Saturday, July 29, 2006

Homage To My Hips

Why I love Lucille Clifton.

August by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver - August

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Lammas, Robbie Burns

And Robbie Burns his ownself knew just how to celebrate Lammas:

Robert Burns (1759–1796). Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

29. Song—The Rigs o’ Barley

Tune—“Corn Rigs are bonie.”

IT was upon a Lammas night,
When corn rigs are bonie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light,
I held awa to Annie;
The time flew by, wi’ tentless heed, 5
Till, ’tween the late and early,
Wi’ sma’ persuasion she agreed
To see me thro’ the barley.

Corn rigs, an’ barley rigs,
An’ corn rigs are bonie: 10
I’ll ne’er forget that happy night,
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.

The sky was blue, the wind was still,
The moon was shining clearly;
I set her down, wi’ right good will, 15
Amang the rigs o’ barley:
I ken’t her heart was a’ my ain;
I lov’d her most sincerely;
I kiss’d her owre and owre again,
Amang the rigs o’ barley. 20
Corn rigs, an’ barley rigs, &c.

I lock’d her in my fond embrace;
Her heart was beating rarely:
My blessings on that happy place,
Amang the rigs o’ barley! 25
But by the moon and stars so bright,
That shone that hour so clearly!
She aye shall bless that happy night
Amang the rigs o’ barley.
Corn rigs, an’ barley rigs, &c. 30

I hae been blythe wi’ comrades dear;
I hae been merry drinking;
I hae been joyfu’ gath’rin gear;
I hae been happy thinking:
But a’ the pleasures e’er I saw, 35
Tho’ three times doubl’d fairly,
That happy night was worth them a’,
Amang the rigs o’ barley.

Dancing at Lughnasadha

Lammas, as it is commonly known, and as my circle refers to it, even though I prefer the pre-xian term Lughnasadha, is one the eight major holidays, or Sabbats, of the Wiccan year. Wiccans celebrate the circle of the year, the fact that the year goes from death to birth to maturity and back to death. On August 1st, we celebrate Lammas.

Lammas is often known as the Feast of the First Fruits, and is associated with the harvest of wheat, or corn, or other summer vegetables. I think of it as the Feast of the Thirties and Forties -- the time when you celebrate finally having reached certain achievements and when you look forward to even more.

It's strange, for me, to be preparing to celebrate this Sabbat amid news that crops all over the Earth are withering in the fields due to the heat caused by carbon emissions. I don't expect to go hungry this winter, but some people will.

But here's what I'll celebrate. I'll celebrate the harvest that does come in, even in the midst of disaster. So many times in my life, I've gotten through by celebrating the harvest that I was able to bring in, the accomplishments that I was able to reach, even when things seemed otherwise pretty bleak.

There was a time in the mid-70s when simply having the money to buy gas to get to work was an achievement. There was a time in the late 80s when getting up out of bed even though the first thought of the day was that my beloved sister was dead was a huge accomplishment. There was a time in the 90s when reading one more case in my law school textbooks before I fell asleep, when keeping the wolf from the door so that I could make one more semester's tuition payments for myself and Son was cause for celebration. There was a time in the late 90s when getting up even late in the morning and struggling in to work was an indication that I was stronger than chemo. Small harvests, lean harvests, harvests gleaned from the threshing floor are still harvests. And harvests are a cause for celebration.

I am -- you are -- the genetic heirs of the Earth's survivors. We come from the people who gleaned enough of a harvest -- from the forest, the savannah, the sea, the jungle -- to pass on their genes. Buried within every cell of my body -- buried within your own DNA and RNA -- is the code of Earth's survivors.

On Lammas, I'll share first fruits with a circle of women that I love with all my heart. And I'll light incense for you and for your ancestors. The ones who harvested enough to survive. May it be so for me. May it be so for you. This is my will. So mote it be.

Do Your Kids Drink Milk? Would You Like For Their Bones To Be 15% To 20% Less Strong?

WaPo notes that:

The heat wave has threatened California's multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. Rendering facilities for livestock carcasses were so overloaded that regulators eased environmental regulations to allow livestock and dairy farmers to bury dead animals on their own land or in landfills, said Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Van Rein said in some areas livestock farmers were reporting mortality rates twice as high as normal.

California is the nation's leading milk producer, and state Farm Bureau Federation spokeswoman Ann Schmidt-Fogarty said production had fallen by 15 to 20 percent. She said that the peach crop would be the worst in 20 years and that cotton, pistachios, walnuts, avocados, plums and nectarines would also be affected.

The nation's leading milk producer has seen a drop of 15% to 20% in production.

You ready to pay 15% to 20% more for the milk that your kids drink?

Cotton, pistqachios, walnuts, avacados, plums, and necatrines -- aka nuts and fruit -- also affected.

Do we have a president? Do we have a Congress? Do we have Departments of Energy and Agriculture? Anybody think now might be a good time to do something about this???????

So It Comes Down To This. Scented Candles.

WaPo reports that the US death toll from global warming continues to rise. I guess when it gets to around 3,000 we'll realize that greenhouse gasses are terrorists and, as a result, we'll attack Venus.

The death toll from California's 12-day heat wave topped 130 on Friday as coroners documented more cases of mostly elderly victims found dead during the record-breaking temperatures.

In Stanislaus County in the Central Valley, where temperatures hovered at 115 for the past two weeks, the heat wave killed 29 and is believed to be the single deadliest event in the county since the 1918 global outbreak of the Spanish flu. At the antiquated county coroner's office there, four scented candles burned near the front door to cover the smell, according to the Modesto Bee.

Single deadliest even sinc ethe 1918 global ourbreak of the Spanish flu.

People are now like dairy cattle. The dead carcasses are piling up faster than we can cart them away.

Help us, Scented Candles! You're our only hope!

Wait. No they're not. We could start THIS WEEKEND with mandatory conservation measures, such as limitations on coal plants, use of advertising lights, minimum air conditioning temperature settings, and closure of government offices that would reduce carbon emissions RIGHT NOW!

Or, we could pretend that nothing's wrong.

Everything the Bush Junta Knows, It Learned From Enron

The NYT reports that:

The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found.
The agency hid construction overruns by listing them as overhead or administrative costs, according to the audit, written by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that reports to Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.

Called the United States Agency for International Development, or A.I.D., the agency administers foreign aid projects around the world. It has been working in Iraq on reconstruction since shortly after the 2003 invasion.

The report by the inspector general’s office does not give a full accounting of all projects financed by the agency’s $1.4 billion budget, but cites several examples.

NOW can we impeach the president? He swore to take care to enforce the law.

I hate these fucking fuckers. Who among us doubts that the money is even now lining Dick Wormtounge Cheney's Haliburton pockets?

Thanks Sandra Day! Couldn't let them count the votes in Florida, could you?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blessed Lammas

She changes everything she touches. And everything she touches changes.

Water Wars. Coming Soon To A Planet Near You.

This article from the Environment News Network, is worthwhile even if for nothing other than its final line:

"I think that water will be as valuable as oil eventually," the duke said. "But for now, we have to do what we can to plan ahead and conserve for the future."

Too many people. Not enough planet. Not enough water on the planet.

We could begin RIGHT NOW to conserve water, to provide free birth control, to provide serious sex education, to provide tax breaks for people who limit the size of their families. Or, we can wait until the problem gets even worse and then let only the rich people breed. I fucking hate the fucking fundies with their intense mania to make everyone breed all the goddamn time.

Water Wars. Coming soon to a planet near you.

Knock, Knock.

BBC reports that:

The high temperatures over the past fortnight have led to the deaths of some 25,000 cattle in central California, about 1% of the state's dairy herd. "The timing is horrendous," Andy Zylstra, president of the California Dairy Campaign, told the French news agency, AFP. "The price of milk is down 30% while feed, fuel, electricity prices are all up, and now we have these tremendous losses. It's just a kick in the head." Several California counties have declared states of emergency because of the large number of carcasses that need to be disposed of.

OK. Several counties in California -- the world's 7th largest economy -- have declared a stateof emergency because of the large number of carcasses of dairy cattle that need to be disposed of. I'm going to say this slowly and in short words of not-too-many syllables. So many dairy cows are dying that they can't dispose of their carcasses quicly enough. They are dying from the extreme heat caused by global climate change. Global climate change is caused by carbon emmissions -- from cars, factories, power plants.

We're killing off our milk cows faster than we can cart their dead bodies off. The dead bodies are piling up and creating an emergency situation.

Anybody? Someone? The president? Congress? Homeland Security? Department of Agriculture? Department of Energy? Knock, knock! Anybody home??? Someone think maybe we should do something about this? Sound like a problem to anyone? No? OK, then. Go on reproducing and using oil. Maybe next Summer we'll chat about this again.

No, Really. Go On Laughing, Monkey Boy.

BBC reports that: High temperatures mean vegetables are maturing faster than farmers can pick and package them, an agricultural body has warned. The extreme heat has struck down crops across Europe, with economies in the east suffering in particular. In Poland and Hungary some crops are expected to be 40% below normal yields, the Association of European Fruit and Vegetable Processing Industries warned. It said the very hot weather was creating a short picking season that might deplete frozen vegetable supplies. Further, In the UK the Processed Vegetable Growers' Association (PVGA) forecasts price rises and shortages as the extreme weather bites into harvests. The PVGA predicted that yields of peas, broad beans, cauliflower and spinach could drop by 20%.

Besides, no reason to get your panties in a twist over global climate change. Who cares that Fears that the very hot weather will disrupt vegetable supplies stems from the way each line of produce is managed on the farm. Crops are planted so that each field is ready to be harvested at different times, allowing vegetable pickers to keep up a steady supply throughout the season. Very hot weather has wrecked this schedule and left farmers scrambling to bring in crops before they spoil, according to the PVGA.

Oh, look! A sale on Hummers!

Men To Be Disproportionately Hit By Global Climate Change


Today's NYT reports that The heat-related death toll in California continued to rise today, despite an easing of temperatures. Since July 14, 112 lives have been lost because of the extreme weather, the governor’s Office of Emergency Services reported. The dead ranged in age from 20 to 95, but state officials said most of the victims were over 60 years old. Men appeared to be disproportionately vulnerable to the heat, accounting for 77 of the dead compared with 35 women..

I'm just saying'

Friday Family Blogging

Here is my gorgeous grandson with Grandpa Steve. Grandpa Steve, a world-famous rose historian, is the first ex-Mr. Hecate's husband.

Is this, or is this not, the most gorgeous grandson that you have ever seen? He loves his Nonna best of all, of course.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Focus On The Fanatics

is this, or is this not, the stupidest thing you've ever seen?

Tell me again that these people are beating us in every single election without help from Diebold. Go on. Tell me.

Well, That Worked Out Amazingly Well, Now Didn't It?

War is always a failure, but I did think the U.S. was reasonably warranted to go into Afghanistan and take out the Taliban, first for the way that they were oppressing women and, secondly, for harboring bin Laden after he took credit for the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. And I did think that the U.S. could have run a Marshall-Plan-type program that would have turned Afghanistan from a hell-hole into a modern democracy, although it would have taken quite a bit of money, time, and effort. To the extent that a functioning democracy in the Middle East would have inspired changes in neighboring countries (an always disputable proposition) there was no reason why Afghanistan, rather than the alread-secular Iraq, couldn't have served that purpose. And I do believe in Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule: once we invaded, we were responsible for putting things back in better order than they were when we got there.

Which is why what the Bush junta has done -- or more precisely, not done-- in Afghanistan is so shockingly criminal. BBC reports that: The notes were left at night, pinned to trees outside the school - they were addressed to the head teacher. "We know who you are," they said. "We know you are involved in girls' education. Unless you stop we will kill your daughters and we will kill your family." The principal had received many of these warnings, but it didn't stop him keeping the school open. He pinned up his reply on the same trees: "Do whatever you have to do and we will do what we have to do," it read.
A few days later the school was hit by three rockets, and explosives were planted around the outside of the building. This happened a few weeks ago - in Wardak, a province neighbouring Kabul. And in the south of the country the situation is even worse."

Educating girls will now get you killed in American-occupied Afghanistan. I remember just before we invaded, they paraded Laura Bush out to decry something she'd never bothered to decry before: the Taliban's treatment of women. Wonder why Pickles is so silent now???

Feast of the First Harvest

And, speaking of Lammas, feast of the first fruits, here's another sexy love poem, or lovely sex poem, depending upon your point of view, about First Fruits:

First Fruits

I was twenty-eight when we met.

All these years in America ,

land of the exotic and still I had

not tasted the fruits of the land.

You found for us a room.

Private and quiet, our

first floor palace with its old, marble

fireplace and glass above the mantle.

Once a week we would meet – save

and scrounge from each paycheck

to make ends meet. It was necessary

to life, to go on breathing.

I would always go in first.

My cotton dress clinging in the heat,

I was all tits and ass - a sweet peach

embarrassed by want. How

I remember the light of that

white room. The antique ivory,

and darkening of the paint as the

sun slipped fast across the summer sky.

Always we brought fruit. A fresh

bag of cherries, pears, apples and more,

a bottle of sparkling cider which later,

we would devour. Lying as two gods

exhausted, our tawny skin burnished

with sweat.

It was the time I first tasted

a real Anjou pear, perfumed and delicate.

My first ever mango, how the flavor of it

exploded clean inside my mouth until

I ate through to the core, bone white

with a thin down of filament.

by sadi ranson-polizzotti |

This Isn't Something That's Going To Happen A Number Of Years Down The Road. People Are Dying Right Here In The US Due To Global Climate Change. Now

The NYT reports that:

A searing heat wave in its second week has been responsible for more than 100 deaths across California, the authorities said, with the coroner’s office here forced to double-stack bodies.

Thousands of livestock are also dying from the intense heat. Dairy farmers are using sprinkler systems and shaded barns to try to keep the cows cool. Most of the deaths were reported in the land-locked Central Valley, the agricultural spine of the state where triple-digit temperatures have been the norm. At least 22 deaths in Fresno County, where funeral homes have offered to help with the backlog at the coroner’s office, have been linked to the heat.

Note the danger to livestock and the fact that this is happening in the "agricultural spine" of the world's seventh largest economy.

We’re just trying to catch up,” said Joseph Tiger, a deputy coroner in Fresno. “I have been here 10 years and I have never seen it this bad. Our boss has been here over 20 and he hasn’t seen it this bad either. For the last two weeks it has just been unbearable hot.”

Workers are dying in the fields and people from age 20 to age 95 are dying from the heat: Among the dead here was a 38-year-old worker found in a field, an unidentified man around 40 who made it to a hospital emergency room where his body temperature was recorded at 109.9 degrees and a 58-year-old man who was found drunk, officials said. Statewide, Ms. Java said, the youngest heat-related death was a 20-year-old man from San Diego and the eldest a 95-year-old man in Imperial County, near the Mexican border.

Crops and livestock continue to be hit by the heat, as well. This is important not because the death of a field of soybeans or a herd of cows is as important as the death of a fieldworker or a 20 year old or a 95 year old, but because people this winter will be hurting for food if this continues: The record temperatures have also hit the state’s farmers hard, with roughly one percent, or 16,500 cows, of the state’s dairy herd dying from the heat, according to California Dairies, the state’s largest milk cooperative. Further, panting, miserable cows have lowered their milk production between 10 and 20 percent, said trade groups and dairy farmers in the region. California is the largest milk producing state in the country, producing about 12 percent of the country’s milk supply, according to trade groups.

Because of the large number of dead cows, the California Department of Food and Agriculture waived a regulation requiring dead animal haulers to transport animals to rendering plants in eight counties in the Central Valley — freeing them to put animals in landfills,

Six counties have declared states of emergencies because of the backlog of dead livestock.

“It is just a bad, bad situation,” said Larry Collar, the quality assurance manager for California Dairies. “In 25 years in southern California, this is the most extreme temperatures we have ever seen and the most extreme length of time we have seen.”

The high temperatures have also caused problems with field crops around the state.“We have been having trouble mainly in the Central Valley with the walnuts,” said Ann Schmidt-Fogarty, a spokeswoman for the California Farm Bureau. “The intensity of the sun and heat actually burns them inside the shell.”

She said that delicate fruits like peaches, nectarines and plums are also ripening unevenly, causing further crop damage.

“Our biggest concern is our people,” Ms. Schmidt-Fogarty said. “We make sure they are very hydrated and some are working half days.”

At the Te Velde dairy farm in Bakersfield, about 100 miles south of here, 16 cows have perished over the last 11 days, when temperatures hovered well over 100 degrees daily, and 12 more were sent to slaughter because they could not handle the heat, said Ralph Te Velde, 59, who has run his family farm for three decades.

The remainder of his 1,600 cows sought relief under a patch of water misters Thursday morning, and by 9:30 a.m. some were already showing the telltale signs of distress, their fat pink tongues hanging dangling to their chin.

One cow, her five-minute-old baby being licked by a neighboring sow a few feet away, was being hosed down by Mr. Te Velde’s son. At the end of the lot was a pile of dead cows, their bodies in a twisted black and white mass.

Mr. Te Velde and other dairy farmers have struggled to get rendering companies to come and get dead livestock. “The main challenge is a disposal challenge in the Central Valley,” said Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Te Velde said his farm usually generates 72 pounds of milk daily per cow, but is now to about 60 pounds this week. He estimates the state may be losing 1.5 million pounds of milk a day.

“The question is, how many farmers can survive this,” he said. “You never want to lose animals. We are trying to mist them and mitigate this, keep them happy and what not.”

While cows are better accustomed than humans to manage cold temperatures, the heat is not their friend.

“The double whammy for cows,” Mr. Collar said, “is that lose heat through their mouth when they breathe, but don’t have sweat glands so are unable to dissipate heat. The other thing is that they are ruminant which means they have multi compartment stomach and have bacteria that breaks down food, and that bacteria generates heat.”

Dino Giacomazzi, a dairy farmer in Hanford – which sits between Fresno and Bakersfield – said he has been watching Yahoo weather for days, hoping to see the last of the heat.

“We spend a lot of time and money making sure these cows are comfortable all the time,” he said. “Because uncomfortable cows don’t make milk.”

Milk. No problem. I understand George Bush prefers nearbeer.

Can we get some fucking leadership? Could someone please recognize that we're now in the middle of the disaster that's been predicted for years? If we're frogs in the pot, the water is now fucking bubbling. We need real steps to preserve electricity, to cut down drastically and immediately on greenhouse gasses, to preserve and share around the small crop that will manage to get harvested this fall. We need mandatory conservation measures of every type of fuel and we need all of this not some time in the future but RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!

In five days, Pagans will be celebrating Lammas, the feast of the first harvest. I'm going to have more to say about this this weekend. Meanwhile, I'd buy grains that can be stored in airtight containers, bottled water, powdered milk, and nuts. And I'd pray to whatever deity I believed in for some leadership. NOW.

Would You Please Just Stop This Shit?

I personally, and speaking only for me, myself, and I, have just about had it with this fucking shit.

There is no way on the Goddess' green Earth that taking a picture of police activity that is happening right out on the street can be a iolation of any Constitutional law. WTF? Would a citizen have an "expectation of privacy" out on the street? NO. Then why should the police???????? Who work, duh! for us??????

As a wonderful local Pagan commented today, "If the government does not like the people that it has, then it should go elect another people." This is supposed to be, I'll simply remind everyone, America, the land of the free.

Osama is laughing his scrawny brown ass off.

Story via Witchvox.

Time for Triage

As the ever-insightful Xan points out the US of A is having its own crop failures due to to global climate change.

Hey! Could we get a little help over here! The patient is bleeding out while you guys are doing plastic surgery and talking about your golf games!

Leadership! We need some, NOW!

Cruisin' For A Bruisin'

From today's EEI newsletter:

U.S. Electricity Demand Sets New Record
U.S. demand for electricity reached an all-time record for the week ending July 22, amid a punishing national heat wave, Energy Daily reported, citing new information from EEI. According to EEI’s weekly survey of electric demand, U.S. utilities delivered 96,314 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity last week, surpassing by more than 1 percent last year's record of 95,259 GWh (set during the week ending July 23, 2005).

Energy Daily quoted EEI President Tom Kuhn as saying: "The nation’s electric energy infrastructure was tested severely last week and, with isolated exceptions, [Yes, isolated exceptions such as NY, LA, PA, and St. Louis. Other than that, no problems] the lights and air conditioners stayed on."

According to an EEI press release, "Kuhn said utilities are working around the clock to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for electricity and he praised the emergency workers who poured into the St. Louis area after it was hit by heat and a devastating storm that caused a widespread power outage."

EEI’s "Weekly Electric Output" survey, the only comprehensive report of its kind in the U.S., has been measuring electricity demand for more than 70 years and is available to EEI members and other subscribers.
Energy Daily , Reuters, July 27; EEI news release , July 26.

You can't keep hitting record peaks every week and not expect those "isolated exceptions" to become the rule.

WHERE the FUCK are our leaders? Mandatory national conservation measures are needed RIGHT NOW to prevent really serious national blackouts. Somehow, I imagine this is a bit more important than whether some teenager gets to abort the child her abusive father got on her or whether the words "under God" stay in the pledge. But that's just me and it's mostly because I prefer my martinis chilled and my freezer runs on electrons unlike, apparently, everyone else's.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Love Poetry

Beneath My Hands by Leonard Cohen

Beneath my hands
your small breasts
are the upturned bellies
of breathing fallen sparrows.

Wherever you move
I hear the sounds of closing wings
of falling wings.

I am speechless
because you have fallen beside me
because your eyelashes
are the spines of tiny fragile animals.

I dread the time
when your mouth
begins to call me hunter.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want to summon
the eyes and hidden mouths
of stone and light and water
to testify against you.

I want them
to surrender before you
the trembling rhyme of your face
from their deep caskets.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want my body and my hands
to be pools
for your looking and laughing.

'We thought we would change the world and then get back to our lives. Years later we found that this was our lives.' Bernadette McAliskey

Via Early Days of a Better Nation comes a link to a speech by Civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey from Northern Ireland . She explains what happens when people "take it to the streets."

"They don’t realise that when you are on the street a qualitative change takes place. You have space away from the physical constraints that remind you of your place in society. People look around and think that on the streets we are all equal.

Next, the police arrive. The police are great levellers. The reformists say to the police officer, “We are law abiding...” They never get to finish the sentence. The reformists then spend all their time trying to get us off the streets.

When the police charge at you, whether you’re Irish or miners or whoever, two things happen. The reformists get scared and the young people, in particular, get radicalised."

Do You Have A Freezer?

Interesting report from BBC concerning the effect of global climate change on harvests in the UK. Production of perishable fruits, such as strawberries, appears to be up, as is demand, driven by, what one imagines, must be lower prices. However, "the grain harvest is likely to be badly hit."

Thus, "wheat has wilted in the intense conditions. Sandra Nichols of the NFU said: "For wheat, we're seeing at the moment that the lack of moisture in the soil has caused problems in terms of the quality of the wheat. "The grains are thinner, the yields are not so good, and that could lead to higher prices."" Wheat, of course, is far less perishable than strawberries.

And, the production of grain has a huge influence on the production of beef: "Meanwhile, the leader of the National Farmers Union in Wales, Dai Davies, said the shortage of grass meant farmers were having to feed winter stocks to cattle now. "So there's no margin, no money in the kitty for the purchase of winter fodder which we shall need to survive," he told BBC News 24. "So there's great concern about what happens in the autumn." "

I imagine we may actually make it through this winter without large-scale famine in Europe. I'm not as optimistic about the winer of 2007. Here's what happens when there's a famine. Populations move. How's that going to work in today's overcrowded world? Look at what happened when folks displaced by Katrina tried to move into nearby towns and states.

National Security

Alice Marshall says everything that needs to be said. Fuckers.

We've Lost The Luxury Of Dealing With Long-Term Problems. People Are Dying Right Now.

There's the short-term problem: getting through the summer. And there's the medium-term problem: getting through the fall, winter, and spring. We knew back in the 1970s that we needed to address global warming and our dependence on oil. We ignored the problem all through the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II years. It's like when you ignore the fact that you're overspending and not balancing your checkbook. You reach a point where all you can do is scramble to cover the fees on the bounced checks. That's where we are right now.

NYT reports that:

Global climate change is threatening Europe's crops in a frightening and serious way. This is the fall/winter/spring problem. Scorching temperatures and drought could destroy up to 20 percent of Poland’s grain harvest, warned the country’s agriculture minister, Andrzej Lepper. “It is quite simply dramatic, and if the weather does not change we could have a disaster,” he said on Polish Radio.

Germany is facing crop losses of up to 50 percent in the worst-hit regions, according to Gerd Sonnleitner, the president of the national farmers association.
Crop failures in Europe that range between 20 and 50 percent. Poor people are going to go hungry in Europe this winter and next spring.

Here's the shorter-term problem caused by global climate change; Europe appears to be on the verge of massive power failures: A second type of warning was also issued in Europe — about strained electricity supplies . . . .

Europe’s increased demand for air-conditioning could make summer a greater challenge than winter for electricity suppliers, a report by the Datamonitor Group warned.

Nuclear power stations in France and Spain have been forced to cut output because the river water normally used to cool reactors is too warm.

Low water levels in the Po River in northern Italy affected hydroelectric supplies, prompting power shortages in Rome that knocked out air-conditioning and left people trapped in elevators.

And, then, as I reported earlier, there's the threat of forest fires caused by global climate change: Forest fires affected regions as far afield as Corsica, in the Mediterranean, where homes near the capital, Ajaccio, were threatened, and the Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden.

I'll say what I've said before. A real leader, far from planning a week off in August, would be dealing with this emergency 24/7. We need serious, mandatory, conservation measures to conserve our electrical supplies. We need to prepare for the high prices, starvation, and food riots likely to occur either this spring or next. We need controls on the use of non-essential electricity and non-essential water. We need a leader to explain to people what's happening and why radical conservation is necessary right NOW.

Bush will be spending a week in August in Crawford clearing brush.

A Bullet To The Brain -- I'd Like it. At Least It's Fast.

The Poetry Man explains what's wrong with John McCain.

Renewable Energy Is Good For Our Economy -- Get Thee To A Science Degree, Young Person

Today's EEI newsletter reports that:

Investment Funds Flowing Into Renewables Beyond Wind, Solar

Investment firms are expanding their interest in renewables beyond wind and solar to include biomass and biotechnology companies, Greenwire reported. Mark Townsend Cox of the New Energy Fund said, for example, that solar is now "mainstream," with the majority of solar companies profitable and a potential for explosive future growth in the sector.

Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson said firms are turning their attention to gene mapping and bioengineering efforts, and he cited the example of Greenfuel Technologies, which is using engineered algae to consume GHG emissions from plants. Greenfuel's Cary Bullock, a former executive at U.S Windpower, said his firm is seeking to speed up algae growth and make it commercially viable.

Bullock said: "The model we're using for Greenfuel is a lot like what we had for U.S. Windpower. We knew we had to get the cost down to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour and be able to produce 100 MW."
Greenwire, July 25.

A Preview Of Coming Attractions If We Don't Change Our Behavior

WaPo reports that Americans are continuing to die from global warming:

"The 50-person refrigerator at the morgue in Fresno is full, primarily with the bodies of elderly people who are believed to be victims of a sustained blast of triple-digit heat that has tormented most of California in the past two weeks.

"I have never seen these kinds of numbers," said Loralee Cervantes, the coroner in Fresno, where she said the temperature outside her office yesterday was 110. "There are so many we can't keep up."

. . .

Most of the heat-related deaths occurred in the sweltering Central Valley. In Fresno, in the north of the valley, the coroner said many victims collapsed inside their homes and were found somewhere other than in their beds.

"Some people had power outages, some can't afford to pay their bills, some were using fans, and we had one case where a man was scared of the sound of his air conditioner," Cervantes said. She said most of the dead were 65 to 80 years old."

In addition to the deaths, continued strain on the electrical system left some without power: "With the heat wave, residents across Southern California have put up with multiple, widely scattered power outages as hundreds of overtaxed power-pole transformers have blown up or otherwise stopped functioning. More than 50,000 homes and businesses were without power yesterday.

The aging electricity-transmission grid in and around Los Angeles -- some of it built in the 1920s and 1930s -- could not handle the spiking power demands that came with persistent high temperatures -- on top of a booming population and houses full of air conditioners and computers, according to regional utilities.

"Transformer failure was driven by the prolonged heat wave, which since July 13 has meant that they cannot cool down at night," said Ron Litzinger, senior vice president for transmission and distribution at Southern California Edison."

Changes in the amount of electricity used by almost everyone, as well as physical changes to the landscape created by the population explosion, are creating precarious conditions: [Litzinger] said that in recent years power consumption per customer in the region has been double what the utility had expected, mostly because of air conditioners, computers, and assorted home electronics.

The heat wave comes at a time when ambient year-round temperatures in Southern California are on the rise.

In the past century, average temperatures in the region have risen about three degrees during the daytime and a whopping seven degrees at night, according to Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Houses, freeways, golf courses and shopping centers retain heat far longer than the native desert chaparral of Southern California.

"We have had an extreme makeover in the past century, with the population between Tijuana and Santa Barbara jumping from 1 million to more than 20 million," Patzert said.

Global warming in urban areas, often thought of as a function of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, is also strongly correlated with urban and suburban development, Patzert said. He said most major cities in the world, including Washington, are getting warmer as they sprawl.

"The long-term trend here -- we are getting warmer," he said. "It is a preview of coming attractions, if we don't change our behavior.""

What we are seeing now is, as Patzert says "a preview of coming attractions, if we don't change our behavior."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-- Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Only Cure For Bad Myths Is Good Myths

I found, as I often do, some very interesting information over at Miniver Cheevy:

"Hallman also reports that a survery revealed that the American population of Christians fell 9% from 1990 to 2001. Can that really be true? Well, yeah. USA Today reports on this, revealing also that spiritual-but-not-religious and not-religious are coming on strong. (While we're on the subject, Digby has some sharp-edged commentary on the political implications of these figures.)" Head on over there for all the links.

Miniver Cheevy touches obliquely here on something I've been knocking around in my thick old skull for some time. A recent post of Anne Johnson's has had me thinking about it, as has A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong, which I've been reading in bits and pieces over the past few months, getting angry over, putting down, coming back to, etc.

People need meaning in their lives. People need to feel, at least many people need to feel, that they are part of something larger than themselves. I think one of the reasons that Democrats have had difficulty winning decisive -- key word, decisive -- victories lately is tied up in this.

In the comments sections over at Eschaton, we're often struck by the way that conservative commenters seem to view world events and politics as a sport -- they've picked "their" team and they want it to "win" no matter what the cost. They seem, inexplicably to many liberal commenters, to be willing to lie, believe clear falsehoods, and to take positions directly contradictory to those that they took the day before if it will help their "team" to "win." We puzzle over it, but never really get to the "why" of it.

But Anne Johnson's recent post on rock concerts got me thinking about at least part of the "why" of it. Anne Johnson was complaining about the way teenagers acted at a rock concert to which she'd taken her daughter. (Pace, young people. You will, I swear, be old yourself some day!) And I got to thinking about why the behavior that she describes occurs. I think it occurs becausee all humans are "wired" to need ecstasy. Our culture provides almost no outlet -- thanks Puritans, thanks Max Weber! -- for that need and we certainly don't initiate young people into ecstasy or teach them how to handle such experiences. So they have very few outlets: sex, sports, and rock concerts, and no idea of how to behave, except for "out of control." And no guided experience of how to handle, sustain, or deal with feelings of ecstasy. And I think for our Eschaton trolls, identifying with a winning political "team" provides some of the same sort of "I belong to something, I'm part of something, I have a larger purpose than simply eating and shitting" experience that they'd get at a rock concert where they know all the words to all the songs, or at the Superbowl, or at a WWF match.

I think megachurches, with their flashing light shows, huge choirs, rock-star preachers, and crowd-induced hysteria provide something similar for those too old or too timid to go to rock shows. They provide it for less than the cost of a sporting event or a rock concert and they provide it once a week -- people can become as addicted to that fix as they do to heroin. Which makes it interesting that people who identify as "spiritual but not religious" are growing in number while people who identify as "religious" are declining in number. The statistic is counter-intuitive because, to listen ot or read the MSM, you'd think that xian church attendance and self-identification was way up, just as their political influence is growing. But it makes sense when you realize that people need meaning but, for a growning number at least, find it outside of an established church.

So what does all of this have to do with what Democrats can do? I disagree with lots that Karen Armstrong says and think that lots of what she says is racist, sexist, and culturalist. But there are certain points that she makes that I believe are very worthwhile. Here are a few:

"[W]e have not advanced spiritually beyond the Axial Age: because of our suppression of mythos we may even have regressed. We stilll long to 'get beyond' our immediate circumstances, and to enter a 'full time,' a more intense, fulfilling existence. We try to enter this dimension by means of art, rock music, drugs, or by entering the larger-than-life perspective of film. We still seek heroes. Elvis Presley and Princess Diana were both made into instant mythological beings, even objects of religious cult. But there is something unbalanced about this adulation. The myth of the hero was not intended to provide us with icons to admire, but was designed to tap into the vein of heroism within ourselves. Myth must lead to imitation or participation, not passive contemplation. We no longer know how to manage our mythical lives in a way that is spiritually challenging and transformative."


"We are myth-making creatures and, during the twentieth century, we saw some very destructive modern myths, which have ended in massacre and genocide. These myths have failed because they do not meet the criteria of the Axial Age. They have not been infused with the spirit of compassion, respect for the sacredness of all life, or with what Confucius called 'learning.' . . . We cannot counter these bad myths with reason alone, because undiluted logos cannot deal with such deep-rooted, unexorcised fears, desires, and neuroses. That is the role of an ethically and spiritually informed mythology."

Think about the myth that Rove and Bush created to explain 9/11 to America. There were any number of explanations for what happened, but the one they seized upon and pushed with relentless consistency was TERROR! BROWN PEOPLE ARE COMING TO HURT US! WE MUST FIGHT THEM OVER THERE SO THAT THEY CAN'T ATTACK US AGAIN OVER HERE! BUSH IS A RESOLUTE FATHER-FIGURE WHO WILL PROTECT YOU FROM THE EVIL, COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, BROWN TERRORISTS! GIVE UP YOUR FREEDOM AND HE WILL FREE YOU FROM THE FEAR HE HIMSELF CREATED!

This is the very sort of "bad myth" that Armstrong is talking about. One that lacks compassion, respect for the sacredness of life, and learning. But she's also correct that mere logos -- wordy logic -- won't counter this bad myth. Only a better myth will counter Bush's bad myth. And we need to come up with one that appeals to emotion at as deep or deeper a level as does Bush's bad myth.

I keep remembering the Republican ad with wolves that we as liberals thought was the dumbest thing we'd ever seen but that Rove swore was their most effective ad, ever. We thought it was dumb because we hadn't bought into Bush's bad myth. But for those who had bought into the myth, even a little bit, the ad was very effective at pushing their emotional buttons. Where was the Kerry ad that pushed emotional buttons? There wasn't one. In fact, his ads were primarly made up of news headlines being flashed at you. I would tear my hair out every time i saw one of those. If you were trying to make a boring, logos-heavy ad, that's exactly what you'd do. His campaign failed to offer a counter-myth to replace Bush's bad myth. He offered lots of good policy and carefully-reasoned analysis. But if Armstrong is right, and I believe that she is (about this), logos alone isn't enough.

Is an effective good myth possible? Of course. Throughout history people have been inspired by the mythos of making the world a better place, saving the world for their children, giving of themselves in order to help others, rising to a higher level of learning and organization in order to be part of a larger whole. Soldiers die every day because they believe that they are making a sacrifice for the good of the whole. They merely need to be shown a different way to give of themselves.

Someone who didn't learn everything they know from Bob Schrum or Donna Brazille needs to develop a stronger myth. A myth that offers people an opportunity to feel a part of something larger than themselves, that allows them to experience ecstasy in a non-harmful way, that touches their emotions as deeply as does Bush's bad myth. A myth that engages them in saving the planet, healing the sick, educating our young (and old!) people, in finding new ways to think about work and family and commerce and community. Then, they need to distill the myth to a few short declarative sentences, just as Rove distilled Bush's bad myth of terror=war=father figure=give-up-freedom. If you build it, they will come.

I don't have that myth articulated, so perhaps I'm as bad as the Obamas and Bidens who keep saying what Democrats should do, but I do know that our good myth must be strong and inspiring and heartfelt. Which is why playing Republican Lite will never, ever work. If people want Republicans, they can vote for Republicans. We need a myth that inspires people to work for peace and justice, that makes them passionate about healing the Earth, that people can identify with at a core level -- a heroic myth that inspires, not worship, but participation. And we need it now.


In comments, eli questions the use of the word "myth" here. Armstrong uses it to mean fundamental ways to explain basic concepts. The way that she uses it, a "myth" is always true -- on some level -- and that's true of both good and bad myths. eli asks if the term "narrative" works as well, and I don't think so. Narrative is too much of a logos/logic/left-brained kind of thing. What's needed here, IMHO, is something deeper, something that touches people at a deeper level, at a more emotional level, than does a narrative.

It Doesn't Take A Crystal Ball To See Where This Is Going

Cassandra that I am, I'm going to make a prediction. The ignored problem that will hit us hard this summer won't be a terrorist attack or a hurricane. No, maybe during the week that Bush will be spending in Crawford (yeah, he's "cutting back" since he was for month long vacations before he was against them), there will be massive, essentially nation-wide, electrical blackouts. OK, you don't need to have a crystal ball to see this, but, THAT'S THE POINT! I don't want to hear Condi or Energy Secretary Bodman explaining in August that no one could have anticipated that the entire grid would go down. Not when, in my world, all the signs are flashing red. And we know that the odiously- and ironically-named Department of Homeland Security is completely not ready for this. People are already dying here and in Europe due to the heat and lack of electrons. More will die when the blackouts are larger.

Today's EEI newsletter tells the story:

In California, the world's seventh largest economy: Stage 2 Emergency Declared in California as Demand Soars

The California ISO declared a Stage 2 emergency Monday afternoon as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., and regulators called on state agencies and private businesses to reduce their usage to prevent blackouts, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The Times reported that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison "acknowledged Monday that their systems — parts of which were built in the 1920s and 1930s — were not designed to handle anywhere near the power demand produced during the heat wave." DWP General Manager Ron Deaton was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "When these transformers were installed, you had neighborhoods that weren't air-conditioned, homes without two computers and five television sets."

As of Monday afternoon, about 32,000 residents remained without power, though DWP officials said it hoped to restore all of it customers within the next 24 hours, the Times reported.

Southern California Edison spokesman Steven Conroy said the company already has had to replace more than 715 transformers, some due to the age of the equipment and some because of the stresses created by the power demand, the Times reported. The utilityÂ’s plan is to use money from a $9-billion infrastructure upgrade to replace transformers over the next five years.

In a news release, Ron Litzinger, SCE senior VP for transmission and distribution, said the heat wave is making it difficult to get help from other utilities: "We've issued a call to our neighboring utilities for help, but they're also coping with heat-storm conditions and have no personnel available to help us at this time. We are currently assessing the availability and response time of personnel from utilities in other states."

CAISO CEO Yakout Mansour said this heat wave is the worst since 1998 and has led to demand that was 40 percent higher than the peak of the Enron crisis, the Times reported. . . .

While experts agree that the state is in better shape with regards to its energy situation, most of the gains that have been made are being wiped out by surging demand, the Times reported. San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas President Debra Reed was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "The peaks that we're seeing now are way above the peaks that we were seeing during the energy crisis." Cooler temperatures were expected today.

In New York City, the nation's financial center:

ConEd Still Struggling to Resolve Queens Outage; Restore Power

Consolidated Edison officials believe the massive outage in Queens was caused when about half of the feeder cables that supplied the western portion on the borough failed, the New York Times reported today. Wrote the newspaper: "At a command center near Union Square in Manhattan, top managers at the utility had to choose: keep the power running and take the risk of causing more damage to the system, or shut down the network serving western and northern Queens, guaranteeing a wide blackout but one that could likely be resolved quickly."

UPI wrote: "Just why ConEd's other 56 distribution areas came through without problems while the Queens area crashed remained a mystery; however the localized nature of the problem seemed to raise the distinct possibility that it was a simple equipment failure somewhere in the vast labyrinth of underground cables and transformers." The utility expected the "vast majority" of customers to be back online by today.

In an analysis of the outage, UPI questioned whether the situation in Queens was a sign of things to come: "The big question - make that the multibillion-dollar question - to be illuminated by the pending ConEd report is whether or not the local grid in New York can still handle the growing amount of power consumers are demanding, and if not, are other major American cities about to hit the wall as well?"
In comments, Elizabeth notes that parts of Pennsylvania are without power and haven't gotten national news.

In the Heartland:

Sen. Talent Seeks State, Federal Investigation of St. Louis Blackout

Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., called for a federal and state investigation of the causes of the St. Louis blackout to begin once Ameren finishes putting its consumers back online, the Associated Press reported. The investigation would cover Ameren as well as other parties, including local and state regulators.

Talent said the investigation should look into the reliability of Ameren's grid, its crisis management system, and its program for trimming trees near lines. The senator praised Ameren for its recovery efforts and said he did not believe the utility was unprepared for storms.

Utility VP for energy delivery Ron Zdellar said the sudden impact of storms last Wednesday gave Ameren practically no time to prepare for damage, and that it began its response 15 minutes after the storms.

And across the Atlantic, things are no better:

Heat Wave Raises Electricity Consumption to Record Levels in Europe

A heat wave across Europe has raised electricity consumption to record levels in Spain while France's EDF skirted environmental norms by discharging hot water from its nuclear plants to meet the demand, Agence France Presse reported.

According to AFP, the death toll this year from the heat wave in Europe was about 40. The governments of Poland and The Netherlands have also warned that this year the potato and cereal harvests would be lower by 20 percent to 30 percent compared to last year due to the continuing heat wave.

So here's what's happening. Global warming is making the planet too hot. In order to get relief from the heat, people are running their air conditioning and staying inside, which generally means that they're running electrical devices such as computers, tvs, video games, etc. That increased demand for electricity is straining a system that wasn't built to deliver that many electrons for that long a time. We're running out of the margin of error that was once provided for by the fact that a heat wave in NY generally didn't mean a heat wave in, say, Ohio or Canada and you could ship power from the cooler place to the isolated hot spot. Now, just about every single spot is a hot spot. The increased demand also means that utilities are now having to run all their generators, including the older, more expensive, and more polluting generators -- coal plants, for example, in addition to baseload nuclear plants. So we've got a viciousous circle: carbon emissions create global warming, which causes people to use more electricity, which causes more carbon emissions.

Another factor is that global warming, and the heat that it produces, have led to more intense weather patterns. Serious storms take down transmission lines and strand larger and larger populations without power.

But it's not going to go on indefinitely. Sometime this summer a transformer will blow at the same time that a transmission line in the next grid is down due to a storm. Or some power trader will decide that it's more profitable to simply default on a contract to provide electrons than it would be to try to cover his short position in the open market when prices are sky-high. The public utility that needed that power to keep the lights on won't have enough time to find the power somewhere else and a cascading blackout will take down grids from one part of the country to the next. However it happens, large portions of the national grid will go down at the same time.

Bush will read My Pet Goat and look scared. He'll send out Bodman or someone else to say that NO ONE could have possibly predicted that this would happen. Homeland Security will fiddle around and screw things up. Rush will go on the air and suggest that the people looting ice from closed grocery stores should be shot on site for living while being brown, or poor, or whatever. Hastert will blame Bill Clinton. The oil execs will say that if we'd only drilled in ANWR this would never have happened. Cheney and Senate Republicans will throw the Federal Power Act in the trash can and ask Dynergy and Reliant to write the new law. In secret. And Americans will begin to learn to get used to not having a steady, reliable source of electricity, which will stand them in good stead next summer when the problem will -- strangely enough -- be even worse.

And I will say, "I told you so."

A real leader would be doing something about this right now. Mandatory conservation measures. Strict limits on the use of, just for example, decorative and advertising lights. Early closings for government offices. A standing Section 202(c) order in place that requires power companies to sell power whenever the temperature reaches a certain level or power reserves dip below a certain level. Bringing home the national guard and training them to help out power companies to get lines back up after storms. Those would be good first steps to take right now. Of course, sensible population and energy policies are the only long-term answer, but there are things a real leader could and should do to get us through this summer. The twenty to thirty percent reduction in potato and cereal harvests due to global warming will have to be dealt with this winter and fall, as well.

I understand Bush cut his vacation short so he could do more fundraising.

Free To Submit To The Patriarchy

Now here is a righteous rant from Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy.

When you live in the patriarchy, it can be difficult to tell to what extent your feelings are influenced by the zeitgeist that the patriarchy creates and maintains. Sort of the same way that fish probably have never discovered water.

So while I'll admit to some ambiguity about the edges of Twisty's argument, I'm not sure to what extent that may be Stockholm Syndrome and to what extent it may reflect genuine progress that feminists have made that make it at least "safer" to express my sexuality in ways that are "acceptable" or "approved" by the patriarchy. We're still living in a culture that makes it difficult for us to make genuine choices, which, I suppose, is Twisty's main point. What do you think?

Go Freeway

The Boston Globe has an article on freeway blogging that highlights The Freeway Blogger's fantastic work. The Globe reports that "Highway blogging is a 'growing movement, reflecting people's frustration and their feeling that they're unable to speak out in any way,' [a freeway blogger] said. 'And I love low-tech solutions to things. This is essentially the opposite of what we're expected to do culturally, which is to pay for advertising space.'

Bloggers acknowledge they have no way to assess whether their messages change minds. And they concede most motorists probably pay the same heed to protest signs that they do to speed limits.

'If nothing else,' [a freeway blogger] said, it is energizing to act against the war in Iraq. Highway blogging is 'kind of a tonic for the troops on my side,' he said."

Obscenity Is One Of Those Things That You Recognize When You See It

NYT is reporting that BP "announced a profit of $7.27 billion in the second quarter, 30 percent more than the comparable period a year ago and the equivalent of more than $55,000 a minute."

I'm going to repeat that. BP is making a profit of more than $55,000 a minute. As the picture above shows, BP isn't the only oil company making obscene profits.

The NYT explains that "Sky-high crude oil prices are the main reason BP’s coffers are overflowing, and analysts a string of similarly robust figures from the other global oil giants as they report their second-quarter results in the next few days, which will probably prompt a new round of calls by politicians to impose windfall profits taxes on the industry."

I don't want a new round of calls by politicians to impose windfall profits taxes on the industry. I want a windfall profits tax and I want it now.

Great. If We're Not Going To Spend Federal Money On Morally Objectionable Stuff, I've Got A Little List And It Starts With Iraq.

WaPo reports that:

"President Bush does not consider stem cell research using human embryos to be murder, the White House said yesterday, reversing its description of his position just days after he vetoed legislation to lift federal funding restrictions on the hotly disputed area of study.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said yesterday that he 'overstated the president's position during a briefing last week but said Bush rejected the bill because 'he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans.'"

I wrote a letter to the WH today telling Bush that the war in Iraq is morally objectionable to me and to many, many other Americans and that he needs to quit spending federal money on it.

I'll wait until he pulls us out of Iraq to mention "faith-based funding," "abstinence education," Gitmo, secret rendition, domestic spying, signing statements, and corporate welfare, which I also find morally objectionable.

They've backed themselves into this corner. We should exploit it. Can we get, oh, say 2 or 3 million people to write similar letters to the WH?


I haven't been to see a Woody Allen film since he ran off with his step-daughter, but this could be either a lot of fun for tarot enthusiasts or something really terrible.

Scoop tells the story of "late U.K. journalist Joe Strombel (played by Mr. McShane) [who] is being mourned by his colleagues – even as, stuck in limbo, Joe remains committed to pursuing a hot tip on the identity of "the Tarot Card Killer" at large in London. But how can his legwork get done now? Via the very much alive Sondra Pransky (Ms. Johansson)."

A movie about a "Tarot Card Killer" can't help but remind those of us in the Washington, D.C. area of the sniper shootings in which, at one site, the Death card was left as a sort of "calling card." It led to lots of silly speculation concerning whether or not "the occult" was involved in the killings (It wasn't.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gorgeous Grandson Blogging

Here's my gorgeous Grandson at the beach, dressed for bed in his warm, soft, clean, cotton jammies. His grandpa, the First Ex-Mr. Hecate, is holding him out on the deck by Myrtle Beach. He's full to the gills of warm, nourishing, breast milk. He's in dry diapers. He's surrounded by loving grandparents, second cousins, great aunts and uncles, and assorted hangers-on. The First Ex-Mr. Hecate's husband sent me these pictures at work today.

I wish that every baby in the world were as well cared-for. I look at him and I think, "You'll live until at least 2080 or 2090, maybe more. You'll see the water wars and the food wars and the population wars. May the Goddess guard you. I'll do whatever I can to make the wold better for you."

I think this is the prayer most grandparents pray.

Or, We Could Just Keep On Doing What We Have Been Doing And Expect Different Results. What's That A Definition Of?

BBC reports that: The French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand has urged medical students and retired doctors to help in hospitals during the current heatwave.
The heat has now claimed 23 lives in France, reviving memories of the 2003 summer when 15,000 people died.

Surgeons, anaesthetists and obstetricians at private clinics went on strike on Monday, in a row over fees and rising insurance premiums.

Their UCDF union said the strike hit 600 out of some 900 private clinics.

Some clinics have closed, while others are open but without operating theatres.

French officials have expressed fears that public hospitals could be overwhelmed if private facilities are unavailable.

Independent System Operators all over the US were almost unable to meet the demand for electricity in the wake of heat waves and severe storms. From New York City to Los Angeles, people were without power due to heat and weather.

2006 will, i believe, be remembered as the summer when it became impossible to any longer ignore global warming. Here's the problem. There are too many people on the Earth for all of them to live even half as well as most people in the US live. Populations in places such as China and India are exploding and all those people want cars, and computers, and air conditioners, too. So we either control the population, or all live at a lower level, or we have Energy Wars. So far, we've opted for Energy Wars. I'm not sure it's the best solution.

But then, I loved being the mother of an only child.

Why John Conyers Fucking Rocks

I got an email, as did everyone else who's on his mailing list, today from John Conyers. He reports that:

You are likely familiar with a number of steps I have taken to challenge the legality and constitutional grounds of the Administration's actions. From the lead up to Iraq, to the Downing Street Minutes, to the outing of a CIA agent, to warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, I have called loudly for the Bush White House to explain itself.

I decided to file suit against the President in Federal Court in Michigan, along with 11 Senior Democratic Members of Congress. This suit was necessary because of a clear violation of the constitution. When the President signed the Deficit Reduction Act (which "reduced" the deficit by cutting taxes, health care benefits, and student loans), he signed into law a bill that had not passed the House and Senate. A different version of the bill passed each house of Congress with a multi-billion dollar difference in funding for life-saving medical equipment.

Anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock knows this to be a problem.

Given the stakes involved I felt it was imperative to aggressively take this fight to the courts. The President's lawyers tried to get the bill dismissed, but late last week I responded with legal filings that stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution and hope to bring the President, and our United States government, back under the rule of law.

As TalkLeft explains: "First it was ignoring the Geneva Conventions," said Conyers. "Then it was the abuse of Presidential signing statements. Now our government is arguing that it can pick and choose which laws to ultimately enact, regardless of clear Constitutional procedures requiring bicameralism before presentment to the President."

Snakes? Are You Fucking Kidding Me? Hey! I Hear That In 1984, They Had Fantastic Success With A Cage That Allowed Hungry Rats Access To The Face!

This month's Washingtonian Magazine reports that Thomas E. Ricks, a miliatry writer for the WaPo, has a book coming out tomorrow entitled Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Ricks reportedly reveals "verbatim dispatches by US Intelligence officers" such as the following:

"The gloves are coming off regarding these detaineet," who must be "broken." He requests an "interrogation technique wish list."


"Fourteen hours later, another US officer suggests 'open-handed facial slaps' and 'back-handed blows to the midsection.'"

and, the officer adds that:

"'Fear of dogs and snakes appears to be working.'"

Snakes? Snakes? WTF? Do the pictures that the members of the Senate saw include Iraquis being tortured with snakes? What in the name of Quan Yin is wrong with these people? And, note that we're talking here about U.S. officers, not one or two bad enlisted apples.

Sweet Kali on a kangaroo!

I Do Solemnly Swear That I . . . Will To The Best Of My Abilities, Preserve, Protect And Defend The Constitution of the United States.

From the "No Shit, Sherlock" file comes this report from Comcast that the ABA Task Force set up to study the practice says that Bush's use of "signing statements" violates the Constitution. WASHINGTON - President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of the practice.

The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws.

The attachments, known as bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

"This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."

Now, here's a question for the ABA or anyone else who lawyers for a living: Is violating your oath an impeachable offense? And, fundies, how seriously do you think he takes that bible that he put his hand on when he swore that oath??????

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

See, this is why I say it's impossible to read translations of Akhmatova and enjoy her poetry:

I Don't Like Flowers..."

I don't like flowers - they do remind me often
Of funerals, of weddings and of balls;
Their presence on tables for a dinner calls.

But sub-eternal roses' ever simple charm
Which was my solace when I was a child,
Has stayed - my heritage - a set of years behind,
Like Mozart's ever-living music's hum.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, December, 2001
Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, August, 2001


WTF is that? That's a mess. No one could read that (am I wrong?) and be moved by it. I'm sure she's trying to say something here about the difference between experiencing flowers in artificial situations -- like a ball --and experiencing flowers at a primal level, the way a child does, but it gets lost in the shitty translation.