e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

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Little Witches

Foeksia de Miniheks

Lili – La Petite Sorcière (Hexe Lili)

魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Bibi a Bruxinha

>Gods bless the Navy SEALs

>From the Introduction to the Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi

I have been many years training in the Way of strategy, called Ni Ten Ichi Ryu, and now I think I will explain it in writing for the first time. It is now during the first ten days of the tenth month in the twentieth year of Kanei (1645). I have climbed mountain Iwato of Higo in Kyushu to pay homage to heaven, pray to Kwannon, [God(dess) of mercy in Buddhism. – Slaegr] and kneel before Buddha. I am a warrior of Harima province, Shinmen Musashi No Kami Fujiwara No Genshin, age sixty years ….

To write this book I did not use the law of Buddha or the teachings of Confucius, neither old war chronicles nor books on martial tactics. I take up my brush to explain the true spirit of this Ichi school as it is mirrored in the Way of heaven and Kwannon. The time is the night of the tenth day of the tenth month, at the hour of the tiger (3-5 a.m.)

From The Ground Book

There is a time and place for use of weapons.
The best use of the companion sword is in a confined space, or when you are engaged closely with an opponent. The long sword can be used effectively in all situations.

The halberd is inferior to the spear on the battlefield. With the spear you can take the initiative; the halberd is defensive. In the hands of one of two men of equal ability, the spear gives a little extra strength. Spear and halberd both have their uses, but neither is very beneficial in confined spaces. They cannot be used for taking a prisoner. They are essentially weapons for the field.

Anyway, if you learn “indoor” techniques, you will think narrowly and forget the true Way. Thus you will have difficulty in actual encounters.

The bow is tactically strong at the commencement of battle, especially battles on a moor, as it is possible to shoot quickly from among the spearmen. However, it is unsatisfactory in sieges, or when the enemy is more than forty yards away. For this reason there are nowadays few traditional schools of archery. There is little use nowadays for this kind of skill.

From inside fortifications, the gun has no equal among weapons. It is the supreme weapon on the field before the ranks clash, but once swords are crossed the gun becomes useless.

One of the virtues of the bow is that you can see the arrows in flight and correct your aim accordingly, whereas gunshot cannot be seen. You must appreciate the importance of this.

Just as a horse must have endurance and no defects, so it is with weapons. Horses should walk strongly, and swords and companion swords should cut strongly. Spears and halberds must stand up to heavy use: bows and guns must be sturdy. Weapons should be hardy rather than decorative

You should not have a favourite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons which you can handle properly. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes. These are things you must learn thoroughly.

From The Water Book

In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken. Do not let your spirit be influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit. Be neither insufficiently spirited nor over spirited. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.
Small people must be completely familiar with the spirit of large people, and large people must be familiar with the spirit of small people. Whatever your size, do not be misled by the reactions of your own body. WIth your spirit open and unconstricted, look at things from a high point of view. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realised the wisdom of strategy.

The wisdom of strategy is different from other things. On the battlefield, even when you are hard-pressed, you should ceaselessly research the principles of strategy so that you can develop a steady spirit.

From The Fire Book

To Crush
This means to crush the enemy regarding him as being weak.
In large-scale strategy, when we see that the enemy has few men, or if he has many men but his spirit is weak and disordered, we knock the hat over his eyes, crushing him utterly. If we crush lightly, he may recover. You must learn the spirit of crushing as if with a hand-grip.

In single combat, if the enemy is less skilful than ourself, if his rhythm is disorganised, or if he has fallen into evasive or retreating attitudes, we must crush him straightaway, with no concern for his presence and without allowing him space for breath. It is essential to crush him all at once. The primary thing is not to let him recover his position even a little. You must research this deeply.

From The Wind Book

In this world it is said, “One inch gives the hand advantage”, but these are the idle words of one who does not know strategy. It shows the inferior strategy of a weak spirit that men should be dependent on the length of their sword, fighting from a distance without the benefit of strategy.

I expect there is a case for the school in question liking extra-long swords as part of its doctrine, but if we compare this to real life it is unreasonable. Surely we need not necessarily be defeated if we are using a short sword, and have no long sword?

It is difficult for these people to cut the enemy when at close quarters because of the length of the long sword. The blade path is large so the long sword is an encumbrance, and they are at a disadvantage compared to theman armed with a short companion sword.

From olden times it has been said: “Great and small go together.”. So do not unconditionally dislike extra-long swords. What I dislike is the inclination towards the long sword. If we consider large-scale strategy, we can think of large forces in terms of long swords, and small forces as short swords. Cannot few me give battle against many? There are many instances of few men overcoming many.

Your strategy is of no account if when called on to fight in a confined space your heart is inclined to the long sword, or if you are in a house armed only with your companion sword. Besides, some men have not the strength of others.

In my doctrine, I dislike preconceived, narrow spirit. You must study this well.

From The Book of the Void

Until you realize the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in worldly laws, you may think that your own way is the one correct and in order. However, if we look at things objectively, in the light of the Straight Way of the Heart or in accordance with the Great Square of the World, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. What you believe in often proves to be contrary to the true way, distorted as it is by tendencies to favor your own thoughts and views. Know this well, and try to act with forthrightness as the foundation and keep the true Heart as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly.

Then you will come to see things in an all-encompassing sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.

In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom exists, principle exists, the way exists. Spirit is Void.

Picture explanations and credits:
Introduction: Navy SEAL training exercise called by the self-explanatory name “drownproofing”. Image from HowStuffWorks.Com.
Ground: Navy SEAL guncase. From MilitaryPhotos.Net.
Water: A bunch of SEALs about to ruin somebody’s day. Official US Navy photo.
Fire: “Justice has been done.” Various news agencies.
Wind: Navy SEAL training exercise. From world_armies at flickr.
Void: US Navy SEAL Night OPS Jumper. From ebairsoft.com. Some say these guys don’t really exist. Body and head sold separately.
Below: “High intensity wet training.” From SFGate.Com.

>on retreat

>I don’t actually leave until tomorrow morning. If you leave a comment before then I may or may not be able to get to it. But after that I will be off the grid until next Wednesday. (All comments on this blog are moderated.)

From: Dinosaur Comics at quantz.com. Ryan North is the creative genius behind Dinosaur Comics.

White crane photo by Daniel Gill.

Haiti: Recommendations and Background

TransAfrica is an advocacy group that has made Haiti a major focus of its work for many years. I got to know and trust TransAfrica back during my younger days as an activist in the anti-Apartheid movement, in which TransAfrica played an important role.

Following are some excerpts from their website (to read everything in full please click here):

TransAfrica Forum recommends the following:

1. SUSPEND HAITIAN DEPORTATIONS AND GRANT TPS. Since January 2009 U.S. immigration judges have issued deportation orders to over 30,000 undocumented Haitians. The Department of Homeland Security should immediately halt the arrests of these deportees and grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States and conduct a full review of its policy towards Haiti….
2. COORDINATED INTERNATIONAL RELIEF ASSISTANCE. The U.S. government and international aid agencies are already beginning to mobilize immediate relief. We urge the administration to continue its efforts, in full coordination with international agencies and multilateral agencies in order to ensure efficient relief efforts….
3. FULL RESOURCE MOBILIZATION. Within the context of international efforts, and as requested by the Haitian government, we encourage the Obama Administration to fully mobilize its resources to support urgent needed search and rescue of the wounded and trapped, including, again if requested by the Haitian government, mobilization of the Southern Command structure.
4. CHARITABLE DONATIONS. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) have long-established development projects on the ground….
a. Partners in Health. Donate online at: www.pih.org/inforesources/news/Haiti_Earthquake.html or send your contribution to Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578
b. Doctors Without Borders. Donate online at www.doctorswithoutborders.org, or toll-free at 1-888-392-0392. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. USA Headquarters 333 7th Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001-5004.


Haiti is the least-developed country in the Americas. The “dumping” of cheap products into its economy has further destabilized the nation and underscored the need to overhaul Haiti’s agriculture policies in tandem with international trade policy. Approximately 80 percent of Haiti’s population lives in poverty and over half struggle to survive on less than $1 a day. Remittances that Haitians outside the country send home account for over a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP), there is chronic unemployment and the informal economy is steadily growing.

Foreign aid continues to dominate Haiti’s budget (30-40 percent) and its debt stands at $1.3 billion — 40 percent of which was incurred by the Duvalier dictatorships by stealing or misspending most of the money between 1957 and 1986. While loss of civilian life and public security due to armed confrontations continue to be problems, people are increasingly dying as a result of starvation and poverty. The prices of products needed to fulfill basic needs have risen by more than 50 percent since 2007 and most families are forced to choose between buying food and sending their children to school. Unfortunately, the current conditions in the country show no signs of notable improvement and disproportionately impact vulnerable groups, such as women and children, human rights defenders and journalists. Through it all, Haitians continue to identify creative ways to survive and to help others along the way. This tradition of “youn ede lòt,” or “one helping the other” remains strong. One example of this is the existence of solidarity lending groups, established by members to cover financial obligations, in which one person receives a rotating pool of money each pay period.

TransAfrica Forum is the leading U.S. advocacy organization for Africa and the African Diaspora in U.S. foreign policy. TransAfrica Forum helped lead the world protest against apartheid in South Africa and today works for human and economic justice for African people on the continent of Africa, in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Contact us: TransAfrica Forum, 1629 K Street, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C., 2006, 202-223-1960, www.transafricaforum.org.

"I’ll probably be remembered for the pies, and that’s all right"

One of my childhood heroes, Soupy Sales, has died. Alas.

Soupy was often accused of using sexual innuendo in his children’s show Lunch With Soupy Sales. He not only consistently and adamantly denied this, but had a standing offer of $10,000 to anyone who could ever present any evidence, whatsoever, that he ever introduced “blue” material in any of his kids’ shows. No one ever even tried to collect the money!

Nevertheless Soupy Sales was a subversive, like all great comedians. But his was a gentle, if “zany” (and literally “in your face”!), subversion. To this day, Soupy Sales trademark pie-in-the-face is used by non-violent protesters the world across to get their point across with humor and style.

J.B. Bury on Christianity and persecution

Please see the updated/expanded version of this post here:

Orissa Christians leaders take exception to US report

Orissa Christian leaders take exception to US report

Bhubaneswar, Aug 14 (PTI)
Taking exception to a report by a US panel on global religious freedom placing India on the ‘Watch List’ for Kandhamal violence, Christian leaders in Orissa today said the majority community has been “extremely cordial” to them.

Minorities in India have been targets of hate campaign by a small section, “but the civil society of the majority community has been extremely cordial and supportive of the minority community in the state,” Orissa Minority Forum (OMF) President Swarupananda Patra said.

His remarks came in the wake of a statement made by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom that India was placed on the ‘Watch List’ due to “disturbing increase” in communal violence there.

Though a few ‘criminal elements’ created problems for the minority community during the riots, the secular fabric of the society was intact, Patra said.

Leaping Lizards

When I first saw the picture to the right, I thought it must be photoshopped, even though it was at a reputable website like bbc.com.

So I embarked on a search for more pics. I’m still not convinced. This could be the cleverest Geico advertising campaign ever, or some other kind of internet hoax. But the pics are pretty fracking cool. The next one is from some site called whyfiles (an online science magazine) and the one after that is from webshots.com.

Heather Graham: "So mote it be."

It turns out (in case there is anyone out there who hasn’t heard this yet) that Heather Graham is a practicing Pagan of some sort or another.

In her own words, she meets together with a small group of friends to “wish for things”, “honor the elements”, “burn things”, etc. She says that “some amazing things have happened” as a result of these get-togethers with her friends.

I think this whole thing is pretty cool. She is not just talking out of her arse – what she describes is pretty garden-variety Wicca/Witchcraft, albeit on a very basic (or possibly even shallow) level. But I don’t think we should make too much out of how superficial her description is. What Heather says is about as much as one can really, sanely, say about Magic to a mass audience. If anything she says too much!

No shit – here is Heather Graham explaining the phrase “So mote it be to Jimmy Kimmel. [Note: Go to 3:05 to see her tell him about “so mote it be”. Also, I don’t use “embedded” youtube links anymore because they make some browswers (like mine!!) comatose.]

I really do hope that the “fluffy-bunny” haters out there don’t give Graham a hard time. I honestly do think that it would actually be irresponsible for her to talk about magic and witchcraft in more detail. For example, I recently attended a retreat that included a Tibetan Buddhist “Empowerment” ceremony. The teacher leading it told us not to say much, if anything, about the empowerment itself to others. In fact she said something like “if anyone asks what you did, just tell them you listened to a funny woman telling stories.” Which also happens to be true, because Lama Tsering Everest is a great storyteller!!

I think this might almost be as cool as when the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel was mentioned on Jeopardy (under “Religions” for $800 – srsly).