Thursday, June 30, 2011


I could have predicted when I saw the original headline that there was no way there was going to be a harmonious outcome.

A newly elected Eugene city councilman had put in a suggestion that the council open its weekly meeting with the pledge of allegiance. Strictly voluntary of course; riiiiiiight. That and a couple of bucks will buy you a really lousy cup of coffee. Given the times you can guess how well sitting out the pledge would go over, especially for the other council members. Well, Eugene being Eugene, a compromise was worked out. A couple of councilors said a thing or two that they probably wouldn’t have if they’d known the kind of attention we’d be getting. And what they did say Fox News managed to mangle, but hey "we report, you decide."

Eugene is probably best known, as far as I knew, for University of Oregon football and track, Birkenstocks, tree hugging, the Bach Festival and being somewhat left of center. I’d like to think that nobody on the council, including the guy who made the suggestion imagined that anybody further away than Portland would give shit whether the Eugene City Council and the people attending the meetings said the Pledge or not. The council voted on a compromise. They’ll say it four times a year at meetings closest to holidays like the Fourth of July and have readings from documents like the constitution or the declaration. And that, they thought would be that. Boy, were we in for an unpleasant surprise.

Fox News sent folks to cover the story and as usual told about half the story and that half was half baked. Although I was surprised to discover that there really are people in Eugene that participate in the yearly World Naked Bike Ride. Gee, what you miss when you only read section A of the paper. And Ken Kesey was just to cool to ignore. And there’s a slightly different version from a local ABC affiliate. And as is usual for these times we’re getting e-mailed, tweeted, retweeted and generally mauled by folks who have way too much time on their hands and nothing better to do with it.

Perhaps the best website I came across is the Moral Liberal. You see the organization they refer back to; the American Center for Law and Justice was founded by Pat Robertson. Pat Robertson of 700 Club Haiti had an earthquake because of voodoo and Katrina hit New Orleans because of the gays fame. When Mr. Robertson was much younger and a Marine 2nd lieutenant during the Korean War he had a chance to put his patriotism where it counted. Instead he used his father’s influence as a US Senator to get himself pulled off the troop ship when it hit Japan, supposedly for further training. For the record he spent most of his tour at Masan, Korea keeping the bar at the officer’s club stocked.

Two kinds of people give me hives. Those who pray loudly in public and those who proclaim their patriotism loudly in public. I need some calamine; quickly.

There are an unusual number of links in this entry, it was that or a small book.

Friday, June 24, 2011


One of the four foxgloves we planted last year. They are supposed to be perennials so we'll see next year. I ordered four and three of them have already split two for one. They're such a wonderful strawberry color and they're about a month late.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


“Look at the animals roaming in the forest; God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky; God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass; God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and the sea; God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent…………When God pronounced that his Creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look to at the great trees of the forest; look at the wild flowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well/ The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on earth is ugly.” Attributed to Pelagius from Listening for the Heartbeat of God.

We don’t really know how Christianity came to Britain. Some believe it came with the Roman army. It could just as well have come with the Middle Eastern traders who came to Britain to trade for copper and tin, among other products. If it did, it came as the middle eastern version before the political aspirations of the vicar of Rome and before the empire split in two. This early version of Christianity seems to have combined with the native Celtic view of the goodness of Nature. There is a line of monasteries and foundations that stretches from Ireland through the north of Britain, through northern Europe and down the length of Italy. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the monastery of Bobbio, founded by Columbanus, isn’t that far from Assissi. And Saint Francis sounds very like a Celt at times.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Republican Rick Santorum; former senator from Pennsylvania, current candidate for president and (in my opinion) leading contender for nut of the year along with Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman et al, opened his pie hole and announced that American students pathetic scores on national US history tests are due to a left wing conspiracy.

Actually a link with the Santorum story ties the problem to No Child Left Behind. NCLB emphasizes language and math to the exclusion of almost everything else in the curriculum. Unfortunately attempts to revise the law so that schools would fell freer to teach something besides test material have stalled and it doesn't look like anything will change anytime soon.

Years ago I took a class titled A History of Education in the United States. The instructor spent a good part of the first session explaining the name of the course. In his opinion there is no “THE” history of anything. Any history reflects the point of view of the people writing it. A detailed history of colonial New England would probably fill a large volume.

Almost as soon as the Massachusetts colonists arrived they began to disagree between themselves on the fundamentals; especially who could vote. One split was over land ownership plus church membership vs. church membership alone. That’s how Connecticut was born. Another split was over church membership itself; and Roger Williams ended up buying land to the south and lo and behold Rhode Island was born. Depending on your point of view; histories written about these events could look radically different.

Which leads to my personal favorite period; England under the Tudors and Stuarts. But, there is no way that you can write “the” history of the period unless it’s so general it’s useless. I invested in the DVD set of The Tudor’s series. The actor who played Henry doesn’t look much like him but I got past that. Ok, he’s slimmer and darker than the real Henry, but the man can act. There were a few scenes where his take on Henry’s reaction’s scared the heck out of me.

Season three is actually the most interesting one. They spent nearly four episodes of story line on the Pilgrimage Grace, a little known (outside of England) rising in the northern counties of England protesting the rise of Protestantism and the suppression of the monasteries. Heck I took a three term course in English history and I don’t remember this rebellion even being mentioned.

If you believe that the monarch’s power is derived from God and that rebellion is a mortal sin, then your take on the brutal suppression of the rising will be different from
a historian who believes that monarch and subject are bound by the same laws. And the histories you write will probably by radically different.

Heck look at US history. Those of us in the north call that unfortunate series of incidents in th, early 1860’s The Civil War. Folks on the other side still call it The War of Northern Aggression. And on a more modern note changes to the social studies curriculum in Texas; downplaying Thomas Jefferson and giving more coverage to Ronald Reagan for example, have caused controversy in the last year or so.

It might be easier to teach history if we could agree which verstion we're going to teach. Yeah, I know, I'm not holding my breath either.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


"But as to religion, I never read the Gospels and never shall. I'm sure they enlighten you, but I prefer them to remain mysterious. …….I've always been drawn to a phrase used by the French peasants: 'Praise the God of all, drink the wine, and let the world be the world.'"

An aging Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk in the last episode of the Tudors.

I didn't fall off the face of the earth I just discovered the Tudors DVD's. So it's off the shamans for a bit and back to English history for a bit.

Maybe it would be a more peaceful world if we could just praise God (leaving a bit of wiggle room for defining God), enjoy the wine and let the world take care of itself (doing as little damage for our part as possible.) After all the world has been taking care of itself for a very long time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Back in the Viet Nam War era there was a popular poster with the caption "What if they held a war and nobody came?

What if we held an election and nobody voted? What if everyone, or almost everyone used the write in option and wrote in none of the above. Even if some voted for the politicians on the ballot; they would be a clear minority candidate. It might be a signal to the current idjits on both sides that we refuse to be led around by the nose any longer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Just realized that our current political arena resembles a giant casino where the only game is the shell game. While too many of us are busy trying to keep track of little peas labeled Rush, Newt, Glen and Sarah. The tables, chairs, the very hall itself is being stolen out from under us. Most of the possible candidates don't even rise to the level of mediocrity.

I admire the president. I truyly hope he can catch the rire and repeat 2008, but there's a time to be a conciliator and a time to get down and dirty and start swinging that shillelagh. If he has to crack a few heads in both parties, so be it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


The last survivor of three purple and white lupins we got a few years ago. We moved them here, we moved them there. And finally put the survivor out with the lavender and day lilies out of sheer desparation. "And I'm very greatful, thank you very much," If we had any bumble bees they'd be lovin' it. But, very few bumbles the last couple of years.

I wonder what it is about the south side of the house? Rhodies and blueberries love the location. Everything else? Sound of a very large raspberry being blown.

It is supposed to get over eighty today. I'll believe it when it happens and if it does it'll only be because the sun is just about as high as it's going to get this year. Very, very strange year.