Saturday, May 31, 2014


Sonic and Chili's have joined companies like Starbucks in asking those stuck in permanent adolescence to leave their guns outside when they come to call. A spokesman supposedly said that "of course, we always respect private property rights." Well fellow humans that tells us where we stand in the grand scheme of things doesn't it? Property has the right not be invaded by guns but parks, schools, public streets are fair gaime for the XY crowd carrying their penis extensions. Makes me wonder what size the real ones are.

I wish I'd saved the picture, but I was functioning on about four cylanders that day. There was Joe the Plumber in all his tarnished glory announcing to the world that HIS gun rights were more imporatant than murdered children. Give me a freakin' break.

And this is what happens when ordinary people, especially women dare to question the violence code. Even if you're a woman disabled by gun violence. Women who dare to speak out are bitches and whores. They're intimidated, stalked and vilified by the big, brave men with their big, brave guns. It isn't much better if you're a guy. And again I wish I had the link to this story. Even if you're veteren, a Marine you'll be called a fag, stalked down the streets and the cops won't do a damn thing.

And for sheer, raw pain we have this. There is no one more powerful than the man or woman who has nothing left to lose. The man's name is Martinez. His son was one of the Santa Barbara victims and he stands to be the NRA's worst nightmare.

Monday, May 26, 2014


It was 1953 when Ike gave a speech that included the following. He was probably the last president who truly understood the cost of war, not only in lives lost but resources that could been spent to create not destroy.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Of course that was in 1953 dollars and 1953 technology. Everything is so much more expensive now.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


This is one of those optical illusion pictures. The first two faces are easy, then it gets interesting. The last two kind of have to come to you, but once you spot them.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


The photograph may be from the new series but the quote is vintage Carl Sagan. Every atom in our bodies. Every atom in the world around us that isn't hydrogen was "cooked" in a star and then seeded into the spaces between the stars to be swept up into the clouds that became new stars and planets. And finally, us.


I ran across this on Facebook yesterday. Yes, it's a poem, of sorts. It's also a meditation on the total weirdness of the English language. To top it off, it's English English which isn't quite like American English. Especially when it comes to spelling. I'm surprised the author didn't use draught and draft. One refers to a work horse or beer in a mug, the other to the breeze under the door. And how many Americans can name one of the Muses much less three or the full seven.


Dearest creature in creation,

Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare, heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak”
Say Break and steak, but bleak and streak’
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, toe.
Here me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles’
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate’
dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed,
Mark the differences moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice’
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, he
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin give, verging.
Ought, out, joust and scout, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme, with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel”
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale.
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes, with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014


Flowers don't always shatter stones, sometimes they work slowly, patiently. This shot is from somewhere in the Orkney Island chain north of Scotland. I'd say it's either just after sunrise or just before sunset and it's spectacularly beautiful. John Denver didn't write it but did a fantastic job of singing this piece.


The Earth is our mother just turning around

With her trees in the forest and roots underground
Our father above us whose sigh is the wind
Paint us a rainbow without any end
As the river runs freely the mountain does rise
Let me touch with my fingers and see with my eyes
In the hearts of the children of pure love still grows
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone
Sparrows find freedom beholding the sun
In the infinite beauty we’re all joined in one
I reach out before me and look to the sky
Then I hear someone whisper. It’s something passing by.

As the river runs freely the mountain does rise
Let me touch with my fingers and see with my eyes
In the hearts of the children of pure love still roams
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone
Like a bright star in heaven that lights our way home
Like the flower that shattered the stone

Words and Music by Joe Henry and John Jarvis

Thursday, May 22, 2014


This just keeps popping up. If it isn’t Like if you think every school day should start with the pledge of allegiance it’s a throw back to the sixties. A friend of a relative posted one of those (un)cute links on Face Book disrespecting the flag and should it be illegal.. The gist of the comments was the basic “if somebody doesn’t like it here, they should go back where they came from.”
Haven’t burned a flag. Haven’t to the best of my knowledge disrespected the flag although I’ve often wondered what flying a flag over your business has anything to do with groceries, office supplies or used cars. Don’t have any desire to burn a flag; unless it’s dirty, raggedy and needing to be retired. And I’m not touching the whole flag worship thing with a ten foot pole. To me it looks awfully similar to those offerings of incense to the statue of the emperor to prove you were a good Roman but hey, that’s just me. However I do have one question. Being a typical American where the bloody hell am I supposed to “go back to?”
The latest ancestor I can account for stepped off the boat with rest of her bog trotting kin in 1850 at the Port of New York. Near as I can tell everybody else was this side of the pond while dinner toasters were still starting off the after dinner liquid merriment with “to his majesty” or “God save the King.” Or Queen. Some of them got here in time to be toasting Mary II and her sister Anne.

I’ve got tree branches haling from Scandinavia to Spain and Northern Italy. And from France before it was France to Byzantium, the Ukraine and Armenia. Not to mention England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As I said earlier, under the circumstances I prithee tell me sir; where should I go?

Probably wouldn’t be any happier with my six times great grandfather Thomas Elmore, a Quaker. Quakers don’t do the oath thing so there goes the pledge. Also seems he spent some time in the slammer in the glorious colony of Virginia. As near as anyone can tell he either didn’t pay his tithes or refused to attend the Church of England, the established church of Virginia, …..or both. Nothing like studying the times of your ancestors to remind what they had to go through to get here. And how lucky we are in spite of the problems facing us.

The poster has the right to his opinion and I have the right to tell him to “zark off.” (courtesy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)  Of course, I’d have the added pleasure of exiting while the target is puzzling over what I just said and wondering if the translation means what he thinks it means.  It does buddy, believe me it does.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


What is it with the state of Florida? The Common Core State Standards Initiative is supported by several groups including by the National Governor's Association. The goal is to set standards for what a student should have mastered by the end of each school year grades K to 12 in language arts and math.

The American Institutes for Research has helped to design the tests to be used for evaluation. The nonprofit has been around in one form or another since WWII when one of the founders designed tests to identify potential combat pilots. I've looked at their website. Looks unoffensive to me.

Florida Representative Charles Van Zant, whose educational history includes a degree in architecture and a masters from a Southern Baptist seminary, has come to the conclusion that SOMEHOW the Common Core Curriculum and AIR's tests are targeting our kids with the goal of "turning them as gay as possible." There's a good section in the Wickipedia entry on the language and math standards. I wasn't aware that learning how to write a decent research paper (among other things) or factor linear equations had the potential to turn you "gay."

But there it is. He stands by his original statements made in March with a new update on Think Progress today . If you read his statement it's obvious he could use some remedial work in research and the writing of a paragraph that makes sense with facts to back it up. Yo, congressman. Those three R's are just exactly what that curriculum covers. Compared to the rest of the world our math skills suck. Listen to any newscast these days and chances are that if you love well spoken and written English you'll start bleeding from the ears and hit the off button with disgust. And you can't master all those other skills (I notice he didn't mention science) without a firm foundation in language and math.

I suspect he doesn't believe in Climate Change either. As the seas rise Florida will be the first to go. Along with most of the Gulf Coast. I wonder where his district is and how soon it will flood out?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Yet another letter in the local paper this morning with the theme that Global Warming in a figment of overheated liberal imaginations. And the remarks of that noted conservative and game show host Pat Sajak. “I now believe that global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.” What climate change has to do with racism or patriotism eludes me.

First I got cranky and then I had an epiphany similar to the one I had several years ago. It doesn’t really matter why the glaciers are melting and the seas are rising. HOW ARE WE GOING TO DEAL WITH THE RESULTS? Maybe if we quit arguing about the whyfors and the wherefors and start thinking about the cost of dealing with the one foot or more rise in ocean levels that some are predicting in the next century then the cost of cutting back on emissions to slow it will look relatively cheap.

I live in Oregon. We don’t have a lot of beaches and the ones we have get smaller and further apart as you go north. We already get significant erosion during hard winters. High winds and high tides combine to take the sand right out to sea. So we’ll probably lose a lot of the beaches we already have and the seas will start to undercut the sandstone cliffs that have houses on top of them. What about the coast aquifers? They’ll probably fill with salt water that much faster. The coastal streams are already tidal but the salt water will probably go further in and stay longer affecting those ecosystems.
Our main coastal highway is Route 101. It cuts close to the beaches on some of the low lying stretches. What happens when the sea rises and the beach goes away leaving the road bed vulnerable to storm damage? All together now. Spell giant sinkhole. We’re all ready having problems from the other direction. Took a few decades but now we’re discovering that basalt may be one tough rock but its structure makes it prone to large scale erosion during very wet winters. That and erosion makes soil, soil attracts plants, plants have roots, roots loosen rock. You get the picture. Stretches of roadside cuts have and are being sheathed in chicken wire to try cut down on the rock falls. Lots of chicken wire. Of course after a few years the plants and moss get their start and you can barely see the chicken wire anymore.
Our only port capable of handling big cargo ships is at Portland, seventy miles inland. The Columbia Bar Pilots are the only pilots in the world who go out in helicopters when the weather is too rough for their pilot boats. These are highly trained and experienced men and women who hold masters papers. They could skipper a ship anywhere in the world. And they lost a pilot in several years ago. He was trying to make the transition from the freighter to the base ship in bad weather and didn’t make it. They don’t call the Columbia bar the Graveyard of the Pacific because we like to exaggerate. The Port of Portland is literally one the hardest ports to reach in the world. But it’s the only game in town between Frisco and SeaTac. Between the freeways and the barge traffic on the Columbia, Portland handles freight for a large section of the country. Will a rise in sea levels make the bar easier or harder to handle? There was a temporary spike in agricultural traffic when New Orleans was out of commission after Katrina. What happens when the other Gulf and South Eastern Ports get hit with Katrina reruns?

What happens to cities like Miami as the sea rises? Hell what happens to the whole state of Florida? It may not be flat as a pancake but it’s damn close. The highest place in the state is about 345 feet. Heck we’re higher than that here in Springfield. If parts of Oregon flood out we can up sticks and move down the Willamette Valley or east of the Cascades. And that’s only a couple of million people. There’s more than that in Miami-Dade County alone. Where are they going to go? And that’s just one metro area. The whole state has nearly sixteen million people. Expand that to the whole Gulf Coast and the Southern Atlantic seaboard.

Of course while each side is trying to convert the other to its point of view they don’t have to come to grips with the result. I believe that it’s time to quit arguing about the how and concentrate on the what. Once we start brainstorming the costs of the worst case scenarios of rising seas maybe we’ll start to realize that while it doesn’t matter where the green house gases are coming from, there are some sources that are more open to control than others. If we think switching to other energy forms and slowing the destruction of the seas and forests is expensive and disruptive just imagine trying to relocate the population of Florida or Bangladesh.

Monday, May 19, 2014


The federal court ruled this morning that Oregon's law banning same sex marriages is unconstitutional

The state attorney general's office had announced earlier that there would be no appeal of the ruling if it did come out the way it did.

The state could start issuing marriage licenses as early as this afternoon. Finally.

There was an attempt to put a "religious exemption" out as a ballot measure. But the attorney general's office writes the ballot measure title and the state supreme court signs off on it. The folks who had proposed the measure didn't like the title claiming that it made them sound like they were in favor of "discrimination." Hey folks if the shoe pinches don't come looking to me for sympathy. A spokesman said they were going to try going through the courts. Good luck in this state. Oregon is one of the five least "churched" states in the union. A lot of us are believers we just don't much care for being labeled and/or pigeonholed.

Let's hear it for the "activist" judge. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2014


A feeble attempt to put into words what I see and sense. Gave me a bad case of "that's not quite it. Arrrrgh!"

I was the sun, warm rays piercing the clouds to the sea.
I was the sea, mists rising to join the clouds.
I was the clouds riding the winds to rise above the coast range.
I was the mountain, heavy mists drifting across the cliffs.
I was the rocks, wind carved trees clinging to the crags and bluffs.
I was the trees, leaves catching the fogs; releasing moisture into the earth below.
I was the mist, caught in the moss and last year’s leaves.
I was the moss, trapping the rainbow drops, releasing them into the soil
I was the soil, water full, drops working down, down the foundations of the mountain.
I was the bedrock, water following the cracks, pooling, feeding the deep springs.
I was the deep springs feeding the pools under the trees.
I was the pools, home to little streams bubbling over the rocks fallen from the cliffs.
I was the little streams, rushing to join the great river as it rushes to the salt marshes.
I was the salt marsh, feeding my water back into the sea.

I am the sea, sun warmed, giving up the mists to the sky. 

Friday, May 16, 2014


As the new campaign season ramps up we’re finding that not only has nothing changed since 2012 but there are some new players on the field.

Almost all the far right candidates still claim to support a smaller government. At the same time they support measures to control women’s health care and reproductive rights. At the same time too many of them want to control who marries who, even though most of us still haven’t figured out how couple A’s marriage has anything to do with couple B’s. Every excuse in the world is still being used to undermine the authority of the president, except the obvious one. He’s black.

Nonexistant voter fraud has been met with a rash of laws meant to limit access to the vote for those most likely to vote for a Democrat. And what’s scary is that some of the politicians don’t even pretend any more that the laws are intended to do just that.

One of the newest schticks is to claim that any action or law that conflicts with their “sincerely held religious beliefs” is a form of persecution. Even something as mundane as baking a cake or being asked to take pictures. for a same sex wedding. And earlier posting highlighted a Midwestern candidate for the senate who believes that his religious freedom trumps all laws up to and apparently including murder.

I suspect there are a few detainees still moldering down at Gitmo who could make the same argument. I guess we should just let them go home. After all it’s a sincerely held religious belief that the infidel (us) needs to be stopped any way possible. Oh, you didn’t mean THEM. Care to explain why not? Oh, you just meant certain Christians. That’s what I thought.

Same for prayers at public gatherings. At least for some folks. The recent Supreme Court decision okayed such prayers as long as certain guidelines were met. Anybody want to take book on what would happen if a Jew, Muslim or pagan asked to say a prayer. What odds are you offering? A million to one? Sounds about right.

I have noticed that there are fewer calls for the repeal of “job killing” regulations. At least in the local news. Since most of the calls seem to be code for “repeal the EPA’ I’m guessing that the rash of broken or exploding pipelines and derailed coal and oil trains has as least some folks thinking twice. After all one of those trains just might be coming to a rail line near you. Then there are states with almost no record of earthquakes that are starting to shake. Only new part of the puzzle. Fracking. Let’s just keep hoping that the only things being rattled are the plates in the cupboard. For now.

 I believe I may have finally figured out the real problem. Deep down in the darkest corner of their minds where the light never shines the WASPs and WASP wannabes truly believe that they are the only full citizens of this country. Women, minorities, gays, non Christians, or non conforming Christians are not full citizens and may not even be fully human in their eyes. So they can, with a straight face and clear conscience claim that they are for smaller government, for them while mandating intrusive government for others. As for all the rest of us? From now on, if I don't have a say in the laws that are passed I will not obey.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


For generations men and women of faith have claimed that their religious beliefs led them on a path that didn’t match that of their governments. From early Christian martyrs to conscientious objectors to priests, nuns and lay leaders in the killing zones of Latin America they followed their beliefs no matter where it led. However, to my knowledge none of them claimed that their faith shielded them from the legal consequences of their actions. Until now.

There’s a Tea Party favorite who just won the Republican nomination for senate from the state of Nebraska. His name is Ben Sasse. He’s ridiculously well educated and well over in the right wing of American fundagelicalism. He claims that religious liberty is absolute and trumps secular law. Believers should be shielded from legal sanctions for crimes up to and including murder. And no, this article is not on the Onion. 

For somebody with a PhD. in philosophy he obviously hasn’t thought this all the way through. Makes me wonder if they're still teaching critical thinking as the university level these days. And a personal aside here. Why do so many of these believers from this guy to Joel Osteen and many in between look like they’re a couple of stubbies short of a six pack? A few sandwiches shy of a picnic? Not the brightest bulb on the tree? Whatever. There’s just something about the eyes that makes me want to shine a light in one ear and see if it comes out the other side.

Mr. Sasse, you blithering idiot. We’ve spent the better part of two fucking thousand years trying to bring society under the rule of law and we’ve managed to reach only a small percentage of the world’s population. Are we supposed to throw off the judicial reforms under Henry II, Magna Charta, the English Civil War, one dead King, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution for what? You?

The terrorists who flew those flying bombs into the twin towers and the pentagon probably could have argued that they had a deeply held religious belief that striking at the symbols of US world hegemony was the “right” thing to do. From the background information that's available they were reportedly extremely devout. If they had survived should they have gotten a walk for those beliefs? (me going la, la, la, la la for a few minutes), Didn’t think so.

Don’t you realize that if you can make this claim then so can anyone else? That path leads to anarchy. We either live under the law, or we don’t. You can try to change laws you don't agree with but you can't ignore them or escape the consequences for breaking them. Follow your path and we’re back under the rule of the war lord and the blood feud. The headlines of full of what happens in other countries where the law is ignored. Is that truly what you want for the nation you claim to love and wish to serve? 


Shot of breaking clouds over Springfield during the April snowstorm a couple of years ago. I don't know who wrote the poem. I'm sure I found it on the net. It's been sitting, humming on my hard drive for awhile. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Granted this cartoon is from back in the Bush years. Just substitute the name on the door for Paul, Inhof, Cruz, Rubio or any of the other Climate Deniers in Washington. "But senator/representative/governor ________ doesn't believe in..." Bit hard on the aide on the floor. I doubt if the bear could digest any of these clowns either no matter how hungry the poor beast was.

Do I sound a bit cranky? Damn straight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Image from the net. 

Several years ago I blasted through Mary Renaults’ series of novels set in ancient Greece. I posted an entry about Greek cities and my opinion that our Greek and Roman ancestors would look at many of our so called cities, scratch their heads and go “?” followed by “I don’t know what this is but it’s not what I’d call a city.” Their cities were built around public market places where citizens could gather. There’s little left of the public market place left, it’s been strip malled to death. And the first time one of us agreed that we needed a permit to speak in what was left of public space; well that put the rest of the nails in the coffin
Which brings me to high fuel prices, depleted aquifers and more than fifty years of “do it your way.” It isn’t just a matter of big rigs with terrible mileage ratings. It’s decades of live here, work there, shop in four other places and bring water in through pipelines and canals.  Decades of land use decisions that encouraged sprawl, starved mass transit, trucked in food from across the country, allowed our rail lines to decay and depended on water from rapidly depleting aquifers or reservoirs on the Colorado that are shrinking faster than pure wool in boiling water.
Animal Vegetable Miracle author Barbara Kingsolver used to live in Tucson. One of the straws that broke the “where should we live” camel’s back was the notice that the water coming in through a newly constructed pipeline was ok to drink but don’t use it for your aquarium because it wasn’t good for the fish. !?!?!?!
 I haven’t done any research, but I suspect that many of the so called strip cities in the south west don’t have any kind of mass transit capability at all. And were in the middle of a freakin’ desert. Or damn close to it for cryin’ out loud. Too few of us asked the right questions when decisions were made nearly two generations ago. Too few of us realized that the business and civic leaders praising a certain type of development may have had vested interests in their success.
Too many of us didn’t ask questions when we were told we could live anywhere we wanted to if we could afford it.  We could have beautiful green lawns in the middle of a desert. We could still have fresh oranges when the new US crop was gone because they could be shipped in from Australia. Or we could have grapes in December because it’s summer in Chili. A couple can have eighteen or nineteen kids and not only are few eye brows are raised; they got a reality TV show. We could have anything we wanted and any attempt to question those wants was an infringement on our “personal liberties.” Too many of us didn’t seem to notice that the ones telling us about our trampled rights were the ones with their hands in our pockets and that the pea was never under the cup to start with.
There was an “oh shit” moment on The Weather Channel a few seasons back before NBC bought them out and fucked up the programming. For a short time there was a program called Forecast Earth that focused on threats to the environment. Part of a segment on diminishing water supplies focused on huge development being built in Arizona or New Mexico; more than five thousand homes. In near desert that’s been in moderate to severe drought for over ten years now. Trouble is, we don’t have records that go back all that far, and what we assumed was normal back in say, the seventies may have been unusually wet. What we’re seeing now may either be is truly normal or worse, aggravated by Climate Change.
Anyway, one of the prospective buyers, an older man, was asked if he was worried about water being available. His reply made me mad enough to spit. “There’s no water shortage as long as you can afford it.” His companion, presumably his wife, had the grace to look a little embarrassed but her comment was almost as bad. It was basically “well, they wouldn’t build it if everything wasn’t ok, would they?”
Honey, yes they would if they figured they could get away with it. The builder will have the money and be looking for more sheep to shear. As for you folks, you’ll be left holding the bag and/or the dry faucet.
That segment aired back in 2008.  Before the housing market went down the tubes thanks to the Great Recession. I’ve wondered sometimes how that five thousand unit subdivision has fared over the years. I hate to sound judgmental but frankly I hope he lost his shirt.  The fuel prices are still as high if not higher than they were when I posted this the first time and the drought is getting worse year by year.

Monday, May 12, 2014


I've posted this before, but it's worth the reminder. We must speak for the trees and stones. We must speak for the grass, the rivers, the fields, the woodlands all the gifts of the Mother. If we do not speak no one will, then there will be only silence and tears. 

“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 andwoods 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.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


There is a type of Irish poetry called the “boast.” The poem is a series of statements; the poet claims to have been or to have been many things in creation. Tom Cowan in Yearning for the Wind.

Perhaps the form can be used another way too. Not a boast so much as an expression of your unity with your family; its history and the land where you live. Perhaps even the lands where your ancestor’s might have lived.

I am fire from the heart of the earth;
I am the sun, caught in flowing stone;
I am a pillar of mist, born when glowing stone met foaming breakers;
I am a cloud, gray white and heavy with rain;
I am a drop of rain, fresh water become salt;
I am a wave breaking on wind whipped cliffs;
I am a grain of sand caught in the ebb and flow of the tides:
I am the land;
I am the sea.

This is my take on living in a part of the world caught between the hammer of Oregon’s volcanic heritage and the anvil of that great western ocean. That wonderful, wild not so Pacific Ocean.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Or "you're picking on us."

Got my dose of face palm humor Saturday morning. Friend of Religious Freedom has suspended its plans to gather signatures for a ballot measure to allow a so called religious exemption law in Oregon.

Near as I can tell, an organization presents its proposed ballot measure to the state. If memory serves the organizations used to title them. That lead to lawsuits depending which side lost (or won) so the state stepped in. The state attorney general’s office checks out the law and gives the proposal an official title. Then the state supreme court signs off on it. Apparently they didn’t like the wording of the title as certified by the state.

“The campaign sought to portraythe issue as one that frees business owners from having to violate their religious beliefs by abiding by Oregon law.

But the certified ballot title does not acceptably state this Friend of Religious Freedom said in the release issued late Friday afternoon. Indeed, it states it as intolerant instead of protecting equal rights of conscience.”

The good folks behind the cancelled ballot measure believed that the language would prejudice the voters against them. Well boo f’ing hoo. The potential discriminators complain about being discriminated against. Cry me a river. Here's newsflash for you, we already know you're intolerant, we don't the title of a ballot measure to clue us in.

What were you hoping? You can put a saddle and a jockey on a donkey but that won't make it a racehorse. 


It began long before that. It began when we split earth from heaven and forgot that for what we take we must give something back and give thanks for the bounty of the earth. That which Creates will not be ignored, forgotten or mocked. I pray that when the reckoning comes due the God/dess will be more generous with us than we have been with the Creator and each other. 

A generation is usually counted as twenty years. A kloof is a small, deep sided ravine or valley. You see them in Eastern Oregon. That’s where the small trees and bushes are. The veld, is the grass country or even the grass. The titihoya is a small bird much like a plover. From Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country.

“There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them into Carisbrook; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down into one of the fairest valleys of Africa. About you there is grass and bracken, and you may hear the forlorn calling of the titihoya, one of the birds of the veld. Below you is the valley of the Umzimkulu, on its journey from the Drakensberg into the sea; and beyond and behind the river, great hill after great hill; and beyond and behind them the mountains of Ingeli and East Gruiqualand.

The grass is rich and matted, you cannot see the soil. It holds the rain and the mist, and they seep into the ground, feeding the streams in every kloof. It is well tended, and not too many cattle feed upon it; not too many fired burn it, laying bare the soil. Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being even as it came from the Creator. Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men, guards men, cares for men. Destroy it and man is destroyed.”

This was written the late forties. There is so much we can do to destroy the land and what depends on it whether the CO2 rises and the frozen methane is released.

 Replace the grasses with monoculture farming and you leave the soil naked and unprotected. The moisture leaches away. I’ve watched Willamette Valley farmers plow or harrow and already plowed, dry field on a hot, windy day and seen the soil blow on the wind.  Between the tree poachers and big ag the southern rainforests, the lungs of the planet, are still disappearing. There are abandoned cotton fields in the southwest crusted with salts and minerals the soil so compacted that even when it does rain the water has nowhere to go.

We take the tops off mountains and dump the waste in creeks fouling the drinking water downstream. Coal and oil trains far heavier than any freight that went before travel tracks not made for the load and we wonder why they don’t make it through. We’ve created crops that can be poisoned and “live” while the residues kill the soil. These things would happen whether the gas levels rise or stay the same. The warning bells have been clanging for nearly three generations, while we remain deaf, dumb and blind.

When a slice of bread costs more than a steak, then maybe we’ll wake up. Of course by then it will be too late for most of us. 

Friday, May 9, 2014


I'm sorting through the pictures on my computer, getting rid of the duplicates, etc and ran across this blast from the past. Not much has changed since 2009. It's gotten worse. The government releases a report on climate change affecting the US and the house investigates Benghazi. AGAIN.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The Whirlpool Galaxy approximately twenty three million light years away. Also known as M51. Can you imagine dancing among those stars?

Do you remember?

There was nothing and then there was….everything. In an instant a universe was born. The light faded and elemental particles came together. Hydrogen, gravity and time. The hydrogen pooled together and pooled again. Gas clouds whirled and swirled in the dark. Whirled, swirled, danced and grew again until hydrogen atoms fused with hydrogen atoms light returned to the universe.  Pinpoints of light became glowing beacons in the night.

 You danced in the starlight. Blue white giants were born, filled the universe with light and gave their lives in blazes of light and gas greater than a million stars. You watched as star seeds of iron, carbon, oxygen and all the other elements were born. You danced again as the newborn planet seeds swirled together, grew larger and larger still. 

 The next generation of stars began to shine, but instead of lonely splendor, their light reflected off growing worlds. Some were too far away; you could barely see their parent star through the misty, swirling gases. There were great gas giants; more failed star than planet. Some worlds formed too close to the star fire and were blasted, bare rock before they were barely born. A few were too small; their atmospheres were lost to the cold of space leaving deserts behind.

You danced again in the solar winds. In a forgotten corner in one of the great, glowing spiral arms of a galaxy you found a gleaming blue white world; a living miracle in the jeweled blackness. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Grandma had a stack of old 78’s that included a revival hymn with a verse that went like this. I think it was the refrain. “The B I B L E. Yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the WORD of God. The B I B L E.”

The tape starts running whenever I run across dumb ass comments like this.

“The scientific method demands scientific observations. Since no scientist today could observe the alleged deep history that Tyson eloquently describes, a scientic understanding of earth’s geological history requires reliance on some sort of eyewitness account to the past. There is a Book (capitalization his, not mine) the recorded Word of God provided by the Creator of the earth, that provides in its history a reliable and consistent guide to interpret the geological record.” Comment on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s page. Oy. Face palm, head bounce. Epic scream.

While I did post a comment, these ain’t it.

“Home school much?”

“ACE graduate?”

“This is a science page, not a fundagelical religious page.”

“Let me guess, you believe that the earth and the universe are less than ten thousand years old.”

“The Bible says so, doesn’t cut it. Find a reputable scientist to prove Dr. Tyson is wrong and we’ll talk, Oh, and Ken Ham doesn’t count.”

"Your God is too small."

And so on.

The comment I did make was reasonably polite but, it’s getting harder and harder to be polite to twits who want to drag us back to the Dark Ages. And yes the Dark Ages weren’t quite dark as authors like Gibbon presented them.  However, show me one original piece of research from about 500 to 1500. Even Copernicus got some of his ideas from Aristarchus although the reference didn’t appear in the final manuscript. Whoops, forgot about the printing press from the mid 1400’s. Guess I’ll have the knock things back a hundred years or so.

And what made Gutenburg’s press so wonderful. He came up with it just in time to take advantage of the translations of those fragments of the writings of the early Greek inventors and philosophers. The printers couldn’t keep up with the demand that fueled Copernicus, Galileo, Hubble, Newton, Herschel  and all who came after them.

Now, if I could just turn off the damn tape.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


“…the spirit of philosophy has not yet appeared. For we are relying on divine communication to answer our questions. Not that the gods cannot be wise. But the point of a philosophical spirit is to rely primarily upon ones own thinking. The philosophical spirit is not content to simply accept what it is told, no matter how much prestige the teller appears to have. This is true even if the teller is a god. The philosophical spirit looks within itself, regards the world with wonder but also with curiosity and skepticism. It poses serious questions and makes a serious attempt to find answers. Nor does it settle for the quick and easy answer, unless it is the best answer.”  Brendon Myers The Earth The Gods and The Soul.

An attitude that is the direct opposite of letters that appear in the local paper about once a week. Unfortunately from different authors. Whether it’s evolution or climate change it just can’t be true “because the Bible says so.” In another part of the world it would probably be “because the Koran says so.” I have yet read anything in the paper here that says science wrong because “the Torah says so.”

I’ve noted before that I love one star reviews on Amazon. There’s an extremely verbose and increasingly rancorous exchange for the film Agora. A certain patriarch from Alexandria could possibly have ordered the murder of a certain female philosopher because after all Cyril was very well educated and the church made him a saint and there’s no proof and…When proof from anecdotal evidence of the times is presented it’s dismissed or ignored. The Eastern Orthodox Church never persecuted anybody. I just shelved a book on Byzantine history that would beg to differ. I gave up. It was too depressing.

And even if the patriarch was involved it didn’t have anything to do with religion it was “political.” As if the church and the state weren’t so close during those years that the relationship was damned incestuous. Especially in the Eastern empire. And so on.

Now we’ve got a Supreme Court decision that basically says that as long as nobody is pointing a gun at you and forcing you to pray minorities are being “coerced.” And a justice. Clarence Thomas, who believes that states should have the right to designate an official religion.

Excuse me, I’ll be over in the corner with Sagan, Gould, and Tyson.

Actually Oregon doesn’t present as large a problem. We’re one of the five most unchurched states in the union. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in the south or some parts of rural white bread America.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Books are not only  magic. They're lighthouses. The best books shine a light on ignorance, warning us away from the rocks. They're a beacon guiding us towards the truth. Books tie us together over the years and remind us that we've been here before. We've been here for the good times and the bad times. We've fought through before and we will again.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


This is more of an observation, than a long entry. I'll probably build on it. Been reading early church history. Been reading fairly early political history of the Eastern Roman Empire and I've come to a depressing conclusion. The church(es) as less the product of divine grace or inspiration than the result of who was the last man (usually) standing when the mob was driven away, the war was over, the last pagan, heretic or nonbeliever driven out. Why should anything change. It's worked so well for almost two thousand years. We not only don't learn from history, we're eager to repeat it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Is there really anything more to be said? Loving Cosmos. Still like the original better. But then Sagan had almost an hour to work with. Tyson has maybe forty minutes. Makes a big difference.