30 November, 2007

Sicko - the saddest American movie

After watching this film, you will be left only two choices: a), pack the bags and take the kids off to Norway; and b), GET INVOLVED!
If you are serious about protecting your future and your quality of life, this issue can hardly be ignored. Expect to cry and don't expect to be the same afterwards.

"Sicko" is a documentary film about health care by Michael Moore.

29 November, 2007


I have at last changed the name of my blog.
It is now much simpler:


I said it was simple. My name plus "name". Easy.
The old address still works, but I like this one much more. (It really hasn't changed, it is just forwarded.)


This is as shocking as anything I've ever seen. See below, "Big Day." It is important and terrifying.
Click the title to view, or look on sidebar for an excerpt.

Turkey Bowl - football w/ the Swansons

Blake's "Jacob's Ladder" - one of my favorite works of art

Click on title to go to the pictures homepage

The Big Day

So much has been going on, it is hard to be sure where to start, or even where I last ended off. For the sake of expedience, I will begin where I am: I am currently sitting in a warm, wood-heated home in Twin Falls, Idaho with a mother (LeAnne) and two sick kids and a sick husband (Jeremy). I believe it is bronchitis.

If I wanted to I couldn’t leave I couldn’t. My van is still without transmission. But I don’t want to leave. Yesterday a sparkling, strange day. It was peaceful and contagious.

I awoke to go for a sub-freezing run with LeAnne, returned my rental car (which happened to be three blocks away—convenient). Since Jeremy was also feeling sick he stayed home from work, proudly donning a bathrobe all day. We kept the fire up all day, the kids coughed, LeAnne got them prescriptions, and Jeremy and I decided to watch Zeitgeist, or which we had heard whispers of.

This is where things get out of hand. First, just before the movie, Jeremy succeeded in renaming my website, something I have struggled with since 2004. And Boom! it was done. It was so easy in the end. But it mattered so much to me. At last I have a name that is easier and not silly: www.jonahmanning.name. Simple eh? Indeed. The success of it made me glow and this glow carried me right into one of the truly great shocks of my life.

The movie is called Zeitgeist, which means “spirit of the age”. I can say, unequivocally, that it is the most revealing, most illuminating—very difficult not to say most important movie I have ever, ever in my life seen. There are great movies that have talked about American culture, or the nature of human endeavor and spirituality—but these weren’t so dramatic, so shocking. I have been a better student of spirituality than world economics and power.

The Zeitgeist is about two frauds, great frauds, the Greatest Frauds. I will be hard pressed to disbelieve them. The facts seem so well ordered, the stories (there are two, and are separate) so well told, so cohesive; the author has little cause for ulterior motive (that is visible), little opportunity for gain.

In fact, he doesn’t ask for the viewer to believe him. This, he believes, is the biggest problem. Intellectual irresponsibility: people believing things without investigation, without taking the energy to seek out the truth. He is wary of lazy people, people who believe simply what they are told. He therefore wouldn’t expect his viewers to fill this paradigm. He therefore provides a full bibliography on his homepage to help anyone and everyone follow the same story he has so brilliantly delineated.

I will not go into the movie here. I strongly believe everyone in America and Europe should watch it. It is too important and there is little that will be able to stop the inevitable progression that has been long underway. It is shocking, nigh unbelievable. It is the greatest conspiracy theory of them all, and the facts are such that reality holds you mesmerized. After so much American history, the power structure of our country is finally laid bare.

Or is it?

Can you believe? Can I? I do, today, but it is a hard, hard pill to swallow. Unfortunately for us all, it is the only story today that makes sense. We are surrounded by confusion, have been for such a long time. Here is the story of our world, a cohesive—and terrifyingly logical story!—this is the frightful part: as incredible as it all will seem, it fits with everything we’ve already known about human nature, power, and history. The absurd story is in fact the most reasonable.

Are you confused or befuddled? At least curious?? Anyone who cares about this world or themselves should. Have you heard of the similarities between modernity and Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World? My friend, we’ve seen nothing yet!

Be afraid, but don’t be ignorant. Watch Zeitgeist: www.zeitgeistmovie.com

And remember this:

If you don’t believe, what could the author’s ulterior motives be? Does he not first and foremost encourage honest intellectual inquiry?

And secondly, look at the world he exposes in Part II: what are the motives or these men? Power and money! Haven’t we always known that 1) Power corrupts; and, 2) Power is never surrendered by the powerful?

Then who should we believe?

This is an incredible world; incredible things happen. How shocking a thing is doesn’t determine its authenticity. This is determined by cohesion of facts and motivations.

Look closely. It is all here in Zeitgeist. And it is truly terrifying.

Road Trip II

Jason and Laurel Walsh (Thanksgiving 1).

After watching Tobin Price’s first gymnastics competition, which was something to see, I drove into downtown Denver to find J & L’s apartment. I found a good parking spot and easily determined the third story home from the smoking grill that was in use.

The place was different from any apartment I’ve seen. The walls were brilliantly colored, blue, deep red, beige, a different color for each room. Stone floors split the apartment and curved like waves with crumbled stone fringes. A bar with a keg and tap was fashioned from a real airplane wing. The kitchen sink was commercial, huge and with skin-flaying power (not to mention the hose sprayer).

Their shower was the same stone masonry with the windy stone fringing but it was infusing with a steamer, so you could have a sauna instead of a shower to start your day.

I could go on and on. They had a projector and screen and used to have regular movie nights with large attendance.

So I was awed. It was clearly a place they were passionate about and had put themselves fully into. It was currently rented to a close friend who was happy to accommodate them (us – including Mr. Widge). He lent Jason his cell phone when he went to work as well as his car, so Jason and Laurel were both in touch and mobile.

When I had talked to Jason he had said that today was ideal, in that he was throwing a bar-b-que. As the ribs slowly cooked on the grill I caught up with Jason and Laurel as their friends slowly started trickling in.

Lovely, beautiful, wonderful women. Laurel has such cool amazing fun friends. It was an easy party. Everyone treated me well and it was Widge who really stole the show. He made his rounds; he laid in the middle of the kitchen; he relished scores of belly rubs and never ran and hit from the attention. I did eventually take him away with me when I went down. He’s too old to party like that.

I loved it. It was great to see Jason and Laurel and met their friends and see their world beyond Monkey’s Business. We ate well; we drank and were and very merry.

The next day we went up to Jason’s mom’s cabin which was somewhere at 9,000ft. She had incredible glass sculptures all throughout the house, a hottub, vast windows and views of pondy pines and doug firs. No neighbors to be seen. We looked at pictures of her forthcoming catamaran and talked about pirates. We sat in a big group around the table, turkey and all the fixing. Good cheer all ‘round.

But this was not the True Thanksgiving, not Thursday. It was Sunday, but the real turkey day was approaching and I had a long way to go to make Portland on time. So Monday morning I got a good start for Twin Falls, Idaho, where I thought a good layover spot and also where LeAnne and Jeremy SasserCollins live.

It was a beautiful drive. I had never driven I-84 before and loved the new vistas. The winds were intense, as they always are in eastern Wyoming.

LeAnne and Jeremy SasserCollins

The weather was cold, good western weather. I had no idea that Twin Falls has such jewels hidden in the ground. What looks like a bare plateau from a distance obscures the fact that there is a great canyon running right through the edge of town, spanned by a great classic arch bridge. The Snake falls in great cataracts around pinnacles and columns, reminiscent of Victoria falls in it width and multiplicity.

LeAnne took me around for the afternoon showing me the various sights of the town. Her parents-in-law have a house over looking the canyon with a fine view. Alissa and Elijah were always well-behaved and respectful. They liked to play pirate and Alissa is already practicing self-defense at four years old. Pretty cool.

Wednesday morning I set out again and at last for Portland and the Swanson House. I had 550 miles to go and had the entire day. But not all was as it seemed. About five miles out on the interstate the tranny started to make a fuss. Before long I was pulled over checking what I could, but there wasn’t much to see.

And that was to be the end. She wouldn’t go back in gear.

So here started the adventure of finding a tow, a tranny shop, a quote, a plan, an eventual rental car, and a late push for Portland, which I made.

Bethany, Stu, Chelsea, and the Swanson House Thanksgiving

This is my dream. This is what I have been thinking about, hoping for, plotting for for three years and a day—ever since I left here the first time. This is not a normal Thanksgiving if there ever was such a thing. Neil and Chris have three kids: Bethany, the oldest; Ingrid, and Clay. Neil is a successful surgeon and has the means to live in a “large” house. It has become tradition to have their kids invite their friends to come along to Thanksgiving. There is room for all and food to last through the weekend. We provide kegs.

Bethany, wonderful as she is, is not an anomaly in this family. She is (almost) the norm. Ingrid is sweet and beautiful and interesting, playful, runs like a gazelle and is a complete devil on the football field. Clay is in college and takes much from his older sisters, all to the good. They may be the only “non-dysfunctional” family I know well, though I am skeptical of ever naming a family thus because in the past it has always brought the veil of doom.

Anyway . . . they are all wonderful and beautiful individually and therefore are blessed by wonderful friends in result. So, in my first trip to the Swanson’s three years ago I was so floored to be with such an interesting group with such variant interests and opinions. This year is no exception.

It is tradition to start Thanksgiving with The Turkey Bowl—the annual football game which is played on the local highschool’s field. This year set a record for participation, everyone but Chris and Chelsea—who was benched due to an injury (as a thin excuse perhaps). It was an epic game. All agree it was the finest Turkey Bowl to date. We wore flags, eight versus ten, and my team won, though Stu, who QB’ed for the “losers” who MVP. (I personally played a better game three years ago.) Clay and Ingrid played huge

for the “winners.” We won on the last play, a half-field long-bomb strike.

We sat nineteen, including Stuart and Chelsea who are now engaged. There were three couples who were engaged, including Ingrid. The turkey weighed 28 lbs. The green bean casserole was three square feet. We had at least five pies.

But it is the cheer that matters. I wore a perma-smile, as did most. Lots of strangers just happy to get to know each other. Clay has grown up a lot since I saw him last. I spent some late hours of the night talking with B’s Mom Chris about everything from stained glass, relationships, dancing, to metal working.

Really, I couldn’t be having a better time. We spent a day in Portland, ate sushi, went to REI, Patagonia, and ended in a three story bookstore called Powells that takes up a whole city block, after which we packed B’s car and headed up to their mountain house under Mt Hood. Once there I preceded to set a house record for longest time spent in the hottub, for which I show no ill effects.

And that brings me up to today. I sit by a warm fire, drinking coffee and orange juice, writing my little story, happy and relaxed after eating too many sausages for breakfast.

What next?

I have no idea, no easy answers. My van is in Twin Falls, my brother is in between, Seattle and some goals are still NW. . . no easy way get everything done. It looks like I have still a lot of driving to do.

But my god has it been worth it. The best of times, everyone and everywhere. Thank you.

Heppner – Hangin’ with Willy and Giselle

I had a brief and good time with Willy in Heppner. He showed me the old ranch he used to work. I got to meet Dixie’s puppy who is a beautiful golden color with the same athletic physique as her mother.

Willy got sick and left a great fish dinner for Giselle and myself to eat like gluttons.

Back to Twin Falls

My time back in Twin Falls will be discussed in the next entry, “Big Day”.

Last Straw

The Last Straw…

I heard today that Rupert Murdock has bought the Wall Street Journal. If this is true, it may represent the Last Straw for me as far as my support and continued legal citizenship of the US.

The irony is that RM is not even American, but Australian (though I understand he is a US citizen). What hope is left? The truth cannot come out with out the media—and RM seems to own most of it. There are blogs and independent films, but what is that?? The average person watches the news or reads the newspaper. There is still Time Magazine. I am blue, discouraged, and without much hope left.

Our country is waining; we are in the twilight, slowly fading, degrading and grinding down. Our peak is now behind us and decay lies before us. Perhaps it is inevitable. Is it our responsibility to slow the fall, do we make the most of what is left? Is our responsibility to our country or to ourselves?

I am against everything our country is becoming, though I respect what our country has been. We have been truly great, truly powerful. Our birth and inception was unprecedented, moral, and courageous. Our causes in war have been (often) just and altruistic (well…). Our thinkers have been ahead of their times, our innovations paradigm changing. It has been us, Americans, that have ushered in and dominated the modern industrial times, for better and for worse.

But as all empires we have corrupted ourselves. We will destroy from the inside what our enemies failed to destroy from without. We have grown rich, lazy, and ignorant. We no longer carry the flame that motivated and burned in the hearts of our forefathers. We quail under the same fear that lifted them to greatness.

We have forgotten what it was like to want for food, for shelter, for life. Even those who are lacking seem not to be aware of it, blind to their anemia. Our public lacks health care, education, and we are told, no, we have the very best. No, we aren’t lacking at all. No reason to become upset. That exactly.

We have become a passive people, told what to think without option, without justification; herded like cattle with fear as a prod—and always in the same direction: sedation. While slowly our freedoms are wheedled from our distracted and willing hands.

That we submit willingly is the hardest to accept and yet it is so. We have been so confounded we have turned upon ourselves, gnawing our own tail, while Prometheus laughs at his guile.

Jefferson said that, given a choice between the two, he would choose a newspaper before a government for the wellbeing of a people. We see today the wisdom of these words and consequences of their negation. Today we have no newspaper, no media free from the propaganda of the regime. It is all one story, one shabby lie, so ugly and insidious that is existence only becomes possibly without a contrary, without a mirror to represent its ugliness.

We are living in Orwell’s 1984. How can we fail to see? We fight in the name of freedom, yet each day our freedoms are taken from us, if not given up freely in the honorable name of Homeland Security or the War against Terror. We have built the walls of our own cell and we walk in of our own will. We are told it is a safer place and it is perfectly, perfectly true.

I stand against this with every fiber of my being. I smelled a rat. I am not lazy and I am not scared and I will not be told what to believe without justification and without option or alibi. I have searched and I have found alternatives to the stories we are told, and in comparison the sanctioned truth turns to dust, obvious and discernible by any application of intelligence. It is a sham, and a poor one.

And yet it prevails. We are too lazy as a people to act on our gut feeling that “something just ain’t right.” No it is not. It is not right and I know it. I can not make others know it. I cannot scream it over the rooftops of our once great nation. No one will hear. I cannot buy up all the newspapers and tv stations like Rupert Murdock.

Jefferson knew, Orwell knew. My vote will not stem the flood or brake the slide. But… but I can not participate. I can step back and no longer pay my money to wars I think unjust, money I with went to schools, health care, or our poor and elderly. I do not sanction the killing of Iraqis, Afghanis or Iranians.

But to not pay taxes is to not receive the benefits afforded to citizenship, else I would be a hypocrite. I must take what is mine and leave, find a new one, one in which I could hold some amount of faith in its policies and constitution. I would become an expatriot, an outcast from my home, from my family; I would abandon all that was good with all that has gone to rot. Could I do that? Must I do that to be true to my own principles? Is it right?

I don’t know. But I am disgusted. I have the right to. Do I have a mandate? What would Thoreau do? It is just to disobey unjust laws. What options are their in an age without the possibility of revolution?

Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann both left Germany with the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930’s. They couldn’t beat the Nazis, but they disalign themselves; they chose not to participate in what they saw as evil. What more could they have done and what difference would have been served?

23 November, 2007


I am in Portland, Widge is on the coast, the car is in Twin Falls, Will is in Heppner, Banff Mtn Film Festival is in Tacoma, Tillicum's dad is in Victoria.  How to connect the dots. . . .

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

16 November, 2007

tear it up

Posted by Picasa

new picts

I just updated my photos, so there is a new album of photos from VANUATU.  Check it out.  Vanuatu is one of the most special places in the world.  (My photos are accessed by scrolling down and look on the right column and you'll see the link.)

15 November, 2007

Road Trip 1

Molly and Luke

I had such a great time. We had bonfires and just spending time acting like a kid was so rejuvenating. Their house is beautiful as well as their horses. I’ve written most of this before, but I can’t and don’t want to get over it.

Jason and Kari

I have met Tobin and Elias before, but this is my first meeting with Whitney. I think she is about eight months. The boys have grown so much. Tobin is much as I remember him but Elias was only one when I met him—now he’s four. Tobin’s seven.
I got in in the evening and we stayed up later than we should have talking. Jason and I practiced knots for a bit and Kari introduced me to a chocolate chili coffee. Wow.
Now everyone is gone and I can do a few things on the computer, clean the house up a bit for them and then devour Jason’s climbing wall he has in the back. Am I excited!
Today is Kari’s birthday. What great timing! And to top it off. Molly had baked some pies and decided that I should bring one to Kari and Jason. Voula (sp)—a birthday pie! Not bad.

Infant Swimming - Teach your Children

This is the infant swimming video. Very amazing and not just a little frightening.


12 November, 2007


I'm westward bound.  Currently, I'm with Luke and Molly, at last meeting their truly remarkable kids.  Most parents think their kids are remarkible, but I Absolutly agree with this case.  It is hard to leave.  They call me Uncle John.  And we have bonfires.  And horses.  And goats that keep getting out of there paddock, so the kids, dogs and I get to keep rounding them up.  Such fun.  And the power went out so we got to light loads of candles and eat icecream (so it wouldn't melt, you know).
Today I saw something like nothing I've ever imagined.  (Forgive me if I am simple naive.)  But there is a program that teaches childern, six months and up, how to "not drown"--it isn't swimming; it is a sort of floating.  It is absolutly shocking.  In fact last night when Molly told me about it and started to show me a video clip, I even got sort of scared.  They showed a dog push open a door of the house, and a little toddler walked out behind him, with a ball in his hand.  I knew what was next and didn't want to see it.  He walked over to the pool and then you see his ball fall in the water.  Then you see the toddler fall in after it.
At this point your heart is in your mouth.  It is a terrible thing to witness.
But then, somehow, the little kid this sort of kick and twist and before you knew what had happened he was floating on his back with his face out of the water, gently floating, not crying or flailing. . . he just floated there.  MInutes hasn't.  He'd scream out for attention, then stop.  Crying and screaming make the float more difficult.
Five minutes past.  THe kid just floated.  Then his Dad walked over to him and picked him up gently--and you wouldn't, couldn't believe the smile on the childs face.  It was a miricle.  I so expected to see fear or anger, anything. . . but the smie.  He was proud of himself.  He wasn't at all afraid.
And today I went and watched Lucas and Lily do the same thing.  They swim untill they need a breath, then roll on their backs, breath for a few moments, then flip and swim again.  They repeat the process until they reach the edge of the pool.  They theory is that young children don't have the neck strength to lift their heads to breathe.  If they are vertical they sink.  So the practice keeps them in horizontal positions: back up to swim, chest up to breathe and wait.   Amazing.  They practice five days a week for six weeks, counting on muscle memory to serve them in an emergency.
Tomorrow I head west to Denver.

Jonah Manning
S/V Araby

Online Journal -www.freejonah.blogspot.com
Email - bellyofthewhale.gmail.com

128 Holliday Rd
Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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Dibble Manning
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