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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Jumbo Shrimp

Funny question: What is the purpose of “urban” farming and “rural” tiny houses?  It’s like jumbo shrimp, right?

I’m a fan of the tiny house movement and a bit less of a fan of urban farming (though I’m trying).  There’s something fascinating about the Swiss Army knife construction of tiny houses.  There’s a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  The tiny house dwellers say their primary reason for living in limited space has to do with a sense of freedom.  Freedom from rent or mortgages, freedom from the tyranny of “things”, freedom to go where they like.  They can save their money for more important things, like the ability to live a more self-actualized existence without being enslaved to a system that forces them to commit so much of themselves to the attainment of someone else’s vision of a good life.

The urban farming movement has to do with sustainability, providing for oneself and not feeling dependent on, or at the mercy of, a profit driven, finance directed food industry and oil based economy.  You grow your own stuff, raise your own chickens, make your own fertilizers.  You’re not going to get sticker shock when you walk in the grocery store with a hankering for grilled chicken only to find that a single package of breasts cost almost ten bucks. I’m beginning to suspect that there’s a speculator working the other end of the food deals in a way that is similar to the Enron guys manipulating rolling blackouts in order to stick it to the grannies.  I’m not there with the chickens yet and my backyard garden is still on the small side but I’ve got a lot of room to work with and I intend to put it to good use.

I suspect that financiers will find a way to profit from these trends eventually.  Or maybe we will devolve to a somewhat less affluent culture.  Think of England without the Empire.  We’ll live in increasingly smaller houses, giving up the McMansions, in order to snap back in line with our decreasing wages.  Our front and backyards will bloom.  Maybe we’ll raise bees.  It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  Yeah, the economy will plod along and we’ll have a lot less to live on when we retire and we will be like the elves, diminishing and going into the West.  But maybe that is what it will take to take down the financiers, when more of us take our balls and go home and refuse to play the game.   At least we’ll have a roof over our heads and our kids won’t starve.

It only takes one devastating layoff from the best job in the world to make a person a convert.  In the future, I predict that building your own tiny house will be a teenage “rite of passage”.  You heard it here first.

Here are a few of my favorite tiny house/urban faming links:

SmallHouseSwoon

TinyHouseSwoon

Kirsten Dirksen has been documenting the tiny house movement on YouTube.  Here’s her latest entry:

The Horticulture Channel

Titli’s Busy Garden

 

War and Peace

Some thoughts that are shorter and pithier than Leo Tolstoy’s book:

“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”  -Baruch Spinoza

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Not necessarily war related but so often overlooked by the peacemakers as well as the war hawks:

“If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” – Former Advanced Inorganic Professor

“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey

 

No need for apologetics

Oh, my!  Hillary has astounded the left blogosphere again.  She hasn’t backed off on her “war hawkishness” and for the first time in 6 years, she has actually defied the White House and admitted that their foreign policy was full of holes.  So, now all of the left’s assessment of her is proven true, TRUE, I say!  She would have taken us into a new war had she been president, she wouldn’t have stopped with earth, she would have declared it on the Martians and then where would we be?  I can almost see the caricature Hillarys filling the souvenir shelves in 2016, hair standing on end and eyes wild and terrifying like some older, plumper version of Galadriel on ring steroids.

Will you people get a grip?  You’re starting to remind me of the right.  Yeah, I went there.  Those people are black/white thinkers without nuance. The left’s absolutism when it comes to war and pacifism is starting to resemble that.  I’m not apologizing for Hillary.  You can go back to her senate days until the present and really read what she’s said to figure out where she stands.  She’s allowed to be wrong.  God knows, the left is extremely forgiving of other politicians who were much wronger than Hillary.  John Kerry and John Edwards were given free passes and they were clearly motivated by politics.  But she’s also allowed to be right and we have to look at the bigger picture of the globe and our unfortunate and damning dependence on oil to see what might be going on here.

In the last couple of weeks, I have wondered why it is that this region of the world is still so tribal, why authoritarian religion has such a grip on the inhabitants, why it hasn’t allowed them to evolve and who is behind all that religious hierarchy.  I mean, why is it concentrated so heavily in the area where oil is located and where there are global chokepoints to the flow of oil and other goods?  You’d think that living in such a strategic area of the world that these people would have a better standard of living than they do.  Why aren’t the best minds coming from the middle east?  Why are so many of them poor?  What is the connection of religion to power and which side is wielding it?  I’m sure there are papers on the subject. But it’s not my area and I’m dissatisfied and embarrassed by the shallowness of the discourse on the left when it comes to these questions.  All I ever hear is, “why are we there?”, “why are we spending money to bomb other countries?”, “when can we get out?”, “get out now!, Now!, Now!” and “See, that was a waste, they’re back to killing each other”.

Back in 2008, I tried to warn people over at DailyKos and here that getting out of Iraq wasn’t going to be easy and shouldn’t be rushed.  The Bushies went to Iraq to steal and experiment, and, in the course of that experimentation, trashed the place.  Pulling out was going to be destabilizing and we were probably going to have to stay longer whether we liked it or not.  And what happened?  The White House, ever in campaign mode, pulled out without stabilizing before the 2012 election and the place fell apart.  (See this Frontline episode on Losing Iraq.  The evidence damns the Bushies and the Obama administration.)

I keep coming back to responsibility.  We on the left seem to think that if we didn’t want a war and didn’t start one, we are not responsible for what happens when one happens despite our protests.  And that’s just not true.  Whether we like it or not, we will be forever associated with the other fellow bone headed, stupid, mean spirited Americans who were lead over a cliff by a bunch of greedy, selfish, destructive global “citizens”.  What you might consider “war hawkishness” might be responsibility to me.  And it sucks to be the more conscientious elder sibling.  It’s so much easier to take the easy way out and enjoy the credit, while it lasts, for making everyone happy temporarily by disassociating from the war as quickly, and as it turns out, as recklessly as possible.  But getting out quickly didn’t make things better, did it?  That high was timed to last a campaign season and very little thought was given to the morning after the party.

If anything, the Arab Spring, the collapse of Iraq and the civil war in Syria has confirmed my initial assessment of the two candidates in 2008.  Clinton was rehab and Obama was an enabler.

The latter won.

Addendum:  Some dirty hippies completely discredited themselves in the last couple of election cycles and need to take an old cold tater and wait.

 

Flattery gets you nowhere

tdraicer brought this post by Andrew O’Hehir at Salon to my attention.  Poor Andrew is just so disillusioned that Obama turned out to perpetuate George Bush’s policies.  It’s especially painful because the primary reason O’Hehir and his buddies voted for Obama was his position on the Iraq War.  Actually, did we even know what Obama’s position on the war was?  I mean, he said he was agin’ it but we don’t have him on the record voting for anything.  And from my recollection, there were plenty of Democrats willing to overlook John Edwards Iraq War vote but not Hillary’s.  Hmmmm, curiouser and curiouser. Well, anyway, let’s just say that I don’t believe that the vote on the Iraq War was the only reason they spat upon Hillary and hitched their wagons to Obama’s star.

Putting aside the latent sexism lurking in the Democratic party, I suspect one of the most influential factors in the primary campaign of 2008 was the degree to which the Obama campaign was willing to fluff the egos of people like Andrew O’Hehir.  Remember how they were called the “creative class”?  They shopped at Whole Foods?  They drank PBR?  They were smarter, more attractive, funnier, moraler and just better people?  I used to call them the “swimsuit models with PhDs in architecture” while we were “the stupid, uneducated, menopausal, working class, sino-peruvian lesbians”.

Well, we might have been the losers but at least we knew the devil when we looked in his eyes.

A song for the perpetually underemployed

More on religion

The Publican and the Pharisee

My post on religious narcissism is getting a lot of hits.  The hits come and go.  It’s clearly hit a nerve probably because it feels truthy.  But I’m not the only one who has made the connection between some religious people and narcissism.  And I’m not condemning all religious people, not by a long shot.  I have no problem with those people who know their boundaries and can coexist peacefully without insisting on sticking their beliefs into our heads.  I’ve long been a proponent of God 2.0, that is, a new kind of experience that is independent of bronze age mythology.  In other words, god needs a rewrite and a makeover but I can live with the metaphorically minded in the meantime.

We can not rule out the possibility that the right, seeing a potential push back against their ramming religion down our throats, is going to fight dirty.  I’m not Frank Luntz or Karl Rove and I am not employed by Fox News (or I would be a lot wealthier right now) so I can’t tell what form their coming attack is going to take but I’m pretty sure that there are agents out there combing the blogs looking for trigger words and memes. I’m not being paranoid or inflating my influence.  It’s just something they do and they wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t scour political and cultural blogs for potent memes.  It happened in 2008 and it’s going to happen more and more leading up to the 2014 and 2016 elections.  There’s a lot at stake.

This meme has legs so I expect them to start conjuring a response.  No one likes to be called a narcissist, even if they only think that it has something to do with vanity while they miss the bigger personality disorder.  It might put the religious off their kibble if they start looking undesirable or if they start to sense that the rest of us are on to them.  It could trigger narcissistic rage, which is Bill O’Reilly’s forte, or it could mean that the rest of us can gain a toehold to resist them.  They’re not going to like it in any case so I’d keep my eyes and ears open for a response.

I’m trying to put together a post that explains how to deal with people with narcissistic personality disorder but it’s not an easy one to write because there is no magic bullet that will make these people stop behaving the way they do.  It’s harder in America because the critical mass of “nones” hasn’t been reached here that would be a more powerful counterweight to the religious narcissists.  The “nones” category is growing rapidly (I suspect there are many god 2.0 people among them) but our culture still reveres the religious and because these people have a powerful microphone right now, they will get a greater amount of attention than they are entitled to.

So, I’m going to punt for awhile while I continue gathering my resources and instead recommend a podcast from Mormon Stories.  Mormon Stories is hosted my John Dehlin, a Mormon on the liberal end of the spectrum, who is studying for his PhD in psychology.  I highly recommend this podcast in general because Dehlin’s interview style ranks right up there with Terry Gross, IMHO.  Where has this guy been??  He should be way more famous.  Another great podcast host is Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist, whose warm, resonant radio voice reassures thousands of disaffected new atheists that they’re not alone.

Anyway, what I really love about Dehlin’s podcast is he is documenting the struggle that modern Mormons are having with their church in terms of gender equality, homosexuality and the history of their church.  These Mormons want to stay connected to the culture they grew up with for many good reasons but they need the church to recognize their concerns.  Dehlin takes a rigorous approach to religion in general and some of his podcasts have explored the types of religious believers that exist in this country as well as why religion is so compelling from  a social psychology perspective.  Here are a couple episodes from that latter category.

Episode 417: Dr. Ryan Cragun on his new book, “What You Don’t Know About Religion (But Should)”

Episodes 339-342: The Psychology of Religion with Dr. James Nagel

One of the things I took away from these podcasts, as well as Seth’s podcast, is the importance of knowing you are not alone.  Just because your entire family, neighborhood, culture appears to be spouting anti-birth control nonsense or is obsessed with the pedophile that is lurking behind every tree, doesn’t mean everyone is going nuts.  If you speak up, you may find you have a lot more people on your side than you thought.  They tend to keep quiet when they think they are outliers.

The other thing I learned, that Ryan Cragun confirmed, is that it is a LOT harder to organize people on the left side of the spectrum because they don’t consider themselves to be joiners.  This will always be an advantage to the right.  Now, we might want to try to figure out why the left and the skeptical community don’t join forces in the same way the right’s disparate communities do but I suspect that it might go back to our childhoods.  If you are forced to join a religion or social structure that you may not feel affinity for, you may resist any attempts to join a sympathetic one in the future.  That’s just one working hypothesis.

One final thing, Cragun says that religious fundamentalists are a lot more unpopular than they or we are lead to believe.  He says the problem with popularly reported surveys is that the participants are rarely asked to rank fundamentalists in the same way they are asked to rank atheists.  Consider those surveys in the same light as the ones commissioned by WaPo where people are asked to rank taxes, the budget deficit and every other thing except unemployment as the most important things that government should tackle.  So, yeah, fundies are living in denial when they think they are universally loved and admired.

Gotta go now.  Get your headsets on and enjoy.

 

One of the most sensible things I’ve read on the left in years

Atrios this morning on the bombing of Iraq.

The war in Iraq was stupid and expensive.  But we are responsible for the humans we left behind in the country we messed up.

 

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