ISIS In-depth: why they succeed

This is a fascinating, in-depth interview with Rukmini Callimachi, who is the "go to" reporter at the New York Times concerning all things ISIS.  Her story is unique and her insights and contacts into ISIS are profound.  Al Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram thrive because they fill a need in the societies where they take hold, always in failed states.  

Some government, it turns out, is better than no or ineffectual government.  This is "must hear" radio.  


Longform Podcast #129: Rukmini Callimachi (Part 1) http://htl.li/JGwKf

Longform Podcast #129: Rukmini Callimachi (Part 2) http://htl.li/JGumm


Book Review: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

10 Happier How I Tamed the Voice in My Head Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The science is in. The medical evidence for meditation as a tool for improving a person's life, a person's performance, one's emotional well-being, is becoming incontrovertible. The medical evidence gets both stronger and and more detailed every year, that our brains are elastic and trainable throughout one's life. We are not "stuck" with the mind we were born with...or even the mind we have now.

So, Dan Harris' first book is a good starter book for meditation skeptics and proof that you don't have to buy into the wu of crystals, sandals with socks, and orange robes to reap the self-improvement benefits of disciplining and improving your mind as you do your own body. (BTW, all the religious and ritual aspects associated with meditation practices, especially from the Buddhist side, were layered on long after the practice took off).

Unlike many starter personal journey narratives about meditation that he complains about, Harris offers actual instructions and tips and techniques in his writings, how-to's so to speak. You will walk away from this book with a basic meditation tool kit you can carry with you anywhere, practice anywhere, and in almost any circumstance: 5 minutes on the train, 10 minutes in a waiting room, between meetings, on short walking breaks.

Even a modest, but regular, meditative practice can result in person being, as the title suggests, maybe 10% Happier. That's a result that's nothing to sneeze at for so little effort and time.

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The Deadly Unexplained Lap Dance of Michael Brown & Officer Wilson

The most disappointing news out of Ferguson, MO., the last 24-hours was not that Officer Wilson would avoid charges in the Michael Brown shooting.  We all pretty much expected such results.  Policing is frequently based on judgements made in a split second, and officers deserve the benefit of the doubt in dicey situations.  

But since August 9th, and as a former cop, I've had one burning question that I really hoped Officer Wilson would answer once the investigations were all over.

 Explain that Lap Dance, Darren.  What the hell were you doing?  What Police Academy taught you that?

What kind of trained, experienced, police officer would let 6 ft, 300-lb, “Hulk Hogan,” or any other person  --much less a suspect-- stand in his drivers window like you let Brown do you?  

You were vulnerable, Darren, at a disadvantage from the beginning, if things went sideways:
  • You're sitting down and belted-in,
  • Your door is blocked but your window open to eye-level punches
    -or a bullet between the eyes from a gun casually flicked out out of the waistband,
    -or maybe just a razor blade across the cheek,
  • You've got both limited visibility & limited mobility up and behind you,
  • and all this was going on with a second suspect god-only-knows-where
  • doing-god-only-knows-what out of your view, even if it's just cutting the valve stems of your tires.

You can’t get to your Sam Brown belt for mace, handcuffs, a collapsable baton, or a blackjack.  You're barely controlling your weapon.  How'd you get into that mess?  I'd really like to know.  

I'd also like to hear why you didn’t drop your cruiser into drive and floor the gas pedal, about the only other non-lethal defensive tactic left to your poor judgement.  Acceleration 0-60-mph, perhaps with a sudden deceleration at the end, would throw any attacker off balance, probably break some bones.  

So now Michael Brown is dead.  You're likely out of the police business for life.  The nation is in turmoil.  And your story has already been added to police patrol curriculums around the nation, but not in the way you'd have hoped.  

I guess if you can't be a good influence; you can always be a terrible warning.  But I'm sorry for you, Michael, and for us all.  

If White, a "Patriot;" If Black, an "Outside Agitator"

When bunch of gun-toting white people congregate from all over the country in Bunkerville, NV, to intimidate BLM law enforcement agents enforcing a legal contract with Clive Bundy as well as a federal court order, they're "patriots."

But when black citizens travel Ferguson, MO, to stand up to the oppression of the state against militarized police, they're "outside agitators" and "looting tourism."

Bundy had the "sovereign citizens" movement on his side, who claim the United States has no control over them at all. The black community gathering in Ferguson attracted the New Black Panthers, who just ask to be equal partners in the American play.

Ferguson: Who are the outside agitators entering the fray? (+video) - CSMonitor.com http://ow.ly/AwugI

One Riot, One Ranger in Ferguson, MO

The Difference between Policing a Community and Occupying a Community:
Courage,   Dignity,   Rights,   Respect  

Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol marches with protesters in Ferguson, MO

St. Louis County SWAT team arrives to Occupy Ferguson, MO

Texas Rangers are legendary for their hard-nosed law enforcement, as well their sense of justice and fairplay, as famous for taking on corrupt sheriffs, prosecutors, and judges as taking on bad guys.  Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol gets my vote for Honorary Texas Ranger for demonstrating exceptional intelligence, dignity, and dedication the rule of law as well as the exercise of the rights of citizenship.   

"terrorist" creep? I'd call the Brooklyn Bridge Skateboarders Heroes

Somebody, possibly skateboarders, replaced the American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags.  The President of the Brooklyn council called it "an act of terrorism," in an NPR radio interview.  

Terrorist?  Really?   These young men --there's grainy video-- are Heroes of New York City.  They demonstrated a weakness in the defenses of this vital artery.  No one was hurt, few were frightened, and no real damage was done.  These heroes risked their lives to show a genuine  lapse in security at the Brooklyn Bridge.  

Sure, the police were embarrassed.  Too bad.  But that doesn't make these kids "terrorists." 


White-flag incident is the latest terror scare at Brooklyn Bridge - NY Daily News http://ow.ly/zya3E


Memento Mori

Coffee that was beans 5 minutes ago. Yogurt, honey and blueberries from my own labors. Flat surfaces piled with cukes, squash, okra and tomatoes. A barrel of basil next to the door.  

A good read under the trees next to the fountain, my own Walden puddle...with frogs!  Dove hunting through the Blackeyed Susans. Cairns scooping out cools spots under the Camellias.  

Gayle and I glance across the skeeter ditch at the lush green cemetery beyond.  A living memento mori we don't have to mow.  

Today I am the happiest, richest, most contented man in the world.  A very Jeffersonian feeling.