Archive for June, 2013

30
Jun
13

the egyptian

egyptian capitals

The Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103, popularly known as The Egyptian, was Camille Saint-Saëns’ last piano concerto. He wrote it in 1896 for his Jubilee Concert on May 6 of that year. This concert celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his début, and he himself was the soloist at the première, which was a popular and critical success.

This concerto is nicknamed “The Egyptian” for two reasons. Firstly, Saint-Saëns composed it in the temple town of Luxor while on one of his frequent winter vacations to Egypt, and secondly, the music is among his most exotic.

This particular recording by Sviatoslav Richter, recorded with the Moscow Youth Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin conducting, has been a lifelong favorite of mine. It was recorded in 1952.

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Groove of the Day 

Listen to Sviatoslav Richter performing the Allegro animato movement – I

Listen to Sviatoslav Richter performing the Andante movement – II

Listen to Sviatoslav Richter performing the Molto allegro movement – III

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29
Jun
13

temporary

life is temporary

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touche

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electrocuted lineman in mexico

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unearthed cemetery

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Photo by Lukas Roels - Angel at Death

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Mother-Child-Dead-Tsunami-Japan-Sad-News

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body

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loss

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lawn-covered mausoleum

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Dead Mickey

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Cmentarz

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bye

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to the Reverend Edward Clayborn performing “This Time Another Year You May Be Gone”

28
Jun
13

throw away the key

cell door 1

A couple days ago, much to my surprise, I learned from another advocate that a young man who has become a cause celebre for the unfair imprisonment of youth is, in fact, a person who preys on other weaker prisoners, presumably sexually. His parents are in denial and this knowledge has bothered me more than I expected.

Has this young man, sentenced to an incredibly long term, simply accepted the dismal trajectory of his life and decided to play by the predator-or-prey rules of prison life and let it turn him to the “dark side?” No one will ever know if he entered prison an innocent, but now he is truly lost.

Throw away the key. He has made his decision. He is a predator now.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

  • During 2007, a total of 1,180,469 persons on parole were at-risk of reincarceration.  This includes persons under parole supervision on January 1 or those entering parole during the year. Of these parolees, about 16% were returned to incarceration in 2007.
  • Among nearly 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years. A study of prisoners released in 1983 estimated 62.5%.
  • Of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 states in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% resentenced to prison for a new crime.
  • These offenders had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges before their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within 3 years of release.
  • Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).
  • Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

prison key 3Our prisons are clearly a failure of both reform and deterrence. While reform of the prisons themselves and a return to a philosophy of reform, not punishment, are desirable goals, this is clearly outside our mission. Instead, we must concern ourselves with the more limited goal of ensuring that juvenile parricides, if convicted, are not transformed into criminals by the very system that is supposed to make our society better.

As always, I rely on the juvenile parricides themselves as my most trusted guides. They have been there and know. This is Derek King’s advice to any person who is unfortunate enough to find himself (or herself) in prison:

First, place all your faith and trust in God. There is no protection for you inside a prison except God. You are surrounded by “evil, cruel, and twisted” people, both inmates and guards. Trust no one. Pray and read the Bible. Trust in God and never forget He is your only reliable protection.

Second, depend on who you are and who is in your life and use everything you have—material, intellectual, spiritual—to get by and survive. You must be insightful, calculating, and clever. You can never afford to waste or squander any resources—services and favors performed or owed, money in your canteen account, books and pens and paper and postage stamps, food items, even contraband (but don’t get caught!), etc.—for these are the currency with which you will barter for your survival.

Third, always stand up for yourself and fight. Avoid conflict whenever and however you can, but never lay down, quit, or run. Even if you are smaller and sure to be beaten, it is better to take a beating than ever to fold. If you lay down once, you will always be seen as weak and will always be victimized. Even if you fight and lose, you can earn respect. Might, not right, is all that matters in prison. In prison, especially, life is not fair.

Fourth, you must avoid the evils of prison from ever rubbing off on you. You must learn to detach and make your own private internal world. Read books. Write letters. Create projects with goals for yourself. In this internal world you can be free, even in prison. In this internal world, you can be sane even if you are surrounded by crazy people. In this internal world you can find peace, even if events around you are flying apart.

Be strong. Never let down your guard. Rely on only yourself and your own judgments, and trust no one else but God.

Here is how I would summarize what Derek had to say as a Survival Strategy: every prisoner must become a “Teflon Boy.” If he goes running to the guards for protection (or worse yet, if he becomes a snitch), he will be hated by his fellow inmates and they will try to harm him any way they can. If he goes running to his fellow inmates for protection (or worse yet, aligns himself with a prison gang), he will run afoul of the prison staff. He must learn to walk a middle path, remaining self-contained and independent, always complying with what the guards tell him to do and always getting along with the inmates, but never creating friction with either camp or getting into conflict with anybody. He can never allow any of the “ick” of prison to rub off on him—no tattoos, no dealing in contraband, no aggression or violence, nothing ever hateful or hurtful to others.

This is the message we share with every kid we serve. It has worked so far.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Riley Baugus performing “Old Bunch of Keys”

27
Jun
13

premiere

lost for life 2

lost for life 1 cr

Premiere

by Mary Ellen Johnson

I have just returned from the world premiere of LOST FOR LIFE in Washington DC. Joshua Rofé has been working on LOST FOR LIFE for four years and began with a shoestring budget. You would never know from the quality of the 75 minute film. Masterful. Powerful. And controversial.

LOST FOR LIFE doesn’t have any easy answers but it does ask the question, Could You Forgive? The film starts with Brian Draper, who along with fellow Idaho 16-year-old, stabbed to death a 16-year-old student. The teens are filmed pre- and post-murder.

Extremely brutal and difficult to watch.

But Joshua Rofé is not really interested in the details of the crime or issues like direct file, brain development, etc. Instead, he focuses on the personal–the teens who commit the crimes, whether they give more than lip service to remorse, and to their families. Who takes responsibility? Who is in denial? Does it matter when a death is involved, particularly a death as brutal as that of Cassie Jo Stoddart, whether the killer is remorseful or simply in denial?

Josh never directly intrudes himself in the film, but rather lets the story speak for itself. We see the death of loved ones through the eyes of two different victims, Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, whose web site with its domain name “teenkillers.org,” succinctly states her position, and Sharletta Evans, who has not only embraced forgiveness of the killers who took the life of her three-year-old son, but asks that other young lifers be given a “first chance.”

Colorado is well represented, in addition to Idaho, though the issue is a national one with more than 2000 serving mandatory life sentences. The other young prisoners featured are Colorado lifers, Josiah Ivy and Jacob Ind. It is interesting to contrast Jacob Ind’s reflections after 20 years inside with those of Brian Draper and Torey Adamcik. Those teens have been imprisoned for 5 years and are now only 21. (Brian and Torey illustrate very clearly the truth about brain development and maturity. Re-visit them in 10 years. The responses, the level of self-reflection, will be very different.) Sean Taylor, whose sentence was commuted by Governor Bill Ritter, shows that redemption is possible, and that those who kill can honor their victim by living a life of service. It may never be enough, but some strive to honor the life they took the best way they know how, whether inside or outside prison.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional. Thus, LOST FOR LIFE and this issue will remain relevant for years to come.

Please check out the links below.

Here is Josh’s website, which includes a link to first trailer, press kit, and more:
http://www.snagfilms.com/lostforlife/
 
Separate YouTube trailer link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NUVB5kzp5ZA

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Mary Ellen Johnson is the Executive Director of The Pendulum Foundation, a non-profit that serves kids serving life. Mary Ellen is also the author of several published books, including The Murder of Jacob, about a 15-year-old who killed his abusive parents, Listening to Jay and the Americans, Walking in the Rain. She is the “godmother” of The Redemption Project.

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Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bread performing “Lost Without Your Love”

26
Jun
13

happy

The Hobbit House

Have I ever told you how happy this work makes me feel?

So much of the time we focus on the negative aspects of the work: the injustices suffered by the children whom society should be embracing and helping (but is not); hateful prosecutors who seem more concerned with winning than doing what’s right; children in prison who are being tormented, even raped, by the authorities who should be protecting them; et cetera. Unnecessary suffering that makes your blood boil with anger.

Articles have been appearing over the last several days about how our appeal of Paul Henry Gingerich’s unfair sentence has influenced a change in Indiana law. But while important, it is not the new “blended sentencing” that goes into effect July 1st that rings my chimes.

Have I told you how wonderful it makes me feel to have sent Derek King a check so he can buy a car? Or to have sent Alex King a game that will help him pass his remaining months of bleak imprisonment more quickly? Or to have sent Nathan Ybanez a gift of books on Buddhist spirituality, priced beyond his reach, that his girlfriend says will make him shed secret tears of joy when he receives them?

Because of our lifetime commitment to juvenile parricides, we are involved in the realization of their dreams. Lone Heron, a woman who killed her abusive parents nearly a quarter-century ago, is building a “Hobbit Hut,” pictured above, with our encouragement. It is a dwelling-place on wheels, Lone Heron’s symbol of freedom that will one day reside–maybe for a brief time, maybe longer–at Estrella Vista.

These are not my dreams, but those of the people we serve. Freedom is not one vision, but many. And your continued support is making such visions possible. Without you, they would not be coming true.

Thank you.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Seal performing “My Vision”

25
Jun
13

stockholm syndrome

stockholm syndrome 5

What Is Stockholm Syndrome?

by Mary Danielson

Stockholm Syndrome (also known as “terror bonding” and “traumatic bonding”) is a paradoxical psychological phenomenon in which hostages feel empathy and positive feelings toward their captors—sometimes, even defending their captors. Over time, a hostage victim may come to believe that the abuse he or she has endured was done out of kindness or love on the part of the captor.

These feelings may appear to be irrational by others, as the hostage had endured much danger and risk during his or her captivity.

Approximately one-fourth of all hostage victims display Stockholm Syndrome after a period of captivity.

Stockholm Syndrome is a form of traumatic bonding, in which strong emotional ties develop between two people when one person intermittently beats, harasses, abuses or intimidates the other person.

Stockholm Syndrome is not a subject of ridicule—it can happen to anyone—it is the ultimate in survival mechanisms.

What causes Stockholm Syndrome?

The precise reason that some people develop Stockholm Syndrome (while others do not) is complex.

People who develop Stockholm Syndrome have come to identify with (and possibly care about) their captors in an unconscious and desperate act of self-preservation. Stockholm Syndrome most frequently develops during traumatic situations like kidnappings, domestic abuse, or hostage situations, and the effects of this disorder don’t stop once the person has been released.

stockholm syndrome 2Most victims who have Stockholm Syndrome continue to care for—and defend—their captors long after they’ve escaped captivity.

But why?

Self-preservation. A hostage feels as though his or her captor is doing him or her a favor by allowing them to remain alive. Many prisoners are treated in a sympathetic manner by their captors, allowing them to see their captors in a positive manner. After all, aren’t captors supposed to be cruel?

Isolation from the outside world allows the hostage to see the world from the eyes of the captor—the prisoner begins to empathize, sympathize with his or her captor. It is soon the only world the prisoner knows. The captor and prisoner may even begin to share common interests after being together awhile.

The prisoner develops a dependence upon his or her abductor—after all, the captor has allowed the prisoner to live, even treated them kindly (in most cases, the kindness is merely perceived).

Who gets Stockholm Syndrome?

While most people associate Stockholm Syndrome with being caused by a captor/prisoner relationship, any number of people may develop Stockholm Syndrome. Included in this are:
• Abused Children
• Concentration Camp prisoners
• Controlling Relationships
• Hostage situations
• Sexual abuse victims

Where did the term “Stockholm Syndrome” come from?

Let’s take a trip into the way-back machine, shall we?

Back in 1972, two men entered a bank in Stockholm Sweden, intending to rob the bank. After the police were called, the police burst into the bank, the two men shot them, thus beginning a hostage situation.

stockholm syndrome 1For six long days, these robbers held four people who had been in the bank hostage, at gunpoint, sometimes strapping explosives on the hostage, other times, putting nooses around the hostages neck.

By the time the police were able to attempt to rescue the hostages, the hostages fought the police off in defense of their captors, blaming the situation entirely upon the police. One of the hostages, once free, set up a fund to cover his captors legal fees.

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” was born, finally capturing the bizarre essence of the captor/prisoner phenomenon.

What are the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome?

The features of Stockholm Syndrome include some of the following:

Positive feelings by the prisoner toward the captor.

Negative feelings by the prisoner toward his or her family, friends or authorities attempting any rescue.

Support for the captor’s reasons and behaviors.

Positive feelings on the end of the captor toward the victim.

Support from the victim to help the captor.

Inability by the victim to execute behaviors that can lead to release or detachment from the captor.

In order for Stockholm Syndrome to occur, there must be at least three of the following traits:

There must be a sorely uneven balance of power in which the captor must dictate what the captive can and cannot do.

There must be the threat of death or physical injury to the captive from the captor.

There must be a self-preservation instinct within the prisoner.

The prisoner believes (perhaps falsely) that he or she cannot escape.

Survival is dependent upon following the rules of the captor.

The prisoner must be isolated from others who are not being held captive.

How does Stockholm Syndrome develop?

Stockholm Syndrome is one of the most challenging psychological behaviors to understand—unless you’ve been there. If you’ve never been held captive under threat of death for a period of time, it’s almost impossible to understand how someone could identify with those who have hurt and imprisoned them.

It does happen. Here’s how (in the most basic of examples):stockholm syndrome 4

1) After a very emotionally traumatic and stressful situation, a person finds his or herself held captive by a captor who threatens to kill or hurt if he or she does not follow the rules. Abuse—physical, sexual or emotional—occurs. The prisoner has difficulty thinking straight—escape is not an option, right? If he or she tries to escape, his or her family may be killed. The prisoner believes that the only way for everyone to survive is to be obedient to the captor.

2) Time marches on. The captor is under stress, and simple obedience may not guarantee safety for the captor and his or her family. The fluctuating moods of the captor lead to unexpected violence and abuse. The prisoner then learns what triggers may or may not set off his or her captor as a means of survival. This, however, means that the prisoner learns more about his or her captor.

3) The prisoner begins to see the captor as being kind—even if it’s simply because he or she hasn’t been killed yet. In this way, the captor goes from a Bad Guy (or Girl) to The Savior. The slightest act of kindness (a decrease in abuse, for example, or some extra food) feels like a a sign of friendship that the prisoner clings to.

4) Over time, the captor begins to appear less and less threatening and more of a means of survival than harm. In order to survive psychologically and to ease the crisis situation, the prisoner begins to believe that the captor is actually a friend, that he or she will not kill the prisoner, and that they can work together to get out of the mess they’re in. Rather than see the people on the outside trying to rescue the prisoner as the saviors, instead, they appear to be enemies—they will hurt the captor, who is now his or her “friend” and “protector.” The captor has gone from “captor” to “friend” in a process of self-delusion and self-preservation on the part of the prisoner.

5) This bonding leads to incredibly conflicted feelings within the prisoner or abuser. The victim may begin to feel concern for the captor, at times, ignoring his or her own needs. The victim is conflicted about his or her feelings toward his or her captor.

6) When the traumatic event is over, the victim undergoes an incredibly hard transition. He or she must learn not to dissociate from his or her feelings or focus upon the abuser, but must face reality and begin to rebuild his or her life. The emotional shackles of Stockholm Syndrome last a lifetime.

How is Stockholm Syndrome treated?

Once a prisoner is returned to society after a period of time, he or she may find it absolutely challenging and heartbreaking to be separated from his or her captor. Simply because the prisoner no longer has shackles does not mean that he or she doesn’t feel tied to his or her captor.

The best treatment for Stockholm Syndrome is intense therapy as well as the love and support from the prisoners family.

It may take many years for the former prisoner to recover from Stockholm Syndrome—these shackles are not easily undone.

How to Support a loved-one who has Stockholm Syndrome:

Every situation in which a person develops Stockholm Syndrome is different. As noted, many of the people who develop Stockholm Syndrome are not victims of a hostage situation, but people who have lived through intense abuse.

Here are some tips for supporting someone who has Stockholm Syndrome:

Remember that your loved one was once faced with a grueling choice: the family or the situation. As there was a threat to the family, the person has learned to choose the attacker over hurting the family.

The more you pressure a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, the harder they will resist—especially in cases of domestic violence or abuse.

Remain in contact with your loved one throughout his or her abusive relationship or recovery. Keep the channels of communication as open as possible without forcing it.

Remind your loved one that you fully support his or her decisions and that you love him or her no matter what.

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The best way to understand another’s pain is to endure it yourself. I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Because of my past—the things I’ve felt and seen—I’ve made it my life’s work to assist others in removing their psychological restrictions and limitations. The physical wounds of domestic violence and sexual assault may heal, but the mental injuries often remain for years. With my help victims can regain their personal power and inner strength.

I am passionate about Victim’s Advocacy and I want to spend the rest of my life in the field. I am currently seeking to become part of an organization that can truly make a sweeping difference in the lives of the many victims in this country. I seek more than a job. I am seeking a cause and a group I can work with as a team to improve the lives of victims.

You may visit my website at http://willowelverest444.wordpress.com/

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bill O’Connor performing “Please Release Me”

24
Jun
13

death and immortality

Dead Soldiers

Damn. I won an auction for an old postcard and now have paid the invoice. It’s small by most people’s standards, yet I am thankful my regular check came mid-month and I have the money to cover it.

I’m passing up a lot of collectible items today I would have snapped up in the old days when I had money, but I couldn’t let this one get away. It is at once too unusual and so typical.

The saying on the card translates roughly “Live on, O Fatherland, and count not the dead; for love of you not one too many has fallen.” The artist, Gefreiter Hans Feix, won first prize in a soldier’s artwork competition.

If the last man in Germany had been killed by 1945, it would not have been too many for Hitler. The glory (and immortality) of an ideology, said Abdullah Azzam, Palestinian Sunni scholar, theologian, and the “Father of Global Jihad”, builds upon an “edifice of skulls.”

Said Robert Terrill in a paper: “By 1942 many Nazi leaders intentionally pushed the military toward mass death as a means of preserving Nazi ideology. In their romanticized view, to die on the rubble of one’s dreams immortalized the dream itself. Men die but ideas live on. With each dead soldier the strength of the community grows.”

It is significant to see the degree to which a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the nation perfuses almost all Nazi propaganda. Nazism flourished because of its ethic of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.

Hitler himself stated the moral foundations of Nazism: “It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance. . . This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture. . .  The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call–to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness–idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.”

This is exactly the opposite of what I believe in. I believe in generosity and working for other people’s welfare, but my highest personal value is Freedom of the Individual.

Perhaps essayist Robert Tracinski said it best: “Consider the full, logical meaning of altruistic self-sacrifice. It means, not benevolence toward others, but servitude. If sacrifice to others is the essence of virtue, how can anyone be allowed to pursue his own goals and happiness? The needs of the collective, not the interests and the rights of the individual, become the standard of right and wrong.

“A free country is based on precisely the opposite principle. To protect against what they called the ‘tyranny of the majority,’ America’s Founding Fathers upheld the individual’s right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The implicit basis of American government was an ethics of individualism–the view that the individual is not subordinate to the collective, that he has a moral right to his own interests, and that all rational people benefit under such a system.”

That ethic is changing in America today, and it is being disguised as virtue. Beware.

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Groove of the Day 

Listen to Adrienne Young and Little Sadie performing “The Art of Virtue”