Sunday, September 28, 2008

War Profitteering for Dummies



More Mark Fiore. Visit his site and view the Drill Baby Drill animation. It's hilarious.

Constitutional Compromise

Click on the link and watch the video.

Quick! Do it now ... Check out Mark Fiore's animated editorials.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Greetings from Sandy Point



Somebody named this harbor after a guy named Dennis Dreyer. I don't know what he did but it was good enough to have his name on it.
Anyhow I jumped on the Jetty Boat this morning and crossed the ship channel to an uninhabited island. On the way back I spotted these brown pelicans resting on some boulders.
There's an osprey that lives high on a pole near a marine science institute near the beach. Locals tell me he lost his mate three years ago, and now he sits up there and screeches in an attempt to attract another mate. I hope he gets his wish.
I've been here a week now, worked two days in new job, and looking forward to another week, my workload will double.
But I'm doing what I like to do, and the island life suits me.
Right now I'm at a coffeehouse on the main road that leads to the ferries, looks like people coming in for the weekend, and some are leaving.
The beach was very nice today, it was pretty trashed out from the hurricane; things such as a computer monitor and a jacuzzi floated onto the shore from farther east but cleanup efforts have restored it to its present state. Right now there is no seaweed or Portugese man 'o wars floating in with the tide.
And some guy (allegedly) faked a drowning in the surf to apparently avoid facing criminal charges, very strange, there have been reported sightings of him.
More on that later...
I parked my travel trailer in an RV park that's about one-third mile from the beach, and only about three blocks from the ship channel, and I've been exploring my neighborhood.
This town has more buildings that have been moved around than anywhere else I've been.
Also, I pumped up the tires on my bicycle and rode to the beach today, and found out how hard it is to ride a bike in soft sand.
My legs will be hurting for sure tomorrow.
But that's okay ... because now I'm on "island time."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

HOPE! CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE! ENOUGH ECOLOGICAL DESTRUCTION!!

In my limited efforts here in Seguin to help Obama get elected, I feel a cautious hope in all of the African-Americans I encounter--and a genuineness, goodness and wonderful spiritual beauty in these folk.

Here in this city, I have yet to find an African-American who doesn’t wish for the election of Obama and Biden.

Therefore, it gives this pink fellow ... selfish pleasure to work for Barack Obama, and these African-American neighbors and fellow Democrats--and for all U.S. and world citizens.

(Wish I could nip in the bud all this mis- and dis-information--and worse--zipping around on the internet.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Letterman on McCain

Watch it here and give your TV a break tonight...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Will, Conservatarianism, War, … Miscellaneous

Free Will, Universal Health Care, Public Schools, Ecological Economics, Pro-Choice. Desperately poor (poorly educated, poor in spirit, … ) in the U.S.—a country not concerned with sustainable livelihoods and communities, particularly under the “leadership” of george w. bush—don’t enter the military voluntarily and of their own free will! … And when they are sworn in, they’re at the “mercy” of a president who plays power games with their lives (and who did not take his own military service seriously).

Thirty-six percent of active duty military didn’t vote in the 2004 election http://electioncenter.military.com/register-to-vote.html . … That percentage will be up this year. Moreover, a majority of the numerous African-American soldiers will vote for Barack Obama. (And we certainly should vote in solidarity with them!)

The scientific research record shows that market solutions (alone) do not lead us to quality universal preventative-health care in the U.S., or in other parts of the world.

Education was mostly private and disorganized until the mid-1800s in the U.S. During this period development of public education began to take us on the road to more completely address the needs of the poor, minorities, women, the disabled, the disenfranchised.

Capitalism has been particularly extractive, and destructive of our natural resource base through unethical use of energy. We need rapid (though fluid) change to some kind of ecological economic system which moves us toward sustainable livelihoods and communities.

One of our major human failings (after we “left Eden” or being hunter-gatherers) has been our insatiable appetite for energy. As the rest of the world gets our “American-dream”/affluenzic 200,000+ kilocalories per capita/day appetite, we inevitably destroy more of the Land, Nature, Creation. To avoid this destruction, we must emphasize sufficiency over efficiency, recognize we “have enough”, and heed a loud and persistent plea from Positively Ethical Applied Community Ecologists (short- and long-term PEACE-makers) for policy and actions toward conservation.

No one should be allowed to have the power that making over $1,000,000* per year wields--particularly in a world with millions of folk making less than $1,000 per year ... and in a world where many species are going extinct because of the consumptive power of humans.

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. have been involved in our rampant exploitation and destruction of the natural resource base, and continued ignorance in the area of ecological economics. On the other hand, the platform of the Green Party has creatively proposed policies and actions which could help turn this around!

The world is full of grays, fuzziness, squishiness and nuances when it comes to difficult ethical and holistic decision-making. Nevertheless, short and long-term critical thinking toward quality life and a sustainable world does lead many of us to:

-recognize a need for birth control strategies and tactics,

-support women’s reproductive rights and right to choose, and

-condemn the barbarism, savagery and cruelty of torture, capital punishment, and War.


Governmental entities across the world should be the best collective structures for determining who are in need, and for collecting resources and distributing them to the needy. Moreover, WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT, or should be.

Conservatarianism. I only recently noticed the term “conservatarian”. It was used in a “proud to be a conservatarian” manner by someone who works at a Papa John’s Pizza and goes to school at a state/federal supported college.

It seems ironic that this self-professed conservative (adherer to traditional values/practitioner of moderation) and libertarian (advocate of individual liberty & no government regulation) works for a fast-food service business very dependent on our government’s cheap energy and food policy. … Moreover, he cheers the actions of our powerful government and military which took away the rights of thousands and thousands of Iraqis (They were killed or became refugees as a result of our preemptive takeover of a sovereign state.)??

Sadly, “conservatarians” also support our policy to allow only a severely limited entry of these Iraqi refugees into the U.S.. The selfish side of “libertarians” will not respect the “free will” of worn-torn Iraqis’ (Shi’as, Sunnis, Christians, Mandaeans, Jews, Shabaks, Zorastrians) which leads these Iraqis to desire entry into this country in the Americas—a nation whose luck, extractive economy and imperialistic policy has resulted in tremendous power over the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources and available energy.
[Personally, I’m not fond of barred windows, fenced-in yards, gated communities, or border walls!]

It seems to me that a true conservatarian would be a blend of Aldo Leopold and St. Francis of Assisi!?!!


War. War started with the advent of agriculture (“The worst mistake of the human race” Jared Diamond http://michaelgreenwell.wordpress.com/2007/10/22/the-worst-mistake-in-the-history-of-the-human-race ). Of course it’s much, much easier for War to ignite in today’s world--with our voracious appetite and addiction to stuff, and with human population levels well over the earth’s carrying capacity.

Nevertheless, there is no good excuse for going to War.

If anything is truly evil, War is evil. [This includes our current (Iraqi) War against “evil!”]

For the soldiers and their families, and businessmen, and politicians to which the Iraq War and other Wars gave meaning and/or profits, perhaps War and it’s inherent evil was “right”? For many of the thousands of innocents and their family and friends who died or are refugees as a result of the forceful military actions of our powerful nation, War is definitely wrong!!

In Iraq as well as in other Wars, we took the fruits of the labor of many thousands of individuals over thousands of years, and either destroyed them, or “gave” them to others.

War is contagious; War begets War. “Makers of War” teach their younger relatives and friends to “love” armaments and make War.


Past Presidents’ Contribution to My Dad’s Quality of Life. Even though policy might be developed in the wee hours of the night in the offices of a central government, ... as Tip O’Neill was quoted, “All politics is local!”** And family is the “’mostest’ local!”

....................................
My Dad (Alton Martin)--who had been a Marine in the Pacific in WW II--was born during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson and passed away during the current presidency. A general, quick and non-scientific analysis of which U.S. Presidents were more instrumental in providing him and his family(prior to leaving his household) quality life indicate they were--Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal WPA and Agricultural Programs (some of which has lasted in Farm Bills up to this current time) provided a basic income and stable flow of cheap grain and other feedstuffs for this small hard-working hog farmer. One of Eisenhower’s interstate highways passed over Alton and Louise’s small hog farm and they were more than adequately reimbursed. Alton’s frugal lifestyle resulted in his sacking away CDs and other interest earners, which significantly increased in value during and after the Carter years. (Toward the end of Alton’s life—during George W. Bush years—I remember him complaining about two issues, … low interest rates, and our always being at War.)


Palin’s Qualifications. One of my right-wing “aquaintances” screams out about “how good Sarah Palin would be as a VP or President, because he has a sister who was mayor of a small town.” Personally, I fail to recognize any critical thinking behind this conclusion!

Of course I see little demonstration of (holistic ecological literacy and) critical thinking on the part of any right-wingers.

………………………………
*Yes, we can debate where to draw the line. And it will always be a gray line.

**Elected officials react to the concerns and issues of their local constituencies in towns and neighborhood communities—and vice versa.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Artist finds inspiration in nature

From Staff Reports

The Gazette-Enterprise
Published February 10, 2008


STAPLES — The painting is titled “Three Sisters.”

It’s a portrait of trees that John A. Roof conjured out of the vast library of details that are stored in his memory.

The trees stand in unison, defiantly against a cloudless sky, rooted in a chasm of darkly hued earth that flows into — or out of — an underworld. That black earth is starkly contrasted with what appears to be molten lava, and then segues into an image of a field of wheat, or straw, or roots that lie underneath a thin veneer of green space.

“One of them, with the red hair, is my wife, Betsy, in the middle,” Roof explains.

Roof was a Boy Scout. He was a cowboy — even competed in rodeos.

He graduated with a BFA in studio painting from Texas Tech University in 1973. His wife also holds an art degree from the same school.

They raised three children, and after they were grown the Roofs bought the old Staples General Store and moved to Guadalupe County.

Betsy is an artist in her own right, whether she cooks tasty hamburgers for hungry customers or weaves new straw seats onto antique chairs, among other things.

John paints. He also restores old furniture. And he shoots photos in the fields of the alluvial valley where Staples exists on the west bank of the San Marcos River.

His late mother, Bonnie Bible Roof, used to always tell him to “wake up,” whenever he tended to do a close reading of nature.

“Nature is an organized confusion that comes together with color,” Roof says in a “statement” on his web site.

“Staples is a very small forgotten village on the San Marcos River. There are unspoiled fields where wheat, corn and maize are grown, and live oaks and pecan trees have flourished since long before the arrival of the white man,” Roof wrote on a Web page.

“To be able to walk alone in these fields, to watch the approaching storms, to hear the movement of the river, and to feel the wind is nothing less than perfection ... I have found my garden.”

According to himself, John A. Roof was born in Coshocton, Ohio on Jan. 14, 1949.

He noticed early in life that he seemed to be outside a circle, looking inward and spending the majority of his time just observing things to the point that his parents thought he had fallen asleep with his eyes open.

“I remember once when I was on a Boy Scout camp out in the winter and it snowed heavily. I sat by the fire all night listening to the snow hitting the ground and watching it glimmer in the firelight as it fell from the sky.” Roof relates to his Web site visitors.

“When daylight came I walked off into the woods and marveled at what lay before me,” he wrote.

Apparently, artistic ability runs in the family.

His grandfather could draw anyone’s face. His mother was an artist.

Roof has a painting by his son hanging in a hallway. It’s a self portrait of himself after he soloed in an airplane.

And Roof’s grandson, Jack, was taught to paint before he could walk.

“My grandson is two years old and goes to daycare. One day he painted a page, then he painted the wall. He painted the desk and then he painted the palms of other kids’ hands. His father told the teacher that he comes by his art honestly,” Roof recalled.

Roof attended junior college in Port Huron, Mich., as a business major for one semester.

“I took an art course to get my grades up, and I never looked back,” he said.

Summers were spent at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N. M., a 215-square-mile mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo stretch of the Rockies.

He walked the earth and soaked up the splendor of the trees, the sky and the mountains — even climbed a 12,000-foot peak many times to watch the sunrise.

“The colors seen cannot be painted,” Roof discovered.

After graduation, marriage and a career as a retail store manager at Texas Art Supply in Houston, painting took second fiddle to raising family, so Roof resorted to drawing and building furniture.

“We raised three children, and time for art got less and less, but always there was this thing of looking and watching. I was a voyeur of the world around me,” Roof explains in his biographical sketch.

Today, the walls of the home John Roof shares with his wife Besty are lined with the distinctive style of paintings that he calls the “Black Earth Series,” which invariably are begun with a canvas that is painted black.

There are also other paintings and photographs by other artists that he has traded with.

Trees are the focal points in many of the works in the series.

“I try to paint a portrait of the tree, which is what I feel at the time,” Roof said.

“The dirt out here is black. The dirt in Staples is black gumbo. There is upper earth and lower earth. You always have to have support, so I supported the underworld,” Roof said.

That support appears in the form of a single architectural column that serves as a sort of artist’s signature near the bottom of his paintings, noticeable after careful observation of the almost disturbing images of nature on canvas.

However, Roof refrains from explaining his art to admirers of his work.

“I let the viewers of my paintings develop their own interpretations,” he said.

“I’m not a religious person. I’m a spiritual person. I see a lot that mankind is overlooking, including life itself,” Roof explained.

Observers of his art work say that John Roof’s artistic style is distinctly "Roofian."

“My style is my style, and to me that’s the greatest thing,” Roof said. “I wanted to paint works that would sell for $1,000, so I could say ‘see, mom?’

“My goal was always to be in a one-man show, then to be in a national show, and my main goal is to have my grandchildren view my art in a museum of fine art, that gives you immortality on earth,” Roof said. “I want to live forever, and I want to paint forever.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Standing in line to vote? How bout some music?

Thom Pain (based on nothing)

Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) Thom Pain by Will Eno


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
I heard some excerpts of Thom Pain on Public Radio and was so struck by the language I bought the book, a collection of three one act, one character plays written in a style that makes Beckett seem cheerful. It's a short quick read full of great passages such as



"When did your childhood end? How badly did you get hurt, when you did, when you were this little, when you were this wee little hurtable thing, nothing but big eyes, a heart, a few hundred words? Isn't it wonderful how we never recover?"



That's Thom Pain in a nutshell. Now you don't have to read the whole play. But I think you should.


View all my reviews.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

But the elected officials say they work right

"El Paso County is on the Watch List due to many recent indictments of El Paso public officials on corruption charges and for obstruction of Black Box Voting freedom of information requests. El Paso County uses the GEMS system, which also puts counties on the Watch List. Waller County was added to the Watch List on Aug. 31 for vote suppression attempts. Collin, Guadalupe, Jackson, Lee, Sherman and Wilson counties are on the Watch List because they will be using the Diebold/Premier GEMS system in November. This central tabulation system is the subject of a product advisory. It has been discovered dropping votes, a defect which will not be fixed by the 2008 general election. The remaining 49 counties are on the Watch List because they have been coerced into dependence on a private vendor for all phases of their election administration -- undermining the entire structure of the county election system. Several of these counties have experienced miscounted elections due to unqualified technicians provided by the vendor. Several counties show symptoms of tampering -- such as mismatched results inside the machine; failure to produce "zero" reports (symptom of vote-stuffing); and vote-flipping (votes marked for one candidate migrate to another candidate)."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Proof of God's Existence



What a tool! Right? So this is what happened to him later...

“Zeroing” Trash … and Connections to Injustice, Discrimination, Disfranchisement, … ?

Through a collaborative city government-business effort, a few recycling containers have been placed at Wal-Mart* (one day a week from 8-noon), and near the rodeo grounds (6 days a week from 8-5, or noon) in our community of Seguin. And as a result of this limited initiative--triggered by public pressure from students and other citizens of Seguin--there may be reduced trash, more reusing of discarded material, and an increase in recycling??

However, I’m not so sure! I’m not certain because there’s been no comprehensive/intensive baseline study of trash flow prior to our limited community effort, and of what the flow is now.

In my own case, a “recyclable-trash to a recycling-conduit” has not changed, i.e., recyclables from our household and farm, etc. continue to head to a recycling system, as it did before our small public effort here in Seguin. However, I am probably expending more fossil energy now than I did before our current options.

Before the Wal-Mart*/Rodeo Grounds options, I loaded up our paper other than newspaper (We do have numerous bins in Seguin for recycling newspaper--and of course various sites which purchase aluminum.), plastics and metal containers, etc. in my pickup prior to scheduled/weekly trips to Medina County or Hays County to assist my daughter, mother or mother-in-law with various weekly projects. I would then place our recyclables in my mother’s or daughter’s recycling-containers and -sites … since Devine and San Marcos have recycling efforts and educational campaigns which are truly functioning, dynamic, and developing.

…………………….
With just a bit of creative and progressive socio-political/economic thinking, we in Seguin could have a robust, low-cost educational and “Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle”-system that would rival Devine, San Marcos, San Antonio, Austin or even Boulder County, Colorado www.govpro.com/News/Article/75549/ www.gazette.net/stories/061208/frednew175811_32364.shtml www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/other_waste_orgs.php .
(My friend Roland James has suggested several creative and innovative low-cost approaches to reducing, reusing and recycling waste in Seguin in emails and letters to public officials and news media, etc..)

Moreover, with some critical and creative community-thinking, those who are less fortunate than I**—who really have to struggle to make ends meet and have no real time to recycle under the current system, or even vehicles to carry recyclables to the “center” and east side of our city —could be afforded a curbside recycling service at no additional cost (or even a reduced rate) relative to what they are now paying! (Chew on this a bit—and see if you think this might relate to my title of this piece??)

In addition, we could build on a relatively conventional curbside recycling program and take it to another level which could help to remove the socio-economic burden off of the really poor in Seguin—and other parts of the world (We must help some of the truly poor out of forced existence in a squalor of trash, which includes toxic computer/information technology-age parts!) —and provide them with: increased quality educational opportunities (including about reducing trash flow, protection of the natural resource base, and ethical use of energy, and connections of these areas with preventative/comprehensive health care), empowerment , and needed resources.

Every community needs to do critical and creative collective-thinking and work hard toward zero waste/trash!

Our Seguin community particularly needs this!!***

It would carry us a long way toward reducing consumption of the precious natural resource base and reducing our ecological footprint!

And even more important is the fact that--if the socio-political/economic system dealing with trash flow were approached in sustainably**** holistic, ecologically-sound way--it could reduce exploitation of the poor, and disenfranchised and relatively powerless, and help us get on a stable route away from injustice, discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance!!


____________________________
*Wal-Mart supports the “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive consumption (and supports Bush's Republican Party www.brandcurve.com/wal-mart-encourages-employees-to-vote-republican/ www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_584448.html ), and is not de facto a real promoter of “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle”.

**And not as “blessed” with reliable transport/resources/time/power as others who recycle under the current system in Seguin.

***In a Power-Point presentation at TLU in 2007, I suggested this effort might be termed Toward Reducing and Abolishing a Spoiled Habitat (Zero Trash-- and a Clean Sustainable Seguin).

****Sustainable communities are “ecologically sound, socially just and humane”! Terry Gips, 1986 www.pdap.net/files/Proposed%20Philippine%20Organic%20Aagriculture%20Roadmap.pdf

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sins??: Masturbation, Birth Control; Weapon Loving, “Torture”, Capital Punishment, War; Environmental Destruction, Species Extinction

Destruction of life in (preemptive/any) war,

capital punishment,

clearing biodiverse Natural communities and replacing them with our deserts of artificial “development”,

eroding away topsoil (full of life … and life giving) and letting it--and industrial agricultural pesticide and artificial fertilizer run-off--create dead zones in the ecosphere’s estuaries,

robbing and polluting the earth’s waters to the point that we reduce aquatic, marine, terrestrial life,

living a life with a $100,000+ annual salary/200,000+ kilocaloric consumption per day/automobiles/conventional air conditioning … in a world where almost half the human population lives on < $2.50 per day
www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats


have to be (mortal and venial*) sins!


“My” Catholic Church has perhaps begun to really take these very difficult problems of humanity seriously. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080418-pope-environmentalism.html

Nevertheless it does have a long way to go in what needs to be a complete revamping of this sin thing.


………………………..
*Or continued “original sinning” by humanity. [Read Brody’s The Other Side of Eden www.curledup.com/eden.htm and Quinn’s Ishmael http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_(novel) ]

What Happened to the Liberal Media?

Could someone please explain why doing away with the Equal Time Doctrine was a good idea?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some Thoughts about the Election, Etc.

Obama/Biden and the Democratic Party are clearly the best choices in this November election!

[However, I wish they'd be even more progressive and energetic in efforts to develop policy and action that will move us toward: really dealing with global climate change (recognized as the major local and global concern by scientists specializing in this area, and as a major concern by most leaders and a majority of people of the world), local and global conservation of energy and the natural resource base, targeting the truly poor in the world with education and empowerment, health care, and power over resources, and changing our pro-war mindset and severely reducing this "military-industrial" complex of ours.].

Nevertheless, the misinformation, disinformation and lies spewed and fomented by Republicans and (psuedo)conservatives*/right-wingers, including the attractive (to many???) Sarah Palin with her entrenched (but very destructive) simplistic and "Fundamentalist" beliefs, are obviously compelling to many!!??!! (I do recognize that this is a political campaign--and there is misinformation/propaganda/plenty of spin on both sides. Nevertheless, McCain** has really sold his soul in hopes of winning the Presidency--and his campaign has truly been unethical in this area of lies and deceit.)

A wonderful friend, Alicia Helton, up the street had a good letter in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise this week (see below***). And then this morning on C-Span I heard author John K. Wilson interviewed extensively about his book, Barack Obama: This Improbable Quest www.ontheissues.org/Improbable_Quest.htm.

I think Alicia's letter and Wilson's book are worth reading.

..................................................................
* Don't ever call yourself a true conservative unless you're truly for: short and long term conservation of the Land & Natural resource base, ethical use of energy, and ecological literacy.

** I used to point out in a lecture on energy and energetics, that re. ethanol, McCain was the only one of the candidates (including Gore and Bradley, and of course Bush) in the 2000 campaign who was principled in not supporting ethanol subsidization--because the science showed it didn't make sense. (Gore was wishy-washy, Bradley flip-flopped from his position as a Senator because he wanted the Iowa/Farm vote, and of course Bush "didn't have a clue."

***"First I got an email stating that Barack Obama is not really a citizen of the US and not eligible to be President – probably based on the fact that nobody can ever remember exactly when Hawaii became a state. (It was 1959, and Obama was born in 1961.)

Next somebody left a printed copy of an anonymous email clipped to my garbage can. (I’ve had an Obama sign in my yard since February.) The message accused Obama of replacing the American flag on the tail of his airplane with the Obama symbol.

Last week a man saw my Obama button and asked, “Are you going to vote for a Muslim for President?” I wish I had said, “Yes, why not? This is America where we don’t discriminate based on religion.” Instead I fell back on facts: “Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ,” and “He went to elementary school in Jakarta with Muslim kids, but it was not a Muslim school.” The man was polite but did not believe me.

Yesterday an email from the “Swiftboat” website contained a video that uses partial quotes to try to show Obama disrespecting the Bible and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Only the fine print identifies the video’s producers as the same people who torpedoed John Kerry with lies and innuendo in 2004. They are open about using any means necessary to keep Obama from being elected.

Then last night we heard the Republican Vice Presidential candidate repeat what public records show to be outright lies about her own record and about Obama’s. Once again Republicans are campaigning with manipulation rather than persuasion and lies rather than actual differences on the issues of governing.

At www.barackobama.com/fightthesmears you can see photos of the campaign jet with both the Obama symbol and the American flag prominently displayed. You can hear and read about Obama’s positions on the issues, his faith, family, white grandparents, African cousins, and find explanations and refutations for all the ugly, personal, by-and-large bigoted stuff people are saying behind their hands.

Good people see and hear these awful rumors. So much has gone so wrong so quickly for so many that it’s hard to know what to believe. Let’s get the fear and the racist nonsense off our chests so we can turn to honest debate about how to save the planet, the country, and each other."
Sincerely,
A. R. Helton

Next Stop Armageddon


Hurricane: Next Exit
Originally uploaded by postmail


Friday, September 12, 2008

An Art League's PURPOSE

What is the purpose of an Art League? Most of them are non-profits- and are not really there to get rich. So what is an Art League created for? According to the Seguin Oakwood Art League's by-laws, it's "To create a public interest in art, to sponsor public displays and workshops, and to help artists work together for mutual advancement". Right now, this Art League's members are not together on the definition of what "mutual advancement" means. We all agree that it's for the camaraderie of people who have an interest in the same things that we do. We also agree that it's to help each other learn new and better techniques to improve our work and grow with. Some feel that if we sell our art, then that's nice and we're lucky, but that selling our work is not really the purpose of a non-profit art organization. Others, myself included, want to seriously promote the Art League to create a larger public interest in the group, increase it's membership substantially, giving us better opportunities to learn and grow from, and generate more sales for all. I don't think that the act of selling your art work is cheapening your creative vision, unless you're slapping out work that you're calling art just for something to sell. If you're creating your best with each piece you produce, then, you're staying true to your heart and you alone must always judge your own intentions. So, how can our Art League fulfill it's purpose in Seguin?
We need to:
1. get a building to use as a gallery and to have our meetings, demonstrations, and receptions, etc, where we have control over the hours that it's open making it more accessible to the public.
2. an active group where all work together. Not a few consistently doing the work for the many.
2. to promote our workshops more with the community - children's and adult art classes, etc, to bring others into the group.
3. to sponsor city wide events for the public to bring the group to the attention of all.
4. a president who will actively generate and listen to ideas for growth and then act on them with the consent and support of the group.

An Art League is suppose to inspire and enthuse people. You should be able to walk into it and FEEL the energy and excitement and let it carry you away - if only for a little while. And when you pass out of it's doors, you should feel refreshed and renewed. Let's get together and make Seguin's Art League shine! We can do this!!

Today's Quote
What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. -Yiddish proverb

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In This “Apathetical, Disenfranchised, Ignorant, Busy, Chaotic, Warring” World: WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT! (We Should Accept/Take This Responsibility)

[The government (which could involve structured living systems progressing toward quality life for all life
for a long period of time
) is a messy imperfect work in progress!]
........................................................
I don’t think Reagan was the worst president there ever was. (George W. Bush is, however, a major candidate for this position.)

Nevertheless, as Tom Friedman pointed out on Charlie Rose last night in the promotion of his latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, … President Ronald Reagan did do some long-lasting harm to the U.S. and the world community:


  • Reagan and his followers encouraged a lack of confidence in government.

  • Ronald Reagan was “anti-tax”, and he promoted the false hopes of “the invisible hand,” and voodoo and trickle-down economics, for taking care of living individuals and the biosphere.

  • Ronnie lacked the ethic of conservation of the Natural world.

  • Reagan tore down Carter’s White House solar panels, and--through the Reagan administration’s lack of leadership in the area of ecological literacy and movement toward a conserving, Green economy—Ronnie Reagan set us back many years in our quest for quality life, sustainable livelihoods, and sustainable community for all for a long duration.

  • Reagan and his “revolution” are responsible for serious environmental destruction, degradation and pollution

……………………………
I get aggravated at my lack of progress in convincing my local community that we should be educating toward and realizing: the reduction of, reuse of and recycling of “waste”. [We need to critically think, and realize that the haves and the powerful in this community make it difficult for the have-nots and less-powerful to do this reducing, reusing, and recycling. The workings of our current waste management system in my local community is just another example of non-recognition of, discrimination of and prejudice toward (and perhaps exploitation of) … the poor and de facto disenfranchised who live here. … But I personally truly have not been very effective in realizing significant socio-political/economic (ecological) change in my own community.]

…………………………….
As I just stated, I really haven’t been very successful in moving the local community we inhabit toward sustainable policies, practices and livelihoods. And I must know that I'm just not devoting the quality time and energy needed into this effort in order to be successful?

And now I’ve agreed to travel to Guatemala next month to discuss integrated pest management practices, and sustainable agriculture, livelihoods, and community with campesinos in the region around the Lago de Atitl├ín!??!

¡La vida buena! ¡Una vida tan loca! Some of us gringos really have it made!

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s been many years since my last confession. … .”

Save Our Springs Finally Gets a Break

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Big news in the Central Texas water wars. In December 2004 Barton Springs watchdog group Save Our Springs was slapped with a $300,000 judgment against it signed by "Judge" Bill Bender of Seguin, eventually forcing SOS to seek bankruptcy protection. But this week another Judge threw out Bender's decision finding that he was disqualified from hearing the case. Read more about it here.

Dr. William Davis' Sustainability Message This Monday Eve, Siempre Sustainable Network Meeting

Dr. William C. Davis—Director of the Renewable Energy Program, St. Philip’s College, San Antonio, TX, and brother of actor Ossie Davis--bought out folk in the community this week which our Siempre Sustainable Network might not have otherwise reached. And as long-time (English) teacher, Jolly Ellis, emphasized following the presentation--Dr. Davis reached out in a "compassionate, intelligent, and charming" manner.

I think the main messages from our interactions with the audience, and from Dr. Davis' knowledge and wisdom, ... and stories of an African-American family from the Okefenokee area--with significant indigenous blood and influences, and a diversity of religious, cultural, and scientific impacts on their lives, as well as direct impacts of wars on their well-being--were:

· we need to be persistent in our quest for knowledge (how to conserve; seeking appropriate technological systems/energy sources and use; how to make significantly positive socio-economic/political change; ...), but humble (in our actions/development of Nature)--with the recognition that we will never significantly penetrate true knowledge of Nature and the Cosmos/Universe;

· positive change toward more sustainable communities is very complex and messy to accomplish, with socio-economic/political (ecological) implications and nuances;

· conservation should be of top priority, but we must also rapidly make the transition to various renewable energy sources and storage/transformation systems (eg. hydrogen/fuel cells);

· if we want to really realize sustainable communities, we need to target women in the developing nations of the world with education and "ownership" of resources (from the audience);

· for high input systems--nuclear (fission) energy must be considered;

· we've got to wean ourselves from our high input, large ecological footprint lifestyles and quit dirtying our nest with long-lasting radioisotopes/low and high level nuclear waste, and pollution/environmental degradation from dirty/"clean" coal, etc. (from the audience);

· human population management to sustainable levels (1 to 2 billion???) is necessary for a sustainable world;

· war leaves lasting psychological and sociological wounds that sometimes never completely heal, particularly for soldiers involved in combat.

[Dr. Davis did have some wonderfully wise and profound one-liners that I wish I would have captured in writing and remembered, but didn't. ... Sorry.]

DRILL BABY! DRILL! ... USA! USA!

My wonderful friend Marvel Maddox of Seguin, Texas sent this to the San Antonio Express-News yesterday:

Drill Baby, Drill ... the mantra coming out of the Republican Convention is short sighted, gluttonous, selfish, and counterproductive.
Short sighted: it will only speed up the day we will reach Peak Oil and then there will never be a decrease in a barrel of crude ever.
Gluttonous: as President Bush proclaimed: we are addicted to oil.
Selfish: billions more barrels for us today equals zero barrels for our great, great grandchildren in sixty/eighty years.
Counterproductive: due to continuing global climate change and the trillions of dollars we will be spending dealing with those consequences.
Conserve Patriot, Conserve ... would have been a far superior (and accurate) rally cry by the straight talk express spokesperson Senator John McCain at the Republican Convention. Drilling now will not reduce the price of gasoline this month, this year, or next year; nor will it reduce our dependence on countries that hate us.
However, having a concerted national movement to conserve could reduce our level of dependency and the price of gasoline by this Christmas. Too bad we don’t have national leadership calling for this true act of patriotism out of the Republican Convention.
0% Conservation--100% Drill Baby Drill: Is this what we really need in the fevered world today?”
..................................................................
I think many of us in the U.S. in various parties are short-sighted, gluttonous, selfish and counterproductive. And I do think the Green Party has by far the best platform and plans for policies and actions for the short and long term—for moving toward sustainable livelihoods and community.

Nevertheless, it is also quite clear that the Democratic Party and Obama-Biden is a far better choice than the party of “drill baby, drill” and “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! … "

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Book banning alive and well in United States

This press release tells it all ... I wasn't surprised that Miss Congeniality (aka Sarah Palin) is a book burner ... er ... banner.

CHICAGO – Are books like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," or the Harry
Potter series available at your public or school library? According to the
American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF),
due to book challenges, more than a book a day faces removal from public
access in school and public libraries. Challenges are defined as formal, written
complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed
because of content or appropriateness.

In many cases, it is only through public intervention that books are saved
from confiscation or from being kept under lock and key. This Sept. 27 – Oct.
4, 2008, Americans will celebrate their freedom to read by reading a banned
book during Banned Books Week. This year will mark the 27th annual
celebration of the freedom to read, as thousands of libraries and bookstores
nationwide host exhibits, readings and special events.

For example in Chicago, on September 27, several best-selling authors will
perform readings from banned or challenged books. Participating authors
include Judy Blume, "Forever"; Stephen Chbosky, "The Perks of being a
Wallflower"; Ron Koertge, "The Brimstone Journals"; Newbery Medal winner
and author of "The Giver," Lois Lowry; Lauren Myracle, "TTYL"; Phyllis
Reynolds Naylor, Alice series; and Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, authors
of "And Tango Makes Three," the most challenged book of 2007.

Each year, the OIF receives hundreds of reports on books and other materials
that were "challenged" by people who asked that they be removed from
school or library shelves. There were 420 known attempts to remove books in
2007, and more than 9, 600 attempts since the ALA's OIF began to
electronically compile and publish information on book challenges in 1990.
Unfortunately, it is believed that for every challenge or banning reported to
OIF, there are four to five incidents not reported.

"Banned Books Week is an opportunity for the ALA to educate librarians and
the general public about the importance of intellectual freedom," said (ALA)
President Jim Rettig. "Individuals must have the freedom to choose what
materials are suitable for themselves and their families."

Most book challenges reported to OIF have been reported from schools (71
percent) and public libraries (24 percent). Parents lodged sixty-one percent
of the book challenges, followed by library patrons at 15 percent and
administrators at 9 percent.

"We must remain vigilant to assure that would-be censors do not threaten
the very basis of our democracy – the freedom to choose," said Judith F.
Krug, director, OIF. "Since our society is so diverse, libraries and bookstores
have a responsibility to provide materials that reflect the interests of all of
their patrons."

The "10 Most Challenged Books of 2007" reflect a range of themes, and
consist of the following titles:

·"And Tango Makes Three," by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious
Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

·"The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

·"Olive's Ocean," by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

·"The Golden Compass," by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

·"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

·"The Color Purple," by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

·"TTYL," by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

·"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

·"It's Perfectly Normal," by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

·"The Perks of Being A Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to
Age Group

Off the list this year are two books by author Toni Morrison "The Bluest Eye"
and "Beloved," both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association,
the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the
Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and
Authors, and the National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by
the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

What Drought Looks Like

leica_1200dpi108

This is the Sabinal River this past July. Last year I swam near this same spot and the water was over my head. The river reached both banks you see here on your right and left. This year the river is gone.

I walked about a mile along the dry bed looking for the Sabinal. All that was left were a few shallow pools here and there with some sad fish trying to eke out survival. I wonder if they made it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Banned books, it's what's for dinner

From Time:

"She [Sarah Palin] asked the library how she could go about banning books," he [former Wasilla, Alaska Mayor John Stein] says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

What Goes Around Comes Around...

"Our concern is that Hollis French turns into Ken Starr and uses public money to pursue a political vendetta rather than truly pursue an honest inquiry into an alleged ethics issue..."


Who exactly is Hollis French and why does he hate America?

Seguin Oakwood Art League's "Fantasy Feather" show


There's still a little time left to check out the Seguin Oakwood Art League's "Fantasy Feather" show going on now until Sept 26th at the Silver Center at 510 E. Court St., Seguin. It's open Monday through Friday from 10:am to 3:pm.

This photo is of one of the 40 or so paintings entered in this year's theme show titled "Feather". This painting (mine) is the Best of Show winner for this year's competition. Come check out our local art show before it's gone!

The Seguin Oakwood Art League is currently looking for a permanete home, but in the meantime, they meet the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Silver Center, in the Ezel room. Business meetings start at 10:am and the demonstrations begin around 11:am. The meetings and demonstrations are free to the public. If you're interested in joining this wonderful group, it's only $17. for the year, for an individual. Support your local arts! Swing by and delight your eyes!!!

Pie Bald fawn

You know, I've seen lots of Pie Balds before, but didn't know that they had a special name for them and I've never seen a Pie Bald fawn like this one before. Isn't it beautiful? His name is Pie Baby and he belongs to my vet - who let me take this picture.

I'm going to do a painting of him after I finish up the 4 paintings that I have in progress right now. This little guy came right up to my son and I and stuck his nose in our faces to "sniff us out", then he let us pet him while he tried to eat my shirt. Isn't he cute?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Conversation with Dr. William Davis, Director of the Renewal Energy Program, St.Philip's College (9/8/08, 607 Jefferson Ave., Seguin)

Below are some questions I plan to use in my conversation with Dr. William Davis on Monday eve, September 8th at the Sample Society Building, 607 Jefferson Avenue, Seguin:

1. Dr. Davis, you’re Director of Renewable Energy at St. Philip’s College. What is “renewable” energy? I thought that the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics indicate that energy cannot be created or destroyed—and that it can’t be truly recycled/”renewed”?

2. Since the advent of agriculture, and certainly after the industrial revolution--and especially during this chemical/electrical/information/biotechnological age--we’ve been using renewable energy in non-renewable ways, and/or using lots of stored non-renewable energy. How do we begin to truly employ renewable energy, in a renewable fashion, at St. Philip’s College?

3. How do we transform communities in Texas, addicted to non-renewable coal and oil and natural gas, to being run on renewable energy? … And doesn’t it take lots of non-renewable energy to build photovoltaic systems and wind turbines, and produce significant amounts of biofuels, including from algae, etc., etc.? Can we really get enough net energy out of renewable energy sources to run our high-input systems?

4. Let’s talk some about how you got into science, and chemistry, and working with sources of energy. What were some of the major events and people that influenced you in your formative years in south Georgia and in your interactions with the Tuskegee Institute?

5. Your father was a friend of George Washington Carver. Please tell us a bit about Carver. What did he develop that could be considered appropriate for use in sustainable communities of the near and far future—across the globe?

6. Doc Davis, you’ve told me some interesting stories about two other giants of scientists/technologists, Thomas Edison & Nikola Tesla, who had a lot to do with the transformed energy—electricity--that we use so much of today. Inform us through some stories about these two folk.

7. Now, … at the University of Idaho in Moscow, you got to know Garrett Hardin. Tell us about this man and his classic paper, The Tragedy of the Commons.

8. I know Paul Newman is your friend. Can you tell some background about how he got involved in “Natural” and “Organics”—and developed a “sustainability mindset”?

9. Talk to us a bit about fuel cells, and why you think hydrogen has a significant role in a sustainable economy. … From where will we get significant and sustainable amounts of hydrogen?

10. Three more questions, if I may, Dr.Davis? … I’ve heard you say we’re going to have to depend more and more on nuclear-fission energy in the future. Could you talk to us about that for a couple of minutes? (And of course you are well aware that my position is that we must reduce our ecological footprint--which would necitate less energy release and transformations by humans, would it not?)

11. Doc, you served in Korea during the Korean War. Would you mind saying a few words about “War and Peace”?

12. Finally, could you say a few words about the wonderful book you’re working on that your brother Ossie had been developing? How might it contribute to “conservation and the development of sustainable community”?

Zero Waste? Reducing!!! Reusing!! Recycling!

This evening I started thinking about tomorrow's list of things to do--and it involved leaves and lawn clippings, dead tomato plants, kitchen scraps, recyclable plastics, paper and glass. (Exciting, huh??) I began dreaming and wishing we had curbside recycling in this community and that more folk in Seguin composted rather than bagged leaves and lawn clippings, etc.

[Of course "dreaming and wishing" doesn't get it done. I recently heard Dede Armentrout's axiom quoted by Susan Hughes: "If you want to make decisions and have good things happen, become a decision-maker!" (paraphrased I'm sure)]

Anyway, I started "googling around" for Boulder County, Colorado's "Zero Waste" by 2017 program ( www.getboulder.com/visitors/articles-f06/zerowaste.html ) and found this web site, www.ecocycle.org/ , proposing that "zero waste is the fastest and most effective first step toward reducing climate change." ... About a year ago, I gave a presentation out at TLU titled Toward Reducing and Abolishing Spoiled Habitat: "Zero Trash" and a Clean Sustainable Seguin in which I wished for a Zero Waste program in the locale, and proposed strategies and tactics to make it happen.

Roland James et al. have been doing more than wishing and proposing! They've been beginning to meet with city officials and plea for a rigorous effort (they've proposed plans for education through a multitude of avenues, and with "carrots and sticks") in Seguin toward "Reducing, Reusing, & Recycling." If we'd get off our butts and really get serious about such a campaign, we could also positively effect climate change!??!


Monday, September 01, 2008

And the Living is Easy

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I will never dive into Jacob's Well like this fellow did no matter how many times I see others do it without killing themselves. The water is so clear it never looks deep enough. And the blue hole at the center seems to leave little margin for error.

Jacob's Well is the entrance to a long watery cave. Some people actually scuba dive into it. Not me of course. That's clearly crazy dangerous. But folks dive it anyway. And some don't make it back.

Input for Workshop on the Future of Seguin, ... or Any Community

"Our 'community'" is having a workshop this week to provide input into the development of a Master Plan for the future. I hope we begin to truly consider the following:

1. We need to more thoroughly know what we were and what we are in terms of biocapacity* and sustainability.

Therefore, we need succinct, but meaty/quality reports on past and current state of Seguin and environs (Ecological economic analysis re. sustainability indicators; material flow/energy flux--input/throughput/output; ecological/carbon footprint; ...).

*Biocapacity refers to the capacity of a given biologically productive area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spillover wastes.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-AU-06-001/EN/KS-AU-06-001-EN.PDF

2. We should develop good visions of projected landscape, quality life**/sustainable livelihoods***, ecological/carbon footprint under various steady state/development scenarios.

**
www.gdrc.org/uem/qol-define.html
***
www.ifad.org/sla/

3. We need plans to reduce total & per capita: ecological and carbon footprints, water useage, and waste/trash and pollution.

4. Proposed efforts in the Master Plan should increase: quantity and quality of Natural Green space, community gardens & sustainable agriculture, Green & LEED certified built structures, and bike/walking pathways, "Yellow" bike projects****, and support for intra & inter-city mass transport systems.

****http://
c2.com/ybp/story.html

5. We need short and long-term concerted efforts toward small, neighborhood schools which facilitate holistic health and ecological literacy (for young and old, i.e. including participatory, hands-on continuing education).