Saturday, March 29, 2008

Drive-By Posting

Spent all day sitting in a room of scary-smart, articulate, committed people. Eschacon has been just great so far. Probably lots of folks will post summaries; here's an early report.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The City Of Brotherly (And, Of Course, That's Sexist) Love

Tonight, in Atrios' lovely city, I was thinking about what an interesting phenomenon it is to meet people in "meat space" whom you've known in silicon for years. I came to Eschacon to hang with some of my dearest friends in the world, although I met some of them, in flesh, for the first time tonight, and many of them for only the second or third time.

I was trying to think of any other generation that may have had a similar experience and I just couldn't. This is interesting, this is new, this is, I think, in many ways, the early days of de Chardin's noosphere. Assuming that's true, how cool is it that I get to play in that field? V. cool.

Son was reminding me today of the lovely Spring dinner on the patio at Morton's when he told me, "Mom, you should check out this blog called Eschaton. The guy who runs it does v. funny riff on 'Preznit Give Me Chicken.'" Of course, no matter what he says, I told Son about Old Glory (family joke). So we're kinda even. Sorta. Nah, not really. I bought G/Son an Eschacon t-shirt and I'll spend the weekend knitting him a sweater vest. If you are one of the two morons who talked at maximum volume on your cell phone all the way from DC to Philly in business class this afternoon, I hate you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oddly, This (And By "This," I Mean "Everying") Appears To Be Working Out

After an adult life spent in apartments and condos, four and a half years ago I moved, deliberately, into this bungalow and screen porch with a small yard. I've spent almost five years living with the land and the trees and the plants here and editing, planning, dreaming, dancing skyclad in the rain, visioning the yard that I'd like to have. Tonight I think that I may -- may -- have finally met the landscape designer that I've been waiting for. He says that I can do everything that I want within my budget and, here's the beauty part, he told me that America is ripe for revolution and that, if it comes, he'll be in the streets, won't I??? We sat and killed a bottle of v. good wine and talked politics and investments and what it was like for us boomers to grow up burying friends during the Reagan years and what's wrong with America when it comes to sex and how Virginia is now, really, Zone 8.

I think that I'll trust him with my land, with my arisaema , my peonies, my oak trees, my beeches, my crape myrtles, my herbs, my sacred space. (And you think that you will trust her with your body and your mind.) (And, of course, it's ALL sacred space.) Miss Thing warmed to him immediately, let him pet her, didn't go, as she almost always does with new people, and hide from him. I'm going to let him take trees off my land, put new trees onto my land, change some of the most important things in my life. He wants me to grow, surprisingly, even more hellebore, wants me to keep at least one of the beeches, wants to take out the mess of shrubs in the Southwest corner, understands my need for unity and massive plantings, will find me a good space to grow herbs.

Does this ever happen to you; you meet people who you just know are; (1) right and (2) likely to be your friends forever? Somebody pinch me. It just can't be that EVERYTHING is going OK for me.

Light posting this weekend; I'm off to Eschacon, mostly to see dear friends, and back to a v. busy week starting Monday. If you're in my Women's Circle, or if your are Son or DiL, please feel free to guestblog.

~Waves Hand In Air. "Oh Ms. Pelosi! Ms. Pelosi! I Have An Idea!"

The Democrats never listen to me, but they could, at one fell swoop, eliminate the pernicious meme that they are "weak on national defense" and get rid of George Bush. Today, it's even more clear than it ever was that Bush has been criminally negligent in his management of the war into which he dragged America.

The NYT reports that the Green Zone is, to be honest, about to fall to Shia militia gunmen. That would be "our" Green Zone, the only safe place in Iraq, many years and billions of dollars after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished."

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection.

Much of Basra's problems can be traced back to Britain’s failure to commit the necessary forces
In Baghdad, thick black smoke hung over the city centre tonight and gunfire echoed across the city.

The most secure area of the capital, Karrada, was placed under curfew amid fears the Mahdi Army of Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr could launch an assault on the residence of Abdelaziz al-Hakim, the head of a powerful rival Shia governing party.

While the Mahdi Army has not officially renounced its six-month ceasefire, which has been a key component in the recent security gains, on the ground its fighters were chasing police and soldiers from their positions across Baghdad.

Rockets from Sadr City slammed into the governmental Green Zone compound in the city centre, killing one person and wounding several more.

Losing a war ought, by itself, to be enough to get a president impeached. You take our troops to war and lose, you're out. It would make presidents think a bit before putting Americans in harm's way. But the Dems wouldn't have to push that "radical" notion. Bush didn't just lose this war; he lost it due, at least in part, to criminally negligent mismanagement. Case in point:

the NY Times reports that: Col. Abbas al-Tamimi, media officer for the 14th Iraqi Army Division operating in the city, said he expected the fighting to escalate. “The gunmen have heavier and more sophisticated weapons than we have,” he said.

As Atrios, asks, "How'd that happen?" Well, here, from the war Bush lost in Afghanistan because he was so hot to invade Iraq, is a pretty good explanation:

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.

Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed.

In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

Moreover, tens of millions of the rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was also secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation.

This week, after repeated inquiries about AEY’s performance by The Times, the Army suspended the company from any future federal contracting, citing shipments of Chinese ammunition and claiming that Mr. Diveroli misled the Army by saying the munitions were Hungarian.

Mr. Diveroli, reached by telephone, said he was unaware of the action. The Army planned to notify his company by certified mail on Thursday, according to internal correspondence provided by a military official.

But problems with the ammunition were evident last fall in places like Nawa, Afghanistan, an outpost near the Pakistani border, where an Afghan lieutenant colonel surveyed the rifle cartridges on his police station’s dirty floor. Soon after arriving there, the cardboard boxes had split open and their contents spilled out, revealing ammunition manufactured in China in 1966.
More here.

I'm sorry, but it is criminally negligent for this administration to mismanage the war that way. The Constitution says: Section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States,
shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason,
Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

If this administration's conduct of the war doesn't constitute Treason, and I think that it does, it certainly qualifies as a high Crime and/or Misdemeanor. The Dems ought to start impeachment proceedings tomorrow based upon Bush's mismanagement of the war and let the Republicans filibuster or argue that losing and mismanaging a war aren't impeachable offenses (now, who's weak on defense, assholes?) or argue that Bush hasn't mismanaged the war (which would lead to the introduction of so much evidence of his war profiteering, negligence, wrongheadness, etc. that no Republican, anywhere could get re-elected this Fall).

But they never listen to me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My New Name For A Blog

What Deborah Oak Said:

Pagans fought long and hard for the basic right of a Pagan soldier to have a pentacle put on his tombstone. Soon we may be supporting the right of Pagan soldiers to claim conscientious objector status and be released from fighting.

There are many Pagans who do not consider themselves pacifists, who are not committed to non-violence. And, there are many that are. One of the things I hold dear about my spirituality is that within Paganism, there are many paths and many temples. Integral to being a practicing Pagan is respecting that there are many God/desses, and many ways of seeing the world. To me, I see no contradiction in a soldier in battle wearing a pentacle for protection and other Pagan soldiers asking to be released from battle because of their spiritual convictions. I honor both, but my spiritual affinity is with those who seek deferment.

I’ve a love/hate relationship with Reclaiming, but I am ever so grateful that this tradition I’ve been part of creating has the following within its Principles of Unity:

“Our tradition honors the wild, and calls for service to the earth and the community. We value peace and practice non-violence, in keeping with the Rede, “Harm none, and do what you will.”

I consciously and conscientiously object to war. I know that there are plenty of Pagans outside my tradition who feel the same. In the trying times ahead, some of them may be soldiers who have seen enough, whose stomachs, hearts, and minds turn against war and killing. There is also the possibility that the draft could be reinstated and conscientious objector status will once again be sought by the many who have never even considered being a soldier. If this happens, my son may be among them.

Thank you, Winter Soldiers, I give you love and I give you thanks. Your magic was in speaking out. May all of us Pagans who abhor war and practice nonviolence do the same.

I am a conscientious objector.

Are you?

Of course, Deborah's right that the Winter Soldiers do magic by speaking the truth, thereby changing (our) consciousness at will. Feminists learned long ago that the "personal is the political" and that telling our stories changes the world. As Muriel Ruckeyser told us a generation before, "The world is made of stories, not of atoms."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008




Miss Thing dragged me into consciousness earlier this morning than I would have liked. I got up and fed her, tried to go back to sleep, couldn't sleep, got up and took a warm bath in the dark, which usually puts me to sleep, couldn't sleep, went back to bed, couldn't sleep, and, finally, as the many wonderful birds in my yard began to make noise, got up, made tea, and got ready for my day. I carried my steaming cup, barefoot, out into my yard to confront a huge corps de ballet of robins and cardinals and woodpeckers. I love my life. I simply love, love, love my life.

All morning, despite the lack of sleep, I had this lovely, grounded sense, even when I was trying to go to sleep and couldn't, of inhabiting my own life. Of simply being present in my own life, content, aware, not imagining perfection, but, also, not focused only on what needed work, what was lacking. For a daughter of my father, that's a large accomplishment. I went to work, disregarded the opinion (which, to be fair, I'd sought) of an "expert" and went w/ my heart, asked for and got a plum assignment (that, to be fair, is going to require a shitload of work) and, then, after monkfish and cabbage, drove around Arlington looking at yards designed by the landscaper I'm thinking of using. Came home and sat zazen at my altar.

It's enough. It's everything that I've worked for. And, it's enough.

May it be so for you.

G/Son Blogging

Just because he's gorgeous and his Nonna adores him.

Imagine That!

From the "And Water Is Believed To Quench Thirst" File:
Comprehensive sex education may help reduce teen pregnancies without increasing levels of sexual intercourse or sexually transmitted diseases.

So find U.S. researchers who reviewed data from a 2002 national survey of more than 1,700 heterosexual teens, ages 15 to 19.
Whoda thunk?

Of course, the article then goes on to play the "some say" game: There is ongoing debate about whether abstinence-only education or comprehensive sex education (including instruction in birth control) is best for students. Let's be clear. There's never been ANY such debate among health educators or serious scientists. What there's been is a lot of propaganda (financed, thanks to the Bush junta with our tax dollars, because it's "faith-based") thrown around by people who hate sex, hate women, and want to create their own little version of Gilead. The sorrow and the pity is that these godbotherers have been allowed to ruin lives with their faith-based bullshit when data-based research, not to mention common fucking sense, clearly indicate that teaching teens how to prevent pregnancy will -- surprise! -- prevent teen pregnancy. (Which, one imagines, likely prevents -- surprise, again! -- abortion. Something to consider when the xianists try to convince you that they really do want to prevent abortions. When what people do and what they say don't match, I find it's best to rely upon what they do. Just saying.)

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or to get someone pregnant than those who received no sex education.

Other results -- not statistically significant, however -- suggested that comprehensive sex education, but not abstinence-based sex education, slightly reduced the likelihood of teens having vaginal intercourse. Neither approach seemed to reduce the likelihood of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases.

The findings, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, support comprehensive sex education, Kohler concluded.

"There was no evidence to suggest that abstinence-only education decreased the likelihood of ever having sex or getting pregnant," she said in a prepared statement.

This study offers "further compelling evidence" about the value of comprehensive sex education and the "ineffectiveness" of the abstinence-only approach, said Don Operario, a sex education expert and professor at Oxford University in England.

Not that anything will ever convince the fundie whackjobs, but could the rest of us please not grant these slobbering fools any more control over our education system?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Land Outright

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

-- Robert Frost

Today, The 4,000th American Died In George Bush's Illegal Iraq War. That's 3,999+ Too Many. Home, Now!

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by Wm. Butler Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ostara Centerpiece

Forsythias all over my neighborhood are in bloom. These are from my bush in the backyard.