Saturday, June 24, 2006


Boys at El Regadio School
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The Problem with Hegemony, Part I

In discussing the Iraq Invasion (yet again!) over at another blog, I asked the question of the war-supporters:

1. Ought laws be followed?

And the follow up:

2. You're now president. What laws would you propose that everyone should follow that we're willing to follow as well?

This led to the response:

Yes, laws should be followed.

The second question is asked from a perspective in which the US should be accountable to international law. I don't believe that. I don't think the US should participate nor adhere to ANY international law, because usually those laws are not favorable for us.

Every free person on this planet is free because of America, we've NEVER been on the side of evil and that has earned us the right not to have our motives questioned.


And I followed up with this breakdown of his logic, as I saw it:

So, as I understand it, you think that any nation that has never been on the side of evil has earned the right to not have their motives questioned? Those blameless nations can decide if and when and whom they need to bomb for whatever purposes.

Conversely, those nations that are not blameless/that HAVE been on the side of evil don't get to bomb when and whom they please? Is that a fair assessment?

If so, then who decides which nations are the blameless ones who've never been on the side of evil and which nations aren't?

I paused for a response and none was forthcoming and so I continued.

You see, there are too many logical difficulties with your reasoning. The feeling that we must make our own rules is fairly common in human nature, but it is an immature belief based upon fear, emotions, immorality and inconsistency that is hard to justify if you are concerned about logic, justice and morality.

Once you've said that only blameless nations can choose to bomb others, two immediate problems pop up.

1. There are no blameless nations and it would be naive to think so. I love my country; I think her Constitution and history are something to be proud of. But, God bless us, we have made mistakes.

We have chosen to embrace evil at times when it seemed the best choice in a bad situation.

We have targeted and bombed cities of civilians (Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki).

We have supported terrorists (contras, the Salvadoran gov't) with weapons, money and training.

We have supported corrupt, murderous despots (Saddam, Pinochet, Somoza) and subverted democracy in other sovereign nations.

I fully understand that some who made these decisions did so thinking they were doing the best they could. But we know all about good intentions. A nation which has killed whole cities of children and committed war crimes and supported terrorism CAN NOT claim to be blameless.

I'll split this essay up here, so folk could deal with each of the parts separately if they wish. Unfortunately, I will be away from my computer much of this coming week, so I may not have a chance to respond right away, but feel free to make comments.

I Played the Flute for You...

Fountain Ladies
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The Problem with Hegemony, Part II

2. The second (and even larger) problem is, WHO decides who's blameless? Each nation itself?

Or does the US get to make the call for the rest of the sovereign nations in the world?

OR, do we rely upon an outside source such as a World Court or UN?

Do you see the problem?

If each nation itself is deciding what rules to create and obey and which ones not to, it'd be like each person in a city deciding unilaterally which laws they'll obey. You're talking anarchy, chaos. You're talking terrorism and hell on earth. Might makes Right is cool only for the fleeting time that you're the mightiest.

On the other hand, should the US decide for everyone else? It'd be ridiculous to think thusly. One of the core tenets of conservatism (and democracy) is self-determination. I don't WANT to make your decisions for you. I sure as hell don't want you to make my decisions for me. One nation making the calls is the ultimate in Big Gov't and could only lead to despotism.

And that leaves us with only one possible solution: an international source for justice (in conjunction with local laws). That leaves us with the terrible task of coming together and agreeing that some things are just wrong and struggling to find just ways to oppose the worst of human behavior and yet allow for local sovereignty at the same time.

Yes, this is problematic, too. What if despots or terrorists have the majority at the UN? What if a world court finds some group guilty of crimes they didn't commit? I think this approach is a horrible, horrible solution.

Its only redeeming factor is that it is better than the despotism of One Nation/Big Brother rule or the lawless hell on earth of Every nation for itself/Might makes right. Of the three alternatives, it is the one with the best hope for finding a semblance of justice and peace and working out real solutions to the oppression and genocide which plague our nature. It is the only one that can be logically justified.

Working together internationally will without a doubt fail, but you must remember that so will the other solutions.

Again, I offer the local example. I can't unilaterally decide that murder is okay for me if I think someone is offensive. The local gov't ought to intervene and stop me if I tried. A local gov't can't decide they want to hang all Left-handed people. A state gov't ought to step in and intervene if it tried. A state can't take the homes of all brown-eyed people, sell them and split the proceeds amongst the blue-eyes. A federal gov't ought to intervene if it tried.

The rule ought to always be local sovereignty and personal liberty. But when that nasty old human nature gets a-hold of us and the individual or locality begins making oppressive decisions, we need to come together to create larger rules. It's how we operate as a nation (in theory) and it's the only way that makes rational sense as a world.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A Must Read on Peak Oil

And no, I'm not talking about whatever drivel I might put to paper, so to speak, but rather what someone else has to say. I'll link to that commentary shortly.

But first, I'd like to offer a couple of quotes from folk warning about the dangers of peak oil (Peak Oil, n. the condition at which oil production has reached its zenith, and from which point on, oil production will decrease and oil prices increase).

The quotes:

By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day.


What people need to hear loud and clear is that we’re running out of energy in America.

Who are these alarmists? Anti-corporate environmental wackos with an agenda? They're none other than Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, respectively.

If our esteemed oil barons-in-chiefs think we're facing dire times with a looming oil shortage, who am I to disagree? But how bad could it be? I mean, if gas gets expensive enough, we'll simply drive less, right? That's how the market works to self-correct, right?

Maybe not, if this fella is anywhere near right. Please read at least a bit of what Matt Savinar says at Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash. Or, for a shorter but excellent essay on the situation, visit our old friend, Eleutheros.

Is Savinar exaggerating the consequences of our actions? Perhaps. With our limited capacity for genius, we simply can't guess with complete accuracy what the results of bad policies will be. But he makes an intriguing case that's hard to ignore. What do you think?

Dan and Jordan

Dan and Jordan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A Quick Little Post

Wasp Jerky has an excellent post over at his place quoting Tony Campolo that includes this little gem (Campolo began a sermon with this line):

"I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."

Campolo is an interesting Baptist minister who sometimes falls to the Left and sometimes to the Right, and who is right on with his comment here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bigfoot and Sarah

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.


WOAH!! Ya gotta go see it. Has anyone already seen it?

I'm talking about the movie, Prairie Home Companion, which opened a couple of weekends ago and I've just got around to seeing. It's the best movie of the year so far - easily - and probably the best of this decade/millenium.

It is, of course, hilarious. You'd expect that. Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play Dusty and Lefty to great effect. They do risque songs that drive the stage manager nuts. And, of course, Garrison Keillor is funny as always. Kevin Kline turns in a stellar performance as Noir, Guy Noir.

But there is also a Wendell Berryesque melancholy underlying it all that increases the depth of the film tenfold. And the dialogue! The words drip and ricochet about with vivid, aged color, thick and rich as ketchup pouring from the bottle. You MUST all go see it.

Has anyone else seen it yet? Am I off my nut or should it be showered with Oscars this year?

Trabues at Cannon Beach

Trabues at Cannon Beach
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A Young Man in the Wild

Wild Jordan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Dan and the Monoliths

Dan and the Monoliths
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.


Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Mossy Creek

Mossy Creek
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

We're back from a week on the West Coast. We visited Portland for several days (Donna had a wonderful conference) and then traveled to Seaside, OR for a few days where we visited the temperate rainforest and traveled along the coast spotting some magnificent monoliths. More to come on our travels and experiences.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

Cherries Jubilation
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I'm away from my blogspace for a few days and so I'll leave you with the first fruits of the year's harvest and a few delightful quotes.

For those of you who don't know, I'm a mapmaker by trade (computer-mapping, or GIS). And so I'll begin with one for the cartographers out there:

Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.

Tobler's First Law of Geography

If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

P. J. O'Rourke

When you are right, you cannot be too radical; When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Weaseling out of things is good. It's what separates us from the other animals....except weasels.

Homer Simpson

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot , Blackfoot warrior and orator