Monthly Archive: February 2008

Am I sticking my foot in something, or did Barack…?

Most of you reading this know that I have gone from a mis-informed view on Barack Obama (which led me to say I could, in no way, ever support him) to a much better-informed position (which leaves me supporting him nearly whole-heartedly)… but…

1.  Barack Obama says he is running a campaign to bring ALL Americans together.
2.  Barack Obama says he rejects and renounces the endorsement of Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims).

Am I the only person who sees a contradiction there?  Which part of “all Americans” is Minister Farrakhan not a member of?

I seriously doubt that I would ever court or receive Minister Farrakhan’s endorsement myself, nor would I want it any more than Senator Obama apparently does, but *I’m not running for President on a ticket of uniting all Americans*.  The nearest metaphor I can find is the similarity to those Christians who say they believe the “whole Bible” — but have never read the book, and have not studied any part other than what their pastor tells them to.  There is a significant difference between believing every verse of your preacher’s sermons (no matter how out of context) and believing the whole Bible.

I also noted that Senator Obama also got the endorsement of the largest remaining group of the KKK — and didn’t hear him repudiate that endorsement.  I’m sure this does not mean that he feels white, but not black, supremacists are all right.

If you say ALL, you’d better mean ALL.  I, for one, believe the statement of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”  I don’t think it gives them license to remain ignorant and narrow-minded, but
even that cannot remove their status as human beings and, hence, their citizenship as Americans.

Hugs,
Me

I want to be… one less

I want to be one less guinea pig for the drug companies.

Fact: more girls have died or become seriously ill from Gardasil injections than were projected to die from cervical cancer.  Difference: We’re talking healthy 12-16 year old girls, as opposed to 55+ women with cervical cancer.

Fact:  The New England Journal of Medicine reviewed 74 FDA-reviewed studies of 12 antidepressants, and found that, of the 37 negative studies, 22 were never published and 11 of the remaining 15 were spun as “positive results”.

    “The authors of the NEJM article – led by former FDA medical reviewer
Dr. Erick H. Turner – obtained 74 FDA-reviewed studies of 12 commonly
prescribed antidepressants.
Of these studies, 37 reported positive results and 37 reported negative
results. Upon review, the researchers found that while only one of the
37 positive studies escaped publication, a full 22 of the 37 negative
studies never saw print. Even more astounding was the fact that of the
15 published negative studies, 11 of them were spun by the publishing
journal in a way that, according to Dr. Turner and his team, conveyed a
positive outcome.”  see this article

Fact:  Most psychiatric drugs have more damaging “side” effects than the “diseases” they are supposed to be treating.  Even when PBS does a documentary on children being medicated, they referred to tardive dyskinesia, a serious and usually permanent disorder, as “tics”.

Fact:  Antidepressants cause more suicidal thoughts than they relieve.  In England, only Prozac is allowed to be used in children, of a wide pharmacology of antidepressants, and there are lawsuits ongoing to prohibit THAT use.  When a child (or young person, or adult) dies (or goes on a killing rampage), the drug companies blame the individual, but time after time the individual was found to be peaceful prior to taking these harmful “medications”.

I WANT TO BE ONE LESS

On the 16th I mentioned a new girlfriend.  As happens so often with me, I was counting chickens… and the egg was rotten.

I was coming down with the flu the last three days.  First diarrhea with no fever or coughing, then coughing with no fever or diarrhea, and now coughing and fever but no diarrhea… my high was 101.1 — except it could have been higher last night, but I didn’t think to take it.  I get all the wonderful benefits of the flu — a virtual inability to eat or smoke anything.  Good timing, as my weight had gotten back up to 265.

Hugs,
Me

I just spent half the night posting my “Door to the Beyond: Paganism and Mental Health” articles to my website, Hippo Haven.  To find them, go to the website, click on My Writings, click on “Door to the Beyond” on the menu (which will take you to the bottom of the page), and then click on Door to the Beyond on the page (which will take you to the Door articles)…  It was a lot of work, but it’s done.  Whew.

Hugs,
Me

Hinduism In Brief

I wrote this article for a website, which may have published it by now, to dispel the ignorance of their two-paragraph definition of Hinduism.

Hinduism
In Brief

Gerald L. “Moss”
Bliss, D.D.

There
is a paucity of information in the West as to what is the religion
called “Hinduism”. The truth of the matter is that it is no
single religion, but a grouping of religions, all of which originated
at different times and locales in what is commonly called the Indian
Subcontinent.

Anthropologically
speaking, the earliest two religions of the Bharat Peninsula (as the
Indians themselves often refer to their country) were Vaishnavism, as
epitomized by the various Vedas and Upanishads, and Shaivism, found
in the earliest texts in Tamil.

The
Vedic civilization is believed to have formed around the Saraswati
River, now mostly a dry ditch seen only in satellite photos, which
relocated to the area around the Indus River when the Saraswati dried
up (in other words, modern day Eastern Iran and Afghanistan,
relocating to modern Pakistan). The Vedas themselves may (or may
not) predate the Saraswati civilization; indeed, some find passages
in the Sama Veda which appears to have originated either in the
farthest Arctic regions or even off-planet, depending on who you
believe. The infamous caste system of present-day India was due to a
mis-reading of the Vedas; originally it was little different from the
European system of Guilds.

At any
rate, the Vedic civilization was based on the Vedas, which spoke the
worship of Vishnu (hence Vaishnavism) and his ten avatars (the tenth
is assumed to be incarnated yet in the future). The Upanishads
expanded upon the Vedas, and other great poems, such as the
Mahabharata (of which the popular Bhagavad Gita is a part), further
resulted in the religion’s growth among the people.

The
ancient Tamil documents spoke of Shiva as the Creator (with his
Shakti, which can either be seen as his creative energy, his feminine
side, or even his wife). The Tamil-speaking (and related languages)
people were in the southeast of India, now the states of Tamil Nadu,
Andhra Pradesh, and the country of Sri Lanka.

Apparently
at some point, the two cultures traveled widely enough to meet one
another. In what is perhaps the only time in the history of mankind,
these two cultures examined each others’ religions, and rather than
declaring war, declared them co-equal (which through the centuries
has confused even Hindu scholars into thinking it truly is a single
religion).

In the
background, for whatever reason the women were mostly left out of the
observances of this religion, and from this rose the worship of Devi,
or Shakti, which today is called Shaktism. All three groups today
include male and female worshippers, but only the Shaktins have any
females in the priesthood.

The
fourth, and smallest, sect which makes up “Hinduism” is called
Smarta or Smartism. The Smartas believe in the Vedas and other
Vaishnava writings, but rather than believe in Vishnu as the Supreme
Deity, they feel it is up to the believer to choose his or her
primary deity from among the gods. The main effect this has had upon
Hinduism has been the naming of the ultimate deity as Brahman, as he
is often referred to in the Vedas, and allowing Vishnu, Shiva, and
and Brahma to be seen as a tripartate form of Brahman; they can be
trivialized to “preserver, destroyer, and creator”, as they often
are when seen by the West, or considered each and all to be full
Brahman.

Around
the 6th
Century b.c.e., the 24th
Tirthankar, Mahavira, solidified the Tirthankar teachings into
Jainism, still a powerful sect despite its small size and belief
non-procreation, as well as in the holiness of the tiniest creature
on the planet. This is perhaps the gentlest religion on the planet,
as it reveres all life and seeks to harm nothing in any way.

The
next “reform movement” in Hinduism was begun by Gautama, called
“the Buddha”. At one point in time, Buddhism encompassed not
only most of India but also much of eastern Asia. The earliest
origins are clouded in history, but the Second Council (which became
schismatic) was thought to have been held around 100 b.c.e. As the
Buddha mostly taught the same basic spirituality but was essentially
non-theistic (practice was emphasized over belief), it engulfed many
other native religions in the region, but this was ultimately
responded to.

In
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kashmir, from 800 to 1100 c.e., new
versions of Shaivite thought emerged, adopting the Vedas but
promoting Shiva as the Supreme Deity and expanding upon both ancient
teachings and the more modern Buddhist teachings, showing the
“fallacies” in either or both, resulting in Virashaiva and
Kashmir (Trika) Shaivism. In the predominantly Vaishnavite areas of
Punjab and Bengal, Krishna emerged from the Mahabharata as the
Supreme Form of Deity (Vishnu).

Around
this time also came the Islamic invasion, which nearly wiped out
Vedic teachings and destroyed thousands of books (some of which
survived by having been transported out of India by Buddhist monks
over centuries). Remember, by this time even the Shaivas had adopted
the Vedas.

About
1600 c.e., the great teacher Arjan Dev, in Punjab, collected the
greatest surviving teachings in the Hindu world, in poetry form,
forming what became the Adi Granth, and created the Sikh religion
using this book as their center. This book by itself preserved much
of the sacred poetry from the torch of the Moslems, as the Sikhs
became known as ferocious fighters and, slowly, beat back the
invading Moslems. The Adi Granth was expanded by later Sikh Gurus,
until, upon the death of the 10th
Guru, the book itself was proclaimed the True Guru (Guru Granth
Sahib).

The
various forms of Hinduism have changed the West in many small ways,
but are still largely misunderstood in the West. For instance,
Buddhist monks created “malas”, necklaces of meditation beads,
well before Christ; when this came into contact with the Catholic
Church, I cannot say, but it was modified into the Rosary. Madame
Blavatsky in the 19th
Century c.e. tried to adopt and even alter Hindusim and present it to
the West as Theosophy; she hoped to raise J. Krishnamurti to be the
Avatar for the New Age, but the man himself, upon reaching majority,
declined the honor.

Much
more could be said; indeed, much of what I just presented is in doubt
and the sources may be fuzzy. Hinduism today consists of (in the
view of Hindus) Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism, but it
is easily seen how one could include Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism,
as well as other sub-sects (such as ISKCON, a branch of Vaishnavism),
into the mix.

In the
last 20 years, Western Pagans have found many similarities between
their beliefs and those of the various Hindu religions. The result
is IndoPaganism, which was reported on in PanGaea Magazine, Spring
2007, by Devi Spring.

There
is no end to this subject. It is my fervent hope that this document
can be improved, especially with the addition of appropriate
footnotes.

Moss
Bliss

January
30, 2008

Just for giggles, I took the Belief Selector quiz again.  (you can find it at beliefnet.com and other sites)  Nothing unusual.

I will point out that Hinduism is so low on my list because one error in the test is to believe that there is only one religion called Hinduism with distinct and coherent beliefs, rather than the 4 religions (Vaisnava, Saivism, Smartism, Shaktism) and their various sub-sects which make up the mis-apprehended “Hinduism”.  (I just wrote a treatise on the subject, should publish it here I guess.)  Still, #6 isn’t bad.

1.     Neo-Pagan (100%)
2.     Liberal Quakers (91%)
3.     Mahayana Buddhism (91%)
4.     New Age (89%)
5.     Unitarian Universalism (89%)
6.     Hinduism (77%)
7.     Theravada Buddhism (68%)
8.     New Thought (68%)
9.     Reform Judaism (67%)
10.     Jainism (65%)
11.     Taoism (63%)
12.     Bahá’í Faith (60%)
13.     Sikhism (59%)
14.     Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (59%)
15.     Scientology (59%)
16.     Secular Humanism (48%)
17.     Orthodox Quaker (46%)
18.     Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (45%)
19.     Orthodox Judaism (38%)
20.     Islam (30%)
21.     Seventh Day Adventist (23%)
22.     Nontheist (22%)
23.     Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (19%)
24.     Jehovah’s Witness (14%)
25.     Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (14%)
26.     Eastern Orthodox (10%)
27.     Roman Catholic (10%)

Hugs,
Moss

It has been a very hard week on me.  My foot still hurts, enough to drag all the energy out of me in each and every trip to town to where I have to collapse for an hour or more when I get home.  But I’m still getting everything done that I need to get done.  The hardest thing is getting groceries home — usually someone has abandoned a Walmart grocery cart at the bus stop at the bottom of the hill, which means I don’t have to CARRY my bags 0.7 miles up a 5% grade.  This last time I was leaning so hard on the cart that I was amazed I made it.  I leave the cart outside my building, and they do tend to go away so I hope someone returns them to Walmart.

I got a knock on my door.  A lady in an Eastern European accent told me she was the new property manager, and here was my key to the dumpster.  They had gotten concerned that people driving down the road were using our dumpster.  That’s just bizarre, the dumpster is rarely even close to full and it gets picked up every week anyhow.  It serves 12 apartments, and the dumpster at my last apartment was half the size and served 34 apartments.  Plus, wouldn’t you rather not see garbage on the road???  This is just too weird.  Maybe I should make copies of the key and leave them in one of those magnetic boxes under the dumpster…

Things are going well with my new girlfriend, other than the fact that she’s too far away.  Haven’t had a new girlfriend since last May, and that one was a one-week disaster.

I completed my article, “Hinduism In Brief”.  I published it to My Writings on my website and it should be published soon at Occult Underground, which is who I wrote it for initially.  They had a very sketchy article showing typical Western misunderstanding of Hinduism, and when I brought it to their attention, they asked me to write a new one.  I tried to get help with this, and failed; I even presented the finished article to my friends who might be more learned on the subject, and got no response.  Either they think I’m crazy, or I did a good job (or both, LOL).

Ah well, I’ll talk more later.

Hugs,
Moss

I have determined that, indeed, my Disability check cannot be garnished to pay a debt… unless that debt is owed to the IRS or another federal agency.  Big sigh of relief.  Besides what I have posted below, if you are receiving SSI it may not be garnished even under the following conditions; I didn’t include that because I don’t receive SSI.

Q.

Can Social Security benefits be garnished by creditors to pay a debt?  

A.

Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) protects Social Security benefits from assignment, levy, or garnishment. However, the law provides five exceptions:

  • Section
    459 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 659) allows Social Security benefits to be
    garnished to enforce child support and/or alimony obligations;
  • Section
    6334 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6334 (c)) allows
    benefits to be levied to collect unpaid Federal taxes;
  • Section
    3402 (P) of the Internal Revenue Code allows beneficiaries to elect to
    have a percentage of their benefits withheld and paid to the Internal
    Revenue Service to satisfy their Federal income tax liability for the
    current year;
  • The Debt Collection
    Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) allows benefits to be withheld and
    paid to another Federal agency to pay a non-tax debt the beneficiary
    owes to that agency: and
  • The Tax Payer
    Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) authorizes the Internal Revenue
    Service to collect overdue federal tax debts of beneficiaries by
    levying up to 15 percent of each monthly payment until the debt is paid.

  • The
    Social Security Administration’s responsibility for protecting benefits
    against legal process and assignment usually ends when the beneficiary
    is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under
    section 207 of the Act as long as they are identifiable as Social
    Security benefits using normal banking practices. For example, only
    social security benefits are deposited into a particular bank account.

    If a creditor tries to garnish your social security
    check, inform them that unless one of the five exceptions apply, your
    benefits can not be garnished. You also may want to provide this same
    information to your financial institution and seek legal assistance if
    you believe it is needed.

A very tiring week is nearly over.  Between my much lowered mental and physical stamina (the result of long years of psych drugs as well as normal aging) and my still-not-healed foot, getting outside is not easy.  Well, getting out is easy, just making it all the way back home is not.  The nearest bus stop is nearly a half-mile away, which means at least a mile of walking no matter what, and when I get downtown or elsewhere there is ofter a lot of walking from place to place…  usually, because of this, I only schedule trips out into the world once or twice per week, but today will be my 4th consecutive day out.  Added to that the fact that I got almost no sleep Monday night before starting this hectic week, and insufficient sleep the following two nights… I got to bed a full 6 hours early for me last night, and the result is I am up before sunrise instead of my usual Stroke of Noon.  Hopefully I’ll be able to relieve my brain of sufficient amounts of stuph that I can go back to sleep soon.  I’m not due on the bus today until 1:10 (which means leaving the house at 12:55 at the latest).]

My podiatrist is now saying that my foot may not be fully healed until as late as October; prior to the surgery he stated that it should only take a couple months to heal, now it’s a full year.

My mother is home now… happened last week, I think Wednesday, but I didn’t mention it here.  Now she can drive Dad crazy because she is home rather than because she is not, LOL.

I did spend another 3 hours of facetime on URTV’s “Mad Scientist’s Tea Party” yesterday.  I also was told that the odds are that the “Ellen B Show”, which my interview appeared on the first AND second weeks of January, was likely to have run 3-4 times other than the usual scheduled slot each of those weeks.  The URTV schedule has very many open slots still.  (To watch URTV, you have to live in Buncombe County NC *and* be a Charter Cable subscriber.)

Asheville Homeless Network has yet to find that special individual or two to run our volunteer programs.  We’re still getting applicants, many of whom do not write back when I answer them.  I don’t know if it is that the job(s) is (are) too huge or that I sound a tad bit pessimistic about someone wanting to do them.  Never was much of a salesman, but you can’t accuse me of not painting a full picture, if perhaps leaning a bit on the blues.  Our donations this year are about 50% above what our usual was before that huge donation in July… hard to get excited after that one, and wish we could get more like that.  I’m ordering a book on grant writing, maybe we can hit Bill and Melinda up for a few dozen grand…

Hugs,
Me

As I wrote on January 8, I had been served a court order from one of my creditors.  I filed my reply with both the County Court and the Creditor.  My Creditor just sent me (and, presumably, the Court) a document stating that, since I did not dispute my owing this debt or the amount, the Court should issue a Summary Judgment.

Not only can you not get blood from a turnip, the lawyers and the Court should all know that I cannot be docked for this amount of money in any way.  Unless, as I said before, the laws changed when Bush had the bankruptcy laws changed.

I wait to hear from the Court.