Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Another Wendell Berry Sabbath poem as we wind down the year. Look at the pluses and minuses and wonder.

At the end of a long time
the book keeper sits down with his book.
He enters all that he has learned
of suffering, grief and ugliness,
of cruelty, waste and loss,
stupidity, meanness, falsehood,
selfishness, loneliness, and greed.
He reckons all of these as a weight
he has no way of weighing.
He enters then all he has learned
of joy, goodness, beauty, love,
of generosity, grace and laughter,
good sense, honesty, compassion,
mercy and forgiveness.
And these also weigh an unweighable
weight that registers only
on his heart, He cannot at last
complete and close his book.
He cannot say of evil and good
which outweighs the other,
though he feels his time's rage
for quantification, and he would
like to know. He can only suppose
the things of goodness, the most
momentary, are in themselves
so whole, so bright as to redeem
the darkness and so trouble the world
though we set it all afire.
"Maybe" the book keeper says. "Maybe."
For all he knows that in a time
gone mad for certainty, "maybe"
gives time to live and move and be.

From This Day by Wendell Berry 2012.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Wendell Berry doesn't title most of his poems. I'm not sure what you'd call this only that as I was reading this out loud to mom I started to puddle up at about the point of there being a new world once we've been forced to come to our senses. Of every MBA graduate disappeared tomorrow who would really notice. But try and get along without the small farmers, mechanics, cooks and craftsmen. Good luck with that nightmare.

As if suddenly, little towns
where people once lived all
their lives in the same houses
now fill with strangers who
don't bother to speak or wave.
Life is a lonely business.
Gloss it how you will,
plaster it over with plastic
bullshit as you please,
ours has been a brutal
history, punishing without
regret whatever or whomever
belonged or threatened to belong,
in place, converting the land
to poverty and money any
way the quickest. Now
after the long invasion
of alien species, including
our own, in a time of endangered
species, including our own,
we face the hard way, no choice
but to do better. After the brief
cataclysm of "cheap"
oil and coal has long
passed, along with the global
economy, the global village,
the hoards who go everywhere
and live nowhere, after
the long relearning, the long
suffering, the homecoming
that must follow, maybe there
will be a new world
of native communities again:
plants, animals, humans,
soils, stones, stories,
songs, all belonging
to such small, once known
and forgotten, officially unknown
and exploited, beautiful places
such as this, where despite
all we have done wrong
the light of October
falls through the turning leaves.
The leaves die and fall,
making wealth in the ground,
making in the ground the
only real material wealth,
Ignoring our paltry dream
of omniscience merely human,
the knowing old land
has lighted the woodland's edges
with the last flowers of the year,
the tiny asters once known
here as end-of summer.

Wendell Berry 2008.And yeah, I'm still trying to find something to be upbeat about. Good luck with that.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Hope everyone had a great holiday, whatever holiday it was. Unfortunately my brain wouldn't stop working.

When the “too many” of the country arrive in the city they are not called “too many.” They are called “unemployed” or “permanently unemployed. But what will happen when the economists ever perceive there are too many people in the cities? There appear to be two possibilities: either they will recognize their earlier diagnosis was a tragic error, or they will conclude that there are too many people in country and city both—and what future inhumanities will be justified by that  diagnosis?” Wendell Berry in What are People For?

Economists aren't the only ones who make these “decisions.” What kind of headlines came out of Brazil in the run up to the World Games? The slums being cleared out because the poor were in the way.

The eighties in Central America when poor farmers displaced when their landlords pushed them out to make room for cash crops protested and asked for land reform, wanted access to education and the right to organize they were called subversives. And out came the death squads. They weren't subversives, they were in the way.

Gang violence in Mexico and Central America. Is there more to it than America's appetite for drugs? Or is it our eyes closed, fingers in our ears, in the corner humming real loud as the poor and displaced from our trade policies find themselves between the gang's hammer and the border patrol anvil? Makes me wonder these days. 

Many women in third world countries are don’t appreciate being told that the only way for their countries to beat poverty is for them to limit THEIR families or be sterilized. They look at the lives they lead and they look at the lives WE lead. First world families use far more resources than third world families. And that ladies and gentlemen is the problem.

The world’s consumer dependent economies need those first world kids growing up, starting families and consuming their little hearts out. The third world kids? They are in the way. Most of them will never be able to consume at first world levels. If they’re farmers, fishermen; families that depend on subsistence farming or resource use they’re going to want to maintain that life. They’ll be in the way as pressures mount to move their countries to export crop economies.

As resources dwindle we’ll see more civil wars not less. As the citizens in the resource poor parts of countries like Nigeria and Iraq demand their share of the pie we’ll see more groups like ISIL or Boko Haram. They’ll claim it’s in the name of religion. They may even believe it but they aren’t telling the whole truth.

Well, so far we aren’t seeing death squads in this country. YET.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I promise I'll try to find something more upbeat for tomorrow. But, I'm not felling very upbeat right now.

For probably ninety nine percent of the time humans have been humans we’re lived on farms, small villages, or cities that had at most a few thousand people, Even if the farmers lived in town they went out every day to work their fields.

Even trades like spinning and weaving were done at home with a middle man picking up the finished product. Then we invented the internal combustion engine. (I’m simplifying I know) and you could put a factory anywhere. Concentration of machinery led to concentration of your workforce. Concentration of the workforce led to housing conditions in some city that you wouldn’t force on a dog, but they were “OK” for people.

After WWII there was a convergence of events that led to a significant depopulation of rural America. The interstate highway system bypassed the small towns. It is so weird to drive up I5 and know that state Highway 99 is only about a mile or so away in some sections going in the same direction. The push to treat farms like factories. “Get big or get out.” Somewhere along the line the mantra became “it’s inefficient to raise your own food, or have it raised close to where you live. Get a job and pay for what you used to be able to do for yourself.”

In the eighties Wendell Berry wrote an essay titled “What are People For?” It isn't very long and here's a piece of it.

“At the same time the cities have had to receive a great influx of people unprepared for the urban life and unable to cope with it. A friend of mine, a psychologist who has frequently worked with the juvenile courts of a large Midwestern city, has told me that a major occupation of the police force there is to keep the “permanently unemployable” confined to their own part of town. Such circumstances be good for the future of democracy and freedom. One wonders what the authors of our constitution would have thought of that category “permanently unemployable.”

“When the “too many” of the country arrive in the city they are not called “too many.” They are called “unemployed” or “permanently unemployed. But what will happen when the economists ever perceive there are too many people in the cities? There appear to be two possibilities: either they will recognize their earlier diagnosis was a tragic error, or they will conclude that there are too many people in country and city both—and what future inhumanities will be justified by that  diagnosis?”

Now stop and think about what we’re seeing in the way minorities, especially African Americans are treated in some areas. And I’m not talking about the gray areas where somebody points a gun at a cop, is doing something that is a low level crime although it’s a big part of the problem. I’m talking about a kid checking the mail box in front of his own house, somebody jogging in a park, or a man who just happened to be an off duty NYPD cop coming out of a birthday party at an upscale night club.

He had a new car. He was wearing some relatively flashy jewelry, sweat pants and a T shirt. The details are a little hazy since he’s suing the city and his former department after being slammed into his own car and ending up on the ground in hand cuffs. And the list goes on..

Watch a few old WWII movies with scenes of cities occupied by say the German army. And compare those with how some of our fellow citizens are treated when they are perceived to be “out of place.” There’s an element of “show me your papers” in a lot of these incidents/

Of course there’s the mantra of “just do what you’re told.” That is not what this country was founded on. I least I didn’t believe it was until I read these comments and op ed pieces from retired cops. More fool me. I can’t help but wonder how THEY’D feel if they were stopped on the street for no reason that they could see or pulled over for the most minor of traffic violations? Probably howl like a scalded cat. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


The prosecutor in the Ferguson case has announced that some of the grand jury witnesses lied, presumably under oath. And that he has no plans to bring perjury charges against them. Words fail me. The law works not because we pass laws but because people believe the system works. Undermine that belief and you might as well pack up your marbles and go home before somebody steals them.

In the end that’s what drives me crazy about these draconian anti abortion laws passed at the state level. Almost before the laws are passed potential patients are trying to figure out a way to get around them. The blithering idiots who passed the laws know this is going to happen and frankly I don’t believe most of them care one way or another as long as they can throw some red meat to their fundagelical base. Again, laws are passed that target only part of the population with the wink wink that you can get around the law as long as you have the time and the money to do so. And if you don’t? Tough luck sister.

A few days ago a New Yorker with a long criminal record and a record of mental health problems walked up to an RMP and blew away two police officers. His demented reason. A protest against criminal cops. Ironically the man who was supposedly protesting racist white cops who can’t look past skin color couldn’t look past the uniforms. He brutally murdered two men who happened to be Asian and Hispanic American. And ignited a backlash against the protests against certain police tactics.

The head of the police union accuses critics of hating the police. Most of us do not hate the police. We do want to see officers who may be guilty of crossing the line to face a jury of their hopefully impartial and not to perplexed peers. And that isn’t happening. Again the law only works when people trust that it works for everyone. When they don’t riots is what we get, even though they often make the situation worse.

There are reports that at least some of the New York protesters were chanting. “What do we want. Dead police. When do we want them? Now!”

Really helpful guys. Really helpful. Martin Luther King must be spinning in his grave.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Several years ago my south of LA living aunt, uncle and one of my cousins came up for a visit that summer. It was getting late and Karen asked what time it was. When  I told her it was after nine she was surprised because it was still light. Apparently there's enough difference between LA and Springfield to be noticeable.

You have to wonder what our ancestors thought as they moved further north and realized how short the days were getting in winter. Yeah, the sun came back last year but what about this year? And it's no accident that for the Scandinavians hell wasn't fire it was ice. A frozen eternity.

Well, we didn't get frozen, we got drowned. Relatives on the coast south of Newport reported better than four inches on rain in twenty four hours yesterday. We got off with a measly half an inch. Here's to the shortest day of the year and the return of the sun.

A Winter Solstice Prayer

The dark shadow of space leans over us. . . . .
We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.
As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love
that is hidden in every heart.

Edward Hayes from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Is my title a bit, shall we say provocative? Damn straight. This is not how I was raised. And frankly this is pretty damn scary. If my fellow self described Christian citizens are willing to see foreigners tortured to protect their precious lives and property what will they sanction if they see a threat from their neighbors?

This graph is from a poll taken by the Washington Post/ABC News. Now they only broke down the results between all adults, Christian variations and respondents who claimed no religion so we don't know how Jews, Muslims or Pagans might have responded. And it's not broken down by race. Those results might be very interesting

But frankly? These results don't say much for Christianity American style. At least until you go back and read your history books. It's always been there. Lurking just below the surface. The mobs that made Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria and then used by him to drive out the Jewish population that had lived in the city for centuries? Yep. The inquisition? The witch trials? The European wars of religion? What we've done to the rest of Creation? I'm not sure when we started down this terrible path. Different groups, Anabaptists, Quakers other small groups have tried but we've never gotten past the fringes. And damned if I know how to stop it now.


A non-traditional Celtic take on the traditional Trinity.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator Cruth (noun):shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

Honestly, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish and the net wasn’t much help. In any case when most of us use the word create we mean to bring something into existence. However, the less common definition of create is ‘to bring into a new form.” And, the root word cruth in those Irish words means to shape. Shaping implies that you are working with something that already exists.

In the Celtic mythology stories that have survived, there appears to be no creation myths as we understand them. One of those in the beginning there was  a Void, a cosmic Egg, something that wasn’t there and then it was there, somehow. Something created from nothing.

Since those eternally curious scribes in the ancient Irish monasteries  translated, copied, and recopied every written scrap they could find it seems unlikely to many scholars that any creation myths they found wouldn’t have been recorded even if they were cleaned up to give them a less pagan cast.

Or, perhaps, the Celts never had an “in the beginning” story to start with. The universe didn’t have to come “into” existence because it has always existed. This does answer one problem. If the universe is created, who created the Creator? If somehow the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation then becomes a reshaping of what already exists, not the creation of something out of nothing. In this universe even the big bang becomes a reshaping of a “something” that already existed. What that “something” was or is we don’t know. Perhaps as humans with human limitations this is something we can’t know or comprehend.

And where does the raw material for reshaping come from? For some, like the writer Tom Cowan, the raw material the Creator works with is the Creator itself. (arrrrgh! Pronouns describing the indescribable are such fun to try to use.) This ever changing, ever shifting, and always becoming universe is made not only by the Creator but from the very essence of that Creator.

One of the best examples I can think of is this. A giant star is mostly hydrogen with some helium and an almost undetectable scattering of heavier elements. It lives its life, burns through its hydrogen fuel in a few million years, explodes as a supernova and seeds the universe with star stuff. The carbon that builds our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in the steel that holds up our skyscrapers: these elements were forged in the heart of an exploding star. This star stuff reshaped, renewed, becomes new stars, new planets and wonder of wonders; us.

Cowan, who works with Celtic and shamanic traditions took the more traditional trinity and reworked it using the image of shaping. So the trinity becomes The Shaper of life, the Shape of life, and the Shaping of life. These three are truly indivisible, no one of the three can exist without the other two. It sounds really odd to say it but this trinity does work. And in a strange way we become not only the Created but the Creator. We are the Shaper, the Shape and the Shaping itself. (I know, my brain is feeling a little “sprained” right now.)

And he rewrote an old Irish prayer using the trinity of shaping.

Shaper of life, above me and below.
Shaper of life before me as I go.
Shaper of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shape of life, above and below.
Shape of life before me as I go.
Shape of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shaping of life, above and below.
Shaping of life before me as I go.
Shaping of life, at my sides and
 I know the You circle me around
And around and around.

Sacred Three, above and below.
Sacred Three before me as I go.
Sacred Three at my sides and
 I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

From Yearning for the Wind

So, all of us should rejoice for we are truly a part of the Creator of creation. 

Friday, December 19, 2014


Winter solstice is just around the corner. Found this on the net. Wish I could find this in a yard sign. I would really love to play with the fundies minds this time of year. Trouble is most of them wouldn't even know what I was talking about. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014


If you believe, as I do, that all of Creation has a voice if we would just listen with our souls instead of just using our ears we could hear the trees singing and know it was more than an afternoon breeze. They do not hear the Great Song, the Oran Mor of the Celts.

Those who use the world assuming
their knowledge is sufficient
destroy the world. The forest
is mangled for sale
of a few sticks, or is bulldozed
into a stream and covered over
the earth it once stood
upon. The stream turns foul,
killing the creatures that once
lived from it. Industrial humanity,
an alien species, lives by death.
In the clutter of facts, the destroyers
leave behind them on big story,
of the world and the world's end,
that they don't know. They know
the names and the little stories. But the
names of everything are not everything.
The story of everything, told,
is only a little story. They don't know
the languages of the birds
who pass northward, feeding
through the treetops early in
May, kept alive by knowledge
never to said in words.
Hang your head. This is our hope: Words
emerge from silence, the silence remains.

Wendell Berry 2007

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


John Denver sang it too in Rocky Mountain High. "They try to tear the mountain down to bring in a couple more." Or the song with the refrain "they paved paradise and put in a parking lot."

We've allowed the multinationals to use precious fresh water in this country to frack for natural gas to sell overseas. The corporations rip the guts out of the mountains here to sell the coal somewhere else. What's left behind by our unique form of American Socialism? Fouled streams, choked valleys and quiet places that fall to the bulldozers. Destroying what the Creator gave freely would be bad enough if we at least saw the benefits from the resources. Instead the gas and coal go overseas. The profits go to a mulitnational headquartered in some tax haven and WE end up with the mess to clean up.

"When you get the time to do it and you drive up here and leave your truck and walk into the woods and stay awhile in a pretty place where you don't hear no noise and nothing's bothering you, and you go back the next week and that place is not even there, that's hard."
Joe Begley (1919-2000) of Blacky, Kentucky
speaking of mountaintop removal mining. 

I dream by night the horror
That I oppose by day.
The nation in its error 
In its work and in its play

Destroys its land, pollutes
Its streams, and desecrates
Its air and light. From the roots
It dies upwards, our rights,

Divinely given, plundered
And sold to purchased power
That dies from the head downward,
Marketed hour by hour. 

The market is a grave 
Where goods lie dead that ought
to live and grow and thrive,
The dear world sold and bought

To be destroyed by fire,
Forest and soil and stone,
The conscience put to hire
Rules over flesh and bone. 

To take the coal to burn
They overturn the world
And all the world has worn
Of grace, of health. The gnarled

Clenched, and forever shut
Fist of their greed makes small 
The great life. Hollowed out,
The soul like a green hill

Yields to the force of death.
The crack in the despots skull
Descends into the earth, 
And what was bright turns dull. 

Wendell Berry 2007 

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Another Wendell Berry. This one is from 2005 at the height of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They gather like an ancestry
in the centuries behind us:
the killed by violence, the dead
in war, the "acceptable losses" --
killed by custom in self defense,
by way of correction, in revenge,
for the love of God, for the glory
of the world, for peace; killed
for pride, lust, envy, anger,
covetousness, gluttony, sloth,
and fun. the strewn carcasses
cease to feed even the flies,
the stench passes from them,
the earth folds in the bones
like salt in batter.

And we have learned
nothing. "Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you" --
It goes on regardless, reasonably:
the always uncompleted
symmetry of just reprisal,
the angry word, the boast
of superior righteousness,
hate in Christ's name.
scorn for the dead, lies
for the honor of the nation,
centuries bloodied and dismembered
for ideas, for ideals,
for the love of God!

When I read this one it hit me as too strong. Then the torture report was released and I remembered an article in Newsweek several years ago that profiled an attorney that the administration had finally located who would sign off on the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques." Didn't say how many others they talked to. Then I read more comments on the Ferguson and New York stories. Then there was another school shooting. This one in Portland. Then I read Benjamin Corey's breakdown of the stories in his blog that drew the most hate mail. Especially the one at the top of the list. And suddenly this poem wasn't strong enough.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Another Wendell Berry from the early nineties. Prime example? California is getting hit with the worst storm in over five years. Massive amounts of rain. Winds at gale force; close to hurricane strength. And the storm is heading for the southern burned areas with potential for massive mudslide. Only on AOHell could a story about the weather be turned political.

"Oh poor California. They're getting rained on call in the disaster designation." Go watch the blasted weather channel and wonder how you'd do in gale force winds as the storm drains not only back up but geyser. Remember how Texas begged for help a couple of years ago when the whole state threatened to turn to ashes?

Hate has no world.
The people of hate must
try to posses the world of love,
for it is the only world;
it is Heaven and Earth.
But as lonely, eager hate
possesses it, it disappears;
it never did exist,
and hate must seek another
world that love has made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


From a poem by Wendell Berry

How long does it take to make the woods?
As long as it takes to make the world.
The woods is present as the world is, the presence of
all its past, and of all its time to come.
It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.
It is part of eternity, for its end and its beginning
belong to the end and the beginning of all things,
the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.

A forest is constantly beginning and ending. A giant redwood begins to die, shoots come up from the roots, reaching for the sun and the sky. Go into the woods, Find a clearing where a pine or fir or hemlock has found its final resting place. But that tree is not alone. It's a home to new life. Mushrooms, little bushes, insects, birds.

That's why I believe it is impossible to practice sustainable forestry. We take out what would support the next of living things. The big timber companies turn a forest into a monoculture using herbicides that poison not only the earth in the tree plantation but anyone and anything living near by.What a world.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


We've heard it all before. "Better dead than red" with the power to turn the earth into an ash heap.  As if the birds, beasts and flowers knew or cared about the politics of the destroyers. "We had to destroy the village to save it" as we forced old men, women and children into ready made villages that were little more than detentions camps so we could plow the earth with bombs, coat it with napalm and turn their crops into wastelands. Who can hear the cry of the newborn in the manger over the screams of the fallen?

Our reasons for our newest wars shifted like a sand dune under our feet. Fighting terrorism without asking WHY we were a target. And shouting anyone who did ask as a traitor, a coward or a disbeliever in American "Exceptionalism."  Making the world safe for McDonalds, Wally World and our version of "democracy." Add the sacrilege of so called holy men standing in their pulpits arguing that the Prince of Peace arrived carrying an Uzi and Peace on Earth fades into the distance like a mirage on a sun baked highway.

But do the Lords of War in fact
hate the world? That would be easy
to bear if so. If they hated their
children and the flowers that
grow in the morning light, that
would be easy to bear. For then
we could hate the haters
and be right. What is hard
is to imagine that the Lords of War
may love the things that they destroy.

Wendell Berry 2003 in Collected and New Sabbath Poems

OoooooKaaaaaay! As sometimes happens the entry took over and wrote itself. It feels really weird when "somebody" takes over and off we go on a roller coaster ride.

Monday, December 8, 2014


From Martin Luther King the Inconvenient Hero by Vincent Harding. Tragic that at a time when the memory of his powerful belief in the power of non violence could help turn this country around his name isn’t even mentioned.

“Who dares recall this man, when all the plagues he fought are still among us, standing in the way of the “America we hope to be”: poverty and exploitation, racism, militarism, materialism, manipulated anticommunism?* How shall we recall him when the America which has been is still is still protected and justified by Bible quoting presidents and supine legislators who offer no visionary leadership to a spiritually crippled people?

Who dare rededicate themselves to the causes of this hero? Who is there now, when major portions of his black middle class have made their peace, found equal opportunity in the America that is? Someone.

Who is there now, when the overwhelming experience of the Black church is still focused on an individualistic religious experience, breaking faith with the Tubmans, the Turners, the Truths, and the Kings (and the King)? Someone.

Who is there when so many of his white comrades now stand back in cynicism, fear, success and puzzlement? Someone.

Who is there when so many of poor (and recently poor) now compete for crumbs across racial and ethnic lines, rather than standing together to vision, to pray, to recollect, to plan, to struggle? Someone.

Who stands with a hero who insists on living for the broken and exploited, who refuses to deny nightmares, who still will not let dreams die? And who is not afraid to go on exploring, stumbling, trembling, wherever visions lead him? Someone.

Who will open the door for the children, to let them see him, feel him, as he was, to recall him as he is, perhaps to expose their hungry directionless lives to the flaming vector of his passion for the poor? Someone.

Is he safely dead? Perhaps we should recall him and see. Now. Perhaps in the process we may learn again how to live-unsafely, in love with God and neighbor, with cleansing, purifying fire, with the America that is yet to be created-by us?”

*Soviet Union fell over twenty years ago and we’re still being called commies etc. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Graphic created by Benjamin L, Corey Formerly Fundie. He put a lot of work into this and I believe it's spot on. His blog is a great one. The link is on my sidebar. You might not agree with all his conclusions. On the other hand ask the few Pequots who survived the war engineered by colonists in Connecticut.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I’m getting a little fed up with the comments that the Irish, the Germans, the Italians etc. ad nauseum had adapted to the majority culture in the US so why can’t _______ I don’t think you’ll have to think too hard to fill in the blank.

Well for starters many of those minorities are white or at least rather tan in complexion. Lose the accent, alter your name, move to the other side of the country and you can pretend to be just about anything you want to be. If anyone is curious enough to ask, that is. Even the Italians. For every immigrant’s son who looks like Antonin Scalia, there’s a blue eyed blond from the north of the country that was settled by the Germanic tribes. Change your name from Bellini to Bell and nobody will ask any questions.

As for the minorities from the orient, they faced some very extreme prejudice in the early years. And let’s face it. I didn’t take the time to run the numbers but there just aren’t that many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Americans in this country. I suspect that there are parts of the country where the good citizens can go for years and not see an Asian face outside of the TV or movies.

African Americans have been the quintessential other from the beginning. Were they persons or property? The constitution came down on the side of what? They were persons but only 3/5 of a person and only so they could be counted for census purposes. Called “black” even though most African Americans are varying shades of brown it conjures up all those images of darkness.

The dangers of night. Going over to the “dark side.” Thanks George we really needed that and Darth Vader in his midnight black get up to let us know he wasn’t one of the good guys. The psy cops in the Babylon 5 universe with their SS wannabe’s black uniforms. The black sheep of the family. The black market. All the negative images conjured up by “black.”

You can change your name. You can get an education that lets you speak like a BBC presenter. You can get a good job and dress the part. Even buy a decent car. There are still areas where the real estate agents will try to steer you away from. You can still be arrested for buying belt considered too nice for somebody like you. You and that nice care can still be pulled over for “infractions” that probably wouldn’t be noticed in a European American driver.

You can be stopped and questioned for walking while black with your hands in your pockets. (true story. Apparently a store owner had called because an African American with his hands in his pockets had been passing back and forth in front of the store and he was afraid he was going to be robbed. No matter that the man who was actually stopped was nowhere near the store. He was walking the mile between the house of a friend and his place about a mile away)

You can still be called every vile  name in the book because, unlike other hyphenated Americans, you can’t change the color of your skin. From the day you’re born until the day you die too many people will only look at skin color and no further. And from the comments I’ve been reading on too many stories too many people aren’t interested in doing things any different. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Surprise, surprise. Turns out post Thanksgiving weekend retail sales were/are down. I suspect that the same people shop 'til they drop year after year. Give them more time to shop with the same amount of money something has to give and it did.

That and the suspicion that the "gift" being bought are pretty much for the buyers. I remember one year when mom took an old formal and reworked it into a lovely robe for my little sister. I still have the knitting instructions for the slippers we used to make. I could probably knock out a pair with my eyes closed. Same with knitted hats. We always made a lot more jams, jellies and kraut than WE needed because it all made good gifts. One year my room was awash in shredded foam for the Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls for the littlest sister.

Traditionally the Christmas tree went up the week before Christmas and went down at New Years. Providing the tree stayed green enough long enough. Ornaments were gradually collected. We still have two or three that were my grandmother's. Lots of lights to fill in the gaps.

Cars, TV's shop equipment? Christmas gifts? I watched film clips of the stores opening their doors on Thursday evening. Pushing, shoving, knocking other people down and not stopping to help them. Most of them looking like they were just this side of insane. Hell a security guard got trampled to death a few years ago. I think it was at a WalMart. If there's a War on Christmas it started about Halloween, hit the beaches on Thanksgiving and is being fought in your local mall. And we're losing. And whether you celebrate Christmas, the Winter Solstice, the Celtic pantheon or just want to hang with family, take a deep breath and enjoy watching the squirrels at the feeder we're losing. Big time.

We're working on Advent and the Solstice right now. We'll get around to Christmas when it is time.

Monday, December 1, 2014


I haven't spent much time in the comments sections of stories about Ferguson and the protests. Not from lack of interest but in the interests of keeping my blood pressure at levels closer to Mt. Hood levels than Mt Everest.

What I have seen. If you aren't white you don't have the right to protest. I've seen comments that seemed to call for genocide against minorities in this country. Most African Americans are thugs or worse and those who acknowledge that like whites, a small minority are responsible for violent crimes. However, even that person called on the African American community to "police themselves." That's why we have the LAW, bonehead. Not all cops are trigger happy either. All African Americans are lazy, on welfare, on food stamps etc. etc. etc. One commenter even called for 7 PM to 7 AM curfews in the cities and if you don't "have a good reason to be out" subject to arrest. Shades of North Korea, the old USSR and Nazi Germany.

And something that really bothers me. Too many of our fellow citizens don't seem to know the difference between a grand jury proceeding and a jury trial. There's a joke that a careful prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. After the sandwich is indicted both sides have their chance to present their best evidence before the public and before a jury of the sandwiche's "peers." Now THAT presents an interesting picture. LOL

I've run into more than one comment of "he's not guilty, get over it." No, we don't know that. The grand jury didn't indict the officer and there are plenty of questions about how the prosecutor handled the proceedings. No indictment, no trial. No chance for the public to watch what's going on and see justice being served.

Now, about those protests. I'm all in favor of non violent confrontation, that's NON VIOLENT confrontation. And if it means going to jail, that's part of the price we pay for something resembling the rule of law. You don't throw bottles at the cops. You don't throw barricades at the cops. You don't spit at the cops.

Anybody out there ever watch the movie Gandhi? There is a sequence where demonstrators are marching on a salt works. There was a tax on salt and the British government controlled production. Row by row they marched towards the native police armed with bamboo staves. Row by row they were struck down and the women carried them to one side for first aid treatment. They kept it up hour after hour until after dark. It took another decade and WWII to finally achieve Indian independence but the Raj fell that day. True non violence is a disciplined, courageous confrontation of injustice. It doesn't always work. But it puts the violent response squarely in the oppressors ball park. Dr. King where you now?