Sunday, August 31, 2014


I’ve posted this on Facebook, but it’s worth repeating. For over a century the mythos of this country has been that any American can reinvent themselves. Change your name, lose the accent, move away from where your immigrant parents settled.

But, big but, you can't change the color of your skin. Which is the brutal truth faced by African Americans and most Latinos. We elected an African American president. The pundits announced we were now living in a post racial society. Too many dead kids and young adults are proving that this is brutally, brutally obvious that this is an illusion. A very, very deadly illusion.

Fifty one years ago Martin Luther King told us he had a dream. Not only has that dream not only been realized, It’s so far from being realized that it might as well be in the center of the galaxy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Checking out the reviews of Grapes of Wrath on Amazon. The one star ones. Most of them were for the quality of the discs, but there was one about Hollywood’s socialist agenda and individual responsibility. I did not post the following reply. Mostly because it would have been classified as a personal attack.

"Listen you blithering idiot, batshit crazy twit. It’s damned hard to exercise personal responsibility when your drought stunted crop has just been buried by the last dust storm? When the dust is filtering in around the windows and doors? When you’ve either been foreclosed by the bank or the landlord has decided that sharing the non existent crop just isn’t worth it anymore and your house has just been bulldozed?

There aren’t enough farmers, sailors, loggers and miners around anymore. They know that control is an illusion. You can work yourself into an early grave taking all the responsibility in the universe and you can’t control the weather or much of anything else." Author must be an MBA or some other business school graduate. Too many of them not only still have the illusion that we control anything but have fixed it so that by the time the shit hits the fan they've gotten theirs and the customer is left holding the bag with a hole in it.


Tom Joad's final speach from John Ford's Grapes of Wrath.

"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too."


Every so often you run across a story that is so far off the scale of weirdness it's in a whole other country. Never mind that when the book of Revelation was written no one in that part of the world KNEW North America existed. Never mind that this whole Rapture crap is the creation of a nineteenth century Irish lawyer named Darby. Never mind that most New Testament scholars believe that the whole book was aimed at the Roman Empire.

It's the assumption that if the Rapture was real that any of you Bible thumping fundagelicals would be on the "guest list." It would almost be worth it to be around after the Big Disappearance to see who was really "left behind." I suspect that there would be a lot of very surprised people still standing around.

Friday, August 22, 2014


This can be endlessly adapted. Ferguson Missouri springs to mind as the victim is demonized while the shooter and the police department is excused.

This litany was created for a funeral mass for missionary priests and Bororo Indians murdered in 1976 in the village of Meruri by landholders invading Indian lands in the state of Mato Grasso in Brazil. And between the ranchers and the timber companies the killing continues.

For the sins of the old and new colonization that for centuries has been crushing the native peoples of our America, we ask forgiveness.

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.
For the sins of the church itself, so often an instrument of colonialism, old and new…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For the pride and ignorance with which we show contempt for the cultures of native peoples, in the name of a civilization hypocritically called Christian.

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For the plundering of the Indian lands and the destruction of the natural environment in which they live, plundering done for the benefit of those with large landholdings, the interests of large national and multinational corporations, or by insensitive tourism…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For the inhuman violence with which we seek to transform indigenous communities into new victims of our civilization of profit and consumption, under the pretext of an illusory integration…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For an inability to discover the sown Word, the roots of the roots of the gospel in the simple and community oriented life of indigenous peoples…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For the lack of solidarity in national consciousness; for the lack of honesty or effectiveness on the part of responsible authorities; for the church’s omissions…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

Because we have so often sought to isolate the problem of native people from the overall problem of all outcasts in our country, urban and rural…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

For our lack of hope in this new world we must build, where we will al be free and family spirited peoples, for we are your people…

Forgive us Lord, forgive us.

From In Pursuit of the Kingdom Bishop Pedro Casaldaliga.

Now substitute say, African American or Latino for the native peoples. And remember how many waste dumps have been located on native American reservations or near poor or African American neighborhoods. This litany can be endlessly rewritten.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I wasn’t born with a book in my hand or a library card in my pocket, but it was close. I don’t remember when I got my first library card. Oakridge had a nice little library and the high school library wasn’t bad either. And I don't remember anybody trying to ban any of the books in it.

We had a six foot, three shelf book case that my folks proceeded to fill with Reader’s Digest Condensed books and National Geographics. We still take the Geographic. We started in 1956 and we have ALL of them. Grandma had this huge book case. Her sister was a missionary in India and she had several books about the Far East. Inhaled them. Hey I probably would never go there so it was the next best thing. Even if they were written along the lines of the Great White Father brings civilization to the ignorant natives. Heck they were thirty years old by the time I got my hands on them. A set of 1952 World Books. They’re in a box upstairs. And probably still a decen reference for anything before say, 1940.

Mom and dad may have been puzzled at some of the books I brought home. If they even worried about checking. Saw Ben Hur when it came out. Promptly checked out the book from the library. Probably wouldn’t have the patience to read it now. The Time Life books series came out. Library stocked them all. I read them all. Now that I think about it the only genre I didn’t read were romances. Boring, boring, boring.
Checked out a book from the school library about the KKK. My little Methodist soul took a beating when they got the region by region run down about the Klan in the twenties. Turns out the Methodists in parts of Oregon were big Klan supporters. It’s not like there were very many African Americans to persecute at the time, so they ragged on the Catholics.

Stumbled across Rise and Fall of the Third Reich when I was freshman. Which lead to reading everything about the Nuremberg trials that I could find. The folks never tried to stop me, but looking back fourteen might have been a little young to discover just how inhuman human beings can be. I think I was a sophomore at the U of O when I realized that the Nazi’s weren’t unique, just very, very, mind bogglingly efficient.

In college it was South Africa and apartheid. What do you mean we're supporting these assholes?
And all those threads are leading me to a very scary set of suspicions. We joke a little or a lot about the “news” on Fox. But the steady drumbeat that demonizes and denigrates minorities and anyone with politics to the left of the worst Tea Party member or Louie Gohmert makes me wonder if the ideas of Joseph Goebbles on propaganda were on Murdock’s reading list.

Well, this entry didn’t end up where I thought it would. That doesn’t surprise me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


His name was Gustav Gilbert. Rank captain. He was an army psychologist assigned to the prison wing of the Nuremburg justice complex. His job? Monitor the defendants in the first war crimes trial. Try to keep them reasonably sane and healthy until the verdicts were in.

During what turned out to a nearly year long trial Gilbert explored, as well as he could, what made the defendants tick. Take a strain of philosophy starting with Hegel that exalted the state over the individual and war over peace. Add a national belief, traced in part back to Martin Luther, that obedience to superiors was how the world works. Any superior; teachers, parents, pastors or political leaders. Not all Germans bought the party lone but the majority did. Mix in an unhealthy dose of anti Jewish, actually anti anybody who wasn’t German, propaganda that painted so called non Aryans were vermin, less than human. Especially the Jews..

But Gilbert still believed he only part of the puzzle of the evils the trial was exploring. He interviewed the defendants. He interviewed other prisoners at Nuremburg and any others he could make contact with. The final piece of the puzzle? A total absence of empathy. The inability to sympathize or even identify with other human beings.

Gilbert even had the chance to interview Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz. Hoess was “proud” of his record of extermination. But claimed that while the camp was in the business of extermination he didn’t tolerate torture or cruelty towards the prisoners. (face palm, head bounce, loud scream)

Keep that in mind as Ferguson, Missouri plays out. And the next African American or Latino is shot, beaten or described as a “thug.” Or the next Faux talking head goes in front of the cameras to fulminate over the Central American kids trying to get out of the killing zones.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


You probably don't have one. Created by Mary Engelbreit.

Monday, August 18, 2014


I've been slowly rereading Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and a book on the Nuremburg trials. Not exactly easy blogging material.

I will say this. I first read Shirer's book when I was a freshman in high school. If my folks had any questions about my library choices they never said anything. Looking back, fourteen might have been a little young. Especially the chapter about the New Order for the conquered areas of Europe. Once I was done I never looked at my fellow human beings in quite the same way.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


For the record I believe that any middle eastern flood was local not world wide. Something happened somewhere, sometime. Almost any culture worth its salt has some kind of flood legend. Even the Greeks.

Another of those "we've found the ark" stories. Even a former astronaut went to Turkey years ago.

Let me get this straight. That great big boat was floating around for almost a year and it only got to Turkey?

The world has been flooded for months. It's a giant mud flat. No trees for miles for cooking, keeping warm, shelter. You going to let that great pile of seasoned wood just sit there and rot? Recyle, recycle, recyle.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Noah again. I just love picking apart some the reviews. The land is a barren waste. There isn’t a tree or a bush for miles. Noah’s grandfather Methuselah gives him a seed. When he plants it a forest grows around their camp, forty or fifty years growth overnight.

Man talk about picking nits. “That isn’t very environmental. Grow a whole forest just to cut it down.” God/dess give me strength. What was he going to use to build the bloody boat. The few trees that were surviving were what we’d call in Western Oregon bushes with delusions of grandeur. Using those you’d have room for the family and the doves. And it would be a tight fit. And actually there were plenty of trees left by the time the rains hit. And I still don't know where they put all the critters even if they did sleep through the whole catastrophe.

This isn’t about environmentalism. It’s about two radically different interpretations of our relationship to the Creator and the rest of Creation. Are we caretakers, taking only what we need and being respectful enough to clean up after ourselves, realizing that in words of the Lakota “we don’t own the earth we borrow it from our children.”
Or are we Dominators with all the baggage, crap and bloody mess that goes with it. Taking what we think we need whether it’s man, beast, plant or resource. Tampering with the very core of Creation itself never mind the damage or the mess. Creating plants that can be poisoned and live. Look around you. We haven’t quite reached the devastation of Noah’s world, but just take a look at the tar sands of Alberta or a pond where they store the waste from fracking. We are definitely on our way,

I was working on this yesterday. News on the net. A tailing pond up in Canada has breached dumping 1.3 billion, you read that right billion, gallons of heavily contaminated wastewater into the local watershed. That's the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. It may reach the Fraser River, the longest river in Canada. Tubal Caine would be so proud. His spiritual children live on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Well, I finally got my copy of Noah. Not a half bad flick. The story holds together. The bad guys are suitably evil. Noah is heroically tormented. The story parts with the Old Testament in some details. Which isn’t hard since the Bible is very scanty with the details. And none of what must have been the total horror of the events. (fictional yes.)

God’s pissed. Doesn’t say why. God’s going to destroy Creation. He’s quite specific in the means. Call it the Great Cosmic Flush. Noah is tasked with saving a small portion of that Creation. The ark works. They land. The grape harvest is miraculously quick and I guess raw wine doesn’t take long to be drinkable if the drinker is just this side of insane and not to picky because that’s one detail that was included. The man is filthy drunk, passed out on the beach and buck naked. It’s a long shot, “tastefully” handled. If you can rent it online might be worth a look.

I’ve said before that I love the one star reviews on Amazon. Most of the ones from the fundies who thought were going to watch I’m not sure what are priceless. One gal took her under 13 kids to film expecting something reverential along the lines of the Ten Commandments, the Charlton Heston version.

And don’t know what it is with the fundies. Whether they’re psycho, sociopaths, lacking in the empathy gene or what. LADY this the story of the end of the world. By the time the film is over EVERYBODY except Noah and his family is dead. Can you even imagine living in a world so despoiled that the Creator decides to basically flush the whole shootin’ match and start over? Can you even imagine the horror as the dry land disappears and you’re left with nothing to hang on to? No, I didn’t think you could.

And most Americans are so theologically inept that they don’t recognize that there are two theologies represented in the film. The Dominator and the Caretaker. Tubal Cane is about as subtle as the Sherman tank. Man is at the top of the heap. What man needs, he takes and too bad about the mess. We take and use and destroy and leave devastation behind. Sound painfully familiar?

The Caretaker takes what is needed, doesn’t use more than is needed. Works with Creation and gives thanks for its gifts. Hello! Anybody listening?

And the trick of transporting an ark full of critters? Put ‘em into hibernation. That really stuck in some craws. Geez, people use your heads for a change. You want to shovel shit for the next ten months? It would take another ark just to haul enough hay for the elephants. And what about the lions, tigers, leopards etc. The Lord said two of each, not two to have offspring and a dozen extra to keep the meat eaters happy. Details, details details,

Well, this has maundered on long enough for now.


It's my special plaything. It's been my place to rant, rave, howl, celebrate for over ten years. COMMERCIAL comments from posters I can't trace will be deleted. They are not appreaciated, wanted or read beyond finding out that the poster obviously uses English as a second language. Good Lord, if you want to read your screed at least make the damn thing readable. I'll delete it anyway, but the minimal respect will be appreciated.