Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where Are The April Showers That Will Bring May Flowers?

Somehow, in Spring, I never manage to get everything done, even though I work all day. Today I mowed the front yard with my new electric mower -- well I mowed part of the front yard. Apparently you have to charge this mower all the way up and then run it all the way down a few times before it gets "fully" charged and can actually mow the 1/3 acre advertised. The good news is that the lawn looks nice, much neater than when I use my rotary mower. The bad news is that this mower is a LOT heavier than my little tin rotary mower. Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get the rest of the yard mowed.

I planted French Tarragon and Pineapple Sage and I watered the herb bed, which meant digging the hose out of the shed and hooking it up. That led to a partial clean-up inside the shed, but there's more to do. I picked up lots of sticks in the back yard and watered the woodland garden, the azaleas, the roses, and the lilacs. Used the watering can to water the foxglove and hollyhock in the front bed. Goddess, I wish we'd get some rain.

But I've still got aramasias and mint seedlings and black violet seedlings to plant and mulching to do.

WaPo, I know what you should do. You should bite me.

Oh my fucking god, it's a bunch of angry spittle-crazed leftists! And they smoke cigarettes! Run for your lives!. Those dumb motherfucking cocksuckers left out "shrill"! Don't they know that when you're discrediting liberals you have to use the word "shrill"? Their laziness makes me angry!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Women's Economic Power

Via Witchvox, Here's an interesting article from the Economist on women's growing economic power.

The Economist makes a couple of interesting points:

* Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the employment of extra women has not only added more to GDP than new jobs for men but has also chipped in more than either capital investment or increased productivity. Carve up the world's economic growth a different way and another surprising conclusion emerges: over the past decade or so, the increased employment of women in developed economies has contributed much more to global growth than China has.

*Surveys suggest that women make perhaps 80% of consumers' buying decisions—from health care and homes to furniture and food." Eighty percent? Jesus Christ dancing naked under the moon and tattooed w/ blue woad! Can you imagine what we could do with that power if we ever harnessed it and decided to work together? Kali on cocaine!

*At school, girls consistently get better grades, and in most developed countries well over half of all university degrees are now being awarded to women. In America 140 women enrol in higher education each year for every 100 men; in Sweden the number is as high as 150. (There are, however, only 90 female Japanese students for every 100 males.)

In years to come better educated women will take more of the top jobs"

*"[A] study by Catalyst, a consultancy, found that American companies with more women in senior management jobs earned a higher return on equity than those with fewer women at the top. This might be because mixed teams of men and women are better than single-sex groups at solving problems and spotting external threats. Studies have also suggested that women are often better than men at building teams and communicating.

To make men feel even worse, researchers have also concluded that women make better investors than they do.:

For years, my checks have borne the imprint "Feminist Money."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nice, But Not the Point

The BBC is reporting that "Foetuses cannot feel pain because it requires mental development that only occurs outside the womb, says a report in the British Medical Journal.". It reminds me of the question someone asked about lobsters: do they feel pain when thrown alive into boiling water? Someone answered that they feel all the pain that a lobster can feel. I've got no idea what human foetuses can or can't feel. It's an irrelevant question. No one, and that includes the most adorable, sensitive foetus ever, has a rigth to keep living inside my body unless I want it to live inside my body. I'd hope than an abortion wouldn't cause it pain. But that's an irrelevant question.

The doctor doing the research seems to agree with me. BBC reports that, "Avoiding a discussion of foetal pain with women requesting abortions is not misguided paternalism but a sound policy based on good evidence that foetuses cannot experience pain."

And he said giving foetuses painkilling drugs - which would have to be given through the placenta - involved procedures which may expose the woman to unnecessary risks and distress."

Look, I have a grandson who's less than two months old. i adore babies. I show up at my son and daughter-in-law's house just to hold my grandson, sing to him, and smell him even while he sleeps. But until he was born, it was completely up to my daughter-in-law whether or not to continue to carry him. if she'd wanted an abortion, I'd have supported her 100%. I wish wingnuts could get this through their heads.

Mark, Come On. You Did Better as Governor and You Can Do Better Now.

I like Mark Warner, but as many others have noted, we've heard all we need to hear about how Democrats need [insert you favorite: a plan, a vision, to lead, blah, blah, blah]. If Mark thinks the Democrats need a plan, he should LAY OUT HIS FREAKING PLAN. OK, rant off. Go listen to his otherwise very nice soundbite.

Investing and Living On and Off the Grid

A couple of interesting items from today's EEI newsletter.

First, EEI reports: "Venture Capital Now Backing ‘Green’ Technologies in Energy Sector

The Associated Press examined the viability of the green technology industry and found that venture capitalists now are backing the sector fully. Wrote the AP: "North American venture capitalists invested more than $1.6 billion in clean-tech companies last year, a 35 percent increase over 2004, according to a report by the Cleantech Venture Network."

Network Senior VP Craig Cuddebach was quoted as saying: "It's a strong area for venture capital. It's no longer a choice between whether you will be clean or profitable."

Wrote the AP: "As prices of more traditional energy sources continue to rise, the global market for clean energy sources such as biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells and solar and wind energy rose to $40 billion last year, and is expected to increase to $167 billion by 2015, according to a report released last month by Clean Edge Inc., a Bay Area marketing firm."

The AP also reported that Vinod Khosla, a Kleiner Perkins associate who recently has launched a venture capital firm, "is financing a California ballot initiative that would increase taxes on oil companies to fund alternative energy."
Associated Press via the Contra Costa, Calif., Times , April 12."

No boom lasts forever, but now sounds like a very good time to get in on this boom and ride it for a couple of years. I'm no financial guru, for sure. But clean energy is good business, not the economy-buster that the oil companies and their bought-and-paid-for politicians have tried to tell us it would be.

EEI also reports that: "Grid-Connected Renewable-Powered Homes Gaining on Off-Grid Homes
Households utilizing renewable energy to supply electricity are no longer confined to the traditional off-grid homes, the USA Today reported today. Instead, while off-grid homes still account for a large share of the renewable energy-powered homes, more and more grid-connected homes also are adding solar or wind energy systems.

States are making such ventures more feasible, with 17 states now offering rebates on solar and wind energy system purchases, compared with just three in 2000. Wrote the newspaper: "Despite a hodgepodge of state laws, the trend points up a budding grass-roots movement to displace at least some of the nation's power generation from pollution-belching plants to small, clean neighborhood nodes. That eases strains on transmission lines."

Off-grid homes number 180,000, with the number rising 33 percent each year over the past decade. Wrote the newspaper: "These days, a growing number of off-gridders could link up fairly cheaply but prefer to be untethered for myriad reasons, including rising electricity rates, a desire to cut power plant pollution and concerns about blackouts or terrorism."
USA Today , April 13."

See above re: green energy and good business. Some smart young person is going to become THE contractor to go to for solar panels and other green remodeling in your state. She'll likely make a bundle.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


So I'm about two or three years away, finance wise, from doing the landscaping that I knew I'd have to do when I bought this house. My backyard has a terrible awkward slope that will need to be fixed w/ retaining walls and I need to enclose the garden, if not with the (expensive) brick walls that I long for, at least with some very solid, very high fences that I can cover with vines. Need private space for the witches to dance and do ritual, you know.

But this am I'm out on the screen porch and something happened that never happens. My neighbors (and I use that term loosely since I've lived here two and a half years and met everyone else for blocks around but never met this couple) from directly behind me were OUT IN THEIR BACK YARD. With two guys with big scrolls in their hands. Contractors. Architects. So, being a nosy witch, I stretched my ears out and listened to what they were saying. Garage. Grading. Lots of grading.

Shit. Fuck. Damn. Going to need those fences sooner rather than later. Up until now, these folks have never been out in their yard. They do nothing to take care of it or to garden, but there's a big apple tree and some shrubs that harbor wildlife so I've kind of enjoyed it. Now, they're going to tear things up, build shit, and generally make a mess and noise all summer long. Shit. Fuck. Damn.

National CEO Day -- An Idea Whose Time Has Come

We got to chatting over at Eschaton about how the Industrial Revolution has resulted in quite a few of us working even more hours than would have been necessary back in the bad old days of the Middle Ages.

It reminded me that there's one day every year where some group announces that, on that day, the "average" American tax payer has finally worked enough days to pay her taxes and is, only then, beginning to "work for money that she gets to keep." It's a cute marketing trick, designed to stir people up about how they have to work many more days than they otherwise would work just to pay taxes. It ignores how many days they'd have to work to provide services such as a military, environmental protection, and roads for themselves, but, none the less, it's cute.

Some bright soul with a calculator ought to sit down and figure out how many days the "average" American worker has to work to pay the salaries of America's CEOs. You know, CEOs like Ken Lay who make tens upon tens of millions of dollars but then, when the shit hits the fan, swear that they were idiots who knew less about what was going on than their lowest clerk. But their boards of directors never ask for the salary back. I'd love to hear radio and tv stories on, say, May 9th, announcing that American workers have been working ever since January just to pay the salaries of the Ken Lays of the country and can, now, finally, begin working for themselves.

Most workers, I imagine, would rather get the several month vacation.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Just Saying

If you are a seed company and you sold me a package of moonflower seeds with a whole freaking three seeds in the package, do not be surprised if you have a bad day tomorrow.

If you are a lobbyist who gave money to Tom DeLay to buy some votes and now that he's using your money to pay his lawyers you want your money back, don't be surprised if no one weeps for you, Argentina.

If you are building a McMansion up the street from me, in a neighborhood of small bungalows, and you have a freaking turret on your McMansion, don't be surprised if small construction errors begin to multiply.

If you are my diswasher and you work only about one out of every ten times that I turn you on, but work every time that I've called the repairperson, don't be surprised if I eventually take a freaking hammer to your mechanical ass.

If you are the document management software at my firm and you won't let me open up a document from home, don't be surprised if I open up a can of whoop ass on the IT person who is responsible for you and curse your code from here into next week.

Now, all you kids, get off of my lawn!

And He's Telling the Truth, as Long as by "Absolutely Innocent" He Means "As Guilty as the Guiltest Criminal Who Ever Was Guilty of Being Guilty"

Yahoo reports that:

Skilling Says He's 'Absolutely Innocent' By KRISTEN HAYS, AP Business Writer

HOUSTON - Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling declared he was "absolutely innocent" Monday as he began to testify in his own defense in his fraud and conspiracy trial.

The 52-year-old one-time corporate celebrity whose reputation as a business wunderkind shattered along with the company he once ran also said he "never ... not once" considered making a deal with prosecutors the way more than a dozen other Enron executives did.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thank You, Harry Taylor

Go here and say Thank You. Do it now. Do it right now.

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

Our Native Earth


There are not any people in the world --
So simple, lofty, tearless -- like us.


We do not carry it in lockets on the breast,
And do not cry about it in poems,
It does not wake us from the bitter rest,
And does not seem to us like Eden promised.
In our hearts, we never try to treat
This as a subject for the bargain row,
While being ill, unhappy, spent on it,
We even fail to see it or to know.
Yes, this dirt on the feet suits us fairly,
Yes, this crunch on the teeth suits us just,
And we trample it nightly and daily --
This unmixed and non-structural dust.
But we lay into it and become it alone,
And therefore call this earth so freely -- my own.


By posting weekly the poems of Anna Akhmatova, I'm trying to understand a poet who is difficult for me. I'm trying to understand her through her poems, before I read her autobiography, which I've added to my wish list. There are two ways to understand poets. One is to first read their poetry, and to then read about their lives. The other, the one I less prefer, is to read about their lives and to then read their poetry. Akhmitova is less accessible to me than many other poets; as I've said before, I think she may not translate well.

What I take from this poem is her allegiance to a sense of space. It's something Pagans understand -- allegiance to a piece of ground. "Yet this dirt on the feet suits us fairly, Yet this crunch on the teeth suits us just." I go out into my herb bed, pick parsley eat it, and get dirt on my feet, crunch soil on my teeth because I eat the parsley before washing it. I will, one day, lay into it and become it alone. Ok, I want some of my ashes scattered on the roots of my lilac bushes, too. I'd be happy, in my next life, to smell of lilacs.

How much more was Akhmatova saying? About country, nation, place, native land? How can an English speaker understand precisely what a Russian poetess was saying? Why should it matter so much to me? Does it matter to you? Why?

Lazy Sunday Blogging

A long, lazy Sunday morning spent w/ my circle discussing where we go from here.

Several of our members have received promotions that, especially in DC, have meant moving out-of-town. And, so, as happy as we are for them, we've been vaguely trying to add some new members, but also thinking about who/what we want to add.

I think in the future, the whole notion of "creating community" will become an academic field, a profession. Community used to simply mean the place where you lived. Now, it means something different, but no one is sure what. How do you create viable communities in today's world? How do the right people find each other and create enough time in otherwise busy lives to actually do the "work" of creating community, even when that work means just clearing time on your calendar to spend lazy Sunday mornings chatting?

I think of the Eschaton community, where this week, two members of the community got engaged and even those of us who'd never "met" them, in real time, were happy and excited or where two members of the community recently had a baby and all of us were happy and felt involved. But what if someone who regularly shows up at Eschaton stops coming? No one's likely to call them up and ask what's wrong. Not too long ago, there was a thread where we listed the people we remembered who used to show up that we hadn't seen in a while. A form of mourning? How is it different when we're trying to create community in the "real" world?

My circle is confronting ourselves. What do we want from each other? How much do we want it? What if someone's life takes them in a direction where they can't regularly "be there"? How, and I'll say "especially" in a group of women, do we confront that w/o causing hurt feelings? Most of us agree; you can't be a magical community if you regularly have a "hole" in the circle. But the reality of life for most women in Washington, D.C. is an overcommitted calendar, a Blackberry-full of obligations, a life that's very, very busy. Getting from the gym, to work, to Whole Foods to buy food for the week, to a political action meeting, to spending family time, to being a witch -- there's no time for sleep. How do you create a "college of priestesses" in the middle of that? We all need it; we need it to be there for us. The issue we're dealing with is --how do we do that? What are we willing to give up in our busy lives in order to have it?

We spent some time today trying to figure out if there are logistical ways to make it all easier for us. That runs the gamut from deciding that for mid-week Full Moons maybe we'll send out for dinner instead of doing potluck, to considering -- horrors for a feminist group that believes in a lack of hierarchy -- assigning certain jobs to certain people, at least for a four-month rotation, to, again, horrors, always having rituals at only one or two homes. It also involves deeply spiritual questions. What kind of magic do we want to do? How much pre-ritual magical time are we willing to spend in order to make the rituals "work"? Are we all willing to do political magic or should that be a subgroup? Do we all seriously believe that a witch who cannot hex cannot heal? If we believe it, how and when will we hex as a group?

Long story, long. We decided that we've been unfocused; we need a several month period of focused meditation and magical working and then a day-long retreat before we think about bringing in new members to replace those who've moved away. We need, no surprise for a magical community, to do magic.

I came home and planted some black hollyhock seedlings and some black violet seedlings. Call it, not in a very far-fetched way, "grounding" -- the witch's most important tool. And then, I sat in the sun in the corner of my yard that's the shady, woodland garden part of the yard, and did what witches do. I sank my roots deep into the wet, hummusy ground and pulled energy up from Mother Earth. I called the quarters, North, South, East, and West/Earth, Fire, Air, and Water, and cast a circle. I called upon Hecate and Diana and Amataresu. I did the Ha prayer and directed energy out into the universe to create the community that we need to have, to call the new members that we'll, eventually, want to have join us. I thanked the energies of the four quarters. I opened the circle.

It's a strange time to be adding to a circle of witches in Washington, D.C. Women with real careers in this town are concerned about being outed as witches. It makes it difficult to, for example, advertise our open meetings where we'd like to meet potential new members. On the other hand, there are more public rituals than ever before and, for many people, that's enough. They can show up at the Radical Faeries and/or Connect DC public rituals, practice the rest of the time as what witches call "solitaries," and that's all they need.

It's, as Bush would say, hard work. It's hard work being in community, fostering community, taking responsibility for growing community. It's never easy. But, for me, at least, it's always necessary, it's always important, it's always worth the effort. I am who I am because I am a member of my circle. I need these women. I need this circle. I need to learn whatever it is that I'll learn by working on fostering this community.

This is my will. So mote it be.