Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tea, anyone?

I ran across this little rant that sums up nicely the frustrations felt by many on the left toward the recent climate of public discourse.

From Christian Struzan via Facebook:
YOU WANT TO GET MAD? We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, but now you get mad! You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President. You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy. You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got ousted. You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.. You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us. You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war. You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq. You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people. You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans. You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden. You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed. You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city drown. You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich. You didn’t get mad when, using reconciliation; a trillion dollars of our tax dollars were redirected to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage which cost over 20 percent more for basically the same services that Medicare provides. You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark, and our debt hit the thirteen trillion dollar mark. You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans… oh hell no. AND NOW YOU’RE MAD !

So let me come at it from a different angle. Many of us on the left can sympathize with conservatives' anger. We too want a system that is more fair, efficient, and accountable to the citizenry. We too feel marginalized by the power structure in Washington and get frustrated by what we see as institutional corruption and injustice.

It would be great if we could have civil dialog on these things. Let me then share some thoughts.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Yeah! I figured out how to bypass the oxymoronic Websense filters at work, so I can post to my blog from here! I still can't edit or comment, and I'm working out some of the formatting bugs, so bear with me.

Thank you, iGoogle!

I got your "Drill Baby, Drill" right here!

I've been following the news a bit on the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, and the news ain't good. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead. They thought the well was sealed on Friday, but by Monday we learned it wasn't so. An estimated 42,000 US gallons are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day. Now the Coast Guard is talking about burning it off. Great! If we don't kill the birds on the shore, we'll get them as they fly over!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pasture vs Pasteur

As reported here and elsewhere, at 5:00 AM on Tuesday, April 20th, two agents from the US Food and Drug Administration, two deputy US Marshals, and one Pennsylvania State Trooper conducted what they described as a "routine inspection" at a small family farm in Lancaster County, PA. The farmer is under investigation for alleged violations of federal public health laws. Specifically he is accused of selling raw milk across state lines.

My purpose in this entry is not to discuss whether this farmer broke the law, but the general question of food safety, food choice, and the controversy over raw milk. Are government officials protecting public health, or are they protecting corporate interests who feel threatened by small independent farms?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pass the Grassfed Butter

There's little love lost between John Robbins ("Diet For a New America") and the Weston A Price Foundation ("Nourishing Traditions"), but as I see it there is a lot of commonality in their messages. Both are concerned with sustainable agriculture, human health, and animal welfare, and both see (or should see) giant agribusiness as the biggest threat to these things. That's also been the constant thread I've followed from being a lapsing and imperfect vegetarian to a confirmed omnivore and "food-aware-ian."

Unfortunately for Robbins, one of his important pillars is the lipid hypothesis, the idea that saturated fat and cholesterol are the major causes of cardiovascular disease. This is looking more and more like a case of incomplete science become entrenched public policy. Perhaps the work of Uffe Ravnskov ("The Cholesterol Myths") shows this best.

Maybe the most compelling part of the Weston Price message is that the diet of our ancestors, the food that supported generations of humanity up until the last few, could possibly be healthy for us and the planet after all. Defining the traditional diet is where it gets a little trickier.

Staying away from the soy-vs-beef debates, but still taking aim at big ag, journalists Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma") and Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") teamed up with documentarian Robert Kenner to bring us the 2008 film "Food, Inc." If you haven't thought much about where your food really comes from, this film and these books should change that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some of My Pet Heresies

Here are a few links to some of the interesting ideas out there. Views expressed are those of the authors.

The Jesus Puzzle - Did Jesus walk the Earth? Analyzing the new testament through the lens of a classicist, Earl Doherty concludes that the Jesus of Paul and the 1st century Christians was purely a being of spirit, and had little to do with the teacher and healer character who later appears, as a literary device, in the gospels. You've really got to read through the site, or at least the condensed article, to get the full picture.

I see no conflict between this possibility and Christian faith. Clearly it does conflict with literal interpretations of the Bible and important doctrines of many churches. It also conflicts with popular notions of Jesus as a fully human teacher, prophet, healer, seeker, and/or social activist.

Myself I like the fully mythical Jesus. He is freed from the constraints of time, geography, and politics. He becomes like a pagan god, both more universal and more personal than the church version. I don't think this is Doherty's intention, but this makes me much more likely to consider myself Christian (though not exclusively so). I like to think Joseph Campbell would agree.

36 Arguments for the Existence of God - excerpts from the novel by Rebecca Goldstein - scroll down to the appendix for the arguments with rebuttal. Conclusion: you can't logically prove the deity's existence. (Nor can you disprove it.)

Godhead Trilogy by James Morrow - a great series in the genre of fantasy fiction. Takes Nietzsche at his word that "God is dead," and follows the idea to absurd lengths and profound philosophical depths.

Why a Scientist Believes in God - with rebuttals. This old chestnut has been making the rounds on the internet thanks to the popularity of "intelligent design."

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - a brilliant rebuttal to the push to teach "intelligent design" as a scientific theory in schools.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome to CMD

Miscellaneous musings on mind, body, spirit and the multiplicity of experience.

This is not intended to be a personal diary, but to relate what is going on in my head to what is going on in the world, and to invite you to share what's in your head.

I intend to deal with topics that are usually considered taboo for family holiday dinner, such as religion, politics, sex, death, and lifestyle choices.

I think humor can be a great tool for enlightenment, but I'll try not to cross the line into smugness, snarkiness, or condescension. Your perception may vary.

I enjoy playing devil's advocate, both to sharpen my insight and just to keep things interesting. Preaching to the choir has its limits, after all.

I acknowledge I'm not an expert in many things, so please be patient and helpful, and I'll try to do the same.