Monthly Archives: June 2006

Vale to Babylon

This is why I read Stirling…

Vale to Babylon

The lesson of the armies of Ashur is, ultimately, that one cannot have a metropolitan economy that relies on international trade at the same time that one has a localizing, racist-to-genocidal religious basis for internal political legitimacy. Eventually the polarization internally will destroy the ability to project force externally, because the external force relies upon the production of the cities and a military that consumes too many resources. While individual cities benefit from having localized cults, cities themselves do not. The Assyrians claim to have destroyed hundreds of cities and towns to enforce worship and obedience. Even if this is highly exaggerated, it does not take many examples of sacking a town and flaying the leaders alive to destroy confidence in city life. Similarly, it does not take many Katrinas to destroy faith in a system that is supposed to protect city life in the present.

The elevation of Bush as God-King of localized Jesus cults is a fact that can be seen from the polarization of rural counties, and the presence of two “right poles” of American voting – in the edge of the Great Plains and rocky mountains and in Appalachia. That America’s great locality cult, the Mormon Church in Utah, has become avidly Republican is not an accident, but an adherence of like to like. America has begun marching down the campaign trail of Assyria, with its early wins of powerful control over a core – one that raises up a powerful military that can invade and defeat enemies on the battlefield, but that at the same time prohibits the kind of broad internationalism that feeds both the army and the cities in its core. Localized cults are good at absorbing, but not at expanding their reach. It would be the Greeks who would hit upon the first part of the formula, in terms of a broad cultural city system and a warrior who had real man-to-man superiority in combat. The Romans and the Chinese would find solutions to the other parts of the problem, and would create the pinnacle empires of the neo-antiquity period. But Assyria would, literally, be on the slag heap of history, remembered fondly only by those seeking a narrative to counter Islam.

The Armies of Ashur could conquer the world, but they could not even hold the hearts and minds of their own people. In the end, these armies themselves spearheaded the revolt against the cult-king and his worship. In the end, it was the internal polarization driven by the religious system against the geo-political and economic realities that destroyed their state, and that is destroying ours.

Ooo, Shiny!

OK, this doesn’t seem very exciting, but, you have to understand that for me, cleaning anything tends to seem like a tremendous waste of my time, when there are so many other fun things I could be doing. So when I get the bug to actually wash and wax my car, it’s an occassion! And I did it myself, I didn’t take it somewhere to be washed. Having the energy to do that is also an occassion for me. (If you look carefully at the reflections, this is also a self-portrait, btw)

So to make up for boring you with my shiny van, here’s a Huge Hot dailily (yes, that’s it name) in my garden:

These daililies love the heat, and are a nice presence in the garden this time of year when nothing else is able to muster the energy to bloom during the heat wave. You can see it peeking through the windows in the photo above as an orange blur.

Sunflowers

I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.” — John Clarke, Calendar Girls

In the garden today.

Strange weather day here – bits of thunderstorms, periods of sunshine, overcast, breezy, warm and humid. Feels like midwestern weather or Colorado or something, but not normal San Diego June weather.

I really enjoy my garden, and often blog about my flowers.

This is my sunflower painting on the wall of my kitchen:

Wherever there is light, try to find it. Not a bad way to live life, indeed.

Oh, and you might notice the little fortune on the bottom of the painting. It reads, “When the flowers bloom, so will great joy in your life.”

I try to keep something blooming in my garden all the time. And if they’re not blooming, I have my paintings.

Indeed…

I have to admit I love this philosophy of life. Fred Gratzon is a very Taoist person. And I have certainly found that since I gave up “working”, money has indeed flowed my way when I need it.

It’s a hard concept for people to accept, this idea that you should simply do what you love and the money will follow. And I don’t really think it does work for everyone. But giving up what others expect of you, and following your heart, is the only way to truly be happy with your life. I have a beautiful garden that I never “work” in, yet people imagine it must take huge amounts of time. Hah. I spend no more time working on my yard than they do, and it looks a lot better. Why? I let it be natural, and let things grow where they please and where they work out well, instead of forcing my yard to look like Home and Garden magazine.

My home is the same way – not everyone’s idea of a beautiful home, but a functional, happy place that works for us and is reasonably clean, if not always neat and tidy. I can find anything I need within five minutes. (Except in the kid’s rooms, of course, since I don’t clean them and they aren’t expert lazy people yet).

I really hope to one day have my golden retriever ranch, raising and rescuing goldens. And I know that won’t be one bit of work, even with all the goldens, a big garden, and lots and lots of land. Because it will all be fun.

The Lazy Way to Success: Your Calling and The Real World

I don’t believe in work and I don’t do it and I don’t ask/require anyone else to do it for me. I believe in fun and expansion and joy and love and passion and collaboration and laughter and integrity and social responsibility and evolution and devotion and natural law and honesty and friendship and deep silence, and doing unto others etc. And as a result, money comes as a beneficial side effect.

But if you think working, and being bossed, and getting stressed, and sitting in traffic jams, and being crammed in a cubicle, and living from paycheck to paycheck doing stuff you hate, and getting heart attacks, hives, and headaches is the path to success, be my guest. Me, I prefer playing golf and going on picnics and doing projects that I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do.

Take note of who really hates America

Those who would deny hard-working Americans a decent living wage, but want to repeal estate taxes and give tax cuts to the wealthy.

Senate roll call on increasing the minimum wage

Oh, and these assholes just voted themselves a pay increase, too. Republican Senators, why do you hate working Americans?

NAYs —46
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Oh, and McCain? You want to be President?

Bite me.

Many U.S. Iraq vets homeless

Sigh. This is truly sad. It’s really a shame we don’t support the troops once they come home.

TheStar.com – Many U.S. Iraq vets homeless

Many U.S. Iraq vets homeless
Some are poor, traumatized by war experiences
Jun. 24, 2006. 04:48 PM
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — As a member of the U.S. army National Guard, Nadine Beckford patrolled New York City train stations after Sept. 11, 2001 with a 9 mm pistol, then served a treacherous year in Iraq.

Now, six months after returning, Beckford lives in a homeless shelter.

“I’m just an ordinary person who served. I’m not embarrassed about my homelessness because the circumstances that created it were not my fault,” said Beckford, 30, who was a military-supply specialist at a base in Iraq that was a sitting duck for around-the-clock attacks.

Thousands of U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing a new nightmare — the risk of homelessness. The U.S. government estimates several hundred vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are homeless on any given night across the country, although the exact number is unknown.

The reasons that contribute to the new wave of homelessness are many: some are unable to cope with life after daily encounters with insurgent attacks and roadside bombs; some can’t navigate government red tape; others simply don’t have enough money to afford a house or apartment.

They are living on the edge in towns and cities big and small from Washington state to Florida. But the hardest hit are in New York, because housing costs “can be very tough,” said Peter Dougherty, head of the Homeless Veterans Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says
The Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 23, 2006; A03

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties — once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits — are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

“That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct the study. “There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants.”

This article makes me very sad. We’ve lost so much of the social fiber of this country, and the political sphere makes us even more divided. I’m tired of the efforts to keep us divided and divisive. I think a lot of us are longing for a unification of the real American spirit again, if it ever really existed. I’m sure in some ways, we’ve always been a divided people, but there are moments where we really all have pulled together, and I think we long for those moments again.

I suppose that is a big part of the attraction of blogging to me, to be able to share some part of myself with others, even if they only read my musings and silently nod thier heads, or maybe get pissed off at me and go away forever, I don’t know. But being able to share stories and ideas and my current mood here is important to me. It really has helped to decrease my own social isolation after being abandoned by those I thought were my friends, people I had counted on to be there who decided I was too much trouble or had caused them too much grief in the midst of my illness, and simply walked away and refused to speak to me again. I think they truly will never, ever understand just how much that hurt, or the psychotic break it caused for me.

Isolation is a terrible, terrible thing. And I’m truly saddened that more and more of us are feeling that way. I’ve been there, I’ve felt it, and in some ways, I’m glad for the experience, since it truly led me to connect with the Tao, with everything around me, and find my solace in the beauty of nature and the life that is everywhere around us.

But that good close friendship that I once shared with my friends? Yeah, I could used that again. Too bad I’m terrified to let people know how I feel about them anymore, afraid to feel deeply for them, afraid they will walk away again.

Those walls are high and strong. Hope someone someday will have a really long ladder and a big heart.

Nothin' but Nest…

Considering how many of my friends told me they were buying their McMansions “as their retirement fund”… yeah, that may be all they have left…

San Diego Home Prices Take Largest-Ever Dive
Prices Dip $15,000 Since April

SAN DIEGO — Housing prices in San Diego County took the largest-ever dive in May as the average price of a home fell $15,000 from the previous month, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

The median price of a home in May was down 5 percent from the record level of $518,000 it reached in November. Meanwhile, sales were down for the 23rd straight month; days on the market stood at two months, and inventories of unsold homes topped 19,800.

For newly built homes, condos and condo conversions, the median dropped from $495,000 in April to $424,000 in May, the second largest drop in that category since DataQuick began its record keeping in 1988.

University of San Diego economist Alan Gin said the sudden decline probably reflects builders’ discounts on asking prices and similar reductions at the many apartment complexes that have been converted to condominiums.

UPDATE:

Interestingly, I just checked last years posts, and I posted this about tulips on the same date last year.

OK, you older wingers, get your asses over there

No more excuses like, “I’m too old…”

Army takes older recruits | Reuters.com

The U.S. Army, aiming to make its recruiting goals amid the Iraq war, raised its maximum enlistment age by another two years on Wednesday, while the Army Reserve predicted it will miss its recruiting target for a second straight year.

People can now volunteer to serve in the active-duty Army or the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard up to their 42nd birthday after the move aimed at increasing the number of people eligible to sign up, officials said.

It marked the second time this year the Army has boosted the maximum age for new volunteers, raising the ceiling from age 35 to 40 in January before now adding two more years.

More than three years into the war, the Army continues to provide the bulk of U.S. ground forces in Iraq. Army officials have acknowledged the war has made some recruits and their families wary about volunteering.

The Army Reserve, along with the regular Army and Army National Guard, missed its fiscal 2005 recruiting goal, and it currently lags its fiscal 2006 year-to-date goal by 4 percent.