Ruby Ramblings

Hand over the check and no one gets declawed.
February 28, 2009, 10:50 pm
Filed under: economics, Travel | Tags:

Kitten stimulus package.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds. Our new rescued cat, Bebek, ate my $1,000 per diem check meant to pay for the hotel I’m staying in while working in the Smokey Mountians in North Carolina. The good news is that the company has agreed to cut me a new check as long as I submit the pieces he didn’t ingest as proof of what happened.

I sure hope it tasted good buddy.

Thousand Dollars

Aung San Suu Kyi video
February 18, 2009, 4:25 am
Filed under: Peace, War | Tags:

The Voice of Hope
February 17, 2009, 1:43 am
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Peace, War | Tags: , , ,

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is a peace activist who has been under house arrest for almost two decades in Burma. Her outspoken opinions on how the Burmese government have oppressed the Burmese people have made her a threat to the totalitarian state, and luckily, rather than turning her into a martyr, the have just tried to keep her quiet by making it hard for her to communicate with the world.

One of the ideas that she presents that I find really interesting is “the questing” mind. “A questing mind is a great help towards withstanding violence or oppression, or any trend that is contrary to what you believe is right and just.” She makes a difference between a questioning mind – one that wonders – and the questing mind that actually seeks out the answers.

She argues that positive action is the first step to healing, so even though she has spent a large part of her life in seclusion and unable to see her family, she does not feel negatively about this because she has added so much positive action to the Burmese cause.

I think one of the reasons that the conservative right has such a hard time with intellectualism is that it may discover that it is wrong. Vaclav Havel stated, “The intellectual should constantly disturb, should bear witness to the misery of the world, should be provocative by being independent, should rebel against all hidden and open pressures and manipulations, should be the chief doubter of systems…he stands out as an irritant wherever he is.”

If you are being vigilant in these things, then taking the humanitarian point of view is necessary. Taking responsibility is a necessity.

These thoughts come from a book of conversations between Aung Sa Suu Kyi and an American Buddhist monk ordained in Burma Alan Clements.

voice of hopeThe Voice of Hope

Tom Geoghegan and Progressive Economics
February 13, 2009, 5:22 pm
Filed under: economics, Politics

I apologize to the folks who are used to me writing a travel blog about my various work locations and trips abroad. But these days I’m pretty stuck. I’ve been laid off, and rather than wallowing, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, written a couple of songs, am working a book on Buddhism and Peace, and been keeping in touch with what the hell is happening to the US economy.

There were as many jobs lost in the country in the month of January as there are jobs in the entire state of Maine. Almost 600,000 jobs were lost in one month. This is no small impact. This video is great, and I really like Tom’s idea that since the tax payers are bailing out all these companies, these companies should in return bail out consumers and negate a percentage of consumer debt. Why do all the rich people get to run off with the entirety of the US treasury while the people who paid in that money in the first place get nothing?

The Interview Show: Tom Geoghegan from Ben Chandler on Vimeo.

Just for the record. If you are a CRM archaeology field tech, never work for CRAI out of Lexington, KY. The owner has now replaced all temporary field techs with interns willing to work for free. Way to go in taking care of your employees during hard times.

February 12, 2009, 4:51 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Peace

To abandon a delusion I first must abandon my reason for being deluded. – Karmapa Chenno

Brief History of the Dead
February 10, 2009, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Books, Travel | Tags: ,

I finished a fantastic book this morning. One of the central characters, Laura Byrd, who happens to be the last remaining person on earth, is surviving on Antarctica.

It struck me kind of funny that I could say, I lived IN Maine, I live IN Nashville, but it sounds completely grammatically incorrect to say I live IN Antarctica. It seems you can live ON a vast ice shelf with no infrastructure, but not in it. Does a place require human culture to live in it?

DeadThe Brief History of the Dead

Wired for War
February 9, 2009, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Books, War | Tags: , , ,

I mentioned the new book Wired for War by Peter Singer. I posted a radio link, but these videos are very good as well, outlining new phenomena like “war porn.”

Peter Singer also wrote a book about the rising role of children in war. His journalist ventures really show how any ethical considerations that may have once existed in warfare really don’t exist anymore.
Children at War

Bledsoe Creek, TN
February 9, 2009, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Nashville, Travel

While I have been unemployed, as are a record number of Americans in 20 years, I am grateful to be spending my time catching up on what is happening in the world in such a beautiful setting.

The view out my bedroom window.




War and Peace Report
February 9, 2009, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Books, War | Tags: , , , , ,

I highly recommend the Feb. 9th broadcast on It interviews a Congolese doctor who has opened the only hospital in the Congo open to the thousands of women raped everyday as an act of war. This is something that has received very little press coverage in the US.

(This is an excerpt from the broadcast, but I highly recommend watching the whole show at their website.)

Also on today’s show was an interview with Pratap Chatterjee, author of Halliburton’s Army. He is an expert on corporate crime, and outlines the rise of contract employees in American military through Halliburton and KBR.

Halliburton's ArmyHalliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War

What I find interesting in the connection between these two stories, is how clearly they outline economic disparity between countries. Chatterjee describes how Fijian truck drivers hired by KBR are paid $170 a trip to risk their lives to bring supplies into Iraq, while American contracters hired for the same job are paid upwards of $100,000 and given military protection.

In the Congo a massive civil war has been raging, largely funded by American backed Rwandian military, and woman are the major targets. But women are not worth anything in a war market. It is not cost effective to fund hospitals or provide police protection for Congolese women. For anyone thinking this has nothing to do with them, the war has been vastly elevated by foreign control of coltan mines – a naturally occurring metallic substance used in the production of cell phones, laptops, and play stations.

Power to Women and Girls of the DRC
<img src=” Fight to LIve ” alt=”” />All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo

Tibetan Teachers
February 5, 2009, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Buddhism

The Khenpos, the teachers of the Buddhist Temple I go to in Nashville have started posting teachings on YouTube, which I think is adorable. This is how available information has become in the world that two elderly Tibetan monks, who escaped across the Himilayas on foot when they were teenagers to come to America and open a temple, are now giving online teachings. I find it really interesting to listen to Kenchen Palden speak in Tibetan (Kenpo Tsawang then translates in English).

Kenchen Palden Rinpoche and Kenpo Tsawang Rinpoche teaching the basics of the Four Noble Truths.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI