Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful For...

...with full orchestration and five-part harmony, and 27 8x10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.

As iconic as turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie is the epic 1967 "song" by Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," better known simply as "Alice's Restaurant." It's a satirical retelling of how Guthrie avoided the draft and the Vietnam War by having a record for littering. The holiday rooted in Christian humility, enshrined as a national day of unity during the Civil War, became the perfect foil for a statement of protest and dissent.

I'm thankful for this paradox, and many more.

I am thankful that Howard Zinn had the eloquence, courage, and liberty to relentlessly speak truth to power and question the way history is written and taught in the USA. He continued in this pursuit from the 1940's right up until his death this past January 27th at age 87, while on a speaking tour. Thank you, Professor Zinn, for reminding us that the power really does rest with the people, but it's not necessarily through the ballot box that we can best exercise it.

Thank you all for reading, and enjoy this holiday!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just a Few Comments on "A Vegan No More"

Another worthy link via Facebook: A Vegan No More. It's an honest and eloquent testimony to the truth that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the questions of health, nutrition, and morality. It's long, but worth reading through, whatever your current feelings on the issue.

I don't wish to give offense to any of my vegan readers and friends, but I do challenge the unspoken assumption in certain circles that, even if you aren't a vegan or vegetarian, you should aspire to be; that avoiding animal products is a superior choice for health, morality, and sustainability. I used to feel this way, even after giving up on strict vegetarianism, but for the last five years or so I've been a dedicated and proud omnivore. Whatever honestly works best for you...

Though I never had a health crisis in my nearly-vegan days that precipitated a doctor's visit (but if I had had insurance at the time, who knows?), I can definitely relate to Tasha's experiences: hunger despite an overfull stomach, bloating, fatigue, and depression. I don't know how I could manage my current routine of work and family on such a diet. Speaking just for myself, a few ounces of meat or fish, or a couple of eggs fried in butter, lard, or palm kernel oil makes up for a whole heap of starch, fiber, beans, and greens. I still love my rice and veggies, but don't feel a need to stuff myself to satisfy my hunger. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's the Economy That's Stupid

In my previous post, I mentioned that I thought that seriously curtailing fossil fuel consumption and contracting the economy were the best choices we could make for the long-term future. Today I want to elaborate a bit on that idea.

Many people are in agreement that we should reduce fossil fuel consumption, maybe because of fears of global warming or other types of pollution (the BP disaster is far from over), or a concern that we are headed for a major accessibility crisis, summed up by the term "peak oil."

Most people who are aware of these threats envision living much as we do today, maybe with more attention paid to conservation, simply substituting renewal energy sources for fossil fuels. In this scenario we can continue to grow economically. As the less-developed countries catch up their birth rates will drop, and the total human population will stabilize at a sustainable level.

There are a few problems with this.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Memento Mori: Death, Elections, and the Turning of the Wheel

It's the season of Halloween, Samhain, El Día de los Muertos. In many cultures around the world it is time to meditate on death: the death of the crops at the end of the harvest season, as well as the deaths of our fellow humans. It's time to remember and honor those who have passed from this life, as well as to be mindful of our own mortality.

Not coincidentally, here in the USA it is also election time. Our tradition of holding elections on the second Tuesday in November goes back to our agrarian past when roads were poor, travel slow, and polling places up to a day or two travel from home. In most parts of the country as it existed then, in early November the harvest would be done but the worst of winter weather a safe way off.

It all leads me to ponder the meaning of elections for an empire quite probably in the Autumn of its existence. For America is an empire built on optimism and enthusiasm of a most material sort, and the material is getting scarce. A new global paradigm will emerge one way or the other.