Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering is not enough

Here's why:

[R]emembering is not enough. Beneath the beauty of the lilies lies the ugliness of war. For the act of memorializing to be truly honorable, that harsh reality must be kept central. The human longing for an end to war must be revivified generation in and generation out - not just as a dream, but as a mandate. The waste, futility, and cruelty of war must focus our perceptions of it.

Just because we necessarily make something noble of war, by thinking gratefully of those who served to the point of death, does not remove the indictment of what killed them. War is a crime. Among its victims are its heroes. Yet in the modern era, they have been vastly outnumbered by men, women, and children for whom war was only catastrophic, in no way valorous. Memorial Day belongs to that legion of the dead also.

It's the ending of an article by James Carroll published in the Boston Globe.

And it's heartbreaking.

Something to think about this Memorial Day

I've read two articles today about the hugely distressing rate of suicides among both active military personnel and veterans. One is entitled "Memorial Day -- Remembering Military Suicides" and here's part of what it says:

How does it happen? After surviving harrowing combat, why would a young soldier decide to take his or her own life? The Army is spending $50 million to figure it out, and we may get an answer in a couple of years. But for some, that will be too late.
These soldiers who want to kill themselves are imprisoned by their experiences. Terrified by nightmares, they can't get out of the fog created by drugs and medications designed to alleviate their pain. Their intimate relationships fall apart, and they get into trouble with the law. Their lives spiral out of control right in front of them. They get talked to, and subjected to lots of lectures about responsible behavior.

Another is entitled 10 Things We Must Remember on Memorial Day and these statistics are offered:

Every day, five U.S. soldiers attempt suicide, a 500 percent increase since 2001.
Every day 18 U.S. veterans attempt suicide, more than four times the national average. Of the 30,000 suicides each year in the U.S., 20 percent are committed by veterans, though veterans make up only 7.6 percent of the population.
Female veteran suicide is rising at a rate higher than male veteran suicides.

These are terribly disturbing statistics. And we need to be disturbed.

In memory of ALL who served and died

Quote of the Day

This one is from the BBC website:

There is no confusion about this. Israel attacked the Gaza activists, not the other way round. They attacked an unarmed ship in international waters.

-- Andrew Collingwood

So when are we going to quit supporting and justifying Israel's actions no matter what?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A little history goes a long way

Oh, my. Here's an article by Tom Turnipseed (whom I've admired for some time now) entitled Immigrants R Us . I simply cannot begin to do it justice with an excerpt. It's short and easy to read so please do go on over there.

The article is also generating quite a number of comments that are thought-provoking.

This says it all, folks:

On this Memorial Day weekend, I want to ask all you xenophobic people out there who support the draconian Arizona anti-immigration law the following: Did our fighting men and women suffer and die so that someone could stop you on the street and say, "Show me your papers, Comrade"????

Oh? You think it won't happen to you because you're white? (Notice what a racist attitude that is, friend?)

Well, how about this: "First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the...."

You know the rest of it.

If you don't, look right here.

There are different versions, by the way, of that famous quotation. You can read about its origins and history right here.
UPDATE - Here are a some links that might be of interest:




Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday limerick blogging!

This one is a classic:

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean -
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

Don't know who wrote it. Have always truly appreciated it!

Something about water and hope

Would you like to read a genuinely hope-inspiring and very short article? Then I'd like to recommend one published on Alternet entitled "Saving Water, the (Really) Old-Fashioned Way".

Reading this will take almost no time and you truly won't regret it!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Something interesting about the oil

From an article in The Guardian entitled "The Real Cost of Cheap Oil":

Big Oil's real horror was not the spillage, which was common enough, but because it happened so close to the US. Millions of barrels of oil are spilled, jettisoned or wasted every year without much attention being paid.
Big Oil is usually a poor country's most powerful industry, and is generally allowed to act like a parallel government. In many countries it simply pays off the judges, the community leaders, the lawmakers and the ministers, and it expects environmentalists and local people to be powerless. Mostly it gets away with it.
The only reason oil costs $70-$100 a barrel today, and not $200, is because the industry has managed to pass on the real costs of extracting the oil. If the developing world applied the same pressure on the companies as Obama and the US senators are now doing, and if the industry were forced to really clean up the myriad messes it causes, the price would jump and the switch to clean energy would be swift.

I wonder how many people realize this. I certainly didn't.

Ah, technology!

Ya gotta admit, this is funny:

With the iPhone in my right hand and the iPad in my left hand, it's like having two guns blazing.

-- Masayoshi Son, Softbank chief executive, at a launch event for the iPad, which just went on sale outside the U.S.

I found it right here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

This one is from Sojourners:

I’ve bled for my country, I’ve sweated for my country, I’ve cried myself to sleep for my country -- which is a lot more than some people who are passing judgment on me have done. I would rather go sit in prison than go to Iraq.

- Patrick Hart, U.S. Army sergeant with almost 10 years on active duty, who went to Canada rather than face a second deployment to Iraq.

There's something tearingly sad about this.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A quote of the day

Again, from the TIME magazine website:

I don't think there is any doubt, unfortunately.

-- Carol Browner, White House energy adviser, saying the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is the worst spill in U.S. history

I wonder what the true long term consequences of this will be. I am so far persuaded that they will be quite dire.
UPDATE: Please go right now and read an AP article entitled "Workers describe failures on oil rig". Here's the first part:

As the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig burned around him, Chris Pleasant hesitated, waiting for approval from his superiors before activating the emergency disconnect system that was supposed to slam the oil well shut at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

The delay may have cost critical seconds. When Pleasant and his co-workers at rig owner

Transocean finally got the go-ahead to throw the so-called deadman's switch, they realized there was no hydraulic power to operate the machinery.

Five weeks after the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers, the blown-out well continues to gush oil, pouring at least 7 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.

Dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.

There's more. And it's both painful and disturbing. Very.

For your edification:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today's QuickVote

This suprises me, actually. It's from the CNN web site:

Should the federal government push BP aside and take over the Gulf oil spill cleanup?

No - 56%
Yes - 44%

Seems to me that BP is making a dog's breakfast of the whole thing. And the stakes are very high indeed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just a little comic relief:

Sent to me by my good friend, Larry!

Something very worrying

It's one of TIME Magazine's "Quotes of the Day":

We have always tolerated North Korea's brutality, time and again. But now things are different. North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts.

-- Lee Myung-Bak, president of South Korea, announces a cessation of trade between North and South Korea following the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship

What is the price? And then, what happens after that?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pathetic, isn't it?

Just in case you don't know about this, read right here and here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

From TIME Magazine:

When this bill becomes law, the joy ride on Wall Street will come to a screeching halt.

-- Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, after the upper House passed financial-reform legislation

Let us sincerely hope so!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Was Carter Right?

"You bet he was," claims a contributer to Democratic Underground by offering this: "Carter was right, Carter was right! Carter was right!! Carter was right!"

Hmm. You think this poster is clear about his or her position? :-)

Look, please click through and read the post itself (extremely brief) and then, the comments that follow. They'll make you think.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Something about the call of nature

I want to call your attention to something I didn't know about until I read a little article entitled "Equality Comes in Strange Places -- Like The Bathroom". Here's how it gets started:

It seems like such a little thing, but it's the little things that can make all of the difference in fairness between the genders. Women are finally getting a chance to have equality at the Capitol.

At least, in the bathroom.

It's being called the "Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act," and simply put, it means that all federal buildings must now have as many women's toilets available as they have men's toilet and urinals. It seems like such a small issue, but in fact is an amazing step towards admitting that federal work areas may no longer be the male-dominated spaces they have been assumed to be in the past.

I agree.

The article also mentions a few other gender equality issues that are worth thinking about.

Pay attention to this, please:

Why isn't the world treating this as the emergency it is?

If the various estimates we have received ... come true, then we are in the situation where, 40 years down the line, we effectively are out of fish.

-- PAVAN SUKHDEV, head of the U.N. Environmental Program's green-economy initiative, saying the world faces the possibility of fishless oceans by 2050

(The above is from the TIME Magazine website.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bill Maher at his best

Just look:

He said, 'I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever.' But you know what dude, when you go to a website called, which he did, and that website says, 'For the tightest asses on the internet, click here' – and then you click there – I think that's homosexual behavior.

–Bill Maher, on Rev. George Rekers, who was caught returning from an overseas trip with a male prostitute

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Do think about this:

I'd like to recommend a page from Squidoo entitled "Ways to Support Your Local Animal Shelter". The page has lots of good ideas as well as other appropriate links.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Energy and reality

I want to call your attention to a brief and simple post over on Democratic Underground. It starts off like this:

If you think the BP incident was bad, wait until we have an "accident" in a nuclear reactor or at a nuclear dump.

We have to move to solar and wind energy. They are the only near-safe methods of creating energy. They are not totally safe, and they may be more expensive than oil, but they are the only safe sources of energy.

We have to find a way to produce solar panels that are durable but less expensive than the current panels.

There's a bit more with another really good point. Go read it, please. It will only take a couple of seconds.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teaching empathy

I want to call your attention to an article from TIME Magazine entitled "How to Deprogram Bullies: Teaching Kindness 101". Here's an excerpt:

At a public school in Toronto, 25 third- and fourth-graders circle a green blanket and focus intently on a 10-month-old baby with serious brown eyes. Baby Stephana, as they call her, crawls toward the center of the blanket, then turns to glance at her mother. "When she looks back to her mom, we know she's checking in to see if everything's cool," explains one boy, who is learning how to understand and respond to the emotions of the baby — and to those of his classmates — in a program called Roots of Empathy (ROE).

After the recent bullying-related suicide of a 15-year-old in Massachusetts, parents and educators around North America are wondering: Could her death have been prevented? What can schools do to stop the taunting that takes place on and off campus? And most important, can positive qualities like empathy and kindness be taught?

For responses to those questions and more, please click through and take a look at the entire article. Worth it. Really.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Quote of the Day

This is from Time Magazine:

They drove their car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, [and] now they want the keys back. No! They can't drive!

-- Barack Obama, criticizing the Republican Party at a Democratic party fundraiser in New York

That's good, huh?

Republicans and Limbaugh

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's so much worse than we thought.

Just look:

NPR has learned that much more oil, 70,000 barrels a day or more than ten times the official estimate, is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon pipe, based on scientific analysis of the video released Wednesday.

That's the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez tanker full every four days.

You can read more about it right here.


Someone who had a great influence on me as a young person once said that an important mark of maturity is a tolerance for ambiguity. I thought of that when I came across the following quotation:

If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say "no"; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with time, we must say "no"; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say "no"; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say "no."

-- J. Robert Oppenheimer

We truly need to sit loose to our assumptions about the nature of reality, don't we?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Necessary change

Over on Alternet, there's an article entitled "10 Ways to Change Your Life". This is the lead: "With simple modifications to your daily routine, you can be part of a cleaner, more sustainable world." And here's an excerpt:

7. Commit to not wasting
Wasting resources costs the planet and your wallet. Let your clothes hang-dry instead of using the dryer. Take half the trips but stay twice as long. Repair instead of rebuy.
The list goes on. In the summer, for every degree above 72°F you set your thermostat, you save 120 pounds of CO2 emissions per year, and if you wash your clothes with cold water you can cut your laundry energy use by up to 90 percent.

8. Take your principles to work
We must act as though we care about the world at work as much as we do at home. Company CEOs or product designers have the power to make a gigantic difference through their business, and so do the rest of us. In commercial buildings, lighting accounts for more than 40 percent of electrical energy use, a huge cause of greenhouse gas production. Using motion and occupancy sensors can cut this use by 10 percent.

Another way of not wasting is to buy a lot of what you need from flea markets, thrift shops and garage sales. I really like the idea of the money I spend going to a non-profit organization or an individual family trying to make ends meet rather than a huge corporation. And when people buy used items that's less stuff to go into the landfills.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday limerick blogging!

Here you go:

Linda Blair with great favour confessed,
She'd been exorcised, thus finding rest,
But alack and alas
Her old demon came back
and now the poor girl's repossessed.

This has probably made the rounds but it was new to me!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Child-free conservationism

When I was younger (and it was still an option whether or not to have children) I sometimes wanted them and sometimes didn't. I often strongly believed that it was wrong to add to the severe problem our world has of overpopulation. That is the approach taken by Chris Bolgiano in her article entitled "My Mother's Day Gift to the Planet: Not Having Kids". Here's a little bit of what she says:

Although few journalists cover this angle, almost every environmental disaster is caused by overpopulation - but not the kind many assume. It's not the black and brown babies of the developing world that most threaten our planet, but our own desire for stuff - a hunger for iPods and starter castles.

American consumption, and the global pollution associated with supplying it, is unsurpassed. It takes a Third World village to use all the resources that a single American consumes and, often, wastes every day. So even though the birthrate in America is historically low, curbing it further would be a good place to begin when trying to save the world. I am pleased to do my part.
It seems to me that the encouragement of childfree couples is crucial to saving the planet.

I agree.

There are many other ways of contributing to the nuturing of the next generation without biologically reproducing. And so even though I'm sad at times that I never had children of my own, I'm also really glad that the children I do have are of the spiritual variety.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Today's QuickVote

This is from the CNN website. I'm really glad to see the response:

Should physician-assisted suicide be legal for people who are terminally ill?

Yes - 83%

No - 17%

We, as a society, are finally starting to realize that it is just wrong to insist that people who are dying anyway continue to live in excruciating pain until the last bitter moment. That's good news, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The problem with banning abortion

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "The Story of My Illegal Abortion". Here's some information that would be helpful for us all to know:

According to a 1958 Kinsey study, illegal abortion was the option chosen by 80 percent of single women with unwanted pregnancies. Statistics on illegal abortion are notoriously unreliable, but the Guttmacher Institute, a respected international organization dedicated to sexual and reproductive health, estimates that during the pre-Roe vs. Wade years there were up to one million illegal abortions performed in the United States each year. Illegal and often unsafe. In 1965, they count almost two hundred known deaths from illegal abortions, but the actual number was, they estimate, much higher, since the majority went unreported.

Here's the thing. I think abortion is a tragedy and I think it is the taking of life. But I don't think they should be made illegal because they will just go underground. I really want to reduce the number of abortions - not just punish women. Studies have shown that countries with legal abortions as well as goodbest sex education and legal abortions have, in fact, the fewest abortions. Why don't we do what actually works instead of what feeds our self-righteousness.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Oil spill an "act of God" ??????

Oh, I wish I were kidding. But I'm not. Look at what the Republican (of course) governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has said:

I hope we don’t see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we’re going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering.” Perry questioned whether the spill was “just an act of God that occurred” and said that any “politically driven” decisions could put the U.S. in further economic peril. “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.


Here's what the term actually means:

The legal definition is: "Natural causes directly and exclusively without human intervention and that could not have been prevented by any amount of foresight and pains and care reasonably to have been expected".

Now here's something you should know:

BP cut corners by violating numerous safety regulations and refused to install “a remote-control shutoff switch that two other major oil producers, Norway and Brazil, require.” In fact, the Chamber, which is one of BP’s many trade associations and lobbying fronts, has worked aggressively to oppose regulations and fight for more offshore oil drilling.

The above passages were found right here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Simply outstanding snark

Take a look:

There's a show on CBS called 'The Mentalist.' It's about a detective with heightened powers of observation. Let me give you an example of how good this guy is. This guy is so good, he can tell the difference between a Goldman Sachs executive that is a lying crook and a Goldman Sachs executive that's a lying weasel. He's that good.

–David Letterman

And, by the way, the show is worth watching - really. It's a favorite of mine.

(Hat tip to Lisa over at All Hat No Cattle.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Limbaugh accuses environmentalists

You know, I don't believe in hating - anybody for any reason. But this morning, I'm finding myself hating Rush Limbaugh with a perfect hatred. He actually has suggested that "wacko environmentalists" are responsible for blowing up the oil rig that created the spill in order to stop more drilling. Take a look:

I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig. ... Now, lest we forget, ladies and gentlemen, the carbon tax bill, cap and trade, that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day. I remember that. And then it was postponed for a couple of days later after Earth Day, and then of course immigration has now moved in front of it. But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist wackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they're sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they're sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here.

It's being called the oil-spill truther movement. Sheesh. Here's one source for the above transcript: Rush: "I'm Just Noting the Timing Here"

Eight really important words

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "8 Words That Could Save Our Country". Here's the lead:

"Corporations are not people. Money is not speech." These are fundamental truths that our nation needs to remember -- and add to the Constitution.

And here's the first paragrpah:

A rogue Supreme Court seems hellbent on establishing a corporate oligarchy. Congress can’t stop it. Every time Congress or state legislatures tries to curb the power of billionaires or mega corporations the Court slaps them down.

Go read the rest of it if you have time. You won't be sorry.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day

It's May Day, people. International Workers' Day. Here's something we all need to know:

Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers' Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don't realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as "American" as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.

In the late nineteenth century, the working class was in constant struggle to gain the 8-hour work day. Working conditions were severe and it was quite common to work 10 to 16 hour days in unsafe conditions. Death and injury were commonplace at many work places and inspired such books as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Jack London's The Iron Heel. As early as the 1860's, working people agitated to shorten the workday without a cut in pay, but it wasn't until the late 1880's that organized labor was able to garner enough strength to declare the 8-hour workday. This proclamation was without consent of employers, yet demanded by many of the working class.
On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike...

The above excerpt is from an article by by Eric Chase and you can read it all right here.

So, let me ask you something. Do you think the corporations would have just given us the eight hour work day out of the goodness of their hearts? No? Then this day is important. Really.

Saturday limerick blogging!

Well! It's Saturday again and so time for a limerick. Here's one that, suprisingly, I don't think I'd ever come across before today:

T. S. Eliot is quite at a loss
When clubwomen bustle across
At literary teas
Crying, “What, if you please,
Did you mean by The Mill On the Floss?”

- by W. H. Auden

By the way, The Mill on the Floss was written by George Eliot, not T.S. Eliot. That's part of why this is a terribly clever limerick!