Friday, June 8, 2018

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: OVER AND OVER AND OVER

Read this quote first, do not skip to the bottom. The little blank hides the identity of the subject of the passage. Source is after the quote. But does this sound dreadfully familiar?

 "In a state of constant self-suppression, for the one thing their master could not bear was for anyone to disagree with him, to have an opinion apart from his own. What he seemed to seek in his surrounding was a chorus of approval from persons who had sunk their own personalities, submerged them for the the time, while they themselves played the role of listeners. At first I rather despised this complacent courtier-like attitude, yet insensibly  I too fell into it, found myself searching for points of agreement with ......., rather than risk displeasing him by any form of polite argument. "

From George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins. The subject was the German ruler Wilhelm II. He does sound a lot like "he who shall not be named." Wilhelm had the attention span off a gnat, hated to read anything of substance, insisted on constant approval, had trouble finishing what he started and so on. The quote was from Anne Topham, an English governess to the German royal family. English governesses were very popular in more than one of the European royal courts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

IT IS NOT THAT HARD

Received a notice for jury duty in Lane County last month. But I don't live in Lane County anymore. I live in Eastern Oregon now.

Called the jury line. Well send us a letter. Because of privacy issues we don't have a way of separating out the Lane County addresses.

Duh. You put the zip codes in a separate field. Sort by zip code. Is that address in Lane County? Send out a notice. Is the address not in Lane County? Don't send out a notice. I mean hard can it be?

The summons originate in the registered voter database. How hard should it be to do a sort and send that list to the office that creates the potential juror list. You can do it in Excel or any database program. I did it for years. It is just a matter of how you design the original database. Makes me wonder what kind of information is covered in computer classes these days.

And it isn't that hard to set up the address list. It's just where you place the individual fields.

First name, last name
Address
City, county, state, zip code.

I mean, how hard can be?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

BUT WE STILL HAD BOBBIE, THEN BOBBIE WAS GONE

Martin Luther King was murdered in April 1968. Against the advice of his staff Bob Kennedy kept a campaign stop in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis. From the back of a flat bed truck he made the announcement that King has been murdered. Over the next six minutes he made a speech that few ever knew existed. But, in a a night of rage, grief and fire their were no riots in Indianapolis.
Some folks comforted themselves that Martin was gone but we still had Bobbie. Then it was June 8 and the California Primary. 
"It made my mother scream.
That’s what I remember. I had been lying dozy in bed, but at the sound of her, I scrambled into the living room. She was standing before the television watching an image of chaos in a hotel ballroom.
Although I grew up in the 1960s, very few of the signal events of that tumultuous decade managed to penetrate my childish, oblivious world. I have little firsthand memory of the Watts uprising, the 1968 Democratic convention, or the moon landing. But I remember the night, 50 years ago this week, when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot.
I remember that scene in the ballroom. I remember a crude graphic on TV news showing where a bullet had entered his skull. I remember hearing that he had 11 children and feeling sorry for them that this had happened to their daddy.
But then, you tend to remember the things that make your mother cry.
In many ways, Bobby Kennedy was an unlikely figure for mom’s great grief, a slightly built rich man with an upper crust accent, sad eyes, a rabbity smile and that shaggy forelock he was forever sweeping off his forehead. Because he was the runt of a rough-and-tumble clan, he was always obsessed with proving his toughness. So as a Senate lawyer, as a campaign manager for his brother Jack and as attorney general, Bobby was the unwavering scourge of communists, gangsters and anyone — he famously approved the wiretap of Martin Luther King, after all — he felt threatened his brother’s political fortunes.
Then Jack was killed.
In the five years between that tragedy and his own assassination in Los Angeles while running for president, a different Robert Kennedy emerged. He’s the one my mother mourned, the one whose example haunts this fractured political moment.
He’s the one who went to Bed-Stuy, Appalachia and other broken places politicians often do not go. He’s the one who went to California to join Cesar Chavez as he ended a 25-day hunger strike. He’s the one who went to the Mississippi Delta, knelt on a dirt floor and tried to coax a listless baby whose stomach was swollen by hunger.
He let those kinds of things get to him, let them trouble, shatter and remake him. He reached out to people living on the margins, and they reached back with such fervor that his aides had to physically anchor him to keep him from being pulled out of the car when he campaigned in certain places.
It turned out the tough guy had an instinct for the underdog and a deep, moral indignation over the unfair treatment that trapped them in their hoods and hollers, barely subsisting in the shadows of plenty. He saw their humanity. This, I think, even more than his opposition to the war in Vietnam, was what drew people like my mother.
There was in that last ragged campaign of his, this sense of the possible, of the new, of fundamental, systemic change. There was this sense of a more compassionate America waiting just below the horizon. There was, in a word, hope. Or as Rep. John Lewis, then a campaign aide, consoled himself in the grim weeks after Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis: “At least we still have Bobby.”
Then Bobby was gone.
Fifty years later, as immigrant children are taken from their parents at the U.S. border, as the rich get richer while the poor work full-time jobs for part-time pay, as hatred flows from the top of our government, hope feels like a bygone relic of an outmoded age, like blood from a wound that never healed.
That night, Mom cried for a loss greater than she could have known. She mourned a good and decent man.
We mourn a nation that might have been."
Column by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts.
For me, personally, it was the next morning. I listened the primary results on my radio, then turned it off. Probably about ten minutes before history changed forever. I don't really believe in might have beens, What if King and Kennedy had survived? What would the world look like today? 

Monday, May 28, 2018

THAT MEDAL DIDN'T MEAN MUCH AFTER THE WAR

Wars give us heroes. Although sometimes we prefer dead ones to live ones. Especially if the ones who survived the hell of combat just can't quite fit in when so called peace comes. And too often, if they aren't white.

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian. He fought on Iwo Jima. He was on Suribachi when the flag was raised He was awarded the Medal of Honor. And he died drunk, in a ditch with about two inches of water in it. Enough water to die in but not enough to raise a crop for food.

Peter LaFarge wrote it. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan sang it.

Ira Hayes
Ira Hayes
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer any more
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine who went to war.

Gather round me people
There's a story I would tell
'Bout a brave young Indian
You should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix Valley
In Arizona land
Down the ditches a thousand years
The waters grew Ira's peoples crops
'Til the white man stole the water rights
And the sparkling waters stopped
Now Ira's folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came Ira volunteered
And forgot the White Man's greed

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer any more
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine who went to war

There they battled up Iwo Jima hill
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty seven lived
To walk back down again.
And when the fight was over
And Old Glory Raised
Among the men who raised it high
Was the Indian Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer any more
That the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine who went to war.

Ira Hayes returned a hero
Celebrated through the land
He was wined and speeched and honored
Everybody shook his hand
But he was just a Pima Indian
No water, no home, no chance
At home nobody cared what he had done
And did the Indian dance

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer any more
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine who went to war

Then Ira started drinking hard
Jail was often his home
The let him raise the flag and lower it
Like you'd throw a dog a bone
He died drunk one early morning
Alone in the land he fought to save
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer any more
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine who went to war

Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
But his land is just as dry
And his ghost is lying thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

FASCISTS R US

What it is like to live under a state of undeclared martial law.  Don't think that all this started with Trump. This has been a long time coming. Remember our forces went through WWII with a shopping list. They brought back Von Braun and used nazi obtained data on decompression experiments from concentration camp victims to jump start the space program.

Only consolation? The Soviets probably did the same damn thing.

Freedom doesn't disappear overnight. It goes drip, by drip, by drip. Until we wake up one morning and wonder what the fuck happened? The next elections isn't the end it is the beginning.

It's scary for the people in these two Texas counties. Drivers are being stopped multiple times a day by the same people. It is harassment pure and simple. The director of the refuge found workers on refuge property cutting down trees and clearing brush for "the wall." This was on cleared land planted with butterfly friendly habitat.

This is two counties in Texas with drones, secretly installed cameras, barrage balloons with cameras. What happens when the rest of the country gets the same treatment?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

Looks like we are going for a triple. I couldn't make out the name of the artist on this too relevant piece.


Courtesy of Benjamin Corey's FB page. His blog can be found here.

AFTER THE SHOOTING STOPS

It's one of these double posting days.

For years I've been a fan of shows like Law and Order (the original, not the spin offs), Blue Bloods and the original Hawaii 5-O. And this didn't hit me until yesterday.

Another mass shooting. At a school. We focus on the victims and their families. And we should. These kids are dead. We will never know how these future moms, dads, cops, doctors, lawyers and Indian Chiefs would have done for themselves, their families, our country.

The other day a has been, right wing evangelical opined that there had been doctors who could have cured cancer. Sent by God. But they had been aborted before they had the chance. Hey gun lovers! Maybe one or more of those kids could have discovered a universal cure for cancer but they were brutally murdered by a nut with access to guns, ammo, and an attitude of heaven knows what.

And, sorry for the diversion, what about the men and women who respond to these terrorist attacks? The police officers, the sheriff's deputies, the EMT's, the forensics crew, the chaplains? The ones who separate the living from the wounded and the dead. The men and women who transport the wounded to the ER. And the ER crews who find themselves caring for kids whose biggest worry that mornig was a math test. The crews who mark where the dead fell, bag the bodies and take them to the morgue. The doctors who do autopsies on kids who just might remind them of their own families. the forensics crews who bag evidence and try to find all the bullets that didn't end up on a body.

Who gathers the names and addresses of the victims? Who works through the crowd on the other side of the crime scene tape asking "do you know this person?" Cell phones that can take pictures. Or can they get ID pictures from an office staff that is probably standing there with that thousand mile stare?

AND HOW IN BLOODY HELL DO YOU CONTACT THE FAMILIES OF THE DEAD AND WOUNDED? Forgive me for shouting. Do you send officers to homes and offices. Do you call and say, what the hell do you say? How many good cops, EMT's, other responders are we going to lose because they can't take another day of scraping bodies, blood and tears off the classroom floors and parking lots?

How many more bodies and nightmares will it take to pull this piece of real estate between lines on  map back to something resembling sanity? I can't call it a nation. Because is sure as hell isn't.

THOUGHTS, PRAYERS AND INACTION? NO!

The chief of the Houston, Texas police department posted this on his FB page yesterday. His name is Art Acevedo,

To all my Facebook friends. Today I spent the day dealing with another mass shooting of children and a responding police officer who is clinging to life. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve shed tears of sadness, pain and anger.
I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue. Please do not post anything about guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do. My feelings won’t be hurt if you de-friend me and I hope yours won’t be if you decide to post about your views and I de-friend you.
I have never accepted the status-quo in anything I do and I’ve never accepted defeat. And I won’t do it now. I will continue to speak up and will stand up for what my heart and my God commands me to do, and I assure you he hasn’t instructed me to believe that gun-rights are bestowed by him.
The hatred being spewed in our country and the new norms we, so-called people of faith are accepting, is as much to blame for so much of the violence in our once pragmatic Nation.
This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and Inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing).
I close by saying, I wish those that move on from this page the best. May God Bless you and keep you.

Mr. Acevedo started his career in California, was chief of the Austin, Texas PD for several years and became chief in Houston a couple of years ago. I don't know what church, if any he attends and he is Hispanic. For whatever that is worth.


Friday, May 18, 2018

OCCUPIED TERRITORY

I am more than willing to admit that this is not the most coherent entry I have ever made. Partly because the ties between what is happening now and what has happened in the past hit me like  roller coaster when this news broke this morning.

So there has been another school shooting. And another village idiot showed up to show, what the hell he was trying to show is beyond me. But here is in all his male, while privilege glory.


This is going to be a picture heavy entry I believe. As I was trying to digest my horror and disbut that this keeps happening I had a flash back to Roman occupied Judea/Palestine. This map is courtesy of the Wickipedia entry on Palestine.shows the borders depending on who was defining and occupying. 


I mean the land was always occupied by the peasants who worked the land. Tended the olive trees. Tried to survive. Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, the Turks. The red line is the borders of the mandate granted to Britain after the end of WWI. One British government promised a homeland to the Jews. Another promised independence to the Arabs. 

So what does this have to do with a shooting in Texas? I suspect the occupying legionaries, not all Romans by the way a lot of Syrian locals joined the army, went around in full kit. Armor, swords, lances etc. And I suspect they tolerated the militia forces that protected the local rulers. Anyone care to guess what would have happened to one or more peasants spotted carrying swords or lances or what looked like swords or lances or who didn't snap to there was a local disturbance of some kind?

In the first century, around 70 BCE the province of Palestine/Syria rebelled. It wasn't the first time. There are records of smaller, local rebellions.Put down and the rebels executed.  One of the causes was province wide rebellion was the order to place a statue of the emperor inside the Temple in Jerusalem.I believe it was a statue of Nero. Anyway it was an insult that couldn't be ignored. There were other causes. Dissension between different power groups. Requests from one group or the other for support from the legions. When it was over thousands of locals were dead or sold into slavery. Jerusalem was leveled. When it was rebuilt Jews were forbidden to live in the city. 

So we have an occupying force and an attempt to enforce a religious practice. Taxes were probably in there also. Where is this semi coherent entry going? Proviso. I do not support in any way the white supremacist militia groups. But I'm getting the overwhelming belief that for many of  our fellow citizens we are faced with an unofficial gun worshiping, religious zealot "army" of occupation.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

BLOODY, DANGEROUS, INEXCUSABLE IGNORANCE

I know it isn't just from being from the the south. There's plenty of idiots in other parts of the country. It might be a function of being white, although I have run across members of minority groups that seem almost as ignorant Ben Carson springs to mind. It might be a function of being male but I've run across more than a members of the so called "fairer" sex that have displayed equal levels of "where the hell did you get your education!" It might be age, but I've run across more than a few youngsters with what appear to be equal levels of either ignorance or the inability to think an idea through before opening their pie holes. This man is senior on committees that direct public policy towards science.

But this one, originally posted by Jim Wright, really takes the cake. And the pie, the sweet rolls, cookies, etc. Rocks and dirt fall into the oceans so the oceans rise.


I had a couple of other pictures in mind but couldn't locate them, but this one fills the bill very, very well. The deepest place in the ocean is the Challenger deep in the Pacific. It is approximately 35,000 feet deep. that's deeper than Everest is tall, folks. You can just about count on one hand the number of people who have been down there. Why? Because it is a hell of a lot easier to design ships that can function in a vacuum than can function at pressures that would squash us like a bug long before we managed to get down there.

Isn't there ANYONE on the staff who can find a topo map of the ocean floor and point out the deep ridges and fissures where magma is constantly forcing its way to the surface. That is what powers continental drift BTW. Anyone east of the Oregon border ever hear of the Cascadia subduction zone. That's where the plate I'm sitting on rides under an oceanic plate and heads for the depths to be remelted.

Or does this sorry excuse for an elected official believe that the earth was created only a few thousand years ago and all the material that I've collected is a gigantic fiction perpetrated by a trickster god who spends eternity coming up with ways to trick us and it's either our imaginations or tricks of the devil.

Someone please send him The Story of Earth the first 4.5 billion years. I'm keeping mine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TRUE THEN AND STILL TRUE NOW


Another repost from about a decade ago. Call it a blast from the past. 
This has been kicking around for awhile, but I’ve had trouble bringing all the threads together.  I’ve a got a picture. Now if I can just fit it in a frame
Harking back to my entries on canning and stuff.  It was work, but it wasn’t. There was time between batches to kick back, read a little, harass a little sister (or be harassed), pull a weed or three, to just be. That’s how I was raised. That’s what families do; or did. And that’s what they did for generations. What really bugs me is that when the work gets entered in the balance sheet for gross national product, all that ends up in the final total is the cost of the materials. There’s no line in GNP for the creation of the ties between friends and families.
The work was done within the family or with friends. Think back on all those stories of barn raisings and quilting bees. The work got done, but no money changed hands. More than likely everybody went home with tired bodies, full stomachs, the satisfaction of a job well done and enough juicy gossip to keep tongues wagging until the next get together.
No income was recorded. No taxes paid. Well, in our case, dad got paid by Pope and Talbot for managing one of their cutting crews, but that information got put on a different line on the balance sheet.
I’m sure it wasn’t some sinister conspiracy, but somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s more productive for both parents to work outside the home and pay someone else to provide the things we did for ourselves. Or try to squeeze all that “unpaid” work in around the edges.
And no, we didn’t do it all. No family could ever provide everything they needed from within the family. They always had to fill in with what they couldn’t do themselves. And no, I don’t want to live in a country where the only job for woman is in the home. I like having the choices.
But, I get the feeling it’s a giant shell game. The same work gets done. But, now the national economy recognizes the value of the work because a dollar value can be attached to it and taxes get paid. And somehow the parent that stays home is seen as being less productive than if they were in the paid job market.
And I guess you need to push to have both parents in the job market while the pressure keeps building to turn pre-school into kindergarten and kindergarten into the first grade. Can’t have those pesky children taking too much time to become employable for the jobs we’ve decided are worth paying for. There’s very little room anymore for clowns, dreamers, contemplatives or other square pegs.
I truly believe we’ve lost even more. There’s a knowledge that comes from having to manage things. You don’t learn that in a class room. There’s a knowledge that comes from knowing you won’t always get what you want the way you want it. You just might have to settle for something else. You may have to wait awhile. And you just might find out that what you get is so much more than you expected.

Monday, May 14, 2018

THE SLEEPING DRUNK

So. the current occupant has had his way and the US embassy is now located in Jerusalem. A move that all previous administrations back to Truman have avoided. Naturally the Palestinians are demonstrating and the Israeli army is shooting. I don't know what the toll in dead, dying and injured is at this point. I wrote the original post almost ten years ago. The situation has gone further down the road since then.

Oh, Thomas you were taken far too soon.
A story retold by a man of deep, abiding and clear eyed faith.
A seventeenth century rabbi told this story. Two men were traveling through a forest. One sober, the other drunk. They were attacked by thieves who beat them and stole everything they had, including their clothes. When they finally reached the first village outside the forest the villagers asked them what had happened.
The drunken man (apparently still under the influence after all this time, but then this is a parable) answered first. “Everything was fine. Not a thing happened on the trip.” I suspect the villagers looked at him, each other, back to him and one of them shook himself a bit and asked the obvious question. “If nothing happened, why are you bloody, bruised and where in the name of all that’s holy are your clothes?”
The sober man broke in. “Don’t believe a word he says. There are outlaws in the forest. They attacked us. They took everything we had down to the last stitch of clothing. Be careful that what happened to us doesn’t happen to you”
Thomas Merton used this story in the preface of his collection of essays in Faith and ViolenceChristian Teaching and Christian Practice published in 1967 as the country entered the worst of the violence related to the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.
The drunken man was so blind drunk that he “slept” through the whole attack and didn’t realize he was naked. (heck I’m surprised he was able to move much less walk if he was that blasted: but this is a parable).
 In his essays Merton asked this question. Can faith, religious or political, act as blinders or an anesthetic? Do we see the violence, fear and anger in others while being blind to our own? Do we keep insisting that we must be free to defend ourselves by any and all means available while denying others the right to defend themselves? “Our violence is good, your violence is unacceptable.” Does this sound depressingly familiar?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

SPIRIT DANCING





By artist Barbara Kahn

“One who speaks for the tree roots and stones. Who speaks with the tree roots’ and stones’ voices. One who speaks as the grass and rivers. One who speaks as fields and woods and hills and valleys and the salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is unmeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.

Picture a living world of tree roots, grass roots, little streams, big streams, great oceans, waters seeping into the deep rocks, recharging the headwaters of rivers and streams. The world is alive with whispers.

Wildwood mystic Rae Beth wrote of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?

What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when it was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.

What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?

Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

LOOKING BACK AT THE XTIANS

I wrote this back in early 2008. And I'm still shaking my head. And the x is very deliberate because, frankly I believe that this how we got from there to the we are looking at now.

Now, I have to admit that I have moved to the edges of the Christian community and of the books I’ve got going right now, one is on paganism and the other is on Celtic shamanism. Actually I think I'm on the edge of the cliff ready to dive off, but this left even me shaking my head.

 Saw something Saturday that I’m still kind of trying to make sense of. In some ways, I think it’s evidence that many groups who call themselves Christians don’t really have a clue what they’re doing or how they got there. 

There’s an Open Bible Standard church on Centennial. It’s one of those charismatic, Pentecostal denominations. It’s Saturday right? Smack dab between Good Friday and Easter, right? You know, Good Friday; the day Jesus found himself rejected by the temple establishment and condemned by the Romans? Yeah, that day.

 Then comes the day after when his followers were scared, grieving or hiding; probably all three. If I had been one of them, I don’t think fun and games would have been anywhere near the top of my list of things to do that day.  

I might have been trying to figure out how to get out of Jerusalem without being arrested for consorting with a condemned traitor, maybe crying my eyes out because a friend and teacher had been executed in one of the more brutal methods the occupying government had at its disposal, or perhaps just numb. 

That said, what do I see outside this building? A shitload of cars and a big, pretty sign advertising their Easter carnival. 

Granted, lapsed Methodist that I am, I never even heard of Lent until I was mid college and exploring everything under the sun except being a Methodist. But, we’ve got a theoretically conservative, Bible believing, fundamentalist congregation having a carnival on the saddest day of the Christian calendar. Am I missing something here?