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British EU vote [Jun. 24th, 2016|09:35 am]

Every now and again the world seems to shift and twist and I have an opinion about it. Sometimes I've only got a reaction ready, other times a response. My reaction to the British referendum on remaining in the EU:

Leaving the EU is a mistake, and all the populist arguments I've heard in favor of the British EU exit struck me as demagoguery, hysterical, or some combination of the two. This is not in the best interests of Britain, the EU, nor, I suspect, the world. It is a very extreme remedy to the challenges faced in the EU, and it seems like more than a slim majority can reasonably demand of a huge minority. So many were opposed to some fate and some world they reject, and yet now the thin majority would force it upon them. It seems indecent, uncivil, hysterical and unenlightened, and, again, not in any peoples' best long-term interests.

All I can say is that, as an American who has endured the worst political-social aspects of the past sixteen years, this is just another old familiar situation. Why is it now in Britain, as in the United States, that our democracies are pushing people apart with hysteria rather than bringing them together with sound reasoning? I believe that the cosmopolitan peoples in Europe (including in the British parts of Europe) are shocked and mortified in a way that's novel to an entire generation.
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Memorial Day 2016 (crossposted from local forum) [May. 30th, 2016|04:11 pm]
[mood |dark]

Another local forum crosspost for future consideration, and a reflection of the zeitgeist:

(SG wrote: ) "I'm curious, what type of action would you like to see our country take as China and Russia step up their military presence and capability?"

Well, specifically on the nuclear and nuclear-capable weapons systems, we must continue along the diplomatic path that gave us the ratified 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty, the 1991 START I Treaty, the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, and the 2010 New START Treaty. All of these treaties are in the spirit of stabilizing and protecting the world against unthinkable modes of warfare.

Beyond that, we need to start believing in a multipolar world in which moral peoples and cultures and worldviews are afforded the basic dignity of self-determination and independence, even in economic affairs. We must stop provoking and attacking differences, even if the outcome seems to benefit us, we must stop being belligerent and fearful; it was never moral, and history condemns civilizations who have caused far less harm than ours.

People are generally decent, and those good people just want a decent future for themselves and mankind. We must all become more open, more tolerant, and more cognizant of humanity generally, and fight for equality in all its forms, both here and across the globe. Our activities must never cause harm directly or indirectly, there is no justification or excuse sufficient for destroying nature or culture, not all genocides are literal or obvious, but all are evil. We must not elevate ourselves above anyone else; we're all just people, human beings, made equal by nature and equally deserving of rights and protections and a path to true progress across the board.

We must also strive uncompromisingly to preserve this planet and the priceless precious irreplaceable treasures which it improbably arrived at over the course of billions of years of painstaking self-creation; it's a metaphorical Garden of Eden, and our only true home. Destroying it is a crime and a madness beyond comprehension and words pale to capture sufficiently the depraved wrongfulness of the biocide that has been allowed across the planet, in destruction both great and small. The die-offs continue, the Anthropocene is the greatest disaster this planet has faced in millions of years. We must not be distracted by systems that subjugate man nor nature, they were never sustainable, but the world's now too small to poison our own air, soil, and water, literally or metaphorically, here or abroad. It's too fragile to sweep aside biomes en masse without thought nor understanding, replace them with monoculture and concrete... for some narrow short term advantage to a sorry few, or even a great many, when more sustainable alternatives may or do exist.

Read more...Collapse )
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(no subject) [May. 29th, 2016|12:43 am]
[Current Location |state of discontent]
[mood |cynicalcynical]

I don't habitually bother reading CNN, but I thought I would repost this from a local forum I'm active on because it captures the zeitgeist of the moment. Previouisly, an AEGIS Ashore system was deployed in Romania as a US-operated NATO installation. (My earlier discussion here). Someone else followed up on the ongoing Russian response to this new installation off their borders with a bit of a low-quality propaganda piece from CNN:

"(CNN) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will retaliate against the placement of U.S. missiles in nearby countries such as Romania, according to Russia's state-run news agency TASS.

The United States launched a ground-based missile defense system earlier this month in Romania. The system is meant to defend Europe against rogue states like Iran and not intended to target Moscow's missiles, Washington has said

( http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/28/europe/putin-threatens-romania/index.html )

I decided to write a follow-up, and here it is. Bon appétit:

This is one of those fascinating stories that exposes the limitations of credibility all around, but the fact remains that any reasonable interpretation of system capabilities means this installation violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. I wrote about this in another thread here, but Russia's outspoken concerns about the new system's ability to perform a decapitation strike on Sochi or Crimea are something to consider, along with whether or not Iran's desire to strike Europe with a ballistic missile is credible or a fever dream intended for children. Iran and Russia and China are not comic book villains, they intend to live in a multipolar world regardless of what we think, say, or do in our foreign policy.

The extended story behind this really makes me sit up and pay attention. What must Russia now consider to restore the strategic balance? Dead Hand 2? Drone submersible nuclear mines? At the end of the day, does the US really win in a serious US vs Russia and China exchange, and why do we want to try to put our nuclear jackboots on throats across this planet? Is there any foreseeable flaw in this plan?

It's hard to get around conclusions that we have, via NATO, introduced a new element of instability to the Russian-European region, and it's hard not to feel as if one's intelligence has just been insulted yet again by the explanations, excuses, and rationalizations provided by our people. I goddamned hate being lied to with falseness great or small by the people I'm supposed to trust. The disingenuousness of the entire picture authored turns my stomach. I question their wisdom and their vision of what the realpolitik world should look like in five, ten, or twenty years. It looks to me like a stark dark cold time for humanity. All this even as Obama consoles Japan for Hiroshima in front of the cameras with his metaphorical right hand and supports the implementation of a US$1T nuclear weapon modernization program with his left. For God's sake, people, does the wanton hypocrisy know no bounds? Have we no decency?

Also, the US National Debt now stands at US$19.2T, give or take, and we're bleeding money fast. Is this expensive new system a piece of maniacal madness, or is it telegraphing something darker and more sinister: our intent for war, not peace, on planet earth? Who benefits? What makes life on this shared world worthwhile, and what threatens it? How many more rhetorical questions must I ask before people wake up and realize they've been led by the noses into global dystopia one willing step at a time? Am I expected to respect any of this when push comes to shove, or will I too be ground down into the dirt when the shit hits the fan? What hope for my nieces? What hope for humanity and cultural progress and ending an incandescent dark age for mankind before it starts?
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Zootopia! [Mar. 11th, 2016|05:03 pm]

I went to see the movie Zootopia recently; it looked like it might be amusing to catch on video when the trailer was released a few months ago, but it has generated so much positive buzz on movie review sites like RottenTomatoes that I felt compelled to go check it out on the big screen.

I'm glad I did! It's a greatly accomplished and fun piece of animation, storytelling, and even manages a morality lesson about fear and hatred that seems very topical and universal, today. It was simply delightful, 'recommended for kids of all ages,' as well as fans of animation and anthropomorphics.
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antiquities [Feb. 28th, 2016|10:54 am]

What follows is some 'thinking aloud' and 'speculation' or daydreaming to refer back to again some day. It seems poignant and fills me with a sense of wonder to consider. It's nothing that many have not felt before (and therefore is completely unoriginal)...

I used to believe the Greeks and Romans were the most suitable standard bearers for early great human achievement, but lately I have come to see them as  eventually taking backwards steps along a long procession of development of the best attributes of Western civilization; balance, connection with the natural world, intellectual achievement that were all held in high regard...

Recently, I've come to consider the Etruscan and Ephesian civilizations and the immediate contemporary and preceeding eras as somehow more compelling examples of western civilization's very best, a more balanced integration of east and western philosophy/religion/world views...  Of course, much of that comes from subscription to the mystery and mystique and romanticism of all the knowledge we have lost, and willfully overlooking the inevitable not-so-romantic flaws.  Also I feel so upon reflection because theirs was a society that valued the contributions of men and women alike; patriarchal society was to set in after some future cultural apocalypse in the centuries after these precursor civilizations were at their heights.

(Circa 200 BC mosaics revealed at ancient Greek city of Zeugma in Turkey, 2014)

I feel as if it's possible to construct speculation that the entire world turned, somehow, in the wrong direction some time around 500-300 BC and by 300 AD the western fate of forgetting itself, darkness, widespread ignorance and isolation had been fully cast...  For the successes of each one individual Galileo-type figure during this patriarchal dark age of suppression, there were surely nine others whose voices were squelched before they could progress the medieval world back toward enlightenment... You likely either had a powerful patron or were swept aside the moment you stuck out or seemed to threaten the status quo. Reminders of the richer past were appropriated at best and sacrilege to be smashed, at worst. Is it really much different today?

(Satellite image of Palmyra showing destruction of the Temple of Bel)

The Etruscans 'religion of the heavens' might have been an early natural philosophical sort of science/observation, based on astronomy and what they understood to be the natural order of the world... Given their achievements in medicine, art, architecture, and culture, it seems clear they were not the ignorant superstitious pagans later establishment authorities condemned them as, but instead were connected to a wider cultural current, one that was deeper, broader, and older than anything that replaced it. The Etruscans' philosophy and traditions and more comopolitan aesthetic were destined to be supplanted with cultures driven by religious institutions with hard authority over spiritual practice. The pieces missing from the wider human mythology before the common era leave tragic gaps in our knowledge today, but we know through scattered and shattered and buried pieces there was once a distinct cultural richness...

(Vanth is a chthonic figure in Etruscan mythology...(and) almost always shown in Etruscan iconography to be a benevolent guide. Vanth has no real classical Greek counterpart)

I don't know, I look at that era of time and feel wonder, and an expanded perspective on what followed and even on aspects of culture in today's world... I start feeling inspired to ask myself questions such as, "Are we in fact on the cusp of a new dark age?"  Standing here in early 2016 AD and looking around the world from this present crossroads, it may be that this war over the control and determination for the future of mankind and civilization hasn't seen a more pivotal period for the future of cultural self-determination since the time of the founding of Constantinople... Or things may continue to stumble maniacally backward and forward, as they have for the past two millennia. Perhaps the Internet is the 'library' that could change that-- or perhaps it may be metaphorically burned of knowledge or otherwise restricted from use like some Library of Alexandria, as the strategic target for the creation of another brave new darkened world.

Can the Western world's religion, art, science, philosophy, and politics ever be recombined into a powerful, integrated, consistent, and collectively-shared whole once again, as they perhaps once were during these pre-classical heights of attainment? Alternately, are opposing memes writ large upon the world today too aggressively dominant and viral not to interfere harmfully in the long run with a return to this mode of civilization and balance? I'd say I'm hopelessly Romantic, but this is a pre-classical world I look back to, and it's an enjoyable daydream, an almost fantasy romanticism... and so many people have been here in some form or another before. It's a strange place to turn back from to consider today and tomorrow...

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compost-scavenging deer [Nov. 6th, 2015|11:34 am]

Noticed this yearling checking out my compost pile for goodies. He picked at it a bit, but unfortunately I had emptied out woodstove ash overtop it all earlier in the morning...
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'first' snow 2015-2016 [Nov. 5th, 2015|08:15 am]
[Current Location |home]

We've had some light flurries, but this is the first snowstorm of the season that has really accumulated anything... Nov 5th! It has been very late to freeze, to snow, in the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Denver this autumn.

On days like today, I tried to put out some sunflower seeds for the birds, like nut hatches, inspired once by a former friend here in CO who enjoyed birdwatching.

As I have most years since moving here in 2008, I enjoy the use of a wood pellet burning stove. This year, I'm making an extra effort to provide most of the base heat from wood pellet fuel. Every BTU of wood-based heat throws carbon back into the air that was already in circulation, vs the burning of natural gas fossil fuels that introduce CO2 that had been out of circulation in geological deposits.

It's running down on the first floor providing heat for the home, with some light extra electrical space heating in my office room where I spend most of the day.

Mushi, my cat companion, is generally alright with this arrangement and enjoys basking in the heat.
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blues berry muffins [Nov. 4th, 2015|08:34 am]

When life gives you the blues, make blues berry muffins!

Blues Berry Muffins
(whole wheat oat-bran blueberry applesauce muffins)
source: modified internet recipe
makes: 8-10 muffins
prep time: about 30 minutes

1 cup  -  flour
1/2 cup  -  oat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup - honey
1  -  large egg
2 Tbsp.  -  extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  -  applesauce, apple butter, or apple juice
2 tsp.  -  vanilla extract
1 tsp.  -  lemon juice (optional)
1 cup  -  fresh or frozen blueberries (allow to thaw)

Preheat oven to 375'F
Line muffin tray w/paper cups
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
In separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients until well-blended. Add to dry ingredients, mix minimally to combine into chunky mix.
Stir in blueberries.
Pour mixture into muffin cups.
Bake for 20 minutes @ 375'F. Remove when golden brown.
Remove from pan, let cool.

I like to make it a point to use the best ingredients available, and suggest USDA Organic certified versions of all ingredients. Grains and oats will ideally be freshly-milled or refridgerated and sealed if stored after milling; health food stores sell flour as a refridgerated perishable. Another version of this recipe uses 1/2c all-purpose and 1/2c whole wheat flour, so you can play with it a bit. Grass-fed free-range hens lay the best-tasting eggs.
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(no subject) [Sep. 21st, 2015|10:16 am]
This is more of a footnote for future historical reference, but in the past week we've seen the Japanese democracy undermined and fed into a furnace with their executive and legislative branch ramrodding through a revisionist anti-pacifist 'revolution' despite a preponderance of majority democratic opposition.

Organisers said about 120,000 people took part in Sunday’s 'anti-war law' rally in the capital [Reuters] (08-30-2015)

What is going on? This warning article from last year summarizes what has since been attempted and appears to have gone through as of this week:

"(Jun 27 2014) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to continue to press for Cabinet approval of a “reinterpretation” of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan... this so-called reinterpretation is entirely illegitimate and poses dangers to Japan’s democracy.

To be clear on what this so-called re-interpretation means, the prime minister is seeking to circumvent the constitutional amendment procedure mandated by the Constitution itself, and to dictate a radical change to the meaning of fundamental principles in the Constitution by way of Cabinet fiat, with no Diet debate or vote, and no public approval.

The very process violates fundamental principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law, while the substance of the proposed reinterpretation does further violence to these principles.

Turning to the rule of law, the primary principle at the foundation of the rule of law is that no person or agency is above the law. Its very essence is the idea that there is one set of laws to which every person and entity is subject, and which is applied equally to all. Thus, not only is the government subject to the law, but government power must be exercised through and in accordance with the law, and not through the use of discretion or arbitrary fiat..."  (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/27/commentary/japan-commentary/reinterpreting-article-9-endangers-japans-rule-of-law/)

Remember this-- everything that follows from mid-September 2015 was against the will and dignity of the Japanese people. The UN, the US and the Obama administration, and even the mainstream news media barely even commented on this dark affair, looking the other way or turning a blind eye to the rise of authoritarianism and the degredation of rule-of-law in Japan against the outspoken will of their civil society and democracy.

What's the point of even trying to live a good life if your best efforts can be swept aside seemingly without thought or effort by a Bush adminstration or Abe Administration supported by their degenerate lack of sanctity for enlightenment principles of equality and rule-of-law? Whether or not this is about a need for the JSDF to transition to a more conventional nation-state military service, it should absolutely be about the slieght of hand that is going on within their government to accomplish it and the stark public opposition to both the manner and the nature of the changes.

Militarists understand all too well their own ability to sweep-aside and dominate pacifists in civil and government affairs on any number of pretenses, natural or manufactured. I'm not optimistic for the future of Japan, and, similarly, watching the US political process and zeitgeist ever since the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced unprosecuted US War Crimes, their perpetrators still at large and their consequences looming larger in the world with each passing year. The unnecessary and deceitfully-justified 2003 Iraq War and actions in Saharan Africa have led to chaos and anarchy and directly to ISIS/ISIL/DAESH and their escallating consequences. This is the outcome of Bush's American Exceptionalism 'experiment' in the 2000s. Oh, that and our US$18.1T+ national debt.

I've graduated from concern, to worry, to fear for the future of the United States of America and a livable future for its people over these past few years. Obama was elected to stop all of this, and he only hit the accelerator pedal on manifestly unconstitutional and unlawful interpretations of executive power that have aided and abetted US fascism and hegemony, generally. As US fascism further metastasizes, the world burns and is in urgent need of absolute and uncompromising environmental policy reform. Basically, we're all fucked. Even if the hell of our own political creation doesn't destroy us, even if the unchecked biocidal contamination and pollution pervading agriculture doesn't poison us, we can rest assured that the unlivable hellscape that our planet is presently becoming will land the hard finishing blow on human civilization and progress.

Do you have children? What do you tell them?
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The Humanist Manifesto, II [Feb. 28th, 2015|09:32 am]

There seems to no element of this which is not worth embracing-- More details here:


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