Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back Country and Talk Radio

Every time I am driving through the West, what some call the heartland of the United States, the red states, switching on the radio to find news can be an interesting way to understand what the people there are getting for information.

Across northern California's eastern quarter, into Nevada, down through its deserts and those of Arizona, this last trip down, there are no radio stations that give a moderate or liberal view of life. NPR, what's that? Unless they pay for satellite radio stations, the only available talk radio promotes a right wing agenda. The scanty exceptions are aimed at health questions or how to solve internet problems.

When we drive through the back country, see the ranchers out gathering their cattle, the small towns, the old trucks driving back from town, often enough a woman on her way home from picking up parts to repair the tractor, the awareness grows that these people only hear one view of politics.

Are these red regions because they think a certain way or because they are inundated with that thinking? They could turn on their cable TV (if they have a dish and can afford it). They could read different viewpoints on the Internet, but how many listen only to Fox news, read right wing blogs and think they are hearing the whole story?

Some years back, I used to listen to Glenn Beck but reached a point where I couldn't stand it any longer. I hadn't again until surfing on the long drive. Recognizing his voice and tone, I thought I should see what he's saying today. He has grown considerably in power since the long ago time when I first listened to him.

To me, Glenn Beck is a man with one agenda and a frantic tone to his voice. He is deliberately catering to the ones who say they are now disenfranchised because they voted for the losing candidate. Excuse me but I had that problem for 8 years and did anybody think I was entitled to stop paying taxes? With his tea bag revolt, he compares today's situation to that before the Revolutionary War. What is this man trying to create and what do those who listen to him hope to do?

As the miles spun past, I tried to listen to him for long enough to see if there was anything other than the most obvious messages: Only the right (O'Reilly being a good example) is telling you the truth. You, who listen to me, are better than those awful lefties who want to destroy this country. (Er what would a revolution do? Oops was that logic.) Beck isn't interested in logic. Only people who listen to right wing radio or TV are smart and smarts don't come from our corrupted education system. Not sure from where they do come.

Beck had a sizable segment devoted to one scientist with a top reputation who is saying we are not experiencing global warming but even if we are, it's not the fault of carbon dioxide which makes plants grow better. There was little discussion of what kind of plants, but that wasn't needed. What Beck wants is to make people afraid of liberals. For those who regularly listen to his radio or Fox TV program, maybe he succeeds.

Several times I came across Michael Savage. Later when I checked him on the Internet, I read, that for talk radio he is third only to Limbaugh and Hannity (nobody should ask me to listen to Hannity, that goes way beyond the call of duty).

Savage didn't change his message in any program. He sells (and probably bathes in) pure unadulterated hate. Thursday and Friday, he was mad at the fact that nobody but him had cared about four police officers in Oakland being murdered. He emphasized recordings from a small Oakland demonstration (35 or so people) of voices praising the murderer because they are mad at the police period and anybody who kills one is a good guy. Why these total nutcases, who probably would like no police protection so they can run riot, got any coverage, I don't know; and also, being on the highway, don't know if they got it from anybody but Savage. The media, including his, does not have to give time to just anybody who wants it!

As for Savage's accusation that liberal women with gray hair killed these police officers, well it is totally aimed at his audience who already disrespect liberals and must get off on hearing the anger in this man's voice toward these women who are the true destroyers of this country. Forget what you heard about bankers or corporate greed or even foreign terrorists. It's not them who endanger this nation's values but gray-haired, liberal women.

Truth isn't part of Savage's spiel; but for anyone who does care about it, those murders were in papers all across this country and people everywhere spoke out against the horror of what had happened. I don't know about you; but every time I see police officers, I think what a tough job they have and how they are the ones who go in when the rest of us run out. Sure there have been a few who abused their power, but they are a minuscule part of the US police force.

California's two senators came to the memorial service; but since they are liberal women, that was a double insult in Savage's mind. He is mad that these are the women who would try to control gun availability. So the fact that this criminal had a gun; and it didn't do the police officers any good that they had one when dealing with a sociopath, none of that had a connection in Savage's mind.

If you listen to Savage for long, you have to wonder if Weiner (his real name under which he writes books on homeopathic health cures) actually agrees with anything he says? Might he be like Glenn Beck who recently compared himself to a rodeo clown and believes he is supposed to be entertaining the ones who listen to him. It appears he feels he is giving them what they want.

If someone regularly listened to Savage, they would not simply lose hope. They would be ready to raise up and create violence, anarchy, as it's what he seems to want to see happen. It's clear that only a violent overthrow (don't ask by who as logic is no part of this man's programming either) will satisfy him. He evidently has bought himself a stronghold somewhere away from San Francisco where he will be based to escape the coming carnage. Is he trying to create that violence? He would be if enough people followed what he said.

Does he ever say anything sensible? Probably he does. In the church, they used to call that a Satan Sandwich (a lie sandwiched between two truths to make it seem to also be true). For Savage, Satan is me, but to me it's those who profit from encouraging others to ruin their lives so that they themselves can live a life of plenty.

Finally there is the king of the talk radio and hard as it is to say, Rush Limbaugh is the easiest to take. Part of that is the charisma of the man, the energy which generally was not hate filled or whimpering. He has almost a sense of humor about what is going on but that leaves me wondering what he really believes. His biggest concern last week appeared to be worry about more taxes; and with his wealth, that's not surprising, I guess.

At one point I had to turn Rush off but not for the reasons you might expect. I was starting to agree with him... but there are things a left leaning moderate always would see similarly to Rush. It's why I used to be able to listen every day. The part he seemed right about is some of the ridiculousness of dealing with global climate change.

Rush said the greens in California want to ban black cars by some year in the future. That's to make air conditioning work less. What if the people drive at night, Rush joked. In my opinion, government should telll people in LA how much extra gasoline they will be using if they have a black car and run their A/C but that should be the sum of their involvement as would red cars be better? How about the interiors? Should everyone have to drive white cars? It's just plain silly. Rush is good at finding such things that often the rest of us haven't even heard about (unless living in California maybe).

Unlike Beck, Rush didn't try to deny that global climate change might be coming. He just didn't think it came from mankind. Wrong though he might be, that is at least a reasonable approach to take. He didn't appear though to think mankind should do anything about it if it is coming and I wonder if he's thought about his mansion in Florida that is probably not much above sea level? Savage might even believe in global warming and it's the true reason he's leaving the Bay Area...

Where Rush surprised me most (from what I remember of his talk before) is when he was talking about power lost in our current power grid system and he claimed it is 40%. He seemed to believe that was how much is being stolen by customers who cheated the system and more or less said it's what Americans do-- take what they want. I don't know if he meant it to be approving, but it sounded that way.

First of all, overhead power lines have been a wasteful way to move energy. There is loss which is why it's not considered safe to live right under or near them. So even if the figures are correct, the loss of 40% is not all people rigging up their meters as Rush seemed to believe.

But it sounded like he was defending stealing when you think you have been treated unfairly, as some on the right seem to think because they didn't win the last election. Is it okay with Rush for people to lie on their taxes if they didn't get the president for whom they voted?

Well, we know Rush felt it was okay to get his prescription drugs illegally when he needed a substance that the government controls. How far does his thinking that way go? That wasn't the Limbaugh I remember who called people to higher standards. Has he lost his own moral code in catering to a group who actually are controlling what he is saying more than he admits-- at least publicly?

Basically most of the right wing talk radio were talking anarchy. Who exactly would then run things after they took over is not discussed. Forget Beck or Savage. Nobody is going to chose them for an actual leader. Who even knows what Hannity believes; but if Chuck Norris and Rush Limbaugh have to duke it out, Rush wins if it's oratory but otherwise, heil President Norris.

If I lived in the middle of Nevada and had to listen to just talk radio for what is going on, I would think the country was going to hell in a hand basket (as my not exactly sainted daddy used to say) and that any scientist who says there is global warming is either a quack or being paid off. I would ignore things like [Thomas Friedman explaining what we might be facing], and want more guns as I'd expect to be overrun by little old gray haired ladies trying to take away my freedoms.

To me, it seems a shame that the people in the wide open spaces, country I love, aren't hearing more viewpoints, hearing the arguments from both sides, but maybe they want to be told what is truth and not have to bother sorting it out. I can sympathize with that actually...

(Photos are from northern California and Nevada. The land is cattle and mining country. Miles of it many would call worthless, places that people try to settle and often fail leaving behind remnants of their dreams. I love driving through it-- not sure how it'd be for living, of course. Although I have often thought that with the right purpose to your life, the right people in your life, anywhere can be good.

Finally because of Savage's warnings about those old, gray-haired, liberal women who threaten this country's safety, I asked Farm Boss to take a photo of one of them at our Tucson house; so savage-type 'conservatives' will know for what they are looking.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is the system irretrievably broken?

and if it is, what do we do about it?

For years, I have heard how much Republicans worry about women with kids getting welfare because they don't want to work. Lately they are the ones some are blaming for the recent breakdown in our economic system. Not because it's true but because it's someone people have been trained to blame.

Try this article: The New Welfare Queens? Is that also a concern? It appears both parties have been (and still are) on the payola machine for these queens. You thought it has been you who paid for most of their campaigns? I suspect if the poor donated to campaigns, they would not get so much flak from Republican politicians.

Then there's this which was informative on how Madoff pulled of what he did: Madoff Employee Breaks Silence. Who really has the responsibility for what has gone wrong with our investment engine? Who reaped the most profits?

Paul Krugman says that the Obama administration is making a huge mistake when they see this as a tweaking situation instead of a full-blown failure in a system. I know how popular the criticism will to those on the right, who want nothing done except more tax cuts for the wealthiest. Do we have to start over; and if we do, what does that mean for the money in the banks? Money we saved and earned? Some of us did, you know.

If you don't have Krugman's blog on your daily reading list, you are missing out on an important viewpoint to what is going on-- a non-partisan, who is a liberal, but not a defender of either party automatically: Krugman Blogs.

And that's the tip of the iceberg even though it's been most of what we have heard about. How long before the spreading 'tent cities' become the bigger issue? What about the neighborhoods that are being abandoned or turned into illegal settlements? Some of this began in Oregon a few years back but I don't know how many involved children then. Is this really okay with those who hate welfare so much? What alternative would they suggest for the kids of these parents-- orphanages? Take them from their families? While we turn to look at one problem, another crops up!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The DOW means what exactly?

This is another of those things that I am writing about because I don't understand it, not because I do. How did we end up with the Dow determining most people's ability to retire? Who gets the money that goes into it? When it goes down, does it impact the corporations represented there? Does it have real meaning for how well the economy is doing or is it somehow separate? So many of us have our retirement tied to it-- what is it?

It's easy to read something like that and get a general idea of how they compute the Dow but still why does it matter so much? I have seen times where the unemployment rate went down and the Dow went into a panic of selling (nothing like we have seen the last year). So unemployment isn't what determines the Dow. A certain level of unemployment evidently keeps wages down maybe?

Obama may have little control over the Dow but who or what does? Farm Boss was explaining some of this to me that with these Hedge Funds, they have to keep a certain level of liquidity. When they see the values of their stocks going down, they have to sell to get more money and what does that mean for the value of my stocks?

It is not something I have liked even thinking about. Money and economics are not the kind of thing I understand well nor care about beyond can I afford to buy something I might want/need. Suddenly care or not care, I am being forced to look at a part of American life that is mysterious to most of us.

Was the stock market always overpriced? Has it lost real value or was it a bubble that made people think they were making money? It has always been a little screwy to me for how it was supposedly going to work. So I invest $10 and expect to get $2 profit for doing that. Now that wasn't a real product I made. I helped someone else make one-- theoretically. Was a $2 profit a reasonable expectation on my contribution to productivity? A lot of investors expected that or more. They saw the stock market as a money tree requiring nothing from them after their initial contribution.

What has made the Dow collapse and what is it waiting for before it begins to build again-- or will it? All the people who sold out, will they then lose what they had in it for not waiting while someone else profits from their panic? Can it go so far down that it totally collapses? Is a total collapse possible?

This is a very insecure time and I am not sure what the Obama administration can do about the Dow (if they even wanted to). They might be able to help create jobs, give businesses a boost if they can get health care costs off their backs, but if the government goes more deeply in debt, what will that mean for all of us?

Here's something to think about for those who got out of the market or never were in it: Could our banks go so far down that the FDIC cannot actually cover their collapses (that warning went out in March)? In our wanting to prop up the stock market maybe we need to be sure we aren't sacrificing our future savings security with a government no longer able to cover bank losses. Keep in mind that no bank keeps all the money deposited there. To be able to pay interest, have a profit, it loans it out. If people all want their money, it's not there. Most banks now warn you if you want to withdraw very much they want a week's warning or more.

What makes me so distrusting on any of this is the warnings before and during Vietnam. If it collapses, all else goes with it. Dominoes, they said. Well we got out of there, Vietnam became again one nation and seems to be prospering. Are we hearing more Chicken Little right now but this time the sky is falling? The wolf really is at the door but by crying wolf so many times, we no longer have the energy to deal with it?

(I am in Tucson, had a good trip down even if that many hours in a truck wears out a person my age. For the next three blogs I will use the subjects on economics as I think they are important ones for us all to be thinking about. The photo was in central Nevada. Between my monitor here and the laptop, I can't decide if this photo makes me look short and wide or okay but I like the colors and the memories of the place where the photo was taken. They come from the years of not much money and a small vacation trailer. With our small children, we would stop here as it was a free over-nighter, not sure how safe it'd be today as I didn't see anybody staying there. The kids loved playing in the dust and at the picnic table.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

traveling time again

This year we have been trying to get ourselves down to the house in Tucson since somewhere in January but something always came up. Farm Boss had project problems, lambing, calving, family events, and every possible date unraveled. Finally we knew if we didn't go, it would be too hot in Tucson to accomplish what is needed there (exterior painting (siding and roof) and landscaping).

Even this time something went wrong at the last minute with a ewe that got bloat. We aren't sure what caused it, but our remedies didn't work and she died. We do have a couple who are looking after the farm while we are gone; but still it has been one more worrisome thing to make leaving hard. We don't know if what happened to her was an anomaly (which is what we are assuming but can't be sure)? She leaves a lamb who is hopefully old enough to make it now without its mom. Very sad but part of raising livestock unfortunately.

At any rate, we are driving south though Nevada which means I will not be accessing the computer as often until I am in Tucson. This is not a problem for most of the blog since I have written some things (on economics) that reflect my thinking and concern and are set to auto publish.

Reluctantly, I am leaving comment moderation in place because of the crass comments that come through once in awhile whenever I write about politics. While I value thoughtful dissent, crude insults don't further the conversation nor do they bring real ideas onto the table. Although I won't get on here as often to okay comments, with more motels having wireless, I hope to do that at night.

Please do comment because sharing our ideas is a benefit to us all as we try to understand something even the experts don't agree about. This idea of 'trust us' has not worked very well. It's time to be informed if we value our savings, investments and want to see this country prosper. If anyone would like to write about how the current economic situation is impacting them, that would also be welcome.

I am still trying to adjust to the fact that more and more tent cities are springing up across the country with whole families living without roofs over their heads or the normal things we have come to believe were possible for most Americans. What is going on here? Is this truly like the Dust Bowl and many of us have been oblivious to what is happening but won't be soon?

Anyway, while at [Casa Espiritu], we will be painting and doing landscape work (hopefully get in some hiking and photography). The house sits on an acre of natural desert but even that needs work now and again.I have been torn between wanting to home, to be in the desert or in Montana. I have noticed that often what I love most tends to be farthest apart-- not a very wise way to arrange my life!

The photo was taken March 26th in northern California and a valley where most of the ranches were beginning their branding. We saw it from the highway and stopped for a few photos. It was a fantastic setting, ready for a painting. Even though I am part of raising cattle, this kind of sight is fascinating to me as our operation doesn't have gathers, brandings, or horses.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When forever isn't very long

When I read on the news that Natasha Richardson had a tragic brain injury, I began to follow the story. She was one of those people who I knew about, hadn't ever seen her films or plays, but always liked seeing photos or reading anything about her. Then the news came that she was brain dead. I hoped it was not so; but it was and eventually the story changed to her death. I felt bad for her, for her family. I related to it as a mother and with how it makes a person wonder-- what the heck is life all about!

Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, has been an actress I have admired since she played Guinevere in Camelot. She is one of the few big stars who has aged naturally (or so it appears) and that alone makes her enjoyable to watch today. For ironies, she had been doing the play, The Year of Magical Thinking, based on Joan Didion's book about dealing with grief and Didion's loss of her husband and her only daughter's coma. (Didion's daughter later died).

Then there is Liam Neeson, Natasha's husband, and one of my favorite actors. He seems to always choose quality roles. In any scene, he is the center of focus. He projects easily the image of a powerful man. Last week, he lived through for real what he once played in the movie, Love Actually.

Natasha appeared to have lived a full life, a good person (in the most true sense of that word), loving mother, wife, friend, and in general have done things to be admired by putting her own career secondary to her marriage and raising her boys. From all I have read, she was a nontraditional, earthy woman who was loved by all who knew her. Natasha from her neighbors

Suddenly she was dead, and in a freak accident where she obviously didn't realize her life was even at risk. It's the kind of situation where most of us can't even imagine someone could end up dead. How many people hit their heads, get concussions, skull fractures, but they don't die? How many hit their head hard enough to kill themselves when they are on soft snow? As her story unfolded, we learned these kind of head injuries happen more than we think; but still it's hard to get a handle on how it could be.

From a very young age, I have seen stuff happen that told me that forever sometimes isn't very long. I do not believe that old saw that god never gives us more than we can handle. I also don't believe when it's your time, you will go. Is that really how it gets decided; and if she had stayed at the resort one less day, she'd have died somewhere else? That's a fatalistic view that means we really have no control. Well maybe we don't but what makes us want to believe something or someone else does?

To me, we get what we get, and why do we have to pull god or a deeper meaning in on any of it? The good don't get rewarded or always die young. Stuff happens and while some want to find a reason, for me it happens with no logic.

Out here in the country, because farming and logging can be dangerous, I can quickly think of three instances of the same kind of work disaster leading to three different endings. All involved men who had done the same kind of job many times and then comes that one that isn't like the others. In one case, the man died. In the second, the man lost his eye, his ear, had brain damage and likely will be handicapped. The third was Farm Boss. When he was on the tractor, handling large hay bales, bent down to look at something, the chain broke, missed his head but knocked off his hat.

People want to make sense of why one is killed, another handicapped, and the third gets off with a whoa! I just don't think there is a why. Stuff happens. Yes, sometimes it's carelessness but a lot of the time, it's the kind that someone else did the same silly thing and missed the tragedy by a whisper. What makes us as humans want to put a why into it? I think probably it's a desire to control, but our control is fragile and her death reminds us all of that and to

love while and wherever we can.
Live every moment as fully as possible.
Live as though today is our last day
and also that we will live to be 101.4.
Life comes with no guarantees.
The unexpected often is exactly what happens.
Forget the odds as they are meaningless
where it comes to life.

and sometimes life is very sad and makes absolutely no sense-- at all! Will it after we die? Maybe and maybe not.

(The photo is one of mine from one of my favorite places, the Gros Ventre, in Wyoming. You see the Tetons in the distance. This big rock showed evidence, through droppings, of being where an eagle roosted. Before I left it, I picked a few wildflowers to leave below the rock as an offering of appreciation for the beautiful place and my time there. It is how I feel about life.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Words vs. Actions

When President Obama made an unthinking joke on Jay Leno, he has been hung up to dry ever since by the right, the left, and anyone connected to Special Olympics or work with the disabled (heaven knows if that word will be okay tomorrow as retarded is not anymore today).

If you have been avoiding the news recently, what Obama did was comment that his bowling made it seem like he was physically challenged. He didn't use those words, but what he said instead led to people, like Sarah Palin, jumping on the bandwagon to criticize his thoughtlessness.

Palin, who now has a child, who will be challenged, quickly grabbed the soapbox and her words were quoted everywhere. Her actions, where it comes to money to help those who are challenged, haven't matched her words. Even recently, she rejected some of the stimulus package that would have come to her state to help special education. Words vs. Actions.

Some tsk-tsked-- can you imagine the hullabaloo if Bush had said such a thing? Well there is one reason some (not many) might give Obama a pass on his careless comment (for which he quickly apologized). Actions. Obama, unlike Bush, has been supportive of paying for the actual programs that help families with handicapped (dare I say handicapped?) children-- probably not as today it is intellectually challenged or special needs children.

The reason retarded (which means delayed in case you didn't actually know) has become a bad word is because people have used it as an insult. Maybe if you add enough words to a description or title, you find the crude and rude won't bother to learn them and therefore the words are safe?

I don't remotely put down the power of words. I know that they can hurt or bring great joy. The wrong ones can do a lot of damage; but are they as important as the actions behind or alongside them?

In your life if someone says what a good friend they are to your face and then gossips about your private business behind your back, which words would have meant the most?

Ideally words should go with actions, but we all goof up sometimes. A president can least afford this to be the case. No wonder they get to a place where they don't do off the cuff venues, and where they instead watch every word they say and stick to planned speeches.

The criticism with Bush was that he lived in a bubble. His times into the public were carefully controlled events with his own party. Even a town hall event was filled with those who were followers. Obama is stepping out of the bubble or trying to do so and being criticized for not staying in it. You can't win, can you?

While we are distracted from the economic crisis, who benefits? Check out: Friedman in New York Times-- Are we home alone?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Australia, the film

When a person writes about a movie they have recently seen, sometimes it encourages or discourages others from watching it which always leads me to hesitate to do a review. After all what we enjoy is so different. So to help others know if my review of the film Australia will be of value to them, I have recently also loved Ratatouille, Madagascar 2, and Mamma Mia.

I wouldn't want you to think I never watch arty films, but I am pretty much one of those people who enjoys movies that leave me feeling good. Australia did that. I know I will be watching it off and on as I do Tombstone (Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer), Red River (John Wayne), and any of the Shreks (but best once Puss in Boots was in the movies). So given that piece of information, here was my take on Australia.

Farm Boss and I loved it. It did start off a little weird where I think the director, Baz Luhrmann, couldn't resist throwing in a kind of arty touch. He should have skipped that and began it in a few scenes. The story would have made better sense from the start, and I think that beginning might have turned off a few critics who never got past it. It also spoiled any suspense in a later supposedly worrisome moment.

Luhrmann has not actually directed a lot of films: an earlier one I have never heard of, Romeo and Juliet in the 90s, Moulin Rouge in 2001 and 2008's Australia. Since he comes from Australia, this film, which took a lot of effort to get made, is clearly a labor of love. I think he made the film he wanted to make and critics be damned.

Nicole Kidman is often a favorite target of critics. In this one, they said she didn't show enough expression. Not enough lines in her face (could that be because she was only 39 when filming it?) Then I read someone saying she showed too much emotion. You can't win, can you? For me, she was gorgeous but willing to get dirty and look worn down. She was funny, touching and showed her character's growth as she came to love the Outback, a child, and a man, and then had to learn to release them all if need be.

Kidman has even apologized for her performance. I suggest she go back in a few years and see it without the reviews in her mind. I think then she might see it for what it was-- a warm portrayal of a complex woman in the true spirit of the movie stars of old.

Then there's that natural wonder of the world-- Hugh Jackman. Is there nothing this man cannot do? He rode horses like he'd done it all his life, perhaps he has. One scene in particular comes to mind where he had been on the road all that day, was washing by the campfire, no shirt, and Kidman's character looks out the tent, eyes wide (as likely would have been all the women in the audience). That was a scene straight out of the romance novels. There is plenty of traditional romance in the movie, but it's not just about that.

You might get the impression it's a very erotic film from these two photos but I just liked them and how they suggest so much without nudity. Actual sex scenes were only these. One critic said the lead characters had no chemistry. I had to wonder what film he watched. The love story elements were not so much about sex as about a man and a woman trying to work out the problems couples have always faced since the beginning-- is love enough? Can we make this work? And if we can how will it be?

The landscape of Australia is so magnificent that it made me want to head down there and buy a ranch (totally unrealistic but I tend to fall in love with land pretty easily). It looked parched and dry but made it clear that it's a seasonal thing where the year is normally divided into dry and rainy seasons. As a cattle woman, I did wonder where the grass was to raise beef that looked that good!

Yes, I love westerns and it followed the western tradition, but it also had a spiritual element about Aboriginal spirituality. I have always heard these stories and Australia used them as part of the soul of this vast land, but also illustrating the unfairness those of us of European extraction have shown to anyone different than us. Do we respect no spirituality but our own?

Australia didn't change these policies toward the Aborigines until 1973. The film makes us care about the unfairness of taking children from their families to 'educate' them appropriately (which happened in the United States for awhile also).

Some say Australia was too long. I expected to feel this way, but no, it was just right. There were several places that I thought they could have had a climax; but if they had, something would have been missed.

For me it was a sensual feast between the land, the lead characters, and the spirituality. Were there predictable elements, the kind where you know a character is only there to get killed? Yep.

Was the ending satisfying? Definitely and I have read another ending had been tried with test audiences, but the audiences rebelled. Good for them because what we are left with is a film in the spirit of the old classics, with (for me) its only flaw a poor beginning but that redeems itself very quickly. Fortunately, I had bought it because I was pretty sure I'd like it. It definitely goes in my list of favorite films, but keep in mind what is alongside it for whether it would be one of yours.

The cattle working shot I found at News BBC. The photo at the bottom wasn't really in the film. I scanned it months ago from an article in Vanity Fair about the coming movie. I loved the photograph's sensual message of strong man, giving woman, and the horse. Wow, I thought, I have to see this film. When it hit the theater, we had some icy weather, I got a cough, and then it was gone from local theaters. I was disappointed to not see it on the big screen, but it was very enjoyable on DVD.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fantasy vs Reality

Is it dangerous to spend time in a fantasy realm through reading, painting, games, or even just imagining other worlds? Should we be more practical in times where our physical reality is at risk? Should we then be learning skills, staying away from mystical thinking and concentrating on the sciences, on what can be measured?

If we look back in history, in times where life was far more precarious than for most of us today, we would find a time of mystical stories, of gatherings around the fire where the elders told of giants, dragons, angels, fairies, beasts that lurked in the dark, mystical beings who would save humans. Often the people danced and sung these stories. The images of their stories are carved and painted on rocks all around the world. These kind of stories are in every culture. Sometimes they are called religions and sometimes fairy tales, but they are always there.

Today we more often have movies, games, and books rather than gatherings around the campfire; but inspiring the imagination in the young through magic, tales of daring-do, the rewarding of good, and bad getting its just desserts are they less important? What is a world without imagination? When we become old, the power of our own imaginations may be one of our more enjoyable pursuits. Is that so wrong?

Sometimes mythical stories have lessons from which we can learn but that's not all of what is important about them. What if life really does end at death? Supposing it is dust to dust? If so, whatever we have made and created while we are alive is all we will ever have. Imagining the mystical, seeing fairies, thinking angels intervene to save people, all of these things could be part of a full experience of life-- one that goes beyond the biological to another realm. Does that realm have to be real for it to have value?

I wish I could come up with a better way to explain this. I think that if we get lost in a fantasy realm, then it is unhealthy; but letting it into our imaginations is not.

When I watch a movie or read a book full of mystical events (think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter), things I don't see in the world around me, I think it gives me something that the daily grind can't. I might still have to face questions of finances, of illness, of problems with the animals, government, and many other problems; but for a few hours I am living in another world.

The story of say Daniel in the Lion's Den only becomes bad if we think we can walk into a lion's cage and expect angels to close the lion's mouth. If instead we appreciate the story for what it was, a wonderful tale full of power, glory which might or might not be historic, then we get a piece of that for ourselves as those feelings work vicariously through us. It is letting the mystical in but not becoming confused by it which is part of maturity.

Of course, you can say I would think this way. I am a bit fey and feel it is part of my writing and art to be that way, but I also think it makes me the woman I am today-- one who still believes that all there is might not be all I can see-- and who takes joy in that belief.

The art is mine. On top, is a digital paintings, from awhile back, depicting a dream I had once where a woman had to flee from one world and in another learned to use powers she hadn't dreamed were possible.

The oil painting below is a woman sitting in front of a fire. The painting is about her not needing to see behind her to know that there is something in the flames. If she turned, would the image still be there?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Change

As S.M. Stirling's series of books expanded, it became known as The Emberverse Series, but the first three were called The Change because they reflect a world that suddenly, due to a change in earth's first and second laws of thermodynamics, must rework how civilization is ordered-- or not. The three I have read are called: Dies the Fire; The Protector's War; and A Meeting in Corvallis. In them, there is some speculation about what might have led to the change, but mostly it's about how to survive it.

For those who chortle at the idea of civilization collapsing or perhaps of a revolution, something that takes away all the rules we have known, these are good books to read, just to think about what that might actually mean. My favorite was the first, Dies the Fire, which establishes the primary characters and how they react to a new world order.

The story begins in Corvallis, Oregon, and simultaneously in a plane flying over a rugged wilderness in Idaho. These characters eventually come together in the Willamette Valley as they fight to make life good in ways that require all new learning.

Well not quite all new, for those who had previously enjoyed learning the use of anachronistic weapons, who had always wished they lived in a time when swords, bows, axes, and spears were the weapons of choice, who were Lord of the Rings fans, suddenly what might have been out of place to our time became exceedingly handy in the new time. The knowledge of this kind of warfare became as important or more so than learning how to produce food without modern technology.

With The Change, life in the city of Corvallis becomes difficult at best. Singer of folk music and Wiccan High Priestess, Juniper Mackenzie, with a small group, immediately heads for the Cascade Mountains to her land, which they will build into a stronghold.

Juniper's new community will become known as the mystical Clan Mackenzie. Wicca is the religion that binds them together using rituals and celebrations that she had learned from before but which now become a part of their power to protect their community from marauders.

Pilot Mike Havel was flying a family to a ranch in Montana when his small plane quit working. Together this group joins together with others to form a fighting band known as the Bearkillers. Sometimes your reputation for being fearsome could be as important as your skills. They fight their way from Idaho to land one of their members owned near Salem.

What made this series so interesting to me (besides being written in country I know well) is thinking how would I survive if the tools I have assumed I'd always have, like automobiles, airplanes, guns, electricity, none worked? What would I do if the culture with which I am familiar suddenly collapsed? Couldn't happen, you say. Well it has before.

When I used to play the game Risk with my kids, I often would lose because I enjoyed putting together the niceties of a culture while the others were building up their armaments. Even in that simple game, isolation helped, but weapons made the difference for how long you played.

Disaster brings out the worst and best in people. Some see any catastrophe as a time to attack others, to rob and steal. In Dies the Fire, the city of Portland is brutally forged into a new kingdom. In the Willamette Valley, roving bands become cannibals. For some the failure of technology becomes their chance to gain power and remake their world and not in a way that most of us would consider desirable.

Others banded together to make life as good and sweet as it is possible, but even they had to learn to fight. The basic production of food had to be totally rethought as to how it would be acquired, shared, and stored (no refrigeration)-- then protected from those who would steal it and kill the possessors.

We might never face such a time in our own lives, we can certainly hope we would not, but these books (more follow in the Emberverse series), make one wonder how exactly would we do if the world, as we have known it, changed totally? Do we have the strength, courage, and skills to survive or would we be among those who just sat down and waited to die?

(Incidentally the Change happened-- dum de dum dum-- March 17th)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Revolution in what country?

Coming home from town on Friday, we turned on Ed Schultz midway into his radio talk program. It was like coming into a conversation midway without the ability to ask what's that again? Chuck Norris. Guns. Nobody's taking mine. Nobody wants to take yours. Secession. HUH!

Well little by little it made sense; and when I got home I looked online to see that Chuck Norris has been on Fox (of course) talking about Texas seceding from the United States. Chuck Norris talks Secession. Evidently Norris said he was kind of kidding but he added that there are many cell groups across this country ready for such an operation. Norris's Nutty War on President Obama. Norris said he is willing to be president of Texas.

One of the callers told Schultz that he knew some people in California (the red part of the state) who are getting together guns and preparing themselves to rise up and take over the country. To have any hope of doing more than strewing death and destruction, they would have to get the military to go along, in other words a military coup. Are they hoping to enhance their chances by having Blackwater, now calling themselves Xe (who knows why), the largest private military in this country, joining the effort? Would these people actually fire on their own military if the military didn't agree with their coup attempt?

There is also an attempt being made to get on the California ballot in 2012 a division into two states. Not north and south but left and right-- literally; but that one is legal at least.

It's not like such ideas are new; but when talk of secession and revolution comes from groups who used to talk so much about patriotism, it makes you wonder if words have any meaning. A flag pin was so important during the campaign, but now the flag is something to be thrown aside because someone didn't win at the ballot box?

There are even bumper stickers saying they didn't vote for change and so they don't want to pay taxes for it. Excuse me but did anybody ask if I'd like to not pay for the war since I didn't vote for that? Back then it was all about being patriotic. Now that word has evidently gone out of flavor. I will be interested in seeing what Mike Huckabee has to say about Norris's latest spiel.

Do you think such talk is meaningless? What about when Glenn Beck on his program said he had sympathy with the man who murdered his family and assorted strangers in Alabama. Why sympathy? Well because it's just so darned frustrating these days according to Beck. People feel powerless therefore murdering their family members made perfect sense. Glenn Beck wonderes if political correctedness leads to spree killings. Why is this guy on any major cable station???

I'd take this less seriously if there hadn't always been these militia groups spread around the country.Timothy McVie was in one that inspired him to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Regarding militias, I had done some research on this before-- at one time found a map of where they were. They are in every state with Michigan having the most or did last I saw. Some of them train together in war games. They are probably the leading ones buying and worrying about the right to own assault rifles.

What are their goals? Establish christianism as the official religion of the land probably for a start. Put their own leadership in place-- once they decide who that is. Voting would be finished as how can you have an election when you don't care who wins it?

For those who don't like Obama, they might consider this all good news, but tell me what happens when chaos replaces government in any land? My best guess is the meanest, strongest person arises to take over as dictator, to lay down a new system of power. Could that happen here? It seems unlikely but then again...

And-- is Chuck Norris out of his ever loving mind to encourage such thinking? Our whole system has been built around voting to establish leadership. It's what we claim we wanted for Iraq. And now the ones who probably favored that war would stand against it in their own nation? Is this a crazy world or what!

(Scanned image the cover from A Meeting in Corvallis by S.M.Stirling-- more about that next blog)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Farmer's Markets

If, like me, you buy produce from local growers, from farmer's market, please take some time to research HR 875, HR 814, HR 759, and S 425. I got the email alert, looked to see if this nonsense could possibly be real and it looks like it could.

Congress drives me nuts; and if the people in power (from both parties) who only want to protect us from our own decisions, continue to gain power, this could become reality. Get mad. Get real mad whenever you see such things, or watch your freedoms further erode to big corporations.

Americans have power; but only if they are informed, research things, and find out what's being proposed. Do I trust the Democrats to look out for my interests? You have to be kidding!

This attempt to block (or making it more difficult) small growers from selling direct to the public through roadside stands or farmers markets uses ignorance and fear. We can't be trusted to make our own choices. They must protect us.

Except keep in mind the recent peanut butter that caused deaths and illnesses. Any of that come from a farmer's market? You know it did not. When was the last time you read about an outbreak of serious illness from broccoli bought at a stand in the park? This is, as the article suggests, an attempt to limit our freedoms and force us to buy the kind of food grown on corporate farms (imported sometimes from Mexico) and through their outlets like big grocery stores.

Hopefully if enough Americans express outrage, this kind of thing can be stopped before it gets anywhere. This is the same alliance, formed between do-gooders and corporations, who want to stop you from being able to buy supplements and vitamins as a free choice. It seems they never give up.

The government should inform the public, yes, but stopping us is the opposite of freedom. Farmer's Markets besides a source of good, fresh food, are also socially important in many area. If the government seizes the right to go out to all these farms and inspect how their carrots are grown, they will shut down a lot of it through intimidation.

In the Coast Range of Oregon, near where I live, there used to be a spring that had been channeled into a concrete drinking fountain that also had a spout on the side. Clear water ran through it all the time with a nice parking lot for people to stop while they got their water. When we moved out here, we learned why it was there with the first sip of our well water. These wells go down into an ancient lake where the water varies from drinkable only by the heartiest of souls (Farm Boss) to the kind that kills the plants you water with it due to excess salt.

Then after a state budget got voted down, it was decided they would no longer test the spring water (it had always been fine) and that they had a legal responsibility to 'protect' the public. Instead of putting up a warning, they destroyed the fountain. Makes typical government sense, right? If people had gotten sick from the water, they'd have quit using it; but that's never enough for the government.

Now, you know what people do? They park along the road, take their containers across the highway and fill it from where the spring comes down off the hill.

So if you value your farmer's markets as they are, research these measures. If you agree that they threaten local sales of vegetables, write and phone your Congressmen as soon as possible. They only respond to pressure!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Does blood type determine personality?

This was an interesting article. Although I had heard about blood type leading to successful diets (haven't tried the program), I hadn't heard of this:

I am Type A and it's been awhile since I had reason to check but must be positive as Farm Boss is O positive and I didn't have problems during my pregnancies.
"Type As may seem calm on the outside, but inside, you’re filled with anxiety and worry. You’re perfectionists and often shy and sensitive. Usually introverted, you’re stable and thoughtful. You make good listeners and are sensitive to color and your surroundings. You like to be fashionable and are up on the latest trends, but never flashy or gaudy. You like romantic settings and often shun reality for fantasy worlds. A is most compatible with A and AB in the love department. Common career choices: accountant, librarian, economist, writer, computer programmer, and gossip columnist."
There are a couple of places where I disagree (I am not shy but am an introvert), but overall it is pretty close. Do elements with which we were born like blood type, numerology (based on name given to us or birth dates), lines in our palm (which can change over a lifetime), and astrology (natal readings using exact time and place) really tell things about who we are, who we will become?


Could people be left or right politically because of blood type? Could it impact how we think?

Here's an example of where I am going with this. By my nature, I don't assume that because I would like (or don't like) to do something, everybody else feels the same. I see my own desires as unrelated to what even a friend of mine might desire.

For several years, righties like Rush Limbaugh have been saying that since lefties disapprove of the war in Iraq, what they really want is to see the effort fail. It always amazed me. How could anyone say such a thing? What kind of human being would wish death and destruction on other people simply to be proven correct?

The answer came when Rush Limbaugh, in the midst of the worst economic crisis people my age can remember, said he hoped Obama would fail in everything he tried to do. Now if Obama fails what does that mean for the United States, even for the world? Why would Rush Limbaugh wish that on everyone (except himself. At his economic level, he's probably immune to it).

It seems to me that Rush assumed the left wanted us to fail in Iraq because it is how he would have felt. Basically he would not want to see someone of an opposing political agenda be proven right even if it was for the best.

I have left and right wing friends. I don't know a single one who hoped the wars in either Afghanistan or Iraq would fail. I don't listen to every left wing pundit, but did anyone actually hear one say what Limbaugh did? From what I know, Americans wanted to see the effort succeed because it is best for everyone. Left or right, we hoped the high cost in lives and dollars would be proven to be worthwhile. At this point, it is yet to be proven either way, but there is still the hope.

What does it mean that people like Rush Limbaugh or Tom Delay say they would wish the worst for us as a nation so that they would be proven right? I have seen Delay smirking over it as though how clever he is. What kind of person thinks that way?

If I did Limbaugh's astrology chart or looked at his palm, knew his blood type, would I see a man where winning matters more than anything else? Was he born this way or was he taught it? Is he a man who becomes so caught up in win/lose that he loses all track of where that might lead? Does this explain his failed personal relationships?

The Japanese take this business of blood type very seriously. Should we? How much of what we are was decided at birth? We can then either work with it or against it. We can overcome traits that are destructive or become swallowed by them. I have always believed there are choices and nothing is written in stone. Or is it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer wrote a good article about how he sees what the Republicans are doing as they try to rally their remaining brain-numbed minions. For anybody who still has any faith in the leadership from the right, please read it and give his words some thought.

There should be a conservative political party to balance the left. I hope someday there will be again, but I sure don't see it today. As Schaeffer said, Reagan, gentleman that he always was, would not support the kind of lowlifes that are currently holding sway with the right wing.

Monday, March 09, 2009

music for the spirit

Last spring I put together a blog to use this YouTube; and then got sidetracked by other topics and it disappeared from view. As I was looking through my old posts, to see if I had missed anything, there it was.

It seems very apropos after the one on rewriting our history because there is something else we can do with our history, even the part of which we might not be very proud. We can learn and be inspired from it. We can make it part of us becoming better as people. It is always our choice.

Incidentally, I love spiritual music from many religions. The following link is to my favorite old hymn.I only wish I could have such a simple faith again. Wintley Phipps not only sings it as beautifully as anyone could, but he sets the mood to give the melody even more meaning.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

writing/rewriting history

It's about politics

One of the problems we humans have is our tendency to rewrite history as we wish it had been rather than how it was. This plays havoc with our history books especially since the ones who lost a war are often not around to tell their story. Political correctness in one generation can lead to historic rewriting that is nothing like what happened-- but suits a new political agenda.

Currently this tendency has been irking me as much as anything with the latest brouhaha from the political right as they attempt to rewrite the last eight years and in particular the war with Iraq. They are doing this while the actual footage of certain events is still on YouTube. Obviously this particular rewriting works best with those for whom Ann Coulter is their favorite historian.

There are many books about the run-up to the war with Iraq, the treatment of the war, the motivations, and one particularly interesting one is by the right wing's best friend, Richard Clarke's book Against all Enemies. Clarke, who was in the administration as a continuation from Clinton's, describes discussions where the main emphasis was what excuse can we use to attack Iraq. From the 2001 Inauguration, he has said his attempts to get them to take seriously the threat from al Qaeda, were met with little interest. Yes, it was Clarke's story but he's not the only one who wrote such books.

Many have written of warnings delivered to Bush in the summer of 2001 from intelligence agencies regarding plots by bin Laden. In August one intelligence officer said he went to the Texas ranch; and after he gave his report, Bush said, you have covered your ---, now get out of here. In short, quit ruining my vacation. For those, like Condoleeza Rice, who would later claim no one could have imagined a terrorist using an airplane that way, those warnings had been out there from the '90s: The Dangers.

This is not an attempt to say the Bush people wanted such an attack. We may never know the full truth of what they thought in those months. It is saying they were warned, and they could have done more had they taken the warnings seriously.

So what about after 9/11? Did citizens blame Bush for the attack since it happened on his watch? Was that when approval ratings dipped? You know I am being facetious. He had 80% approval ratings for some time after the attacks and used them for what would come next.

For those who say it's okay to disrespect Obama now, they use Bush's eventual low approval ratings. Bush earned those. It took time before people realized the full extent of what Bush had done with cherry picking data to make the case for war, ignoring anything that conflicted that data, claiming the war would be without cost to Americans, hiding much of what was being done to 'gather' information.

Even when Bush landed on that aircraft carrier with the big sign Mission Accomplished, the country wanted to think it was true. It took awhile for the average American to learn that an invasion wasn't the same as an occupation. Bush's father had known it when he refused to occupy Iraq after Desert Storm. He said it would be a quagmire. Powell knew it when he warned Bush if you break it, you own it.

Bush heard none of those warnings. They were drowned out by a higher cause. He was listening to his Father in heaven, not on earth. Bush was a man on a mission, and Americans saw that mission change from weapons to a dictator to democracy, to a claim that Iraq would influence the whole Middle East. It might have, but not as the Bush people had claimed.

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is another rewriting of history. Bush still claims everybody thought they were there. Remember at the time there were inspectors on the ground. The United States told them sites to check based on their reliable sources like tortured al Qaeda suspects and Chalibi types who wanted us to invade for their own reasons none of which related to 9/11 or weapons. Chalibi, a Shiite and linked to Iran, had his own reasons. As with so much of this, they had nothing to do with 9/11.

Besides the loss of life and economic cost in Iraq where the end result is still unknown, Americans were facing another reason to lose faith in Bush. The suspicions of his usurpation of power was growing. Today we know from recently revealed memos exactly how close we came to a dictatorship. These memos told Bush that he had the power to suspend the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution if he decided he had cause. Keep this in mind, if he alone decided-- remember how he bragged he was the decider. Little did Americans know how far he thought that went.

To Bush's credit, even under pressure from his own side, he didn't take that drastic last step. He did negate the right to a trial which is in our Bill of Rights (should make any American nervous), authorized torture against international agreements, used signing statements and executive orders to override Congress's laws, and in short acted above the law (which many presidents have believed they were).

Before the Inauguration of President Obama, Bush lawyers said they didn't really believe the president had absolute powers. Interesting that they figured that out right before a new president would be taking over those powers. For anyone not wanting to rewrite recent history, Bush earned his disapproval by doing things that he never once said he would do when he ran.

While Bush did misuse his power (or enable others like Karl Rove to do so for political reasons) I give him full credit for his final act. I might even add, I think he showed patriotic courage. Despite pressure from the right to do so, he did not pardon all those involved in the Iraqi war lies, the outing of a covert agent, firing of US attorneys (who were also Republicans remember) who didn't follow exactly the party line, the authorization to use torture, and many other questionable actions of the last eight years.

Bravely, and it was brave as it could lead to him also facing charges, Bush has left the country free to do what it needs to do if proof comes along of crimes. He didn't have to do that. He did have the power to block any criminal proceedings. We could have had all the hearings we had wanted; but without the possibility of actual criminal charges, they would have been meaningless.

Actually I have never blamed Bush totally for what he did. Self-titled conservatives gave him absolute power because they saw his power as their power. Now they don't want to mention his name and would like the blame to all fall on him. Sorry, it belongs to all who unthinkingly supported him through it. Power was the corrupter.

From his interest in giving his take on history, Oliver Stone decided to bring out 'W' before Bush had even left office. Movies often define or even rewrite history but this one, like some during WWII came out while the events were still ongoing. I was interested in seeing it and last week, we did.

'W' sticks pretty much to publicly known events, using news footage, and weaving actual quotes into the dialogue not necessarily where they might have been historically but to fit the demands of film and keep the tone true to what happened. The film stars Josh Brolin, who captures Bush's strengths and weaknesses. It is not a caricature, and really is an astonishing portrayal considering how the real man is still around for us to compare.

I suppose a lot of right wingers won't see the film because it's directed by Stone (on some of their enemy lists); but it's not a film to be feared on distortion of the record. I would say it's fair to Bush (which some lefties doubtless won't like). It presents the view that he wanted to do right. That he did try, thought he had, but his own personality flaws were particularly destructive in this situation.

The story of his father and their relationship was beautiful and also sad. And yet for those difficulties, there was and is much love there. I understand people like them as I came from a family that didn't find love easy to express in words. I worked to do better with my own children.

I recommend the movie to both those who do and don't like Bush. It makes him human and the story Shakespearean. I have said it many times. I think if Republicans had held Bush more accountable, he'd have been a better president. By the time, they did, it was probably too late to turn any of it around. We should not make the same mistake with Obama.

As people, we all have this tendency to rewrite even our own history, make excuses for ourselves, justify others. We do ourselves a disservice when we do. Better is to face the truth of what has and is happening and learn from it. Power is a poor substitute for truth.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Being a moderate means a lot of 'buts'

From both party extremes, the concept they dislike most is that of the moderate. They want to see everyone in one party or the other, donating to one party or the other. To them a moderate is worse than nothing. Moderates are lost warriors for the cause. They see moderates as on a fence and swinging this way or that on a whim.

That may be so for some, but being a moderate does not mean you can't have strong opinions that stay the same. What it does mean is your beliefs don't fit into the ideological boxes of either party as they are currently configured. There are many moderates in this country, and David Brooks wrote an excellent piece on it and with which I pretty much agreed.

Although I sometimes tweak right wingers by calling myself a liberal, what I actually am is a left leaning moderate. Ingineer, who comments here frequently, is a right leaning moderate. He and I can generally discuss issues better than we probably can with anybody from either party extreme.

Unlike what Limbaugh has said (and I do know what he has said as for many years I listened to him regularly even if I was never a ditto-head), moderates have strong opinions, do not all get blown by every wind, but what we don't have is party loyalty, nor do we have an agenda that suits the wing-nuts from either side. We are not in their boxes.

I don't have a problem with genuine liberals or conservatives (although I personally think real conservatives are harder to find these days and most who call themselves that need to come up with a new title), but I generally don't agree with either enough to make them happy.

It's not necessary for me to list off all my views because this isn't about that but about how you can have well thought out opinions that come from pieces of both sides. Let's start with guns.

Not only do I own guns, fire them when needed, and keep them loaded, I also have a concealed weapon permit even though I rarely carry a gun along with it (my purse is too small and the roll around my middle is taking up the other possible hiding place).

But I don't believe ordinary citizens should be allowed to own assault rifles. A handgun is for personal protection but an assault rifle is a war weapon. It's not for hunting but for possibly going into a mall when someone is mad. It makes no sense to me why such a weapon should be in civilian hands.

Abortion is another issue where I don't take the extremes of either side. Early abortions should be the decision of the mother, but by the time the baby becomes viable, could survive, which is definitely by 5 months, there should be no abortions unless it's to save the life of the mother. After all, if she died, the baby would anyway.

Going along with split decisions, I believe in stem cell research when it's using embryos that were created for artificial insemination and not going to be implanted, but I do not believe in creating embryos for the purpose of stem-cell research.

I strongly believe in allowing homosexuals to be married, but think all legal sexual unions in the government's eyes should be called civil unions-- keep the religious aspect of it for religions and recognize that the government's end is a business contract.

As a moderate , I like the idea of solving social problems with government help, but I am leery of past failures and don't like our high deficit. I do like how Obama at least is counting everything into it but am expecting he will reduce it as soon as he can-- as he promised. Good programs should be kept. Bad ones eliminated and that means weapons also when they make no sense for today's world. Do things that are interesting when you can afford them. That's not today.

The earmark thing has been used by McCain to get another moment of attention, but he's a hypocrite about it. He doesn't need to get them for his state, Kyl does that. What he didn't discuss was that Obama never promised to get rid of them instantly but rather to get them gone eventually. Obama said this year his goal was to bring them back to the numbers in an earlier year (somewhere in the '90s) and reduce the dollar amounts. That has happened.

Don't forget some earmarks might be for a bridge you wanted in your state, but I don't like earmarks either. Spending proposals should be out in the open and dealt with as line item issues. Some earmarks are for totally ridiculous things. It's no wonder they want to hide them, but these are not hidden thanks to the new rules and all of it is online to reveal the projects.

Some are blaming Obama already for the stock market's continuing collapse. It is possible that the market problems cannot be fixed by government. People sell stocks for reasons that often have no bearing on anything logical. Obama's job is get working people working, companies having products they can sell, citizens with money to buy them, and the stock market might follow suit. Something that is driven on whims, which it has been for all the time I have followed it, is not really something the government can control. Do I wish it could? You bet but let's get realistic.

To me the hallmark of a moderate is realism (both conservatives and liberals would disagree with that statement). We also have dreams of a perfect culture and economy, but we recognize the nature of humans and understand compromise is part of all relationships.

Religions aren't fond of moderates either. They want you to come into their faith and accept it all. They call those, who don't do that, 'cafeteria' members as a way to express their frustration. Well why not if it's truth? (of course, as we moderates see it)

I am proud of being a moderate. We are a force; and it was our vote, whether we came to him early or late, that gave Obama the victory in November. Moderates from the other leaning did the same thing for Bush in 2004 (of course without my vote).

In Oregon, I would be registered as an Independent, but you can't vote in primaries unless you are affiliated with one of the parties. Over the years, I have voted for candidates from either party although the Democratic party tends to be the one that has the most policies in which I believe-- hence left leaning moderate.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Farm Boss

Although I write my own blog and generally the ideas here are mine, I do have a helper. Farm Boss pretty much reads everything I write and gives me his take on it. Because he happens to also be my best friend, I respect his viewpoints and most of the time adjust something if he sees it as not reading right. (Sometimes I leave a little something into the blog just for him to find; so I can keep something else without having a debate over it.)

He supports me in this blog. Although only rarely do I mention him, he's the unseen force not so much behind it as alongside it. He helps me with getting photos, with ideas, and often comes home with something new for me to think about.

This photo is one we took in January along the Oregon Coast with a self-timer which we have done every now and again for many years. I will say that if we do it again, I will stand on the uphill side because although Farm Boss is a tall man, I think of myself as a tall woman and that photo makes me look like a midget.

Farm Boss is, besides being the boss (not to mention main grunt) here at the farm, also an electro-chemist, production engineer, and all around techie. As a consultant, he is in the field of developing new technologies. For the last almost 7 years, while retired from corporate life, he has been working with start-up companies. It is in wearing those hats where he comes across a lot of what is happening in the world of science.

Political Influences on Science

What the Bush administration has done is block a lot of scientific development. You think it was just happening in places like Iraq where 'friends' got no-bid contracts worth billions? Or maybe you thought it was just in areas like stem-cell research. In reality the Bush movement has done a lot to block all new ideas. For the last 4 years Farm Boss has been complaining about the research cuts, except for war toys.

Don't ask me why or what they gained with this. Maybe it's their christianist thinking. Maybe it's that whatever we needed in life they believe was discovered in the 1950s or under Reagan. Maybe it's thinking all that matters is rewarding your supporters-- whether they are competent or not.

These people can't even be called Luddites who tried to block new technology that might take away their jobs (we can blame certain unionists for that). They have no good excuse for what they have done, but while the rest of the world has been moving ahead with new innovations, the United States has been stymied.

Some put down what Obama said in his speech about the state of the nation. They simply don't know what's gone on because they aren't in those fields. It would not hurt for them to turn off Rush and do a little real research. Do they believe we can maintain the standard of living we have had if we ignore education, research, and being the first to develop new ideas?

If you want to educate yourself, not count on someone else to do it for you, here are a few links he suggested would be good places to start. Be sure to check the chart in link #4. The first two are from Physics Today. The second two from Chemical and Engineering News. The articles have links to more information:

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Wing-nut Revolution

In case you thought voting in November settled direction for this country, think again. I had hoped that we could have a period of wait and see, but it's not what's happening. From the far right, exemplified by Rush Limbaugh, is coming a cry that they want to see the country do worse because if Obama succeeds with his ideas, if people do better, it threatens their ideas and power.

If you followed the recent Republican gathering in DC, CPAC, you already know what the right wing activist wing thinks says. Do they represent most Republicans?

I have a lot more to say about this but coming. What I heard from the right has made me decide to continue writing more frequent political blogs. It's not like something I want to do because there is a lot that I would rather be writing about, but I am mad. I am tired of distortions of the record. I will take this forum to express what I feel about Republicans who support leaders like George Bush and Bobby Jindal.

There is a group of people in this country who only believe what they hear from the right wing. They are the ones who watch Fox and listen to people like Rush Limbaugh. They post in their blogs or send on the emails with vicious jokes that they claim are innocent but are anything but. They are the ones taking to the streets in marches.

There was the woman in San Diego, who was interviewed on Fox, with a sign as she said, No Taxation without Representation. She kind of amended that by adding-- without enough representation.

What that means is we have a group in this country who think since they didn't vote for someone who won most states and had a 3 million vote margin, he's not the real president. They then disclaim the need to pay taxes, and would like to throw him out of office with their vocal and nutty minority. There are many like her who haven't yet taken to the streets but feel the same way. Who are they? They are the 30% who supported Bush no matter what he did. Many of them listen to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity and nod their heads in agreement.

I am taking a deep breath and putting together some more writing on the subject of why those of us on the left are mad too. Mad as hell at them (not at Bush but at those who enabled him and are still here) and aren't going to sit and take it anymore. These people enabled the problems that we face but now when they lose an election suddenly they want a revolution, they want chaos, they want to impeach, they want to get their way because for 8 years and more they have gotten their way.

The right wing controlled Congress during much of Clinton's administration and instigated a stupid and damaging impeachment just to stop him from being effective right when bin Laden was plotting attacks on us. *taking some more deep breaths Ommmmmm*

These wing-nuts we heard from at CPAC want to rewrite history to make it all somebody else's fault, and their mind-numbed robots accept whatever they say because it's what they want to hear.

Apparently, from what I read and see in these 'marches', they think that the war they supported was going to be free but the actual $1,000,000,000,000 and counting should now be ignored in looking at our problems of crumbling programs to help people and an infrastructure that won't take another 20 years of neglect!

Those speakers at CPAC know who they are speaking to in the country. They know their audience. I do too. The other side hasn't been reasonable and they now, listening to what they said at CPAC, only want to cause nothing to work. That's their way to suceed. I have lost all interest in trying. They are acting like spoiled kids who didn't get what they wanted for a present. If we don't get equally mad on the left, and stay that way, they will get their revolution and heaven help us all for the results.

From now on with all political posts, there will be a sentence at the top to warn off the ones who prefer to not think of such things. I understand. I prefer not too but I don't feel I have a choice right now.
Just so you know my life is not filled up with anger and upset (well the Hughes Net system for our broadband was out last week and that was upsetting), here are two from the photos Farm Boss took Friday night of the moon with Venus riding close and adding to its power.

I am thinking someone needs to come up with some new pagan rituals for that kind of a moon. Maybe Paul, Shadow of Diogenes, can write it a poem sometime. Wiccans have good rituals for the moon but I think mostly full moons or new moons. This combination is deserving of its own ritual.

Farm Boss took it with several settings to get different impacts, those that the eye could see but the camera had to be taught to see. Maybe it's that way for many of us with life. What do you think?