Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Poetry Blogging

From The Changleing by Charlotte Mew

Sometimes I wouldn't speak, you see,
Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering:
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear, grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel's feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat's black wings,
The wild-wood bluebell's sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at your ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things,
But not in the midst of the nursery riot.
That's why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn't do my sums, or sing,
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Daughters, Sisters, Mothers, Aunts, Friends, and Lovers

I'm really getting addicted to the Mad Melancholic Feminista. Her recent post about abortions in a small town in the 1950s reminded me of Miniver Cheevy's post about rich family and community connections.

Here's a sample:

To better understand why this town allowed Henrie to perform these abortions, and why they too were as discrete in protecting the identity of the women from their community who went to see him, you have to look at this from the standpoint of Old Grove in the 1950s. The women who showed up in his clinic were daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, friends, and lovers. These women belonged to Grove and Grove took care of them. This simply was not an abstract question in any case. You weren't allowed to judge these women with scorn because they were, after all, people you loved and knew. The kind of absolute and unforgiving judgments and condemnation of women who seek abortions is an anathema to a tight knit community, where everyone knows everyone, where peoples' struggles are not isolated or ignored, and where children are under the guidance and care of all.

Only now, where we lived dispersed among each other, isolated, disconnected and thereby more capable of construing "others" or"those people," do we witness a swell of pro-life rhetoric, condemning all who seek abortions as "murderers," as "immoral," and as "sinners." We actually are far enough removed from the details of others lives that we feel entitled to judge them. "These young people today have no morals." "If people are starving now, it's their own fault." The erosion of community opens up the possibility of total, absolute and irreconciliable black and white moral positions.

What bothers me the most, as I try to witness this story not from my 2006 perch, is how much more tolerant, pliable and open these people were in the 50s. They had to be. They literally depended on each other to survive. Sure, you don't like what some of them think, what some of them do, but you can't afford to wholly discount them. You cannot walk by and ignore them. You know that "there before the Grace of God go I." And here we are now, in 2006, in a sea of anonymity. Helen said: "I don't even know any of my neighbors anymore. Grove is not the same place."


Most Sunday mornings, you can find me at the farmers' market at Dupont Circle, tasting the nectarines and the goat cheese, squeezing the cantaloupe, oooohhhing and aaaaaahhhhhing over the arugala and the blackberries. This past Sunday, Son and Daughter-in-Law brought Grandson and we made the trip a family affair. We overheard local restaurant owners chatting with each other, discussed the taste of the blackberries with a nice lady, and sniffed the lavender. I love going to the farmers' market, watching the produce change over the course of the year, chatting with the farmers -- many of whom grow only organic food.

"My" farmers' market is run by a fantastic group called Fresh Farm Markets. Nora Pouillon is on their board of directors, along with a "Social Scientist Entrepreneur and Technology and Information System Expert," a "Farmer; Activist; Father," and a former "Under Secretary, USDA." Every week they send out an e-mail with information on what food will be available at the coming markets (figs next week!) along with, and you knew I would love this, a poem about farming, eating, gardening, the Earth, etc. This week, I noticed something I hadn't noticed on earlier e-mails: a listing of "gleaning partners." The Fresh Farm Markets website describes this program under the "What's New?" Banner:

Celebrate Gleaning Week at FRESHFARM Markets!

Every market day farmers donate fresh food to local charities. Since 1997, we have donated over 100,000 tons of fresh food to feed the needy and homeless.

Our 2006 Gleaning partners are
~ Miriam's Kitchen, Foggy Bottom Market
Demo this Wed at market!
~ Dinner Program for Homeless Women,
Penn Quarter Market
~ House of Ruth, H Street NE Market
~ D.C. Central Kitchen, Dupont Market

ZipCar is another market partner, transporting food to the Dinner Program for Homeless Women. Thank you!

What a great idea! And getting ZipCar involved makes it even better.

Every Day In Every Way Things Are Getting More And More Fucked Up In Iraq -- Out Now!

Bush and the other members of his junta are delusional.

Why Aren't The 101st Fighting Bedwetters Worried About This?

Some people assert that liberals "aren't worried" about terrorism. My general theory is that I shouldn't worry about those things about which I can't do anything. But if there's something that can be done to address the problem, then we should do it.

The problem with the Bush junta is that THEY are the ones who ACTUALLY don't care about terrorism. They care about other things -- things that they cared about long before September 11, 2001. Things like the "unitary executive" theory, things like invading Iraq, things like raiding the treasury, things like staying in power. They simply use terrorism to scare Americans into allowing them to get away with murder, the same way that they use shit like abortion or gay marriage (about which, we all know they don't actually give a flying frap)to stay in power. How do I know?

I know because if the cared at all about terrorism, they'd do those things that we can actually do to protect us against terrorism. And they don't. They don't even pretend to pretend. They'll terrorize (to coin a phrase) Americans about whether they can get on a plane with a bottle of water, but they can't bother to do anything to ensure the safety of obvious targets of terrorism, such as, for example THE GOVERNMENT'S OWN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS! The EEI newsletter reports today that:

30 Assault Rifles Slipped Through TVA Nuclear Plant Security

A shipment of assault rifles was allowed into TVA's Sequoyah Nuclear Plant and stored in a "secure zone," United Press International reported, citing a report by the Project on Government Oversight. TVA spokesman John Moulton told UPI: "They delivered the right cargo to the right people; it was inadvertently taken to the wrong warehouse."

UPI quoted a plant employee as saying: "It should only take one, no less than two checkpoints to identify" the box of 30 M4 weapons. There were "four chances for those weapons to be discovered on that day and they weren't."
United Press International , Aug. 17.

Condi needs to start preparing her "Nobody could have anticipated that terrorists would try to take over a nuclear power plant" speech now.

The Nike Approach to Getting Rid of W

As usual, Freeway says it best:

I can't emphasize enough the power of simply one person working alone. I've posted close to a thousand signs on this weblog, and three quarters of them were done by about six of us. I think "Organizing" has been the clarion call of the left for so long now that it's paralyzed us as individuals. To those of you out there who've been wanting to do this but waiting to "get together" with other people before giving it a try, stop waiting: Just do it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Tribe

If you are in My Tribe, the first half of this will make you laugh. The second half will make you cry. Please, listen to this.

It's The Same Damn Thing Over And Over

Every morning, I wake up and I pray. I write down my dreams. I feed Miss Thing. I eat breakfast on my screen porch, looking out over my herb garden. And I promise myself that I'll find something different to blog about today.

But, everyday, the news provides me with exactly the same thing to blog about that it's provided me with for the last year or so. Environmental News Network reports that: Broiling temperatures and a severe drought have left millions of people short of water and strained power supplies in eastern and southern China, leading to at least two deaths and a blackout in one city, news reports said Thursday.

A blackout was enforced in the eastern city of Hangzhou to protect its power transmission grid after temperatures topped 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), the Xinhua News Agency said.

Power use in China has soared in recent summers as families, shopping malls and hotels crank up newly acquired air conditioners, competing with factories for supplies.
And, In the southwestern industrial center of Chongqing, where temperatures reached 44.5 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit), businesses have been ordered to halt work in the afternoon and at night to ease the strain on power supplies, Xinhua said.

Chongqing and parts of neighboring Hunan province also have been hit by a drought this summer, causing DRINKING WATER SHORTAGES for 7.8 million people, the report said.

In the eastern city of Nanjing, a 30-year-old tourist died of heat stroke Monday, the agency said.

It was the second reported heat-related death after a shipyard worker in Shanghai died while working weekend in temperatures of 38.6 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit).
(emphasis added)

China's future is our own. Short of water and power.

I can't help it. I'd love to blog about how much I hate the current trend towards blue and brown prints in fashion and how ignorant Hermes is to be courting the young youth market with, god help me, Twillys. I'd love to blog about how beautiful the mountains are and how much I need to spend a few days there, in spite of my job. I'd love to blog about how brilliant my grandson is, and how he's learned to laugh, smile, babble, engage the people around him, and revel in the deep, deep namaste of existence.

But, I can't. I can't because I have a grandson. And I don't want him to die of thirst. I'd sell everything I have in order to keep him from dying of the thirst that China's beginning to see. But that's a short-term solution. And I want a longer-term solution for him. So I keep blogging about the coming water wars, heat waves, droughts, and energy shortages. Am I buggin' ya? I hate ta bug ya.

We've Got Magic To Do, Just For You

Reflecting on her role in the Reclaiming Witch War (maybe it's not actually a Witch War, maybe it's more a lover's quarrel with the world), M. Macha Nightmare says:

To me, learning Craft gives us the sacred technology(ies) and thealogical framework to then proceed to work it and work it and work it, season after season, Wheel after Wheel. And with each working, we can go deeper, gain clearer understandings, have more profound experiences of the numinous. We can gain insights into the workings of the Worlds and the workings of our own hearts. We can grow in compassion and understanding of our sisters and brothers of our species. We can build a greater awareness of our interdependence on the Web of Life. We can feel our interconnectedness with all of life. We can learn wisdom. We can finder inner peace and the strength to work for positive change in our own lives and in the wider world.

I'm reminded of the words of my dear friend Steven Posch of Paganistan (one of the two best Pagan ritualists in all of North America, IMO):

"Witches' work is turning the wheel,
And round the wheel doth turn."

I say a prayer every morning when I finally admit that I need to get up and quit dreaming that says, in part, "Mother, allow me to be a perfect priestess in your service and, allow me, in all that I do today, to help to repair the Web." But I could, as easily, say "Allow me, in all that I do today, to help to turn the wheel."

Ms. Nightmare is touching on one of the more, IMHO, pressing issues facing Wicca today. How do we help those people who have "mastered" (ha!) what we all now refer to as "Wicca 101"? How do we continue to challenge people with new spiritual challenges and not, see, e.g., Witch Wars, with the same old stuff all the time? Part of the answer, as she notes, is to work it and work it and work it, season after season, Wheel after Wheel. And with each working, we can go deeper, gain clearer understandings, have more profound experiences of the numinous. But that's only part of the answer.

I get a couple of inquiries a week about how to "get started in Wicca." What's less-frequently asked, but more urgently needed, is how to continue in Wicca. My own circle struggles weekly with this issue, trying, evern moon and every Sabbat, to work deeper magic, to connect more deeply, to tread the magical spider thread that connects where we are (here) and where we want to be (there). It's the work of a lifetime. And, as helping to plan the coming dark moon is teaching me, a lifetime of work.

One of the best "Wicca 201" books I've come across is The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition, published by Llewellyn in September of 2003, by Dianne Sylvan. And, Thorn Coyle's Evolutionary Witchcraft can certainly be used to "go deeper." I've just started reading The Veil's Edge by Willow Polson -- a friend of Ms. Nightmare's-- which is written a bit simplisticly for my taste but which is billed as a book for "Pagans who have come of age." I'll let you know what I think.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful for those who believe that Wicca is worth fighting over and I'm grateful for those, like Ms. Nightmare, who aren't going away. I'm grateful for those like Starhawk (interestingly silent on the current Reclaiming debate) who start the trads and write the books that others can come along later and criticize. And I'm even more grateful for my circle of witches, working, stumbling, recommitting, trying, and, yes, thriving, at the business of turning the wheel.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they only kept but one. They promised to take our land and they took it.”

Derrick Jensen has a new excerpt up from his book, Endgame:

The next of Dear Abby’s warnings about abusive relationships was that you should be very wary if the abuser uses threats of violence to control you. A batterer may attempt to convince you that all men threaten partners, but this isn’t true. He may also attempt to convince you that you’re responsible for his threats: he wouldn’t threaten you if you didn’t make him do it.

These are actually three related warnings. As far as relating the first—the use of violence to control—to the larger social level, after my most recent show a man said, “You talk a lot about the violence of this culture. I don’t feel I’m particularly violent. Where is the violence in my life?”

I asked him where his shirt was made. He said Bangladesh. I told him that wages in clothing factories in Bangladesh start at seven to eight cents per hour, and max out at about eighteen cents per hour. Now, I know we hear all the time from politicians, capitalist journalists, and other apologists for sweatshops that these wages are good because otherwise these people would simply starve to death. But that’s only true if you accept the framing conditions that lead to those wages: Once people have been forced off their land—the source of their food, clothing, and shelter—and the land given to transnational corporations, once people have been made dependent on the corporations that are killing them, sure, it might be better not to starve immediately but to slave for seven cents per hour, starving a tad more slowly.

The question becomes, how much violence did it take to force these people off their land? It is violence or the threat of violence that keeps them working for these low wages.

. . .

The reason (part two of Abby’s warning) that batterers may attempt to convince victims that all men threaten partners of course is that if you can get victims to disbelieve in the possibility of alternatives—if you can make your violence seem natural and inevitable—there will be no real reason for them to resist. You will, like the owners of sweatshops, have them exactly where you want them: under your control, with no need to even bother beating them anymore. The larger social equivalent is our culture’s frantic insistence that all cultures are based on violence, that all cultures destroy their landbase, that men of all cultures rape women, that children of all cultures are beaten, that the poor of all cultures are forced to pay rent to the rich (or even that all cultures have rich and poor!). Perhaps the best example of this culture trying to naturalize its violence is the belief that natural selection is based on competition, that all survival is a violent struggle where only the meanest, most exploitative survive. The fact that this belief is nearly ubiquitous in this culture despite it being demonstrably untrue, logically untenable (recall the one-sentence disproof from early in this book: those creatures who have survived in the long run have survived in the long run, and if you hyperexploit your surroundings you will deplete them and die; the only way to survive in the long run is to give back more than you take), and a complete distortion of Darwin’s elegant ideas, to which it is wrongly attributed, reveals the degree to which we have internalized the perspective of the abusers, and done so against the combined weight of history and common sense.

The third part of Abby’s warning was that abusers attempt to convince their victims that the victims are responsible for the abusers’ threats: the abuser wouldn’t threaten you if you didn’t make him do it. This has huge implications for activists. I cannot tell you how many activists have insisted to me that we must never use sabotage, violent rhetoric, and certainly never violence, because to do so will call up a strong backlash by those in power.

This insistence reveals an absolute lack of understanding of how repression works. Abusers will use any excuse to ratchet up repression, and if no excuses are forthcoming, excuses will be fabricated. Recall my discussion of the planned “outbursts” of CIA agents. Recall the Japanese knot-tying art of hojojutsu,where every movement tightens the ropes around your throat. Those in power will repress us no matter what we do or don’t do. And if we do anything they will ratchet it up.

What is our solution? Probably the most commonly chosen solution, which is no solution at all, is to never upset those in power, that is, to use only tactics deemed acceptable to those in power. The main advantage of pursuing this non-option is that you get to feel good about yourself for “fighting the good fight” against the system of exploitation while not actually putting at risk the benefits you gain from this same system. (Have you ever wondered, by the way, why so many more people in the United States support third world rebel groups [rather] than participate in similarly open revolt here?)

Well, let’s try this on for a solution. What if we prepare ourselves so that each time they ratchet up their repression towards us, we ratchet up our response? If they make us afraid of acting decisively to stop them from exploiting and destroying us and those we love—to stop them from killing (what remains of) the oceans, (what remains of ) the forests, (what remains of ) the soil—what would it take for us to make them fear to continue this exploitation, this destruction?

Everyone who has ever in any way been associated with perpetrators of abuse will probably agree with this analysis by psychologist and writer Arno Gruen of why abusers must continue to ratchet up their exploitation: “[C]atharsis does not work for those people whose anger and rage are fueled by self-hatred, for if it is projected onto an external object, self-hatred is only intensified and is aggravated by actions that are unconsciously perceived deep within as further forms of self-betrayal. Thus, with every additional act of destruction, destructive rage raises its stakes.” [Hmmm. Now why does that sound familiar?]

The Oglala man Red Cloud spoke of this insatiability of abusers another way: “They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they only kept but one. They promised to take our land and they took it.”

And George Orwell described it again: “It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant of death we cannot permit any deviation.”

Abusers, and abusive cultures, are insatiable. They can ultimately brook no impediment to their control, to their destructiveness. Harry Merlo, former CEO of the Louisiana-Pacific timber corporation, articulated this mania as well as possible. After logging, he said, “There shouldn’t be anything left on the ground. We need everything that’s out there. We don’t log to a ten-inch top or an eight-inch top or even a six-inch top. We log to infinity. Because it’s out there and we need it all, now.”

The question becomes, do we have the guts—and the heart—to stop them? Do we care enough about our landbases and the lives of those we love? Do we dare to act?

Terror! Terror! Danger, Will Robinson!

It's been obvious for quite some time, to any thinking person, at least, that the Bush junta uses terror to try and bolster Bush's popularity. For a while, it even worked. Studies done in 2004 showed that when reminded of terror, Americans supported Bush by a larger percentage than if they hadn't been reminded of terror. (Why this should be so is a separate, but interesting, question, as, Goddess knows, Bush has made us less secure, rather than more secure. I was in a cab today where Limbaugh was bloviating about how liberals want Americans to be scared of terror. Projection. I'm telling you, Jungians will be studying these folks for generations There is a shadow at work here that is absolutely incredible in both size and force.) Of course, Bush was telling biographers even before he was elected that he believed that the road to a "successful presidency" where he could get "everything passed that he wanted to get passed" (aka tax breaks for the rich and the chance to raid the treasury) was to be a "war preznit" and, then, when he ran in 2004, he kept repeating, whether it had anything to do with the topic or not, that he was a "war preznit." It was like the creepy guy at the bar who keeps telling you, apropos of nothing, that he's a "successful business man." Nothing could make you want to get away faster. And, FINALLY, Americans appear to be getting tired of hearing Chicken Little run around and cry wolf, to mix some barnyard metaphors.

But I got to thinking today about reasons why people truly should be terrified, or at least as terrified as it is possible to be and still engage in rational thought and action. There is a real crisis threatening the very existence of our civilization, but it's not radical Islam. For example, today's BBC reports that The meltdown of Greenland's ice sheet is speeding up, satellite measurements show. Data from a US space agency (Nasa) satellite show that the melting rate has accelerated since 2004. If the ice cap were to completely disappear, global sea levels would rise by 6.5m (21 feet).

If you've seen An Inconvenient Truth (and if you haven't you should, right now!), you know that a rise of even part of that amount of sea water will result in the loss of a huge swath of currently-habitated land. The people who currently live in those places aren't going to grow gills and build beautiful bubble-shaped cities under the sea. They're going to move into countries, states, and towns that are already inhabited by other people. At the least, we're talking massive social disruption and strains upon the remaining lands. More likely, we're talking wars, which, although they'll be for land, will be caused by rising waters.

BBC notes that: [e]stimated monthly changes in the mass of Greenland's ice sheet suggest it is melting at a rate of about 239 cubic kilometres (57.3 cubic miles) per year. This figure is about three times higher than an earlier estimate of the mass loss from Greenland made using the first two years of Grace measurements. I find it interesting that this data came from NASA satellites. The Bush junta has been trying very hard over the past few years to change NASA's mission and funding to focus on bullshit macho trips to Mars and to make it impossible for NASA to engage in this sort of monitoring of the Earth.

Some have argued recently that over-hyping the dangers inherent in global climate change may do more harm than good. That would only be true if there were nothing that we could do about it. But there's quite a bit that we can do about it, from the very micro level (part of my exercise today will come from carting grey water from my bathtub to my garden) to the city level (see, e.g., Chicago), to the national level (see, e.g., throwing the Bush junta out of office and taxing their sponsors, the oil companies, until they are small enough to be drowned in a bathtub) to the global (see, e.g., World Water Week in Stockholm). We should be afraid. We should be very afraid. And, then, we should do something about it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Water Wars. Coming Soon To A Planet Near You.

BBC is reporting on the coming global water shortage.
The article states that: A report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns that rich countries face increasing water shortages. A combination of climate change and poor resource management is leading to water shortages in even the most developed countries, it says. Interestingly, the role of overpopulation isn't even discussed. Anyone else think there might be an elephant in the room? No? Just me? OK.

Further, the report reveals that some of the world's wealthiest cities - such as Houston or Sydney - are using more water than can be replenished. . . . Meanwhile southern Europe is becoming drier as a result of climate change and further north Alpine glaciers - a significant source of water - are shrinking

"Using more water than can be replinished" is a nice way of saying: "Cruising for a bruising." Course, before they dry up and are depopulated, they'll try to take water from other people. I'm not sure why this is so difficult for people to see, acknowledge, do something about.

Witch Wars

Lately, there's been a bit of a witch war brewing over an American Wiccan tradition known as Reclaiming. (Full Transparency: I've taken a number of the core Reclaiming classes and am signed-up to take another this Fall.) That's not too shocking; witch wars are, apparently, an inevitable occupational hazzard. But I was reading up on this latest witch war over at M. Macha Nightmare's blog and came upon a comment by one of her commenters named Marjie, who said: The easier, softer way is a fantasy that will eventually bite us in the ass.

And it occured to me that this statement is certainly true of Wicca and Pagan thealogy in general but also of many, many other aspects of life. It's the desire to avoid that ass-bite that often drives me to go ahead and do the difficult thing that I really don't want to do. Lawyers, like, in some ways, witches, are generally risk averse.

If It Keeps Happening, It's Not "just" A Coincidence

The Nexus of Politics and Terror

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, fool me, . . . won't get fooled again!

Thanks to several folks for the tip.

Blue Man Group on Global Warming

Your attention please. Thank you for choosing earth as your planetary vehicle. We hope you enjoy the many wonderful features of this planet, as you hurtle through the cosmos. Please note, that in the event of continued inaction in the face of global warming - your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. Please take a moment to locate this planet's emergency exits. As you can see, there aren't any!

Customary Business Practices Will Not Survive Rapid Global Warming

EEI reports that:

Businesses, Individuals Look to Affect Climate Change in Political Void

Denver Post columnist Gail Schoettler, a former state political leader, said that U.S. businesses have begun to see that GHGs present a global problem for business. Wrote Schoettler: "While former Vice President Al Gore has heightened the debate over global warming with his movie An Inconvenient Truth, the reality is that businesses and governments alike are ignoring the Bush administration's denial of climate change and taking action to protect themselves and their future. For some, the negative jolt of rapidly rising fuel costs forces them to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Some realize their customary business practices will not survive rapid global warming and decide to change now."

The column contended that the Bush administration has continued down a path of denial when it comes to climate change issues, and "refuses to join the rest of the world in taking action to slow it down." Meanwhile, Schoettler wrote, "American businesses and individuals are acting on their own. Once again, when our political leadership fails to lead in solving a critical problem, Americans will find their own solutions."
Denver Post, column , Aug. 13.

I've made this point before, but Schoettler does a nice job of highlighting it. The Bush junta, and, indeed, Bush I, have argued that protecting the environment would be bad for our economy. (Actually, it would be a boon for our economy, but bad for the oil companies, which, apparently, to the Bushes, ARE the economy, but that's a separate issue). However, failing to address overpopulation, carbon emissions, and global climate change is very dangerous for our economy. And the Bush junta is failing on a deliberate, massive, and catasrophic scale.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Lineman?

Today's EEI newsletter has an interesting article on a situation that is only likely to get worse:

Electric Industry Workforce Ages Without Young Replacements in Sight

The U.S. electric industry's workforce is aging and there are few young workers in place to fill in the gap, the Albuquerque Tribune reported, citing information from EEI.

Chuck Kelly, EEI's director of industry and human resource issues, said that 40 percent to 60 percent of the industry's workforce will be eligible for retirement within five years. Wrote the Tribune: "Only about 20 percent of the workforce are apprentices or other workers able to fill the gap, he said."

The electric power industry formed the Center for Energy Workforce Development in March to boost recruitment efforts. EEI is a member of the group, which focuses on promoting the benefits of industry jobs to high schools, community colleges, and workforce investment boards.

Kelly was quoted as saying: "Now, everybody is in the market for employees, and we are, too. We've had to ramp up our advertisement."

The Tribune crafted the story around the critical role of Public Service Company of New Mexico linemen in restoring power to area residents.
Albuquerque Tribune , Aug. 14.

As demands on the grid grow and grow due to overpopulation (see the report later in the newsletter noting that Reuters reported that Jim McIntosh, director of grid operations for the California ISO, said: "We are seeing record loads at much lower temperatures") and global climate change in all its various permutations, from intense heat waves to Category 5+ hurricanes, the need for workers to keep repairing the grid is likely to grow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I Think I've Heard Before What Happens To Countries With Such Radical Divides Between The Rich And The Poor. Oh, Well. Let Them Drink Stoli.

You know, Barbara Ehrenreich completely rocks. I have zero interest in seeing the new Miami Vice movie. Hell, I never even watched the old Miami Vice tv show. But Ms. Ehrenreich uses the movie to make some excellent points. Among them:

(1) Mann’s bleak vision of a world divided between shanty-towns and trailer parks, at one end, and unimaginable luxury, at the other, is not far off the mark. Take the crucial matter of travel: While the poor creep around in buses and the affluent creep a little faster in taxis, there’s a class of people who take helicopters to the airport, where they then embark on private planes. According the August 6 New York Times, private aviation has gone “mainstream,” with even the “merely rich,” who can’t afford their own planes, buying up 25 hours of air travel for $299,000.

No pretzels on their menu. As the Times reports, one private fleet met a passenger’s requirement for “Grey Goose vodka frozen two hours before flight, ice cubes made with Fiji water; filet mignon of precise cut and dimension; and Froot Loops… for the kids.”

(2) Meanwhile, according to, nearly half the world's people -- 3 billion --– live on less than $2 a day. Their lives are too cramped and squalid to make for good summer viewing. But they do serve a function as local color-- and by catching the occasional bullet or bomb.

(3) He offers her a drink. She favors mojitos, and tells him the best one's are in Havana. They're in Miami when this exchange takes place, but --– no problem --– a high-speed power boat whisks them off to the mojito source. If she'd asked for a Stoli on million-year-old ice, no doubt they would have hightailed right down to Antarctica.

I'm proud to say that I was only violently attracted to the thought of "Stoli on million-year-old ice" for three or four minutes before the angels of my better nature took over. Honest.

it's Time To Let Virginia Hear What A Worthless Piece of Racist Shit George Felix Allen, Jr. Really Is

As Atrios is reporting, Democrat James Webb's Senate campaign accused Sen. George Allen (R) of making demeaning comments Friday to a 20-year-old Webb volunteer of Indian descent.

S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca."
He explains that "Macaque" is actually an established racial/slur, specifically directed at North Africans. If you search the nastier corners of the internet you'll find it's in surprisingly common usage.

Here's a link with loads of local Virginia newspapers.

Here's another.

Here's contact information for the Falls Church News-Press:

Falls Church News-Press
450 West Broad Street, # 321
Falls Church,VA 22046
Phone: 703-532-3267
Fax: 703-532-3396

Nicholas F. Benton

Jody Fellows
Managing Editor

Mike Hume
Staff Reporter

Letters to the Editor may be emailed to

Falls Church has been tending bluer and bluer in recent years.

Leesburg has also been tending blue. It's served by the Loudon Times-Mirror, located at: 9 E. Market Street, Leesburg VA 20176
Phone: 703-777-1111
Main Fax: 703-771-0036

Paul Smith - Executive Editor
703-777-1111 ext. 1332

Bonnie Eaton - Deputy Editor
703-777-1111 ext. 1373

Barbara Payne - News Editor
703-777-1111 ext. 1406

Most Virginians read either the WaPo or the WaTimes.

Here's info on the WaPo:

Letters to the Editor and Free for All submissions can be sent via e-mail to or by surface mail to:

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20071
The Post requests adherence to the following guidelines concerning letter submissions:

Letters must be exclusive to The Post, must be signed and must include the writer's home address and home and business telephone numbers. Because of space limitations, those published are subject to abridgement. Due to the number of letters we receive, we are unable to acknowledge those letters we cannot publish.

Here's info on the Washington Times:

General switchboard:
(202) 636-3000
Mailing Address:
3600 New York Ave NE Washington, DC 20002-1947

Feel free to leave additional suggestions in Comments and I'll try to add them here.


Miniver Cheevy makes, as is often the case, an interesting point:

One tragedy here is that Red America perceives the pressure on rich family and social interdependence as a breakdown in culture, while I think that much of Blue America understands pressure on families as a consequence of logistical and economic circumstances. So strangely it's Blue America that is more sympathetic to European-style social democratic policies that support family stability, while Red America allows themselves to be suckered by plutocrats who are actually creating the pressures that make it difficult for them to live the family lives they crave.

In part, Red America understand the problem that way because that's how they're TOLD to understand it, by everyone from their minister, to the president, to the tv shows that they watch. But even once you understand the problem, the more interesting, and still unanswered questions, are: (1) what factors allow residents of Blue America to see through all the bullshit and (2) how do we go about making changes that allow those in Red America to understand that they'd be far better off letting gays get married and getting free health care for their families?

I think part of the solution is to begin to speak directly to this issue. Ads, news articles, even tv shows that explain: "Your family isn't falling apart because of stem cells being used in research. Your family is falling apart because there's no nearby well-run nursing home that you can afford for Grandma. [Insert name of country] has such facilities and they're paid for by the government. We could have the same thing here in America, but the Republicans won't support it. Vote Democratic. The Democrats are the party that truly values families." Or, "Your family isn't falling apart because gay people can get married. Your family is falling apart because Mom and Dad are both working 1.5 jobs to try and pay for medical care for your diabetic child. In [insert name of country], health care is provided free of charge and people don't have to work extra jobs in order to keep their children healthy. We could have the same thing here in America, but the Republicans won't support health care. Vote Democratic. The Democrats are the party that truly values families."

The Republicans have done a good job of convincing Red Americans that their problems are due to the fact that our culture is "falling apart" and that they need to focus on whether other people can have abortions or birth control, rather than on the need for sensible governmental policies. Democrats have been scared witless of this issue, in part, I think, because they do understand that preservation of what Cheevy refers to as "rich family and social interdependence" is a deeply emotional issue for people. But we need, Rove-like, to attack our opponents' greatest strenght -- their ability to appeal to people's emotions so strongly that they aren't able to either think logically or to follow the shells that the Republicans keep shifting around. We can only do that by focusing relentlessly on this topic (just as the Republicans focus relentlessly on these "base" issues) and by tying what we need to do to the strengthening of family and community.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Fidel Castro is celebrating a birthday, today. Raise your hand if you're surprised to learn that he's a Leo? No? Me, either.

He's done quite a bit right, quite a bit wrong, and quite a bit that was silly. So, he's ahead of many national leaders by at least 1/3, I figure.

The young Fidel, however, as I have had occasion to note, would not even have had to have played his cards in a terribly skillful manner.

Viva la revolución!

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

Wikipedia tells us that in 1910, [Anna Akhmatova] married the boyish poet Nikolay Gumilyov, who very soon left her for hunting lions in Africa, the battlefields of the World War I, and the society of Parisian grisettes. Her husband didn't take her poems seriously and was shocked when Alexander Blok declared to him that he preferred her poems to his.

Wikipedia appears to imagine that this is somehow an interesting fact about Akhmatova. It's not. It doesn't distinguish her from any other female poet married to a male poet. See, recently, e.g., Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

Here's some weakly (I imagine; it must be) translated Akhmatova for your Sunday. (And when WAS the last time you read something by Nikolay Gumilyov????? Or Ted Hughes???).

Wild honey has the scent of freedom,
dust--of a ray of sun,
a girl's mouth--of a violet,
and gold--has no perfume.

Watery--the mignonette,
and like an apple--love,
but we have found out forever
that blood smells only of blood.

--Translated by Jane Kenyon
Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova
Originally published (in the Russian) in the book Reed, 1924.

"Blood smells only of blood" is a good line. But women know, and I think Akhmatova knew, that different kinds of blood smell different. Menstrual blood smells different from the blood that rushes to the skin of your finger when you're pruning a rose, which smells different from the blood of your child when he's fallen and skinned his knee, which smells different from the beef blood that the butcher sells you for blood pudding. I imagine the whole Earth stinks right now with the blood of dead Lebanese, Israeli, and Iraqi children. Their blood all smells the same to me.