The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Morning

A note from a student, "J", who has a serious weight challenge:
I just wanted to brief you on my first fasting attempt. Now, mind you, I am approaching this very cautiously due to medical issues. I did not go the 36 hours but just 24 instead to see how things went. I went from 6pm yesterday until 6pm today. I generally don't wake up hungry when I am allowed to sleep until my internal alarm goes off. Oddly, I wake up quite hungry when I have to rise before the sun. At any rate, I didn't anticipate any problems the first half of the day but wondered what the 2nd half was going to be like. I have to say that I did drink a little milk as my medication cannot be taken with just water. Actually it says to take with food. I figured milk was a reasonable compromise. Drank my normal quota of coffee during the morning and early afternoon hours. I didn't notice feeling at all hungry until aroun 4pm and it kept getting more and more insistent until we sat down to dinner. Actually it was an interesting experience. I had anticipated being distracted and cranky and this was simply not the case. I went about my normal stuff. Mostly reading for school and drafting thoughts for two papers that I am working on. I found my focus actually a bit sharper than it might normally be but then again it could be the material as it is directly related to things o psyche and soul. I never once felt that low blood sugar feeling that I am familiar with. No shakes or sweats or nasea. Thumbs up. I plan to try it again next weekand and go the full 36 if I can work it in. We have lots of family stuff happening.


6 to 6 is just fine for getting the health benefits. Don't worry about the 36 hour thing--I'm pushing the edge there for a very specific reason. If you could handle a 6/6 I think you'd get fabulous results that would blow your mind--emotionally even more than physically. I kid you not. Don't set your eyes on the 36 six thing--remember that your ego will do anything in its power to slow you down, including having you do "too much" so you can fail and add it to the trash heap. I suspect I.F. is the real deal. If you can, try it for say 2 weeks, and see what happens. You'd need to do some kind of minimal exercise too--the "Five Tibetans," which take around ten minutes, is as good a minimum as I've ever seen.

But congratulations for even thinking about I.F.--I think on some level it has to scare the piss out of you.
What would you like to see in a book on the subject of I.F.?


You're right..on some level it does scare the piss out of me. That's where all of my projections were coming from. And continue to come from. I'm thinking, ok, that went alright but who is to say what will happen next time? Huh? I will do it again. Since things went so well yesterday I am tempted to try it on a normal work day and see how it goes. My days are really long though these days so I'm uncertain and yes, hella scared. I'm thinking I will wait until Thursday when I don't have evening clients scheduled and run that through. BTW - my blood sugar reading the past couple of days have been the best I've had in months. Good news.

I've already considered the exercise thing and began that a couple of weeks back in anticipation of trying this. I walk every day at work. Approx 1/2 mile. It takes me about 15-20 minutes at this point. I'll add distance as that becomes easier and my time gets shorter. I have failed repeatedly at things that require my time and attention in the morning so won't set that up again at this point.

What would I like to see in a book? I would like to see the whole issue of the seriously obese addressed. While I think it is a great tool for someone looking to master their baser instincts and really master their lives, if it is what you think it is then it will be an even better tool for those of us that seriously war (it's not a battle) with our health and our weight. We are generally given a set of dietary guidelines that read like a death sentence in some very real ways. ALL of the things that have given us pleasure in the past are now verboten and we are given no way of countering that. What is offered just seems paltry and entirely insufficient. Like trading a baby's bottle for a pacifier when he is screaming with hunger. But, to do something for just a day at a time, much like a twelve step program, might be doable. I'm not sure about the broader audience. I am certain that most will have the same fears that I have had. I am not sure how you counter that. Each person has to address those fears individually and resolve to 'just do it' as the saying goes. That monkey mind screams really loud! "What will we do without food?????" "We will die!!!!" And since it says we, it means me too. Hell, I don't care if it dies. It needs to. It's really been in the way for a long time.

I would like to see referenc to the specific research on weight loss, blood chemistry and blood sugar effects along with other current measures of health in our modern medical system. Perhaps also, if the data exists, something coming from the Eastern philosophies about this lifestyle/regimen. Also, the female physiology as well. The mere fact that we generally carry more body fat than men do makes our task just a little harder. We also cannot generate as much lean muscle as men. In my mind this means that our ability to generate calorie burning material (muscle) is limited and less efficient than mens. I may be way off base here but I would like to see the hard science on this.

Beyond that, can you address the metaphysics in this? What is the spiritual aspect, if any? I would think there is. I haven't pondered it long enough to find it myself but will consider that over the next few weeks as I experiment with this.

Sorry to have rambled. Just giving you what is on my mind. Sometimes I don't make much sense.

On another note, I am reading a fantastic book that you might find interesting. "Money and the Meaning of Life" by Jacob Needleman. Addressing a completely different aspect of spirituality.

More as I have more to offer.

Much love,


Would you keep a journal, or write down your thoughts about this stuff as you go? Your perspective (and training) might be invaluable for others, and unique. You're quite right--if this is what it looks like, it is a nuclear bomb. Do X, get Y result. Period. Man oh man, that would be terrifying to the ego! I empathize completely.

Your walking sounds great. Keep it up!

J --

6 to 6 is just fine for getting the health benefits. Don't worry about the 36 hour thing--I'm pushing the edge there for a very specific reason. If you could handle a 6/6 I think you'd get fabulous results that would blow your mind--emotionally even more than physically. I kid you not. Don't set your eyes on the 36 six thing--remember that your ego will do anything in its power to slow you down, including having you do "too much" so you can fail and add it to the trash heap. I suspect I.F. is the real deal. If you can, try it for say 2 weeks, and see what happens. You'd need to do some kind of minimal exercise too--the "Five Tibetans," which take around ten minutes, is as good a minimum as I've ever seen.

But congratulations for even thinking about I.F.--I think on some level it has to scare the piss out of you.
What would you like to see in a book on the subject of I.F.?


You're right..on some level it does scare the piss out of me. That's where all of my projections were coming from. And continue to come from. I'm thinking, ok, that went alright but who is to say what will happen next time? Huh? I will do it again. Since things went so well yesterday I am tempted to try it on a normal work day and see how it goes. My days are really long though these days so I'm uncertain and yes, hella scared. I'm thinking I will wait until Thursday when I don't have evening clients scheduled and run that through. BTW - my blood sugar reading the past couple of days have been the best I've had in months. Good news.

I've already considered the exercise thing and began that a couple of weeks back in anticipation of trying this. I walk every day at work. Approx 1/2 mile. It takes me about 15-20 minutes at this point. I'll add distance as that becomes easier and my time gets shorter. I have failed repeatedly at things that require my time and attention in the morning so won't set that up again at this point.

What would I like to see in a book? I would like to see the whole issue of the seriously obese addressed. While I think it is a great tool for someone looking to master their baser instincts and really master their lives, if it is what you think it is then it will be an even better tool for those of us that seriously war (it's not a battle) with our health and our weight. We are generally given a set of dietary guidelines that read like a death sentence in some very real ways. ALL of the things that have given us pleasure in the past are now verboten and we are given no way of countering that. What is offered just seems paltry and entirely insufficient. Like trading a baby's bottle for a pacifier when he is screaming with hunger. But, to do something for just a day at a time, much like a twelve step program, might be doable. I'm not sure about the broader audience. I am certain that most will have the same fears that I have had. I am not sure how you counter that. Each person has to address those fears individually and resolve to 'just do it' as the saying goes. That monkey mind screams really loud! "What will we do without food?????" "We will die!!!!" And since it says we, it means me too. Hell, I don't care if it dies. It needs to. It's really been in the way for a long time.

I would like to see referenc to the specific research on weight loss, blood chemistry and blood sugar effects along with other current measures of health in our modern medical system. Perhaps also, if the data exists, something coming from the Eastern philosophies about this lifestyle/regimen. Also, the female physiology as well. The mere fact that we generally carry more body fat than men do makes our task just a little harder. We also cannot generate as much lean muscle as men. In my mind this means that our ability to generate calorie burning material (muscle) is limited and less efficient than mens. I may be way off base here but I would like to see the hard science on this.

Beyond that, can you address the metaphysics in this? What is the spiritual aspect, if any? I would think there is. I haven't pondered it long enough to find it myself but will consider that over the next few weeks as I experiment with this.

Sorry to have rambled. Just giving you what is on my mind. Sometimes I don't make much sense.

On another note, I am reading a fantastic book that you might find interesting. "Money and the Meaning of Life" by Jacob Needleman. Addressing a completely different aspect of spirituality.

More as I have more to offer.

Much love,


There's a book there, written by a kidney specialist. He's advocating I.F. with some very specific limitations, including "don't try it if you're over 25 pounds overweight." Let's put it this way: if you are, talk to your doctor. This is a very, very good idea.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Black Voices blurb for CASANEGRA

BLAIR UNDERWOOD: Bringing Sexy Back to Novels


Actor Blair Underwood is bringing sexy back to novels. According to Publishers Weekly (PW), the television and movie star has hooked up with husband and wife writing team Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes to pen a new detective novel called CASANEGRA. Isn't that a great picture of the three of them?

Underwood, Due and Barnes met when the actor-turned-producer bought the film rights to Due's 1998 novel, My Soul to Keep. The film is currently in pre-production but the three artists kept in touch and eventually developed an idea that became CASANEGRA.

The novel tells the story of Tennyson Hardwick, a gorgeous actor and gigolo who wants to redeem the seedy history that estranged him from his father, a decorated LAPD captain. In the wake of his father's sudden illness, Hardwick has to save himself from taking the fall for a murder. According to PW, the book will likely become a movie with Blair being the prototype for Hardwick.

This isn't Underwood's first foray into the literary world. In 2005, he edited a collection about the wisdom of children called BEFORE I GOT HERE. Currently, he's shooting his feature directorial debut, an independent drama called Bridge to Nowhere that stars Ving Rhames and is the story of four blue-collar twenty-something men who team up with a prostitute to establish an escort service. The film follows their rise and subsequent fall. Sounds, uh, weird. You can also catch Underwood starring in HBO's anticipated new drama series, In Treatm ent.

If you're unfamiliar with the award-win! ning work of Due and the bestselling-work of Barnes, check out their books Joplin's Ghost and Great Sky Woman, respectively. Both writers were inspired by the late, great Octavia Butler.

I've read the first few pages of my advanced reading copy for CASANEGRA and you know how sometimes you can tell you're going to like a book from the jump? That's how I feel. I look forward to devouring it.

CASANEGRA drops in July and Underwood along with Due and Barnes will make select author appearances around the country. Look out for them!
FROM STEVE: Just thought I'd share this...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Short movie review and Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, recovering from cancer treatment, has been making the rounds of news programs in the last days. Unfortunately, he looked horrible, and could not talk. Heart-breaking, for those of us who remember him in feistier days. I never agreed with his movie reviews even 90%, but always respected him. And my sense is that he is saying goodbye. He does not expect to recover. I’m saddened.
“The Grindhouse” came out a couple of weeks ago. This experimental double-feature, by Tarantino and Rodriguez, appropriately evokes the experience of going to one of the sleezy movie houses I used to ditch High School for when I was a teenager. Of the two movies, I liked “Death Proof” better than “Planet Terror,” but while both were quite entertaining, neither was really good. And the overall experience, at over 3 hours, was exhausting rather than exhilarating. Remember intermissions? A "B"
My research suggests that I.F. practitioners will lose weight at first, and then stabilize. What I DON’T know is if there is any commonality to the stabilization point. My guess is that your body would want to stabilize at a healthy hunter/gatherer weight: good lean muscle mass, good balance. That would make sense evolutionarily. On the other hand, I have a little difficulty wondering why people with enough lard to feed a Ugandan village for a month would get hungry just because their blood sugar drops a bit. Doesn’t seem to be a great survival strategy. Maybe I’m looking at this backwards. Perhaps, time was that if you had this tendency, you collected weight until it began to impair your ability to hunt and gather. Then you either lost weight, or died. And civilization has removed this corrective mechanism.
Also, I suspect that aerobic fitness (or some aspect of it) also has impact. The number of us who have primarily sedentary jobs has gone through the roof. For most, a couple of hours a week in the gym just doesn’t compensate for 8 hours of farm work a day. In other words, the obesity epidemic is a symptom of the fact that WE WON! Now what we have to do is survive the victory…
Nicki is down to 165. That’s 1 1/2 pounds lost her first week of I.F. Not bad.
Personally, I’m finding that 3 days a week is about right for me. That way, I can have “cheat day” every Friday, or an extra eating day. For instance, I have a party to go to tomorrow night in Culver City—a producer who worked with me and T. Nicki will be going to Disneyland on Sunday, and her Mom is coming to town tomorrow. So she’ll fast today, eat Saturday and Sunday. I’ll fast today (I usually eat on Fridays), eat tomorrow and Sunday, and be back on the plan by Monday. That flexibility is great.
Dan, I’ve noticed a bit of improvement in endurance and coordination on fasting days.
A tiny downside: there is a bit more aggression as well. Watch the mood swings! Actually, I’ve noticed that I’m more aware of my emotions. The negative ones I tend to observe (which is a little spooky at times) while the positive ones pull me in to a deeper immersion. Cool.
In two months, after I’ve been on this eating plan 100 days, I’m going to start writing what I’ve learned in a book. The plan is to lay out all the data on the weight-loss, health, fitness, psychological, meditative, life-extension etc. effects, along with what is known about the right way to approach the entire question. All of your input if appreciated. I weighed myself at 178.6 this morning, so I’m “hovering” around there. Probably gaining muscle mass, which weighs more than fat, so I’m down to my last belt notch without losing more weight. I’m still going down to 175.0, and then I’ll check in with my doctor and see what my blood values are. More data.
I want to emphasize that I.F. gives you at least 3 extra hours a week. Please use that time, invest it in your future. Want to learn to draw? Paint? Read more? Here’s your time. Meditate? Learn to control your emotions, to focus? Well, just the I.F. itself is a hell of an exercise in clarity, isn’t it? No time to exercise? Now there is.
In other words, your excuses for not taking care of yourself have just been blown up. If you want your life back, here’s a valid key. For many of us, what will happen now is an explosion of the demonic voices in the backs of our heads saying why we can’t. And judging by what people have said, those answers are actually the reasons that big chunks of our lives are out of whack.
Habit patterns. Emotional addictions. Social pressure. Fear.
Look at this stuff, and the things that people have been kind enough to share here. Doesn’t this really break down to “the stuff that stands between me and my excellence”?
Think about it. How many of these reasons would you accept from your own son or daughter? Wouldn’t you encourage them to think and act for themselves? Don’t you deserve the same right, don’t you have the obligation to lead by example?
Children don’t pay much attention to what you say…but they pay quite a lot to what you do. The greatest gift you can offer your loved ones is an example. What is it to be healthy? Free? What is it to be in control of one’s biological drives and emotional damage? Meditation, balance, exercise, loving relationships, personal discipline…each of these things teaches us about ourselves, gives us a chance to dig into the stuff of our lives and profit by what we learn.
In many world cultures (if not all!) fasting is used to focus the mind and purify the body. It actually weirds me out a bit that I can’t find a group that eats in this pattern. Why the hell not? I’d think that human beings have tried every damn pattern of eating you can think of…
One possible reason is that unless you have a safe, reliable, clean source of food, it doesn’t make sense not to eat when there is food in front of you. Such reliable food supplies have only existed some hundreds of years—in many parts of the world, even less.
Perhaps this is the sort of dietary modification that could only thrive among an affluent people—I don’t know.
Any thoughts? Assuming that I.F. really is what it looks like, why hasn’t it been around forever?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Note from C.

A note from a young reader:

Yesterday, I finished Way of the Peaceful Warrior and knew that I would have to read it at least once or twice more. Before that though, my history teacher, who is quite in touch with himself and very inspirational, gave me the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn to read. He tells me that it was a major influence on his life and while I do not expect to be affected in the exact way, it still seems incredibly insightful.

The sense I am getting from myself these days is that I understand a lot of what I need to in order to embody happiness but I am too lazy or afraid to make the commitment and change life. What I am afraid of is figuring out that school as it is (especially high school, not as much university) is a waste of energy over annoying busy work and then quitting, thus ending my possibilities of getting an extremely high paying job with which I can help myself, my family, and maybe the world (ironic to think that money could help mother Earth).

While I see the teenage years as an unsteady time that would be better left alone, I also see them as a time of malleability with which I could sculpt my life. Pretty much, I am afraid to change my life but something tells me that there is no time like the present especially with the way the present is. Should I try to break my fear? I believe that much like Dan Millman, I will have to break my heart open to the world. Again, I am too afraid of what that would mean. And now for something totally different: I feel like I live my life too much in my head.

  p.s. I love how right now is not only the present, it is also a present

Dear C.:

The question is: should you try to break your fear? Well...there are certainly ways of doing it, but the more important task for you is finding balance between your three aspects, and then observing how each of those aspects is another version of your True Self. As you strive to improve your academics, your emotional connections, and your physical grace, you will learn a huge amount about yourself. This information must be chewed over mentally and emotionally. As you do this, you will learn everything you need to know about yourself. But yes, you must learn to "expose" your heart to the world. To do this, you must have increasing faith that nothing the world can do can damage your most essential core. Trust that nothing real can be created or destroyed. Seek relationships that support you in being your best. A physical discipline that protects and tests your body. And a career of joy, Self-expression and contribution--making money is more marketing than anything else. People get rich doing all kindsa silly stuff--so you might as well choose something that brings you pleasure.


I think it is worthwhile when considering the concept of "adulthood" that the doorways almost always have to do with disciplining and focusing the "animal" energies and urges. Control urination and defecation to become a toddler. Control the instant reward urge to study and plan for the future. Control the "you're not the boss of me" false autonomy urge to work at a job. Control the sexual urge to build a stable relationship. It would be reasonable to say: what is an adult? I'm not certain. But I know what behaviors are clearly labeled "childish" and by controlling these, we certainly open the door to growth.

The hunger urge is one of those basic body urges. Children cannot control it. Babies cry when they don't get their bottle, and children can't understand why they can't have Ice Cream for breakfast. Fasting even for a day will force your food demons out of hiding, force you to answer basic questions about what food means, what meals mean, what demands are appropriate to respond to from our families.

In other words, I.F. gives you the opportunity, every other day, to take a stand against the world. Look at the obesity epidemic in America, and you'll see a nation whose automatic animal urges are so easily satisfied that the great struggle of the 21st Century will be to operate AGAINST our basic human urges: to eat, to consume, to revel in pleasurable sensations, to feed our appetites, to expand power, to demonize the "other," to share power, to deny full humanity to those who do not superficially resemble us. This stuff, which touches everything from obsesity to broken marriages to pollution and global warming to the "war on terror" to racial discrimination to sexism to child abuse...can all be traced to an inability to control basic, innate human/animal urges. The call to "wake up" could not be stronger. You can't open to being more loving when there is an unmanable threat. If the "child" aspect of our personalities is to be safe...and it must be for creativity to thrive...then we must be consciously awake. Adult. We must be aware that there are tigers in the woods, but also grasp that the tigers are just as afraid of us as we are of them. That doesn't mean not to build walls, or kill tigers when they attack. But it also suggests ways of living with tigers so that they do not view us as their natural prey.
Engaging with the "stuff" in our subconscious by commiting to our human relationships, our communities, our healthy sexuality, our abundant physicality, our self-expressive careers...this is a maturing path. Show me someone with healthy relationships, a healthy bank account, and a healthy body, and you're showing me someone who has a very good chance of having mastered the basic questions of life...and is ready to move on to the profound ones.
I'm dying to hear about the experiences of those trying I.F. What are you doing with your extra time? What other different choices are you making in your life? What is the quality of the energy that sustains you through the day?

What, in other words, are you becoming? Who are you, separate from your animal urges?
Or more simply put: what is true?

What I.F., I.F. only, and I.F. this goes on...

I’ve been Intermittent Fasting since about March 1st, and I wanted to make some general comments.
1) Thanks to Michelle for her feedback on losing baby weight. I need more info from women on their experiences, physical and emotional. I’ve noticed that women definitely wonder if their physiological differences will influence their ability to do this.
2) My daughter Nicki started I.F. last Saturday. So she’s Fasting 3 days a week (Friday is always Cheat Day in our house. A fine tradition…) She says that she hasn’t had as much difficulty with hunger as she had anticipated. Also, her hypoglycemic mood swings didn’t bother her, which she considers kinda weird. She’s been stuck on losing those last ten pounds, running into real emotional resistance…be interesting to see what happens on the scale this week.
3) This is not a weight-loss “diet” although it certainly seems to function that way. I’ve lost about 7 pounds, but I wasn’t really trying. This is a lifestyle choice designed for long-term health and fitness.
4) The “Golden Hour” concept really swings into play. I BEG you…with the time you save, invest at least 20 minutes, 3 X a week in some form of meditation. Another 20 minutes 3X a week in a progressive, intense form of exercise. Another 20 3X a week laying out your goals and plans on paper. Keep a journal.
5) Be super careful to get your vitamins and minerals. If you use hard capsules, consider getting a vitamin crusher to ensure absorption. Let’s not take chances!
6) I suggest the “Warrior Diet” approach on Feast days. That is: start with fresh fruits and vegetables. Then eat your lean proteins. Then your carbs. Drink a big glass of water, then wait twenty minutes. If hungry, start the eating pattern again. Eat until comfortably full.
7) Try meditating and/or exercising at the peak of your fast, after 24-36 hours. Do you notice any difference in intensity?
8) I’ve noticed that on Feast days, I’m gravitating toward even better food than usual. Strange. For instance: last Friday (Cheat Day) I went to the movies. I like movie hot dogs, but that day I went to the sandwich shop and bought a nice roast beef sandwich. I DIDN’T buy a cookie, which I ordinarily do at this particular shop. Rather than going hog-wild, my fasted appetite seems to be gaining sensitivity to what I really want to eat.
9) Exercising on Fasting Days seems to be a damned fine idea. The fasts aren’t long enough to trigger torpor, and the additional nervous energy can be channeled rather easily into sweat-time.
10) Observe your reactions. Notice your hunger without giving in to it. You ate yesterday. You’ll eat tomorrow. Look at every moment when you renew your commitment to this eating plan as a triumph of character and will. Some of the most powerful meditative practices on the planet originate in the conquest of body hungers.
11) When you think about I.F., what comes up? What fears? What reasons you "couldn't" do it? The most popular reason is the web of social responsibility. Look more carefully--you are staring into the exact, precise thing that anchors you in place. And I PROMISE you that it doesn't just devil you in the arena of weight. Career and Heartspace are also seriously impacted. Free yourself, and you are freeing your creativity, love, and spiritual potential as well. Your family needs you to be strong!
Who looks good in the Presidential field on the Republican side? I want a good, strong match-up next November. The ideas that make this country great come from both the Right and the Left. If the Right has screwed the pooch with Iraq, the country will travel to the Left, which is good. Too far in that direction will NOT be. I hear neither of the Democratic front-runners sounding too off the wall, so I’m not worried at the moment. But I know that, emboldened by success, the negative forces will arise. Maybe we don’t have to worry for 4-12 years. Not sure. Right now, I’m pretty happy about the way things are going politically.
But I never forget that neither side has a monopoly on honesty, intelligence, and love of this country. I feel that the honorable forces of the Right got somewhat knotted up after 9/11, and you’d better understand how easy that is to happen.
The truth is that any country that DOESN’T go a little nuts after it gets bitch-slapped probably isn’t going to survive. We have that tendency because it works. If somebody attacks you and you sit back and consider too long, there’s a very good chance you’re going to get wiped out by the assholes who attack first and think later.
So after 9/11 we went a little two-dimensional in our thinking…and that’s most of us, as a country. Don’t blame the Right for that. Now, after the emergency began to recede, the Left was able to let go and relax more quickly, and (in my opinion) start asking very valid questions, like
1) Why exactly should we not notice that Iraq has, like, these vast oil deposits? Isn’t it an odd coincidence that we’re invading there, with a mission that is damned near open-ended?
2) Isn’t it odd that we have an administration top-heavy in oil folks at this same time?
3) Isn’t it even odder that we have record oil prices at the same time as record oil company profits, but no one is supposed to believe that there is any connection at all?

I’m not saying there is a huge, direct connection. But then…there doesn’t have to be. Please remember than any large organization will act in its own interests, separate from the intents of ANY individual within it. Those who make decisions that increase profits will be rewarded. Those who make decisions that decrease profits will be punished.
THE DANGER IS IN NOT UNDERSTANDING THAT THOSE WITH CONNECTIONS TO ANY LARGE ORGANIZATION WILL TEND TO MAKE DECISIONS THAT MAKE SAID ORGANIZATION GROW. They don’t have to think about it. In fact, I’m convinced that quite often they convince themselves they really, truly have other motivations. And there are ALWAYS multiple motivations for doing things…
Not expecting a country that runs on money and oil not to have a hunger for both is close to suicidal. Yes, there were other motivations for going to war. But note what we were sold on.
And then grasp that, if there is a gap between what the public was generally told, and what the “true” motivations have turned out to be (in succession, we’ve been told Al Queda, WMDs, Middle East Stability, Freeing Iraquis, “fight them over there” etc.) then what we have is public officials willing to bend truth for their political purposes. Now, maybe those purposes are positive. But you’d better pay attention that they were willing to lie by omission at the very least. They are therefore no longer worthy of that “benefit of the doubt.” You have the right and the responsibility to measure them by their actions rather than their words.
And right now, the theory that is predictive (in my book) is of people paralyzed by fear, blinded by anger, hypnotized by oil money, and too psychologically rigid to admit they were wrong.
Based on that model, one can watch those at the centers of power trying this, that, anything to drag it out, to postpone the moment they have to admit they were wrong. In fact, consider that many on the Right have yet to admit that Vietnam was a mistake. This means that what they want is for Democrats to be the ones to pull out. That way, they can claim to their dying days that the war COULD have been won, if not for those Cut-And-Run liberals. Sigh. But remember, Lefties: the Right is us. It is our own defensive instincts. Do not mock them. Trust me, we’ll need them again. In fact we need them now. We just don’t need quite as much of them as we’ve had the last 8 years or so…

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obama-Clinton and other thoughts

So…according to the Rasmussan Reports poll, Obama is now neck and neck with Clinton. I’m still waiting for the debates, but he has a definite edge with me on Iraq: he railed against it from the beginning. Now, it might be suggested that, had he been a senator at the time, he would have backed the war. Valid speculation, but that’s all it is.
John McCain, for whom I have felt a certain degree of respect and affection, sang “Bomb-bomb-Iran” at a Veteran’s gathering. That sinks it for me. That is not the President I would wish in the White House. I hope that everything he has said and done is in alignment with his actual values. If not, he is a whore.
There was a question about how I wrote “The Invisible Imam” in three months. Wait: it gets worse. I also moved houses during that period. Oh, and I was traveling back and forth to Santa Monica to work at the Moonview Clinic. And writing a horror script, and doing NPR talks. Talk about stress!
The process began with Marco Palmieri at Pocket Books calling my agent, Eleanor Wood, and saying that they wanted me for a series of three books set in the 12th Century during the 3rd Crusade. Something I knew nothing about. I initially rejected the idea, but then realized that I was kind of intrigued by the idea of
1) Creating a book set in a video game world.
2) Having an excuse to write balls-out kickass action scenes, what I call “2 1/2 dimensional reality” where my characters can slightly bend the laws of physics. Aubry, I miss you.
So my initial concern was research. What kind of research would I need? What visual references? Was there anyone I knew who could help?
Well, my old friend Mushtaq, who had been invaluable during Lion’s Blood with Sufi stuff, knew Islam and the Middle East. If he would be available for conversations, that would make things easier. Then I found an audio course on the Crusades put out by the Teaching Company, which I trust completely. Their courses are GREAT. (
The next concern was the daily page count that would be necessary to pull this off. I decided to obtain a Dana laptop/keyboard/PDA, which gets like 50 hours on a charge, and handles Word files pretty well. Additional research books were identified, websites marked, and the film “Kingdom of Heaven” obtained as visual reference.
All right then, I decided. Let’s do this.
I had to create about 2000 words per work day to pull this off. Any day that I failed to create that much caused a little dark cloud of panic to hover on the horizon. I definitely divided work days into “Rough Draft” and “Polish” sections. Clearly dividing makes it possible to create a lot more text in a reduced time frame. But it also demands that I trust my subconscious self more than my ego likes to admit. When I write at that pace, I don’t have time to edit: it’s just go, go, go. Then, later, I can go back and polish.
What I discovered years ago is that if I write like this, I get results just as good as if I hunt and peck. It’s scarier, though.
Also during this period, I had to be very certain to get my daily word input. I didn’t have much time for pleasure reading, that’s for sure. It was all research. So I trusted my daily reading of “one scene of Shakespeare aloud per day.” (By the way: I just ended “The Life of King Henry the Fifth” and am beginning “The Life of King Henry the Eighth.” I think I’m going to complete my first full reading of Shakespeare by the end of the year! It will have taken me about…3 1/2 years, overall.)
Anyway, that’s the first chunk about “The Invisible Imam.” Now I’m doing my final re-write, after getting notes. I’ll do that on paper, with a printed version. Then input the notes, and then do a final read-through…
And send it off to Marco. Meanwhile, I have to produce 1000 words a day on “Shadow Valley”, the sequel to “Great Sky Woman” at the same time. Don’t want to fall behind…

Monday, April 23, 2007

A little more on Harlan

The following went out to my mailing list today:

Last Thursday night I was at the Writer’s Guild theater in Beverly Hills, watching a documentary on the life and work of one of my favorite writers and human beings, Harlan Ellison. Some hate him, some love him—I’m in the latter category, and have been for thirty years. A man of awe-inspiring levels of energy and creativity, his output includes thousands of stories, articles, teleplays, essays, and some of the most rabble-rousing public speaking you’ve ever seen.
He’s quite an experience.
I remember two friends of his, Leo and Dianne Dillon (fabulous artists who create as if they are one single mind) talking about the phenomenal creative stream this man can generate. I believe they were doing something called the “Chocolate Alphabet” where Harlan created twenty-six short short stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, one after another in rapid succession. They were simply stunned at the speed and clarity of his work, even after years of knowing him. He just churned it out.
Maybe you’ve heard of him sitting in bookstore windows doing pretty much the same thing: producing high-caliber stories under the kind of stress that would reduce most writers to catatonia. That’s because, in Harlan, what Steven King refers to as the “Boys in the Basement,” the subconscious demons of the creative process, are in full swing. Far more than almost anyone I’ve ever met, Harlan will, in writing or conversation, say whatever damnedfool thing comes to mind. Because he’s brilliant (or is he brilliant in part as a consequent of this?) much of what bubbles out is great stuff, informed by a lifetime of exploration and experience, and a level of literacy that would shame a librarian with OCD.
It is my belief that his genius is not God-given, that it is a result of a lifetime lived on an emotional edge, combined with a level of commitment and focus that most of us would never embrace. In my mind, anyone willing to give 100% of themselves to the craft, the work, can touch this same place of genius. Of course, there are consequences: his outbursts, antics, insults, lost jobs and long lists of enemies are legend. There is definitely a little kid in there, and that kid isn’t filtered very strongly. It just bursts out, often inappropriately. But this isn’t different from the genius-level creativity. By his own admission, if he’d been able to filter it, he would have achieved a higher level of financial success (but don’t mourne for Harlan: he lives quite, quite well.) But he literally can’t stop it.
But you can delve deeper into yourself without taking such high-wire risks. The idea is to become more and more like a human laser. For your beliefs, values, emotional charges and actions to all operate in a straight line, nothing fighting anything else. I don’t know anyone who is all the way there, but those who even approach it have hugely more energy and productivity, and report back an absurd level of life satisfaction. Now…combine this with balanced goals, and you have a person who can perform at high levels in their chosen field without disrupting family or community, or tearing their health apart.
The question of whether madness and genius must forever dance together was debated before I was born, and will continue to engage philosophers and psychologists after I am dust. My comment: Madness is coloring outside the lines. Genius is being able to harness this tendency to some specific intent. Success comes from convincing others that what you have accomplished is worth their energy and attention.
Someone asked me if there wasn't a double standard applied here: Harlan used the word "nigger" at the screening, and no one demanded his head. Well, I can' t speak for others, but I certainly didn't. Nor did I demand Imus' head. I just commented on how the upset was understandable. In fact, I specifically said I didn't think he was a racist, and that he'd been caught in the culture war. With Harlan, I KNOW he's not a racist: by his words and actions over thirty years of actually knowing the man. He marched with Dr. King in Selma. He paid Octavia Butler's way to Clarion, and nominated her for the McArthur Genius Grant. He's been my friend and verbal sparring partner and advisor for three decades. So when he used that word, I knew EXACTLY what he meant by it, and that's the whole difference. Words don't mean things. People mean things, and they use words to express them. Without context, there is no communication. Ladies, when your boyfriend says "sweetheart" it means one thing. If a groping boss says it, it means something totally different. While I didn't call for Imus' firing, I grasp why it happened (and in fact, if Harlan had said something similar, in a similar context, I might defend him, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he got fired.)
There is one last thing to think about in the Imus affair: throughout American history, haven't black men been more severely punished for insulting (or even interacting with!) white women than were white men? Doesn't this history of lynching and beatings suggest that, psychologically, people react more strongly when someone OUTSIDE their group does something than if someone INSIDE the group does it? Unless one was to suggest that whites are somehow freakish, is it terribly surprising when black people act the same way? My thought is that this is actually rather self-evident and obvious, but it doesn't serve those with the privilege to notice they've got it...however much they might complain when a fragment of it is taken away. And the vast majority of those who couldn't understand why Imus was pilloried were...wait for it...white heterosexual Christian males, the same group that gets the privilege and is fascinatingly oblivious to it. In other words, they noticed the pain when it finally touched them. THAT was the purpose of the Imus firing. Not to specifically punish that poor idiot, but to draw a line saying "you don't get to decide how far you can step over this." Is it fair? Hell no! It is no less fair than human culture has been, on this issue, when the shoe was on the other foot. Don't point the finger if you don't know your own history.
Or as Sho 'Nuf (the Shogun of Harlem) said: "Stings a little, don't it?"
I can’t help it. I just can’t. I should, but I can’t. Last week I got the student evaluations back from the L.A. Screenwriter’s Expo. I taught three different classes: Plot, Deep Characterization, and Science Fiction. My classes were crowded to bursting (I was listed as a “Star Speaker”) but you never know whether people really get what you’re saying. Well, just for giggles, here’s a sampling of the comments:
“This man rocks! One of the best workshops I’ve been to in 12 years…should be available on DVD”
“Fantastic depth of knowledge”
“Taught with great passion…great class”
“Best of the seminars.”
“Easily one of the best of the best…”
And my personal favorite: “This gentleman is a genius—pure and simple.”
Frankly, I am neither pure nor simple, but I appreciate the thought.
At any rate, if writing is your goal, I’d strongly suggest you pick up a copy of my LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG set. It’s the core of everything I teach, applied specifically to writing. End of ad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Harlan Ellison screening

Last night I was at the Writer's Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, watching a movie that I have a tiny part in (about 1.5 seconds, to be exact). It is the documentary on Harlan Ellison, one of the very greatest science fiction writers who have ever lived, and one of the 20th Century's finest men of letters. It was an extremely emotional experience--I've known Harlan since the 60's and it has been one of the great pleasures of my life to be his friend. Harlan is 72 now (Jeeze, that's hard to believe), almost as sharp and fast as the first day I met him, even after considerable health challenges. But what is very clear about this amazing man is that he is the real thing, the genuine article, a human being who has remained true to his inner essence, his sense of self, at all costs. In general, people either love or hate him, and I can easily see why either response could be appropriate. The film covers his entire life, and is probably as true to the experience of this wild-man as anything that could ever be created. They screened it for an audience of, what? Maybe 400? People who'd come in from all over the country just to celebrate with him. Unfortunately, Tananarive couldn't make it (our baby sitter dropped out on us) so I was there along with notables like D.C Fontana, Denny Skotak, Len Wein, Werner Herzog, Robert Klein, and others. I was so proud and happy for Uncle Harlan. He is one of a kind. If you've never gotten to see anything other than the public personae, check this out. Love him or hate him, you'll come a lot closer to understanding him.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I.F. report from Canada

One of the guys on the Lifewriting discussion list, sent the following note about his experiment with Intermittent Fasting. Hope he doesn't mind if I share:
[lifewritingdiscussionlist] IF report from Canada

Hey gang,

Today is the end of week 3 of my IF experiment. I've lost ten pounds
total, without losing anything from my arms, which is one of my
benchmarks--so far, loss seems to be mostly from the waist. I switched
from a powerlifting regimen to a bodybuilding one when I started this,
as I wanted to keep my muscle--I actually gained weight the second
week; my arms exploded, while my waist shrank. Just now poked a new
hole in my belt, so I can cinch that bad boy up. So far, my main
problem with this is that it rings my too-good-to-be-true alarm like
crazy. It's just perfectly suited to my temperament and lifestyle. No
real feeling of deprivation, no real temptation to cheat, haven't even
come close. Significant gains in strength in every lift today in the
gym. No loss of energy or endurance. I haven't adjusted my workout
schedule to fit the diet at all--whatever day the workout falls on, is
what I go with. The workouts on the fast days are actually
better--more energetic, more alert. No dizziness, light-headedness,
etc. I often hit a mildly euphoric stage at about 11 am on the fast
day, which usually carries through to about 2 pm or so. I mean, I feel
GOOD. By 6 pm, I'm hungry, but not cranky or desperate. Not obsessing
about food. Alleged/hoped-for health benefits aside, I'm enjoying
being on this diet more than I was enjoying not being on any kind of
diet at all. Which is my ideal: the perfect exercise is what you'd do
if you didn't have to exercise; the perfect job is the one you'd do if
you didn't need the money; the perfect diet is the one you'd do if you
didn't need to diet.

Pluses so far:

Feel GOOD on fast days.
Food tastes GOOD on feast days.
Zero guilt during feast days.
My cravings almost instantly altered from junk/sweet/fast to stuff
like steak, salads, fruit. Which is good.
I am waking up earlier, and more refreshed.
Mentally sharper, more awake, more alert.
Cardio is slightly less unpleasant than usual.
My weight-training has been completely rejuvenated.
Less hassle: fewer dishes, less shopping, less cooking, etc; fast days
seem like free days--so much extra time and energy.
Less mental hassle: less time thinking/worrying/feeling guilty about
Spending less money. Eating out WAY less.

Minuses so far:

1) Waiting for other shoe to drop.
2) The suspicion that, if the other shoe doesn't drop, I will become
even more annoying than I already am, which is really saying something.

I had a full physical at the end of February; I'll get another one in
September. That will be the real test; how cholesterol, blood sugar,
etc, has been affected.

My personal approach has been:

1) 6pm to 6pm.
2) My feast day is a FEAST day. I eat a lot. Whenever, whatever. I was
going to try to eat healthy during feast days, but my cravings
changed, as I said, so I'm not trying to do it, I'm just doing it.
3) In addition to my usual supplements--fish oil, Greens +,
glucosamine, B12--I've started taking creatine, a protein shake, and a
multi-vitamin on my feast days. I only take supplements on feast days.
4) The only thing I ingest, besides water, on my fast days, is my
normal morning three cups of java. (Black, just plain coffee, no sugar
or milk or anything.) I consider even that to be cheating, but I
figure the positive metabolic effects of the coffee negate the
negative effects of the 15 or so calories of the coffee. But I may
decide to forgo that.
5) Hasn't come up yet, but if there are social events where I will
want to eat, I will just adjust my fast accordingly. So, if I know I'm
going to lunch with a friend at 2 pm on a fast day, I'll cut my feast
day off at noon instead of 6 pm on the previous day. That should work,
especially since I'm an asshole who hardly has any friends.
6) Don't keep much snack food/easy food around during fast days; why
tempt myself unnecessarily?
7) Lots and lots of water.

Thing I wonder about:

1) How much harder would this be if I were having to fix meals for
people during my fast days? Considerably, I'd guess.
2) How does human awareness affect the results? On my fast days, I
KNOW I'm going to get fed tomorrow, which is part of why this has been
easy for me; if I were a wee cowrin timrous beastie, fast days might
be a little scarier, which might intensify the whole process, thus
increasing the benefits.

Anyhoo, three weeks is obviously way too early to make any grand
pronouncements or trustworthy judgements, but screw that. I say:
wowsers. Wow. Fricking. Zers. I'm with Steve; this feels to me like a
HUGE breakthrough for human health and performance.

Take care,
My daughter is going to try it until Summer, just to see what effect it has. I did yoga today and felt STRONG. My kettlebell workout yesterday was strong as well, even when I compressed the rest periods to increase the amount of muscle synthesis. My calf muscle are popping out kinda weirdly, as well. Getting lots of work done, have more energy to play with Jason--he was riding his bike around our little community complex, while I jogged alongside. Felt like nothing.
I am speculating. If this program fools your body into thinking you are a hungry hunter-gatherer, what results would your body TRY to accomplish?
1) All hunter-gatherer skills or abilities increased. Endurance, speed, strength, agility, aggression, healing, immune functions, etc. How about sensory awareness? Sight, hearing, etc? Taste and smell certainly.
2) Would sex drive go up or down? Not sure. Mine seems to have gone up. Reasoning about it, I would kinda expect the body to reduce sex drive so as to reduce the number of children born in a time of drought or famine. Doesn't seem to be the case: must be another mechanism.
another thing. I came across an experiment where mice spinal cords were severed. Half were put on I.F. and that half started twitching their paws again. What? I thought damned near nothing re-grew nervous tissue! couple this with the resistance to Alzheimers, and the increase in alertness and focus, and one is tempted to suggest that it could increase functional intelligence, if not actual "g".

Thursday musings

You’re missing “Dark Night of the Soul” and “The Leap of Faith” and “Confront Evil—Victorious”
The Lifewriting mailing list is specific to writing and exploring the connection between Chakras, the Hero’s Journey, and creative consciousness. It’s also the way I promote my LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG COURSE. I sell enough of ‘em to buy sushi. The link is on my main web site.
Let’s tie Intermittent Fasting in with the rest of the personal development things, shall we?
MEDITATE DURING YOUR HUNGRIEST TIME. Now, for me, that would be the morning after a fast day. My system is like, WAY empty. I wake up wanting food. My body NEEDS food. Especially if I worked out yesterday (which I did) my muscles have been synthesizing new tissue, and building it out of stray amino acids…which are near depletion. Another twelve hours and I’m entering ketosis. So the alert bells are sounding. If you can calm yourself and find the “light,” or whatever you use as an analogue for a balanced, centered internal state, that is definitely a power move.

Take it further. When you reach a place of peace and centeredness, notice the way you are breathing. File this information away. How deep? How slow? Where in your belly? Now. One of the things about meditation is that it enables you to observe your process rather than simply being carried away by it. So, the next time you are upset, stressed, angry...note your breathing. I PROMISE that it will be much, much different from your centered breath. Consciously change patterns. How do you learn to do this? Why, the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE, of course. Five times a day, at every hour divisible by 3 (9,12,3,6,9) stop and breathe for 60 seconds. This will teach you to consciously "shift states" at will.

As you go more deeply into your meditations, learn to identify states of creativity, sexual excitement, attention, near-sleep, etc. Keep this up, and you'll be mastering the ability to shift states almost at will. At this point, you are no longer controlled by your automatic patterns. You are slipping into the driver's seat.

And the state beyond that seems to be the one where you seriously speculate about who exactly the "driver" really is.
Remember that there are only two questions: "What is true?" and "Who am I"
Actually, there is only one. Can you figure out what it is?
Had a long conversation with Mushtaq yesterday about definitions. He is concerned that my use of the term “Enlightenment” carries with it certain baggage that might actually impede my ability to attain it. Fair enough. But I have a very specific meaning, which might not be exactly the dictionary definition, or even the originally intended definition:
Sustained, non-dualistic awareness or “awakeness.” Asking yourself multiple times during the day “am I awake” will eventually alert you to the fact that there are variable levels of this quality, and lead you to deeper and higher clarity. But (in my mind) the moments in which you are “awake” must be sustained until the ego shell crumbles. This ego-death is, so far as I can see, permanent. Now, you can put your old ego back on, sort of like an ill-fitting suit, to interact with other humans and live in this world. But “you” are gone. Looked at this way, “you” cannot become enlightened. But you can die, and release the truth of your existence. What exists on the other side of this is NOT the same as what existed before…but your friends and families are likely to misunderstand. Because this “new” being experiences the world in a completely different fashion, it may be difficult to relate to your old life and intimate relationships.
This is the reason that I ain’t sprinting toward enlightenment. I’m happy to graze around the edges: I have a family to raise, and a wife to love. And I will accept nothing less than fulfilling this joyous and sacred obligation. But when Jason is grown…well, I will have different options. And “I” want to see what’s out there, even at the cost of “my” own existence. “I” want truth. Truth is more important than life itself. As is honor.

But don’t worry about accidentally triggering this change, folks. Unless you’re meditating six hours a day on the secret mantra of DubbleBubble, you ain’t gonna wake up in the Kundalini Equation. That would be roughly equivalent to the guys who don’t want to lift weights because they “don’t want to look like Arnold.” Yeah, right. Ten years of Six hours a day, perfect genetics, Perfect diet, the drive of Attila the Hun, and a healthy dose of chemical stimulation might get you there. Your little hour a day in the gym? Not a prayer. These “outer edge” accomplishments are for the obsessed. It’s like saying “I don’t want to go for a walk, because I might end up in New York.”
I was 176.8 this morning. Better eat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Student Becomes the Teacher

(This is what I sent out in my Lifewriting newsletter today...)
Student Becomes The Teacher

This last phase of the Hero’s Journey represents the movement to the next level of life. One has completed childhood, and become an adult. There are few conditions of human existence more important and discussed than the process of maturation. In fact, it is said that there are only two basic stories: the child becomes and adult, and the adult faces death.
This phase is also referred to as “the return to the village with the Elixer” as well. I like “Student Becomes Teacher” because it symbolizes that the person who once needed to learn in order to fulfill a specific destiny is now the repository of wisdom. In “Star Wars: A New Hope” Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are given medals while people cheer. This means that their society considers their actions and character worthy of emulation.
It is important to remember that reach this stage ends nothing in life: it merely opens a new doorway to a new set of challenges.
To apply this step to the Lifewriting theory of drama, ask yourself seriously: in what way has my character completed herself? What does she have to offer the world now (if only a bad example!) What does she still have to learn? You may or may not address this directly in your script or story, but you should know.
To deepen this further, ask yourself: “In what way have I completed myself? In what arenas am I prepared to be a leader in my community, with my family?” In any of the three major arenas (fitness, career, relationships) there are major lessons that our communities desperately needs. Leaders must arise. Obesity, broken marriages, credit debt, teen pregnancy…there are so many ways where honest, sincere voices could make a difference. If you yourself have broken through a barrier in one of these, why not give your wisdom to the world?
And to look at it another way, what work do you still need to do? Why not write a story about THAT? In that way, the structures of drama can help you gain perspective on your life, and your world. It is always easier to solve problems for other people, right? You may find that you come up with the exact answer you need!
Get to work, guys, and I’ll be back soon with some terrific ideas gained from the last four months of INTENSE writing projects. Whew! It’s really been a challenge…but heck, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it…
Poet Nikki Giovanni apparently was teaching at Virginia Tech, and had Cho Seung-Hui in her class. She said he was "scaring the other students" and asked for him to be removed from her class. Good intuition there, Nikki. Damn.
So I pigged out yesterday and my weight has still stabilized at 178. I'm going to cautiously take it down to 175 now, but I'm simultaneously building muscle as well. I'm going to take a good look at some of the most common body-building foods (tuna, peanut butter, etc.) and include them in my "snack" category. On IF, you definitely need to pay attention to your hunger urges on Feast days, or you'll drop weight too quickly. I no longer need Hoodia, and my guess is that in about a week, this game really begins--in the sense that physical changes really start manifesting after about 6 weeks of a new program.
I've been in mild overwhelm with all my projects since Thanksgiving. Turning in ASSASSIN'S CREED helped. Now there's a book review, a script re-write, and some other little pieces. I've got a DANA laptop/keyboard, a lovely little PDA made of high impact molded plastic. It's little LCD screen isn't great for editing, but it's boffo at creating new rough text. So I'm starting to create lists of "plug-ins," scenes in projects that are self-contained, from 100-2500 words, that I can write in a burst of flow. In that way, I can create one "plug in" every day, minimum, no matter where I am or what I'm doing. (The Dana fits comfortably in a backpack. It's like a keyboard with an LCD. Neat. Batteries hold like 50 hours of writing at a charge!) This means that no matter how #$@@%! busy I get, I'm making progress, and that helps to stave off panic...
I like breaking my fasts with fruit, or a fruit smoothie. My smoothies use mixed frozen fruit chunks in a base of orange juice. Then I add "Ultimate Meal" powder, which has a great, organic, wide-spectrum of nutrients. My body really likes this. When I don't give my body the nutrients it needs, I'll start feeling it in my joints, I'll feel achy, get cracked lips and little sores inside my mouth. When I take good care of myself, my body feels just great, and eager for the next workout...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To slp and an Iraq thought

"My apologies, Steve. Apparently I didn't realize that being a person of color made that person an authority on all aspects of prejudice, just like a person surviving cancer makes them an authority on all aspects of cancer."
Wow. Something really touched a nerve there. I never said I was an authority on all aspects of prejudice. I never said that white people don't have valid perceptions. I HAVE said that I've never met a white, straight, lean-bodied, Christian middle-class male with much of a clue about prejudice, but change any one of these parameters and they grasp the problem much more rapidly. (I could add things like height, nation of origin, etc.) I have opinions, but I don't recall mistaking them for the "truth."

"And no, I ain't 100% white, and I grew up in SD where it was legal to kill Native Americans until the 1970s. And if you had any real experience of the system, maybe talked with some non-white police officers and correctional officers, you might have learned something about trying to keep people alive and safe in a broken system that all you middle and upper class people such as you safe in their homes wanting their legislatures to pass more and more punitive laws to put people in those systems and then get upset when they hear about someone actually try to help those people in there instead of just throwing away the key."

Excuse me? You're assuming I haven't had "real experience" with the system, aren't you? A bit presumptuous. And if I am upper middle class, I wasn't born there. I worked my way up. Did I criticize you? I was pointing out a way that the prisoners might be feeling, or that I believe it likely for them to be feeling. I never said anything about your intent, honor or performance. Touchy, touchy.

"You will say what you want, regardless of what I say, and you will apparently do you best to categorize me as racist because I wondered about some behaviors. I was going to ponder about the effects of a non-white being raised in a racist environment being equivalent to a frog being slowly boiled (a frog will try to jump out of a pan of water that is suddenly boiling. It will not attempt to jump out if the temperature is slowly raised to boiling over a long period of time). I was also going to ask about this being related to the fact that some people seem to find an economic advantage in racism, and that these people may not be whom we think they are, but you are too focused on other points."

Again, WHAT??? How did I categorize you as a racist? I said and think no such thing, man. Jeeze. Kindly quote to me what I said that makes you think I would feel that way. As to your questions about frogs and so forth, and people finding an economic advantage in racism, I have no idea what you mean. I am, on the other hand, quite certain that there are people who use racism as an excuse not to try, or to excuse failure. That doesn't mean that racism doesn't exist, and is not subtly pervasive, just that human beings will avoid responsibility for their own lives at any cost. And I think this tendency (and all basic human tendencies) are distributed equally across the racial spectrum. To me, there is absolutely nothing special about being white--either positively or negatively.

"Have a good life. I won't return here, so have at your image of me at your pleasure."

Again, wow. I have no idea why you think I disrespect you. I merely pointed out that those who have made their way into your care are likely to distrust the system you represent. And that if you are white (or are visually identified as such), they are likely to think you will side with the officer who made the racist comments. I never said you WOULD, only that such prisoners would be tempted, or prone, to think that way. Obviously, I hit a real nerve here, but if you look carefully at my words, I'm not the source of your pain, my friend. I'm sorry if you've been hurt on this issue, but I'm not the culprit.
On a completly different subject, I've been mulling it over about the "Free Iraq from Saddam" and the "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" wings of the Right. And you know what? I can't reconcile them. I can see how someone can be honestly in favor of one or the other, but can't get past believing that the intentions are in conflict. I mean, if you want to free Iraq from Saddam and give security and peace to the American people, you want a stable government in there as fast as possible--like, tomorrow, say. Our troops come home. Yippee! But how the hell does that help the "fight them over there" crowd? If we leave (by this logic) the terrorists will simply follow us here. For these people, the best result would be an endless war in Iraq, acting as a magnet for radical terrorists from around the world. It's not as if there is a set number of terrorists, and that once these are gone, it's over. No, terrorists are recruited and created. Our own security forces admit that our actions in Iraq have created more terrorists.

So...if you want peace and security for Iraq, you are in group "A." If you want to fight the terrorists in someone else's yard, you are in group "B." Both "A" and "B" are on the right, but they have different intents, and different agendas. For political purposes, they seem to be covering each other's butts, but I fail to see how they are really the same thing. At all.

Imus in the Mourning

I broadcast the following essay on NPR's "All Things Considered" last friday...
The last two weeks have been a particularly interesting time to be black. Barack Obama raised 25 million dollars. Charges have been dropped
against the Duke University Lacross team, and DJ. Don Imus has been
fired, his radio and television shows dropped from CBS and MSNBC for racially insulting comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball players.


These are odd times, in which 21st Century America struggles to find its social and political soul.

A century ago, Booker T. Washington and WEB Dubois debated whether financial power or social equality represented the best path to improved life for blacks in America.

I’ve heard Prosecutor Mike Nifong’s terrible mistakes in the Duke rape
case attributed to over-eagerness, perhaps an attempt to compensate for times when sexual violence against black women was underreported and unprosecuted. But even the best intentions would not excuse damaging three innocent college students.

But where Nifong’s horrible mistake probably resulted from social pressure and programming, the Don Imus flap is incredibly revealing about the current state of black America, in a way that both Washington and Dubois would have appreciated.

Certainly Imus words were in poor taste: Entertainers
often balance on this thin edge. One could easily believe that black
folks are simply being too sensitive, and there’s a part of me that
agrees with that.

But only part.


Perhaps this is all a tempest in a teapot. Surely we’ve gone beyond
all this terrible stuff. I agree. Race doesn’t matter in America…it never has, as
long as you’re white.
It is normal for those with power to be oblivious to the ways they
wield it, profit by it, and fight to keep it. In essence, they’re
like fish who cannot see the water, but get riled up when someone on
shore drinks from a paper cup. I'm sure if the position were
reversed, blacks would be just as oblivious, just as self-righteously
irritated that whites "just can't take a joke." Pity we've never had
that opportunity.
But what we do have is blacks situated on the executive boards of major media conglomerates, working in the law offices of CNN, making decisions at multi-billion dollar corporations.

The Imus storm might have died down if not fed by thousands of letters and e-mails, some orchestrated by the NAACP and other groups. But it was the withdrawal of advertising by General Motors, Proctor and Gamble, and American Express (lead by an African-American CEO, Kenneth Chenault ) that motivated both CBS and MSNBC to drop Imus. They had been hit squarely in the pocketbook, and it hurt.

Personally, I don’t particularly think Imus is a racist. Real
racists are rarely so forthright. But if he’s a victim of the
culture wars, his chastisement sends a message loud and clear: this
stuff isn't funny. It never was.

For future reference: men are not the arbiters of what women find insulting. Nor can straights make that decision for gays. Whites don’t get to decide what is or is not insulting to blacks.

Partially because of DuBois, blacks sought and acquired the social equality necessary to pierce the corporate walls. But as Booker T. Washington might have predicted, it is financial pressure that forced a change, that drew a long overdue line in the sand. Two sides of a single social/political coin. They must be smiling.

Welcome to the 21st Century.
In my mind, the appropriate comparison is not between Imus and black rappers who use the same language. It would be between Imus and a black DJ of national prominance saying comparable things about white women. Even rappers talking about white women would come closer. Notice that that doesn't really happen? Ever wondered why?
Intermittent Fasting

On Saturday I hit a little bump. Was in a workshop all day long, and it was a fast day. Started feelinga little sniffly and coughy, with a slight scratch at the back of the throat. That feeling followed me home, so I had a small meal at around 10 pm. Woke on Sunday feeling better, and felt fine by monday. Yesterday's fast was pretty close to effortless--no Hoodia.
On non-fast days, EAT A LOT. Start with fresh fruit and vegetables, go from there to lean proteins, and then your carbs. Give your body what it needs. THEN give it what it craves. Don't go to be hungry in the slightest, and much healthy all day long. Desserts are your business, but I've noticed a general sharpening of appetites across the board.
I'm down to 178, which has been tough for me to get to. Still dropping...and will want my weight to stabilize at around 175.
I just know that all this experience will get folded into a book project of some kind. Probably the sequel to GREAT SKY WOMAN...
My prayers to the friends and parents and students of Virginia Tech. What a nightmare. Yesterday on the radio, I heard Righties rushing to defend the Second Amendment, and Lefties rushing to promote Gun Control. The instant politicizing of this mess saddened me. Later, I heard a radio show asking listeners "who is responsible" for the massacre. You know what? Not a single person said: "The shooter." Not one. Disgusting.
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
That's what the second amendment says. Me personally, I don't trust ANYONE enough to turn over complete responsibility for my protection to any governmental agency. Trust the police more than I trust myself or my wife? Bull. So I'm in favor of non-felonious citizens being able to own guns. Not so sure about automatic weapons, though--seems to me that a shotgun is a perfectly adequate source of home protection. But that's not the question. What exactly do I think the 2nd Amendment guarantees?
Here it comes...
It guarantees arguments. In my opinion, there is no honest way that someone can say that a meaning can be unequivically extracted from this sentence. A good and honest person could interpret this to mean (for instance):
1) only a formal militia and its members can own guns.
2) Because a formal militia will be drawn from the citizenry, all citizens should have the right to own guns, so that when an emergency arises, they will be familiar with their tools.

I can see either of these being quite possible. What I do NOT see is the kind of black-and-white clarity that both Right and Left claim. You already know where my sympathies lie: when in doubt, give the freedom to the individual. And make the individual take responsibility for his actions. And about horrors like the college massacre? Well, the answer isn't in all the students carrying weapons on campus. Security guards, yes. And yes, there will be other such events, and that rips my heart out.

But personally, I am FAR more worried about the government having all the guns. I just don't trust it, or anyone, that much. Sorry. I clearly remember times when cops...and I'm afraid they were white cops, folks...gave me shoddy or differential treatment apparently based on race. When I called them for help, and they took days to show up. No. On the other hand, I would have NO problem demanding an extensive gun safety program for a gun license...certainly at least as much as is demanded for an auto license.

But most importantly, in the midst of all the agonizing, take a moment to pray for the dead, and the wounded, and those who seek answers they will never find. This is hell, indeed.
"To summarize, 1st incident -- 1 black individual, shouting and complaining about racial prejudice in the presence of several officers over being arrested for minor crime. Shortly before being release, was on the receiving end of a blantantly racist act by another officer but wouldn't follow up on it."

If they don't trust the corrections officers, they would assume that, were they to follow up on it, there would be reprisals. On the other hand, screaming "racism" when they are brought in may or may not reflect their true opinions, but is in the "I'm innocent!" category of behavior, isn't it? And isn't it fairly typical for inmates to protest innocense until it is to their advantage to be hard-ass gangsters? They don't trust the system. Hell, if they did, they wouldn't be in jail, would they? And you, friend, are part of the system. And if you are white, don't think for a second that they don't believe that, when the fertilizer hits the mixmaster, you will side with other whites.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Mother Lode

Got a meeting at 8am with the Assassin’s Creed people at Ubisoft. Notes on my book “The Invisible Imam”—apparently they liked it. Good. Man, I wrote it in 3 months while I was moving, and simultaneously driving back and forth to Moonview a couple of times a week (a 4-hour round trip minimum). MAN was that stressful. Stress is currently diminishing…
There is definitely an apparent reduction in the amount of sleep I need. I’m going to be very, very cautious about this—sleep is what protects my body from illness. As long as I get my 8 hours, I never even catch a cold. Needless to say, Jason has put a crimp in that…
Readers implied that it was a double standard to hold Don Imus to a higher standard than rappers in general, in terms of language. Well…I don’t really think he is being held to such a standard, although I can see why one might think so. Consider:
1) Imus is a major media personality. The “reconciliation” meeting with the Rutgers team took place at the governor’s mansion, for goodness sakes! Bigger targets are more visible, easier to hit. That’s not a double standard—just a fact of perception. A black DJ at Imus’ level of fame making the exact same comment would indeed have been in trouble. As much? Probably not. But then…

2) Bobbe talked about my “all in the family” comment. And noted that in his orphanage, people called each other "Nigga" with impunity. Yes. BECAUSE YOU KNEW EACH OTHER. Because you were family—with a bond that went beyond race. But you know something? I bet anything that if a new guy showed up, if HE immediately fell into an insulting verbal pattern, there was more tension than there was once you got to know him.

3) Inter-group violence (verbal or otherwise) is always treated differently than intra-group violence. And so far as I know, this is a universal. It was notoriously true that two black men stabbing each other got one level of attention from cops—while a black man stabbing a white man was punished more severely. And a white man stabbing a black man was punished less severely. If I’m not mistaken, to this day if one does a comparative analysis of the arrest, conviction and incarceration rates, there is still a difference in the way violence WITHIN groups is treated as opposed to that BETWEEN groups. Note that during riots, the police react differently if the rioters leave “their own” neighborhoods. When people wonder why black rioters mostly burn their own neighborhoods, the simplest answer is that if they burned white neighborhoods they’d be shot. Therefore the explosion of violence attacks those things symbolic of their rage within reach: businesses in buildings owned by whites, but in the black community. Toxic, yes…but roughly analogous to damaging one’s own body by cutting or morbid obesity in reaction to sexual or emotional abuse.

4) It isn’t completely valid to say that rappers are getting a bye. Yes, it looks like it, but look again, sorting for “inter-racial” as opposed to “intra-racial.” How long has it been since you heard much rap music that was angry with or proposed violence toward white people? Does anyone out there remember where rap started? Grand Master Flash, anyone? Political rap? All gone. Market forces, managers pushing it off the radio, harassed and arrested rappers…you’d better not kid yourself that when black rappers spoke politics of anger toward white people, they were shut up damned fast. Bought off. Arrested and harassed. Both carrot and stick were applied, to the point that Ice Cube, Ice T and Snoop Dogg are all pretty much broken into media tools. (Geeze—I still can’t believe Ice Cube making family comedies! How bizarre is THAT??) At any rate, does anyone think that black men aren’t angry with whites? Where is it? This is all very very understandable, if you ask the question: "how does this fit into common, universal human behaviors?"

5) Imus misused his terminology. In general, when rappers say “ho’s” they are specifically referring to the women with whom they have sexual relations, or those who wish to have them with the rappers (gyrating in music videos, etc.) THIS IS STILL LOATHSOME. We’re not talking about what is “good,” in a moral sense. We’re saying that it is their word for women who are sexually available, or want to “jump on their jocks” to be close to the money. No, rappers don’t refer to all black women this way. There is definitely some Madonna-Whore action going on: they almost universally revere their mothers. When Imus used the term “Nappy headed Ho” was he referring to these women’s sexual availability? Based on what? Women’s basketball players have never, to my knowledge, been accused of being overtly or inappropriately sexual as a group. In fact, the stereotype is exactly the opposite: that they are disproportionately not interested in men at all, if you know what I mean. They were college girls who like basketball, not sexual targets or predators. The very definition of "good girls." Rappers would want their sisters and cousins to be like this. If rappers use this term to denote behavior, the term “Ho” means “Whore.” But what exactly did Imus mean? If he was not referring to behavior, I suggest that he was treating the term “Ho” as if it meant “Black woman.” Adding “Nappy Headed” just hammered his point home. Remember that the same words have different meanings to different people. I cannot read Imus’ mind, so I can’t say for certain what he thought those words meant. But if you can’t see how it is REASONABLE for someone to believe that he was simply using a derogatory term for ALL black women, not just those who are sexually available (again, this is terribly sexist, and in no way am I excusing rappers on this count—see my previous postings for evidence of this) then I think you are closing your eyes to some basic truths of human nature: what is said or done INSIDE the house to and between family members is NOT treated the same as what comes from OUTSIDE the house toward those same brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. All people behave this way, so far as I can see. The reactions might be more or less severe, but they are always different.
On to other subjects! It hit me hard last night that I.F. frees up AT LEAST three hours a week in meal times, for the average person. Welll…wow. That makes me want to use the “Golden Hour” approach.
We could call this the “Lifewriting Diet” or the “Enlightenment Diet” (that last is mostly kidding.) In the three hours you save each week, you have a minimum of three "Golden Hour" sessions in which you could do:
1) 15-30 minutes of exercise (yoga, FlowFit, kettlebells, Tibetans, etc.)
2) 15-30 minutes of meditation (Heartbeat, spiritual Autolysis, Core transformation, Chakra etc.)
3) 15-30 minutes of planning and goal setting. (Lifewriting, Timeline, etc.)

You know what? If you concentrated on getting more and more out of each of these three arenas, you could make very serious progress in only three hours a week, thereby completely trashing many of the excuses you’ve used for not taking care of yourself.
I mean, here we have an approach to personal development that simultaneously opens the door to body, mind and spirit—by investing the saved time in personal development.
By controlling your physical appetites, I submit that you are knocking on the door of adulthood. Note that children allow their emotions to control their hungers completely. Learning to control, or separate yourself from physical appetite demands control, discipline, clarity. Those voices are LOUD.
But note that since Ketosis doesn’t set in for 48 hours, you aren’t really hurting yourself at all. To the contrary, the list of positive benefits for I.F. is astounding—including health, fitness, fat loss, life extension, energy, sex drive, mental clarity, saved time (and money!)
Could I bribe you to spend some time working on your true self, if I offered these things in return? What would it take to run out of excuses, and be ready to engage with your existence on a deep level? What would you accomplish if your map of reality was more accurate? That calibration is available to anyone who takes responsibility for their mind, body, and spirit as they manifest in the material world.
There it is. My mind is kinda blown. The whole nutshell: health, happiness, energy, sanity, love, success. In a single practice. Man, I think we may have hit the mother lode.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More on Imus and Duke

A few commentators have made an understandable observation about the Imus flap. Namely, that the term “ho” is used in rap music, so what’s the big deal?
Well, a few thoughts:
1) Yes, it’s dreadful, and inexcusable. You’ve heard me complain about it in this blog. But it wasn’t just the word “ho.” It was the term “nappy-headed ho.” Or, in other words, “black ho.” It is the combination of these terms that caused the real problem.
2) The term “ho” is short for “whore.” Obviously vile when applied to women in general. Not much better as a specific insult applied to a woman considered too….hmmm, shall we say “free with her favors”? But at least then it is communicating a value judgement. Woman rotating her butt in a music video? My mother used to say such women were acting like whores, so it is reasonable that the shortened term would convey the same opinion. We can debate whether that is an appropriate communication, but at least I understand what is intended. But what exactly was it about the behavior of these collegiate athletes that was whorish? Can you tell me that? I think that it can only be surmised that the term “ho” meant “black woman” in this context. That was their only sin…the color of their skin. And being mocked for being “nappy-headed” has been a part of racist American culture for hundreds of years.
3) As abominable as I find the lyrics of much rap music, it’s “in the family” so to speak. In other words, if I slap my kid, eyebrows will raise. If YOU slap my kid, that’s assault, and you’re going to jail. If I make love to my wife, that’s, well, that’s a typical morning in the Barnes house. Ahem. But if YOU do it, that’s either rape or grounds for divorce. Context and permission mean EVERYTHING. Yes, actions and words mean completely different things, depending on who, what, where, and why.
4) No, I don’t automatically think Imus is a racist. But you know something? Probably 5-10% of people—black, white, Asian, whatever—ARE racists. Where do you think they live? What do you think they do for a living? They rarely show themselves except when protected by anonymity. Don’t you think some of them are radio personalities? And even if he isn’t, don’t you think such comments give aid and comfort to that 5-10%?
5) What we have here, really, is a line in the sand. For 400 years, blacks have had to put up with being called whatever whites wanted to call them, excluded from whatever whites wanted to exclude them from, and were told to be good, quiet little citizens about it. Play the game. Go to school. We did. And a lot of us got law degrees and MBAs, and are now working in Corporate America. Imus wants to make his 500K a year doing insult radio? That’s his right. And it is our right to deny his sponsors our dollars. Or to express our pain and outrage in whatever legal way available. No, government shouldn’t censor such talk. But we as consumers certainly can.
6) I love the fact that some commentators say that “Imus will lose some black listeners…” Oh? Only black people care if black people are insulted? Only women care if women are insulted? Only gays care if gays are insulted? Isn’t that an interesting revelation of attitude: “If you aren’t a member of group X, you won’t/shouldn’t care what happens to group X.” This type of thinking leads to Holocausts. My experience says that PLENTY of white people care about blacks. Plenty of men care about women. Plenty of straights care about gays. Plenty of human beings, in other words, care about the dignity of other human beings, regardless of superficial differences. And I'm betting that anyone reading this blog would agree.

We're all in this together, folks. There's nobody out there. Whatever you see in the world is a reflection of you, your own inner demons and angels. What you say about the world tells me infinitely more about YOU than it ever does the world "outside."

Reality is a Rorschach test.
I have a suspicion about what happened at Duke University. I think the frat boys got too rowdy, said some insulting things to the stripper they'd hired. I wouldn't be surprised if the comments were racially charged: alcohol lowers inhibitions. Perhaps too much touching as well: there's a good reason strippers work in pairs, or with bodyguards. And the girl tried to get revenge. Just a guess. If that's what happened, I sympathize, but she deserves to be prosecuted. I guarantee you that their lives have been damaged. If they did not rape her, this whole thing is inexcusable, and I feel nothing but the deepest sorrow for them and their families.

And the girl needs help. And jail time.


Today is a fasting day. I’m going to yoga shortly, and will then re-hydrate but not eat all day. Tananarive says that my upper body muscle mass is increasing…and has in the three WEEKS I’ve been on this program. And she knows that I work like a dog, and get damned little result from it. My body is almost invulnerable to illness, but gaining muscle mass is very, very, hard for me.

My daughter Nicki might be in a stage play in a couple of months that would demand she show a little skin. She’d like to lose about 15 pounds by then, and is watching me like a hawk to see how I do on I.F.
If she choses this way for weight loss, I will kick her sweet little butt if she doesn’t go WAY out of her way to eat fresh fruits and vegetables by the cartload on non-fasting days. And I’d probably suggest a little fruit on fasting days as well, to help quell hunger pangs, and even out her blood sugar.
Our favorite weight-loss exercise in this house is called a “Fat Ripper” or what refers to as a “DOE Man-Maker” since it was created by a security specialist at the Department of Energy. The idea is 30-60 seconds of intense kettlebell exercise, followed by 60-120 seconds of moderate jogging. SPIKE the heartrate, then recover, get it? We use a treadmill set on the “30 minute medium” level. And then choose three KB exercises. This last time it was Swings, Windmills, and an evil concoction called a Deck Squat. Each exercise is done for 40-60 seconds (in rotation) followed by a minute on the treadmill. Doing this with a partner, switching stations as it were, is fun because everyone tries to figure out whether going first or second allows you to miss the hardest running periods. What’s worse: running fast, or running hills? Depends on what KB stuff you’ve been doing. (By the way, this adaptation of the Fat Ripper is actually more intense than recommended. It works perfectly fine to make the recovery jogging as gentle as you wish. The jogging is not to increase fitness: it is active recovery, a chance to re-distribute your lactic acid.)

We also make a game out of burning music Cds. Good music makes a workout infinitely more entertaining. We like Hard-driving rock, rap, R&B…something with a kick-ass beat, and somewhat aggressive lyrics. The theme from “Casino Royale,” “You Know My Name,” by Chris Cornell, really gets my juices running. And corny as it may be, either “The Rocky Theme” or “Eye of the Tiger” is just killer. Makes me want to go out and fight Clubber Lang.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Don Imus Flap

Interesting. Another example of the Michael Richards flap, really, where a comedian “goes too far.” In this case, by using the phrase “Nappy-headed ho’s” in connection with the Rutgers Women’s basketball team. Bad taste, certainly, but that’s Imus. Comedians often walk this edge. Now, one could make the case that black folks are simply being too sensitive, and there’s a part of me that agrees with that. But only part.
If a black DJ had made the exact same comment, I would have thought it tasteless, but the “nappy headed” wouldn’t have bothered me, although the “ho’s” would have.
Here’s my comment: it is normal for those with power to go unconscious about the fact that they have it, wield it, profit by it, and fight to keep it. I’m sure that for many, there is a sense of “oh, come on. Why can’t we just get over it and have fun…”
The reason is that in any underdog/overdog situation, the overdog ALWAYS wants to know why the targets of their “humor” can’t just “get over it.” You know? I don’t particularly think Imus is a racist—no more than human beings in general. Real racists are more careful about their speech in public. But you’d better bet that comments like that give aid and comfort to racists. Is that Imus’ responsibility? Not really. But on the other hand…
On a genuinely level playing field, all is fair. But when one group owns 100% of the radio and television networks, as well as all the media conglomerates, the talk of a “level playing field” is absurd. When I see black men having sex in movies, I’ll believe that there is something remotely approaching cultural parity.
Does any of this make Imus wrong? No…that’s a personal judgment, and not open to some kind of absolute evaluation. But what I enjoy about this flap is the fact that blacks, outnumbered ten to one, have organized sufficiently to affect advertisers and scare radio executives. Please remember that when I was a kid, these EXACT same market forces kept black dramas off the air, killed black variety shows, kept blacks in subservient positions—and in general, whites “never noticed” any of this stuff. And anything could be said about us, as any time, and “no one noticed.” And you could make movies like “Gone With the Wind” where blacks are happy slaves, thinking back with wistful memories of the days white folks took care of us…and that film goes on to become the most popular movie in American history.
Until you’ve walked in those shoes, you can’t really imagine what it feels like to hear a Don Imus say what he said. And while I think blacks over-reacted, it’s an over-reaction that is completely understandable, and one that is no worse than whites would have done, if the situation were reversed.
I supplement with multivitamins, the “Ultimate Meal” powder, and a few other things I play with (like Spiru-tein powder). But most of my nutrition I get from eating a general pattern of:
3 parts fresh fruits and vegetables
2 parts lean proteins
1 part complex carbs
This “inverted pyramid is flexible, which helps keep me from being too obsessive. The Warrior diet plan uses a similar scheme, where you start a meal with vegetables, go from there to proteins, then carbs. Drink a big glass of water, wait fifteen minutes, and if you’re still hungry, start over again. This is after fasting all day. However, if you eat ROUGHLY this way on your non-fast I.F. days, I think you are getting the point.
There is a point of maximum efficiency, after which a practice gives diminishing returns. I think with I.F. that point is about 36 hours. I’m experimenting with not eating between (for instance) 10pm Sunday and 8am Tuesday, giving my body a complete day and night of emptiness. The idea is that there are some growth and healing factors secreted at night (for instance GH) and that to the degree that I.F. works by convincing your body you’d better be one bad mamma-jamma of a hunter or your family will starve, it would make sense that sleeping on an empty stomach would have a powerful effect.
I like to break my fast with juice or fruit. If you want to lose weight, just concentrate on fresh fruit and vegetables, and proteins on your eating day. Add carbs back in as appropriate. Please be CERTAIN to eat plenty of FRESH food on eating day, and take a damned good vitamin. A fruit and protein smoothie would probably be dynamite.
I have to admit to being uncertain why people have such strong negative reactions to Hillary Clinton. Those of you with insight, please post. Right now, it feels to me that she’s just been attacked so consistently by forces on the Right that the negative myth looms larger than any reality: people were just terrified of Bill, really hated him in a way I’ve rarely seen. If you have objective reasons she shouldn’t be a presidential candidate, please offer them.
Me, I’m slightly inclined toward Obama because he opposed the war. It’s certainly possible that if he’d been in the Senate at the time he would have gone along with it. Or not. I can only go on the behaviors I see. And in this regard, I’d like to vote for someone I consider at least as intelligent and intuitive as I am. Until he falls on his face, Barack is looking pretty good.
I have an overview, a general sense of what the technology I first talked about in my book “Firedance” might be. Now this is general self-healing and personal progress, divided into two sections: maturation, and enlightenment.
1) Maturation can be measured in the degree of responsibility taken in the three major arenas of life: fitness/health, spirit/relationships, career/education. If you have all three in balance, CONGRATULATIONS! You are almost certainly an adult. If not…it is valid to question.
2) Enlightenment can be (in my opinion) considered the opening of that door of perception normally only opened at the moment of death, prior to that happy occasion. As the Sufis say, “Die Before You Die.” What would this mean? Dissolving the ego, eradication of all short-term selfish intents, dropping perceptual filters. Persistent non-dualistic thinking. IF this is true, it makes sense out of all world religions: they begin as genuine spiritual breakthrough, but are then interpreted by well-meaning but unenlightened people. They create rafts of rules, and those conducive to the creation and sustenance of an organization survive and are passed from generation to generation. But enlightenment is a solitary, individual thing—until the illusion of individuality is destroyed. NO organization is going to help you do this. NO religion governed by non-enlightened people can help you to enlightenment. Charles Johnson sent me a news article about Buddhist Monks leaving the monastery to get computer science degrees, with the idea of “bringing the monastery into the 21st century.”

However admirable that may be in helping people become “better” people, that has nothing to do directly with the intent of the Buddha, which was liberation from addiction to the belief in an external world, freeing us from automatic behavior patterns, and clarity of intent. As Jed McKenna said (in his wise-ass way) “they get you in the door with enlightenment, and then steer you to the compassion aisle.”
So what would Firedance have to say about this? I’d use a two-step process:
1) various techniques designed to bring subconscious crap to conscious level: journaling, dream-diaries, meditation, psychodrama, therapy, poetry, etc. Bring those emotions up, and anchor them into the body. Make your goals balanced between body, mind and spirit to find your emotional pus-pockets

This is followed by
2) Various applications of the “Fear Removal” technique, designed to clear negative emotion through physical motion. Yoga, tai chi, FlowFit, various aerobic exercises, weight lifting…anything done with conscious intent on breathing, and with the emotions “front loaded” and then taken through the Neuro Immuno Endocrine response (2nd wind) would do it. Better still if you are moving the body through Six Degrees of Freedom, to break the conditioned tension chains.

Of course, the more thorough each of these steps is, the better. If you do this—alternating between stirring the subconscious and aligning the body with your personal and erotic self-image…

Well, the idea is that what the Sufis refer to as “nafs” are kinks in the psychic wiring. Remove these fears and inhibitions, and the “energy” naturally and automatically evolves to the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Handle this stuff in the arenas of survival, sex, power, and emotion…and you have rooted your being in the solid realities of existence. Then, it will grow automatically into the higher chakras. Once you have mastered the basics of life, it is possible to move beyond automatic fears, and be ready to let go of the tools you used to gain clarity.
A real example: I have a friend who considers himself tremendously spiritual. Fantasically evolved, and a leader of others on the journey. This person cheated on his wife, betrayed his best friend, and sits on an absolute fountain of pain and fear…but boy, is he ever spiritual. He also drinks too much, and is quite overweight. The lack of connection with the basic realities of his being makes it possible for him to hallucinate about his personal growth. His lack of understanding of his own motivations makes it easy for him to blame others for his actions, and to feel little compassion for the pain of others. It is sad…and would have been preventable had there been any objective measurement of his progress.
I’m not offering an easy path. I’m merely pointing out that a path of personal growth rooted in the battle for physical health, emotional connection and service to community really can’t go too wrong. All the rest of this is just idle speculation…