Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why not drop by . . .

. . . and see what the Friends of Irony are up to?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The one we feed

One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said:

“There are two wolves fighting inside all of us - the wolf of Fear and Hate, and the wolf of Love and Peace.”

The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which one will win?”

The grandfather replied:

“The one we feed.”
"Some men are a list of ingredients with no recipe."
-- from The Matter by Kim Addonizio

"Not every man is born with a boat to catch."
-- Carly Simon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Every reformation must have its victims.

You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return.

-- The Complete Works of Saki

Sunday, July 11, 2010

500,000 people worldwide . . .

. . . die each year in road accidents. Apparently this is an acceptable sacrifice for the freedom of the road.

"Two-thirds of these deaths involve pedestrians," says anti-car activist Jan Lundberg, "of which one-third are children. Just in the United States about forty-two thousand people die per year because of auto collisions, nearly as many as the total number of Americans killed in Vietnam. Everybody knows someone who has died or been seriously injured in a car crash, yet cars have insinuated themselves into our social life - and into our psyches - so thoroughly that we somehow accept these deaths as inevitable, or not shocking, as opposed to perceiving them for what they are: a direct and predictable result of choosing to base our economic and social systems on this particular piece of technology."

What's worse is that even more people die each year from respiratory illness stemming from auto-related toxins than die from traffic crashes.

"We have become slaves to these machines. If a group of aliens came to this planet and said they would bring us all sorts of goodies like jet skis, tomatoes in January, computers, and so on (or at least they would bring them to the richest of us), on the multiple conditions that we offer up to them a yearly sacrifice of a half-million human lives, change our planet's climate, individually spend increasing amounts of time serving them, and socially devote an ever-increasing amount of land and other resources to their service, we would rebel in a flash. Or at least I hope we would. But that's the reality we face."

-- For more . . . Jan Lundberg's website: Culture Change
"I've known that there have existed people who were whole. I have known some. They went about almost naked, they did not have money, they were hunter/gatherers, gathering a lot more than hunting. They 'knew' things they could not possibly know. They slept in huddles, like cats do. They were nomads. They avoided confrontation and were appalled by (human) violence. Of course they were not civilized."

-- A man from Hawaii, in correspondence with Derrick Jensen

The way

On certain days, powers converge and a theme emerges. A couple of days ago, something decided that it was going to be a day where people from out of town continually approached me for directions. First, two young Japanese ladies on W. Burnside asked about how to find the stop for the #56 bus. At Powell's an older gentleman in the coffee shop wanted to know how to get to OMSI. Then, on the streetcar, two greyhaired grandparents who were confused about where the shopping districts were were dissuaded from debarking at the Good Samaritan Hospital stop (where there are no shops) and instead exiting at NW 23rd & Marshall and walking south. If I hadn't gone home then there would probably have been more. I picture them wandering about downtown Portland looking for yet another person whose unofficial duty of the day is giving directions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Culture of Make Believe

Earlier this year, David Edwards, the author of Burning All Illusions, said to me, "If the first rule of a dysfunctional system is 'Don't talk about it,' then our primary goal should be to tell the truth, to be as honest as we can manage to be. When I read something truthful, something real, I breathe a deep sigh and say, 'Fantastic - I wasn't mad or alone in thinking that, after all!' So often we are left to our own devices, struggling in the dark with this external and internal propaganda system. At that point, for someone to tell us the truth is a gift. In a world where people all around us are lying and confusing us, to be honest is a great kindness."

The primary point is this: I now understand that the dissonance I felt for so long is a natural step in rejecting one's socialization - a less refined term would be brainwashing. It is not possible - at least in my own case - to move from one way of perceiving the world to another without a transition of confusion, loss, even hopelessness. Had I known this earlier - had I an understanding of how transitions occur - my period of questioning my sanity may have been shorter, my desperation less deep. This may have been a good thing. Or it may not have been a good thing: My search for a community of like hearts and minds (in books and in person) may then have been less intense, less immediate.

I don't suppose that at this point it much matters. That particular transition is over for me, and so far as the other transitions and transformations that take place now, more or less routinely, I have come to accept dissonance - confusion, contradictory impulses, fear - as something not to be feared in and of itself, but in a sense to be welcomed and entered into as a necessary doorway to new understanding.

-- from The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen
"If I were permitted to write all the ballads I need not care who makes the laws of the nation."

-- Andrew Fletcher

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two recent Oregonian headlines . . .

. . . that might be (but aren't) related:

"Seaside man arrested in I-205 hit-and-run"
"Woman who hit dead horse wins $2.7 million"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Seen on Tri-Met Tales

"An elderly fellow once sat next to me. He smelled like a box of crayons and it was quite pleasant."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

– Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964
Mario Savio, "Bodies Upon the Gears" speech

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Absurdity of Debt

"When a person with spare money helps an entrepreneur start a business, it should be seen as a risky investment, not as a loan. Entrepreneurs should be financed by investors who stand to lose their money if the business fails — it should not be seen as a repayable loan. No debt! This approach will massively reduce malinvestments because it will encourage high levels of due diligence. Moral hazards are eliminated when people have skin in the game. A reduced incidence of malinvestments will in turn make the inevitable recessions mild and brief, as opposed to the economic meltdown we are currently living through (and which has barely begun). For the situations in which borrowing money is inevitable, the borrower should resort to peer-to-peer lending and let the lenders compete on interest rates. Additionally, debt should be seen as a temporary measure, not as a permanent feature of life."

For more on "The Absurdity of Debt" click here