will not have to use pesticides.
The decision for some consumers is whether to buy organic or low spray foods. Francis Moore Lappe wrote, “I would buy IPM local over West coast organics because they place greater demand over pesticide reduction." I have bought West coast organic fruit over the past year at Whole Foods and the Harvest Coop Markets and have been very disappointed with the sweetness and texture of fruit. Whole Foods and Harvest Coop Markets in fact have organic fruit and locally grown fruits.
I have found the apples sold by NFF to be fresh, sweet and tangy to the taste buds. Most importantly, these apples are locally grown. The peaches sold by KFF are comparable to the organic peaches sold by Whole Foods in sweetness and taste. KFF and NFF are generous with the food left at the end of the day. They donate their excess food to the Boston Area Gleaners and to the Arlington Human Services Agency Menotomy Public Housing Project's market. At the Central and Davis Square farmers markets they donate excess food to the Cambridge-based hunger relief organization Food For Free.
Robert Sondak is a Spare Change vendor who likes to write about nutrition and food issues.
As twilight crept through the Black Forest, the Three Witches of Fate, who had been standing on the shoreline of the Morbid Lake, each mounted their brooms, shouting, “Broom fly!” in succession. One by one, the three witches shot into the early evening sky, soaring into the upper echelon of jungle trees in search of permanent habitation. Now that the sun had set, the witches were in their own element; the cries of the night would be their guide.
After hours of flying at a high altitude, coupled with listening to the cries of the night, the Three Witches of Fate sensed they had finally reached their destination high atop the Camouflage Mountains, a loftier mountain range than the Evergreen Mountains.
The witches entered a giant cave with stalactites and stalagmites, giant bats and thousands of colonies of ants and snakes and other night crawlers. Once inside the cave the Three Witches of Fate, Hezekell, Mizekia, and Shirbella, immediately entwined their minds, yet again, to summon all of their magical tools together with a powerful incantation:
“Here now we sisters exist in this cave,
Yet we don’t even have potions, or crystal ball, or slave!
Let the Powers of Darkness now send us our tools,
So that we can get busy and open our schools!”
While the witches enumerated their magic spell, every syllable echoed throughout the cave. After having finished this major change there followed the loudest, most powerful explosion ever heard from a class 1A spell!
The air smelled like rancid sulfur from the smoke of the detonation, which billowed in every direction. The spellbinding, however, was successful, as after the mist cleared there remained in its place a wide variety of witchly necessities, all neatly arranged in their respective categories in jars, boxes, and secret chambers. There were:
Aged potions: 1,000 jars each of termites (for Wolfsbane), fish heads (for Nymphamarus), and omnivorous treats (for Chattermouth); 100 jars each of 500-year-old herbs and fungi, poisonous mushrooms, fermented bat wings, toad skins, stolen voices, and human fears and worries; 50 jars each of owls’ feet, rabbits’ feet, and human tongues; and 10 jars each of ground elephant trunk and ground walrus tusk.
Three wands: one made of aspen with a ruby tip for Mizekia to see the present; one made of silver with an emerald tip for Hezekell to see the deep, dark past; and an invisible one made of jungle tree root with a sapphire tip for Shirbella to see the future (only Shirbella and the Grand Wizard can see this wand).
One crystal ball for the witches to share.
Three spell books – Spell of the Ancient Void, for Hezekell; Contemporary Incantations for Mizekia; and Sorcery of the Hereafter for Shirbella.
One box of disguises for use in the mortal world.
And the witches’ three pets – Hezekell’s aardwolf, Wolfsbane; Mizekia’s raven, Chattermouth; and Shirbella’s cat, Nymphamarus.
Now that things were falling into place, the Witches of Fate could focus their attention on their mission to hunt down the Renegade Lion of the Black Forest.
As the Black Forest itself is hundreds of square miles, there are many small villages located within its boundaries. Besides Smalltown there is the Woodman’s Village, Poppytown, and the village of Jove, where the base of the Camouflage Mountains is located.
Now the village of Jove is a quaint little dwelling where everyone knows everyone else’s business; the world’s best-kept secret will not be found there. The total population of the town is 76, twelve of whom were the village hunters (until yesterday!).
The fur hunters of Jove were Lloyd Stewart, Bent Haverhill, Valska Gentry, Ronald Wentworth, Wendell Maxwell, Alexis “Butch” Buchanan, Wayne “Whitey” Waxman, Simon “Buster” Sneed, Marshall “Specs” Martin, Lucas “Mack” McGillicuddy, Chad “Riff” Rifles, and Benjamin “Benny” Pageman.
It all started yesterday around 7 a.m. Business was as usual. The village hunters were gathered in a band, ready to begin their morning ritual: hunting for animal pelts. (The village of Jove has long been famed for its fine linens, furs, and other refined garments.)
The boys were collecting together all the necessities for the hunt while waiting for Benjamin “Benny” Pageman to return from the village dog kennel. (Besides being one of the village hunters, Benny was also the town dog trainer.)
“Hey Buster,” Lloyd said. “Go see what’s taking so Benny so long with those bloodhounds. It’s almost 7:30 – he should have been back 15 minutes ago!”
“Come on, Specs, let’s go take a walk and see what’s up with Benny,” Buster said.
“Why’s everybody always electing me for extra duty?” asked Specs. “Can’t anybody else around here do anything but me?”
“Yeah, we can,” Buster replied. “It’s just that we trust your quick instincts on important issues.”
“Do you really mean that, Simon? Or are you just saying that to impress me?”
Buster responded angrily. “Number one: who needs to impress you? Number two: Of course I don’t mean that, you big dope! And number three: stop calling me Simon – I hate that name!”
“But that’s your name,” Specs said, confused.
“See? That’s what I’m talking about – you just don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you just call me Buster like everyone else does?” Buster asked, exasperated. “How come you always gotta be so formal, anyway?”
Specs sounded relieved that Buster’s tone of voice was less severe. “I don’t know, I was raised that way, I guess. Anyway, I’m sorry – I didn’t know you hated your name so much. Really, I mean it. I really didn’t –“
“OK already! Why do you always gotta keep ramblin’ on about nothing all the time, anyway?”
While Buster and Specs performed their daily bickering, they were wandering through the woods without noticing the oversized lion tracks directly in their path! It wasn’t until they approached the road to the kennels, Millhouse Road, that they became suspicious of their surroundings.
“Oh my God!” cried Buster. “Man, how long have we been walking inside of these giant lion tracks? I can’t believe we ain’t been noticing this!”
“Wow! Look at the size of them suckers,” Specs exclaimed. “That thing must be at least 10 feet tall to make tracks like that – man, I’m outta here!”
“You ain’t goin’ nowhere! The only chance we got is to stick together!”
At the same time that Buster and Specs were finally noticing their surroundings, a most amazing phenomenon was taking place on Millhouse Road, a winding road shadowed by pine trees with their strong scent. Ravens, crows, and deer dotted the scenery, as well as large bats hanging upside down in trees, taking their morning nap and awaiting night to hunt.
It was 10 minutes past seven o’ clock when Benny was about to unlock the cages and release the hounds for the daily hunt. Just as he lifted his eyes and wiped sweat from his brow, he caught sight of the most horrifying flying creature he had ever seen! Never before had he witnessed such a wingspan on any living creature. Not only that, but the wings were made of thick fur, not feathers. Benny was so in awe of the magnificent physical specimen that he couldn’t take his eyes away. It was as though he were in a trance. Benny was trying very hard to define what he was actually gawking at. He never thought, “I am in danger.” It never even dawned on him that he was about to become the Renegade Lion’s next meal. He imagined himself insane. On the one hand his mind was telling him he was gazing at a lion; on the other hand, everyone knows large felines have no wings! Even so, he kept investigating and scrutinizing, trying to distinguish for certain what the hell he was gaping at. By the time he realized he was in peril, it was too late!
As the gigantic lion descended on Benny like a plane coming in for a landing, he quietly and quickly seized Benny by the neck and shoulders, simultaneously tearing into Benny’s shoulders with his large talons and ripping Benny’s head from his body with his teeth! With blood splattering everywhere, the lion consumed almost all of Benny’s body, leaving a small portion of each leg from the knees down before silently flying away unimpeded! The only positive point was that Benny was dead within three seconds.
When Buster and Specs finally arrived at the hound house, their worst fears became an undeniable reality – Benny was dead. The dogs were all still locked in their cages, amazingly quiet considering what had just transpired. The two remaining members of Benny’s eaten body were clear evidence of what had taken place. But it was still a mystery to Buster and Specs, who were totally confounded by the facts at hand.
But all of these events unraveled so silently and swiftly that Benny’s family members weren’t even alerted, though the family residence was fewer than one hundred yards from the kennels, and you could hear a pin drop in the early morning hours. Benny was dead in three seconds.
The time has come to formally introduce The Three Witches of Fate.
The Three Witches of Fate were originally angelic beings gifted with supernatural powers designed by God, who trusted them to oversee the fates and destinies of mankind. They guided the possibilities and events of human affairs so as to lead mankind to righteous, godly and prosperous lives. However, because the Three Witches of Fate were secretly involved with Gladismere’s plot to destroy the light and end mankind’s existence, God cursed them – they fell from grace and became the ugly and vile beings they are now.
Their appearance on the Blueprint of the Universe came billions of years before the creation of mankind. Like man, the Three Witches of Fate, Hezekell, Mizekia and Shirbella, were given free will to do good or evil, right or wrong. God gave them a chance to do his will, or follow their own selfish inclinations.
Shirbella, Hezekell and Mizekia, three sisters of prophecy, evolved in the void with Gladismere and other spiritual entities known as the Eternal Ones.
When God created the universe, Eternal Ones both favored God’s Plans and opposed them. Those in favor of God’s Plans were given special gifts, powers and Eternal Missions. Those opposed were separated from the universe and placed into the outer darkness. These beings hate light and prefer darkness. Originally, the Three Witches of Fate found pleasure in the eyes of the Lord; however, greed, lust to become flesh, and deceit caused them turn their backs on their responsibilities, forcing God to hex them with an eternal curse: to roam the earth with hideous, vile forms and behavior and to eat dung and raw guts of the dead! The Three Witches of Fate were also sentenced for a short time to Central Hell, a place inside the core of the earth where wayward mythical entities are sentenced to contemplate and repent their evil doings. Some are sent to learn the woes of Full Scale Hell, a place of never ending suffering.
Unlike the inescapable Full Scale Hell, Central Hell has far less torturous fires and many ways out. Repentant behavior, duration of sentence, magic and spells are popular ways of escaping Central Hell.
Many varieties of strange creatures can be found in Central Hell: Wicker-Walkers, Grungies, Haggies, Vampires, Werewolves, Wizards, Witches, Trolls, Goblins, Gargoyles, Closet-Monsters, Breath-Stoppers, and Dream-Haunters, to name a few.
After many months of contemplation and preparation for escape from Central Hell, Mizekia, Shirbella and Hezekell finally put their minds together and devised an incantation, enabling them to escape Central Hell. Together, they said:
Since time has begun
Our story has been one!
Our number is three,
and we look like trees!
If you gaze into the crystal ball,
you will not have to look hard, you will see us all!
From the center of the earth, to the top of the sky,
Let us give birth to ourselves, so that on our broomsticks we can fly!
There was a loud explosion, and a cloud of smoke was all that remained where the Three Witches of Fate had stood. Holding spell books in their left hands, the Three Witches of Fate magically reappeared inside the Morbid Lake sitting on their broomsticks, covered with disgusting putrid matter and surrounded by one thousand Haggies!
Amphibious, mythical creatures (half witch and half sea-horse), remain in water because, like The Three Witches of Fate, they prefer putrid decaying matter to living food. Haggies are tiny and only reach 10 to 12 inches in height, and live for long periods of time, twice the life span of mortal men. Mischievous little pranksters, Haggies prefer fooling people more than hurting them. Their powers last only from sunset to sunrise, thus Haggies, like Vampires, sleep by day. Haggies spells last only 12 hours, and are found abundantly throughout the Morbid Lake!
One of the most fascinating differences between the Three Witches of Fate and mankind is their emotional and chemical make-up. Mankind experiences Happiness, Sadness, Hate, Love, Fear, Envy, Anger, Dignity, Responsibility, Sexuality, Pity, Remorse, Embarrassment, Shame and Excitement. Wizards and Witches feel Power, Amusement, Purpose, Fear, Envy, Want, Need, Depression, Anger and extreme Embarrassment.
Wizards and Witches not only lack almost half the emotions mankind has, but also cannot chemically withstand three everyday mortal concessions: perfume, incense and cinnamon. Perfume sprayed directly on the Three Witches of Fate can knock them out for hours. A whole bottle of perfume poured directly onto the Witches’ bodies could theoretically put them in a coma for months, or even years! Incense causes violent nausea and profuse vomiting, and cinnamon sprinkled directly on their causes severe burns, blisters and boils.
The Three Witches of Fate have hideous and grotesque features, which camouflage them in the Black Forest. Their flesh looks like rotted, truncated tree trunks oozing with insects. Their noses are about a foot long each and vary in shape, but always resemble a tree branch. Their heads are oblong, crooked, cone-shaped masses of bumps and bruises, with open wounds all over their faces. They are mostly bald but for sparse green hairs, like new born grass, all over their bodies, sharp as porcupine needles.
With Hezekell standing at four and a half feet, Mizekia at five and Shirbella at five feet six inches, the three witches’ anatomies are grossly disproportionate. For example, Hezekell stands only four and a half feet tall but her nose is a good 12 inches long – that’s almost a fourth of her height!
Because the Three Witches of Fate spent many eons searching the Archives of God, reading and the Blue Print of the Universe, and the Halls of Mighty Words of Power, Hezekell, Mizekia and Shirbella are very wise and know many chants and spells. Like Gladismere, The Three Witches of Fate envy mankind and have been on a mission with Gladismere since the beginning of time to blot out mankind’s existence. The conspiracy to destroy the light and mankind has been the most ardent wish of the Three Witches of Fate since they discovered mankind’s presence on the Blue Print of the Universe.
The Three Witches of Fate conceived the advanced technology of melding and occupying the flesh. Gladismere’s “discovery” of melding and “his plan” of usurping bodies in the distant future were all ideas induced upon him while shisconing with the Three Witches of Fate. This original form of copulation is a combination of mental telepathy and desire. Ultimately, beings are produced when the shiscone of an Angel or Wizard is spoken into the desired entity. If this happens to be a human, it must be a virgin female. Mortal offspring of supernatural beings retain the power of their immortal parentage while adopting the more fair attributes of their human connection.
A woman cannot resist the power of a Wizard or Angel’s shiscone. Once she has been chosen the Wizard will hypnotize and seduce her when she is deep in a trance. If the Wizard or Angel fulfills a human female, she loses all desire for mortal ways. Offspring of these unholy unions live naturally for thousands of years.
Through this association, the Three Witches of Fate have become extraordinarily wise beyond any mortal standards, and thus stumbled upon many helpful tidbits of knowledge and wisdom to help fuel their fiendish plots against humanity. In fact, one of the more profound facts the Three Witches of Fate acquired about Gladismere is that, although Gladismere has millions of eyes, there is one central eye that is the core of his being, the very heart of his soul! When the Three Witches of Fate transported Gladismere from the void to the future it was only his central eye that was melded with the Spirit Condenser. Without consent from Gladismere, the Three Witches of Fate secretly conjured a spell that melded his central eye, which is the smallest of all his eyes:
As Necessity has devised,
Our motives are in disguise.
For this reason only,
Send the small eye that is lonely.
It would not be at all wise,
To meld all of Gladismere’s eyes!
The weight would be too great,
And the danger we could not regulate!
But the effects of this spell will be put on hold,
Until after the weightlessness spell has been told!
After the Three Witches of Fate escaped from Central Hell and magically reappeared inside Morbid Lake, they set up camp and established a base of power where they would be able to utilize all of their resources and maximize the effect of their combined attributes.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
VOTE NOVEMBER 4: 2008 Ballot Initiatives
Confused about the proposed laws on the Massachusetts ballot? Spare Change writer Matthew LeBlanc explains Question 1 (State Personal Income Tax), Question 2 (Possession of Marijuana) and Question 3 (Dog Racing).
Following the Election Online
There is plenty of information about the presidential race available online, overwhelming even the most avid web surfer. Traditional news outlets like The New York Times or CNN.com may be the first place you turn to learn about the election, but political blogs and polling sites are good sources as well.
From Wall Street to Pine Street: The Widespread Ramifications of the Financial Sector Fallout
Ed Larsen & H.J. Pound, MPH
You don't have to be a big shot on Wall Street to be effected by the financial crisis. Nonprofits, government employees and private citizens are feeling the impact too, and it's a struggle that's hitting close to home. Fourteen percent of the Massachusetts workforce is currently employed by nonprofits, a sector that relies heavily on corporate backing, according to a National Public Radio report. The fallen corporate giant Lehman Brothers gave $39 million to charities and nonprofits last year, including many Boston organizations that now have to turn to other sources for funding.
Marc D. Goldfinger
In Reno, Nevada, a small group of tents populated by homeless people sprang up by the railroad tracks, people with nowhere else to go. Within a short time there were over 150 tents, so close to each other people could barely breathe, filled with people who had come to Reno to look for work. There was no work to be had. But this wasn't only happening in Reno. It was happening in Seattle, Washington; Athens, Georgia; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. Tent cities were born all over the USA as the foreclosure explosion took off, hurricanes hit Texas and Mississippi, and the stock market crashed.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Barack Obama vs. John McCain: What They'll Do About Homelessness (Or Not)
In a campaign where political parties are rallying behind the call for change, what changes do Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain promise to Americans experiencing poverty and homelessness?
Panel Examines MA Initiatives to End Homelessness
State and city officials said at a Sept. 22 panel discussion at Suffolk University's Law School that they were optimistic about the state's new initiative to end homelessness in Massachusetts by 2013. "The stars are aligned right now," said Shelter, Inc. executive director Tom Lorello, one of the six panelists at the public policy forum, "Ending Homelessness in Massachusetts: New Thinking on an Age-Old Problem," hosted by the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee and Suffolk University's Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service. But one panelist did not seem to share this optimism -- Senator Dianne Wilkerson, who worried that the Wall Street crisis would have a negative impact on people living in poverty.
Boston Residents Reflect on Shaky Economy
Despite President Bush signing the $700 billion economic bailout package into law, many Boston residents said they have not been reassured by the government's plan. In downtown Boston last week, business owners and residents said they are anxious about how the changes on Wall Street will affect them. Many business people are already seeing the repercussions from an economy that has been on a downward slope for months, and some fear the worst is yet to come.
Voices from the Streets: Rosh Hashanah Reflections
As I sit down to write, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is approaching. This period is focused on self-examination, making amends and forgiveness. I think the focus on amends and forgiveness can be helpful to people of other traditions and non-religious folks as well.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Iran & Iraq: U.S. Approach to Both Countries Eerily Similar
The Center for Public Integrity has accused the Bush administration of telling 935 "false statements" about Iraq in the two years after September 11, 2001. The "false statements" included accusations that the Iraqi government had chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities, had ties with Al-Qaeda, and had been seeking yellow cake uranium in Niger.
Now it is five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq last estimated that there were 34,452 Iraqi civilian deaths and 36,685 wounded Iraqi civilians in 2006 alone. Since 2003, the U.S. military deaths in Iraq have exceeded 4,000. The outlook is not positive.
The administration is, yet again, feeling threatened by a second-rate military in a third world country with a shoddy civilian nuclear program. President Bush contends that Iran is a nuclear threat to its allies in the region. Strangely, his fears of a nuclear Iran contradict the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released in December 2003, which reported, among other things, that "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it's less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we had been judging since 2003... Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously."
Despite this report, last year the Bush administration requested to increase the budget for its covert operations in Iran. This apparent contradiction within the upper echelons of the U.S. government is an echo of polices that are 'so 2003,' the same policies that lead us into war in Iraq.
On the Rise
"On the Rise is everything a woman needs to get her identity back," one guest says. "They accept us as we are," another adds. I frantically scribble down their words, nodding. My visit to On the Rise is as comfortable as I've ever been and probably ever will be in a room full of strangers. On the Rise may be a social service provider, but it feels more like a house full of friends, sisters and mothers. "Coming here -- it's like going to your own house," one woman says.
Voices from the Street: 911: Hello, This is the USA Calling
Marc D. Goldfinger
This is the last September 11 that George W. Bush will be president. I still can't capitalize that title while he remains in office. I hope he's snorting cocaine and eating pretzels today. We've come a long way, baby.
It's seven years since the planes hit the Twin Towers, since people leapt from the building holding hands and screaming, since the buildings fell, killing firemen, police, and other innocents who just happened to work there.
Seven years later and the policies of George W. and Dick Cheney have isolated the U.S. from the rest of the world. We're lucky if many people from other countries know that the majority of us don't agree with these idiotic policies.
George used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. This is now costing the U.S. more than $11 billion a month. The Iraq war needs to be cut off at the knees and all our men and women brought home immediately. No excuses. It's a disaster if we stay, and because we went, it's a disaster if we come home. That's the way it is, whether we like it or not. Even if all our soldiers are brought home immediately, the medical costs will continue. There's nothing we can do about that. But we can cut our losses and that's all.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A David versus Goliath battle between corporate America and a freethinking counterculture is about to wage in cyberspace.
When internet auction giant eBay bought a minority stake in the homespun San Francisco Internet start-up craigslist - a company so modest they don’t even bother using an apostrophe or a capital letter - most observers expected the classified ads website would be quickly swallowed up.
eBay Inc. operates the world’s most popular e-commerce site, has a globally recognized brand, and is valued at over $40 billion. Its website is one of the most sophisticated around, with barely a square inch of it not covered by some sort of paid advert.
By contrast, craigslist is heavy on text and looks much as it did in 1996 when early enthusiasts would have looked at it on their black and white screened Apple PowerBooks.
The company grew out of an email of events listings Craig Newmark used to send friends, occupies an old fashioned timber house in San Francisco, has a staff of around twenty, and the only logo it uses is the peace sign.
Yet it has become part of the American way of life. Local newspaper groups cite it as responsible for ripping apart their industry’s business model and cops regularly trawl its pages looking for services as diverse as stolen goods and prostitution rings while it remains for many the first place to advertise a church fete.
The Cruelest Art:
Dr. Darius Rejali on Torture in Democratic Societies
Waterboarding. Hypothermia. Stress positions. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. These “clean” tortures leave deep psychological wounds but few physical scars — and they have been used for decades not only by dictatorships, but also by democratic governments, including the United States.
After 9/11, Americans used these techniques on so-called “enemy combatants” detained in a system of prisons from Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib and the Pentagon’s detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to numerous CIA black sites. And according to recent reports, officials at the highest levels of the Bush Administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, approved the use of “harsh interrogation techniques” in questioning detainees.
In his massive study, Torture and Democracy (Princeton, 2007), internationally renowned violence and torture expert Dr. Darius Rejali writes that these “clean” interrogation methods not only violate international law, but they radicalize enemies, undermine credibility, and yield unreliable intelligence. They do not strengthen national security, but instead make us less safe.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
China's Tibetian Frontiers Rekindle Tradition of Defiance
Zhuoni, China, April 9 - Across China’s mountainous west, armed troops watch over the Tibetan monasteries and towns that have emerged as hotbeds of protest kindled by traditions of defiance and newer economic grievances.
More than the Tibet Autonomous Region itself, where the upsurge of anti-Chinese protests and riots erupted in March, the historically Tibetan parts of neighboring provinces have defied efforts to smother unrest with troop convoys, roadblocks and patrols, and warnings of harsh punishment to lawbreakers.
In Zhuoni, a county in the northwest province of Gansu, protesters in mid-March torched a school, set up their own roadblock and trashed officials’ cars, residents said.
A recent trip along its tightly guarded roads showed the protests had stopped. Smashed windows of the local police offices and Chinese-owned shops had been quickly repaired, and traders were returning to dusty streets.
But Tibetans here and across south Gansu spoke of anger with the government campaign against the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, and with economic shifts they said favored Han Chinese migrants and Hui Muslim merchants in nearby towns.
“There are more and more Han here, so we can’t develop,” said Tsairang, a herder and farmer. He rejected the government’s claim that the Dalai Lama’s supporters orchestrated the violence.
“It wasn’t the Dalai Lama. He’s like a member of our family who isn’t allowed to come home. You can’t blame him.”
An Act For Change
Amid sunbathers and baseball players on the Boston Common, a group of Suffolk theater students gathered on April 23 to perform a play in an effort to promote social justice and awareness for the issue of homelessness.
The play, titled Infinity, was student written, produced, directed, and acted. Rachel Kelsey was inspired to write the play after working with Neighborhood Action, a group dedicated to serving Boston’s homeless.
“I met some people at Neighborhood Action and it got me examining how we look at each other,” said Kelsey.
Director Purima Baldwin was drawn to the project by Kelsey’s insightful writing. “We wanted to do a final show before we graduated, something that had a social impact,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin’s life has been directly affected by homelessness. Her older brother, Dan, has been homeless for nearly twenty years. “He’s spent probably half his life on the street,” said Baldwin.
“I’m hoping maybe my brother will stumble across the Common that day, but I doubt it,” continued Baldwin, during an interview before one of the cast’s final rehearsals.
Kelsey and Baldwin hoped the production would attract the attention of people who are not ordinarily attuned to issues of homelessness and poverty. By performing in a public space, they were trying to reach a broader audience. “I just hope people walking by will stop and watch us,” said Kelsey.
Voices from the Streets: Connecting the Dots
Unfortunately for the human species and all the others occupying this battered planet, the dots are bigger than we think, and as fast as they connect, we disconnect them. So much is happening I don’t know what to talk about first.
First. We have this Presidential primary going on where the top two Democratic contenders are in the 11th round of a 12-round boxing match, both battered having been on the canvas a number of times. Yes, I like Obama, but so what? I’m watching Hillary and Obama in a fight where, at the end, there will be no man (or woman) standing.
I trust John McCain. I believe John McCain. By listening to him I realize that if he wins the Presidency (and that’s all too possible now) wars will go on, fuel prices will continue to rise, which means food prices will continue to rise and the death toll will rise, ever higher, ever higher.
What’s happening here? Does every politician so desire winning that they don’t care the human species sits on a humungous playground slide where at the bottom waits death and destruction on a scale that we have never known before? No one tells the truth because they all want to win.
Actually, I don’t know what Hillary believes, and I’m not really sure what Barack Obama believes, but I know that Deval Patrick fooled me and dammit, like the Who said, “I don’t want to be fooled again.”
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Right or Right?
Editorial: John McCain has been labeled a “Maverick” for his apparent middle of the road politics. Don’t let this cloak fool you. He is really a neo-conservative hawk. To be fair, he does support the implementation of green technologies and has spoken out against the use of torture as an interrogation technique. However, one should always be weary of labels granted to politicians by mainstream media. The former platform is merely a middle of the road policy change, which at this point ought to be a mainstream issue. The latter is something one would expect of a Vietnam POW who is, himself, a victim of torture.
In February the Washington Post reported that McCain knowingly broke Federal Election Commission law. When his campaign wasn’t doing too hot in the middle of the primary season, he signed up to receive public funding, which also made it easier to appear on the ballot in many states. However, the matching spending limit set by the FEC is $54 million and McCain had already spent more than $58 million without legally pulling out of the federal program. He broke the law under the same federal campaign finance program he helped create.
Homeless Children Population Growing Steadily
Studies have revealed that a homeless child under the age of six may experience the same mental trauma as a soldier coming back from war. When we talk about a generation afflicted by war, families torn apart, and children growing up without fathers and mothers, we don’t look to the war brewing on our own streets.
Today there are approximately one million homeless children nationwide and the fastest growing sector is younger than school aged. The average person believes homelessness affects middle age individuals, not entire families. In truth, the average age of a homeless person is only eight years old. In Cambridge, it’s nine.
“No one wants to believe children are homeless,” said Sue Heilman, executive director of the Roxbury-based Horizons for Homeless Children (HHC). To help combat this theory, HHC presented the Third Annual Young Children Without Homes National Conference, which took place April 15-17 at Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Five hundred people from 33 states registered and attended the event in hopes for what Heilman calls “a better tomorrow.” Cities across the country are bracing for the fallback of the mortgage crisis, and Boston is no exception. “It may get worse before it gets better,” Heilman explained before the conference kickoff.
The conference brought together case and social workers, volunteers and altruistic individuals dedicated to erasing homelessness across the country. Participants engaged in a variety of workshops aimed to raise awareness, and share strategies and information on the subject.
Tales from the Curb:
When Will it End?
The other day I was talking with a Spare Change News vendor, one who has really benefited from our organization. Spare Change News enabled him to be productive and opened doors that were once closed. He has made friends within this organization and with customers, and become an important member of Spare Change News. Best of all he was recently able to obtain housing.
So why is an advocate he works with telling him to leave our organization? That’s right, this advocate told him to find a “real job,” to forget about the friendships he made, forget about all his success here and leave Spare Change News. Why would someone openly discourage anyone from working with an organization where that person has succeeded?
Every Spare Change News anniversary, I can’t help but think of the advocates who tried to discourage us from creating the paper. Some advocates don’t always have the best interests of the homeless at heart, for them it’s nothing more than a job. But for most, including the general public, it’s a case of ignorance.
The other day I read a letter in the Metro addressed to Mayor Menino regarding homeless people on the Boston Common. I’ll spare you the gory details, but the letter was nothing more than a rant against homeless people, complete with the drunk/mentally ill speech. The writer even suggested that the Mayor rid the park of homeless people so taxpayers like him could eat lunch there. Well, Joe Taxpayer, I have news for you. The Common is in such rough shape not because of the homeless people who sleep there. It is because of people who refuse to use trashcans, who feed those annoying pigeons, who walk their dogs and don’t bother to clean up after them. It is because of the drug dealers who openly ply their trade while families are walk by. These things are ruining the Common, not the homeless. There is still a lot of ignorance when it comes to homelessness, but when will it end? Some say more education and compassion is necessary. Will that be enough?
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Today, two to three people in Mass. will become HIV positive. In one year, more than 900 new infections will afflict the state. Between 24,000 and 26,000 people currently live with HIV/AIDS, but what’s more disturbing is that a quarter of them do not know it, and risk passing the virus to others.
AIDS Action Committee of Mass. (AAC) is a community-based, non-profit organization focusing on the prevention of AIDS in the Mass. population. The general mission targets AIDS prevention through education and advocacy while supporting those already infected. In addition, the organization lobbies for substantial AIDS policies at all levels. AAC boasts a staff of 70 dedicated individuals along with hundreds of volunteers, all passionate about erasing this deadly virus.
How Well Does the Boston Healthcare System Treat its Homeless Constituents? An Interview with Spare Change Vendor and Healthcare Consumer, Ed Larsen.
HJ Pound: What is the easiest way for a homeless person to obtain health care?
Ed Larsen: Honestly? Get yourself put in the hospital. Hospitals are also businesses that need to get paid. You rack up a high enough bill and they will do whatever it takes to get you MassHealth so they can get their money.
HP: Do you believe that everyone should have health insurance?
EL: There are pros and cons. Everybody deserves basic care, but there are consequences to socialized medicine. If everyone gets basic care here [in the United States] you will end up having to wait a really long time for specialist services like in Canada and Europe. Except for the rich. Unless we move to a single-payer system the rich will always have private insurance and get care faster.
HP: How has being homeless effected your health care?
EL: Well, I am on MassHealth for now, and I am happy. I do eventually want to get a job aside from being a Spare Change vendor though. Subsidized housing won’t be there forever, besides, I am not a big fan of the government. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everything the government has done for me, I just don’t want to be at their mercy forever. The problem is, I don’t want to lose MassHealth either. Private insurance is great in some ways, but it doesn’t cover everything. [Private health insurance] used to be impossible to get with pre-existing conditions, and even now it only covers certain necessary services to an extent, which is crazy because it is so expensive. Plus, it already costs so much to live here, between transportation, housing, and taxes. And now, if you don’t have insurance you will get fined.
Four Arrested in Bank Protest
Four young women who chained themselves to a Bank of America in Copley Plaza were arraigned April 2 on counts of trespassing, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest.
Candace Bollinger, 27, of Hicksville, New York, Adrienne Naylor, 23, of Dorchester, Mass., Laila Murad, 17, of Brighton, Mass.; and Elise Ansel, 20, of Sanderlan, Mass. locked their arms together using large cylindrical tubes, while Bollinger locked her neck to the bank’s door with a bicycle lock in protest of Bank of America’s investment in the coal industry. Their protest yesterday was part of an international protest called Fossil Fool’s Day, according to Climate Justice Now (CJN) spokesman Evan Greer, 22. He claimed over fifty people protested.
Naylor decided radical protest was necessary because, she said, “Holding signs and sending letters doesn’t change shit.”
Ansel agreed, “You can’t change the system by working in it.”
The women said they hoped to raise awareness about damage they claim coal mining inflicts on the environment. Ansel said, “450 mountain tops in Appalachia were blown clear off.”
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Kennedy’s were the closest to nobility this country could boast. With an infectious charisma and a lofty New England classiness that glossed over their playboy personas, they’re what America still wants. John Kennedy was a realist with a romantic streak and oozed authenticity – a combination that’s like walking a tightrope over troubled waters for politicians. His brother, Bobby, was grittier and unafraid of tackling the big guns on Capitol Hill. The dynasty was born with privilege and inevitable, prosperous political futures. Bobby, John and Ted adopted civil rights and urban poverty as their foundation, giving back to the other America they were lucky enough to have never lived in. The media has been painting Barack Obama and John Edwards as the next John and Bobby but it has fallen short – it’s like Camelot-lite.
In June of 1966 at the University of Cape Town, Robert Kennedy said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends out a tiny ripple of hope.” Forty-two years later, we may be seeing another drop in the pond, another ripple of hope.
Ending Homelessness: Part II
A couple issues ago this paper covered the State Commission’s Five Year Plan to End Homelessness. I thought, for the most part, it was a good plan. It had some teeth and it may actually work. However, I also said there would be obstacles to making this plan work, and wouldn’t you know it? One of those obstacles dropped in my lap.
A few days ago I read a Boston Globe article about Governor Deval Patrick’s $10 million proposal to fund the meat and potatoes part Housing First, which basically puts people into housing and provides them with the services they need to keep it. There were some positive parts of the story...but then the article seemed to take a negative tone, not towards the Governor, but towards the whole notion of making Housing First work. The recurring theme of the article seemed to be Why are we going to invest all this time and money for these people and When is this ever going to work?
I was more than a little shocked by the tone of this article, and I was a little surprised to find this in the Globe. When it comes to Homelessness they’re generally fair and objective. Not so much this time. I was so angered by this article that I wrote a letter to the editor (naturally they didn’t print it). But the beauty of having your own column is that you can still get your point across.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a controversial hearing in Austin Hall at the Harvard Law School Monday, February 25. The conference dealt with the Internet service provider, Comcast, and its attempts to block, or otherwise hinder “peer 2 peer” file sharing programs and whether or not corporations and government agencies, such as the FCC, should be able to regulate the web. Representatives from networks Comcast and Verizon, representatives from the file-sharing program, Bit Torrent, engineers and other experts in the industry presented their cases and answered questions from the FCC.
A major issue the conference attendees addressed was network (or net) neutrality. Net neutrality is the belief that the Internet should remain largely unregulated. According to Savetheinternet.com, a website dedicated to promoting freedom on the internet, net neutrality means that Internet Service Providers, such as Comcast, cannot discriminate against websites by slowing down or speeding up web content. The case caught the attention of the FCC when it was discovered that Comcast was deliberately slowing down content from the “peer 2 peer” file-sharing program Bit-Torrent. File-sharing programs like Bit Torrent allow users to trade large amounts of data, including copyrighted material such as movies and albums, at high rates of speed.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
So, here we have the spirit of Lord Gladismere, still contained inside of the Spirit Condenser, awaiting three things before the melding process is complete. The first thing he awaits is the sacrifice of the dreaded Renegade Lion. The second thing is the Spirit Splitting, (a very dangerous incantation, which if done incorrectly means annihilation for all involved). And finally, if all else goes well, the Enhancer Spell, which would enable to enhance the portion of Lord Gladismere’s Spirit that’s outside of the Spirit Condenser to a formidable degree, so it will function as a complete spirit! Also, the Enhancer Spell would work as an alleviator of pain for Lord Gladismere, both inside and outside of the Spirit Condenser. Being totally free from all pain will allow Lord Gladismere to think more clearly and function as a normal entity would function on the planet Earth.
Although the Three Witches of Fate have less powerful witches under their command to do a lot of their “dirty work,” the sacrifice and killing of the dreaded Renegade Lion of the Black Forest is far too important a task to leave in the hands of underlings. So the witches have decided that they themselves will take upon the task of finding the dreaded Renegade Lion of the Black Forest.
The first step of this most deadly assignment will be to locate the famed mythical creature. This alone will be a battle in itself, since the Lion’s main hunting ground is on the Labyrinth Path of the Black Forest.
Now the Labyrinth Path is one of the most dangerous locations in the Black Forest. It is by far the most dangerous path of the four major paths that lead to the Morbid Lake, a stagnant lake in the center of the Black Forest. It is an extremely large and deep basin filled with dead carcasses and other putrid matter. Creatures living in the Black Forest go there to die. It also just happens to be one of the favorite dining places in the Black Forest for the Three Witches of Fate.
The Labyrinth Path itself is a seldomly used path to get to the Morbid Lake, because of its many side roads, dead ends and caves. The Beaver Path (named because it was chiefly built by beavers gnawing down leaves) is the clearest and most frequently traveled path of the four major paths that lead to the Morbid Lake. The Eagle Path is a path that extends from the Morbid Lake all the way to the high grounds of the Evergreen Mountain, located some 28 to 30 miles north of the Morbid Lake. This jagged mountain range is home to a major portion of Zealots, a Christian Sect so named for their zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Zealots journey daily all the way to the Wild Wood Cathedral, which is at least 10 miles southwest of the base of the Evergreen Mountains. All the members of the Wildwood Cathedral are devour Zealots and pray daily.
The Snake Path, which is the longest path of the four major paths, is about a hundred miles in length. The path begins in the deep south of he Black Forest, extends northward in a snake-like fashion and ends at the southern base of the Morbid Lake. The only other lake in Smalltown is the Fresh Water Lake, which is some 50 miles due south of the stagnant Morbid Lake. Out of the four major paths that lead to the Morbid Lake, only the Snake Path leads to both the Morbid Lake and the Fresh Water Lake.
So, who is this dreaded Renegade Lion of the Black Forest? And why is he a renegade?
The Renegade Lion of the Black Forest was actually born of normal parents. You could just call him a freak of nature! I mean, how many Lions do you know that have wings? This special attribute that the Renegade Lion has (wings) is the reason why he was branded an outcast amongst his own pride, and all the other prides in the Black Forest. The fear of being overcome by him in battle was the primary motivating factor of all the male lions, who were responsible for the ousting of this fantastic creature. Sentenced by the majority to spend the duration of the rest of his life on the Labyrinth Path is a severe reconciliation, even to a winged lion!
For the first seven years of his life, the dread lion was allowed to live among his peers, but he fact that he was twice the size, ten times as fast and could fly made him unlikable. He could make a kill quicker and more often than anyone else. Furthermore, all the lionesses objected to a male lion doing their duty better than them, so he had to go.
The male lions in the Black Forest have a sort of hierarchy among themselves. Law #1, Article 1: Never outdo a Lioness!!! This was the main breech of the law of the land that the dread lion transgressed. He thought he had been impressing all the lionesses by helping them kill their prey (it is the lioness’s job to do all the killing, not the lion’s), but in reality, all he had done was create resentment and dissent. But the truth of the matter is that the Renegade Lion is a superior hunter in every regards to any lion or any other known creature in the Black Forest.
The Renegade himself is majestically proportioned: standing on all fours he is exactly eight feet at the shoulders! His claws, (or talons, if you like) are a stealthy six inches in length on each claw. (That’s twenty-four inches of cutting power on each paw). While the average male lion tips the scales at about 800 lbs, the wings of the Renegade Lion alone weigh 400 lbs. Added to his body weight of 1600 lbs. For a total combined weight of 1 ton! He can run on his feet for up to 100 miles per hour, for a 30 second period at a time, needing only about a 10 minute resting period to repeat his performance. His wingspan is a good ten feet on each wing, and he can maintain a top flying speed of 200 miles per hour all day long.
Before the Renegade Lion had been ousted by the members of his family, his disposition was as any other lion. However, since that time, the Renegade Lion’s heart had grown colder and colder because of his lost inheritance. As time went by, he became meaner and meaner because he was loved by no one, not even his own.
After carefully examining the Blueprints of the Universe, I determined that my best course of action would be to enter the flesh in the deepest part of the future that I could manage, so that I would be able to obtain the most knowledge and technology available. I figured by doing it this way, I would experience the least amount of pain. There was definitely one point on the blueprint that intrigued me most. I examined the whole, and I mean, the whole Blueprint of the Universe over and over and over again, until I found what I was looking for.
You know how many trillions, upon trillions, upon trillions of eons that it took to find the most favorable point in the fragile fabric of eternity for me to meld into the flesh? Although I went as deep into the future that I could go, I didn’t go so far into the future, so as not to have the Forces of Darkness still at its strength. It was far more important for me to have the Forces of Darkness ruling than for me to have technology on my side!
But, as the Three Witches of Fate would have it, there was one point on the Blueprint of the Universe where technology and darkness converged perfectly. In the year 2006 A.D. of Jesus Christ, there was the invention of a machine called The Spirit Condenser. It had the g-force of a black hole and could compress the space of an entire galaxy into the size of a golf ball. It was said to have been created by the Three Witches of Fate: Hezekell, Mizekia and Shirbella. The Three Witches are the oldest surviving witches in time, having lived for billions of years. They are said to be as old as the planet Earth itself.
By reading the blueprint over and over, I found out about two other great miracles: All three Witches of Fate had the power of mental telepathy and all three of the ancient Witches had the power of prophecy and had been foretelling my coming since the beginning of time. They know me as The Great Dark Lord Gladismere. Their prophecy is a haunting poem:
He is coming by day
To bring the great night.
All witches will praise him,
All men will take flight!
Gather ‘round the Spirit Condenser
To see what we meld.
Our Great Lord Gladismere
To send you mortals pell-mell to hell!
The day in the Mortal World was January 6, 2006 when I first made telepathic contact with the Three Witches of Fate: Hezekell, Mizekia and Shirbella. Through this communication, I instructed them to use the Spirit Condenser on me, bringing me into the future of time. The time had come for their Great Lord of Darkness to make his royal appearance in the flesh.
The spot chosen for my arrival inside of the Spirit Condenser was the Cherry Blossom Hill Ballroom, where the Grand Wizard’s ball is held every year in honor of my son Vordmak, who is the Grand Wizard of All Wizards and Witches (who rules over all except the Three Witches). However, the Spirit Condenser was not placed in the main gallery of the Ballroom, but instead was safeguarded in the Forbidden Chamber in the top of the north gallery, where no one but the Three Witches of Fate had keys. Even still, there is a magic charm protecting the Forbidden Chamber. Many talented wizards and witches have tried to enter the chamber, but all died at the threshold to the door, making for a gruesome spectacle, with the still-smoking burst bodies of wizards and witches, victims of powerful curses from the Three Witches of Fate. The threshold also has the eternal stench that comes from these foul ungodly hags.
My plan, in case you’ve forgotten, was to enter the flesh in the future, and then travel back in time, to make my sons whole, by using the Spirit Condenser’s time traveling synthesizers. (The only reason I entered time in the future was to enable me to make a safe transition from the void- to the flesh.)
My sons have been roaming the earth for thousands of years in the past, but only as half-selves. They won’t have full power or occupy their full forms until I make this meld into the future. In preparation for my journey, I communicated telepathically with the Three Witches.
“Witches of Fate, are you ready to receive your Dark Lord, lover and consort into the extremely condensed realm of the flesh?”
Their response came instantly. “Yes precious, Great, Dark Lord Gladismere! We are ready to receive you! We need only recite our weightlessness incantation so your mega-super weight can be contained in the Spirit Condenser; and that you also don’t crash the entire earth!”
The spell rang out from the minds of the Three:
Before time began, you were with the none!
Since time began you’ve never seen the sun!
What goes up, must come down,
except when we say these words:
Weightlessness is all around, so that our Lord Gladismere can come down!
At the same time the Three Witches of Fate were reciting their incantation to call their Lord into the Spirit Condenser, Lord Gladismere summoned his own spirit to the exact spot on the Blueprint of the Universe to help facilitate the miraculous event that was about to take place.
After having done this, Lord Gladismere’s spirit felt an immediate jolt of searing pain, electrifying his whole being. The pain was indescribable; the millions of eyes that sum up his being were burning white hot now. His spirit now began moving at the speed of light, through time, space and eons, eventually exceeding the speed of all thought and comprehension. At this speed, Lord Gladismere’s thoughts were all too dizzy, even for himself. He couldn’t tell where he was going, or even know who he was during this transitional stage of his existence. The transition from the void had been too much for him. Even with all his planning and researching, it wasn’t enough to prepare him for what he was now facing.
At the present, I am just a mass of malignant radiation waiting to contaminate any living thing that gets close to me. I, Gladismere, have been reduced to cosmic radiation inside the Spirit Condenser. I have not taken any form in the flesh as yet, because the density of my molecular structure will cause any earth form to explode if exposed.
But the all-knowledgeable Witches of Fate; the ancient sisters Hezekell, Mizekia and Shirbella have foreseen this mishap and have a solution. Since Lord Gladismere’s whole spirit can’t be unleashed upon the earth outside of the Spirit Condenser (after all, he would crush the earth outside its confines), the Sisters have determined that the only way for their Lord Gladismere to comfortably meld completely into the flesh would be for the Sisters to perform two more spells. One would be a Spirit Splitting spell, which would enable a small portion of Lord Gladismere’s spirit to occupy the earth outside of the Spirit Condenser. The second spell would be an Enhancer spell, which would enable the severed spirit of Lord Gladismere to function as a whole spirit, with all the attributes and abilities, but at a lesser mass. Also, the two spells would require a willing donor to sacrifice his life and his flesh, so that Lord Gladismere’s spirit could inhabit the remains.
As the Three Witches of Fate would have it, this was also foreseen before these events with Lord Gladismere even transpired. Before these events had taken place, the Three Witches of Fate, using telepathic communication in every conceivable language, had sent an all out bulletin to every large evil life form to inquire if anyone was willing to donate their life and flesh to champion their evil cause. All who received the appeal to come to the aid of Lord Gladismere by donating their life became deathly afraid and fled in terror from the invisible thoughts, all except for one mythical creature: the dreaded Renegade Lion of the Black Forest. He alone had the courage to allow Lord Gladismere a chance to meld into the flesh. However there was one small glitch in the Dread Lion’s offer. He would offer his flesh and life to the cause of Lord Gladismere, but only after he was defeated in battle by an opponent of the Witches’ choosing.
So Lord Gladismere was possibly going to take the form and flesh of the Dread Renegade Lion of the Black Forest, provided that the Three Witches of Fate could find a suitable champion to defeat the Dread Lion in battle.
The Dread Lion was a natural choice for Gladismere to inhabit, since the Lion was a predator and ruled the forest as King! Also, Gladismere’s thoughts would not be altered because his flesh would be the flesh of the dreaded Lion. His thoughts would still be his own – the thoughts of a fallen angel. The only form Lord Gladismere objected to inhabiting was the form of a man.
This story originates before the creation of the Universe, before the stars were ever even thought of, before Time itself! Time was just a thought in God’s mind at the aeon when this story evolved.
This story began in the Dark Void of Unseen Spirits, that bottomless pit you’re told of in your religious books, the Void which existed before Time began! This is our story, how we became Fallen Angels cursed from God’s presence for all Eternity, with no hope for salvation or redemption for our sins.
Time began when God spoke light into existence. Before Time began there were only aeons and aeons of The Power! There was no such thing as Time, only Space and The Eternal Ones.
My name is Gladismere. I am the Father of all that is evil and unlikable. I am the author of the plot to destroy the light forever! It was I who betrayed God’s Sacred Trust in overseeing the Children of the Ever Blest. For my indiscretions I was cast out of Heaven forever, and sentenced to an isolated spot in the Void, without the comforts of my consorts, the Three Witches of Fate named Hezekell, Mizekia, and Shirbella.
I am Gladismere, ancient of Time and Days: sentenced to a spot in the Void with less space to occupy than 400 picasquares, which is equivalent to about 300 trillion galaxies, as measured by a mortal man.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “300 trillion galaxies is a lot of space, right?” But believe me pal, to an Angel like myself, 300 trillion galaxies, or even 300 trillion picasquares isn’t even enough space for me to fit my entire being into, unless of course, I use a Spirit Condenser to alter my form.
300 picasquares to an immortal being is jail! Pure jail, plain and simple. I, whose thought patterns have permeated the entire Void for infinite aeons, now sentenced to a space the size of 300 picasquares is totally ludicrous! I, who served the Living God for aeons untold, sentenced to Valgalla, the feared and dreaded Valgalla! Me! Gladismere!
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “You don’t get sentenced to Valgalla for Just Behavior, right?”
Ok, maybe not. I’ll let the readers judge for themselves. I say it was God who betrayed the Angels, and not the other way around! Weren’t we with God for aeons untold? And all of a sudden, God says he’s going to create man in his own image and likeness, and give him flesh with which to clothe his spirit!
If I had a jaw when I found out about that, it would have dropped to the bottom of the Void. I was jealous, envious, angry and all of that! If you only knew how beautiful God really is, then you might understand my resentment. But no man has ever seen God at any time, so a man couldn’t even begin to understand the hurt and animosity that an Angel is capable of feeling. We’re talking about a being who wasn’t even created, who existed with God for aeons uncountable, almost as an equal! It was very disheartening to discover that God was going to create living beings from the cosmic dust of the void, rather than use a Spirit Condenser and his almighty power to give his “loyal servants” a “shot” at life.
Granted, mankind hadn’t been created yet, but his presence on the “Blueprint of Eternity means he was, he is, and he is yet to come. Besides, he was going to be in God’s own image and likeness, and privileged to be surrounded by the flesh, while on the other hand, we Angels only have astral bodies which amount to a bunch of space and a bunch of eyes—oh, so many eyes we have!
So that’s my beef with God. I didn’t like the idea of sharing eternity with beings created by God’s Word. Yet, I’m powerless to stop God from speaking. And you want to know what’s scary about that? It’s that everything God says must come into being! Another thing I didn’t like was the fact that God was going to turn the lights on forever and expose our nudity to the Universe he was going to create.
This is how it all began over 200 trillion evolutions of aeons before time even began! When God existed with the Eternal Ones in the Void without interruption or interference, until that first day, the day when God created light. That’s when the trouble outside the Void began. The Ancient Society, as it was called, existed and endured before time began. The Society was a dwelling of spiritual entities that all had the power of mental Telepathy, which was in fact the only form of communication or movement in the Void, except for God Almighty. God always had the power to move, and as I now understand it, God always had the power to speak.
Only he never did, except for that one time when he spoke his whole entire name. Man, you should have heard how long it was! How loud it was at some points and how quiet some of the other syllables were at other points! It scared the whole of the Void white and cold with fear! Notwithstanding was the fact that the entire void existed at a steady temperature of Absolute Zero. Only God and his movements over the face of the deep had any heat at all. In those periods of evolution, before the light was created, God’s movement was almost unchartable!
It wasn’t until the creation of the light that God’s movement could charted on the eternal fabric of the Void. After the light was created, His movement became much faster and the Void much warmer. This fact alone caused terror untold, to the true worshippers of the original conditions!
But that’s neither here nor there. The real issue at hand is this business with mankind, and the transferring of power from God to man through Jesus! It’s all well and good for man, who just appeared on the scene, and gets exclusive rights to eternity, without any love shown, any moral values adhered to, any loyalty shown throughout the ages, or anything resembling dedication or love to those who came before!