Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries, Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly, A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes Ebon in the hedges, fat With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers. I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me. They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.
Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks --- Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky. Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting. I do not think the sea will appear at all. The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within. I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies, Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen. The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven. One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.
The only thing to come now is the sea. From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me, Slapping its phantom laundry in my face. These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt. I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths Beating and beating at an intractable metal.
Ava Lowery is a teenager. She's written a video letter begging Americans to get up off their asses and stop George Bush before he ruins our country even more than he has already done. The one part of her letter that I disagree with is the part where she says that protestors are getting arrested for expressing their views. The pity, Ava, you brave maiden, is that too few of us are getting arrested for protesting this coup. We owe you better. We owe all of our children and grandchildren better. We need to be out in the streets.
The Mad Melancholic Feminista had a post up that does as good a job as I've ever seen of explaining how intelligent conservatives can vote for Bush.
The problem with the analogy is that Bush isn't simply insisting that everyone wear clothing made from hemp. He's killing people, destroying the planet, impoverishing whole populations, and raping the treasury. Shit, I'd hate to give up my collection of silk Hermes scarves for hemp, but it wouldn't violate too many of my deeply-held principles. But promoting torture and empowering theocrats is simply not in the same league, even if the man does give you a nice tax cut and that's what you think America is all about.
Still, MMF does some of the most interesting writing, week after week, on the web.
is it just me or, in recent weeks, has the NYT been publishing an amazing amount of ignorant, sexist blather? First it was girls keeping boys out of college. Then it was a paen to the word "slut" and the way that it used to keep women in line. Then it was the fault of the women's movement that there are (suddenly! this is a totally new phenomenon!) some men who don't care too much for work. Today, it's the picky women refusing to marry nice men without college degrees. And, of course, it's Hillary Clinton.
I'm probably going to wear out my keyboard typing this between now and the '08 election, but I am sick and fucking tired of Hillary Clinton getting bashed for the very things that, in a man, would be praised as skillful statesmanship. So the same media that keeps telling us that Dems will die unless they hew a patch down the center, manages, without even blushing, to assert that Hillary Clinton's centrist politics will, they're not sure how, but they're sure SOMEHOW, be a huge detriment to her political ambitions.
That's not the worst of it though. WTF is this all about: As a woman, she could be subjected to especially intensive scrutiny of her suitability as commander in chief, making her position on the war central to her 2008 prospects. Why, NYT? Why? What is it about being a woman that will subject her to "especially intensive scrutiny of her suitability as commander in chief? Tell me why a woman can't be commander in chief? Women have led armies and navies from Boedica to Joan of Arc to Elizabeth I to Margaret Thatcher. When they're not hinting sotto voce that being a woman will make Clinton either too scared to use the army or will have her pushing the nuclear button on days when she's having hot flashes, the media is busy criticizing Hillary for being a ballbuster, a tough cookie, a steely-nerved dame. Talk about heads she wins and tails she loses. If you don't have a penis, ANY excuse is a good one to beat you with, regardless of how consistent or inconsistent it may be with the other excuses they beat you with. After all, you're a girl. You can't play.
If you're going to make sexist assertions, back them up or at least admit that they're sexist. Would a black candidate be subject to especially intensive scrutiny of his or her suitability to do anything? Were there components of the job that being a male subjected George Bush to especially intensive scrutiny over? Just stating this kind of bullshit as if it's completely understandable common wisdom gives it power. It's total bullshit. Shame on the NYT.
Jamison Foser, writing for Media Matters has up another of his well-reasoned, carefully-documented posts about the false stories that the media tells about progressives and liberals. The whole thing is very good and worth a read, but the following made me yell, "Yes!", thereby scaring Miss Thing.
Why, then, would the Post portray a move by Democrats "to the left" as having dire consequences? Putting aside the Lieberman/Lamont race, polling seems to suggest that Democrats in general might face far more disastrous consequences if they were to move to the right. Indeed, we should be seeing media speculation about whether Republicans will move towards the center or whether they will maintain their out-of-the-mainstream positions, "consequences be damned." Whether Republicans will move towards the center -- and, thus, against the Iraq war -- or maintain their extremist positions.
This past Wednesday was a pretty incredible day for me. I won a really big case that I've been working on for the past five years and the amazing Atrios linked to a post of mine. We all need days like that once in a while!
As a result of Atrios' link, several other folks linked to my post as well, which I also appreciated. (There's some irony here -- I can blog day in and day out about the dangers of global climate change, overpopulation, the fact that America has been taken over by a coup; I can post transcendent poetry or write long, link-seeded posts about sacred spaces in the modern world; I can rail against sexism -- and I wonder if anyone even reads what I write, but post a silly picture of Darth Vader and, blam!, my hits go through the roof!, but, hey, I'm happy for the hits however they happen!)
One of the people who linked to me was a nice, young man named Jake who lives in my wonderful city of Washington, D. C. Jake says that he's obnoxious, but it's difficult for me to imagine how anyone who loves Toni Morrison could really be obnoxious. He posts interesting, well-reasoned discussions of important and varied topics, and I agree with him on most of the topics he's got up on his blog. And, he clearly has a sense of humor, or he wouldn't be linking to silly pictures of Darth Vader!
Next to the Pastel Vader, Jake wrote: "Credit to this lady, who is a *sigh* 'witch' and 'priestess of the Great Mother Earth' apparently. Oh well. " Now Jake was, sans the sigh and the "Oh well," quoting from my profile, which, along with his link to my blog, was a nice thing for him to do. But his comments on the silly picture got me to thinking.
Just the day before he sighed about the fact that I'm a witch, Jake posted on the Mel Gibson drunken anti-Semite fiasco and he made a very good point. Jake said, "If your inclination is to downplay the severity of what he said, try imagining that he said 'niggers' instead of 'Jews,' then ask yourself why what he actually said is any less despicable."
What happens if we apply that same sort of imaginary exercise to Jake's comments about my religion? I doubt that Jake, or anyone else to the sane side of despicable whackjobs like Mel Gibson would ever link to a post by a Jew and say: "Credit to this lady who is a *sigh* 'Jew' and a 'rabbi at Beth Israel,' apparently. Oh well." Nor can I imagine anyone linking to a post by a Catholic and saying: "Credit to this gentleman who is a *sigh* 'Catholic' and a 'priest' with the 'Jesuits,' apparently. Oh well." We can keep going. Who would link to a post by a Buddhist nun and say: "Credit to this lady who is a *sigh* 'Buddhist' and a 'Buddhist nun,' apparently. Oh well"? Or: "Credit to this gentleman who is a *sigh* 'Methodist' and a 'pastor at the Church of the Holy Cross,' apparently. Oh well"? Enlightened, polite people don't disparage other people's religion that way, any more than they use the word "nigger" -- regardless of how much tequila they may have consumed. (I'm not talking here about criticizing specific actions that members of various religions take. When the Southern Baptists tell their members not to waste time cleaning up the environment, when evangelicals try to impose "Intelligent Design" on the rest of us, or when the Taliban makes it illegal for women to work, I'm more than happy to criticize them for those actions. In the immediately preceeding post, I rail at the xians for their historic and continuing attacks on science.)
They translate into Wiccans staying in the broom closet at work for fear of not being taken seriously. They translate into parents afraid to teach their religion to their children for fear that they'll get teased or disciplined at school. And they translate, at some level, into a disrespect for the concepts that Wiccans hold dear -- the sacredness and imminence of Earth, the value and divinity of the Sacred Feminine, and the holiness of sex.
When I ask myself why Wiccans are subject to the "quotation marks" and eye-rolls that polite people like Jake would never apply to a Moslem worker fasting through Ramadan or to a Jewish attorney who speaks up at a prehearing conference and notes that she won't be able to attend a trial set for Yom Kippur, I think it has to do with the feminist nature of Wicca.
Wicca, especially modern American Wicca, has male adherents but it is overwhelmingly a religion composed of women members and is overwhelmingly a religion that -- as a religious belief -- values women and their bodies. For most Wiccans, to honor a woman, to honor the processes of her body (all of them, from birth, to maidenhood, to meses, to sex, to menopause, to death, to decomposition) is THE SAME (just as for a Catholic, eating the bread and drinking the wine at Mass is THE SAME as partaking of the body and blood of Jesus) as honoring the Earth, which is, for us, honoring Divinity. In a reversal of the situation in most religions, most of our "clergy" are women -- priestesses -- rather than men -- priests. And, unlike most, but not all, of today's major religions, Wiccans specifically worship Goddesses. They conceive of divinity as feminine (sometimes, Dianics, for example, exclusively feminine and sometimes, Gardnerians, for example, feminine along with masculine).
And women, and what they do, and the matters with which they concern themselves, have always been subjects of condescension in our society. It helps men to feel superior and -- more importantly from the patriarchy's point of view -- makes women feel inferior, silly, scared to speak up, embarrassed to tell their truths.
The notion of real witches -- of women who claim to exercise power, who aren't afraid to go into the dark and do what they do outside of established churches and society --that notion would, if taken seriously, be threatening to people (both men and women) living securely within the patriarchy. So it's safer, psychologically, to roll your eyes, make fun, and insist that any woman who calls herself a witch is some gentle, lonely old crackpot, rather than a Priestess of the Great Mother Earth and all the chthonic power that implies. The process of disempowering such women in the public's mind is not a new process. There's a reason that powerful Pagan women were first depicted as "temple prostitutes," and then consorts of the devil who were tortured and burned, and then into the ugly old woman who hates beautiful young women and must be killed by a prince, and then into a green-skinned harpy who could be dispensed with by a bucket of water, and then into a "self-proclaimed witch" or a "*sigh* witch."
So, tonight, I'm going to cast a circle and create sacred space, going between the worlds and reminding myself that what happens between the worlds affects all the worlds. I'm going to call the quarters and Hecate and ground myself to do magic. I'm going to light incense and I'm going to raise energy. I'm going to direct that energy into our world and visualize it undermining the patriarchy, bit by bit, creating a world where a woman can be "a witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a lawyer, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth," and where she'll no more be disparaged for being a witch than for being a mother, where being a Priestess of the Great Mother Earth will be as worthy of respect as being a lawyer or a gardener or a writer or . . . . Well, you get the idea. And, I'm going to call for blessings for Jake, who I think is, far from being obnoxious, a smart, funny guy who writes well and who would no more consciously ridicule my religion than he would rail against "the Jews" or call anyone a "nigger."
The Associated Press is reporting that: Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.
Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.
. . .
"We are gaining new insights into one of the founding fathers of western science," said William Noel, curator of manuscripts at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, which organized the effort. "It is the most difficult imaging challenge on any medieval document because the book is in such terrible condition."
. . .
On Friday, members of the public watched the decoding process via a live Web cast arranged by the San Francisco Exploratorium.
"We are focusing on the most difficult pages where the scholars haven't been able to read the texts," said Uwe Bergmann, the Stanford physicist heading the project.
Born in the 3rd century B.C., Archimedes is considered one of ancient Greece's greatest mathematicians, perhaps best known for discovering the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath.
The 174-page manuscript, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the only copies of treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics. Scholars believe a scribe copied them onto the goatskin parchment from the original Greek scrolls.
Three centuries later, a monk scrubbed off the Archimedes text and used the parchment to write prayers at a time when the Greek mathematician's work was less appreciated. In the early 20th century, forgers tried to boost the manuscript's value by painting religious imagery on some of the pages. . . .
"We will never recover all of it," Noel said. "We are just getting as much as we can, and we are going to the ends of the earth to get it."
Nice job xians. It's been you against science and history for as long as you've been around.
Environmental News Network has a good roundup of global conflicts related to water. For example: Sri Lankan jets pounded Tamil Tiger positions on Tuesday in a battle to regain control of a rebel-held water source for about 50,000 people.
Here are . . . flashpoints for potential "water wars" some experts say are looming:
INDIA AND PAKISTAN
- The six rivers of the Indus basin flow from Tibet into India and Pakistan via Kashmir's disputed mountains and valleys.
- Recent disputes over new projects have seen Pakistan accuse India of violating the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, which gave India control over three eastern rivers, the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, and Pakistan the three western flows, the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab.
- June 2006 saw fresh talks about the Wullar Barrage, a navigation lock India wants to build on the Jhelum. Pakistan says the dam will let India control waterflow into the Jhelum. India says it needs it to aid river transport.
- The dispute, one of eight issues in the Composite Dialogue Process, has seen 10 rounds of talks since 1988.
And: EYGPT, SUDAN AND ETHIOPIA:
- The Nile, the world's longest river, is the main source of water for nine countries in the Nile basin: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo.
- Eygpt and Sudan's 1929 Nile Waters Agreement, which divided up water use, is now being challenged.
- Ethiopia, where some 80 percent of the Nile's waters originate, said last year that it wants to take more water. It accuses Egypt of blocking overseas aid for irrigation projects. Egypt says calls for change amount to a "declaration of war".
- In July 2006 a Nile Water steering committee met to discuss Ugandan and Tanzanian plans to use Nile waters in massive hydro-electric power stations and irrigation projects.
Let's not engage in hyperbole; these aren't yet "water wars," even if Egypt is calling Ethopia's demand for more water from the Nile a "declaration of war." No, it's not war yet. But water wars are coming, as sure as we're sitting here. There are too many people and far too little potable water on this small planet. What we're already seeing to some extent, and will see more of before we see actual water wars are water refugees. Which will cause the water wars.
America in recent years has been sweltering through three times more than its normal share of extra-hot summer nights, government weather records show. And that is a particularly dangerous trend.
During heat waves, like the one that now has a grip on much of the East, one of the major causes of heat deaths is the lack of night cooling that would normally allow a stressed body to recover, scientists say.
Some scientists say the trend is a sign of manmade global warming.
A top federal research meteorologist said he "almost fell out of my chair" when he looked over U.S. night minimum temperature records over the past 96 years and saw the skyrocketing trend of hot summer nights.
From 2001 to 2005, on average nearly 30 percent of the nation had "much above normal" average summertime minimum temperatures, according to the National Climatic Data in Asheville, N.C.
By definition, "much above normal" means low temperatures that are in the highest 10 percent on record. On any given year about 10 percent of the country should have "much above normal" summer-night lows.
Yet in both 2005 and 2003, 36 percent of the nation had much above normal summer minimums. In 2002 it was 37 percent. While the highest-ever figure was in the middle of America's brutal Dust Bowl, when 41 percent of the nation had much above normal summer-night temperatures, the rolling five-year average of 2001-05 is a record - by far.
Figures from this year's sweltering summer have not been tabulated yet, but they are expected to be just as high as recent years.
And it is not just the last five years. Each of the past eight years has been far above the normal 10 percent. During the past decade, 23 percent of the nation has had hot summer nights. During the past 15 years, that average has been 20 percent. By comparison, from 1964 to 1968 only 2 percent of the country on average had abnormally hot nights.
"This is unbelievable," said National Climatic Data Center research meteorologist Richard Heim. "Something strange has happened in the last 10 to 15 years on the minimums."
Yet, as today's WaPo noted that: OVER THE PAST two weeks, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee has held a pair of truly senseless hearings on global climate change. The purpose was not to figure out how to cut carbon emissions. It wasn't even to discuss the science of global climate change in general. Instead, the purpose was to pick at a single study of global temperature patterns, the so-called "hockey stick" graph -- a trend line that purports to show a sudden and dramatic increase in global temperatures in the 1990s and therefore looks like a hockey stick. The graph is hardly central to the modern debate over climate change. Yet the subcommittee has investigated the scientists who dared produce it and hounded them for information. Now that a study of the graph by the National Academy of Sciences has largely backed up the hockey stick findings, the committee has been holding hearings to attack it some more..
That's what happens when you vote for Republicans. That what happens when Diebold steals elections and we don't riot in the streets. That's what happens when the corporatists take over America. (And, just in case you harbor some small amount of doubt as to whether or not that's happened, go read this.)
My friend Nancy, aka the witch most able to make a cab materialize when you need one, gave me Women and Art: Contested Territory for Lughnasadha. She bought it at the newly-renovated National Portrait Gallery, which I'm itching to go see. The book is written by Judy Chicago and Edward-Lucie Smith. It's reminding me how much I love Judy Chicago. Some choice excerpts:
Women are a colonized people. Our history, values and . . . culture(s) have been taken from us . . . manifest most arrestingly in the seizure of a basic and most precious"land", our own bodies. ~ Robin Morgan, 1992
If men had babies, there would be thousands of images of the crowning. ~ Judy Chicago, 1992
The reconceptualization of the female body from a symbol of sexual and spiritual power to an object under the control of men . . . graduallly led women themselves to image their bodies from a male perspective. ~ Riane Eisler, 1995
WaPo reports on the heat wave, caused by global climate change, that's hovered over DC today. Before you even read the article, you know what it will say: record heat, record electric load, blackouts throughout the area, people dying. Ho hum. James Brotherton, aka the world's dumbest meterologist, says: "It would be very unusual to see another heat wave of this scope," he said. "I wouldn't expect to see anything like this again this year."
James, James, James. Get used to it. Unusual is the new usual.
MM has the dirt on this slimeball. What a fucking elitist creep. You know what kept me from working for the minimum wage all through college while I was a single parent supporting an infant son? A union. Boortz: FOAD.
PS Boortz is wrong that most people earning minimum wage are teenagers. Anybody know what percentage are women?
The VA permits only the symbols they have approved and included on their National Cemetery Administration's list of emblems of belief to be used on headstones, plaques and markers. The symbols of 38 groups have been approved, but the Wiccan pentacle is not among them.
Backed by Americans United, Stewart and the Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, are working to convince the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve the use of the pentacle on government-issued markers at public and private gravesites and memorials for Wiccan soldiers. Most recently, Fox filed a request with the VA in January of this year. Officials with the National Cemetery Admistration responded, but refused to tell Fox when they might complete action on Circle Sanctuary's application.
In June, Americans United sent a letter to VA officials, citing case law and asking them to approve use of the symbol. Observed the letter, "The National Cemetery Administration's failure to recognize the Wiccan Pentacle as a valid religious symbol constitutes unconstitutional discrimination against the Wiccan faith and its adherents. Indeed, there is absolutely no legal support for the Administration's practice of maintaining a list of officially-approved religious symbols much less its exclusion of any religious symbol from the officially provided markers for military gravesites."
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, noted that the first application for approval of the pentacle was filed by a Wiccan church nine years ago.
"There is simply no reason for officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue dragging their feet over this matter," Lynn said. "Religious freedom means all religions, and it's time for the department to stop discriminating and institute a policy that respects America's great tradition of religious diversity."
Americans United plans to appeal to the Department of Veterans Affairs again as well as ask Congress to investigate the matter.
I like this article from the NYT about getting energy "from the restless sea." I like to think of it as power from the "moon, the inconsistent moon, that changes monthly in its orb," with apologies to the Bard. The Moon, after all, is what powers the tides. Of course, it's good to make them monitor for impacts on fish, but this source of energy has a lot of potential to provide power without emitting greenhouse gases.
Turn to Gas to Add Emergency Power Could Trickle Down Costs to Consumers
As temperatures rise and the nation's power grid is stressed, natural gas prices are on the rise, putting financial pressures on the power-suppliers, the Associated Press reported. EEI spokesman Jim Owen was quoted by the newswire as saying: "If higher prices are sustained at the wholesale level, over time, they'll filter into the customer's rates." Wrote the AP: "He noted, though, that utility costs depend on state regulations and whether the company is already locked into a long-term natural gas contract."
The heat has a ripple effect for consumers. Owen was quoted by AP as saying: "You've got a national heat wave coast to coast, and natural gas is the fuel used for peaking electricity demand." According to the newswire, "natural gas rose 22.5 cents to settle at $7.799 per thousand cubic feet Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after soaring as high as $8.545."
Fimat USA analyst John Kilduff was quoted by the AP as saying: "The volatility has been spectacular," although he contended that prices have been "a little overblown." The AP said Kilduff believes prices "could certainly rise further if Thursday's natural gas inventory report shows a drop, or if Tropical Storm Chris turns into a hurricane as expected and heads toward the Gulf Coast."
Wrote the AP: "The Energy Department will release last week's natural gas inventory figures on Thursday. Market watchers are expecting a rise. The previous week, the United States had 2.76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in underground storage -- well above the 5-year average for this time of year, but it had slipped from the prior week, causing some concern among traders." Associated Press , Associated Press via MSNBC.com , Aug. 2.
We can't continue to ignore the costs of doing nothing about greenhouse gas emissions. They've heated the planet up to the point where we've got coast-to-coast heatwaves and tropical storms and hurricanes that scare the bejebuz out of everyone. The Bush junta is big on telling us how bad it would be for the economy for us to take serious steps to move away from carbon-based fuels. (It would actually be good for the economy, but that's another point.) What they don't bother to discuss is the cost of staying the disastrous course. But, of course, there are costs -- huge ones. As this week has shown.
Today's EEI newsletter notes that: The New York Times reported that the California Environmental Protection Agency released a report compiled by the California Climate Change Center that said "regional temperatures would be as much as 10 degrees higher by 2100, leading to severe air pollution, dwindling water supplies and an increase in heat-related deaths. The report also warned that the heat could virtually eliminate winter snowmelt, the primary source of California's drinking water. As temperatures rise, it said, residents can also expect to see increasing threats from pests and pathogens, wildfires and coastal flooding." Associated Press via Houston Chronicle , Los Angeles Times , New York Times , Washington Post , Aug. 2.
California is not just "some state." California is the world's 7th largest economy. Within the next 100 years -- that is during the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren -- temperatures there will get 10 degrees hotter, California will run out of drinking water (and electricity, as much of California's summer power comes from hydro plants in the Pacific Northwest; no snow, no hydropower in the summer). The people who live in California aren't going to simply go into their houses and die of thirst. They're going to move to places where there is drinking water. Remember what happened after Katrina when people tried to go to nearby towns and states to escape the storm? Remember how the government was totally unprepared to deal with that?
How much worse does it have to get before the Bush junta wakes up and begins to do something about overpopulation and the need to find sources of energy that don't contribute to global warming?
WaPo reports on Bill Clinton's efforts to get cities to reduced carbon emissions. More is needed: Drew Shindell, an atmospheric physicist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said emissions must be cut in half by mid-century to keep Earth's temperature from reaching dangerous levels. Clinton's efforts will focus on providing technical assistance and bargaining power to the participating cities, all with area populations of 3 million or more, employing the same model it has used to lower the price of AIDS medicine for poorer countries.
Goddess knows we need someone to step up and exercise some leadership on this vital issue. Al Gore's been a voice crying in the wilderness for far too long. And Bush is busy attending dinners with aging football players and B-List tv personalities.
NYT notes that the whack-job fundies who wanted to use Kansas' schools to shove their stupid, pointless, anti-science religious views down everyone's throats received a serious setback yesterday when Kansas voters on Tuesday handed power back to moderates on the State Board of Education, setting the stage for a return of science teaching that broadly accepts the theory of evolution, according to preliminary election results.
With just 6 districts of 1,990 yet to report as of 8 a.m. Central time today, two conservatives — including incumbent Connie Morris, a former west Kansas teacher and author who had described evolution as “a nice bedtime story” — appear to have been defeated decisively by two moderates in the Republican primary elections. One moderate incumbent, Janet Waugh from the Kansas City area, held on to her seat in the Democratic primary.
Thank goodness. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.
Good article in the NYT about the record electrical loads hit yesterday and expected for today. There are more people, more houses, those houses are bigger, there are more electronics in those houses, and they have bigger air-conditioning units. Computers, plasma televisions, video games, BlackBerrys, iPods — every new gadget you can think of has to be plugged in somewhere.
It's the first of the month. Women! Please! For the love of Lakshmi! Do a breast self exam! It's easy! Here's how.
Men, please remind the women in your life -- mother, grandmother, wife, lover, girlfriend, adult daughter, close friends, etc. -- to do a breast self exam. Tell them how much you would hate to lose them when early detection can make breast cancer into a non-lethal disease.
LAT reports that Turkish feminist Duygu Asena has died.
In 1978, she founded the first women's magazine in Turkey. Ignoring taboos, Asena was the first Turkish writer to explore such topics as women's rights, sexuality and wife-beating. [Her groundbreaking novel,] "Woman Has No Name," broke sales records when it was printed in 1987. It was soon banned by the government, which found it to be too lewd and obscene. The ban was lifted after a two-year court battle. A film adaptation of the book broke box office records in Turkey.
Asena wrote eight other feminist novels, including "There Is No Love" — a sequel to "Woman Has No Name" . . . .
NYT is reporting blackouts in Chicago due to the heatwave. Chicago officials evacuated about 1,200 residents -- many of them elderly -- from blacked-out high-rises in a densely populated area of the city's South Side on Tuesday morning, when the temperature hit 95 by 1 p.m. City officials said up to 20,000 people lost electricity beginning Monday evening.
''It's a mess,'' said Lenora Stinson, 47, who was in an 11th floor apartment when the power died. ''It's a big mess. Everybody's panicking -- they don't know where they're going.''
About 400 of the most fragile evacuees were taken to hotels, 75 were placed in dorms at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the rest were taken to the nearby McCormick Place convention center, said Cortez Trotter, chief emergency officer for Chicago. About a dozen were sent to hospitals.
Deaths due to the heat -- global warming -- were reported in several states: In Illinois, the Cook County medical examiner's office reported two heat-related deaths in the Chicago area on Monday, both men with heart disease, and a third death was reported in the central part of the state.
A 15-year-old boy died Tuesday in Georgia, a day after he collapsed from the heat during football practice, officials said. Oklahoma authorities reported two deaths during the weekend and one woman died during the weekend in Missouri. That brought Missouri's total since July 12 and Oklahoma's to 13 since July 13, officials said.
Animals were also at risk: Farmers in Ohio resorted to fans and cold showers to keep their livestock cool. Frozen water bottles were placed next to rabbits Tuesday at the Auglaize County Fair in Wapakoneta.
''This kind of heat can be deadly to animals,'' said dairy farmer Clark Emmons at Fayette, Ohio. His milk production was down about 10 pounds per cow because of the heat.
The heat wave had spread across the Midwest during the weekend and on Monday.
So far, we've seen blackouts in NY, LA, Chicago, St. Louis, and parts of Pennsylvania, at least. Americans used to have the best electric system in the world. But it wasn't built to cope with global warming.
Even a half-way competent president would have been energized to do something about this issue by now. But whether it's instantly by a Category 5 Hurricane or slowly by repeated blackouts, Bush seems completely unconcerned that America's cities are getting hit in ways that they can't handle.
WaPo has a report that also focuses on the law of unintended consequences. In this heat, we need to be encouraging people to use public transportation rather than cars so that they're emitting fewer greenhouse gasses. But the heat itself is going to make using public transportation in Washington, D.C. even more difficult.
Metro passengers should prepare for delays and crowded conditions on all rail lines this week. Metro plans to start slowing trains to 45 mph in the aboveground sections, instead of running at the top speed of 59 mph, to conserve electricity.
In addition, Metro will add two to three minutes between trains during the afternoon rush. Maintenance personnel will inspect the tracks in the aboveground sections for "heat kinks," which form when overheated track expands.
Just to give you one more example of the hypocrisy we face every day: Last week, I managed opposition to a bill called the "Child Custody Protection Act."
In essence it says if a minor goes to her grandmother, or her clergy person, or a loving, caring adult -- because she is afraid to tell her parents of a pregnancy and get their consent -- that caring adult can be sued and put in jail if he or she takes the young woman across a state line. Reseach shows that most women go to their parents already, and those who don't usually come from violent homes.
No exceptions were in the bill until I fought and fought all day last Tuesday to force the Republicans to take away all the rights of a father who raped his daughter. Can you believe it? Their bill would have allowed the rapist father to sue the grandmother in such a case, yet it would have allowed him to take the daughter across state lines.
They first tried to stop me from offering my amendment. Senator Feinstein had an amendment to exempt grandparents and clergy but because the Senator was ill and not present, they would not allow anyone else to offer the amendment.
I tell you all this because here we have a crowd running every branch of the government who tells the American people THEY have the values that ought to be rewarded at the polls, and yet they would put a grandmother in jail and allow a father guilty of incest to retain all his rights.
The article notes that, Even geniuses of the first order, like Isaac Newton, found alchemy irresistible. It was an accepted method of seeking knowledge — or confirmation of received truth — in early modern history.
Newton, whose laws of gravity and optics ushered in modern physics, also delved into alchemy with relentless energy. His notebooks contain thousands of pages on alchemic thoughts and experiments over 30 years.
William R. Newman, a professor of the history and philosophy of science at Indiana University, said many manuscripts had not received the scrutiny they deserved. He reported on a text in the Smithsonian Institution that he called “an overlooked gem.”
In these notebook entries, Newton cited the ideas of German alchemists for imitating the processes by which metals were generated in nature, deep inside the earth. These involved the familiar alchemical theory of metallic generation through interactions of sulfur and mercury.
But Newton, expanding on the theory, wrote: “These two spirits above all wander over the earth and bestow life on animals and vegetables. And they makes stones, salts and so forth.”
As Dr. Newman noted, “Thus we have passed from a theory of mere metallic generation to one that is intended to explain the totality of life on earth, as well as the production of all mineral materials, not just metallic ones.”
In this sense, Dr. Newman continued, Newton’s repeated experiments for the rest of his life were aimed at fulfilling the words of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, considered the founding text of alchemy in ancient Egypt. Newton expected to achieve what the tablet said was the una res, “the one thing” by which “the world was created” and with which one could “perform miracles.”
So it seems that Newton was no ordinary alchemist interested in making gold. He apparently aspired to a theory of alchemy more comprehensive than even his laws of gravity.
Also, scientific historians at a recent conference on the role of alchemists remarked, somewhat conspiratorially, over parallels between the misguided certainties and self-delusion of alchemy and today’s political and religious attacks on modern science. Of Boyle’s efforts to replicate experiments from alchemical writings, Joseph E. Early, a retired Georgetown University professor who studies the philosophy of chemistry, said, “He couldn’t do it any more than we could find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”
MarketWatch is reporting that core inflation rose to an 11-year high in June
U.S. core consumer inflation matched an 11-year high in June, keeping the pressure on the Federal Reserve to fight inflation, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The core personal consumption expenditure price index, excluding food and energy, increased 0.2% for the third straight month in June, and has risen 2.4% in the past 12 months, matching the largest year-over-year gain since April 1995's 2.5% increase. . . .
Consumer prices including food and energy also rose 0.2% in June, and are up 3.5% in the past year. Meanwhile, personal incomes rose 0.6% in June, outpacing the 0.4% increase in consumer spending.
The personal savings rate rose to negative 1.5% from negative 1.6%, the 15th consecutive month of negative savings. Consumers can have negative savings by spending previous savings, or by borrowing or selling assets to support their consumption. . . .
Core inflation will likely accelerate to 2.5% in July, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist for RBS Greenwich Capital. "This is why we think that the Fed has to tighten again next week. Pure and simple. Core inflation is too high and still accelerating," Stanley said. "It is very risky for the Fed to stop hiking when inflation is still accelerating." . . .
"By now, it is evident that consumer spending is showing the strains of elevated gasoline prices and a slowing housing market, while for debt-laden consumers higher interest rates have increased the burden of monthly debt service payments," said Stu Hoffman, chief economist for PNC. "With little relief from any of these factors likely in the near term, consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on wage growth to support spending."
I'm no economist, but here is how this looks to me. American's are eating into whatever savings they may have and are buying stuff on credit. Prices are rising and wages aren't keeping up. The Fed is going to have to continue to increase interest rates. Good economy for those with money to invest, maybe, but sucks to be a middle-class American with a big load of debt, espeically if the interest rate is adjustable.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced plans for a climate change agreement that could lead the way for a transatlantic market in carbon emissions, Greenwire reported. The California-U.K. deal also includes a commitment to share alternative-energy technologies. Wrote the Associated Press: "A main target of the agreement between Britain and California is the carbon dioxide from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation."
A copy of the agreement, read to Greenwire during a telephone interview, said, "The U.K. will share best practices on emission trading and lessons learned in Europe. California and the U.K. will also explore potential for linkage between our market-based mechanisms that will better enable the carbon market to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy." The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Schwarzenegger as saying: "We think there is not great leadership from the federal government when it comes to the environment."
Wrote The Guardian: "Downing Street made no attempt to disguise the fact that the deal is designed to get round Republican objections to states imposing mechanisms to cut carbon emissions. With other US states also interested or involved in carbon trading markets, the path is being opened to bring US business into international efforts to fight climate change, even though international progress has been stymied by the Bush administration's refusal to sign up to binding targets in the Kyoto protocol. … The prime minister wants to create a coalition of the willing among those US states prepared to join the European Union's carbon trading scheme."
. . .
Associated Press , Greenwire, National Public Radio, Reuters , July 31; The Guardian , San Francisco Chronicle (Schwarzenegger tightrope) , San Francisco Chronicle (California, U.K. deal) , Los Angeles Times , Aug. 1.
EEI is reporting on a meeting yesterday among Blair, Schwarzenegger, and CEOs of major companies who met -- absent anyone from the WH, where, every single person, apparently, had "scheduling conflicts" -- to try and figure out what to do about carbon emissions and their impact on the global climate. Sure, Schwarzenegger's trying to position himself to beat Angelides, who plans to make energy an issue in the upcoming election. And, sure, Blair is Bush's poodle and enabler.
But that's kind of the point, isn't it? Even Bush's friends realize that something must be done and they're having to "get round Republican objections to states imposing mechanisms to cut carbon emissions," . . . "even though international progress has been stymied by the Bush administration's refusal to sign up to binding targets in the Kyoto protocol."
Strange, isn't it, that a supposedly pro-business junta is making it difficult "to bring US business into international efforts to fight climate change" even though US businesses are clearly interested in joining that effort?
It's getting too hot to safely operate nuclear power plants which, other not-insignificant problems aside, are the plants you want to have operating because they don't emit greenhouses gasses, thereby creating more global warming. EEI is reporting that:
Heat Affects Operations of Some U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Units
The heat wave has had a significant impact on nuclear power generating facilities across the U.S., the NRC reported. AEP's Cook Nuclear Power Station Unit 1 was shut down due to the heat wave, Reuters reported, while both units of Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power station were pushed back to 46 percent of capacity. Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant was moved to 67 percent of capacity while Southern Co.'s Hatch nuclear power station Unit 1 moved to 43-percent capacity. DTE's Fermi nuclear power station lost feed water, and shut down. At Cook, operating room temperatures "not the reactor temperature - exceeded limits due to the hot weather outside the plant, the hot lake temperatures and a partial blockage of the ventilation system," according to Reuters. Reuters (Prairie Island) , Reuters (AEP Cook) , Reuters (Monticello) , Reuters (Hatch) , Reuters (Fermi) , July 31.
We need a national energy policy and we need it now. It needs to focus on an immediate reduction in the use of electricity and oil so that we stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere. The hotter it gets, the more people are going to use electricity to try to cool off. And, the hotter it gets, the more our options for what kind of energy to generate will shrink. No nukes due to heat and no hyrdro due to drought = coal, oil, natural gas, some wind, and some solar. The price of natural gas is skyrocketing and wind and solar can't make up the difference, at least not yet. Conservation -- serious conservation of all non-essential uses of electricity and oil -- could make a huge difference and buy us at least a little bit of breathing time. Where's the country's leadership on this????????
EEI Newsletter continues to report serious problems for the nation's electric system due to the heat caused by global climate change:
Demand Records 'Falling Like Dominoes' in Heat Wave, EEI Says
The sweltering heat wave running across the United States is straining the nation's power grid, various news reports said. EEI President Tom Kuhn was quoted by the Washington Post today as saying: "Electricity demand records are falling like dominoes. The system is being tested everywhere." In New York City, where city building managers were instructed to reduce usage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted by the New York Times as saying: "This is a very serious, dangerous heat wave. We're all tough, but a little bit of common sense and a little bit of cooperation will go a long ways here." The Times also reported that PJM Interconnection was calling for conservation steps.
ConEd CEO Kevin M. Burke, who made his first appearance at a New York City Council hearing testifying about the recent Queens outages, told the Times he remained "most concerned" about what the newspaper called "the still-fragile power network that covers western Queens, where he said there was a higher risk of another power failure in the coming days."
In the Washington metropolitan area, Pepco and Dominion Virginia Power reported no significant heat-related problems, the Washington Post reported, but conservation requests have been issued. Wrote the Post: "Unlike the electricity transmission grid in California, which has not built power generating plants fast enough to meet growing electricity demand, the regional grid that includes Washington has enough generating capacity, officials said."
PJM spokesman Ray Dotter told the Post that the network "expected to supply a peak of 143,000 megawatts of power an hour today - which would break the record of 139,747 megawatts set during the region's last heat wave two weeks ago." Associated Press (New Jersey) via the Philadelphia Inquirer , Associated Press (Wisconsin) via Janesville, Wis., Gazette , New York Sun , New York Times (Large clients) , New York Times (Heat wave) , New York Times (PJM) , Washington Post , Aug. 1.
Grid Facing 'Fairly Significant Strain' as Gas Futures Climb
As gas futures neared a six-month high, EEI acknowledged that there was a "fairly significant strain" on the nation's [electric] power grid, according to the Associated Press. Wrote the newswire: "Particularly vulnerable are the distribution lines, which heat up and sag as more juice flows through them, raising the risk of outages."
. . .
Wrote the AP: "Although there were some unplanned nuclear power-plant outages in Michigan and Minnesota due to the heat, [EEI spokesman Jim] Owen said power generators and distributors appear to have enough capacity to meet demand. Still, grid operators told utilities to be prepared to implement emergency procedures, while utilities asked their customers to conserve electricity by not setting their thermostats too low, and by postponing the use of major appliances until the off-peak evening hours."
Wrote the Journal: "Demand was forecast to reach 119,396 megawatts in the Midwest yesterday, surpassing the 113,054 megawatt record set July 17. (One megawatt can power about 500 households.) PJM Interconnection, of Norristown, Pa., the grid monitor for mid-Atlantic states, predicted peak demand of 143,310 megawatts today, well above the 139,746 megawatts reached July 17. New England predicted record electricity demand tomorrow, surpassing the record set two weeks ago, according to the Independent System Operator of New England." Associated Press via ABC News.com , July 31; Wall Street Journal , USA Today , Aug. 1.
Too many people using too much electricity to battle the heat caused by global climate change which is caused, in part, by too many people using too much electricity . . . .
We need national leadership today, right now, this minute to implement stringent conservation measures in order to lessen the liklihood that the grid will go down. We're not getting it.
Cannot keep this up. Grid not built for this. Will fail. Water. Batteries. TP. Canned food. Turn everything off. NYT reporting: The Midwest Independent System Operator, which operates the grid in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, forecast peak demand would reach 119,396 megawatts on Monday, breaking the record of 113,054 MW set on July 17.
That would be more than 6 percent over last year's record of 112,197 MW.
One megawatt powers about 800 homes under normal weather conditions. During a heat wave, however, a megawatt powers fewer homes.
After temperatures climbed past 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) in some Midwest cities over the weekend, meteorologists forecast highs Monday and Tuesday would reach 94 in Indianapolis, 99 in Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, and 101 in Minneapolis.
Also over the weekend, electricity traders noted the shut down and power reduction of several of the region's big nuclear power plants, including DTE Energy Co.'s Fermi 2 unit in Michigan and American Electric Power Co. Inc.'s Cook 1 unit in Michigan, would put additional strain on the system.
So far, the Midwest ISO, which serves more than 36 million people, has not taken any steps to reduce demand -- no rotating blackouts -- and heat related outages have been relatively minimal.
Some 50,000 customer in the Great Lakes region lost power over the weekend due to storms, not heat.
The Midwest ISO, however, notified generators and transmission owners to prepare for the heat and heavy demand.
That means the power companies should not conduct any unnecessary maintenance and should keep extra crews in the field to deal with unexpected emergencies.
Some utilities, including Exelon Corp.'s Commonwealth Edison Co. subsidiary in Chicago, already have asked customers to conserve energy this week.
In addition, the commercial and industrial customers who volunteered to cut power during emergencies in exchange for lower utility rates were on notice that the grid operator may call on them to reduce usage.
RECORDS IN THE EAST
As the heat wave moves east, the grid operators in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and the Canadian province of Ontario forecast power usage would reach record levels on Tuesday and Wednesday.
PJM, the nation's biggest grid operator, serving more than 51 million people in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, forecast demand Tuesday would reach 140,249 MW, breaking the record of 139,746 MW set on July 17. That would surpass last year's record of 133,763 MW by almost 5 percent.
The Independent Electricity System Operator in Ontario, serving more than 11 million people, forecast demand Tuesday would reach 26,230 MW, breaking last year's record of 26,160 MW set on July 13.
ISO New England, serving more than 14 million people in the six New England states, forecast demand Wednesday would reach 28,100 MW, breaking the record of 27,395 MW set on July 18. That would surpass last year's record of 26,885 MW by almost 2 percent.
So, here on what is fondly referred to as the "East Coast," I dashed home from work and ran outside to water my plants and my lawn. The heat wave that has been killing people and livestock in the West is coming to the East. I'm cheap, so I'm basically into triage. I'm letting the annuals, except for the coleus in my front yard, go and am trying to water the rhododendrons, azaleas, and other perennials enough to keep them alive. I've spend, oh, dogs' dollars, fixing up my front lawn, so I'm watering that, too.
What I find, and I'm sorry if I'm naive, but what I'll go on finding amazing is the fact that our leadership -- in the WH, in the Senate, in the Congress, in Richmond, is so disinterested in this heat wave.
What those crazy people who believed in global warming kept predicting is coming to pass. Read the national press, check out the WH webpage, read the liberal blogs. NO ONE CARES. People are dying. Livestock are dying. Crops are dying. People will be going hungry this winter. AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE.
Waiter? Over here! I'd like my check now, please. I'll take a final side order of leadership. Thanks!
Just got the following e-mail from Arlington County:
The national weather service has issued an extreme heat warning from 12pm on 8/1 until 6pm on 8/3. Temps around 100 degrees, heat index in the 110-115 degree range. Refer to the Arlington County website for tips to beat the heat. MPH OEM
Sent by Arlington County OEM to Weather Information 24hrs, Weather Information 9AM-9PM (e-mail) through Arlington Alert.
I'm sure some of my plants are going to die now matter how much I water them. But that's hardly the end of the world. What does concern me are the homeless people who don't have anyplace cool to go, who don't have anyplace to shower off, who don't have anyplace to go for a cold drink. This kind of heat, especially coupled with our area's world-famous humidity, can kill people.
White House Officials to Skip Climate Change Talks in California
The White House won’t be represented this week at a round-table talk on climate change that will be attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and about 25 CEOs of major companies around the world, the Wall Street Journal reported today. James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will be unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict. The meeting will focus on ways to speed up implementation of alternative energy technologies and will be attended by Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, as well as the head of Edison International, the newspaper reported. Climate Group is organizing the event. Wrote the newspaper: "Critics say Mr. Connaughton's absence follows an 'obstructionist stance' by the White House on efforts to rein in emissions that many scientists say lead to global warming." Climate Group CEO Steve Howard was quoted by the Journal as saying: "This meeting just shows that climate change has moved to the top of the corporate agenda and the political agenda." Wall Street Journal , July 31.
I know that I sound like a broken record, but what on Earth is wrong with the Bush junta? OK, I know. They are owned by the oil companies, but this is fucking ridiculous. You've got 25 CEOs of major companies around the world and Tony the Poodle Blair, who all realize something's got to be done about gloval warming. You've got the heads of two of America's largest electricity producers (Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison Company and Duke Energy); these people realize that there's a problem and something must be done now. The WH has a "scheduling conflict." I suppose someone needs to clear some brush or something.
Heat Waves Consistent With Climate Change Models, Scientists Say
Leading climate scientists have said that recent heat waves in the U.S., Canada, and Europe are consistent with computer projections for climate change, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Wrote the Chronicle: "In the United States, the first six months of 2006 were the hottest recorded in more than a century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. Canada reported the hottest winter and spring since it started keeping track about a half-century ago, while England, Germany and France are sweltering, and the Netherlands is recording the hottest month since temperatures were first measured 300 years ago."
A paper published by the American Geophysical Union concluded that temperatures "by the end of the century will be even hotter than the models currently predict because of the heretofore uncalculated feedback effects of global warming brought about by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. If emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue as expected, and carbon dioxide levels reach 560 parts per million by 2060 as projected, temperatures could increase by 12 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial global temperatures, the study found. Current models project a rise of 8 degrees."
Co-author John Harte, a professor and researcher in UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group and the Ecosystem Sciences Division, was quoted as saying: "These findings add to the sense of urgency that we do something about the problem. The predicted warmer future is not inevitable. The current heat waves throughout much of North America and Europe are consistent with the predictions of our global climate models. In the future, we can expect more intense, more long-lasting, and more frequent heat waves as a consequence of global warming. If you warm the planet as a whole, as we've been doing, it's likely that any particular heat wave is going to be hotter with global warming, and any hurricane will be more intense. You warm the whole, and you warm the parts." San Francisco Chronicle , July 30.
The final paragraph may be the most important. There should be a sense of urgency concerning the problems created by global climate change. We need to stop playing the game the Bush junta wants us to play -- arguing about whether or not the blue sky really is blue -- and do something about the problem. As the scientist above notes, the "predicted warmer future is not inevitable." Otherwise, heat waves will continue to be hotter and hurricanes will be more intense. Electric grids will continue to crash, people and livestock will continue to die, crops will continue to wither. Or, we could start to act like grown-ups instead of willful, spoiled children.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the 2006 wheat crop from Australia, " the world's second-largest wheat exporter, " is likely to be cut by "much as 28 per cent," due to the drought caused by global climate change.
Add to that depressing news the fact that "dry weather cut crop predictions in the US, the biggest exporter, by 14 per cent."
I don't know what to say. I've run out of ways to keep saying the same thing over and over. Greenhouse gasses are radically changing our weather patterns and, consequently, our ability to feed a growing population not 100 years from now, not in a few decades, not next year, BUT RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
Feeding yourself and your family is going to be a much more expensive undertaking THIS WINTER.
We need national, indeed, we need international leadership on this issue YESTERDAY. We're not going to get it. We're on our own, every bit as much as the poor residents of New Orleans were on their own.
But today, at my coven's celebration of Lughnasadha, we got to talking about a story that recently got some national coverage. A prisoner who belonged to a Pagan religion known as Asatru was recently put to death in Virginia for murdering another prisoner. (Disclaimer: I am against the death penalty in every single case.) He tried to argue that the murder was religiously-motivated (that Asatru demands or at least accepts human sacrifice) and, since the story had sensatonal elements, the press picked it up and ran with it. Asatru isn't a branch of Paganism that I know much about, beyond the basics, and it's always been tainted by the whack-job white supremicists who are attracted to it. But what we got to talking about today was the need for serious members of the Pagan community to quickly make clear -- as they all did -- that they don't approve of what this nutjob did, don't approve of ritual murder, and don't approve of the white supremacy taint that often attaches itself to Asatru.
Of course, Paganism is a minority religion, while xianity is the majority religion in the US (Goddess, knows, we've heard that often enough). So I suppose we're particularly sensitive to the "bad apples" who make all of us "look bad." But I'm often puzzled by the paucity of xians who are willing, as this minister was, to step up and say, "No. A video of fighter jets streaking through the sky behind a cross has absolutely nothing to do with my religion." (I could do a rant about how xianity chose the symbol of torture and execution -- the cross -- as its symbol rather than, say, the rock rolled away from the door of the tomb, but it's too hot and that's been done to death, anyways.) That's the sort of twisted symbolism that ought to make anyone stand up and scream. It reminds me of nothing so much as the podium at the Republican Convention that had a cross on it.
The purported evangelical left has been far too willing to sit silently and allow the militaritsts and sexists define their religion. It would be nice if this minister's book were a best-seller.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."