will brady's ruminations
CONFERENCESIt's taken close to 50 years for the American Fascista to come to power
| We don't have the luxury of taking so long to deliberate | Mind you, what I refer to is not a "takeover" of power so much as being prepared to manage things when the house of cards they have built collapses | A vacuum shouldn't be there when these scofflaws flee, and they shall try to |
This month, at Dubya's own alma mater, two conferences occur that look at some of the large scale issues challenging us; how we convey information and protection of the Constitution | Some details:
This weekend [01 thru 03 april 2005] The Global Flow of Information | Site blurb: Patterns of information flow are one of the most important factors shaping globalization. Today individuals, groups, countries, and international organizations are trying to promote and control the flow of different kinds of information across national borders; information ranging from intellectual property and scientific research to political discourse, brand names and cultural symbols. And digitally networked environments subject information to ever new methods of distribution and manipulation. Fights over information flow are going to help define who holds power in the global information economy.
Soon [08 thru 10 april 2005] The US Constitution in 2020 | Site blurb: It is time for progressives to set a constitutional agenda for the 21st Century. In 1987-88, the Reagan Justice Department produced a white paper known as “The Constitution in 2000” which, by taking a long view rather than focusing on the immediate issues of the day, was immensely successful in influencing the Constitution under which we now live. If progressives are to rehabilitate that Constitution, they must now, more than ever, articulate constitutional ideals capable of inspiring the next generation. The goal is to set forth a positive constitutional vision for tomorrow, rather than merely to respond to the crises of today.
Mind you, I doubt you or I are able to go to either of these confabs, but we need to know what the conference convenors come up with |
DISTOPIASThe Long Emergency
| James Howard Kunstler writes in Rolling Stone, his thoughts on where we seem to be going in the future | It is not a rosy scenario | On the other hand, it's not a read we can afford to ignore |
Recognition of potential undesirable outcomes is, really, the first step in preparing for different directions to explore | It is not enough to run from the Jerimiahs | Hear what they have to say | Some excerpts:
A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days...
"...we face the end of the cheap-fossil-fuel era. It is no exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural gas underlie everything we identify as the necessities of modern life -- not to mention all of its comforts and luxuries: central heating, air conditioning, cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive clothing, recorded music, movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense -- you name it...
"...No combination of alternative fuels will allow us to run American life the way we have been used to running it, or even a substantial fraction of it. The wonders of steady technological progress achieved through the reign of cheap oil have lulled us into a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome, leading many Americans to believe that anything we wish for hard enough will come true. These days, even people who ought to know better are wishing ardently for a seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative replacements.
"...If we wish to keep the lights on in America after 2020, we may indeed have to resort to nuclear power, with all its practical problems and eco-conundrums. Under optimal conditions, it could take ten years to get a new generation of nuclear power plants into operation, and the price may be beyond our means. Uranium is also a resource in finite supply. We are no closer to the more difficult project of atomic fusion, by the way, than we were in the 1970s.
"...The upshot of all this is that we are entering a historical period of potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously, geopolitical maneuvering around the world's richest energy regions has already led to war and promises more international military conflict. Since the Middle East contains two-thirds of the world's remaining oil supplies, the U.S. has attempted desperately to stabilize the region by, in effect, opening a big police station in Iraq. The intent was not just to secure Iraq's oil but to modify and influence the behavior of neighboring states around the Persian Gulf, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia. The results have been far from entirely positive, and our future prospects in that part of the world are not something we can feel altogether confident about...
Now read The whole story
| Kunstler does
project some hope and provides hints at what he thinks we are going to have to do to get around this dark corner |
Where do we go from here? That's called planning, mates | Personal downsizing, giving the heave-ho to the charlatans who got us here [thinking of only their own personal gain] and moving forward | The bill always comes in the mail | We had best be figuring out how to pay it |
ENERGY SELF SUFFICIENCYResources
Rebel Wolf's Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter: The April newsletter [# 4 in the series] is available in PDF format online | Features include:
Facts on Ethanol
book reviews [along with some pithy comment on how poorly we are served by a largely an ignorant journalist caste attempting to do real energy news reporting];
readers reports on how they are doing to get to zero dependence on the grid
Products that you can buy to bring you closer to energy self sufficiency / off-grid living
The editor and authors expect their readers to bone up on basic engineering and lab technique before doing things mentioned. This isn't shopping at Wal-Mart after all. And educating oneself is a good thing as far as I'm concerned | Heck, it's a critical component to becoming self-sufficient |
Energy Savings Now: [site blurb] "The main problem isn’t that we use energy, but how we produce and consume energy resources. As long as we continue to cover our energy needs primarily by combustion of fossil fuels or nuclear reactions, we are going to have the problems, the environmental impacts, social and sustainability problems. What we really need are energy sources that will last forever and can be used without pollution of the environment." One thing I DON'T LIKE about this site is that many of the site's pages open up as new windows | I do this myself when marking out outside links, but not to my own pages | Otherwise, the site seems full of info |
Green Trust's Energy ForumLinks MBEAW's Energy Self Sufficiency LinksThink Tanks
Clean Edge: a research and strategic marketing firm that helps companies, investors, policymakers, and non-profits understand and profit from clean-energy technologies | News Jim Bell says San Diego should become self-sufficient
Scottish Executive News Scotland has the capacity to be self-sufficient in electricity from renewable energy and have plenty left over for the rest of the UKHomebuilding Planet Earth Home: Not just another coffee table book,, but a through refernce book on "green" housing | Mel Moench has published a thick book providing concepts, plans and details to construct "...the ultimate self-sufficient home for any location in the world" | General Backwoods Home | I've written about BWH before | Energy self-sufficiency is but one of the topics covered in this publication, which supports, promotes, and appears to live by the premise that you can do it yourself |
A READER BIDS ADIEUAudrey writes today to tell me
"...I'm sorry to say this but, This will be my last e-mail.
Things have been a bit tough and life is getting shorter and shorter. I want to take time and smell the Roses. So I am going to quit e-mailing and travel full time with a biker gang to see the country and enjoy life while I still can.
Don't worry about me - they all seem like really nice people. It has been nice emailing you, but it's time to say good bye. A photo of the gang is attached. |
Although when I hear "bikers" I think they look more like the group on the left I've asked to join her
|Happy April Fool's Day!
WEBLOG SOJOURNSeriously now... What I write about
| I got a letter recently from someone complaining that my content is "...all over the place...
| The reader said he couldn't tell what I was going to write about next, that this was disconcerting and that he thought that others might find it off-putting | He further cautioned he believed that I'd have trouble sustaining repeat readership because of this | Finally, he indicated that while he found some of the things interesting, I ought to limit my focus to one or two key areas ["...like, politics, for instance
"] and write longer more thought about pieces |
Well, I just didn't know what to say | I'm hope he continues reading me, at least occasionally, but it seems he doesn't recognize the realities of the blogosphere |
I could be
producing one of those things that endedlessly repeats, spamlike, key words about specific subjects, like "health care" or "Student Loans" | You know, the ones that have no profile or e-mail attached | I could be
writing endless self-absorbed adolescent prattle about what CD's I just got or how boring history class was yesterday...or about my cats | But I don't |
I do listen and consider what people have to send to me | God knows, it happens rarely enough | But in this case I see little reason to change |
So, this is a brief explanation of what I write about, and why | The name Short Notes
, comes from a column I wrote while working pre-press operations at a newspaper chain in the Adirondaks during the late 1970s | They were "short notes" becuase the column filled pretty much the amount of space we needed to complete the final pages of the paper |
The journal itself is an outgrowth of a personal journal I've been keeping since Christmas 1980 | It's always been quasi-public | Online, it's potentially more so | But since it's my own set of reflections, I write pretty much about what's in the front of my mind | As a weblog, I end up sharing that with others |
I'm not a linear thinker | My synaptic responses twist and tangent all over the place; rather like some of my conversations | I have a long-established interest in almost anything [well, I can't abide idle gossip, remain impatient with chatter shows and back-biting and quickly lose my interest in the drivel that passes off as news] so I'm apt to write about anything else
I really don't want to waste anybody's time, so I try to limit what I post online to things that would inform; educate; spark thought; bring beauty into someone else's life; occasionally, to amuse and distract from the grind that is life the 21st century USA; and to direct folks to places where they can get
more details | Simple as that | Some of my pages are truly all over the place!
| I try to stick to subject such as fit into the blurb at the top of this page, on my links list
or in my opening statements
| At the moment, I see no reason to change my format | In essence, compared to the handwritten journal, my subject matter is fairly disciplined |
I hope this clarifies what was asked |
Finally, it's a personal website
for gosh sakes! What's on yours? |
RESPONSIBLE OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS ENCOURAGED | And, yep! That's me at the tender age of 12 out back of my grandfater's house one Easter Sunday in one of the few pix extant of me wearing a tie | You ought to have seen the hat!
| Yesterday, out front of the old administration building at work, I spotted at huge turkey vulture
gliding atop the trees and over the lawn propelled by thermal pockets in the air | They are ugly buggers, turkey vultures, but watching their grace in the air is captivating |
The American Turkey Vulture Society
thinks that "...one of the most ubiquitous figures in North American skies, there is nevertheless very little understanding of the turkey vulture. This bird's graceful flight is often mistaken for that of a hawk, and its name conjures unmerited images of death, filth, and cruelty...
" which is, they feel, an unfair characterization |
I had not realized it at the time, but turkey vulture sightings have becoming increasingly common in Connecticut; enough so that one of the bird surveyors at Connecticut Audubon [Southbury office] noted that they are no longer considered uncommon enough to warrant regular sight tracking | Local Guide to Birds
found their presence in Connecticut unremarkable |
I ought not have been surprised at the sighting | My place of work is strategically situated between a sizable undeveloped tract of lank known as Maromas and the Interstate Route 9, a likely spot for road kill carrion, a culinary delicay for turkey vultures | Traffic provides the vultures with much of their prey. The more cars, the more road kill | That could be one of the reasons for the rise in the vulture population |
"They're doing pretty well because there's a lot of dead things on the road," says Carl Betsill, section manager for research and regulations for the North Carolina Division of Wildlife Management |
A National Geographic article notes that
"...vultures are gross and clean at the same time. They gobble up road kill and can hurl the ingested remains at a potential attacker, leaving a horrible odor. On the other hand, they gracefully soar for hours at a time on rising air currents without flapping a wing.
"The scientific name for turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, means "cleansing breeze." | Vultures release urine down their legs to clean off bacteria. They help keep the countryside clean of rotting animals. Their heads are featherless so they can thrust them into the gut of a carcass without leaving a nasty mess on their feathers..."
The turkey vulture's wingspread is large, it is not the largest bird known | By comparison, the turkey vulture is still smaller than the golden eagle or the adult condor | My call was initially to see where I could report the sighting
| The woman answering the phone at Audubon was encouraging but told me these days, tracking of the turkey vulture, in Connecticut, is no longer regularly done | Had I seen a black vulture
, the sighting would warrant notice | I came away without the answer directly, but having learned much more about the bird |
BLIPS + BEEPS Social Injustices Baxter Detention Centre
| The shame of Australia, a mega detention centre in the heart of the desert where it's deemed acceptable for Ozian leaders to incarcerate immigrants whose prinicpal crime was to think they could go to Australia and start a new life | What a mistake | Makes GITMO
look positively humanitarian | At least the Yanks make a pretense of incarcerating folks for "suspected terrorism" | Protests were held Easter Sunday | FROM Wilson's Almanac SIEVX
| SIEVX is the acronym for 'Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X' (the X stands for 'unknown') | It is the name by which we have come to know the dilapidated, criminally overloaded Indonesian fishing boat that sank en route to Australia's Christmas Island in October 2001 with the loss of more than 350 lives, most of them women and children | FROM Wilson's Almanac Weblogs
Hal Cooper's Looking to Inward Space
| A relatively new photoblog composed by a guy who's an Information Techie + Buddhist | FROM SiteMeter Tracking + Statistics | Anthropy
| A collection of fresh, richly colored photographs by Bernard, in Montreal, Que | Most of the text in French | FROM Self Portrait Day Anything Random is Awesome
| Three high school kids in Calgary, Alberta | QUOTE: "When you get teenagers who go to the same school, who share experiences, and who are the best of friends, telling their stories, you're bound to have things in common | Even so, there are differences, and they need to be told because even as a group, we're totally different in our randomness
" | FROM SiteMeter Tracking + Statistics | Cultural Gutter
| This site is updated Thursday at noon with a new article about an artistic pursuit generally considered to be beneath consideration | James Schellenberg probes science-fiction, Guy Leshinski draws out the best in comics, Robin Bougie dredges the cinema sewer and Jim Munroe plays videogames | While the writers have considerable enthusiasm for their subjects, they don't let it numb their critical faculties | FROM a random Google Image Search Marijuana Canadian Law Reform
| Koby writes, that reforming Canada's marijuana laws will "..Legalization of marijuana will ...obviously, bring Canada, international notoriety. And this underscores a little noticed truth, the key to increasing our presence aboard does not lie with what we will do in the area of foreign policy, but rather with what will do domestically | Break open the emerging cultural fault line by introducing progressive policies and the world, especially the Americans, will take heed
" | FROM Robert McClelland's weekly review of Canadian weblogs My Blahg
SOCIAL INJUSTICESteve Gilliard draws attention to so many important issues
that it's hard to winnow down the selection | But this one, where a bunch of shyster creditors tried to illegally forclose on an active-duty soldier's house
, drew my attention in particular |
Sgt. John J. Savage III, an Army reservist, was about to climb onto a troop transport plane for a flight to Iraq from Fayetteville, N.C., when his wife called with alarming news: "They're foreclosing on our house."
Sergeant Savage recalled, "There was not a thing I could do; I had to jump on the plane and boil for 22 hours."
He had reason to be angry. A longstanding federal law strictly limits the ability of his mortgage company and other lenders to foreclose against active-duty service members.
But Sergeant Savage's experience was not unusual. Though statistics are scarce, court records and interviews with military and civilian lawyers suggest that Americans heading off to war are sometimes facing distracting and demoralizing demands from financial companies trying to collect on obligations that, by law, they cannot enforce.
Some cases involve nationally prominent companies like Wells Fargo and Citigroup, though both say they are committed to strict compliance with the law.
The problem, most military law specialists say, is that too many lenders, debt collectors, landlords, lawyers and judges are unaware of the federal statute or do not fully understand it.
The law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, protects all active-duty military families from foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service. The Supreme Court has ruled that its provisions must "be liberally construed to protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation."
The law is an updated version of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, which was adopted on the eve of World War II and remained largely unchanged through the Persian Gulf war of 1991 | But in July 2001, a federal court ruled that service members could sue violators of the relief act for damages | And the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 prompted Congress to take up a long-deferred Pentagon proposal to update the old act. The revised statute, clearer and more protective than the old one, was signed into law in December 2003 | Read the whole story
It's stuff like this that make Mr. Gillard's weblog one of my favorite news sources |
Thanks again, Connie
WRITING SKILLSThink you can whip out your thoughts rapidly?
| Try this for size
| Oneword challenges it's readers to write as much as the are able to about a single word in just one minute | When completed, the result gets published right away |
THE POWER OF PRAYERSometimes what people say they pray for is downright bizzare
| No Milk Today
reports on this phenomena | What he writes is a response to an e-mail forward
he received from his sister "...about how God had saved 400 Christians from tsunamis that wiped out the city of Meulaboh. The Christians had gathered in a nearby hill after they were forbidden by the city's Muslims from celebrating Christmas and were thus spared...
" | No Milk
then elaborates on the absurdity of this logic |
The above triggered this response from me:
Your prayer comments remind me of a tale a lady friend told me of when she was "church shopping" and after attending one new church for awhile she got testimony from a seasoned parishoner.
It seems the second woman told her of a time when God had, indeed, confirmed her prayers. They experience, the parishoner explained, solidified her Faith.
And what was this? My lady friend asked.
Well, it seems the Saved woman and her husband had redecorated their dining room but that they ran out of wall paper. No more was available in the pattern they chose. So they prayed on this PRAYED on this challenge, and sought the Lord's guidance. Later that same day, she and her equally Faithful husband were walking in an antique shop and saw a really beautiful corner cupboard. They bought it and took it home. Wouldn't you know!?! It was the exact width and length needed to completely cover the unpapered wall. Their prayers had been answered!
My friend, who earned her 15 minutes of fame by getting caught on camera and televised while pregnant and being teargassed by police in the 1968 Chicago Convention police riots, was appalled. She asked back, "What the ... couldn't you pray for World Peace or something useful?"
The Saved woman, equally appalled, snapped back. "Oh no, that's impossible!"
And why is that? my friend asked.
The response? "Well, God's only Human!"
Gives one pause. My lady friend remained churchless, but of faith.
Don't misinterpret this | I have a profound sense of awe for the Unknown, pray to the Great Spirit and respect those of Faith | But, like my cyber friend at No Milk Today, I cannot abide fools who claim that calamities suffered by others they do not know is some scourge from Gawd Amighty
, that they then take perverse pleasure in that scourge, yet fail, in so doing, to recognize the unfaithfulness of their own actions |
"last hunt of the day" It took a gawd awful number of meetings
, gabfests and dog-and-pony shows to get permission from local citizenry to purchase conservation easements on a 46.7 ascre parcel of land | Some citizens [7 of them, in fact] anonymously opined to the town leadership that a referendum [costing an extra $7,000 or so dollars to taxpayers
] had to be held since it was supposedly impossible to discern what the community's common interest on the subject might be | a two-to-one vote by townspeople [either 735 or 804 : 429] was the outcome | We have a mandate and certainly a stronger one that others in power have elsewhere | That was the vote last week |
The Open Space Committee agreed unanimously to go forth with this endeavor; it had support of the townspeople and we have the money in the bank already | It is by now a matter of record that members on the Board of Finance, and a small, vocal group of real estate speculator and land developers spoke strenously against this, asserting "development rights," an interesting turn of phrase and one that is curious in the omission of "property rights"
Some developers could care less about property rights, and who seem [except in order to be compliant with building codes and such] to take umbrage about being required to make development a planful effort
on property to which they temporarily have authority with | I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case with the particular developers now a bit more prominently in the public eye, just "some" developers |
Society, and all of its members, are far to intermeshed; human understanding of the interrelationships of all things in the environment ~ watersheds and other natural resources, wildlife management, soil uses, industrial or commercial district planning, residential population placement ~ is far beyond the era when it was accpetable for one to do "whatever they damned well pleased
on land temporarily entrusted in their care |
But, leaving defining the finer points between opportunities
for indivdiuals [such as developers, for instance] and the obligation
of the polity to prudently plan for what the public has established what it considers to be the greater good for a future discussion |
The "discussion" at hand right now, is rather than of recognizing that we are all, essentially, obliged to plan for the future of the community | What opportunities arise from planing for the common good come out of recognition of the responsibilities of making such planning happen |
Having thus said that, it is time, now, to move forward with future planning, rather than exercising in rancor long after one has lost the debate |
"headed out at dawn"
EPICUREWhile looking for a different approach to collard greens
I called my daughter-in-law Wendy | She's raised in Maryland, familiar with hushpuppies and Southern food | Seemed a logical consult | But she suggested looking on the internet, so that's what I did |
Ultimately, I opted to make it up as I went | My recipe:
2 onions, chopped fine + sauteed
1/2 pound of hot dogs, chopped up + sauteed with the onions
crushed garlic from a jar, approx 3 tablespoons
3 lbs of collard greens. chopped up
red wine vinegar [1/2 cup]
salt [to taste]
black pepper [to taste]
brown sugar, enough to fill the palm of my hand [approx 2-3 tablespoons]
juice from my dad's home-canned hot peppers [1/4 cup; you don't want to mess with this]
several squirts from one of the many red hot sauce conncoctions in the cupboard
1/4 lb of bacon, fried separate + added with grease produced in the process
two tomatoes I had in the 'fridge, chopped up finely
1/2 cup of Ken's™ tomato vinegarette dressing
Supper will also include baked ham [bought three weeks ago when the cost was about half per pound less than what it was going for last week], cornbread and a cranberry-pear-apple sauce |
LIVING ON THE EDGE
PHOTO CREDIT: Harvey Wang ©2000 |Flophouse; Life on the Bowery
, written by David Isay and Stacy Abramson takes its readers on a brief journey into the world of the men and women [men, mostly] who live in the increasingly rare single room occupancy "hotels" in America's urban centers | Yes, it's focused on the Bowery, and specifically with four such establishments |
George M. Anderson, S.J., an associate editor of America
, said of Flophouse
"A late 1980’s Webster’s dictionary, in fact, defines Bowery as a street characterized by flophouses and saloons. The saloons are long gone, having disappeared before the relentless pressures of gentrification. With real estate prices in the neighborhood already sky high, the days of these hotels are numbered.
"The Bowery’s reputation as a place for jobless and often alcohol- or drug-addicted people notwithstanding, a number of the 50 men whose profiles and photographs are presented here do in fact work. One man does what he calls “independent recycling,” working long days to collect aluminum cans and bottles. In his interview, he speaks of saving up for a van and a storage room as a means of expanding his enterprise."
The lives described are often bleak yet...
"...the... stories [of the residents of flophouses] and the photographs of them and their bleak surroundings, reveal lives marked by a genuine dignity.
Flophouse had its origins, in fact, in a radio documentary based on just one of the hotels, the Sunshine, that premiered on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” The photographs by Harvey Wang,... capture far more than the outward appearance of the men and the hotels they inhabit. Like the interviews themselves, they convey the inner reality of a scene that is rapidly disappearing. We may be the poorer for its loss"
The life experience described here has never been unique to only New York City | Virtually every urban center has had it's flophouses, its' skid rows | Flophouses exist in part to serve those who have experienced misfortunes, and have no place else to go | They are places and areas where some citizens live at the edges of society, outside the fast world, the comfortable world, the monied classes and beyond the opportunities and comforts therefrom afforded those other castes |
Sometimes, this is a condition placed in by a person him/herself; other times, through circumstances never planned for, and completely beyond one's personal control | In either circumstance, a fundamental acknowledgement must be made by asking, when so many enjoy the benefits of abundant, even wantonly spent, wealth, how is it that places like the flophouse contine to need to exist? | And that, then, raises questions about social justice and the costs of establishing equity | These are questions that so often go unasked | So much more the reason for bringing this to the attention of others |
FLOPHOUSE is available for purchase at NPR |
THE EASTER EGG CONTESTA lot of people came to the decorating contest at Buddy + Bob's place
| Vee didn't make it
| She was home sick in New Jersey | But we thought about her | Hopefully, she'll be back next year [Happy Easter anyway, Vee]
Eric, the red cat, growled at the smell of other animals on my clothes | Once he settled in Bob's chair, that problem was solved |
The prize categories were rather varied, reflecting not only the non-christian origins of egg dyeing, but the diverse group that gathers each year | Everything from most political, most religious, most ostentatious, sexiest, unusual, ugliest, mysterious, colorful, and in keeping with the spirit of the holiday |
As the afternoon progressed, the reviewing stands [those empty egg crates] became more crowded | Elaine was 'da judge' | Not a job I'd want | With 20 prize categories, and at least 15 people decorating the eggs, the judging can get complicated | There were still 8 dozen eggs to look at and review |
Fewer kids this year, which is too bad since that is the object of the contest, for the kids to compete for Easter candies, that pagan aspect of the holiday | Here's some of the entries:
Some of the most intriguing eggs aren't shown here | One woman, Heather, did a miniature landscape based on the murder of Matthew Sheppard
because it seemed fitting [a crucifixion death, and because she's got a role in a performance of The Laramie Project
] Greta made an opened egg, with yolk and albumin showing | Alma did a BUSH egg | There were lots of yellow chicks and one Corona Beer design | Regrettably, with over 100 eggs, they couldn't all be shown | Below are some of the party participants | Bob, you'll note, didn't paint any eggs, but he did "hatch open" the roof to his convertible and drove hatless through town | Spring, apparently, has finally arrived |