Friday, July 30, 2010

A movie a week: Expand your world and maintain Salem's best cultural feature

The Secret In Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Oj...Image via Wikipedia

If you live in Salem, it's likely that you either have yourself complained about Salem's lack of cultural offerings or heard others -- many others -- complain about that.

Meanwhile, Salem Cinema trudges onward, showing world-class movies from every genre, from just about every country, and for every taste to small crowds, crowds who tend to eschew the refreshment stand (where movie theatres make essentially all their money, the lion's share [read: all] of the ticket sales going to the distributor and the studio).

Worse, Salem Cinema owner Loretta Miles took a gigantic leap of faith just as the Great Recession was really getting rolling, and she went from one to THREE, count 'em, THREE screens for independent, intelligent movies, and she brings an astounding lineup of films to little ol' Salem, whether we deserve to have such an awesome theatre or not.

Right now, the Oscar-winning foreign film, "The Secret in Their Eyes" -- an unforgettable, powerful, and beautiful movie -- is still playing, along with the enchanting "Ondine" (with big-screen beefcake star Colin Farrell doing an astonishingly great performance in a role that Hollywood would never give him). Oh, and she's also got "Cyrus," and "A Solitary Man," and has an giant handful of other great films already lined up and waiting to come in to Salem . . .

. . . where many people will miss them, all the while complaining about how little culture Salem has.

Before coming to Salem, we lived in another capital city of about the same size -- that had NO downtown movie theatre at all, and only megaplex chain monsters in the area at all. That truly sucked. We had to drive about the same distance as from here to Portland to see a great movie on the big screen. It was sad.

And it could happen here. If Salem Cinema can't make a go of it, then it won't disappear -- some chain will grab the spot and start slamming in the same plotless explosion fests and teen T&A screamers as Cinebarre and the Regal screens are showing, and we'll all be the poorer for it.

My just-made Mid-Year resolution is to try and take in a movie each week at Salem Cinema. Please join me. Buy a great cookie or some popcorn. Think you can't afford it? Cancel cable TV and you'll improve your life immeasurably, and you'll have plenty of money (and more time) to support real great movies.

If we don't support Salem's best cultural treasure, expect to see it disappear.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green burials emerging in Oregon

One of the best ideas in a long while -- putting a stop to a horribly gruesome, insanely overpriced and environmentally catastrophic ritual -- is slowly starting to take off around the country, including in Oregon: "green burials" (i.e., going back to the way we used to handle remains before the Civil War and the advent of using poisons to pickle human remains, the better to sell things to the survivors).

If you or anyone you love plans on passing over someday, you might want to do some exploration and thinking about what should happen to the shell you will leave behind. Do you want that shell to be subjected to ghastly handling and chemicals and then encased in a sealed (for a while, anyway) box so that it becomes putrid and releases those toxins into the groundwater when the box leaks? Or would you prefer something a little less destructive, a lot less expensive, and a whole lot more in alignment with leaving the world better than you found it, or at least not worse?

There are beginning to be good resources on this. One -- and one you can and should support -- is the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Oregon. While they're not up on green burials yet, the more of us who want this sort of thing who join, the sooner they'll step up.

There are beginning to be good books on the subject. A few of the best:
  • The Undertaking (from a pretty conventional family undertaker, ergo, pro-embalming, anti-cremation, but still a superb book and outstanding on the human need for survivors to process the death of a loved one)

  • Curtains
And no list is complete without THAT BOOK (as funeral industry types are prone to call it).

Another Annie Leonard winner

This isn't just an issue of what you put on your body in the bathroom. Functionally, everything you buy in the hair care/cosmetics/personal care aisles might as well be poured straight into the Willamette River, because that's where it all ends up. Might be nice if it weren't so toxic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salem has gone to the dogs on pet rules

Trained attack dog Samo leaps forward toward a...Image via Wikipedia

UPDATE: Even more letters highlighting the absurdity of Salem's hen-hostility compared when compared to its love of all things canine.

Great letter in the SJ today from a dog-attack victim who was sent to the hospital after her incident -- which is how she learned that people basically have no protection against dog attacks except to try a lawsuit after the fact (good luck with that, usually).

Meanwhile, Salem is slowly grinding towards an onerous, top-heavy, overly bureaucratic and fantastically -- and needlessly -- expensive program to permit residents to keep a few hens as pets. The rules of the program, which appear to be designed more to discourage people than anything else, stands in stark contrast with the total absence of rules or limits on dogs, meaning you can keep any number of dogs of any size, including breeds with aggressive tendencies and unpredictable behaviors, anywhere in the city.

So we've got draft rules for hens that make it seem like hens are lethal weapons, whereas we have no rules at all on dogs, despite things like this,
Marion County sheriff's deputies shot and killed a pit bull Friday morning that attacked a deputy, minutes after another pit bull tried to jump into a patrol car, investigators said.

The mid-morning incident began with a 9-1-1 call from a man on SE Oda Lane who said a neighbor's 60 to 70-pound pit bull chased him into his house when he tried to put the garbage out.

When deputies arrived, they learned that the dog's owner lived on nearby Beck Lane. The dog was seen unleashed in the yard. It charged the deputies, trying to jump in the open window of the patrol car.

The deputies stayed in the car, honking the horn to get the attention of the owner, who came out of and put the dog behind a fence.

The county animal control officer was called to the home. As one deputy spoke with the owner, the other joined the animal control officer when a second pit bull showed up in the yard and charged the deputy.

Attempts by the owner to call off the dog failed. The deputy kicked the dog several times but the attack continued and the deputy shot the dog dead.
and this (attacking police on command of the owner), and this (attack on boy riding a scooter), and this (police had to use an electroshock weapon to break up a dog fight), and this (number of people killed by dog attacks rising sharply, with thousands hospitalized every year by serious attacks).
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Speaking of the arts

Sara Alvarez, owner of Premiere Academy of Performing Arts on 19th Street, is organizing a Neighborhood Dance performance and potluck at McRae Park on July 31 from 1-2:00 pm. All are welcome. For more information, contact Sara at

FYI, the Dance Studio is located in SESNA at 135 19th Street Southeast. McRae Park is located in NEN at 20th and Chemeketa Streets.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Admission fee, yes or no?

A walking path in Bush Pasture Park in Salem, ORImage by Mr.Thomas via FlickrSure.

Provided that they drop the Salem Art Show name, and call it the Salem Outdoor Art Sale.
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Alas, human nature prefers heroic response to prevention

Good piece from Kurt Cobb, who notices that our habit is to ignore problems until they become unignorable conflagrations and then to fixate on the story of the Hero who steps up to respond -- and to go back to ignoring the next wave of problems as soon as the conflagration is tamed or burns itself out.

Salem is a great demonstration of this phenomenon. The powers that be are resolutely ignoring the mounting wave of evidence that we're in a new normal, that we're not going to go back to the endless growth illusion, and that we're going to have to make some pretty fundamental changes in how we use energy and materials. The PTB would much prefer to prepare for the return of Happy Days and the fossil fuel fiesta, and so they do, regardless of the fact that those days are highly unlikely to return and exceedingly unlikely to last very long if they do manage to make a brief curtain call. So we've got corporadoes proposing to tear down a historic residential facility that is perfectly suited to serving as a care home for persons needing high levels of care near medical facilities -- or to serving as a respite house for families and friends of people undergoing any of the usual range of terrors called health care -- or for any of a number of other better uses.

But no. Because, for the PTB, the highest possible use of a prime piece of downtown land in the very capital of the state is -- that's right, a parking lot.

Road funds wax fat while funds for human needs slashed

How gas tax changes as base changesImage via Wikipedia

Oregon's constitution is immoral. It privileges and protects a certain class of spending -- for "highway purposes" -- above all others. Meaning that we've got money for paving the streets we'll be tossing seniors into, the streets that kids who have no summer jobs will hang out near, the streets where the homeless vets will beg for spare change.

If we can't eliminate this immoral and unwise limitation, then we ought to at least have the sense to amend the constitution to force the roads to live within their means -- that is, if the gas tax can only be used for roads, then there can be no spending on roads but through the gas tax.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Sadly, this is all too likely to come true as shown

The Age of Stupid:

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Update: The Democratic minority in the Senate and President "No, We Can't, They'll Say Bad Things About Us If We Try" Obama have failed miserably and in the most cowardly way imaginable, rolling over to the Republican majority and condemning the world to its fate from the climate crisis. If you have kids or grandkids, you should be furious. We're left with ideas like this -- good enough, but totally inadequate to the scale of the problem.

The Right Question makes all the difference

A class size experiment in the United States f...Image via Wikipedia

Sam Smith notes this spot-on observation from Alvin Toffler:
An important question to ask of any proposed educational innovation is simply this: Is it intended to make the factory run more efficiently, or is it designed, as it should be, to get rid of the factory model altogether and replace it with individualized, customized education? - Alvin Toffler

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salem Hospital's Ugly Side More and More Prominently Displayed

Salem Hospital (Oregon) at nightImage via Wikipedia

Jim Hightower likes to repeat a saying he picked up as a young man about people and institutions who crap on others as they become more powerful --

"The higher the monkey climbs, the more you see his ugly side."

Popped into my head when I saw this depressing story, proving that the cynics were right that the closure of the Oregon School for the Blind was nothing other than a vicious real estate grab by the Salem Hospital. And for what!? A parking lot.

With a little imagination, it's easy to see about a million better uses. For instance, that property could be converted to a long-term care facility for people with high-demand medical care needs -- it's already residential, it's in a beautiful spot with great access to medical and to Bush Park.

The City Council needs to step up fast, or we'll lose a historic facility and gain a blight.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An educational reform actually worth more than the words used to describe it

Kids planting seedsImage by Chris and Jenni via Flickr

There's so much trendy BS going on in the EdBiz today, mostly a function of the terrible takeover of schools by business interests. Real, promising ideas are all too rare. But here's one:

The NFER surveyed a selection of 1,300 school teachers and studied in-depth 10 schools belonging to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, from a large urban London primary to small village school in Yorkshire, to discover that gardening in schools encourages children to:

Become stronger, more active learners capable of thinking independently and adapting their skills and knowledge to new challenges at school and in future;

Gain a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life so they can achieve their goals and play a positive role in society;

Learn vital jobs skills such as presentation skills, communication and team work, and fuel their entrepreneurial spirit;

Embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle as an important tool for success at school and beyond;

Develop the ability to work and communicate with people from all ages and backgrounds.

Gillian Pugh, Chair of the National Children’s Bureau and The Cambridge Primary Review, explains, “Not only does gardening provide opportunities for increasing scientific knowledge and understanding, and improving literacy, numeracy and oracy, but this report shows that it also improves pupils’ confidence, resilience and self-esteem.”

Not to mention that children who garden eat what they grow, whereas bad diet is the root evil of much of what plagues kids today (and TV, which is mainly used to push bad food and junk at kids, accounts for much of the rest).

Even better, there's no standardized test for gardening skills! There can be as many styles as there are children, and they can all succeed at it.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The most important story you'll never hear of in the US media

What happened when Portugal decriminalized drugs?

Is Salem smart enough to learn from other cities?

An official with a clear, reality-based perspective!
As we swerve around a familiar Michigan tableau—a dead deer on the side of the highway—Kildee previews the speech he is scheduled to deliver that afternoon on a familiar Michigan imponderable: "The Future of Michigan Cities." For Kildee, the talk is yet another chance to trumpet what he sees as a common-sense approach to urban planning in an age of decline. Others view it as a radically un-American idea that embraces defeat and limited horizons.

First, he says, shrinking cities must accept that they're not going to regain their lost populations anytime soon. Abandoned houses and buildings should be leveled and replaced with parks, urban gardens, and green space. Eventually, incentives can be used to lure residents into higher density neighborhoods that have been reinvigorated with infill housing and rehab projects. While there are no hard numbers, local governments could save money by reducing infrastructure costs, and the housing market would stabilize, if not improve.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The reality that the bridgebuilding fantasists ignore

Gravel road to HúsavíkThis will be considered a good road before long if we don't stop extending pavement everywhere. Image by Zanthia via Flickr

Overextending on paving is a sure route to bankruptcy and a fast route to bad roads.

It's time for the Mid-Valley counties and cities to declare a paving moratorium: No new paving except under a "depave and trade" scheme, where for every new lane-mile of paved roadway, you take up twice the lane-miles of underused paving elsewhere in the same jurisdiction.

This has several good effects: makes the governments -- and the taxpayers that those governments depend on -- recognize that pouring a new roadway is a serious, long-term commitment to maintenance, just as we are entering a period where all serious, long-term commitments will be tested severely as tax-revenues continue falling. And, second, it provides a way to recycle the roadway materials from the depaving. Also, it encourages conversion of roads from full access (including heavy trucks) to restricted access roads (bikes, peds, emergency vehicles only), which can endure essentially forever. Weight destroys roads; get the hefty boys off the roads and they hold up amazingly well (even in the face of hard winters, because it's the heavy traffic that damages the roads and initiates the freeze/thaw cycle).
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ho hum . . . planetary disaster speeding up ... What's LeBron doing today?

Retreating glacierImage by wildoceans via Flickr

Excellent Kristof column today.

More proof here. If only proof mattered to the denialists, the confusionists, and the oblivious who are condemning the people of the future to a greatly diminished life.

If you see M. Lee Pelton (President of Willamette University and board member of PGE, owner of the biggest polluting facility in Oregon, the Boardman coal plant) at the Art Fair, ask him if he's read Kristof's piece and how that might relate to Boardman.

UPDATE: By the way, for those who are fond of eating regularly, welcome to the future of crop failures caused by intense heat:
A blistering heat wave has made life miserable for millions in Russia and northeastern Europe, few of whom have air conditioners, and destroyed millions of acres of Russian wheat, setting back an agricultural revival that was just reaching its stride after years of faltering efforts.

The heat has been besting decades-old records here. At 92.5 degrees Fahrenheit, Friday was the hottest July 16 ever in Moscow, topping the record set in the summer of 1938. It was even hotter on Saturday, at 95, though not a record, and temperatures were expected to remain in that range for the rest of the week.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book to look for

Her "This Organic Life" was excellent -- bet this one is a gem

Like this book? Digg it!

ISBN: 9781603582926
Year Added to Catalog: 2010
Book Format: Paperback
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Release Date: November 29, 2010
Web Product ID: 539

Michael Pollan calls her one of his food heroes. Barbara Kingsolver credits her with shaping the history and politics of food in the United States. And countless others who have vied for a food revolution, pushed organics, and reawakened Americans to growing their own food and eating locally consider her both teacher and muse.

Joan Gussow has influenced thousands through her books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web, her lectures, and the simple fact that she lives what she preaches. Now in her eighties, she stops once more to pass along some wisdom—surprising, inspiring, and controversial—via the pen.

Gussow's memoir Growing, Older begins when she loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and, two weeks later, finds herself skipping down the street—much to her alarm. Why wasn't she grieving in all the normal ways? With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a tale, or message, of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life's work—and work in general.

Lacking a partner's assistance, Gussow continued the hard labor of growing her own year-round diet. She dealt single-handedly with a rising tidal river that regularly drowned her garden, with muskrat interlopers, broken appliances, bodily decay, and river trash—all the while bucking popular notions of how "an elderly widowed woman" ought to behave.

Scattered throughout are urgent suggestions about what growing older on a changing planet will call on all of us to do: learn self-reliance and self-restraint, yield graciously if not always happily to necessity, and—since there is no other choice—come to terms with the insistence of the natural world. Gussow delivers another literary gem—one that women curious about aging, gardeners curious about contending with increasingly intense weather, and environmentalists curious about the future will embrace.

Salem's budget gaps flow from a leadership gap

Pardon me while I rant, but there's a great example of "business as usual" that explains why City of Salem is cutting the services that people want (pools, libraries, parks) so that the city staff can continue doing things the way they've always been done:

The monthly mailed out water/sewer bill, which even gets sent to those of us who have signed up to have our bill paid with a credit card automatically each month.

This waste of paper -- a full sheet, plus envelope, plus 38 cents postage (this entirely superfluous mailing isn't even sent bulk rate -- it comes at the spendy presorted first class rate) must consume an extraordinary sum each year, merrily indicting Salem's city staff as blithely unconcerned with doing the right thing.

Worse, the folks behind this missive, which drives me bonkers when it arrives at LOVESalem HQ every month like clockwork, refuse to allow the people of Salem to turn this sow's ear into at least an imitation silk purse by letting the neighborhood associations ride along in the envelope for free.

In other words, even as Salem gives the neighborhoods a pittance for a communications budget, it refuses to let neighborhoods supply preprinted inserts for the envelope so that they could reach all the residents in their neighborhood association without having to do a separate mailing.

So what's the score?
Wasted energy and materials 1 vs. Common sense 0
Wasted utility money 1 vs. City credibility over budget concerns 0
Bureaucratic routine 1 vs. Better neighborhood communications 0

That looks like we lose this game every month, 3 to zip. I'm sure LOVESalem readers could come up with plenty of better ways to use money being squandered on sending useless water/sewer billing notices to people who have already said that they don't need or want them. But what's just as important to notice is how even the most ludicrous practice continues, mindlessly wasting dollars month after month after month, all because nobody in the City hierarchy demands better.

We have some really hard challenges coming up in the years to come. If we can't even take advantage of the "gimme's" -- fixing the really easy, stupid things -- then woe betide us down the road.

Guest Essay: War is Death

I Want YOU to Care About PTSDImage by Ilona Meagher via Flickr

From Mary Vorachek, M.D., of Salem:

War is Death

In a country so squeamish about death it is difficult to understand why so many people are able to put our destructive, expensive foreign wars on the back burner. When the life of a person you are responsible for ends, that life continues on in your memory until you die. I am a retired physician and I remember every one of my patients who died while under my care. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I had ever intentionally killed another human being. If my country sent me out to kill other people for their oil, control of their natural resources, revenge or world supremacy, I too might want to live under a bridge or commit suicide. Recent information has suggested that people who, from the safety of their computer stations, direct armed drones to kill people in foreign lands suffer worse post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms than those who kill on the battlefield.

Since Bush has now been swept into the dustbin of history, he will soon be forgotten, but the depravity of his administration will be long remembered by each of the families that suffered deaths and mutilations of their loved ones. The families in this country who lost their sons and daughters to the Iraq War can remember them with pain and pride. My cousin, Donnie, died in the D-day landings when I was only four years old, and through my mother's love for her nephew I will always feel sad for him but very proud of his sacrifice against a reviled aggressor. The families who suffered in our unnecessary war on Iraq from the loss of children, parents and grandparents will never forget the harm we inflicted upon them, their families and their country. Parents and extended families feel responsible for the lives of their loved ones and their memories live on until each member of the extended family dies. Perhaps after many years, the young people of Iraq and Afghanistan who suffered from the deaths of their parents and siblings may put aside ideas of revenge, but in the meantime we will remain at risk for as long as their pain is translated into revenge. Are we now the reviled aggressor?

Citizens must necessarily distance themselves from the abuses of government in order to continue to function in a civilized society. The abuses of power by our national leaders have caused disaffection among many of the citizenry and contributed to an anesthesia of feelings toward our fellow humans. Duplicity and corruption of politicians, corporations and the financial system have taken a terrible toll on soldiers, citizens of principal and the powerless.

More insidiously, the lack of compassion for others is perpetuated by main stream media's lack of coverage of the atrocities committed in our name or with weapons America gives or sells to other countries for the sport of killing their “enemies”. Corruption, profiteering, poor leadership and the lack of remorse for mistakes, have propelled many in our nation to ignore the suffering of others. It is fortunate, therefore, that there are also many people who have been inspired to organize and work for a better world, and I suspect that there is a large and growing undercurrent of discontent among the people of the United States against the status quo of our federal leadership. Now that Americans are experiencing greater fears of joblessness and homelessness, the movement for justice and compassion for others may become even more resonant among the majority of decent American citizens.

During the Bush years America's moral compass appeared to point only toward profit and ideology. Never mind that cluster bombs kill innocent children and that most civilized nations have banned them—they are profitable for America's war machine. Never mind that white phosphorous causes people to experience horrible disfigurement when it does not kill them outright—it is an American weapon that an be sold or given to other “friendly” countries. Never mind that robotic weapons and those who control them cause collateral damage (dead foreign civilians) even when they do not mistake their targets—the American war machine provides jobs. And what depraved minds constructed the name DIME for a weapon that can rip off an arm or leg without leaving any trace of metal fragments? Conversely, who can forget the pictures of jubilation among the JPL scientist when America landed two unmanned space probes on Mars. Do the manufacturers and the workers who make guns, bombs, tanks and robotic weapons celebrate when innocent civilians are killed by their weapons for profit? Weapons of war are designed and produced to efficiently kill other humans living on our planet. In modern warfare, civilian deaths are estimated to make up to 85 to 90% of of the total number of casualties. The number of estimated civilian deaths in World War I was 50% out of approximately sixteen millions total deaths. Are destructive wars America's answer to climate change?

When people we love and care for die, it diminishes us, the people who are left behind, the ones who have known, loved and cared for them. When a patient dies there is the inevitable conversation with yourself of the “what ifs” and “if onlys”. It is not surprising that soldiers commit suicide and live under bridges when they return from wars. It is not surprising that soldiers are so damaged they cannot fight for PTSD treatment and must depend on their families and people of conscience to help them receive treatment necessary to alleviate their pain. How can the soldier who looks into the face of a child before he pulls the trigger or the soldiers who launches a rocket into the midst of a family forget the people they have killed? How does the operator of an armed robot cope with the controversy of innocent civilian deaths—the denial, investigation and final acknowledgment? Must we continue this madness in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

It appears to me that President Obama's stand on the world platform of war is just a step stool and he is stepping in the wrong direction.

Mary A Vorachek, M.D.
Salem, Oregon

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Provocative thought experiment

U.S. and Coalition Forces Mentor Afghan Nation...Image by DVIDSHUB via Flickr

In the November 2009 Harpers, a retired army officer asks an excellent question about the Afghaninam folly, which is one of the places draining the money out of places like Salem:
For those who, despite all this, still hanker to have a go at nation building, why start with Afghanistan? Why not first fix, say, Mexico? In terms of its importance to the United States, our southern neighbor—a major supplier of oil and drugs among other commodities deemed vital to the American way of life—outranks Afghanistan by several orders of magnitude.

If one believes that moral considerations rather than self-interest should inform foreign policy, Mexico still qualifies for priority attention. Consider the theft of California. Or consider more recently how the American appetite for illicit drugs and our lax gun laws have corroded Mexican institutions and produced an epidemic of violence afflicting ordinary Mexicans. Yet any politician calling for the commitment of 60,000 U.S. troops to Mexico to secure those interests or acquit those moral obligations would be laughed out of Washington—and rightly so. Any pundit proposing that the United States assume responsibility for eliminating the corruption endemic in Mexican politics while establishing in Mexico City effective mechanisms of governance would have his license to pontificate revoked. Anyone suggesting that the United States possesses the wisdom and the wherewithal to solve the problem of Mexican drug trafficking, to endow Mexico with competent security forces, and to reform the Mexican school system (while protecting the rights of Mexican women) would be dismissed as a lunatic. Meanwhile, those who promote such programs for Afghanistan, ignoring questions of cost and ignoring as well the corruption and ineffectiveness that pervade our own institutions, are treated like sages.

The contrast between Washington’s preoccupation with Afghanistan and its relative indifference to Mexico testifies to the distortion of U.S. national-security priorities adopted by George W. Bush in his post-9/11 prophetic mode—distortions now being endorsed by Bush’s successor. It also testifies to a vast failure of imagination to which our governing classes have succumbed. This failure of imagination makes it impossible for those who possess either authority or influence in Washington to consider the possibility (a) that the solution to America’s problems is to be found not out there—where “there” in this case is Central Asia—but here at home; (b) that the people out there, rather than requiring our ministrations, may well be capable of managing their own affairs, relying on their own methods; and (c) that to disregard (a) and (b) is to open the door to great mischief and in all likelihood to perpetrate no small amount of evil. Needless to say, when mischief or evil does occur—when a stray American bomb kills a few dozen Afghan civilians, for instance—the costs of this failure of imagination are not borne by the people who inhabit the leafy neighborhoods of northwest Washington, who lunch at the Palm or the Metropolitan Club and school their kids at Sidwell Friends. . . .
If you don't subscribe to Harpers, then, well, you should, because you regularly get great stuff like this piece.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

WORD: Bageant on fire

DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS (mindmap)Deer Hunting with Jesus mindmap. Image by Austin Kleon via Flickr


Capitalism wouldn't be around today, at least not in its current pathogenic form, if it had not caught a couple of lucky breaks. The first of course, was the expansion of bloodsucking colonialism to give it transfusions of unearned wealth, enabling "investors" to profit by artificial means (death, oppression and slavery). But the biggest break was being driven to stratospheric heights by inordinate quantities of available hydrocarbon energy. Inordinate, but never the less finite. Consequently, the 100-year-long oil suckdown that put industrial countries in the tall cotton, now threatens to take back from subsequent beneficiary generation everything it gave. The Hummers, the golf courses, the big box stores, cruising at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic -- everything.

You'd never know that, to look around at Americans or Canadians, who have not the slightest qualms about living in that 3,500 square foot vinyl sided fuck box, if they can manage to make the mortgage nut, or unashamedly buying a quadruple X large Raiders Jersey because, hey, a guy's gotta eat, right? Why don't I deserve a nice ride, a swimming pool and a flat screen? I worked for it (sure you did buddy, your $12,000 Visa/MasterCard tab is proof of that).

The doomers and the peak oilers gag, and they call it American denial. Personally, I think it is somewhat unfair to say that most Americans and Canadians are in denial. They simply don't have fucking clue about what is really happening to them and their world. Everything they have been taught about working, money and "quality of life" constitutes the planet's greatest problem -- overshoot. Understanding this trashes our most basic assumptions, and requires a complete reversal in contemporary thought and practice about how we live in the world. When was the last time you saw any individual, much less an entire nation, do that?

Compounding our ignorance and naiveté are the officials and experts, politicians, media elites, and especially economists, who interpret the world for us and govern the course of things. The go-to guys. They don't know either. But they've got the lingo down.

Somehow or other, it all has to do with the economy, which none of us understands, despite round the clock media jabbering on the subject. Somehow it has to do with this great big spring on Wall Street called "the market" that's gotta be kept wound up, and interest rates at something called The Fed, which have got to be kept smunched down. The industry of crystal gazing and hairball rubbing surrounding these entities is called economics. . . .

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Well-Observed: Two big industries that don't have a clue

iRiver ifp-890Image by blogefl via Flickr

Higher Ed and Recorded Music. Well worth a read.
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A good Kunstler and an even better reply

James Howard Kunstler has a pretty good piece up this week -- I wasn't going to link to it because of the one weak part, a bit of immigrant bashing (two paragraphs starting with an absurd notion to cut legal immigration, segueing to an attack on, basically, brown people). However, some commenter posted a good reposte; so, with that correction, it's worth reading the whole piece, which is otherwise pretty good.

It's kind of depressing to see that even JHK has bought into the phony "immigrant crisis" that needs to be "solved" by fair means or foul.

The "infux" of Mexicans in recent years has actually become an "outflux."

The proof that the phony crisis has been implanted even in otherwise sane minds is that Lou Dobbs was allowed to stop his nightly rant.

The reason the Mexicans (let's face it -- that's what we're talking about when we say Immigrants) is that the corporatists needed someone to take the fall when the economy and the jobs market went to shit. When Rufus, who formerly made $35 an hour in a no-longer-existent factory finally goes looking for a job swamping toilets or picking vegetables in the hot sun, the corporatists don't want him pointing a finger at Wall Street. They want him clubbing anyone he sees who is or even looks Mexican for "stealing his job."

The Mexicans in the US have been set up as a scapegoat class much the same as the Jews were set up in 1920s Germany to explain the financial failure of the country.

In a healthy economy, you need the immigrants -- with or without papers -- to take the shit jobs no citizen wants because of their upward mobility. The immigrants fill the vacant space at the bottom.

However, once the corporatists have robbed the treasury, sold off the infrastructure, killed the unions, sent jobs to slave labor in China, destroyed our manufacturing base, etc. then we are in a period of extreme downward mobility.

It's not that Mexicans are "stealing" our jobs. It's just that a lot of Americans are, or will be, forced to start seeking out jobs that previously only undocumented immigrants would do.

The "immigrant crisis" is the most successful propaganda disinformation effort in the history of the US.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

And, in honor of In(ter)dependence Day! News from Neighborhood Harvest

Salem's coolest new nonprofit, Neighborhood Harvest, just had their first pick of the season: Royal Anne cherries. (We’re recruiting tall ladders as well as volunteers!) About 25 pounds of fruit were donated to the Marion-Polk Food Share, and pickers took home the other half.

For a cherry cobbler recipe go here.

We’re still looking for SITE SCOUTS, NEIGHBORHOOD COORDINATORS and HARVEST LEADERS for upcoming harvests. Training will be provided. Contact Amy at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oregon Liquor Control Comm'n employees creatively seeking to have agency abolished

Man, oh man, this can only be explained by assuming that the OLCC folks in charge are secretly part of the campaign to see the OLCC abolished, in which case, this is a good step in the effort.

This definitely merits the double facepalm of fail. EPIC fail.

Should North HS open its campus even more?

North Salem High School, Salem, Oregon, United...Image via Wikipedia

LOVESalem HQ is in NEN (Northeast Neighborhood) area, which includes North HS. The school has, at least on paper, a closed campus, meaning kids are theoretically supposed to stay on the grounds during the school hours. It would be difficult for the casual observer to know this, judging from the steady flow of kids off the grounds throughout the day.

Now, there's apparently been a proposal to formally open the campus fully, making the de facto reality the de jure one. This has caused some consternation among neighbors who live near the school and who find kids "hanging" out near their houses, doing what kids do when they've got plenty of time to kill (Devils and idle hands and all that). The NEN neighborhood association is holding a special meeting to consider whether to take a position on the question. If you live or work in NEN and are affected by the students now or by the proposed open campus, you might want to attend, or send your comments to Alan Scott, NEN chair.
To All NEN Neighbors and Businesses:
RE: North Salem High School “Open Campus” Policy

I would like to invite anyone interested to attend a special meeting of the NEN Board on Tuesday, July 6 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed North Salem High School “Open Campus” policy. The meeting will be held at Willson House at 1625 Center Street NE in the Activity Room.

Representatives from North Salem High School and the School District have also been invited to share their views about this policy at this meeting.

The NEN Board has not taken a position on North’s Open Campus policy. Before doing so we would like to hear from neighbors and businesses that have had experience with the policy in the past.

Please feel free to send your comments to me via email and I will print and take them to the meeting.

We look forward to an open discussion about this issue and we hope to see you on
Tuesday, July 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Willson House.

Alan Scott, Chair
NorthEast Neighbors
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