Thursday, September 29, 2005

CASUALTIES

There’s an early MASH episode with a storyline about a friend of Hawkeye’s. The guy is a writer and he feels that the only way he can write about combat is to experience it first hand. He’s critically wounded and dies on the table in surgery. As Henry Blake tries to comfort Pierce he tells him about two rules he learned in command school.

 

Rule #1: Young men die in war.

 

Rule #2: Doctor’s can’t change rule #1.

 

I keep running into this really strange attitude about the casualties in the Iraq war. Somehow printing casualty updates, especially fatalities is un-American and supporting the anti war effort.

 

My God, that’s what war is about. Soldiers and civilians are going to die. Usually badly. If you can’t face that then you have no business supporting any kind of war. That they died in a justifiable or unavoidable cause is the only thing that makes these sacrifices remotely bearable. My personal opinion is that the war in Iraq doesn’t fit either definition. It is also my opinion that supporting the war while ignoring the cost in lives shattered or lost is one of the ultimate hypocrisies.

SHOCKED, SHOCKED

Tom DeLay is "shocked" that he's been indicted for corruption. Isn't that like Inspector Reynaud being shocked to find out that gambling was going on behind that closed door at Ricks'? LMAO

Sunday, September 25, 2005

NOW I'M NOT SURE I UNDERSTAND

Silly me, I just realized my bank is a storage facility and the service charges are rent on the “space” my money takes up. Funny thing is, the people running a more conventional storage company don’t turn around and “rent” out my stuff to somebody else and make a profit on it.

Yes, it’s convenient to have someplace to keep my money. It’s safe as long as the government doesn’t tank. It’s easier to write checks or use a check card than it is to carry around a wad of cash. But it’s almost impossible to function in our society without a bank account. But even cd’s don’t pay much in the way of interest anymore.

If mom and I were to decide to live someplace else and let someone else live here, we’d charge rent. A bank (or in this case a credit union) stores my money, charges me a service fee if I don’t store enough at one time and barely pays me rent for the use of it.

Yes, I know this makes the money available to other people to build businesses, houses, ect. But I work pretty darn hard to earn it. Seems like they ought to pay me and folks like me a little more for the privilege of using it to make their profits. Opinions anyone?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'M NOT SURE WE UNDERSTAND

MY we have taken a turn for the serious in these last entries. This has been incubating on the ol' hard drive for a few days. I guess it's time for it to leave the nest.

It turned out that Oregon didn’t get very many folks displaced by Katrina, but something I read in the paper has been lurking in the back of my mind and it finally worked its way out this week.

Some of the news articles that outlined the kind of help these folks would need included helping them open bank accounts. The more I think about it the more I believe this is an illustration of how the many in the rescue community have no idea what it’s like to be one of the working poor.

Many of the folks that didn’t get out of New Orleans couldn’t leave because they didn’t own cars. Ok, you’re low income, but you’ve got a job, maybe two jobs and you either work close to where you live, rely on public transportation, hitch rides with friends or all of the above. The neighborhood where you live probably isn’t one that banks would fall all over themselves to build branch offices in. Heck, they’d probably jib at loaning money to buy a house in the neighborhood in the first place. If it’s an old style suburb the idea of having a bank within walking distance wasn’t even on the drawing board. You can figure that it’s going to take twice as long to get anywhere if you have to take the bus. At least that’s how it works around here.

So, you’re working all the hours you can get, you’re trying to keep track of your kids, keep the house in some kind of order, rely on whatever stores are nearby for your shopping and so on. When are you going to find time to go to the bank? Even if you have a checking account, some of these areas don’t sound like places where you’d want to have your checks delivered by mail. And many of the stores that you can get to may not accept checks simply because they’ve been hit with too many bad checks.

There may be a generational influence here too. (there’s a phrase worth about $3.75) My grandparents came out the of the depression years. They didn’t really trust banks. Yes they had a bank account. But, when grandpa died we found a couple of thousand dollars in the house in fairly small bills. They weren’t putting all the eggs in one basket.

I don’t think the attitude is racial but it is rooted in class. Banks are part of the system and if you don’t really trust the system, there’s no incentive to trust it to take care of what little you’ve got. I read one family’s profile. The waters started to rise, they got the family members out of the apartment but it caught fire and they couldn’t get back in. Everything was lost including $2,000.00 in cash.

Heck, there’s no real incentive to put money in a straight savings account and that’s about all these people could afford on a good day. Most banks and credit unions I’m familiar with require a certain balance on your savings and checking accounts or you get hit with a service charge. I haven’t figured out why it takes more to maintian my accout if it has a balance of $999.99 instead of $1,000.01 but I get hit with a $5.00 service charge anyway.

You can’t get anything resembling decent interest unless you buy cd’s and you need at least a thousand to do that. If you do you can’t get to the money in a hurry and you take a hit on interest the minimal interest they do pay. So where’s the incentive for somebody who is working their ass off to trust a bank with their money. They sure aren’t going to believe them if the bank says they’ve got their best interest at heart. I know I sure as hell don’t.

Friday, September 23, 2005

TATTERED THREADS 2

I appear to be blessed (cursed?) with a mind that’s like a terrier with a bone. Community, like so many things confronts us as Janus-the double-headed Roman god of doors and (it does make a weird kind of sense) of beginnings and endings.

I read William Shirer’s the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich when I was a freshman-a high school freshman. Once I was done I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the world the same way.

What the Nazi’s did in their rise to power. What was done during that war. The Final Solution, not only for the six million or so European Jews but also for so many others. The Slavs, the Poles, the Gypsies, gays, the other five million who died on the alter of a diabolical definition of community. I believe I began to realize the kind of actions human beings could commit when they know they are “right.”

For too many of the years after the war too many of us-me included bought the line that what the Nazi’s did was something unique to the Nazi philosophy. Heaven knows there was enough evidence before the war of what human beings can do to each other because the ones we’re attacking don’t fit some definition “us.” Since the forties we’ve seen all to much evidence of what we can do those we see as “other.” We can all recite the litany that just keeps getting longer. From Cambodia to Darfur with the Balkans and Rwanda in between. We’re too civilized here in America to go in for wholesale extermination these days. We use words instead of guns and act surprised when the words cut more deeply than a knife ever could.

Want to hear something really weird? When I started this entry this was not the direction I thought it was going to go. Once I started to type this is where the words led me. They seemed to flow on their own. They do that sometimes. And then the really unexpected reaction kicks in. I never realized what kind of emotions an entry like this would dredge up. I usually keep them firmly leashed and I think there may be two people on the planet who’ve seen or heard me royally po’d. The smile I have to wear at work and with most of the members of my family feels more and more forced. Keeping it there is getting harder and harder. Thank you cyber space for someplace to express just a little of what I’m feeling.

There are threads, connections, whatever you want to call them that tie us to each other, the earth and to the other creatures that ride this world with us They are trapped with us and dependent on our actions to preserve this fragile ball of earth, air and water. Somehow we have to get beyond a definition of community that is so narrow that almost all of us are “other.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TIME TO PRAY....AGAIN

Well folks, time to get out the prayer beads again. As of now, The weather channel says Rita's sustained winds are 175 miles per hour. Lord give them streangth to get through this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

TATTERED THREADS

It looks like my cranky genes are rearing their heads big time. This has been simmering just below the surface and it finally had to come out.

 

William Raspberry had a column in the paper Monday discussing the changes in our community life since the end of WWII. I believe I understand where he’s coming from. I’m not sure I want to give up ease of travel that the car gives us or the fingertip access to entertainment and information that television and computers give us but the loss of community that has crept into our lives over the past forty or fifty years frankly scares the bejesus out of me.

 

When my folks got married they moved into a little place on D Street in Springfield. Basically the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker were within a dozen blocks of the house. Folks walked a lot more and the meat cutter knew just how you liked your pot roast trimmed. They used an ice box for the basic needs, the milkman still made deliveries, there was a garden in the back, mom canned anything that wasn’t nailed down or failed to salute and if you needed to store frozen food you rented a locker at the market on main street.

 

We moved to Oakridge right after I was born and came back to Springfield eighteen years later. Richer by two sisters and poorer by a disabled stove-up logger. Dad wore himself out working in the logging industry. When his legs gave out he ended up on the scrap heap. Thank you FDR for Social Security Disability. We finally ended up all of ten blocks from where we started. All the basic shops are gone from Main Street except for a large fabric store. They’ve been replaced by second hand stores, small offices and vacant storefronts. The closest grocery store is a Fred Meyer. It’s about a mile and half away on the other side of several very busy streets. Nobody walks there if they can help it, nobody really knows you and everything comes wrapped in plastic. You drive there in your individual tinted window vehicle and you drive home behind your tinted windows and nobody looks you in the eye if they can help it.

 

We’ve been sold self-service in the name of convenience but all it really does is cut down the number of people they need to hire and pay employee taxes on. The trick is to tell us we're getting it our way, when what they're selling is their way. Orwells’ Newspeak is alive and well. Marketing managers are fluent in it

 

Instead they use the money they save on people to try to convince me to buy stuff I probably don’t need, didn’t even know existed until I saw the commercial and isn’t worth half what they want for it in the first place, if that. When mom talks about what she and dad had when they got married it wasn't much but they seemed think it was enough. Madison Avenue was just getting into the game of convincing us that no matter how much we have it isn't enough. That somehow if we buy just the right combinations of stuff we’ll  somehow be smarter or sexier or some darn thing. We keep shoveling things into the black hole at the center of our spirits and wonder why all we keep hearing is the sucking sound as little pieces of our selves follow them in

 

I don't want to make those early days of mom's marriage sound better than they were. People spent a most of their time just making sure the basics got done. A lot of time was spent doing the wash in a wringer washer, hanging the clothes to dry and then ironing the blessed things. And man, you did not want to let my grandmother get near the laundry. Dad used to say she could shrink a house if she put her mind to it and no button was safe. There were just as many gossips per square mile as there are now. They just had to be nosy closer to home and most of the local nosiness stayed local

 

I really don’t know how the repair the tatters of the threads that tie us all to each other but I think we’d better start mending………real fast

Sunday, September 18, 2005

FALL WEEKEND

Found myself kind of written out this week and I didn’t really get to the computer until this evening. I suspect that if I’d tried the velcro cats would have had something to say about that. They’re both really in a nesting mood these days. As in just stay sat, I’ll supply the purrs.

Somebody really flipped the switch around here. It was cool and damp until early July and then it got hot and stayed hot. Got to the first week of September and boing, back flipped the switch. From not going under 85 or so for two months we’ve gone to barely getting over 80.

The weather was great for the Ducks game yesterday. Good game, caught the last half on TBS. I’m glad the Ducks won, but both teams were doing a good job and both deserved to win.

One day lily is still hanging on and putting out the odd bloom. Stubborn little beggar. The dogwood is turning rusty red and the other trees around town are starting to turn color. It’s still the odd branch, but it’s coming. The light is so much different now. Bright sun and seep shadows on the foliage of the trees. There will be vine maples turning bright red in the high country before long. We’ll probably sacrifice a little gas early in October and take a drive up towards Willamette Pass for some leaf watching. A little over an hour and you’re through the pass and onto the high plateau where, except for the ponderosa pines, most of the trees are bushes with delusions of grandeur.  

Went out for produce Saturday and farmers’ pumpkin patch was loaded. Lots of bright orange patches in the green leaves. It was a great little drive. Bright blue skies and lots of big fluffy clouds. Only took about an hour to collect our latest stash of apples and pears. Hermiston produces some wonderful little watermelons and there are still a few peaches. Can’t beat an improved elberta. (in my not so humble opinion) The car smelled wonderful by the time we got home. Too bad the fruity air fresheners don’t smell anything like the real thing.

I appreciate the folks who take the time to comment on my entries. What you’ve had to say has been overwhelmingly positive. I had one my few negative comments last week. Just a little flamer comment. I don’t mind too much. I’ll just use ‘em to warm my toes on a chillly fall morning.

Well, back to the salt mines tomorrow. Talk to all you wonderful folks later.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

HARD TO BELIEVE

Our local paper, The Eugene Register Guard had a multi-page spread on the conditions during the response to Katrina. In an article full of events that are hard to believe this one stood out.

Hundreds of firefighters who responded to calls for help were routed to Atlanta for “training” before they were sent on to the affected areas. The training was in community relations and sexual harassment. Maybe, just maybe I can understand the community relations. But, sexual harassment? When or where in the name of all that’s holy and several things that aren’t were any of these people going to find time to do anything between rescues besides grab twenty winks and a bite to eat-if it’s available?

On the other hand, when the president of the National Sheriff’s Association sent out a call for help from his fellow sheriff’s, Warren Evans from Wayne County Michigan didn’t wait to fill out FEMA’s paperwork. He led in a convoy of six tractor-trailers, three rental trucks and 33 deputies. They dropped off their supplies found a corner to work and started conducting search and rescue missions. The people at the local levels know what to do. Too bad they were forced to rely on group of political appointees who seem to have gotten their jobs based on loyalty to Bush or working on his campaigns.

The people on the front lines know what to do. They’ve been trained. Often very well trained. They have to rely on the administrators further up the chain of command to make sure the tools and supplies they need are not only available but also accessible. For example, by the time they were able to get school busses organized for evacuations stories about the violence and shootings had become widespread. The majority of the drivers, many of them women, refused to make the trips. I can’t fault them. Many of the drivers I see in my neck of the woods are middle-aged women. Driving into what sounds like a war zone wasn’t in the job description when they signed on. With many of the Louisiana National Guard on duty in Iraq alternatives were difficult if not impossible to find in a hurry.

Many of these problems did not start with this Bush administration. It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So do problems like we have in New Orleans. The rot’s been spreading for over forty years. It’s finally gotten so bad we can’t afford to ignore it anymore.

FROM THE KNITTING BOOK

This prayer is from Knitting into the Mystery-A Guide to the Shawl Knitting Ministry-and was written by the authors Susan Jorgensen and susan Izard. The subject is knitting but I believe it could be adapted to fit just about any craft. It may sound a little strange at first to ask God to fill your mixing bowls or planter pots with Spirit. Or maybe not. :-)

OUR PRAYER FOR YOU

MAY YOUR KNITTING BE BLESSED.

May God touch your hands with love.
May God guide your needles with compassion.
May God fill your yarn with Spirit.

May God touch your heart with peace.
May God guide your soul to freedom.
May God fill your mind with silence.

May God touch your shawls with warmth.
May God guide your community with joy.
May God our world with hope.

May your knitting be blessed.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

MOM'S OPINION

While I was reading the paper this morning I saw a cartoon that showed all the administration honchos heading south for photo ops. Including Condi Rice. I made the comment that I thought that the Secretary of State usually dealt with foreign countries not events inside the US. Mom's reply, "she is." Sometimes I think that's how the administration views the rest of the country. We're totally foreign to them.

Friday, September 9, 2005

MEMORY

There was a story in the paper yesterday about an experiment done for Alzheimer’s research. The participants make lists, usually of animals or plants. They have a minute to do this. Folks who have shorter lists are more often later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They didn’t publish any examples so I don’t know what they looked like, but I found as played around with this that I’d get a cascade effect. Thinking of cats brought up all the other cats. Lions, tigers, cheetahs etc. Dogs brought up other members of the family. Small furry pets got linked together, in other words gerbils also bring up hamsters and guinea pigs.

 

I’ve found that when I have a memory of a song or a line of dialog lurking at the back of my mind, letting go and (this is the best description I have) and thinking “sideways” will eventually bring up the rest of the memory. Sorry, that's the best description I have. It's weird.

 

A favorite old cartoon is Donald in Mathmagic Land. There's a scene where the narrator gets a look at Donald's mental library. The filing cabinets are a mess. After they are straightened out everything is supposed to be ok. But, memory doesn't work like a filing cabinet does it?

 

There is a great scene in the second Roots miniseries. Alex Haley has finally found the griot (someone who specializes in memorizing the geneology and history of a family line) for the family of his ancestor Kunta Kinte. The griot starts his recitation and Haley realizes that it’s going to be a long recital. He asks if the speaker can’t just jump to the part he needs and is informed that the griot is not a “filing cabinet.” One part of the memorized list triggers another and so on. He’s almost asleep in the tropical heat when the man starts on the part about his ancestor and he nearly misses it.

 

I’ve found that memory is a funny thing. The oddest thing will bring something up. I was talking to a co-worker yesterday about a song I’d heard. One thing led to another and suddenly the thought of the Mary I was talking to and talking about music brought up the song “Along came Mary.” Believe me, I have not thought about “that” song for years. But, there it was. Big as life, and now that it had popped up, twice as hard to get rid of.

 

When the date my dad passed away comes up I don’t puddle up. I puddle on his birthday and mom and dads’ anniversary. I think it’s because therewas only one day when he died and there was whole lifetime of birthdays and anniversaries. Anyway it’s my theory and I’m going to stick to it. For now.

 

I’ve heard it said that if you forget your keys, you’re ok but if you forget what they’re for you’re in trouble. I think it’s because we’re talking about a certain kind of memory. There is no reason to remember what keys are for unless you associate them with something else. The house, car or locker that they open. After all there is nothing obvious about a key that says "I'm only useful if I can open something." I believe that for many memories it’s association that helps us remember. It’s as if the ability to associate is the key and without the key the ability to retrieve memory is lost. The memories are still there, you just can’t “find” them.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

THE HENHOUSE

Let me see. Having Bush "investigate" what went wrong with Katrina. Isn't that like asking the fox and raccoon to guard the henhouse?  And giving them the key to the door?

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

BEING PREPARED

Back in 1988 the county where Sioux City, Iowa is located organized a “Disaster Preparedness Program,” hired a guy named Gary Brown to run it and proceeded to poke fun at the drills they ran. The drills ran a little better, personalities got meshed a little better and the program got a little more respect.

 

On July 19, 1989 the crap hit the fan. They less than thirty  minutes to prepare for a DC-10 with the tail engine gone. Trouble is when the engine went it took the hydraulics with it. The plane was flying in great spiraling circles. The pilots were powering the other two engines up or down to try to get some directional control. Sioux City was the closest airport. And didn't usually handle wide-bodied aircraft-so called "heavies." There were units from three states and the Air Guard lined up when that plane hit the ground, did a flip and broke up. The rescue teams moved more than a hundred injured people off the runways, into choppers and ambulances to local hospitals in less than an hour. 185 of the passengers and all the cockpit crew survived because people were trained and no one was willing to quit.

 

These events were the background for a made for TV film currently called A Thousand Heroes. It was made in 1992 and is barely available on video. Personally I think it should be required viewing for every emergency team in the country.

 

So, why did I tell this story?

 

I’ve been following the finger pointing in New Orleans with as much interest and dismay as every other American. The truth is that very few cities, counties or states are prepared to deal with an event like Katrina.

 

The biggest problem is you can’t spitball solutions to a crisis like Katrina two days before it happens. You have to imagine it months or better still, years before.  You hope you’ve come up with possible solutions and then practice, practice, practice to work out the bugs.

 

Folks have asked “why weren’t the residents with no transport gotten out instead of being sent to the Superdome?” Good question. Answer, how? School busses? City busses? Tell the airlines “since you’re moving your planes out anyway, how about taking some people with you? How are you going to get refugees to the airport? Where are they going to go? How much fuel does a school bus carry in its tank. How far can an overloaded bus get on a tank of fuel? Where is this convoy going to get fuel? Send a tanker along with it? Where are they going to go? Will there be shelter when they get there? What about food, water, sanitation, dirty diapers? See where this train is heading? It’s too late to start asking these questions when you realize you needed those answers six months ago.

 

Carloads of volunteers are on the roads heading south hoping to help clean things up. I agree that they’d be better off sending money and staying home. The people handling this emergency don’t need more people on the scene who will need food, fuel, housing and sanitation.

 

We’re yelling at FEMA, but FEMA is basically a shadow of what it was. It’s been rolled into the Homeland Security fiefdom. Homeland Security, there’s a joke. I’m not the only one who noticed that in the months before last year’s election, Tom Ridge issued security alerts every time things got bad for Bush.

 

The current administration rolled everything into a new inexperienced federal agency, diverted resources from levee repair and upgrades to deal with a war we didn’t need to fight, ran up the deficit and issued tax cuts to those who already have more than any of the rest of us could hope to have, need or truthfully want. There’s plenty of blame to be shared. But I’m putting the lion’s share at doorstep of this administration and the neocon theorists who seem to be the only advisors who have the president’s ear.

 

A lot of things look good on paper and sound great in speeches. Reminds me of the old game of scissors, rock, or paper. You can’t cut water, rocks sink and paper gets soaked. You can’t cut the wind, rocks get blown around and the paper gets blown back in your face.

Monday, September 5, 2005

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

For any military types out there that still believe this country could survive even a limited nuclear war. I have just one word: Katrina.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

SAVE A GALLON

According to my search on AOL at last count there were 107 million households with and average of 1.9 cars each. If 150,000,000 of those vehicles are driven every week that’s a lot of fuel.

I have a suggestion. There are about 16 or 17 weeks left in 2005. If we can save one gallon of fuel per car per week that’s over 2 billion gallons of fuel by the end of the year. Add in the fuel for the tankers that could be a big savings in production for this country’s very strained refinery system. That production could be used for the heating oil we’ll need this winter.

I betting that with a little planning we could all average a gallon a week savings. It doesn’t sound like much, but it will add up.

It’s a little like a chessboard. They have sixty-four squares. Put one penny on the first square, put two on the next, then four, and then eight. If you could keep that up until you got to number sixty-four you’d be a millionaire.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

SHOULD WE MOVE?

We humans live on a world of wonderful, awful (as in full of awe) complexity. A complexity that we barely understand. We drain wetlands, levee rivers, and build dams and then when something goes wrong we ask how God could allow such things to happen. Rivers move, land settles, marshlands that used absorb some of the floodwaters are gone.

Accepting that humans are part of the natural cycle of the world doesn’t make us less special in the “eyes” of the Creator. But, it does accept the fact that the entire natural world is just as special. Maybe we should try to work with the cycles of the planet instead of trying to control them. Eventually you reach a point where our best efforts just aren’t enough.

It’s not a case if you live in a place where hurricanes hit you have to expect to get hammered. It’s a case of if you live in a place where hurricanes hit how can we work with the land to minimize the impact.

People love to live on the ocean. There’s more than one coastal housing development here in Oregon that’s built on what is basically a large sand spit. Even a six-inch rise in sea level will be bad news if it coincides with a strong storm with high winds, the odd chunk of driftwood and the monthly high tides. What the ocean gave it can take away and trying to minimize the erosion in one place usually moves it someplace else. It may be time to accept that it’s better to leave the very low coastal areas to the cycles of nature and move our selves to higher ground.

We may not have all the data we need to prove global warming and rising sea levels but I believe we should ere on the side of caution. Personally, I think its true. If it isn’t we can loosen up later. After all, once the glaciers are gone they’re gone until the next ice age.

I suspect that if Adam Smith got a look at modern corporations and marketing practices even he might agree that what is in the short term best interests of large corporations and developers might not be in the best long terms interests of the voices that don’t have enough money to be heard. The perceived best interests of the current holder of the right to develop a piece of land may not be in the long term best interests of the rest of us. Maybe Katrina will be one of the wake up calls to counter the extremists of the “I own it, I can do what want” property rights movement.

LET'S DO IT!

The excellent and not well known actor who played Aragorn in the Rings movies is also an excellent photographer and artiist. He is also a thoughtful humanist and the founder of Perceval Press, a small private publishing house. The home page aften has copies of full articles from the world press. There is a link in my journal but when I read this I just had to post it. Read it pass it along, please. Obviously the man is a damn good writer, too.

In the often and rightly quoted words of Bill Clinton, "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." We see now how individuals and groups around the country are acting in any way they can to help their fellow citizens in Louisiana, Mississippi and other devastated places near the Gulf of Mexico. They refuse to stand idly by and wait for President Bush and his morally-bankrupt, pirate administration to respond in an appropriately urgent and compassionate manner to the escalating agony and desperation of our fellow citizens. This agony and desperation was caused in large part by a near complete absence of adequate federal government funding, preparedness, and leadership. We the people will continue to help Americans and non-Americans alike, with or without the participation or approval of George W. Bush and his Neo-Conservative cohorts. While it is true that what is most important right now is to rescue, feed, house, and in any way possible care for those immediately affected by the disaster, it is equally true that in the long run those directly responsible for aggravating the tragic situation must be held accountable. The mounting evidence of the Bush administration's criminal mismanagement of the nation, as well as its consistently arrogant disregard for our planet's people and natural environments must be confronted immediately. Those who voted for Bush last year, or who have continually supported his outlaw administration in its destructively dishonest conduct, including not only extremist conservatives but also politically-calculating democrats, need not hang their heads or avert their eyes now. What they can and ought to do is join the increasing numbers of Americans who are demanding that presidential impeachment proceedings be initiated as soon as possible. Members of the Bush Administration responsible for the blatant lies and self-serving manipulations that have fanned the flames of disaster from Iraq to New Orleans must be prosecuted as our laws require. Wemust insist on this. Furthermore, we must not allow these disgracefully unpatriotic public servants to be pardoned by any future president as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon. Please call or write your government representatives and help get the scoundrels out of government and in prison where they belong. Do not allow the subject to be changed, do not be distracted. The time to act is now. Take back your country.
     - Viggo Mortensen, 1 Sept., 2005.

RISING SEA LEVELS AND REBUILDING

While we're deciding whether to rebuild New Orleans I think we need to take rising sea levels into account. Even a one foot rise in sea levels over the next century would put any rebuilt city at risk from a weaker storm than Katrina. I'm not sure that even Dutch style sea walls would guaranty protection from a storm like Katrina

Back in the mid nineties the northwest had a much wetter winter than usual. Much wetter. As in more than twice the average rain fall. When we went to visit one of our favorite beaches we discovered it was almost sand free. And that was with the sealevels we have now.

Oregon beaches tend to have slope to them. The beach strip on our coast isn't very wide and it gets narrower as you move north. As you go north the stretches of cliffs get taller and the distances between the beaches between the headlands get smaller. Often we're lucky if the beach is fifty yards or so wide and that's at LOW tide. If a rise of a foot or so in the sea level puts our sloping beaches at risk imagine what it will do to Miami or other sections of the Gulf Coast. And since there is limited land for building, towns tend to be small. I'd guess that we're looking at perhaps a hundred thousand people or so for the whole Oregon coast.

Oregon may not be the most "happening" of places but most of it well above sea level. Our biggest risk is probably from earthquake related flooding. I'm not sure how far a large tsunami could go up the Columbia river and I know I don't want to find out. Now if we could just figure out how to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.