Saturday, August 18, 2007

Life Is Good

Saturday evening screen porch blogging. I'll get tired of the new toy soon, I promise.

Saturday Goddess Blogging

Lakshmi isn't traditionally considered a harvest Goddess. But she is associated with abundance and this time of year is all about abundance. More tomatoes than you know what to do with. Neighbors trying to give away their seckle pears. Queen Anne's Lace and Black Eyed Susans growing everywhere, in spite of the heat and the drought.

Amy Sophia Marashinsky wrote this poem about Lakshmi:

I am the ever-flowing outpouring of plenty
the inexhaustible
the never ending.
From the fullness of my being
I give richly and opulently
generously and copiously
luxuriously and liberally.
I am limitless
for I cannot be contained.
I am everywhere
and will never cease to be.

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging

Morning glories, and calla lillies, and hostas, oh my! A shot of the gebera daisy on the screen porch. And, because I love dappled shade more than almost anything, some climbing rose leaves.

Friday, August 17, 2007

March Against The War On September 15th

The D.C. goverment and the federal Department of the Interior continue to do their best to disrupt organization for the September 15th march to end the war. Here's an audio link to an interview with one of the organizers for the march. The government is trying to make the organizers take down the signs that publicize the war. A local Fox News station started this, campaigning to get its listeners to complain about the signs.

One way that we can fight back is to put up virtual e-signs all over the blogosphere. Sept15 buttonAdd the anti-war button to your web page or blog. You can do it easily; here's how. Blog about the September 15th march. There's tons of information here.

You can also contact the D.C. government and ask them to stop trying to interfere with First Amendment rights. The best way to take action is to call the Director of Department of Public Works, William O. Howland, Jr. at 202-673-6833, and the Mayor of DC, Adrian Fenty, at 202-724-8876.

The Interior Department can be reached here:

Mailing Address:
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Phone: 202-208-3100

The September 15th March is timed to bring thousands of people to D.C. to demand an end to the war just as the "Patreus" report is being issued to Congress. It's too important a chance to bring pressure on the Congress for us to allow Fenty's D.C. government and Bush's Department of the Interior to use harassment in order to silence us.

Will Global Warming Kill Democracy?

Ross Gelbspan writes in the Lowell Sun that:

While senators and representatives diddle over the beginnings of authentic climate change legislation, it is depressingly clear that even our best intentioned leaders don't really get it.

This is not about the tired mantra of "energy independence." It is not about "freeing the U.S." from its dependence on unreliable oil suppliers in the Middle East. It is not about "protecting the U.S." while the rest of the world is inundated by recurring floods, drought-driven crop failures, or increasingly dire drinking water shortages.

In the short-term, climate change action is about the preservation of any semblance of democracy. In the longer term, it is about the future of a coherent civilization.

The risk to democracy is embedded in the rains that have displaced 200 million people in China, in the flash floods that drove hundreds of thousands from their communities in Indonesia, and in the relentless storms that drove 800,000 people from their homes in Pakistan -- all in the last two months.

When governments are confronted by such chaos, they are inevitably forced to resort to dictatorial measures to try to maintain order -- whether or not they are inclined toward totalitarianism. They have no choice but to declare states of emergency and impose military rule. Democracy may well turn out to be the greatest casualty of global warming -- an assessment with which the Pentagon concurs.
Taking the longer view, coherent international order will begin to fail as island and coastal homelands are engulfed by rising seas, as crops are destroyed by drought and deluge, and as borders are overrun by environmental refugees.

To treat global warming as a national problem is to ignore the fact that, like it or not, we are living in a world that has become permanently interlinked. What happens to nations around the world economically and environmentally irrevocably impacts us.

Economically, for example, it is clear that many multi-national corporations have saturated markets in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. They see all of their future growth coming in developing countries. But since developing countries are most vulnerable to the impacts of an unstable climate, these corporations are already seeing foreign markets shrink and purchasing power contract as climate impacts exact larger and larger economic tolls on developing economies. We must recognize that uncurbed climate change will likely bankrupt entire nation states.

In the last two years, many people feel -- far too smugly -- that the U.S. is finally coming to grips with global warming. In the wake of both Katrina and Al Gore's film, the subject is finding its way into news coverage more frequently. It is even surfacing as a second-tier campaign issue among Democratic and some Republican candidates.

But this belated recognition amounts to little more than stage-two denial.

Cutting emissions by, say, 30 percent at this late date means little -- especially if those cuts are confined to industrial countries. Even the larger goal of carbon cuts of 80 percent by 2050 among industrial nations is meaningless -- since those cuts will be overwhelmed by the coming pulse of carbon from India, China, Mexico, Nigeria and all the developing countries who are trying to keep a step ahead of poverty.

What we need is a rapid global program to rewire the world with clean energy -- and we need it yesterday. This requires redirecting some $200 billion in industrial world oil and coal subsidies to clean energy. It involves the creation of a fund of about $300 billion a year for a decade, to provide clean energy to poor countries. And it involves a cooperative but mandatory regulatory mechanism that would harmonize the transition.

It is also time to think beyond solutions and look reality in the eye. The truth is that, in the coming years, changes in the climate will bring with them immense losses. We are already seeing the accelerating extinction of species, insect infestation and destruction of forests, the cruelty of a prolonged drought that has forced herders and farmers into a nightmarish conflict over a shrinking patch of arable land in Darfur.

The coming losses will test our spirits in ways I don't think they have been tested before.

But these same changes in the physical world will also give us an amazing opportunity for a huge growth spurt in our social evolution. As nature washes away part of our history, it will also create a new space in which we can begin to restructure ourselves in ways that are enduringly sustainable, intrinsically global and, above all, fundamentally and unalterably equitable.

In other words, nature will be exacting a terrible price in exchange for giving us one more opportunity to try, one more time, to finally get it right.

© 2007 Blue Ridge Press

Ross Gelbspan was a longtime reporter and editor at the Philadelphia Bulletin, Washington Post, and Boston Globe (where his work won a Pulitzer Prize). He has most recently authored two books on global warming, The Heat is On and Boiling Point. He maintains the Web site: Heat Is On Line.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bangs Head On Desk

Local radio WAMU is hyping its ten o'clock interview with Starhawk.

So far, we've gotten: "Spirituality vs. Witchcraft

Is it earth-based spirituality or is it witchcraft? Listen to my interview with self-professed witch, Starhawk."

The write-up for the program isn't much better:

Starhawk, self-proclaimed witch, pagan, . . .

She freely calls herself a pagan, a witch, and a believer in the religion of the Goddess. . . .

The Wicca or Goddess movement has many rituals and feast days, including Halloween. Yes, they dance around a cauldron, but it’s often a soup pot. She notes that Halloween symbols such as ghosts (representing ancestors’ returning) and jack-o-lanterns have ancient Celtic religious roots.

One more time. Unless you're going to refer to the local priest as a self-professed priest, refer to Dobson as a self-professed xian minister, and call the local rabbi a self-professed Jew, don't call witches "self-professed." Just stop it. It makes you look like the ignorant boor that you are. "Is it spirituality or is it witchcraft"?!?!? Hmmm, is it Lutheranism or is it spirituality? Is it evangelism or is it spirituality? Is it . . . well, you get the idea. And, honestly, in 2007, do we really need "Yes, they dance around cauldrons?" Really? How can you confuse Wicca with the "Goddess movement"? Come on. Presumably the person doing the interview has done some research beforehand.

Don't make this self-professed witch call out the "fictional flying monkeys."

Is There A Plot Of Land That You Love?

Derrick Jensen on books:

Question: What book would you give to every child?

Answer: I wouldn’t give them a book. Books are part of the problem: this strange belief that a tree has nothing to say until it is murdered, its flesh pulped, and then (human) people stain this flesh with words. I would take children outside and put them face to face with chipmunks, dragonflies, tadpoles, hummingbirds, stones, rivers, trees, crawdads.

That said, if you’re going to force me to give them a book, it would be
The Wind in the Willows, which I hope would remind them to go outside.

Question: It’s 2050. The ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising. You’re only allowed one book on the Ark. What is it?

Answer: I wouldn’t take a book, and I wouldn’t get on the ark. I would kill myself (and take a dam out with me). I do not want to live without a living landbase. Without a living landbase I would already be dead. No book would even remotely compensate. Not a million books. Not a million computers. Not a million people would compensate.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's Funny What Upsets People In Florida.

Floridian blogger Sinfonian, not AFAIK a Pagan (although Santeria, generally classified as syncretic, seems, to me, as much a xian denomination as a Pagan one), has an interesting post up concerning the latet dust-up between yet-another group of those animal-sacrificing Santerians and the neighbors who love to hate them.

Like so many others, I have mixed feelings about this whole issue (upon which, it's important to note, the Supreme Court has already ruled). I love animals and am repulsed at the idea of killing them. But, I eat meat, fish, birds, plants with whose devas I've communed. I swat mosquitoes. I've put out traps and poison when mice invaded my home. And, I have experienced how much power is released at the moment of any creature's death, so I can certainly understand why it can be useful in a ritual. (Really difficult to channel, but, still useful for a practiced (and there's the rub) practitioner, simply because there's so much of it and it's so instantaneous). Additionally, ritual slaughter of animals goes back at least to the Kurgans and possibly back to the domestication of farm animals. It was certainly practiced by the ancient Greeks, the Hebrews, and likely the Celts. Santeria goes back to the Yorubans of modern-day Nigeria. It beats, by most accounts, sacrificing other humans.

What I find truly interesting is the societal cognitive dissonance on this issue. It's completely ok for Dick Cheney to slaughter birds raised in captivity and released specifically so that he can slaughter them. Killing animals from magestic bucks to squirrels is considered a bonding experience for groups of men, fathers and sons, brothers. Hell, can you imagine how the NRA would react to the suggestion that maybe we should at least even the odds and make hunters use spears or bows and arrows? And, beyond that, conservatives hate the endangered species list. It's absolutely a god-given right of American developers to destroy the environment needed to sustain entire species of animals, to damn up the streams that salmon need to spawn, to cut down the trees where birds and squirrels and insects live. We enslave animals and use them to run races for our amusement, to suffer and die in safety tests for old ladies' eye creams, and to live in our zoos. But, ZOMG!, don't let the Santerians sacrifice a chicken or a goat!

So while I've zero desire to participate in the ritual slaughter of animals, forgive me if I'm not clutching my pearls over Santeria. Get back to me when Dick Cheney gets in trouble for shooting his friends in the face, much less captive birds, shot for mere pleasure.

And, you know, Florida, first you couldn't count chads, and then you elected Katherine Harris, and now, well, now, you're apparently still working hard to convince the rest of us that you are mentally retarded:

"They ordered us out of the house, desecrated a holy space, treated us like criminals," the Santierian priest said. They were doing this inside.

Neighbors said that while they respect Batista's right to practice his faith, they wish he would not be so public about it.

"I just think they should do those things away from neighborhoods, where there are no kids and nobody can see those things," said Ricardo Celiz, a sports anchor for Univisión's Spanish-language broadcast network, TeleFutura. His family, including two small children, lives four houses away.

"And definitely I don't want them to see any dead animals at that house," he said.

OK, Mr. Sports Anchor, here's a suggestion. Don't send your kids four houses down to peep in the windows, ok? Meanwhile, I won't turn on the fucking tv, where my G/Son would be subjected to horses being quirted to run faster in horseraces, fishing shows that display fish getting gutted, show dogs being groomed and trotted around Westminster, or xian ministers blathering on about the sacrifice of the body and blood of jebuz, how would that be?

Don't Let Them Silence Us

Local news radio is reporting that ANSWER, the group doing much of the organizing for the upcoming September 15th anti-war march: says it's received citations for more than $10,000 from the city. This notice of violation from the Department of Public Works orders the group to remove all signs reading "March To Stop The War."

The protesters say they've been putting these posters on the rectangular metal boxes near street corners for years and have never had any problem. The group says local and federal government are acting politically and unconstitutionally.

Of course, the Department of Public Works doesn't even have a good lie prepared: DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant says this is not about the message, but is an ongoing attempt to make sure people post signs according to city regulations.

If you have a chance, why not throw up a post about the march on your blog? As the ANSWER webpage explains, the September 15 Mass March [] is timed to coincide with the report of General Petraeus and the debate in Congress on the Iraq war. Iraq war veterans and their families will lead this dramatic march from the White House to the Congress on September 15. The last thing the government wants is to see the streets of Washington DC fill up with throngs of anti-war protesters right in the middle of the debate. The September 15th March will be followed on Monday, September 17th, with a Peoples March Inside Congress, led by Code Pink (Meet at 12 noon in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building ).

Add their button to your blog. We shouldn't let the DC government (shame on you, Mayor Fenty) prevent the word from getting out about the march.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sure, It's A Leo Program

Kkkkkkkarl Rove's gone and, as WGG notes, Social Security's still here, 72 years young today.


Calling Water In The West

There's a fascinating article in today's NYT about what happens when you mess with the environment.

In Australia, where a fence built to keep rabbits out of farmland clearly divides crops from native vegetation, scientists have observed a strange phenomenon: above the native vegetation, the sky is rich in rain-producing clouds. But the sky on the farmland side is clear.

Researchers led by Tom Lyons of Murdoch University in Australia and Udaysankar S. Nair of the University of Alabama in Huntsville have come up with three possible explanations for this difference in cloudiness.

One theory is that the dark native vegetation absorbs and releases more heat into the atmosphere than the light-colored crops. These native plants release heat that combines with water vapor from the lower atmosphere, resulting in cloud formation.

Another hypothesis is that the warmer air on the native scrubland rises, creating a vacuum in the lower atmosphere that is then filled by cooler air from cropland across the fence. As a result, clouds form on the scrubland side.

A third idea is that a high concentration of aerosols — particles suspended in the atmosphere — on the agricultural side results in small water droplets and a decrease in the probability of rainfall. On the native landscape, the concentration of aerosols is lower, translating into larger droplets and more rainfall.

My theory is that the fairies and devas of the native vegetation call the rain clouds and, when you destroy the native vegetation, you chase them away, as well. But that's probably just a more complete and complex way of saying that all of the scientists' theories probably play some role in this phenomenon without explaining the gestalt of it. This study has huge implications for issues such as biofuels (bad) and the level of sustainable human population that this planet can manage.

Of course, it's particularly ironic that rabbits were introduced to Australia by people who gave almost no thought to the unintended consequences.

Hat tip to Culture of Truth in comments at Eschaton.

Update: Aqulia ka Hecate has a post up about the relationship between magic and "natural" explanations, as well.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Just Saying

Hillary Clinton Is A Humorless Bitch Who Takes Herself Too Seriously.

Sometimes A Poem Is Just A Poem

Ode to the Midwest
by Kevin Young

The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
—Bob Dylan

I want to be doused
in cheese

& fried. I want
to wander

the aisles, my heart's
supermarket stocked high

as cholesterol. I want to die
wearing a sweatsuit—

I want to live
forever in a Christmas sweater,

a teddy bear nursing
off the front. I want to write

a check in the express lane.
I want to scrape

my driveway clean

myself, early, before
anyone's awake—

that'll put em to shame—
I want to see what the sun

sees before it tells
the snow to go. I want to be

the only black person I know.

I want to throw
out my back & not

complain about it.
I wanta drive

two blocks. Why walk—

I want love, n stuff—

I want to cut
my sutures myself.

I want to jog
down to the river

& make it my bed—

I want to walk
its muddy banks

& make me a withdrawal.

I tried jumping in,
found it frozen—

I'll go home, I guess,
to my rooms where the moon

changes & shines
like television.

Oh, Mr. DeMille! I'm Ready For My Macca Moment, Now!

Rudy Guiliani's macca moment. So long, you racist prick. Go. Just go.

Autumn's Coming


Where there's fear there's power, passion is the healer
Desire cracks open the gate -
If you're ready it'll take you through

But nothing lasts forever, time is the destroyer,
The wheel turns again and again -
Watch out, it'll take you through.

But nothing dies forever, Nature is the renewer,
The wheel turns again and again -
If you're ready it'll take you through.

by Starhawk

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shekina Mountainwater

May the Goddess guard her. May she find her way to the Summerlands. May her friends and family know peace. Shekina Mountainwater inspired me when I desperately needed inspiration. Goddess guard you on your passing, Lady, Goddess guard you. There's incense burning on my altar tonight for you.

Sia adds: The sisters who are with her today have dressed Shekhinah in her ritual robes and surrounded her with rose petals from her garden. It was exactly the way she'd always said she wanted her final moments to be.

Those same sisters are now singing over her body, and soon they will conduct the ritual washing of the body as they prepare her to go back into the arms of the Mother

Oh, when I die, dress me in the black gown with the hecate trim. Surround me with herbs from my garden. Tell some jokes. You don't need to wash me; my Mother will take me dirty. Drink all my good wine. Scritch my good, grey cat. Turn on all the lights.

Shekina, thank you for being there to light the way. Cross gently over, Lady; here's a coin for the ferryman and here's dry shoes for the marshy soil. Well met, to die at the dark of the moon. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.

Sunday Relevant Poetry Blogging

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are to arrive today.

Why such inaction in the Senate?
Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
When the barbarians come they will make the laws

Why did our emperor wake up so early,
and sit at the greatest gate of the city,
on the throne, solemn, wearing the crown

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
And the emperor waits to receive
their chief. Indeed he has prepared
to give him a scroll. Therein he inscribed
many titles and names of honor

Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered togas
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly canes today,
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't the worthy orators come as always
to make their speeches, to have their say?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and orations.

Why all of a sudden this unrest
and confusion. (How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?

Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that there are no longer any barbarians.

And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1904)


I may come back to Akhmatova, if I can find a further translation of her that I like. Good translations are not easy to find and I'm especially searching for a good translation of the full "Requium" poem. But for a while, I'm going to try "relevant poetry blogging" -- poetry w/ some relevance to the events, personal or political, of the past week. I think that this poem of Cavafy's ties in nicely with what wingnuts have had to say this week about America.