Thursday, June 30, 2005

Professor Blogs in a Radical State at SDSU

When I first met Dr. Carole Kennedy she was dressed in a kind of tuxedo-like thing, with a bullhorn in her hand, exhorting passers-by on the Free Speech Steps at San Diego State University "keep on moving--you have tests to take and there's no time for you to vote or anything! Just keep moving, students, and we'll take care of everything. Really, you can trust us." She and her crew were doing the good work of the Billionaires for Bush and Gore, performing satiric street theater to bring up the main issue of the elections of 2000 and 2004: corrupt politicians have sold us down the river.

The news outlets stopped asking for her expert opinion when it became clear that the opinion wasn't toeing the corporate line, but that didn't stop her--besides, exclamation points, which she uses frequently, don't show up well on TV anyway. So she blogs, here. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Overwhelmed: Compassionate Courage edition

Monday, June 27, 2005

Incendiary Rhetoric

Daniel Patterson, that inflammatory critic of those who would threaten endangered species, was on the radio today talking and in the San Bernadino Sun writing about the wildfires that have started (early) this summer in the deserts of the American Southwest. The plants of the drylands, says this desert ecologist, "are just not adapted to fire, so unlike chaparral and forest where fires can actually be beneficial," wildfires in the desert, like the one in the Mojave National Preserve over the weekend that burned more than 67,000 acres, may be part of a process that will eventually turn our national heritage of unique, beautiful ecosystems into just another Wal-Mart of boring, invasive weeds. The cactus, says Patterson, don't benefit from wildfires, they "just boil in their own juice," and may be replaced with a rancher's mix of cattle-friendly grasses--which make it easier for the fire to spread next time.

And the welfare queens of Big Cow are already whining, blaming the Park Service for taking cows and burros out of the Park, livestock which is responsible for bringing the weeds in the first place; however, astute ecologists and some ranchers recognize this tactic by its smell, which is remarkably similar to the odor of that vector of exotic invasion, the substance that brought the seeds in from Washington and Texas:

Harry Frankfurt has written a fine philosophical treatise on the subject. The vector, that is.

Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West has selected chapters and pictures from this very beautifully-done book for the coffee tables of the environmentally-inclined.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Adventures in the Wild East

Out here in LaLa land we still think we can preserve some wild spaces for future generations unsullied by human presences, but ecosystemists Back East don't have that luxury--and we might pay attention to the way nature and culture mix around in the big burgs of New Jersey and New York. As I strolled to the Student Center at Marist College yesterday morning, looking for coffee, I ran into a very wide fellow:

Marmota monax Courtesy Thinkquest Posted by Hello

Woodchucks, or whistling pigs, or groundhogs, are pests in the Hudson River Valley but I thought this one was pretty neat; I took pictures like a tourist at the Zoo. Remembering Thoreau's ramblings on the species, I thought of a fricassee, maybe. But they're still around, digging holes in all the wrong places, and people put up with them. The wild things are still about, even in the midst of some of the most urbanized space on earth. On the drive up to the college we rode over the New Jersey Meadowlands in its full summer greenery--one of the most astounding wetlands I have seen, and it's still there in the middle of everyone's neighborhood. Beautiful back East, in the summer, in the mix of wild and civilized we can only hope to become.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Got my own conference to attend (to)

All the cool bloggers let you know they are attending this or that conference, or speaking here and there, and I finally get to do the deed, just like Michael Froomkin, tbogg, jake at lying media bastards, and the oh-so-cool people at Boing Boing. I'll be at the Edith Wharton Society's Centenary Celebration of the Publication of The House of Mirth conference, delivering a paper on regionalism and global capitalism (scroll down to Saturday). It's in Poughkeepsie, so there should be smokestacks and flowers among the nattering nabobs of East Coast Literati, and I don't mind telling you, I'm way out of my league.

I'll be back Sunday, and everything will still be here, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Nowhere safe

I like my cell phone, I really do. I arrogantly put off getting one, claiming that they made our public discourse silly, and I got mad at poeple who answered them in restaurants or other public places, and I resented phone chatters who thought it was more important to talk to distant friends than the person in front of them. I went through all that stuff, which seemed so important three years ago but now seems rather quaint, now that I have a phone and know how to use it, and now that our society seems to have arrived at some basic rules of courtesy necessary to keep polite conversations, in public or in private, going smoothly.

On of the tactics a polite member of society uses to make cell phones work is to take responsibility for shutting the technology off once in awhile. That way, we establish the communicative space around us, and define the parameters of that space for ourselves and for the people who inhabit the spaces around us. We control the communicative space, not the social organization or the technology. But one of the aspects of this power we have, the power to decide on our communicative environment, is that we have that power and that responsibility. The ability and the responsibility is all ours, and this is a new, unnatural thing.

This all came to mind as I was clicking around on the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility site, looking for names of people who might know who wrote the new cattle grazing regulations for the BLM, regulations that suck. What I found, however, was this disappointing story about cell phone towers in National Parks. It seem that "in the interests of safety" the National Park Service is set to eventually have cell phone coverage in all National Parks, all areas of the Parks, so there will not be a place in the U.S., except for some secret military sites, that cannot be accessed by cell phones. This means that we will have the power and responsibility everywhere; there will not be a place free of that very modern decision, one that Lewis and Clark did not have to make. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I feel like some kind of dirge should be sung, some kind of poem read, to mark the last wild space, free of human technological communication. The 21st century has, for better or worse, arrived.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The internet makes me feel alien at times

A story about alien, invasive species being spread by the Indian Ocean Tsunami makes me feel, well, alien. Usually, from my habitat, invasive species like arundo donax or the frustrating pampas grass are the ones to worry about. But the internet gives us nothing if not a global perspective, a perspective that may be localized at the click of a mouse. From the P.O.V. of a Sri Lankan, "the spread of alien invasive species such as prickly-pears (Opuntia) and salt-tolerant mesquite (Prosopis) has been encouraged by the tsunami" and threatens valuable natural resources in Yala National Park, according the the United Nations Environment Program. Our buddy the mesquite, which they call the "Devil Tree" (ouch!) causes problems in Africa, too. The species, prosopsis juliflora, is one that is non-native here, too (it's from the Mexican coast), but it looks like a native, and I like it:

courtesy Posted by Hello

So now I know how those frustrated naturalists in Sri Lanka feel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fear of Chaparral

It's getting close to fire season here in S.D., and I've just read a hilarious short story by Nicole Panter, "Mr. Right On," that, with a very thin veil, blows the lid off a certain South California lefty social critic. Poetry seems like the only way to put it all together today.

Reading Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear

Got a postmodern fantasy where

American dreams grow up the hills

while puma sifts through

blue oak ashes.

We’re not safe anymore without

infrared detectors; predators

in the parks with screw-

top bottles and fresh

spikes from some needle exchange program

leave their trash in our very last stand

of California

wild lilac. Soft

white, like clouds on bluffs,

they sway to the west

on salt-sweet winds. Smoke

from centuries-old

indigenous fires,

secured in warty

bark and hairy stems,

in soft petals wet

with fog, comes to life

as morning sun warms

ancient chaparral.

Memories of black

ash and green rebirth. But we got it

going on: our Council voted for new

assessment taxes;

more police have been

assigned to the area; and fire

suppression measures have been taken.

The bright olive tides

of hills flowing down

to meet the sea look

like safe havens, yet

beneath green comfort

small beings scurry

in fear. A small pile

of tan feathers, blood

on their quill-tips, point

to a tiny death

under a perfect

sun. The light touches

dappled soils through

the chest-high brush; all

feel the warmth of day,

feel the fog-kissed breath

of night, know that days

mark the passages

to the impending

transference to the ancestor’s world.

For now, you cannot see that motion

sensors hide beneath

waves of golden earth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Strange Fruit

It's hard to figure sometimes how we got this way. . .

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Posted by Hello

Until one looks at where we came from.

(circa 1939)
Senators who did not sign the apology for lynching 5000 Americans
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop. Posted by Hello
--"Strange Fruit" by Abel Meeropol (a.k.a. Lewis Allan)

Southern Poverty Law Center
Center for Constitutional Rights

Monday, June 13, 2005

Overwhelmed: The military-Industrial Complex

As he was leaving his presidency after one of America's most unsuccessful military engagements in Korea, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us all about the military industrial complex, which he said would take over our economy and spend us into the poorhouse, kill lots of innocent people, and make us less idealistic as a culture. Well, it happened, and it got really big. Especially here in San Diego, the unholy collusion between our economy, which is supposed to provide us with food and good music CD's is forcing us to make cruise missiles and other militant nonsense in order to get those CD's and sometimes it seems like the powerful coalition of government and industry is impregnable, overwhelming.

But then something happens that gives me hope. We need more reporting like the story in the U-T today about Duke Cunningham and his bribery scandal brewing (courtesy of Kos) and we need to go through every one of our government officials' money trees to find out more dirt. The San Diego Union's story about Duke Cunningham gives me hope for two reasons: the fact that the bad guys are getting so bold that they commit such obvious fraud right in front of our eyes means that they are vulnerable; and, the fact that the U-T prints the story means that even they are kind of disgusted by bribery. Shockingly, the Union seems to have had a conscience today. Amazing.

Update: 7:00pm--Not only is our Republican delegation to Congress corrupt, but they are pretty wacky, too. Scroll down Crooks and Liars for a video feed from CNN featuring Rep. Duncan Hunter defending the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, using Chicken dinners as props. He looks hungry as he claims:

"So the point is that the inmates in Guantánamo have never eaten
better, they've never been treated better and they've never been
more comfortable in their lives."

"You have to see this to believe it," notes C&L. Indeed.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Feeling the Earth

Yes, I felt the earthquake at around 9 this morning but sadly, I had left its epicenter near Palm Springs the night before, so I only got the mild shakes from 62 miles away. It may seem strange to some, but I like to be where the geological action is, and I would have loved to be near a spring when the quake went off, to see if that had any effect. Oh well--at least I met some fine eco-warriors in Palm Desert, who are fighting the boondogglish Eagle Mountain Landfill, and may, after 18 years of struggle, put this terrible idea in the dust bin of history where it belongs. I also met a guy, Alfredo Acosta Figueroa, who has found the Cradle of Aztlan, which every native California should know about. There's sacred ground all over and it was telling us something today, I think. We should probably listen.

Luis Alberto Urrea spoke at the Hillcrest Book Fair today and he was sacred, too. His latest book, The Hummingbird's Daughter, tells the story of his aunt Teresita, a holy woman of the turn of the 19th-20th canturies in Sonora, Mexico. Urrea's other works, which include fiction, poetry, and my favorites, journalistic studies of border life, exemplify the kind of writing that I think is most relevant to a San Diegan, Californian, or at this point Global citizen; as NPR's Martha Woodruff notes of writer Daniel Alarcon, the new writing by people who we usually call Mexicna-american like Urrea or Peruvian-american like Alarcon, "expands the hyphens" and exist along the borders between the cultures that are "mixed" into our culture. Nothing new to us San Diego natives; we and writers like Urrea have been mixing it up for so long it doesn't seem like a border anymore. And it's not a real line, anyway; butterflies cross it all the time, and aren't we lucky for that?

Take that, you Minutemen, you.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I'm off to the Desert Landscape Forum in Desert Hot Springs, sponsored by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, where I'm sure I'll find something hot.

No blogging until Sunday--Seeya!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Overwhelmed: Climate change version

I've been reading Elizabeth Kolbert's superb series on climate change in The New Yorker, and it is a fascinating read. I learned a new word, actually a new way to think about what "age" we live in at present. Traditionally, the present day has been known as the "Halocene," that period of time after the big glaciers of the Ice Age, but Paul Crutzen has coined a new term, the "Anthropocene," which started around 1780 when we started doing some real damage to the atmosphere with carbon dioxide emmisions from our industries. I like the term; it denotes a specific thing, an overwhelming thing, that we humans have done to the Earth that has changed geological processes that we usually measure in thousands, if not millions, of years. The word does something that needs to happen before we can start thinking about how to change the relationship between ourselves and nature--it eliminates the dualistic thinking that puts humans on one side and nature on the other; it puts us in the scientific world along with water cycles, sedimentation, plate tectonics, and species extinction as a scientific framework for classification and study. Now, we can study the differences between the Pliestocene, the Halocene, and now, and one of the definitions will always be the fact that we are a force in the history of the earth, one that creates a new age. That's pretty overwhelming.

The political dialogue has been overwhelming, too. The forces of big oil have tried to paint the climate-change models of reputable climatologists as academic gameplaying, but they are losing--probably because facts, and good science to go with them, and the plethora of pictures of glaciers, icecaps, and snowfields melting in the sun have overcome the rhetoric of the American Petroleum Institute. I feel a tipping point coming on as the propagandists of the Bush administration are outed by the likes of the New York Times, who did a story on a former oil lobbyist who tried to mellow out the facts of government documents that warned about greenhouse gases and global warming. So the discussion, finally, has turned, I think, from one that debated the facts of global warming to what we can do about it.

And as it turns out, we can do quite a lot. Ideas are pouring in from all over; some of them, like solar design and energy conservation, are technologies we have been using for thousands of years and some are brand new, but at least there's some hope now that we've turned the rhetorical corner on the discussion--so much so that big business even believes us now.

Worldchanging blog has ideas.
The Union of Concerned Scientists does, too.

Overwhelmed: Bigger than me

Courtesy Astronomy Picture of the Day Posted by Hello

For today, I think I'll inagurate a topic that one can search for in the blog, if you're feeling like I feel today, that is, overwhelmed by forces that a puny citizen like me can't seem to do anything about. I read somewhere that one strategy for people who feel full of fear, or depressed, by news of terrorists, or epidemics like Mad Cow disease, or just the news in general is to, in general, inhibit their uptake of news. That way, they won't get depressed or feel like they are frozen in their homes, unable to go outside and face the world.

I don't trust that strategy, because I don't trust the people who advise it; it sounds too much like those cops who tell me "nothing's wrong here, just go on about your business" as they hassle street people for, well, standing in the street. There's all kinds of stuff wrong with the world that really needs to be addressed, and the people who have told me they are handling it are decidely not handling it. So the topic will focus on things that seem to be really, really big, and try to bring these problems down to a manageable size, or at least my reaction to them down to a doable, realizable concept, strategy, or worldview.

Because if I keep watching the news and do nothing about all this crap, I'll go nuts.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stone Poet

In a strange kind of portent, one I think Hopkins would have liked, Terry and I were talking about him last night, the night before he died in 1889. His last words, according to W.H. Gardner:

"I am so happy, so happy."

Gerard Manley Hopkins
(July 28, 1844 - June 8, 1889)
thanks to Wood S Lot Posted by Hello

The master, some say inventor, of Sprung Rhythym loved the natural features of his neighborhood, including the way natural speech occurred in the 'hood. That's why he broke from the mold of what he called the "same and tame" of formal English verse and went for the Anglo-Saxon roots which are, after all, only natural.
Sprung Rhythym in Wikipedia

Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:
Práise hím.

"All things counter, original, spare, strange" is a good way to talk about his view of the individuality of experience in the whole, that unified cohesion of the universe that blossoms into one individual thing, like a tree or a flower, what he called its "inscape." The concept puts the observer always in the present, which is the totality of all time, like looking at a bluebell:
"One day when the bluebells were in bloom I wrote the following. I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I am looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it." (from an entry in his Journal)
And God, for this Romantic poet, is best seen in nature:

God's Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge |&| shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast |&| with ah! bright wings.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cannibals There and Here

You know how it is on the internets--you never know where you'll end up. Checking the news on Joshua Micah Marshall's new TPM Cafe I spotted an interesting headline on an ad sidebar, which took me to the altWeeklies site. I never found the article I was looking for, but I did find Vince Darcangelo's article in the Boulder Weekly, cleverly titled "To Serve Man." Seems those wacky folks at Hufu, LLC have come up with a soy product sure to appeal to "the Goth crowd, high-school students, people who are into zombie movies": Hufu, "The Healthy Human Flesh Alternative." From the looks of the website, the product, "designed to resemble, as humanly possible, the taste and texture of human flesh," also is designed to appeal to the privileged side of the Post-Colonial crowd; the pictures of quaint indigenes from Fiji and New Guinea, plus T-shirts printed with Easter Island statuary, remind me of the scene in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 that uses old film footage to show some of Bush's spearchucking Iraq Coalition. Racist, but racist for a good cause, I guess.

The other cannibals I saw today were local, not racist, and not that hungry, either--at least for food--but a lot more bloodthirsty. Some members of the San Diego City Council, in unholy collusion with the retirees of the municipal employee's unions who sit on the City's pension board, and the Mayor are getting set to cannibalize city property to pay for their illegal, unfunded pension benefits. A slew of real estate assets, including the land under the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club--which I didn't even know we owned--were going to be up for grabs to the highest bidder (never mind the legacy of the people) until the redoubtable Mike Aquirre stepped in and tabled the deal. These scandalous, corrupt creeps should be run out of town, and here's how: elect some honest people to get us out of this mess the criminals got us in.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Your choice--this?

Carrizo Plains, National Landscape Conservation System Posted by Hello

Or This?

from the National Geographic Posted by Hello

Our Culture, or a Politically-correct Shopping Mall?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put out its annual list of most endangered places in the U.S. Along with various churches and downtown buildings some stick out at me. The BLM's Clinton-era administrative fantasy, the National Landscape Conservation System is probably the most important natural space left in the American West, and the most at risk from off-road vehicles and other criminals, along with "mismanaged grazing, mineral exploration, unauthorized land use, theft and vandalism." That the corrupt Department of Interior gives away our National birthright of native places to its coporate buddies is old hat to a conservationist, but two other threatened places make me wonder if we want to be a culture at all.

Finca Vigia, Hemingway's house near Havana, deteriorates and dies of neglect while Bush and Castro work out ideological conflicts that are, shall we say, so Twentieth Century. Castro should be given an award for keeping OUR literary heritage alive while we fiddle with economic paradigms and demand that he make his country safe for shopping malls. It's a huge political issue, but what really is at stake here is our literary culture, a thing that is priceless and goes beyond the capitalist/communist conflict, which is already history.

But here at home, a historical place important to our shared memory is about to become just another set of ticky-tacky suburban homes--artless, sterile, cultural phenomenon that preserve nothing but the profit that lasts only a single lifetime. Daniel Webster's farm, which he used as a retreat, model farm, and meeting house until his death in 1852 and which was used as an orphanage for New Hampshire's children until 1925, is set to be developed into 130 homes, part of the surburban sprawl that turns our culture into an empty gesture of mindless selfishness.

Call someone.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Flowers, not extinct and not innocuous

At University Heights Point today we found another hillside bloom of Mariposa lilies, the Point's harbinger of deep summer. It reminded me that the natural, endemic species really do like it here and will pop up in the most unexpected places, even in the midst of urbanity, steeply set on a hillside with an ocean view. Maybe we will get lucky, like that hiker at Mt. Diablo who found a species of buckwheat thought to be extinct for at least thirty years.

photo by associated press Posted by Hello

The photo above is of the eriogonum truncatum, Mount Diablo Buckwheat, found by integrated biology grad student and hiker Michael Park and announced last week. The picture of him on The Human Flower Project's blog post is, in the words of poster Julie, "nearly as heartening as the flower itself"; he looks like a great guy who loves life and already he has found some life we thought was gone forever. Yes, heartening.

Another post in what might be one of my new favorite blogs is intriguingly titled "The Sudden Gardens of Tashkent," which could be about exotic central Asian poetic endeavors but is really about the way that the dictator of Uzbekistan, a fine fellow whom the Bush administration admires and who boils people, uses flower gardens, planted overnight, to repress his citizens. The article ends with a memorable quote that expresses the confused dualities of our existence:
". . . flowers are rarely innocuous or "“mere decoration."” As soon as the trowels come out, we know that human purpose has stirred, whether for liberation or repression."

The lead post for today also has that dualistic, good/evil mix that makes for perceptive, if not easy journalism. Check it out.

ps--they love Allen too.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Guess I feel like A.G. Today

I wrote this when Allen Ginsberg died in 1997. It was my first published work, in SD City College's CityWorks Anthology.

Allen Ginsberg is All About

All about disarmament and harmony shining in the Death Throes of the Twentieth Century.

All About queer boys in dark alleys and I’ll tell you, with no offense intended, for talking about love all love is all.

All about sitting in Zen meditation on the train tracks at Rocky Flats nuclear madness in front of the weapons car chanting love above.

All about telling us God is everywhere even in supermarket aisles with sex and drugs and flowers available at the right price which is freedom.

About all he can say really is that you are one, we are one, one love sex death beauty art appreciates life One.

All about writing automatically gets to the truth which is God which could be about morals but is really about compassion.

All about goodbye. Parting doesn’t really happen in ZaZen universe illusion is hate, intolerance Death is Love transcendence poets speak now.

Happy Birthday

Allen Ginsberg 1926-1997

At a peace rally, 1966

from Sunflower Sutra, 1955:

We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread bleak dusty
imageless locomotive, we're all golden sunflowers
inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked
accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal
sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the
shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco
hilly tincan evening sitdown vision. Posted by Hello

Tipping My Hat to Some Bad Books

Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly writes this post about a ridiculous list put together by Human Events, a conservative magazine: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th centuries. As you might guess, The Communist Manifesto, Mien Kampf, and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book lead the list, but there are some interesting others, too--such as John Dewey and Alfred Kinsey. However, what really mystifies Drum is the honorable mention list, which includes Foucault, B.F. Skinner (!?) and Darwin (twice). The list is put together by some people who have academic credentials at major universities, and Kevin wonders just who these guys think they are beating up on the likes of Darwin, et al.

But what strikes me as odd is the comments section, which I usually trust because the writers seem to be a pretty smart bunch of people. Last week, Kevin asked commentors to post their educational levels, career paths, and such to see what they were like and I was impressed. Everyone was college level, and some pretty good colleges, too. So I was surprised when, in response to Kevin's challenge to name THEIR ten most harmful books, the comment section agreed that Alcoholics Anonymous was one of them--and they said it with some vitriol, too. Here's a sample.

from Joe:

Scientology (Christian Scientists late 19th century)

The Twelve Step Program (religious psuedo-science early 20th century)
AA's big blue book (or rather the political maneuvering supporting it) is to psychology what creationism is to biology.

Anything by (or attributed to) Sun Myung Moon

from SocraticGadfly:

8. AA's "Big Book" -- thanks, Joe; count in the whole 12-Step movement, originally Calvinism under a cloak and now Calvinism fused with New Ageism
I have a peculiar fascination with AA and Twelve-Step programs, and it made me wonder: were these just poor sports or did they have a point? And what has AA done to deserve this?

I've been sniffing around meetings for a while, and I can see their point: there is a streak of icky Calvinism in AA, and especially in its Southern California, "Pacific Group" form (which seems to have brethren in Texas and the Southwest), "political manuvering" of the conservative sort does make it seem sometimes like a right-wing cult, dedicated to dressing nice and having nice cars and claiming other forms of material success as proof of one's "emotional sobriety" despite pious claims of humbly recieving gods grace. And that Blue Book=psychology, Creationism=Biology simile stuck true, too. So I guess I'll have a short cocktail and think about it for a bit.

Well, maybe not tonight.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Our president, the dumbass, would fail my class

I teach first-year college students to write stuff, and I see mistakes like this (from the NY Times, thanks Blogcritics) all the time:
It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of and the allegations by people that were held in detention, people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble, that means not tell the truth.
I saw the news conference, and Bush said the above with his usual fake Texas twang and his also-usual arrogance toward those nitpicky language police who haunt what's left of his Yalie brain. I would mark this as a "word choice" error, and point him in the right direction, like say to a sophmore, to get the right word out on rewrite: That's dissemble, not disassemble. We presume he means that Amnesty International was trying to lie, not take something apart. But as Blogcritic says, "for crying out loud, can't he get some speechwriters that can write things that he can read?" This is the kind of thing that's ripe for becoming a "nucular" issue, when the President of the United States says the wrong word by mispronouncing a close homophone.

And by the way he's lying about Amnesty International and its purported gulag. You know, Concealing. Kinda like Hiding under a false front. Dissembling. I say we disassemble him.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Criminals Outside

Jeneiene Schaffer posts her article in the Tucson Weekly about an ordinance the city wants to pass in order to protect traffic from protesters--it even has a "rush hour" clause that denies marching permits during the morning and evening hours. Got to keep moving, folks; our 7-11 (in Tucson Circle K) economy depends on the ability to drive a car anywhere, and walking is just not cost-effective. But what about fun?

Richard Louv has an answer for that. In his new book Last Child in the Forest: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, Louv explains in massive detail the ways our culture has criminalized outdoor play. Spreading fear--of strangers, ticks, mosquitos, falling down, getting behind in our work, and yes, traffic--the American way of life has denied our children and us the right to play football in the street, wander in our urban canyons, or otherwise mess around in places that are unregulated by social norms. In a talk I saw him give at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Louv added up all the ordinances, laws, housing association covenants, and cultural rules to come up with the declaration that it is now illegal to go outdoors. But, to paraphrase Bob Dylan:

You can keep some of the people out of the forest all of the time, and all of the people out of the forest some of the time, but you can't keep all of the people out of the forest all of the time. I offer this evidence of TRW as proof. Posted by Hello

Why I am a Friend of University Heights Point

This is what the mariposa lily looks like that I saw at the edge of Mission Valley today, at University Heights point. Beautiful. Photo from Calphotos, © 1982 Steve Lowens Posted by Hello