Monday, November 29, 2004

I couldn't see through the thicket. I could hear the sound of the buck working a poor little shrub of a tree (a small white pine, as I found out later) to the bone. The bush was whipping back and forth, slapping against its neighbors, giving in to the merciless beating the small deer was delivering. Thinking I was not going to get a good look at that one I settled back, turning to scan the woods, and there it was...Whatever it was. My eyes aren't what they used to be but I knew this was no deer. I tried to make my eyes clear up the sight of this animal, as I squinted, it raised its nose into the air waving it around like a radar dish scanning the olfactory waves coming to it with coded messages. The animal was intent, front legs raised up and resting on one of a clump of downed pines, dealt killing blows by the combination of too many pine beetles with too much food and warm winters and a two year drought. I put the scope of my rifle on the creature and as I moved the cross hairs onto its chest, it focused its attention and we both realized what it was smelling in the air...Me!

Thomas wanted to hunt a new place and I wanted him to have the fun of being a fifteen year old kid whose dad was not explaining the finer details of one of life's little teachable moments. We could just go hunting and get out in the woods together. I have a rifle that I carry when we go off like this...I think it works and I might shoot it one day but that isn't the point of times like this.

As we drove up to our tract of land, there were two pick up trucks unloading ATV's blocking our road. We chatted and they were over acting in their mock surprise that "Anybody owns this land." The old posted signs must be fungal boles that just grow that way on trees. They seemed disappointed when I told them they could ride to the creek but had to park on the main road and walk if they wanted to go anywhere else. Walking around quietly in the forest is sooo yesterday! It doesn't disturb anyone else, or make much noise, or tear up the ground and cause erosion, or burn fossil fuels and stink up the air...How can anybody have fun just being quiet in the forest? Well I personally don't care what you do, but you are not going to do it here on an ATV. Have a nice day.

Thomas drove the truck to the edge of our property and we got out and saw the tracks of a vehicle going around the dead tree we had left to block the road. "We'll probably meet them coming out with a ten point buck strapped in the back," he said.

The vehicle tracks had made a mess churning up the mud in the road, rutting it out. We took our gear and started walking. A hundred yards in we saw the next dead tree we had left blocking the road. Sawed out of the way and tossed in the ditch...The drainage ditch that was supposed to carry rainwater off the road.

We got to the spot where Thomas wanted to set up his tree stand and saw the tire tracks going right by the huge buck rub and straight through the pawed place that he had found when we scouted things out for his hunt. "Oh, great!" he said. "This spot isn't going to work." Then we heard the truck.

Thomas went off in the woods to set up in another place while I walked after the sound of the intruder in the woods. We turned on our radios, just in case, but I really don't worry about dealing with folks, too much. My theory is that people aren't actually bad...Just "sorry".

Walking, I had no trouble catching up to what turned out to be two pickup trucks. I had heard the engines quit and the doors slam so I knew they were going to be around somewhere. I "hallowed" as I walked up to the truck but got no reply. I reached through the open window of the first truck and honked the horn.

That'll bring 'em!

As I honked the horn, a dog in the second truck went ballistic..And so did the woman sitting next to him in the seat that I had not previously noticed. I smiled large and gave her a small wave. She did not look reassured.

Two men came out of the woods with beer in one hand and rifle in the other. I smiled but looked straight at them intently, they smiled and looked straight at me but their eyes were worried, and then we chatted. I've heard all the lame excuses several times now, and frankly there are no excuses. You guys are on somebody else's land, sawing up trees to get past the posted signs, plowing ruts in the roads, getting ready to hunt illegally. Then came the punch line..."Well do you mind if we just camp out for a few days?"

"Now, boys!" I said. "You drove in here right past my telephone number on the sign, and I have to ask myself if you are responsible types who will behave themselves on my land...You could have asked permission and now you want forgiveness and permission. What would you think if you were me?"

Time to be nice and leave...Which they decided to do.

They had gotten themselves in a mess. They just drove in on my road until they couldn't go any further and were stuck. Since they were stuck they were just going to go hunting and leave the woman and the dog in the truck, I guess. Fifteen minutes later they were on their way back out, leaving me a big mess in the road, but then they were gone.

I radioed Thomas, who had him a nice spot in a tree by then, confident that his Dad would take care of everything.

As the sound of the trucks faded, the sounds of the forest took over. I walked deeper into the land on an old road looking for a nice spot to set my chair up and wait for dusk or a gun shot, whichever.

Late fall light can be harsh, and so it was. Something big was splashing in the small creek about a hundred yards away below me. Turkeys cruised the far hill making huge amounts of noise. They are capable of many different sounds but for now their scratching and clucking and croaking was dominating the woods. Some of them took to the trees and it was quiet for a bit.

I heard the deer moving in the thicket, knowing I would probably not see it. I was on the wrong trail, this one being the one that went from over there to over yonder, whereas the deer was on the trail that went from down there to up yonder. I listened and until it went away.


Then, with no sound that I heard, the other creature was there on the road, front feet up on the log to lift its head higher in the air to get a better test of the ominous scent in the woods. It waved its head in the air, "seeing" with its nose.

Deer have a simple place in the ecosystem. They eat plants and run from predators. The only other animals besides predators they need awareness of are rivals and love interests. I am a potential predator. Deer assume that everything is a predator until proven otherwise. A simple existence. Eat, Survive, Reproduce, with emphasis on "Survive".

A predator has a much more complex niche. Only one predator is at the top of the food chain and, today, that would be me! All the other predators may consider themselves down the list, somewhat, and when they cruise the forest, they have to look both ways, up and down the chain. Down for potential food, and up, for potential danger of becoming food or just simply being removed from competition for what food there is. Fear is the dominant emotion of predators. They create it and live with it. The instant my eyes met the eyes of the animal on the log, I imagined the two pronged query in its beastly mind: "Does this thing fear me or do I fear it?"

I had the scope crosshairs squarely on the chest of the coyote. My finger was not on the trigger. In the harsh light of late afternoon, it stood out, suddenly in stark color. As large as a German shepherd but much lighter in musculature, narrow, in a beautiful new fall coat, similar to a shepherd in pattern but with a much better paint job. The dark brown, almost to black, back of the Coyote was outlined in the animal red, rufous border to the dark tan of its chest. We stared at each other for seconds as it asked and answered its own primeval question and loped off, joined instantly by another that I had not seen. Not scared but purposeful in it's bounding gait, it crossed my field of view with its partner, running along the top of the rise with colors flashing in the patches of sunlight, brilliant when illuminated but invisible in shadow, vanishing.

If you walk in the woods, nothing happens beyond the occasional squirrel or bird. If you sit, motionless, for twenty minutes or so, you become aware that the woods are a happening place. Eating and surviving and reproducing, each in its own time are going down all around us. The sun faded, it got cold, and it was time to go home. The coyotes and I were together only for sixty seconds or so. I wonder what it is like to encounter a wolf in the wild, but I may never know. I wonder what it is like to encounter a predator that is a link higher on the food chain, but I may never know that either. What is it like to fear death, not from disease, or another member of our own species, but from something that wants to assimilate our tissues into its own? Is there a certain awareness, alertness, competency, that is taken from us by this absence in our civilized existence?

I think one of the problems with humanity is that we have placed ourselves at the top of the food chain for too long. When this happens, formerly magnificent beasts become like our pets... Servile and dog stupid.

Peace,

Steve


Sunday, November 28, 2004

OK, it is officially the season...We watched "It's a wonderful Life" last night on TV. Funny, Couldn't we all tell exactly who the Republicans were? They were the bad guys, of course...And tell me the love scene didn't get you going? I really mean the "love" scene, of course, there is no "sex" scene in this flick but that's what popped into your head isn't it?

I picked up a couple of really interesting things in my incessant reading this week.

Single celled bacteria have a social life. This is like the comic strip character B.C. yelling, "Clams got legs!" No wonder they've been trying to kill us! Here's the deal:
They work together to make the most of their food source. Well, this is an obvious thing to do for any social animal...only bacteria aren't animals! And they only have one cell and they are very small. Turns out that bacteria have been trying to let us know in all those petri dish experiments that they get together and party on, dude! Reseachers have known for centuries that we can determine the type of bacteria present by putting a bit in a glass dish with a food source and watching to see the growth pattern that develops. Different bacteria grow in different ways, and once there are enough of them we can see the colony with our naked eyes. Most of the time it is just a blue lump or something like that, but now and again we see very organized patterns of growth. At first this was thought to be something like the crystal development in chemicals, organized by atomic charge, but now we know better. The little bugs are talking to one another and getting organized for mutual benefit. They talk by emitting chemical signals that tell the adjacent bacterium where to line up in the colony. It's like one of them says, "Hey frank, why don't you crawl over next to Fred and then James you can get on top and reach the grapes, and we'll all share in the bounty!" This is intentional behavior by a cooperating colony for mutual benefit. It gives me hope that if single celled organisms that aren't even animals can do this...Maybe humans can learn to get along, too!

I thought about this some more and realized that this is going to cause a problem for the PETA folks. They can justify not eating animals because they can always eat plants...but if plants have feelings, too....

Scientists have come up with a weight reduction pill that works and doesn't seem to have long term side effects! Well I'm going to hold off on that last statement. until we know whether it kills the buzz, too! It seems that in studying the effects of marijuana on humans, they found that if they block certain canabinoid receptors, the patients don't get the munchies. Canabinoids are the goodies in pot that gets folks high. They occur naturally in lots of plants but not so massively as in pot. This has all the earmarks of a CIA sponsored study to prevent college students from having a good time, but it did reduce appetite in non-users, too. We'll see about that "No side effects" thing. Maybe that just depends on who's deciding what's a side effect and what's just an "Effect".



Peace,

Steve

Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday morning coming down...oooooh, way hungover....so much food! Yep, a food hangover, the best kind. I've already had my breakfast. You know, a little "hair of the dog" to ease the pain. In my case it was toasted homemade rolls with cranberry sauce. I looked at the last bit of rum cake but just didn't feel man enough to attack.

Today starts the weeks of penance until the next bout with culinary excesses, or two, or how ever many Xmas gatherings we make it to. After thinking about it, I have come to a grim conclusion...The old body is no longer capable of excercising enough to eat all the brined for four days, slow roasted, turkey the eyes can covet and the stomach can hold without serious consequences. I eat too much at these events and I love it. Let the penance begin.


As it has been since the first flute was joined by voice, We will hear, over and over until the ears cry out, the songs of the season with glorious tune and stupid lyric. Rejoice in every elevator about the land! In one month, it will all be over, and we can turn from such inane poem such as this one, "Merrily on High"

E'en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And "Io, io, io!"
By priest and people sungen.


Not since I can remember has there been a time when Simon and Garfunkel's version of Silent Night been more appropriate. The oddest thing I ran across is that on the web site that I retrived these lyrics from had an ad at the top. Right above "Christ's Heavenly Love" was:

"Shoot the tank to win!"

Odd when you stop and think about which side actually has the tanks in this war.

I ask all of you to take to your hearts the best and highes wish for the coming season, even as we contemplate the installation of a government bound to subvert this very thought:

Peace on Earth, Good will toward men!


I wish you would read the entire piece by Sid Blumenthal, not in an American paper of course, that shows what a complete ass our President is. At any rate here is a snippet of Presdident Bill Clinton's speech at his library dedication:

..."America has two great dominant strands of political thought; we're represented up here on this stage: conservatism, which at its very best draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which at its very best breaks down barriers that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place." ...

An aide was giving Karl Rove a tour of Clinton's library when this little vignet was observed by several people:

..."You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..."

It's going to be a long four years...Read it all, please:

guardian

Friedman wants to be Tom Delay. Why? Here's a clip:
But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.

Delay is a creep of the highest order but he is just the evil piece of scum in this story. What about the chickenshit Republican Representatives who voted for his rule change? Jimmy Duncan, what say you? Even Zach Wamp summoned the courage to vote against it! Duncan has actually acted honorably several times to my knowlege...what happened here?

Read:


Friedman


And some little tidbits of elucidation for those who would rewrite history, (thanks Digby )

And we quote:

". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

Franklin

"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."

Jefferson

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

Madison

. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

Adams


In my secular view of the world, I still think of Jesus as the greatest Liberal of all time. I think of Christian philosophy as espousing forgiveness for all, not just House Majority Leaders. Peace on Earth seems to cover the whole danged planet, not just the homes of the powerful...

And how do you follow the commandment "Love thine enemy as thine own self" with a tank?

Let the righteous answer with all honesty to themselves in this season of love and great joy!

Peace be on you and yours!

Courage!

Steve

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lucky for you folks, I am going to abandon the connected world for a couple of days. Going paddling! It's Fall, getting chilly and supposed to rain...Perfect! A canoe camping trip with a few of the men, meaning boys with less hair, comes a good time for a break from the real world. I may get back to it by Wednesday.

Hiking is at it's best right now except that it's hunting season. Have to wear a little orange when you walk around the yard these days. Crazy but true. The leaves are about gone and the views have opened up to let us see the changes since last winter. A couple of houses have appeared on the distant ridges but I can't se them from my house which is good. I don't think I can move any deeper into the woods than I live now.

An interesting bit of computer nerd calculation tells us that the most remote place in all of Tennessee is only four miles from a road. I found that hard to believe at first, since we have the Great Smoky Mopuntain National Park here in Tennessee. I had thought it was really remote in places but looking at maps, I guess I have to agree with the computer. Seems sad to me that four miles is as far away as you can get. So pick a direction and start walking and the deepest you can go in the woods is less than two hours after that you're coming out. This is not exactly true but close enough. It is more accurate to say that you cannot define a circle greater than a four mile radius which would not touch at least two roads in the state of Tennessee, but that's too complicated and it's easier to say, "It's too danged built up around here, anymore, and it's going to get a lot worse before it's over, and this time, when we say it's over, it really will be OVER!"

Wild places are disappearing. The assault on Cumberland Island is just one piece of the Bush Administration war on the environment. I don't understand this. The qhole earth is a big organism, in a sense, and if you cut up enough of it's parts, it will die. We don't exactly know which toe or finger or vital organ will be the last staw, but we do know this about last straws...there is one, and we are well on our way to finding it. But all the Republicans will die rich, I suppose.

Republicans aren't very good at money, by the way. You really need to think about it if one of them wants to be YOUR club treasurer. They seem to have no comprehension of what "balanced" means when it applies to a budget. The label "Conservative" is just a propaganda word and means the exact opposite of its dictionary definition. The only balanced budget America has had recently came from the Liberals. Yep, that's true!

Remember "Reinventing Government"?

That was a Clintonian term. It was a budgetary initiative that was voted into being without one single Republican vote in Congress. Tom Delay voted against it. By the end of the Clinton Administration we had a budgetary surplus. WE were paying our bills and taking in a little more money than we were spending. This was a problem for all the Conservatives because it meant that America would have spare change that could be spent on "Liberal" programs. Liberal programs are things like, extra policemen on our streets, Parks for all the people not just the ones living in gated communities, health care, education supplements, community grants for greenways and walking trails, environmental causes like enforcing the laws against polluters, and other things that Conservatives hate.

So the Conservatives decided to destroy America's fiscal sanity so there would be no money to spend on nice things like enough flu vaccinations to go around. Well there are side effects to the combination of greed and stupidity. It is a dangerous game. Now virtually every economist is currently sounding the alarm that America's finances could collapse. The dollar is headed down, having lost thirty percent of it's value since Bush took office. The American economy has not been able to sustain its recovery for several reasons but one big one is that the tax cut money that was supposed to reinvigorate our economy has not been invested in America. Money is pouring into International mutual funds in unprecedented amounts. Got that? Rich people are betting on foreign economies beating America's.

Good work, conservatives! I see that you guys are still hard at it. Since our National dept is at an all time record high, You guys have to borrow some more money from Saudi Arabians and the Chinese, roughly 2 billion dollars per business day, so you have to authorize this with a spending bill in Congress. This is where we can really see what nice guys, conservatives are, and how they have everyones interest at heart not just themselves and their wealthy campaign contributers. Ok, they don't.... the creeps!

There are some doozy little trinkets in the "spending" bill in Congress right now. Under the guise of calling it a budget bill, all sorts of things are being stuffed in. We are trying to hunt down the name of the Congressional staffer that put in a provision that woud allow certain heads of committees (read Tom Delay) to have access to anyone's IRS information. So let's say you are the House Majority Leader and you are about to come under indictment for financial crimes and you want to attack the District Attorney who will most likely put you in jail if this ever gets to trial, do you thin it would be handy to be able to have IRS audits performed on the DA and all his friends and family at a most inopertune time? Hey! Nothing dirty about that, just good clean Corrupt Texas Politics by Mr. Delay. This one looks to have outraged even some Republicans, which takes some doing in the political party that has "Hipocrisy" written into its mission statement.

Of Course there are some other interesting line items. There are cuts to Education spending, cuts to environmental spending, an anti abortion rovision, and then there's this item.

This one hits close to home since the boat in question happened to belong to one of our little group's family for a while:

While the spending bill was one of the most austere in years, it had something for everybody...[including] a potential boon for Bush himself, $2 million for the government to try buying back the presidential yacht Sequoia. The boat was sold three decades ago, though its current owners say the yacht is not for sale.

Frankly, I don't think 2 million will touch it, but it's a start. At a time when we have mothers saving money to buy their son's bayonets and body armour so they'll have it while they are fighting in Iraq, I think it is good that Republicans are willing to spend a little money to get Bush a fancier boat.

Well, as Lyle Lovett said Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, "Kiss my ass, I'm going out to sea!"

So there...I'm gonna take my boat and go paddle for a couple of days with some friends. America will have borrowed another 6 billion dollars from some really unwholesome people by the time I get back.

Peace,

Steve

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Eight forty five on Thursday morning, November 18, 2004.

The twins are eating. They are one and a half years old and looking good . One of them is a little darker in color and slightly bigger but they are both healthy and puppy stupid. Right now they are munching on the freshly planted rye grass as deer are supposed to do but they are twenty feet from the house on the bank beside the back porch. Both our dogs are staring at them but are too lazy to get up off the porch and bark at them. I am feeling like the slacker I am because I left my camera in the car and can't take the picture that would let me share this moment with you visually.

Summer a year ago, we learned the lesson of overpopulation and what it does to our deer. They ate everything, even stuff that wasn't healthy and when blue-tongue disease hit, it killed the stressed out herd back quickly to the idle observer, but to those of us who saw it, youcan't call slow suffocation from the gnat infestation of their air passages quick. We will put one doe in the freezer soon. We select a herd member to take out to hold the deer population to something roughly sustainable and these two are going to be left alone. They keep away from the bigger group that wanders around the farm, for some reason, and I have become attached to them. They aren't particularly afraid of me, and I appreciate that. It is funny how something like these two young animals lift my spirits on grey days, when my thoughts are heavy with ideas like this one:


OK...It is now time to ask the biggest question facing our country:

"What will the next dead American soldier have died for?"

Until we can answer that, maybe we should think about just getting them out of there. There's not much more to gain...Halliburton stock has reached the majic number where Dick Cheney's stock options become valuable so what are we still in there for? We've "Liberated" Fallujah to rubble. Anybody think it's all better now? Was it worth 38 dead Americans?


Yes, my children, it has all come to pass. Tom Delay can remain as House majority leader because his loyal subjects decided to change the rules so that, Indicted for financial crimes, he can still exert his evil influence. Hey, after all, there is no law that has been made to prevent evil that can't be unmade to allow it whnen it applies to the scumbag in power. While you and I have to obey the laws of our land, Republicans apparently don't. Now we will see if they have the gall to repeal the law against treason that will otherwise send Karl Rove to jail.

As their first act in office, the Republicans have lowered the ethical standards of their leaders! How could they be any lower, one might ask? I shudder to tell you that "you aint seen nuthin' yet"!

Here's a fine bit of reading that should help you understand where we sit, today, led by the scum who manipulate the Boy King George:


A Plague of Toadies
By MAUREEN DOWD

Published: November 18, 2004


ASHINGTON

I went to see the magical "Pericles'' at the Shakespeare Theater the other night.

In ancient Greece, the prince of Tyre tires of all the yes men around him. He chooses to trust the one courtier who intrepidly tells him: "They do abuse the king that flatter him. ... Whereas reproof, obedient and in order, fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.''

Not flatter the king? Listen to dissenting viewpoints? Rulers who admit they've erred?

It's all so B.C. (Before Cheney).

Now, in the 21st-century reign of King George II, flattery is mandatory, dissent is forbidden, and erring without admitting error is the best way to get ahead. President Bush is purging the naysayers who tried to temper crusted-nut-bar Dick Cheney and the neocon crazies on Iraq

Maureen


Here's an inspiring story of a slacker nerd who beat the world and keeps doing it.

slate


Digby put me on to this web site. It is straight forward news of what is happening in our military. They cover the good and the bad, like the fact that Novemebr is only half over and is the second worst month for the deaths of our soldiers.

www.military.com/

Now sing a long with Country Joe, "...and it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?"

Does anybody actually have a clue what we stand to gain by the next dead American?

Peace, goddammit!

Steve

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Our food plot is doing a fine job of feeding the overabundance of deer and turkeys on our farm/mountain. Now that I've typed it, I'm having a George Carlin moment on the word "overabundance". This is a liberal's word and really means that we've got too danged many around here for them to get by and be healthy on what the land provides naturally. It's another way of saying people have screwed things up and killed off the puma and red wolves because they were cowards to face the world as it should be. So we make food plots so they won't be so starved that thet eat the underforest bare of the very plantlife needed to sustain them. When the predators are gone, Nature uses disease, food shortages and population crashes by starvation to restore balance. My family hunts selectively and plants extra food in some places while we keep the vast majority of our land wild as we can.

We have a new food plot about 500 yards above the house. So far it has been a great source of entertainment and food for the table. No, we haven't shot anything yet, we are eating our fair share of the greens, kale, mustard, etc. that we planted for the forest beasties. I love to walk through the field and pinch off a few young tender leaves and eat them right there as I watch the woods and admire the stories told by the footprints and scat. The deer and turkey signs are obvious, but the dogs seem more than a little but interested in something else that leaves its scent around the edges of the field. We assume its coyotes but who knows. I have been looking at one of those game cameras that sits in the woods and takes pictures when something moves by, but so far I have resisted. Until I know for sure what it is, it could be anything my imagination can conjure.

There is one animal that several of us have seen but can't identify. We see it several times over a couple of weeks and then it's gone or invisible for a long time. Seasons go by before anybody in the valley mentions it. Dark, rough furred, and fast, disappearing off the side of the road in a jump and shuffle gait. We'll see it near the places where the streams flow close to the road and it seems to always run away uphill. It looks to be larger than a big cat, like a big mink but not as weasel like. The closest thing I can come up with is a Fisher, but those are supposed to be extinct here. All I know is that when the sightings start coming in, you'ld better pen up the chickens. A free range chicken doesn't stand amuch chance around here anyway. I suspect the people who are advertising freerange chickens are lying or at least stretching the definition of "Free".

The food plot has a water hole we call "Lake Thomas". Right now it has an impressive layer of bright green scum coating its surface. I suspect this is due to too much fertilizer running into the water from the field that drains into it. The water starts off a little muddy and slightly green, then, as we get days of sunshine, the water turns deeper and deeper green until the coating of slime appears on the surface. Just when the green is the deepest it all dies suddenly, leaving a muddy brown aftermath. I have witnessed this twice this year in the weeks following fertilizer applications. When you put too much fertilizer into an environment, you almost always get scum of some sort. I see this, as I do most things, as metaphor. Anybody that has ever driven around Washington, D.C. has to know there is too much fertilizer around the halls of Congress, for instance.

Tom Delay is a piece of scum. He is also the Republican House Majority leader and will be indicted soon. His indictment was delayed so that what is about to happen today in the Republican rules committee could take place after the election but before the indictment. This is a most heinous display of why the Republican Party is now in the hands of the immoral and the criminal. Delay is both! He is also a ruthless tyrant who visciously attacks anyone who gets in his way. His popularity in his home state of Texas has dropped considerably. It remains to be seen if Nature will use a population crash to eliminate the excess scum in our Nation. For now, it thrives:


House Republicans plan to change their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.
The rules change, which leaders said is likely to be adopted Wednesday, comes as House Republicans return to Washington indebted to DeLay for the enhanced majority they won in this month's elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered the grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.


Kos has it

Peace,

Steve

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Beautiful crisp weather, eh? All the animals are moving with the seasonal changes, making sightings easier to make. I got to watch a flock of wild turkey's move across the hillside below the house just now. I lost precious seconds hunting down the monster binocs I keep in the living room for just such opportunities. The glass wall of the house lets us see lots of things out there, but it also lets those things see us. As I was moving to get the binocs, the birds saw me and ambled off in a slow but determined waddle. I was too far away to pose a threat but they like their privacy so off they went to someplace neither of us could watch the other.

Two days ago I was walking up the new road and nearly knocked over by one as twenty or so turkeys scattered out of the food plot when the dogs showed up, uninvited. These are very big birds when they are coming right at you. They have a tiny brain, though, and don't sem to be able to flee from two things at the same time. Worried about the dogs, they took off at high speed. Did you know that a turkey is the fastest acceleratng beast on this planet? My wildlife book claims they can go from zero to 50 in less than a second. I don't know how fast they were going but they seemed a bit helter skelter to escape the dogs and took off in all directions. I was still below the field so they couldn't see me and ignored me until the last second, when they veered off. I had already ducked and missed the closest part of the encounter as I covered my head awaiting the impact. Nothing happened and I survived, luckily. A fifteen to twenty pound projectile with six foot wings coming right at you at high speed is a sight to behold. I wish I had stood my ground a little longer, but I chickened out.

I am hoping for a cold winter. We have lots of firewood to burn, and cold winters drive more eagles south to our gorge for the winter. They get very social at times, sitting on the cliffs chattering away if the weather is ugly. Foggy days shut down their airport too, and they sit in the high trees screeching to each other about the lousy flight conditions. Eagle talk is joyous to the soul if not pleasant to the ears. Sounds more like one of those Monte Python routines with the old ladies cackling about a "penguin on the telly" than the majestic symbol of America. We have one juvenile that is getting his color this fall. He/she should be in fine form by late winter and ready to start dating. I'll keep you posted.

Natural History magazine has a fascinating article on the sex lives of scales insects that should send convulsions through the local creationism cult. It is the highest indightment of our schools that critical thinking is so neglected and even opposed here. I have seen it called "evil"...yep, in an email sent to me about evolution. The indonesian fossil of a small humanoid has got the creationists cackling right now. I'll try to round up a few samples of how they fit it in to biblical "truth" and report back.

Wow! From right here in East Tennesse, we have a thinking person in the Press. Well. the alternative Press anyway. This guy writes for the Metro Pulse and has a great idea for a compromise on the "gay marriage" thing:

In keeping with the spirit of the political season, I am now willing to compromise on one of my dastardly liberal positions. Certain elements of our society are seeking to insure the sanctity of (their view of) marriage by writing a constitutional amendment that describes marrige as a legal union between one man and one woman. Their purpose is to deny gays (and general contrarions I suppose) the ability to marry someone they love who happens to be of the same gender as they.




Ok. I'm willing to support their constitutionally defined version of marrige if (ok, big IF) and only if they will agree to one little change that I have in mind. In actuality, the change I would make to the amendment would further strengthen the sanctity of marriage. The only possible downside is that it requires one to have faith in their verbalized convictions. That isn't going to be a problem for you good Christians out there is it? No? Good.

Now go read the whole thing and laugh out loud:
meanderthal">

From our "Recount" Department, this little doozy that may reverse a Congressional election in Indiana:

Last week, Rock Island, Ill.-based election equipment vendor Fidlar Election Co. acknowledged that some of its vote-scanning machines counted straight Democratic ticket votes as Libertarian votes.



dailykos.com/

"...this conclusion is irrefutable and undeniable."...Colin Powell at the U.N. concerning the biological weapons of Saddam Hussein, which turn out to be nonexistant.

I'll just let you go here for yourself. Some folks still think Colin is one of the good guys, but personally, I don't know. If he really had the right stuff he would have resigned before the election. We'll see:

scribble


Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" thus building a wall of eternal separation between Church & State. Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect

Benjamin Franklin

More here:

allspinzone.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 12, 2004

My personal purveyor of spirits (Laura) passes on this bit of wisdom along with the cabernet to savor while reflecting:

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me...It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied..."The one I feed."


As one may expect, the Iraq war has fertilized the entreprenurial spirit in ways as old as war itself. Dan sent us a page from the Center for Public Integrity that gives insight into just how magnificently this spirit can manifvest itself. I am particularly moved by one company that caught my eye. It is described as,

a "Small, woman-owned company, was founded in October 1997, and began servicing government and commercial clients worldwide. in November 1997."

Ooooh! Gotta love it! The girls are just doing their patriotic bit, you know!...Servicing clients...Explosively, as it turns out!

The name they go by is "Explosive Ordnance Technologies Inc." and they are all trained graduates of the U.S.Navy explosive ordnance school. This one actually seems legit:

Girls who will defuse your bomb, for a price. Works for me!

Others are pretty iffy! Tens of millions of dollars to companies founded by Egyptian diplomats to support war? Check out a couple of these for yourself:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/bio.aspx?act=pro

We Wuz Robbed! Well, Duh...

From a respected source, the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum:

"What does this mean? Take a look at the top line for Colorado. The first colored column shows what the exit polls predicted: Bush would win by 1.8%. The second colored column shows the actual results: Bush won by 5.2%. The third colored column shows the difference between the two: Bush won by 3.4 percentage points more than the exit poll predicted.
In fact, Bush won 10 out of 11 battleground states by more than the exit polls predicted. The odds of this happening by chance are essentially zero."

Will this change the election results? Let's repeat: "The odds of this happening are essentially zero."

But we can rail against Bush's Man Date with just cause! If you haven't written a Senator or congressman, Poo on Yoo! Do it now! Step one is to support Arlen Specter, a Republican for Judiciary Charman.

Here is something else from Kevin Drum...a bible study class with much discussion on the topic of the biblical view of abortion. It's fascinating!

Things my bible belt upbringing did not tell me:

In at least one place:

Abortion is mentioned in the bible.

The life of the woman is more important than the fetus.

There is only one place in the bible related to the death of unborn child and the bible clearly says it is NOT murder. (not a good thing either)

I suppose it will be like discussing nuance with a rabid dog, in some cases, but here it is:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_11/005144.php

My real point in that was to demonstrate that there is no definitve statement in the christian bible that lets the fundamentalists get their justification. It was sloppily written and inconsistantly interpreted as a document of law. The doctrines against Birth control and abortion came centuries after the time of "the one who has had olive oil poured on his hair" , which is the translation of the word "jesus" which they never told me either. All of this gets back to my personal philosophy on abortion and birth control: the parts of this that are my business are my business. The Bible tells me so!

As a great man once said, "In the world view, and for the future of civilisation...

It don't make a rat's ass!"

Making sure the environment can support healthy life on this planet is a far more important issue.


Peace,

Steve

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Red states quaint what they used to be

There are some really funny maps flying around that show America, or what used to be America, in witty cartograms. They show the "blue" states seceding and joining Canada leaving such dark places as "Jesusland" and the more crude "Dumbfuckistan", which could be more to the point. There's a problem with all this, and it is that the South has a solid 40% that is Liberal, Progressive, or Democrat, and this demographic cannot be abandoned. Why is the South like this? Well I think it boils down to the simple fact that 140 years after the end of the civil war, 60% of White males are scared to death of black males. Now Ask yourself why they don't have the same fear of Hispanics and Asians?

Look inside yourself...find any fear there?

Relax!

The Terror alert level has been lowered from Orange to Yellow...There! All better now, eh?

John Ashcroft said that the job of protecting America is finished and he can resign now. The burning question rampaging across the heartland is, "Will he take the shroud off of Lady Justice's breast now?"



The weirdest thing about all this is that the man chosen to replace Ashcroft wrote memo's claiming Torture is ok, the Geneva Conventions are outmoded and quaint, and ysed to be the Corporate Attorney for....(drum roll......)......

ENRON!

And you thought I was silly for wearing my tin foil hat!


Digby has a comment on the South and "middle America". I've said much the same but maybe not as well.

The problem is the same as it ever was. It's the culture war and it didn't begin in the 1960's.

It grew out of America's original sin (or perhaps it's original hypocrisy) about slavery. And it's colored our vision of ourselves ever since. It's roots are in the north south divide, but it also cuts across rural and urban, modern and traditional. It's a problem of identity,grievance and intractability. It's centered in religion and race.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

This is a picture gallery. There are nearly one thousand pictures here already of people who have messages related to the election. You will find comfort, humor, and a call to action in it's pages, such as this one:


http://www.sorryeverybody.com/gallery/1/

From our smoking gun department, there's this:

Last month,... the Army Corps of Engineers top contracting official, Bunny Greenhouse, said deals given to Halliburton were the worst case of contracting abuse she had ever seen.

... documents, portions of which were released by Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman...also said the State Department received information in the summer of 2003 that Halliburton officials demanded kickbacks and solicited bribes from Altanmia Commercial Marketing Company of Kuwait.

Dick Cheney has publicly stated that Halliburton received no special treatment and that "Halliburton contracts were awarded without political interference."

Well now they got a mandate to keep stealing, eh?

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=564&ncid=564&e=5&u=/nm/20041110/ts_nm/iraq_halliburton_dc_4

Riverbend sends these Hallmarkian greetings from inside Iraq:


Condolences and heartfelt tears-
You get Bush for four more years!

or

Sympathies in advance
For when they reinstate the draft!
We hope (insert_name_here) stays as safe as he/she can
And writes frequently while in Iran!

or

Bush and Cheney- what a pair!
Who said life isn't fair?
While Iraq gets tanks and occupation-
You have idiots to run your nation!

or

Cheer up...
Your son was too young for Afghanistan.
And it's still a bit early for Iran-
But there's plenty of time for Syria...
And he'll definitely serve in North Korea!

Do you have the courage to read what she writes about Falloojeh?

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/



Peace,

Steve


http://commanderrapid.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I keep thinking about this "values" thing that was supposed to have been a huge factor in the election and I come up dry. REgardless of what those little goofy signs in people's yards say, the ten commandments are very different in Exodus, and really don't exist as they are portrayed. We'll set aside for the moment the fact that there were supposedly two sets written in stone, and they are different. Let's just ignore the things we disagree on like whether or not it is ok to serve veal chowder (Yep, that's actually one of the "thy shall not's"), and concentrate on the "Three Biggies" that we all pretty much agree on. I summarize:

Lying is bad, Stealing is bad, Killing is really bad.

See!

Not one word about stopping gays who want to be monogamous. Adultery is also in there but the definition of what constitutes adultery is all over the place being mostly related to women as property getting stoned to death if they get out of line or get raped in the wrong part of town, so I am going to ignore it except to say that Liberals seem to have better and longer lasting marriages than conservatives, so there!

So back to "Values"...Over and over, I challenged Bush supporters to tell me one lie Kerry told and they never, not once were able to do it, while I can spout off a litany of lies from George. If you want to get into half truths, the most vile kind of lying, it gets ridiculous, with the morphing "reasons for the Iraq War" being the most transparent. Anyway, the values thing can't include Lying because, well, the Conservatives are the best and most prolific liers in this country. Hands Down!

Well if they are better liers than us, maybe we can beat them at stealing. There is no contest in the "Killing" department, Conservatives win this one so fast it's game over before we start. Jerry Falwell's Values Coalition apparently has the motto of "In the name of the Lord, Blow them all to Kingdom Come!" Yep! That's exactly what he said. So they got us in the Killing and Lying department, all we got left is maybe "Stealing".

Here is a little story about a man of true conservative values just trying to get enough money to fight terrorism in the good old State of Tennessee.

Bubba has the whole story but here's the gist:

Ronald Eric Myers, self-appointed president of a paramilitary group bent on protecting the homeland and accused mastermind of a plot to rob a LaFollette bank, contends he was so spooked when agents showed up to arrest him that he fainted and bumped his head.

Factor in "learning disabilities," and Myers insists in court records that he was in no shape to waive away his rights and confess.
I hate to think what would happen if he were confronted by a terrorist with an AK-47. Speaking of "learning disabilities", the guy was robbing the bank to get money to buy guns so he could fight terrorism in Campbell County.



http://www.southknoxbubba.net/skblog/archive_2004_11.php#3695


See, I didn't even have to use the Three Quarters of a Billion dollars of missing Halliburton money to make this point, now did I? Halliburton stock is way up right now, by the way.

So it boils down to this:

Stealing for Jesus!

Killing for Jesus!

Lying for Jesus!


The biggest oxymoron in the English language may be "Conservative Values"! Ok, why do I say "May" be? Conservatives can not make their case by telling the truth. Ask one sometime, why he's a conservative and you'll see. Try it! Then ask them why Liberals are bad? See! Makes no sense, does it?

The big evils of liberalism this election cycle were simply saying these few things:

1. You know, it is probably no big deal if a couple of gay people want to be monogamous.

2. The question of when life begins is pretty touchy and divisive so lets let each person make their own decision about that shall we?

3. Going to war against a small foreign country could give us a bad name in the world's eye and get a bunch of our kids killed in the process, so why don't we be real careful about this and go slowly.

4. You know it never hurts to stop and think about things before you charge ahead like a bull in a china shop.

5. A president ought to at least be good at checkers before he tries to play a chess game against the whole freakin' world!

So don't let anyone tell you anything about "Conservative Values"! They don't really exist, but they have a better PR guy right now, and he doesn't have any values either, unless you consider the law of the wild dog pack to be equal to sound Christian ethic!


Peace,

Steve

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Folks, I have no illusions that the result of this election will be reversed but it sure does smell funny. It's too early to make any definite statement and far more investigation is needed. Suffice it to say that if Bush wants any legitimacy to his legacy as President, he should call for a thorough investigation now! I suggest an independant party take possession of several of the machines themselves while this is researched. Maybe Sweden could do this for us? The data look very suspicious, unfortunately, and I don't like this. Just yesterday I was discussing this with a good friend. He asked why I didn't want to find out the election was rigged? I said that I would rather think we are collectively stupid, as a nation, as opposed to crooked! I want to tell and be told the truth. Since that word "truth" has been so perverted by the evangelical right, let me rephrase that and use "Fact" as my requisite. Checkable fact, like say a paper hard copy of the election balloting. This is the biggest single smoking gun in this election's results: In the precincts which have paper back up, the exit polls and the ballot counts MATCH!

There is no reason to not have a verifiable hard copy. Why did the Bush administration fight against this?

For you conspiracy buffs, here is a list of articles, major and minor, detailing what is known so far. They range from MSNBC saying things are "Very Fishy" to Greg Palast saying, "Kerry won, Bush stole it."

http://www.bopnews.com/archives/002328.html

Bush's Cabinet will change if he holds on to power in his new term: New secretary of State? New Lap Dog?


Second Term Chatter: Barney May Be Replaced
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's name has come up.


Humor for the disenfranchised:

http://www.ironictimes.com/

Peace,

Steve

Thursday, November 04, 2004

November 4, 2004

Finally the winds are changing. A long hard rain lasted throughout our night, filling the watering ponds and making the creek loud and luring. Will Fall finally arrive? Half the trees are bare...the other half carry on with tired spotted leaves, but more green than not.

I drank my coffee and stared into the little pond that I jokingly call Lake Steve as it emerged from darkness this morning. Everything is metaphor, the dawn coming after the blacker night of the storm, the pond rising from toad puddle to fish pool, and my own thoughts about how close we all came to choosing the better course. I explained it to my son like this:

Think of a room with 100 people in it deciding between two options. It is so evenly divide that if only two people change their minds the outcome is completely reversed.

WE wound up on the side with less than 50 folks. Doesn't mean we were wrong, we just didn't play the game as well as we should have to win.

Now we must energize and fight issue by issue, against ideologues with no ears with which to listen to what we have to say.

We start now and plot our attack, sentry post by sentry post, until we win. It has taken the forces of greed sixty years to get in a position to destroy Social Security. Now these forces will attack first by making new names for the social safety net that make it sound bad to the shallow thinkers that voted them power.
will we wallow in self pity, wring our hands, and bemoan, or will we get tough?

We lost the big game in a squeaker at the end. Damn that's twice, now, even though we can legitimately blame the ref for the first one. What do we do? I'll tell what I think.

(You knew I was going to)

We look inside first. Did we train hard enough? Back to the weight room, up the intensity of the long run, Get ready to play each game during the season as preparation for the playoffs and championship.

Do we have the right players in the right position? Should Howard Dean or some similar attacker play forward as the Democratic National Chairman?

Look at the other teams best plays! We can beat them at each one if we play good team ball. Karl Rove won this election by making mountains out of molehills. The question of who should be able to marry whom does not even reach the level of the Butterfly effect as far as our future is concerned. Refusing to deal with global warming will destroy us. Forcing other people's children to pledge alliegence to the flag of a particular god, just pisses them off. Letting the Energy conglomerates continue to poison their air will kill them.

Facts will only kill a lie of the facts are heard. An Australian man by the name of Rupert Murdoch, has elected George Bush twice now. He is the conduit for the lies and half truths and the below the belt attacks of the cowards that will not have Press conferences. Murdoch puts Bill O'Reilly on the air to spew venom at his chosen targets of good and well meaning people, while O'Reilly sits on his male shaped mechanical toy. Dan Rather was crucified for being a hoax victim while Rush and Bill carry on blithely.

They only have the sex and drugs! We've got the Rock and Roll!

We have to hurt them here!

This will seem to be a difficult task until we stop and think that there are 49 of us and only 51 of them, and All 49 of us think for ourselves. Now let's just play team ball!

From now on, It's never the off season. Get off your butts and get busy! Step one is to sign up if you haven't already. Here's where you go:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/

http://www.moveon.org/front/



For those who want to wallow in it just to get madder, try this one. It is a quote from 1937. They thought it was bad then, too. There is a moral at the end:

The Rude Pundit is disgusted. No insight today. That'll come later. Let's wallow for a day or two. Let's give the final words of anger to John Dos Passos who, in 1937 in The Big Money, wrote, "America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul

"their hired men sit on the judge’s bench they sit back with their feet on the tables under the dome of the State House they are ignorant of our beliefs they have the dollars the guns the armed forces the powerplants . . .

"all right we are two nations America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have bought the laws and fenced off the meadows and cut down the woods for pulp and turned our pleasant cities into slums and sweated the wealth out of our people and when they want to they hire the executioner to throw the switch . . .

"we stand defeated America".

What's important is that, at the end of the passage, which is about the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the disenfranchised still stand, no matter what.

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/

Now look, the most important part of any training program is rest. Have some fun, relax and plot revenge!

Peace,

Steve


http://whitescreek.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Not much sleep this morning and I'm pretty bummed out. I had this result in my realm of possibilities so It is not any surprise except for who voted how and why. To sum it up is easy:

Bush won the scared people vote. He won the hate vote. He won the "God told me to" vote.

His team was very highly motivated since some of them would probably go to jail if they lost.

Kerry was trying to do what was right and say truthful things even though the other side was not held to that constraint. T'aint fair, but 'tis politics!

I'm proud of my kids for choosing to work in this campaign. They made phone calls, knocked on doors. held up signs and suffered the abuse of foul mouthed adults yelling obscenities at them as they drove by. I did not ask them to do this, and frankly I was not sure they should have but they chose to and I let them. We'll see what they learned and how they feel after working hard and losing the big one. Talking to them this morning, they seem ready to get back at it. They'll hear some things at school that will be unkind and they're prepared for that, with a few snappy comebacks. They did win both the local elections they worked on so they're 2 fer 3.

I, unfortunately only cared about one race, and I lost. One of our conservatives sent me a note asking if I would settle down and support the President if Bush won. I said probably not! I care about issues and the man is secondary.

I still think the environment is the most important issue we have to deal with. We have to start taking the long view here. I do not believe in a preordained Armageddon but I can see it happening if we don't change course.

I still think personal freedom is a huge issue. I want the President to face people wearing t-shirts he doesn't like. The rest of us do it all the time. What's up with him?

I don't think John Ashcroft has any business knowing what library books I check out.

I got guns, too! But dang, I'm willing to limit my armament to conventional arms if you will. Seems fair to me but not the NRA.

I don't think George Bush should have any say so as far as the internal workings of a woman's body. John Ashcroft or Jerry Falwell either, and by saying that I'm not assuming any of them have any idea about how a woman's body actually works.

I don't care who marries whom, and I don't think it is anybody's business if basic social rights and considerations are given to those who so choose to obey the dictates of their internal programming as long as they ask and receive permission.

I don't think we ought to torture people for any reason whatsoever. It's just plain mean, and I don't like it.

I don't think it is ok to invade countries who didn't attack you first. Particularly if you are ignorant and incompetent at the job.

So you see...the work doesn't end. Now it really starts.

Courage!

Steve