Saturday, May 20, 2006


I'm rethinking my blog.

Looking to connect with a wider and broader readership.

Thanks to the regular readers and especially the folks mixing it up in the comments. I've learned a lot.

I'm offline for a while so I can tinker with things a little bit. Should be back posting soon.

I'll let you know when I'm up and running again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kick Me

I’m feeling Shrub W. Bush right now.

I heard most of his speech on illegal immigration. Truly decent and thoughtful. Political too, in the best sense of that term. Sometimes you’ve gotta do your best to balance things in a democratic republic. I'm sure a lot of folks are gonna feel like he pleased nobody but I thought both the tone and content were spot on.

Where has that guy been? We’ve needed the leader who made that pitch rather than the partisan, ideological hack we’ve gotten.

Strangely conservative Republicans control the House. The Senate tends toward the right but you’ve got something going on there that looks a lot like common sense, at least on this issue.

Local extremists and activists are the swing votes behind the weird politics of the House. Building walls on borders and dividing the country into hostile camps is the deep psychology that has gotten the best of those folks. These are people who are pretty into ‘either/or’ right now.

Many of the “dividers and not uniters” have abandoned ‘The Decider.’ That’s why his approval ratings in some polls have dropped below 30%. He’s not radical and divisive enough for them now.

After listening to the speech I’m guessing the righteous are going to kick him down the block like an empty Coke can on a street corner. Moderates and liberals abandoned his presidency a long time ago. Now he’s a booty target for his base. Poor W.

This is what comes of gerrymandering. When districts are drawn to assure the unchallenged dominance of one party (the ‘gated community’ and ‘saved and lost’ ideas applied to politics) you end up with candidates who have to impress the most extreme right or left wing activists in order to get a chance to run for office. We’re suffering through the right wing version of that curse right now but it could easily be the extremism of the left given a few shifts in events over the past 25 years.

All things must pass. But it’s going to take some effort :^)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Steve Nash: Great White Hope?

Canadian Steve Nash is a white guy a little over 6 feet tall who makes full on magic with the basketball. He's the most creative point guard in the NBA.

His stringy long hair also makes him look like a drowned gym rat :^)

He just took home his second consecutive MVP trophy.

Dirk Nowitzki, a 7 foot German, finished third in the voting. Two of the top three MVP vote getters this year were foreign white guys.

The silence from the African-American community is deafening.

Kobe Bryant just won the league scoring title and finished on the 1st Team All NBA defensive team for the 6th time in his career. He'll be a unanimous 1st Team All NBA pick. And he led what was an expansion team into the playoffs. He finished fourth in the voting. Lebron James finished 2nd.

I'm on record re race here and elsewhere. The concept of race is all about biological inferiority and superiority. I don't think most of the injustice going on right now in the US is about race. I think we're dealing with cultural and class prejudice. I don't think the majority of people in the US right now really believe some ethnic groups are "genetically inferior."

But hoops may be the exception that proves the rule.

When most every player in the NBA is African-American it may be hard to avoid concluding that whites or Asians or Latin Americans can't cut it genetically.

The vast majority of corporate executives and politicians in positions of power are white men.

Are there really "genetic" differences that account for the predominance of African-Americans in basketball and Euro-Ams in politics and business?

Or is it about culture and class?

Is Nash's second consecutive MVP award a racial breakthrough? A cultural breakthrough? Or is it really about marketing?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My Own Private Empire

Saw a site on my friend Tina's blog where you can create a map of where you've been. Since you showed me yours, Tina, I'll show you mine (above in red) :^)

It turns out I've stumbled and bumbled my way through 35 countries. That makes up 15% of the world according to the site.

Not many people would choose to vacation in most of the spots I've visited. Still, sorta cool to get a first hand look at things.

The graphic is pretty misleading though. I visited Moscow and St. Petersburg about ten years ago and that single trip to those two cities gets me crimson dominance over much of the Eurasian land mass.

Messing around on the site feels a little bit like playing Risk.

After seeing my completed map I'm planning a pre-emptive invasion of South America, Greenland and Australia, the three most obvious holes in my world empire. I'm consulting with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld on the appropriate strategic moves.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Folk Wisdom Strikes Back

Beach Blanket Tomato

Old timey wisdom says you can’t plant your spring garden in Colorado until Mother’s Day.

I’ve ignored that take since the day we moved here. I get a kick out of the folk funk, but gimme an online 10 day forecast anytime over a stitch in time saves nine.

The democracy of the dead rose up last night though. The old timers bit us in the butt.

We put our summer garden in the ground a couple of weeks ago. I’ve noticed since we’ve lived here that--in spite of the ancestral wisdom--the last frost comes in late April rather than mid May. The glaciers in Colorado are disappearing rapidly too so I’m guessing we’re in some kind of “mysterious” warmer weather cycle. Who knows what that’s about? :^)

The websites of the Weather Channel and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration promised overnights no lower than 37 this week. So I went to sleep believing in the abundant future of my begonias and dahlias and tomatoes.

I woke up this morning to snow on the ground.

Sweet Jesus, it’s mid May.

There’s no crying in baseball. There’s no snow on the ground in May!

Fortunately we dodged the bullet. The greenery didn't die.

Snow fell because the temps in the upper atmosphere are still really cold here but ground temps never got down to freezing. Weirdly, snow acts as an insulator around plants and keeps em from frosting over. Physics is cool and unexpected.

It’s going to get down below freezing tonight.

We broke out our well rehearsed fall routine when we try to keep our plants and flowers alive as long as we can. Tarps and towels and blankets and buckets and trashcans and cups provide the protection. Most of our neighbors enjoy the show though some of ‘em just shake their heads :^) I like to think we're saving promising futures.

Forecasts call for overnights in the 40’s for the rest of the month. We shouldn’t have to deal with another freeze until late October.

But hey, you never know. This is Colorado.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Grace and Grinding It Out

I watched Barry Bonds hit number 713 today at the gym. "Barroid" will pass the Babe's jack mark in the next week or two.

Ruth was the natural. Graceful. By all accounts doing it without much effort. He made an art form out of going yard on a belly full of beer.

Bonds used to be a natural too. Best player of his generation in my mind

When I was a kid my dad and I went to the ‘Stick' in San Francisco to see the Giants and Willie Mays.

Say Hey was another natural.

I love sports mostly because of the grace of it. Watching Mays do something so difficult with such ease was cool on some deep level that I can't exactly explain.

But Bonds has become a grinder these days.

Nothing wrong with that in one sense.

Whatever it takes is the yin to the yang of easy grace.

I like grinders too. Seems like most of us are attracted to both grace and grinding it out.

Pete Rose was the patron saint of grinders. Babe Ruth the icon of grace.

Bonds was another Ruth for most of his career. One of the most natural players in the modern era.

Steroids may be a graceful and aging athlete’s last resort to hold onto the appearance of ease. Unlike beer, though, roids are the ultimate in better grinding through chemistry.

Watching Bonds now I wish he’d gotten out while he was still one of the best of the naturals. Very few players get a chance to take athletic grace to the highest levels and Bonds was one of them. What a shame that after the roids and the staying around too long very few people will remember him for what he once was.

I'm hopin' he’ll figure it out and quit before he gets to Hammerin’ Hank.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

National Geographic Boobs

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After more than three years of U.S. combat in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map, a study released Tuesday showed.

The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map.

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study paints a dismal picture of the geographic knowledge of the most recent graduates of the U.S. education system.

When asked to point out Italy on a world map, 19 year old Trevor Trainor said, “Dude, WTF?”

"Taken together, these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future," said the study's final report.

Reilly O’Bill, prayer ministry leader of Campus Neo-Conservative Crusade for Christ at Ohio State, said “It’s winning the lost that counts. I wanna be a missionary. You know, somewhere over there in a country that’s got some of those Muslim people. Hopefully with warm weather and flush toilets.”

The study’s authors added, "Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events."

Heather Lovey, fashion design trainee at the University of Phoenix, wants to bring designer bras to the women of Africa so she can “do well by doing good.”

“All of ‘em go topless,” she said. “Let’s face it, gravity takes its toll. Who wants to look at natural saggy boobs? It takes away all the mystery.”

The study, which surveyed 510 young Americans from December 17 to January 20, showed that 88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia despite widespread coverage of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the political rebirth of the country.

In the Middle East, 63 percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map, and 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel. Forty-four percent couldn't find any one of those four countries.

On the positive side, the study noted, seven in 10 young Americans correctly located China on a map, even though they had a number of misconceptions about that country.

Forty-five percent thought Jackie Chan was the Emperor of China.

When the poll was conducted in 2002, "Americans scored second to last on overall geographic knowledge," the report said.

“The ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative has raised our current 2006 scores above teens from the Republic of the Congo into third to last,” one of the authors of the report added.

The release of the 2006 study coincides with the launch of the National Geographic-led campaign called "Beyond My Own Private Idaho." A statement on the program said it was designed to "inspire parents and educators to give their kids the power of global knowledge."

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Day With 75,000 Immigrants

Andrew and I walked with our gardeners and day laborers and crop pickers today in Denver.

I've weighed in before on illegal immigration. Complicated and difficult stuff. Good and reasonable people can disagree on how to handle it.

But Colorado is home to some of the least enlightened voices. One of our congressmen leads the "make 'em all felons and deport the whole bunch" crowd. So we thought a show of support for our neighbors would be good.

Everybody gathered in the morning near North High School which is the heart of the Latino community in Denver. About 75,000 people turned out. We walked together three miles to the State Capitol for a rally against potentially inhumane and unrealistic immigration policies.

I've been involved in mass action before and have been arrested doing civil disobedience more than a few times in my past.

Compared to those previous experiences, the folks who organized this thing get high marks for sure.

The atmosphere was festive and positive. No violence and no knuckleheads.

The organizers here also downplayed the national economic boycott. I think they understood that the business community tends to stand for the most reasonable immigration policies.

One older marcher wore a t-shirt that said "I work cheap so you can eat."

These people are nobody's fools.

They know the business community here takes advantage of them but they also know this is their best shot at feeding their families and giving their kids a shot at something better.

If the minimum wage was $70 an hour in Canada (about the equivalent minimum wage difference between the US and Mexico) how many Americans do you think would be crossing the border to the north?

And everything was on time. We started the march at exactly 10:30 am and the rally at the capitol started at the stroke of noon.

Punctuality probably isn't the highest value among Latin American cultures.

Any organizers that can get 75,000 Latinos to be on time should be in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq :^)

Some people I know question the value of mass action or civil disobedience.

I understand why certain people feel that way. We're still living in the backlash against 60's style activism.

And it's true that major marches and protests and even civil disobedience are only one element of a much more involved equation for positive change.

But I'd say the last 15 years around the world have been the greatest era of effective non-violent mass action in recent history. More on that in the next post.

This type of mass action--particularly right now--may well be a two edged sword. Lots of folks who want to pass the harshest anti-illegal immigration measures will get busy.

But I think a whole lot of folks in Washington and in state capitols are paying close attention to millions of future potential Latino voters marching in the streets. Every new show of resolve increases the chances for reasonable legislation.

The Dude Gets Political