Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks...


“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

- Albert Schweitzer

A couple of older offerings that fit the day for me and my place in life's web...

The Song, An ancient song transforms a hike into a vision quest, by Sharif Abdullah

and this offering of thanks, from Chief Jake Swamp (the best version of this is found on Joanne Shenandoah's wonderful album, Covenant):

"We are brought together on this beautiful day. We now bring our minds together as if we became one person as we give thanks to our health and well-being. We look around the world and we see the many different gifts that have been given by the Great Spirit.

"We give thanks to the Earth, our Mother, and greet her this morning, for always taking care of us.

"We give thanks to all the bodies of water, the water that is responsible for quenching our thirst.

"When we see all the grasses and the beauty of the greenery they present to us, we thank them for what they do in this life. We give thanks to all the medicinal herbs that have been planted that take away diseases and sicknesses.

"We give thanks to all the foods that come from the ground.

"We give thanks to all the fish that live in the waters, and all the insects.

"We give thanks to all the animal relatives, especially the Deer, their leader. We give thanks to them for cleaning up the forest and keeping it clean.

"We give thanks to all the trees around the world, for each and every day we use their energy. We must always honor and remember how helpful they are to our lives.

"We pay attention to the birds who sing their beautiful songs, including their leader, the Eagle. Each time when we are taken into loneliness, we only need to listen to their beautiful songs, and we are comforted in our minds and be well again.

"We take our minds to the Four Directions where the Four Winds come from, and we give thanks for the air that we breathe.

"We give thanks to our oldest Grandfathers who come from the West, the Thunder Beings. As they rumble across the sky, we know that the waters of the world will be replenished.

"We give thanks to our oldest Brother, the Sun, for he is the one who shines his light that we may see creation clearly, giving his warmth so that everything can grow.

"We thank our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, as she continues to hold hands with the Earth and all the females of the world who are responsible for bringing forth new life. She is in charge of the movements of all the waters of the world, including the waters within us.

"We give thanks to her helpers, all the Stars, who bring the dew to help the plant life when we have dry seasons. Although we have lost much knowledge of the stars, just to look at their beauty and the brilliance of how they are scattered across the sky brings us comfort enough to say thankyou for what they do.

"We give thanks to the Four Sacred Beings who were assigned to watch over the human family. We depend upon them whenever we are entering into dangerous places. They intervene on our behalf and lead us away from danger.

"And now we have arrived at a special place beyond the heavens where the Great Spirit lives. We say thank you for what was presented to the People in this world, the gift of life; we know where it came from. Although we do not know the face of the Creator, we can feel its presence within every living thing, including within us. And so we give thanks for this great mystery to the Creator of all things that we enjoy every day.

"This morning we have opened our gathering with thankfulness for being brought together. Yawehkowa. Thank you."


Thursday, November 4, 2010

2011 Calendar sale... is over... but the calendars are still for sale!


“The Gods cannot help those who do not seize opportunities”

- Chinese Proverb

The sale ended Nov. 14, but I'll sure post it here when they have another one! But the way RedBubble has the calendars formatted you can have it start at whatever month you want and it will still be a 12 month calendar... so if you purchase one in April, you can have the calendar start in May. Pretty cool...


Seeing how I have 4 to choose from (counting last year's, which is updated to 2011 dates) and naturally, I'm gonna tell you they're all beautiful and loaded with my best Oregon nature images:

‘Allan Erickson's Oregon ’

‘Oregon - clouds, sky and light - Allan Erickson’

‘Oregon waters...’

and my newest (my fave by the way...)

‘Cannabis Beauty - Allan Erickson’

and while I'm pitching... remember that there are a lot of folks like me who are artists and every time someone buys one of their/our works it is an acknowledgement we all savor...

(note that sale ends on November 14th)

Thanks folks, for stopping by and visiting my humble corner of the wwweb... anything else is old pie and melted ice cream!

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”

- Joseph Campbell


Saturday, October 30, 2010

the bullies among (and within) us...



“Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all--the apathy of human beings.”

- Helen Keller

I was watching the network evening news the other night (I rarely "watch" it, but it's in the background while I'm reading the news I choose, here on the 'puter) and a story came on about bullying among kids being "epidemic." Now pundits and officials and parents across the nation are in shock and despair... again. Whatever.

It's funny how memories from childhood stick. When I was 12 or so I remember hearing the story of Kitty Genovese. It impressed me. Not much impressed me when I was 12 if it wasn't outside. But sometimes, you know, the world makes even little kids sit up and pay attention. I'd grown up white middle class and my dad worked and my mom was home, doing the housewife thing. Life was good. We lived in Southern California and the weather was great (the occasional smog alert was always a drag) and LA hadn't consumed everything around it so I still had fields and woods to poke around in.

But Kitty Genovese has stuck in my mind, even after all these years.

New York Times
Martin Gansberg
March 27, 1964

For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.

Twice their chatter and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out, and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.

That was two weeks ago today.

Still shocked is Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick M. Lussen, in charge of the borough's detectives and a veteran of 25 years of homicide investigations. He can give a matter-of-fact recitation on many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him--not because it is a murder, but because the "good people" failed to call the police.

"As we have reconstructed the crime," he said, "the assailant had three chances to kill this woman during a 35-minute period. He returned twice to complete the job. If we had been called when he first attacked, the woman might not be dead now."

I don't know... why did 38 people ignore the screams of a woman under violent and murderous attack? It certainly was a different time culturally but wasn't this an instance that would incite our nobler aspects?

I think what cemented Kitty's story in my mind was the sadness it produced in me. Even then I think my empathic senses knew we were in trouble. But I was on the cusp of puberty, girls were starting to look... pretty. And lord help me, I was liking dancing with them. Even... kissing them was enjoyable. Heck, I even liked my little sister...

... anyway... I'll get distracted by despairing the direction my path has taken since I started liking females so let's get back to the topic. Sorry for the digression. (I hope the tongue poking my cheek was obvious)

I mean I don't really know where my propensity for caring like I do came from. Why do some things touch me so deeply I cry? Could it have been all those episodes of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin ("Yo Rinnie!") or maybe I did meet a magical frog that gave me a special gift when I was 2. Another of life's little mysteries remains unsolved... for now.

When I was stationed in Thailand I got started with meditation when a young man came to the base and started a meditation class. He was from a group called Ananda Marga, an organization dedicated to teaching yoga and meditation and providing social services to humanity. It was sometime after that I had my bout of conscienciousness and didn't want to help bomb short brown people anymore. More fallout I suspect from an overdose of Lassie's compassion.

After that religion was anything but organized, for me. But one thing I found in my reading and listening to folks of different beliefs was that at the core all had the intent to promote good. And I enjoyed finding out bits and pieces about everybody's god views as I travelled along my merry way. That is until I met my first really obnoxious evangelists... and then I realized there were spiritual bullies in the world. Another sad realization...

So what does Kitty Genovese have to do with bullies? Well... the man that killed her comitted the ultimate act of bullying - murder. And 38 people stood by and did nothing...

So, today we have an epidemic of bullying...

Note the footnote on the Kitty Genovese article I linked to:

The above reported events are true and took place on March 14, 1964.

The brutal murder of Kitty Genovese and the disturbing lack of action by her neighbors became emblematic in what many perceived as an evolving culture of violence and apathy in the United States. In fact, social scientists still debate the causes of what is now known as "the Genovese Syndrome."

"an evolving culture of violence and apathy"

Would not it make sense that today's bullying fits the profile? Where I wonder have the kids picked this up from? *gasp* Anybody paying attention to the political season?
Listening to any talk radio? Have you tried to discuss controversial, topical issues in online forums... mean and nasty is mainstream.

Bullying is cool... who needs truth, fact or civility when all that's really needed is a bad attitude and an internet soap box (to virtually stand on)? Tough is good, everything else is sissiefied and unfit for an equal standing in society.

I tell ya what... y'all have me really worried. If you're not standing up and (metaphorically at least) saving Kitty Genovese's life this time, then you are one of those 38 people not even responsible enough to make a phone call. Metaphorically speaking of course.

A pox on your houses, some would say...

Mammon is a cruel master and makes for a terrible religion. It is a religion of bullies... and a religion that runs roughshod over the landscape providing it's base resources.


Kitty had crossed my mind a lot recently, I thought she deserved some recognition. Not every victim of violence and apathy get a syndrome named after them.


Speaking of bullies, do you recognize this man:

That's Gil. Gil is a bully. Gil didn't have a dictionary. Gil thinks it's his duty to lie. Actually, kinda, it his job to lie, Congress says so. He's the Drug Kzar. Is it easier to lie if you don't have a dictionary?


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2011 Oregon Calendars!


“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation ... even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind.”

- Leonardo da Vinci


I needed some time away from the blog. I hope you all can grant a bit of slack for my prolonged absence. Things being what they are I spent my summer working my ass off trying to play catch-up. Hah... so much for that idea!

I'm currently working on some photos and a blog about a road trip out to Oregon's wonderful Warner Basin. I won't be too long in getting that posted. Promise...

So as you can see from the title of today's blogpost I've put together a couple of new calendars for the coming year. They're running right around $25, just like last year's. I'm extremely happy with them and hope to put together one or two more here in the next cuppla weeks.

Both calendars are Oregon themed, naturally...

Allan Erickson's 2011 Oregon Calendars

Remember, when you purchase items like this you keep alive artists' dreams. So always when you can support the artists, support the arts.

And... as always I appreciate you dropping in for a cup o' joe and a donut. Until next time, Kay sh'nuk sh'mah.

Oh... as a bit of a tease, here's the shot I (unconsciously) went out to the desert to get:


“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art”

- Leonardo da Vinci


Sunday, July 4, 2010

the 4th of July...



How far we have fallen... and we will step right off the looming precipice soon if we, the people, do not seize and reclaim that which is ours not just by right, but by law and the universal principles of liberty and individual sovereignty.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross



"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."

- Samuel Adams


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Junkies in our midst...



“We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyones arguing over where they're going to sit.”

- David Suzuki

It's been over a month since the BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon blew up in the Gulf of Mexico. We now have acknowledgement from BP that the leak is bigger than the 5,000 barrels a day claimed since the disaster first happened.

While no one knows exactly how much oil is leaking, legitimate estimates range from 20,000 barrels a day to upwards of 100,000 barrels a day. And at what? 42 gallons per barrel... that's a lot of bubblin' crude.

An important point to be aware of in this incident is that there were those who warned of such possi-/proba-bilities:

How Technology Failed in the Gulf Spill

While the Deepwater Horizon leaks' depth is unprecedented, it was not unanticipated. A report by engineering consulting firm URS Corp. in 2002 concluded that "Technologies used in shallow waters are no longer adequate for water depths over 1,000 meters. As a result, the environmental consequences of some of the newer deepwater technologies are not well understood."

In 2005 petroleum engineering researchers from Texas A&M University suggested that drilling in the "dangerous and unknown" ultra-deep environment required new blowout control measures: "While drilling as a whole may be advancing to keep up with these environments, some parts lag behind. An area that has seen this stagnation and resulting call for change has been blowout control."

An analysis of incidents in the Gulf of Mexico by the Texas A&M researchers showed that offshore blowouts had continued at "a fairly stable rate" since 1960 despite the use of BOPs. Regulators require inspection of BOPs every 14 days. BP says it inspected the Deepwater Horizon's 10 days before last month's blowout.

Two attempts by BP to cap the well have failed and thousands of barrels of oil continue to spill into the Gulf of Mexico waters.

Frank Rich has a well crafted piece in the NY Times: Obama’s Katrina? Maybe Worse

FOR Barack Obama’s knee-jerk foes, of course it was his Katrina. But for the rest of us, there’s the nagging fear that the largest oil spill in our history could yet prove worse if it drags on much longer. It might not only wreck the ecology of a region but capsize the principal mission of the Obama presidency.


The only good news from the oil spill is that when catastrophe strikes, even some hard-line conservatives, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, start begging for the federal government to act, and act big. It’s the crunch moment for government to make its case — as Obama belatedly started to do on Thursday. But words are no match for results. As long as the stain washes up on shore, the hole in BP’s pipe will serve the right as a gaping hole in the president’s argument for expanded government supervision of, for starters, Big Oil and big banks. It’s not just the gulf that could suffer for decades to come.

This is a disaster - and not just an environmental one. The BP spill is also a disastrous failure of technology. How could this happen? How can companies be allowed such activities when the technology to stop such a disaster is apparently lagging behind the ability to poke holes in the ocean floor? Remember that thing our parents used to tell us? "... just because you can doesn't mean you should." Well if there is a better example than this of the principle of that...

The AP's Matthew Brown: Cleaning oil-soaked wetlands may be impossible

The gooey oil washing into the maze of marshes along the Gulf Coast could prove impossible to remove, leaving a toxic stew lethal to fish and wildlife, government officials and independent scientists said.


White [David White, a wetlands ecologist from Loyola University in New Orleans], the Loyola scientist, predicted at least short-term ruin for some of the wetlands he's been studying for three decades. Under a worst-case scenario, he said the damage could exceed the 217 square miles of wetlands lost during the 2005 hurricane season.

"When I say that my stomach turns," he said.

We are junkies, or at best we are the enablers of addiction. We are addicted to oil and the side effects of that addiction are felt at all levels of society. We need to change, we need to understand that we truly need to find and utilize alternative energy, wind and tide, more mass transit... we need to bring our troops home and work at restoring the Gulf states' damage not just from this oil "spill" (a spill is what happens when a kid's cup tips over) but what remains to be done from the swath of damage from Hurricane Katrina. We have states in the midwest reeling from disastrous tornadoes, states in the east still repairing damage from heavy rains and flooding this past winter and early spring... we have a crumbling infrastructure of highways and bridges...

... our own house is in disrepair and needs our attention. But are we too spoiled as a consumer society to become an effective and active citizenry - a populace that is willing to face the plethora of crises already here and looming on the horizon?


And from my this-and-that file:

Baltimore’s Crime Drop As War On Drugs Becomes War On Violence

BALTIMORE – In a blighted west Baltimore neighborhood, Lt. Ian Dombroski turns his unmarked police car around a corner and sees several men standing outside a liquor store. They scatter immediately.

Dombroski knows they’re probably selling drugs, but he keeps driving. Five years ago, he said, officers who happened upon a similar scene wouldn’t take such a selective approach.

“We’d all jump out, grab all the junkies, find out who had the drugs on ‘em, lock ‘em up, and that might be three or four drug arrests right there,” Dombroski said. “And we’d go, ‘Good, those are numbers.’”

But under Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, officers in one of the nation’s most violent cities are no longer being told to beef up arrest statistics. The number of arrests has declined the past two years. Yet homicides and shootings are down, too — to totals not seen since the late 1980s.

Officers familiarize themselves with a list of 120 dangerous criminals and patrol where they live, talking to them and working acquaintances for tips. The serving of arrest warrants has been reprioritized to focus on people with violent backgrounds. Gun offenders are also required to register with the city, much like sex offenders do in many places.

“I’m not trying to win the drug war,” Bealefeld said. “I’m out to win the war on violence and deal effectively with violence.”

And speaking of the drug war, a couple of posts back I added a link to police video of a "drug raid" carried out by SWAT in Columbia, Missouri... it's not pretty, one can hear a dog being shot and crying in pain and then 3 shots and silence... and all for a few grams of cannabis (marijuana, pot, weed, etc). The enlightening part of the video (and there's a warehouse of sociologic info in that video) is when the homeowner - the target of the raid - asks "what is happening?" and then demands a lawyer. Best advice ever...

Oh... and the Columbia, Missouri police received heavy national attention when the video went viral on YouTube. Well, not soon after, the beleaguered Columbia PD Chief, Ken Burton, said this:

“I applaud your efforts,” he told a reporter who asked about campaigns to change marijuana laws. “If we could get out of the business [of going after marijuana offenders], I think there would be a lot of police officers that would be happy to do that.”

Look... the drug war is literally our government waging a military assault on US families and individuals under the guise of Prohibition. The Prohbition of Drugs is no different than the Prohibition of Alcohol. Substances when prohibited do not become unpopular... they just become illegal and there are always those willing to be the suppliers of a demand. That's like the most basic law of economics... but what Prohibition does is turn the manufacure and distribution of the banned products over to criminal organizations. Criminal organizations gladly will lose a few soldiers and even suffer some seizures of goods in order to be the recipients of the black market's swollen profit margins.

In international terms the global market in illegal drugs is somewhere around $500 billion a year, just under 10% of total global annual trade. Tax free, all cash, high demand... a capitalist wet dream. And all that cash buys a lot of influence, buys a lot of politicians and members of law enforcement.

There are a lot worse things in life than drugs and their abuse. But I ask you consider that smoking cannabis as a young man did not prevent Barack Obama (or Bill Clinton, prolly George Bush Jr) from becoming President of the United States. An arrest for possession of cannabis would have. And that's plain dumb, especially considering the laws against cannabis come from such putrid, bigoted beginnings.

And speaking of snakes and snakey things, just in case you thought alligators are dangerous, how about alligator-eating-snakes:

Pythons in Florida Stalked by Hunters and Tourists Alike

Thousands of Burmese pythons, the offspring of former pets, have invaded the Everglades, eating birds, bunnies, even alligators. It has gotten so bad that Congress is considering an outright ban on buying or selling nine kinds of giant snakes.


“People need to view exotic species invasions as pollution — biopollution,” said David E. Hallac, chief of biological resources for Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. “In some cases, this form of biopollution can be even more difficult to remedy than chemical pollution, mainly because in most cases, we have no way of cleaning up exotic species from our natural environments.”

Kind of fits the theme here today, don't you think? And speaking of exotic species:

Beware alien invaders, says Stephen Hawking

They say strangers are just friends you haven't met yet - but it's not a view Stephen Hawking shares. In a new documentary series for the Discovery channel, he suggests that we should be avoiding making contact with aliens at all costs.

An important and relevant perspective on the financial crisis from Thomas Friedman in the NY Times:

Start-Ups, Not Bailouts

Here’s my fun fact for the day, provided courtesy of Robert Litan, who directs research at the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in promoting innovation in America: “Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,” said Litan. “That is about 40 million jobs. That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.”

Message: If we want to bring down unemployment in a sustainable way, neither rescuing General Motors nor funding more road construction will do it. We need to create a big bushel of new companies — fast. We’ve got to get more Americans working again for their own dignity — and to generate the rising incomes and wealth we need to pay for existing entitlements, as well as all the new investments we’ll need to make. It was just reported that Social Security this year will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes — a red line we were not expected to cross until at least 2016.

But you cannot say this often enough: Good-paying jobs don’t come from bailouts. They come from start-ups. And where do start-ups come from? They come from smart, creative, inspired risk-takers. How do we get more of those? There are only two ways: grow more by improving our schools or import more by recruiting talented immigrants.

So in light of the multiple wars we have raging - military types, economic, drug, environmental - here's an old fave from the remarkable Samuel Clements (go read the whole thing):

The War Prayer
by Mark Twain

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."


Almost forgot to add... if you're in the Bend, Oregon area my good friend Greg Burke ( ) will be having his photography on exhibit at Eastlake Framing, 1335 NW Galveston Ave, Bend, Oregon, 541-389-3770, with the artist's reception this coming Friday, June 4th, from 5 - 8 pm. Say hi to Greg for me if you go!


“I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty”

- George Burns


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Latos... again!


“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

- Larry Bird

Just had to post this... young Mat Latos, now pitching for the San Diego Padres after a very short stint in the minors, pitched in San Francisco today against the Giants. This kid is good, I'm tellin' ya.

His game today? He pitched the complete game, struck out 6, no walks, no runs, allowed 1 hit. AND... he got the game winning single and batted in Lance Zawadzki (another former Eugene Emerald, I have his photos as well) for the game's only run.

Not bad Mat! Keep going buddy.


“Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Earth Day everyday... or not...



“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

- Wendell Berry

This blogpost was inspired by an answer to a question I asked my daughter...

"So, what did the high school do for earth day?"

Exasperatedly she said "Nothing... I think only one other kid and I even knew it was earth day."

Really? In a world filled with information highways everywhere - from expressways to dial-up, backwater dirt roads - one would think that some attention is warranted and earth bound beings would relish the chance to take one day a year and celebrate and exclaim their reverence for the source of all the plastic googaws we've surrounded ourselves with. Oh yeah, and stuff like food, the air we breath, the water we drink. Yes? No?

Is this earth, our water planet, our big blue ball spinning in space, an irrelevance? Has the modern world forsaken it's most basic needs as civilization slides into a stupor of ever deepening mediocrity and failure?

I've been doing some focused reading this morning. Wondering about things like, oh... the environment, global climate change and what the future holds for my kids and the coming generations.

I'm no dummy, I may not be the brightest bulb in the marquee but I'm smart enough to know that earth's climate changes cyclically and sometimes dramatically in short periods. That great shifts in our land masses often occur, that volcanoes can erupt and spew enough debris into the air to cause years long changes to global weather patterns.

Volcanoes and Climate Change (NASA)

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines June 15, 1991, an estimated 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide and ash particles blasted more than 12 miles (20 km) high into the atmosphere. The eruption caused widespread destruction and loss of human life. Gases and solids injected into the stratosphere circled the globe for three weeks. Volcanic eruptions of this magnitude can impact global climate, reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface, lowering temperatures in the troposphere, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns.

I'm just sayin'...


Mat Latos update...

Mat's had a bit of a rough go. After pitching 6 hit ball over 7 innings and (or was it 7 hit ball after 6 innings...?) and only allowing 2 runs against the Giants he went out and suffered two more losses, one where he allowed 4(?) homeruns.

But then the other night he pitched a game against the Houston Astros in which he went 8 innings and only allowed 2 hits, no runs and struck out 9. He's now won 2 and lost 3.

Keep focused Mat.


Since I started writing this many days ago a few events have passed...

... and the first one I wanna mention is an anniversary that passed just the other day:

40 years ago Ohio Nat'l Guardsmen shot 13 students at Kent State University - yes, we shoot our own. While we citizens may shoot each other that's one thing, but when a government shoots its citizens that's an entirely different disorder, one we shouldn't tolerate. Ever. (for more on this theme, see the last part of this post)


Another incident of note - just a minor issue - is the slight mishap that just happened in the Gulf of Mexico with one of BP's oil platforms. You know, that rig that blew up killing several humans and certainly destined to kill millions of other life forms living in the warm waters of the gulf.

Some reading material:

BP has long record of legal, ethical violations - Paul Sabin, May 7, in the Kansas City Star

In the Gulf of Mexico, BP and its drilling contractor, Transocean Ltd., chose not to install a $500,000 remote-control shut-off switch that might have contained the recent spill from BP's well. Norway has required these switches since 1993. The U.S. Minerals Management Service considered a similar requirement several years ago, but the oil industry killed off the proposal. And so, but for $500,000, we probably have billions of dollars in liability and cleanup expenses in the Gulf, plus a long-term threat to the livelihoods and ecology of the region that we can't yet quantify.

Cutting corners to keep down costs is an age-old business strategy, from coal mines to sweatshops and the dumping of hazardous wastes. The history of these oil spills makes clear, however, that when it leads to a disaster, cost cutting becomes a bad corporate bet.
[emphasis mine - ae]

Reuters: Special report: Will the cleanup make the BP oil spill worse?

A close examination of studies of the Exxon Valdez disaster and interviews with many people who took part in the cleanup offers a possible peek into what lies ahead for the Gulf Coast in the coming weeks, months, years -- and perhaps decades. Indeed, by one estimate, about 21,000 gallons of oil still linger on some of Alaska's beaches, often in the form of dark brown globs just beneath the rocks.

What's more, there are still some experts who argue that the aggressive cleanup following the Exxon Valdez spill proved more harmful than the oil itself. That continuing debate points to another potential cautionary tale about how conflicts among various groups looking to make things right can end up hampering cleanup efforts.

So... how big a disaster is the BP Deepwater spill?

How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? (BBC News)

In terms of lives lost (11 workers died in the rig explosion), financial cost and environmental damage, the Deepwater Horizon incident is clearly serious. But it is not one of the world's largest spills in terms of size alone.

In fact, based on the estimate above, it would not register in the largest 50 single incident, offshore oil spills that have occurred worldwide. Even the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill - despite the controversy and coverage - is not in the top 10.

However the potential for damage caused by Deepwater Horizon is apparent when looking at the events of June 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, also in the Gulf of Mexico.

In that spill, the exploratory oil well Ixtoc 1 suffered a blowout and wasn't capped until more than nine months later, having released 461,000 tonnes of oil in total.

To my mind it is not a matter of size - though of course size does matter - but the size of the impact of this on an already stressed and strained environment and a damaged and not yet repaired social landscape.

New Orleans and the rest of the US gulf coast still haven't recovered from Hurricane Katrina and now this. Fortunately... lord save us... we have former head of FEMA Michael Brown to look to in order that we are given some sane perspective on this recent mess:

This week in crazy: Michael Brown

"Now you're looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the Louisiana shore, according to certain -- NOAA and other places, if the winds are right, it will go up the East Coast," Brown said. "This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, 'I'm going to shut it down because it's too dangerous,' while Mexico and China and everybody else drills in the Gulf. We're going to get shut down."

What the heck is a bit of oil and an entire region's economy compared to stopping the evil liberals in their tracks?!

I mean please... it's the whole of the liberal-conservative blame game summed up in a nutshell (and I do mean nut). No disaster is so big that it can't be made small and cheap and trivialized and used for political gain. C'mon Brownie, just shut up. Asshat...

Funny too (not) that the oil industry and it's associated industries can be involved in a disaster we here in the states just don't hear about:

Activist: Farmer suicides in India linked to debt, globalization

"The farmer suicides started in 1997. That's when the corporate seed control started," Vandana Shiva told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "And it's directly related to indebtedness, and indebtedness created by two factors linked to globalization."


An estimated 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives in India over the past 13 years, according to Indian government statistics.

"The combination is unpayable debt, and it's the day the farmer is going to lose his land for chemicals and seeds, that is the day the farmer drinks pesticide," Shiva said. "And it's totally related to a negative economy, of an agriculture that costs more in production than the farmer can ever earn."

There is a pattern here... gross negligence, conspiracy among the corporate profiteers who capitalize on the good and the bad, for whom the deaths of the oil rig workers, the suicides of peasant farmers in India relates only to the balance in the corporate ledgers...

I'm sorry (not) but we, the people (of all colors, of all nations) are getting screwed. And there's no lovemaking to this, it is pure rape.

Corporations don't vote, corporations can't vote, but corporations sure can buy politicians at a level voters can't touch. (check out Max Baucus and his masterful and profitable work on behalf of the pharamaceutical and health care industry in the recent health care bill wranglings)

We truly do need to stop this behemoth of bureaucracy that seems to pander to everyone and every entity but those very people whom it is meant to serve...

And here is one last bit for you. This is a rather disturbing video (seriously), shot by police while raiding a home in Columbus, Missouri with the SWAT team, searching for cannabis:

This is but one example of why I believe the drug war (Prohibition II) is one of the most pernicious and slimy policies to ever eminate from our government - a position I can easily defend should anyone care to debate the issue with me. And if you haven't discovered Radley Balko before... hooboy... fasten your seat belt. Nobody is covering the plague of police home invasions like Radley. Is this really what we have become?


“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

- Abraham Lincoln


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mat Latos makes the bigs...



“Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game.”

- Ted Williams

I do the photography for the Eugene Emeralds, Eugene's minor league pro baseball club. The Ems are the San Diego Padres' single A short season team. This is the team that the young guys come to, usually straight out of college (or sooner if they're top talents) or coming in from out of country.

One of the best pure talents for the Emeralds was a young man named Mat Latos. Mat is a tall kid and heaves a fastball that clocks up to 98 mph. And he controls it. He made the Padres' starting pitching rotation and will take the mound this Saturday (April 10) against the Colorado Rockies.

Denis Savage from the Padres scouting crew posted an article over at the other day and here is his view on Latos:

Latos has ace stuff. His maturity, a question mark in the minors, has taken a significant leap forward. He has the plus fastball, a nasty slider and has made strides with his changeup.

Denis also notes that Mat's ERA in spring training games was an outstanding 1.59 and he won 3 games and lost 0. Mat is now 22. He actually did play 10 games for Padres last season (2009) going 4-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts. In a game last month against the San Francisco Giants, Latos only let one run cross the plate, only allowed three hits in four innings and struck out three and walked two.

I know that Mat was a hit with the fans here. When he pitched, fans' expectations rose and so did the volume of their cheers when Mat would blow strikes by the batters.

At about 6'6" and 225 pounds Mat Latos is no small pitcher. He has determination, and a talent. It's nice for me to see Mat's making the Big Leagues and I wish him the best in his just beginning career.

I didn't realize when I started shooting for the Ems that someday I would have the rookie photos of big time baseball pros. I think this guy will be one.

I hope your career is long and fruitful Mat - and profitable.

(More on the Emeralds can be found at my Eugene Emeralds Photo blog)

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

- Calvin Coolidge


Thursday, March 25, 2010

that photo thing again...


“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace... but we would be hollow... Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead.”

- Joss Whedon

A fine topic for some philosophical cud chewing...

Think about it...


I'm posting photos today. I feel I've been neglectful of y'all, image wise. These are (almost) all recent:

Central California Stuntmen Assoc, early '80s (PlusX film, scanned to digital)

Guadalupe Dunes (California), winter solstice sunset, late '80s (Kodachrome 64, scanned to digital)

Guad Dunes, early morning, winter solstice, late '80s (Kodachrome 64, scanned to digital)

Los Lonely Boys going acoustic, at the McDonald Theater, (2010)

If you aren't familiar with Los Lonely Boys I highly recommend giving 'em a listen. 3 brothers from Texas, they play topnotch Rock and Roll, Texican style!

The Hallelujah Chorus, Willamette HS combined choirs and bands, conducted by Bart Ellis, Dec 2009

Michael Franti at the McDonald Theater, 2009

My son Alex, on bass, w/ Naked in Alaska, Peterson Barn Rec Center, Eugene, OR, 2009

Redtail hawk landing in storm, here at my home, Eugene, OR

Flamboyant tulip, my garden, shot the other day

Magnolia bloom, my garden, 2 weeks ago

Stonefield Beach, south of Cape Perpetua, Oregon, Feb 2010 full moon (extreme high and low tides)

Now I know a lot of you reaaallllly like my photography, and I definitely appreciate your appreciation....

... but artists have to eat.

All of the above images and about 200 more are available for purchase at my RedBubble Gallery. And they don't have to be purchased as framed prints for $120 or so... they can be bought as greeting cards, post cards, laminated prints, mounted or matted prints (you buy or use your own frames)...

So here... these are a few examples of what my photos look like in different formats:

Cards come in 4x6 size for $2.99, 5x7 for $4.50, or as 4x6 postcards for under $2.50. RedBubble also provides quantity discounts - 20% off for 4, 30% off for 8, or 40% off for 16

Laminated prints (photo size approx 8"x12") come on white or black background:

and are priced under $22.00

From Jay Leno: "our teenagers are so fat today... that teen boys are happy to get in their own pants..."

And I post that not as a dig at overweight folks but on our society (and the fact it's funny!)... we have our priorities a tad askew. Our personal health is our personal responsibility, just as the health of our government is the responsibility of "we, the people." Our gluttony may be fatal on both points.


“Pleasure and action make the hours seem short.”

- William Shakespeare


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Got your thinking caps on?


“When any government, or church for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motive.”

- Robert Heinlein

I have a guest blogger appearing in today's post. I met Denny Chapin over at Pete Guither's Drug WarRant. Denny is the managing editor of, a directory for drug rehab centers and substance abuse information resource. He appeared at Pete's with a guest post on Cannabis and addiction: Marijuana Addiction - guest post and a discussion.

To get the gist of all this it would help to follow through on the discussions. Those of us who follow Pete's blog and participate in discussion are no slouches when it comes to drug policy. Drug policy reform advocates have been way ahead of today's Prohibitionists on web technology and savvy since, well, forever.

All of today's Prohibition II is promulgated and funded by the government and any organizations opposed to current drug policies are marginalized and insulted. Yet the forces of prohibition have long held sway only because they held power and purse strings. The wwweb changed that.

Just as an example... in Pete's post on the current UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs 2010 that took place this past week in Vienna, he says this:

I can’t resist showing this… The NGO’s (non-governmental organizations, including Transform, Harm Reduction Association, etc. many of whom are there to try to reform) tend to get shut out of key portions. However, they were promised a location to make their materials available to delegates.

The 160 representatives from 55 NGOs were given this table.

and he offered this photo of the one table 55 Non-Governmental Organizations were supposed to share:

So follow along with these discussions and see for yourself...

After Denny's posting, Pete followed up with a response: Marijuana Addiction - a response

After a vigorous discussion, again, Denny returned with a follow up post: Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds. This resulted in 63 responses. And it was my comments to this post that brought Denny to contact me, asking for an opportunity to post here.

And with me being the accomodating fella I am... any way here's Denny Chapin:

Denny Chapin is the managing editor of, a directory for drug rehab centers and substance abuse information resource.

Should We Decriminalize Marijuana?

From a purely utilitarian perspective, one can arguably weigh the good and bad against each other, calculate these values according to some weighting system, and know the "right" action. The reality of everyday life, however, speaks differently. While we try to use Mill's calculus to decide the truly right action, we fail, and we fail miserably. Yet, regardless, we try to measure negatives and the positives from one another, and make what we deem is the right decision.

In speaking to the following questions and statistics, I in no way mean to claim I am fulfilling the complexity of the whole of this topic, but simply hope to show the information from a perspective, and make conclusions as I deem fit. As such, I'll preface my opinions with a disclaimer that I in no way represent the opinions of any institution, in writing this brief argument. I write simply to ask questions and hopefully challenge and evoke thoughtfulness. And with that, let me detail a few positives that could occur from the decriminalization of marijuana.

Decriminalizing Marijuana: Effects in the United States

Marijuana is used by 15.2 million people, at least, in the United States[1]. Of those 15.2 million people, in 2006, 829,625 people were arrested with marijuana related charges, and 89% of them were charges of possession only, with 11% making up sale and distribution related offenses[2]. The enforcement of these charges cost the United States government between 12 and 20 billion dollars a year. The United States federal budget for education in 2011 is 160.5 billion dollars, and if marijuana was decriminalized, that money could increase our federal education budget by 7.5 to 12.5%[3]. Decriminalization will also prevent these possession offenses from being processed through our police and court systems, increasing efficiency and, hopefully effectiveness, since police will be able to focus more on truly disruptive criminal activity related to stronger, more destructive drugs like meth, cocaine, and heroin that come into the United States from Mexico.

Does Decriminalization Create More Marijuana Users?

But despite these benefits, if we don't care about prosecuting individuals who use and possess marijuana, it seems logical to assume the use of marijuana would rise, since it's "less illegal" with less punishments. Interestingly, the contrary has been the case in the United States. The states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon have all enacted marijuana decriminalization, where the offense of marijuana possession does not warrant jail time[4]. And these States have not seen an increase in marijuana consumption, as the Institute of Medicine's report on marijuana consumption indicates[5]. Another report from the Journal of Public Health is worth quoting:

The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called 'decriminalization' measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.

- E. Single. 1989. The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: An Update. Journal of Public Health 10: 456-466.

We can see that decriminalization has proven to save American's tax money that would be wastefully spent on our criminal justice system in order to prosecute an overwhelming majority of marijuana users who possess an negligible amount of marijuana, missing the point of the actually preventing harmful drug distribution, crime, and violence.

How Should Treatment Centers Weigh In?

If decriminalization does not impact the number of people who use marijuana, marijuana treatment centers ought not to have an opinion about decriminalization as it relates to usage. And when it comes to costs, marijuana possession prosecution is simply a waste of money.

Most importantly, I think marijuana prohibition, decriminalization, legalization, etc, get a lot of buzz and force many to speak loud opinions about something most American's don't come in contact with on a very regular basis, and even rarer, to hear of someone who has a serious problem or caused themselves major harm because of marijuana. And to this degree, decriminalization is more of an afterthought in our social psyche, where the debate about medical marijuana and legalization take center stage.

So, to almost totally change subjects, I'd like to discuss what I believe is the true drug problem in America, alcohol.

The Real Problem: America's Relationship to Alcohol

In the United States, the most commonly abused substance is alcohol, a legal drug. Coinciding with this fact, treatment centers admit more patients suffering from alcohol abuse than any other drug, and of those patients, 29.9% of them admit themselves into treatment, as opposed to 14.8% of marijuana users admitting themselves into treatment[6]. Alcohol is a legal drug, yet in 2006, it caused 13,050 deaths from liver damage, and 22,073 alcohol-induced deaths, excluding deaths by drunken driving and drunken homicide[7].

Alcoholics and alcoholism is the purple elephant in the room of America's problem with substance abuse. And to this point, the fact that marijuana caused no deaths, has the fewest percentage of addicts admitting themselves to drug treatment on their own accord (along with 5.2x more people admitting themselves to treatment in sheer volume), and costs our country time, money, and energy, I believe marijuana consumption should require the least of our legislative "mindshare" when it comes to drug abuse.

Too many American have a dangerous relationship with alcohol, causing collapse in their body, their connection to their family members, and for our citizens, and scariest of all, the potential to get on the road and commit manslaughter. I feel regret that, as a blogger, the marijuana debate gets the most notice, when so many of us have been viscerally affected by an alcoholic in a truly upsetting manner. And to those of us who have not, we ought to count our blessings.

What should our government do? Make a change. But that is a whole other article ;)









7 ;


Obviously Denny Chapin has done his homework. Feel free to weigh in, I'll be checking comments in the a.m. and the p.m to keep this current.

Thanks Denny!

“I believe that people have a right to decide their own destiny; people own themselves. I also believe that, in a democracy, government exists because (and only as long as) individual citizens give it a "temporary license to exist" - in exchange for a promise that it will behave itself. In a democracy you own the government - it doesn't own you. Along with this comes a responsibility to ensure that individual actions, in the pursuit of a personal destiny, do not threaten the well-being of others while the "pursuit" is in progress.”

- Frank Zappa


Saturday, January 30, 2010

the picking of pockets...


Calvin: "Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?"

Hobbes: "I'm not sure that man needs the help”


My friend Carol, a schoolteacher in California, told me about this story...

In Madera just recently, the local school district superintendent received a 9% raise:

Budget-tight Madera Unified gives chief a raise

Facing severe budget cuts last year, the Madera Unified School District was forced to furlough workers, increase class sizes, and lay off more than 30 teachers and two dozen other employees.

But last month -- as another round of cuts loomed -- the district's board of trustees offered Superintendent John Stafford a new contract with benefits that equaled a 9% raise. It also promised him a retirement bonus. He was the only superintendent among similar-size school districts in the area to get a raise.

Teachers and union leaders were outraged. They chided the board for giving the district's top administrator a raise at a time when teachers are being pressured to work harder and, in some cases, are buying school supplies with their own money.

Stafford said that even though he asked for the new benefits in his contract, he didn't expect it would be so generous.

So what the heck is going on? I mean this isn't uncommon, this apparent spending of money like rich folk, when really there just isn't any money to be spent and others are making cuts and trying trying to find ways to make this all not hurt so much.

I've heard it said that every dollar spent on education is worth two dollars to society. I also know that one of the chief factors in keeping people out of prison is education. One overriding common denominator shared by those housed in our gulag of jails and prisons is that they are grossly illiterate and have only middle school education levels.

So, what's up MADERA? You lay off 30 teachers and your suprintendent of schools gets a raise? That must be one hot rocket of a super - a super superintendent - I tell you what. Because even tho' 30 teachers have been laid off you didn't have an equitable decline in student enrollment I'm sure...

This is one of those head-shaking moments... sigh... if someone can explain the wisdom in this (or even any common sense to it), please advise. Thanks...


When the economy debacle hit there was a story that caught my eye:

Retirement Savers Lost $2 Trillion in the Stock Market

and rather than quote the story I'm grabbing this comment:

Lost Money

I'm 58, retired and totally disabled. My wife and I lost over 70% of our retirement based on what our "financial adviser" at Merrill Lynch told us. What a laugh. Now we are scrambling to keep our house, food in our mouths and medicine in our blood streams.

Does anyone know of law suits, individual or class action against Merrill Lynch for abusing and violation their fiduciary duties???

Just drop me an email-----



So was there a bailout for the working folks like S? Didn't think so...

... but now we need to move on to this Mammonistic bit of gluttony - the Wall Street/Banking bonuses.

I'm not sure if our heads are entombed in the sand or we're (we being you and I, the distinctly individual citizens) just really not able to communicate with each other anymore but I know this blue collar, under employed senior male is pissed off. C'mon... what the hell!

- ok, I'm about to go off on a tangent so I'm gonna save that tangent and not digress, as hard as that is for me to do -

Here are 3 different takes on these executive bonuses, I found them to be both entertaining and relevant:

The earnings report for Main Street: A sorry account, indeed

Prakash Laufer

To add insult to injury to working America, in came the earnings reports from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. At these mega banks, balance sheets are healthy, profits are up and bonuses for top executives are bigger than ever. JPMorgan Chase just reported $11.7 billion in profits and $26.9 billion in compensation and bonuses. Goldman Sachs made a record-high profit of $13.4 billion in 2009 and is slated to hand out $16.2 billion in compensation and bonuses.

These are some of the same institutions whose predatory and unethically risky actions brought our economy to its knees. But, thanks to billions of dollars in government resuscitation, they seem to be recovering nicely from their near-death experiences.

The "earnings report" for the rest of the U.S., however, includes — drum roll, please — higher unemployment and continued foreclosures, with no relief in sight. It sounds like a raw deal because it is. Big banks and Wall Street financiers ignited the foreclosure crisis, setting our economy ablaze, resulting in the loss of millions of homes and jobs.


Tax Wall Street Bonuses

Jim Hightower

Start with those bonuses. Yes, say the bankers, we're stuffing ourselves with money that we should be loaning out to help Main Street recover from the crash we caused, but – hey – we've also started a few charities to help, you know, the little people. So buzz off, killjoy.


and then this little dittie from that bastion of the liberal media, CNN Money:

Botox to vacations: Where bankers spend their bonuses

Blake Ellis

Wall Street bankers are putting together their wish lists for 2010 -- and they're not holding back. After last year's dry spell, bonuses for top-level executives are expected to be sky high. Maybe even records.

At Goldman Sachs and Chase these execs are anticipating bonuses of more than $500,000 a piece, on average, so they'll have plenty to spend.

Read that one and weep, suckers!


But seriously, back to my digression which is now no longer a digression! I knew I could do it... now what was it again?

... oh yeah...

I'm pissed! Listen, if there is someone using the terms liberal or conservative as hot button words, trying to get a rise from folks by lambasting in what I guess they hope is Twainesque in its literary brilliance, ignore the bastards! And you know who I'm talking about - the Limbaughs and his loud-mouthed peers. And I'm not talking about just those on Limbaugh's end of the political scale, I'm talking about all across the political field.

We cannot afford to be divided further. Lord knows we can always find reasons to not like and hate each other. Heck, a lot of us can't get along with our own families let alone neighbors or strangers, but we really have to take a break. We can't afford to let our national experiment in liberty fail. (and liberty has nothing to do with government)

Liberty is essential, it's like water. Without it we die. Either physically or spiritually... we die without the essentials.

Liberty, freedom... that is a state of being. It is in our contract, a universal declaration of individual human sovereignty. But with that sovereignty comes a great weight of responsibility. Because to be free we cannot deny freedom to another. Freedom is reciprocal recognition of another's right of existence as much as it is of our own existence. Were this a world of only one... cooperation would need not exist. But there are 7 billion of us crowding together here on this earth.

And we allow others to excite us to dischord at our own expense and at great risk to our social order. Finding ways to hate one another takes no effort, but it does tend to create a need for a referee - aka government. And the more dischordant we become the more need for someone to break up the fights.

We've moved beyond (and yes there are still some bastions of ignorance remaining where this doesn't hold true) using inciteful speech like "nigger." I mean I was a kid who thought the story of Little Black Sambo (there was a Sambo's restaurant chain - try opening a restaurant with that name today!) was great. I loved it. The first time I saw a black man I asked my dad if that man was little black Sambo. I'll wager he was embarrassed just a bit.

I see it these days... skin color is about as significant as hair color. We notice but we move on. So what keeps us apart? Why are we allowing our pockets to be picked like this? How can 1% of the population hold as much wealth as the the bottom 50%?

If someone is using inflammatory rhetoric, ignore them! Seriously... we need to seek cooperation, we need to create cooperation, we need to work this out together, cooperating is the only way to do do that! And this is a big ship and it's gonna take some strong arms to keep that wheel turning us back to the good.

It is not a competition of insults - that's for friends - and those who insult are a large part of the problem. They're the scab pickers that won't let wounds heal.

[and trust me, I'm not a liberal, I am a true independent and take my own stands on issues - the two party system is also part of the problem but that is another whole blogpost - æ]

So listen for venom, don't get sucked in thinking there is another segment of humanity that for some reason needs reviling. We're all the same, we all were once seed and egg (except for Dick Cheney), and those who seek to divide us are our enemies.

Those who seek to divide us... from within or without...

are our enemies.


Reason # 32 for not tailgating...


“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police”

- Albert Einstein