Monday, November 26, 2007

For the Want of a Nail

Home grown terrorists? Violent radicalization? Big Brother is about to stop all that nonsense! Senate bill S 1959 is out to set up a commission that could dismember our First Amendment rights all in the guise of “protection”. Stopping terrorism is fine, but this bill is so broad it could prevent even writing about the need for health care or protesting oil prices. The Ones In Charge get to decide who might be "dangerous". Without trial.

Two women in Medford, Oregon were forced to leave a public gathering where President Bush was speaking because they wore t-shirts protesting the war in Iraq. Of course I was appalled. With the witch hunting potential of S 1959, they might have been arrested as enemy combatants (homegrown!) as well. My outrage meter is running.

There are two places to learn a lot more about S 1959 (full text of bill). One is a series of posts by Ronnie Bennett at Time Goes By. She lays out the background of this bill which flew through the House of Representatives with only 6 dissenting votes. The other is by daveinchi at Daily Kos.

Perhaps this bill will simply die in committee, but it could just as easily swing in under the radar as did The Patriot Act. After all it is only to study how to muzzle demands for change.

Remember that old story: For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for the want of a horse, the battle was lost, etc. Well, for the want of “nailing” our senators on this one (shout NO) we could lose the right to be blogging, and talking, about dissent at all.
Edit 11/28/07 - more on S 1959 here.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cooking My Life

We saw a good movie last night. It's called How to Cook Your Life. When I bought the tickets, I asked for a ticket to "How to Eat Your Life". That says a lot about me and food. I often think about eating and seldom about cooking. But that will change now, from having this wonderful model of mindful cooking (and living) in my brain bank.

The movie is slow. Beautiful photos of a snail on a wall and Edward Espy Brown cutting carrots. Not everyone will like it. Brown, chef and Buddhist teacher, talks about his own process in learning to accept his human frailties, particularly anger. He also talks about the joy our hands feel when they can be of use, especially in the many movements and rhythms of food preparation. Now when I enter my kitchen I feel part of a larger tradition. I forget the name of the Zen cooking disciples. It starts with a "T" (or is it "D"?) What I do remember is the feel of their dedication to the art of bringing nourishment to the community.

In the film are clips of Brown's teacher, Shunryu Suzuki. In one talk Suzuki Roshi tells of hearing a noisy blue jay. Rather than chafing at the dissonance of the bird's squawks, the monk imagines blending with the sound and becoming a blue jay. At home I went to bed early. Sam was practicing his guitar in the living room. I have to leave the bedroom door open for our cat, Luna, to come and go. Hearing that guitar just flat out annoyed me. I was tired. Wasn't it my right to have a quiet house? So unfair blah blah. Then I remembered the blue jay story. I settled down into the sound: plink, strum, plunk. I was asleep in no time.

Siel, at Emerald City has a good review of the movie-more detail and link to the trailer.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is Blogging What's Wrong With America?

Following my talk on blogging to a senior computer user's group, a woman remarked, "I just came to see what this group was all about. Actually, I think blogs are what's wrong with America today. People just want to talk about themselves." I may have paraphrased that last sentence, but the rest is a direct quote. Of course the first thing out of my mouth was about the good information on blogs such as Time Goes By, Changing Aging, The Lazy Environmentalist and many others. She didn't care.

I angsted over it all afternoon. Here is what I wish I'd said:

1. Blogging is writing, and writing is good. Writing for the Internet is as valid as writing for any publication. True, there is no editorial gatekeeper deciding what the public should (or will pay) to read. You'll need to think for yourself. I browse blogs the way I browse the magazines in the library, and I subscribe to my favorites. With the comment options blogs provide, we can even interact with authors and other readers.

2. Personal stories are good. Not only for the insight and meaning it offers the writer (like all journaling), but for the insight and meaning it offers readers. Ronni Bennett has a interesting post discussing the importance of sharing about our private lives. Here is an excerpt:

Even if you “only” got married, raised children and tended the backyard garden, you have stories to tell. You especially have stories your children, grandchildren and beyond will care about. Everyone wants to know who and where they came from and what those people were like, how they lived, what they did. Link to the full post.

3. Personal opinions are good. Opinions give us something to chew on, challenge or applaud. Jay Rosen of Press Think has called blogs, "little first amendment machines".

4. Photos are good. Period.

Hey! And what's wrong with talking about yourself? We just need to take turns. It's called conversation.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cats as Co-workers

Sam and I went to the Southern Oregon Humane Society on Friday to hand over our little red festiva to their Critter Cars program. Several retail stores in Ashland have cats as mascots, but this was over the top! Everyone was busy getting ready for a big fund raising event--the cats didn't seem to slow them down a bit.