Thursday, May 28

Island Fever

Beautiful sunsets are just one reason to love Hawaii. According to a recent Gallup-Healthways survey...."Utah, Hawaii, and Wyoming top the nation in well-being in an analysis of more than 350,000 interviews conducted in 2008. Southern states West Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi have the lowest well-being ratings."

The interactive state map on the AHIP well being web site delivers very good demographic information. California isn't doing too bad in many areas. As time goes on and more surveys are processed, it will be interesting to see if anything changes in this well-being index.

Great, geeky stuff!!

Tuesday, May 26

Going Down...

Yesterday, I checked out flickr's "most interesting" photos - just glanced at them really and yawned, not once but several times. The cool factor for flickr is long gone.

I still love the interface which is very clean and user friendly, but much of the comment function is archaic and their "filter" and banning process is pretty devestating if someone has an ax to grind or you show a nipple or (fill in the blank). It is a great place for groups and has helped me learn about photography, but I really like DeviantArt and Renderosity for computer generated artwork resources. It's all good. Just dandy, really!

*sigh* I guess I feel a bit let-down about flickr's bigness(?) or sameness(?) or excessive HDRness(?) - Hmmmm... maybe flickr has not jumped the shark - maybe I've jumped the shark. Time to take some photos in a different neighborhood.

Monday, May 25

Wednesday, May 20

Dark Days

Holy Californication!

I did not participate in the latest California special election. The ballot measures failed this time and I see a trend coming where most ballot measures will fail in future.

Hardly anyone voted. In our defense, we did not vote because we're tired of our legislature and governor sloughing off the tough decisions to the ballot box. We're tired of our tax money going to pay for special elections and for the judicial defense or implementation of deformed and unworkable initiatives that thrive in this toxic wilderness. We're tired of the 2/3rd vote process that has spawned a do nothing legislature. We're disgusted with the results of Reaganomics and trickle down, terminator governance. I'm tired of the short sighted, clueless Californians that voted for these mediocre actors. Hey, these guys were/are actors! Someone directs them and it isn't the "people."

Californians shoulder one of the highest tax burdens in the USA and we are furious that these billions are not enough to put together a decent budget, one that does not have a multi billion dollar shortfall. It was this fury that ousted former gov, Grey Davis. Arnold pressed hard on this raw nerve.

".., he uttered the same lies about state government and proposed the same nostrums as many of his predecessors: Californians are overtaxed and underserved, the budget can be balanced by cutting waste, fraud and abuse, etc. Like everyone else who has made these claims, he never delivered on his promise.

His cut in the car tax cost the state $3.6 billion per year, making him directly responsible for pretty much all of today's $21-billion budget deficit." Michael Hiltzik - Los Angeles Times article, "Schwarzenegger Missed His Golden Opportunity.."

So, we're mad. So now what?

Saturday, May 16

Crazy Flower

Just got back from our local farmer's market and forgot to find out what this crazy flower is called. Pretty, if you like alien esque plants.

Spoke to two friends about the Bill Moyers interview with environmentalist, Daniel Goleman.

"Responsible consumption goes far beyond current notions of green," explains Goleman.

"..,Thanks to a growing field called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), where you might see only ground peanuts and a glass jar, Goleman and many others now see the 1,959 discrete steps to make the jar alone — including all the energy and resources it uses along the way, and all it will use once it's thrown away. LCA documents the whole cost of a product by breaking it down into component parts and tracing them up the production line." PBS description.

My friends found Goleman and the other gentlemen in the interview interesting. They really like the idea of buying every day items that biodegrade and are kinder to the environment. I like the site, which Golemand recommended. Interesting but not really a new concept to me.

I remember supplementing my allowance as a kid by collecting bottles and cans and redeeming them for a few pennies. I also remember checking to see if a product was biodegradable. Apparently, environmental ideas are recycled too. Everything old is new again... RRR!

Thursday, May 14

I Don't Want To See Those Pictures...

...but I do want to see someone tell the truth about the torture that was authorized by my government against detainees in Abu Ghraib, again!

The issue is not whether the Bush administration authorized the illegal detention and torture of Iraqi civilians and others. Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney and their lackeys readily admit to these acts. They authorized private corporations (CACI and Titan) to conduct the "interviews" and avoid oversight by the US military. Simply google Abu Ghraib and read the facts. (Here, I'll do it for you.)

Put those facts together and you will come to the conclusion that BushCorp broke US and international laws - many times. They lied to Congress and the American people about the Iraq threat to national security, before the invasion, and continue to lie to the country about Iraq, the war on terror, ... you name it, now. If they haven't outright lied about torture, corruption, incompetence, they've obscured the issues with some other "wedge" issues of no importance. They know the attention span of the American voter is short. They know we know they broke laws. We let them do it. We don't need horrifying pictures to prove that they are liars and law breakers. We already have enough evidence to support these claims. So?

We don't need no stinkin pictures. I say let the ACLU have them with the agreement that they will not be plastered all over the internet... erm, too late for that one. Wired and TED have already put together a gruesome torture gallery/slide show to make the point that torture happened. Despite the clean up at Abu G, prosecutions of ordinary soldiers, demotions, firings, lawsuits against CACI, and other legal proceedings, old Scratch aka Cheney is still frothing at the mouth about the "rightness" of torture on every lecture/media interview circuit that will let him through the door. Why, Dick? Go home. Clear some brush. Stifle yourself, already. (Hmmmm...Is it possible that his Halliburton pension took a hit and he's forced to open his creaky jaws and sing for his supper? Yeah... NOT.)

It's obvious Mr. Cheney has no respect for Obama and his power to investigate and prosecute. He and Limbaugh are pals propagating neocon myths and delusions while doing their best to make things worse. They have the judgment and conscience of spoiled 4-year olds without the salvation of being cute. I want them to go away so that real people with hearts and souls can hunker down and endure the shit storm they've caused. Will Obama/Pelosi step up to this miserable plate and investigate, charge and prosecute BushCorp? Or, ......

John Shaft: "Why don't you stop playing with yourself, Willy? You ain't gonna do SHIT! "
- memorable quote from the 1971 movie, "Shaft"

Wednesday, May 13

The Doldrums

"Doldrums", pl. noun: A period of stagnation or slump. A period of depression or unhappy listlessness. Avoir le cafard, broyer du noir. De capa caĆ­da.

by Carol Ann Duffy

She woke up old at last, alone,
bones in a bed, not a tooth
in her head, half dead, shuffled
and limped downstairs
in the rag of her nightdress,
smelling of pee.

Slurped tea, stared
at her hand--twigs, stained gloves--
wheezed and coughed, pulled on
the coat that hung from a hook
on the door, lay on the sofa,
dozed, snored.

She was History.
She'd seen them ease him down
from the Cross, his mother gasping
for breath, as though his death
was a difficult birth, the soldiers spitting,
spears in the earth;

been there
when the fisherman swore he was back
from the dead; seen the basilicas rise
in Jerusalem, Constantinople, Sicily; watched
for a hundred years as the air of Rome
turned into stone;

witnessed the wars,
the bloody crusades, knew them by date
and by name, Bannockburn, Passchendaele,
Babi Yar, Vietnam. She'd heard the last words
of the martyrs burnt at the stake, the murderers
hung by the neck,

seen up-close
how the saint whistled and spat in the flames,
how the dictator strutting and stuttering film
blew out his brains, how the children waved
their little hands from the trains. She woke again,
cold, in the dark,

in the empty house.
Bricks through the window now, thieves
in the night. When they rang on her bell
there was nobody there; fresh graffiti sprayed
on her door, shit wrapped in a newspaper posted
onto the floor.

History beat me down this morning. It's depressing to realize how ignorant I am.

Last night, The Daily Show featured Jason Jones' visit to Arizona State University which hosted President Obama today. Jones went to ASU asking why the university was not giving Obama an honorary degree and the responses were too stupid to imagine. In one part of the interview, Jones' asked three frat rats if any president deserved an honorary degree from ASU and when the name Hamilton came up, all three agreed he deserved one. I recognize that Franklin and Hamilton were not presidents. I also recognize that ASU is in the heart of red neck, conservative McCain country, and a true desert wasteland for progressive, liberal politics. (I should know, I spent most of my childhood and teenhood in the Phoenix pressure cooker.)

And... for a moment I felt superior to the lunkheads featured in the Jones' satire until I tried to name all forty-four presidents (erm... 44, right?).

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I must have had US history nightmares because I woke up this morning with an unhealthy obsession about the presidents. As soon as I heaved my bulk out of my Select Sleeper bed, I had to know their names. I read their biographies. I got curious about the many wars started and ended by our leaders. I was surprised to realize that when Andrew Jackson deregulated the banking industry, his successor, Martin Van Buren got to clean up the mess of the "panic of 1837." So much of what is happening today is a repetition of the mistakes made in the past.

My recent historical obsession started when I rented the HBO miniseries, "John Adams" which is a magnificent recreation of the terrifying years of American history from 1770 to 1826. It shows the harsh colonial life and "deglorifies" America's gritty roots. The most interesting aspect of this mini series is its coverage of the turmoil in France, England and Spain. The world was quaking and ripping apart at the seams. The "old world order" of kings and vassals was ending and America was a weak and fractured part of this chaos. America's growing pains were/are acute.

I saw another great historical series on PBS last week., "We Shall Remain." I am conflicted about the greatness of America. This country was created for white, Europeans and was successful in integrating these cultures into one nation. People of color were not included and were either exterminated or exploited. Grim stuff. I cringe when I hear patriots beat their chests about America being the greatest country in the world. It is a great country filled with wonderful people, but we are not delusional, folks. Bad shyte happened to a lot of good, disenfranchised people. The PBS series exposes the unfairness and cruelty of the American political philosophy of manifest destiny which considered the Indian tribes of the Americas and the black, labor force as less than human. The only way to look back and learn something is by suspending judgment and by sifting through facts. Fortunately, the history of native Americans is being rewritten and their truth is told in this sad, fascinating and painful television series.

The most fascinating segment was about the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh. I remembered reading a historical novel called "Panther in the Sky" years ago about the turbulent life and times of this great Indian war chief who tried to unite the tribes against their common enemy - American expansionism.

Despite our ignorance, history embraces us. It shakes us.

It holds up a mirror and asks the question, "Where are you going?"

And I have to say, the doldrums are pretty crowded these days. I'm here. Old lady, history, is here. The ASU frat rats are here. The ousted neo cons own the place. It's time to break out.

Sunday, May 10