20 December 2006

Blessed be the season

Yule Tidings to all. We'll be celebrating the evening of 22 Dec 2006, campfire and music, bbq and laughter...just my wife and me , with the 4 kittens of course. The sun will cease its southward course and each day will be longer. Brighter days ahead for the earth and all who inhabit her. May we truly practice peace and justice...may we please fight global poverty, hunger and dis-ease...may corporations lose their status as persons...and may persons lose their status as resources...and may the earth and all her bounty be seen as something more sustainable than commodity. May all the world's creatures be allowed to live...without fear of extinction. May honesty and compassion reign. Our door is open, our fire is prepared. Yule Tidings.

15 December 2006

The US response to Chavez

I was in Nicaragua during the contra wars...early on the Sandinistas were totally supported by the people, with the exception of the wealthy class who owned most of the land and power under Somoza...Good things happened...medical care was taken to everyone, literacy jumped from 30% to nearly 90% quickly...super large fincas were divided up, land co-operatives were started, housing was being built...sustainable agriculture was being taught...then, Reagan took office...with a new doctrine...which was to support the somozistas...the ruling class who had been toppled by the people. The US supplied arms to the 'contras' made up of somoza's former national army (who had ruthlessly tortured and killed so many under somoza)...the US mined the harbors of Nicaragua and enforced an embargo of goods going to and coming from the country. The sandinistas, who were an opposition party to the communists in Nicaragua, were thrown into the Soviet sphere of influence...because it was out of the reach of Reagan's embargo. It became a bloody war...Nicaragua became poorer than Haiti for a time. Bush I offered money to the people of Nicaragua if they voted out the sandinistas. A confederation of 11 parties in Nicaragua, including the communist party, known as UNO...won. The US pulled the mines and stopped funding the contras. Peace through intimidation. *** We alienated Ho Chi Minh the same way. He was our ally during WWII against the japanese, wrote a constitution for VietNam patterned after the US constitution...he admired the US so much. After WWII a decision was made to not give VietNam the autonomy that was promised...but to allow France to rebuild lost prestige by keeping VietNam as a colony. Needless to say, Ho was not laughing... *** We can search the world over and find similar cases in other countries. The oligarchs or colonial powers are tossed out by a populist government who institutes land reforms and challenges corporate globalism...and crony capitalism...corporatism gets their crony militaries to put the squeeze on...the country under siege becomes militaristic and nobody is safe. The people become trapped in the vice. *** Will this be the case in Venezuela...and in South America by extension? There are many 'leftist' governments rising up against globalism in the south. Fortunately for them right now, the Bush administration has bit off a bit more than they know how to chew.

14 June 2006

Because someone brought it up today

I believe Paul infiltrated the disciples ranks after Jesus' death and taught a doctrine that opposed Jesus on several fronts, replacing Jesus' selfless teaching of universal compassionate action with a selfish teaching of desire to gain a "free gift" of salvation based only on faith and completely devoid of any behavioral requirement, and distracting us from the selfless teachings of Jesus. Paul, prior to his "seeing the light" and as Saul of Tarsus, was responsible for the deaths of perhaps as many as 5000 followers of Jesus. It was, perhaps, a way for him to excuse his behaviors. Some will say that puny mortals can never perform enough good behavior to "earn" or "merit" salvation based on the value of their deeds -- that the attempts at human righteousness is as "filthy rags." Aside from the fact that this simply contradicts Jesus, the point is not whether or not our puny mortal attempts at righteousness have intrinsic value or not. Just as a child may offer his or her parents or grandparents an awkwardly-drawn piece of art, which likely holds little real artistic merit (perhaps in terms of art critics it might be looked at as "filthy rags"), still the parents sincerely and genuinely cherish such efforts. (Placing them on their refrigerators)... It may not "merit" winning an art contest and may be able to "earn" very little, but loving parents find it good enough to represent the qualities THEY deem of real and lasting value. Jesus taught a message of personal salvation and a compassionate life in the here and now. Paul taught a message of salvation only through 'Christ' and of a better world a comin' some day.

29 May 2006

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Everything about Chris Hedges's book, "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning", is disturbing. The vivid eyewitness accounts of war crimes, the rambling disjointed highly personal style that mirrors the chaos of battle, the link between brutality and sexuality, the use of historical literature that obliterates the distance mankind has traveled from Troy to Kosovo, and his own deep addiction to the thrill of war as a long time war correspondent. Hedges likens war to an addiction, the high of which is all-consuming. A sustained superbowl weekend of tribal bonding, adrenaline rushes, sex, and violence. A place stalked by the losers of peacetime...petty thieves and thugs who understand domination as a matter of force and terror. War, Hedges concludes, forms a central part of the human condition. He notes that "the historian Will Durant calculated that there have only been twenty-nine years in all of human history during which a war was not underway somewhere." From a historical sweep humans have never stopped fighting. It is a very disturbing revelation. But individuals, tribes, villages, city-states, empires, and nations have all witnessed both peace and war. And perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Hedges's narrative is trying to figure out why we ever stop fighting. The only answer he provides is that we simply become bored by the slaughter. When killing becomes too routine it loses its luster and bogs down. And when it loses its luster, and we see it plainly, we are like a wife-beater who is temporarily sickened and ashamed. In the damaged faces of the innocents we can find no sustainable reasoning or meaning. Hedges argues that Americans were temporarily sickened and ashamed by the Vietnam war. For awhile we moved away from our nationalistic triumphalism. With the Reagan years our collective memory faded and new generations have been raised on the elixir of paranoid patriotism, our willingness to wage war has been revitalized. The nation with more weapons of mass destruction than any other nation on earth-than any nation in the history of mankind-is primed by this force that gives us meaning. We shall have our retribution. They killed us, we will kill them. Hedges is a warrior, he is not a pacifist. Hedges is addicted to war and he knows it and he hates it. But he believes that somehow, some way, love is the answer. "To survive as a human being is possible only through love." Continuing, he somewhat clumsily argues, "It does not mean we will avoid war or death. It does not mean that we as distinct individuals will survive. But love, in its mystery, has its own power. It alone gives us meaning that endures." Hedges knows war much better than he knows love, but it is a start. Particularly a start for a nation that does not understand war.

16 April 2006

Reflections on an Easter Sunday

Jesus answered, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," in response to his followers asking of him, "When will the kingdom come?" It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, Look here it is, or, Look there it is. Rather the kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people just do not see it. It makes as much sense to call this a philosophical or political enterprise as to label it "religious," for discipline of the imagination is the central human concern. Without it, there can be no compassion, no good judgment, no justice. Without it, we are exactly where the powers-that-be want us: malleable, predictable, and slavishly in thrall to the hydra-headed monsters of entertainment and consumption. The kingdom is here, now, but we miss it every day: we see what we expect to see and we think as we (are) expect(ed) to think. The here and now, the kingdom, is evident in a reattunement to our surroundings; objects, weather, and other lives in which ours are enmeshed. May your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

25 March 2006

We have cats who protect peggy, the three legged deer, from the rest of the herd.

23 March 2006

Finding Drunks in a Bar? Who'd've Thunk It?

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday. The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck. Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkeness, Beck said. The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car. "We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said. "There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss." She said the sting operations would continue throughout the state.

Banana Republicans

Adventures in Amnesia "But presidente Bushismo...we can't just keep raising the debt ceiling higher. Our foreign investors will freak out!" "Where do you see the highest ceilings, peon? In the swankiest hotels. I want swanky hotels." "Excellent reasoning, el presidente. Visionary! But if I may respectfully point out, we're trying to fit ten kilos of mangoes in a five kilo sack and..." "Don't be a moron! You just cut a hole in the sack! See? Now we've created a "supplemental" sack that lets us pile in more mangoes!" "Brilliant, sir! But with all due respect, we've got a budget situation here where we're essentially trying to feed a nation with five loaves of bread and a coupla fish!" "If you give all the food to the rich, and just let them eat, the magic of the market will multiply the bread and fishes, until there's more than enough for everyone!" "Okay, el presidente. I admire your optimism, sir, but let's not pretend we can make a silk purse from a sow's ear." "The liberal media won't show you all the silk purses we're making from sows' ears" "Ummm...Right you are, sir...but, uh, our sow's ear sweatshop workers, sir...we can't squeeze blood from turnips." "Enough of your defeatism! With a big enough military, you can get blood flowing out of anything!" (thanks to kirk anderson)

19 March 2006

How Bush figgers he can repay the 9 trillion dollar debt

100 one dollar bills go further than one 100 dollar bill. Especially when wiping... " In 1920, prices plummeted around the world in a great deflation. This price and wage deflation was reinforced by the economic policies of conservative governments. Germany's new Weimar Republic inherited the vast burden of debt and the crushing weight of reparations from WWI. Add in the fact that tax revenues were low due to the weak economy, while the outflow of payments in gold fueled inflation..." The free fall in the German mark was incredible. Following is the historic slide: July 1920…39.5 marks to the dollar

January 1921…64.9

July 1921…76.7 January 1922…1919.8 July 1922…493.2 January 1923…17,972 July 1923…353,412 August 1923…4,620,455 September 1923…98,860,000 October 1923…25,260,208,000 November 15, 1923…4,200,000,000,000 (yes, 4.2 trillion marks to the dollar.)

Farmers could sell a cow on Monday and if not able to make it to market until Friday, the money from the sale of the cow would perhaps buy a pound of butter. Wheelbarrows of money. Be happy with the simpler things in life...the ones that aren't for sale.

05 February 2006

Behind Closed Doors

We have a community up here...but they are mostly further reaching than our immediate neighborhood. People we've met over the years, teachers, artists,doctors, store owners, museum curators, carpenters, sign painters...etc. Most share common ideals, politics, and dreams... When we went to a funeral for a neighbor boy/man (30 years old) the other day, we were tossed in with many in the local area we usually just wave and say hi to...people who know who we are, but we aren't exactly sure who they are. Our lives are fairly visible since I often write editorials in the local paper, actively attend meetings on environmental issues, plus...the local paper did a several page article on our homestead with a lot of photos of our place and us which created a lot of buzz...and my wife has clients who come out here who, I'm sure, yak about her and her studio. Well...at the gathering following the funeral...everyone is so nice to us and all. I appreciate that. But the intelligence level seems 'different'...some of the folks seemed retarded or stoned...one wall at the house is filled with Elvis memorabilia...another was NASCAR...one wall had shelves full of bottles of alchohol surrounded by sets of drinking glasses...a collection of cigarette lighters with little lights twinkling inside... There was a bulletin board type of thing which had items posted that apparently were important to them...there were pictures of women's body parts...like a pointy breast saying left turn and another pointing the other way saying right turn... At the bottom was a Department of Natural Resources mock-up tag (Y'know for deer...a doe tag like thing) that was a...NIGGER TAG...this entitles bearer to kill one nigger this year...etc.... I realise that all around us (and you) in this country are hidden feelings and actions going on behind closed doors...women being beaten...children abused...racist and angry people...who smile and wave when you see them. Who have pictures of Jesus next to their nigger tags.

12 January 2006

Sofia

Well...being blessed with wonderful weather, and a snowstorm on my heels...I made good time. I've decided to name the bus "Sofia", which means wisdom in Greek. She seemed to know the way, and teach me a few lessons along that path. Met up with Sagebrush and his lovely wife at a truckstop in Wyoming for a late evening cup of joe (hot chocolate for me)...I can say that JD has a voice like chocolate and lisa has the eyes and demeanor of a doe deer. I could have stayed longer and visited, but the road beckoned and I had kept them up past their bedtime. I'm certain that JD can spin tales that would be absolutely mesmerising with that voice of his. A human talking book. That night I slept fairly comfortably in Sofia...even though the temp was one degree above zero F when I awoke. Headed on to Thermopolis for a soak in the hot springs, a steam bath, a sauna and a bit more of a soak...followed by an ice cold shower. I was wide awake. Four hours to cross the Big Horn Mountains at 10,000 foot Powder River Pass...and a storm on my tail. I stopped as I began my climb up the mountain...left the engine running, but needed to pee in an out of the way place. I locked the door behind me for some reason, leaving both sets of keys, my cell phone and my wallet securely locked in the bus. German engineering taught me how difficult it was to break into the bus, without busting a window. A couple of oil riggers stopped and helped out with various tools, but none of us could get in. Using their cell phone we called a locksmith in Worland...with no answer. Called a mechanic who said he'd be out in an hour or so. An hour passed with the engine running in the bus...I just had a sweatshirt on, but the temp was falling with the setting sun. The female rigger returned to offer me the warmth of her truck while we waited for the mechanic. I suggested we call the locksmith again. He answered and said he'd leave straight away. We phoned the mechanic to tell him not to bother coming out and he said he was still an hour or two away from making it there anyway. Little Bill, the locksmith, showed up...(one of Santa's elves moonlighting)....jovially pumping cuffs that you'd place around your arm to check your blood pressure...they forced the top of the door open just enough to get a hooked wire down inside and flick the latch up...voila! Yay Bill...Yay Rosie (the rigger)...Nice folks up in the mountains of Wyoming...I was off and made it across the pass to Buffalo in time to find a place to set Sofia up for the night.

The River

upstream from white sand beaches are hamlets, paddies and canyons bombshells unexploded, cratered land, cratered faces  mangled extremities...