Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Let's talk Spring and gardening.

I was out at a store this weekend and the sun was shining and the weather relatively warm and my thoughts turned to spring (although I know we're still a full two months away - global warming notwithstanding). I picked up a couple packages of sunflower seeds.

I got home and talked some with my daughter about what she'd like to plant and she knew right away what she wanted: Cantalopes. We've not had the best of luck with our melons and gourds, but I'm game for trying again.

Does anyone have suggestions on successful gourding/meloning?

One thought I had is that we have a walk-out deck on our upper floor and I was pondering putting some large pots out there and seeing how melons might do there. There's probably more sunlight there than down in the yard. Thoughts?

How about you, you gardeners? Are you already leafing through seedbooks, thinking about this year's gardening/farming? You wanna share your plans?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Francisco Teaching Dan to Farm
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Earlier in the month I asked the question, “What’s wrong?” I was wondering what visitors here may think were the biggest problems we, as a society or world faced.

I received answers from a rather small sampling of folk, but the responses were:

Catastrophic climate change/Peak oil ---------------------2 votes
Just Peacemaking/terrorism --------------------------------2 votes sorta
Electoral and other reforms to make our government more responsive to citizens and citizens more involved -------1 vote
Changing the global economy --------------------------------1 vote
Religion ----------------------------------------------------------1 vote
Education (lack of) ---------------------------------------------1 vote
Education (gov’t-style) --------------------------------------- 2 votes
Consumerism ---------------------------------------------------2 votes

I apologize if my summation is not exactly accurate. It was not as neat as indicated here (I’m not sure, for instance, if those arguing against gov’t education were saying it was one of the biggest problems we face or if they were just responding to the person who said lack of good education was a big problem).

In that case, would it be fair to say that they agree that a lack of good education is a problem – even if they disagree on what constitutes a good education?

I rather agree with those who suggested that consumerism might well at least touch on if not totally include some of the other problems listed. That is, we wouldn’t be having a peak oil problem if we weren’t over-consuming to the degree that we are. Would the terrorism issue be as bad if there weren’t this gulf between the obscenely wealthy and the rest of the world?

I tend towards naming consumerism as one of our major problems, with an unsustainable lifestyle we have promoted being part and parcel of that. And, as has been noted here by some, because of the way we consume, we are pretty dependent upon the system as it exists.

It is, in many ways, self-perpetuating. We need cars because things are spread out and it is not safe to get places without cars, therefore we need cars. We “can’t” grow our own food because we don’t know how, therefore we must buy food and that food can increasingly only be purchased from the big stores which are spread out as well and which require a car to get to. That sort of idea.

It will require significant lifestyle changes away from over-consumption to begin to effect change and most of us are not wont to make significant lifestyle changes in ways we believe to be uncomfortable. So, we’ll keep living in unsustainable and, some would say, violence-dependent ways and will only change if we’re forced to and we can’t imagine anything that would force us to do so.

And so, we’re stuck.

Or are we?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I like this...

Sand Dollar
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The headline today?

Bush speech to showcase domestic issues

Oh! Okay, his domestic issues... like...

WASHINGTON - In his first State of the Union address to a Democratic-controlled Congress,
President Bush will urge that gasoline consumption be slashed by 20 percent...

Sounds good, but wait! There's more:

Bush will say that the fuel-use goal of slashing consumption by 20 percent by 2017 can be achieved primarily through a sharp escalation in the amount of ethanol and other alternative fuels the federal government mandates must be produced. The rest of the reduction is to come from raising fuel economy standards for passenger cars, said Joel Kaplan, White House deputy chief of staff.

Why, he's not talking about slashing consumption. He's talking about changing the source of our consumption! Better than nothing, but what we really need is to talk about a change in our overconsumption of resources.

And here, I almost thought he was on the right track and actually had a domestic agenda item of note...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Which Way's the Wind Blowing?

Birdhouse In Field
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Barack Obama quotes:

Let’s have enough government to get the job done. If, if we’re looking at problems, if the market solution works, let’s go with the market solution. If a solution requires government intervention, let’s do that. But let’s look at what are the practical outcomes. And I think that kind of politics is what the country’s hungry for right now.

And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.” And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues. [yuck! -dt]

[People] don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead, and they want to. Go into the [suburban] collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn.

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.

I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying.

Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Curious, George?

Curious Sheep
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- A group of Methodist ministers from across the nation launched an online petition drive Thursday urging Southern Methodist University to stop trying to land George W. Bush's presidential library.

The petition, on a newly created Web site, http://www.protectsmu.orgexternal link, says that "as United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate."

"Methodists have a long history of social conscience, so questions about the conduct of this president are very concerning," said one of the petition's organizers, the Rev. Andrew J. Weaver of New York, who graduated from SMU's Perkins School of Theology.


Good on those Methodists!

But, I'm not sure how big a deal it would be to have the W Library at Southern Methodist University. I mean, how much space could ten books take up?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

President Hillary, Bigfoot...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

...And other mythical creatures.

With the news today that Barack Obama is one step closer to running for president, I hear again that the only one polling more positively for the Dems than Obama is Hillary Clinton.

Am I totally off my nut in thinking that there's no way she's an electable candidate?

The progressives are absolutely opposed to her because of her vote for the Iraq War (and other reasons). The far right hates her with a passion because of her perceived socialist leanings and a lot of what she represents (at least in their minds).

Are there truly that many people in-between who could make a Hillary candidacy valid? I just don't see it.

Am I wrong?

Monday, January 15, 2007

On the Music Front

Our Stringed Family
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

My brother, Dave - who is a vagabond musician/law field laborer in the wilds of Northern California - has a song, "A Child's Cry" that was the Track of the Day at last week.

You can hear that song here.

Also, I just had a note from Tim, formerly of Anabaptist Monk, noting that he was closing down that blog but that we can keep in touch with him at his music blog,

These are two great talented musician types making my favorite music: Homemade.

Also, our friends at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (, have put together a CD, to raise awareness of the damage done by mountain top removal.

Check them all out.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Kendra, Sarah and Reyna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The words of brother Martin:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not with my son!

Shadow Jordan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

From Bush’s speech last night:

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

Allow me to review.

Amount spent in Iraq thus far:

$357 billion

US Troops (our sons and daughters) in Iraq:

150,000-ish (this, PLUS troops from other nations [~17,000 as of August 2006] PLUS Iraq police and military)

Our huge military, plus all our allies, plus all our massive military machines (helicopters, fighters, massive weaponry) and all our money – rapidly approaching half a trillion – have failed to stop the insurgents.

And what apparently unstoppable insurgency are we fighting? According to a CNN article from 2005:

The U.S. military faces between 13,000 and 17,000 insurgents in Iraq, the large majority of them backers of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, a senior military official said Tuesday.

Do the Bush and war supporters out there understand that, if all of these combined forces, lives, dollars and efforts can’t quash a force of 15,000 probably mostly untrained insurgents probably working on a shoestring budget, that the majority of the US just doesn’t believe that an additional 21,000 of our sons and daughters is going to make a difference? That it is not a winning approach and that we think a new strategy is needed?

And do you understand why we can’t possibly support this effort? We simply don’t believe that your solution is any solution at all. Bush has offered nothing – nothing – to make us believe he has the first good idea of how to resolve this quagmire we’re in.

Worse, the data tells me that, if all of your massive military solution can’t stop this tiny insurgency, that I certainly couldn’t trust Team Bush to defend against any serious enemy.

If Bush gets his way, do you think that next year when Bush comes back and asks for an additional 20,000, that THOSE additional soldiers will make a difference? An additional 200,000?

Seriously, at what point will you be willing to admit that the strategy is flawed?

WASHINGTON - Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, according to a new poll that provides a devastatingly blunt response to President Bush's plan to bolster military forces there.


Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, said Rice's responses had echoes of the debate over the Vietnam War, when the Nixon administration denied U.S. troops were conducting raids into neighboring Cambodia to stop the flow of weapons to South Vietnam's communist insurgency. Hagel, a veteran of that war, called Bush's plan "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."


The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat inIraq.

[This, from the "support the troops" crowd?! Let's support our troops in ways that count: Let's not force them into open-ended tours of duty with no opportunities to get off the brutal treadmill. I'll trade war supporters volunteering for duty in trade for your yellow ribbon magnet any day.

Let' support our troops with a sane foreign policy. -dt]

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We always get our man...

...his wife, some children in the neighborhood, the people next door...

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A senior al Qaeda suspect wanted for bombing U.S. embassies in East Africa has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, a Somali official said, quoting an American report, as his government called for American ground forces to flush out any remaining extremists.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists who has evaded capture for eight years, was killed in an airstrike early Monday morning time, according to an American intelligence report passed on to the Somali authorities...

"I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage," Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president's chief of staff, told AP Wednesday. "One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead."...

In Washington, a U.S. intelligence official said the U.S. killed five to 10 people [some newlyweds and at least one child included according to reports...dt] in the attack on a target in southern Somalia believed to be associated with al Qaeda. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation's sensitivity, said a small number of others present, perhaps four or five, were wounded.


I hear that there's an Iranian criminal loose in Nebraska. I'm sure our country would gladly support Iran dropping a few bombs in Nebraska as long as it takes out that criminal.


[I like posting with photos but was having some problem doing so from flickr. Anyone else using flickr and experiencing a problem?]

Saturday, January 6, 2007

What's Wrong?

Bike Shirt
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

In the previous post about the problem with cars, Eleutheros wondered if "Maybe I'm just in the same fog I find others in when it comes to other supposed mechanical conveniences."

And it made me wonder, IS the transportation issue an intractible issue with no immediate sustainable solutions? And that made me wonder further, "What are our big issues? Just what's wrong with this body corporate?"

I'm of the mind that our transportation systems are one of our world's and our society's biggest problems. The problems inherent to our transportation system include, but are not limited to:

1. It is built upon the mathematically impossible assumption that we will continue to have an on-going source of cheap fuel
2. Its benefits are wayyy surpassed by its costs (in Kentucky alone, auto wrecks alone cost the state some $25 billion annually according to one report from the state police - that's not counting environmental costs, urban sprawl costs, oil depletion costs, costs to our grandchildren, etc, etc, etc)
3. Dependence upon foreign fuels have fueled poor policy decisions, pushed us to support some unsavory characters (Saddam not the being the least of these)...

...For starters.

Clearly, for me, our current transportation solutions are one of our great problems. Another example: The way we procure the stuff we need and want on a daily basis would be another biggie.

Our shopping patterns at Walmart, Kroger, Big Lots, etc, are built upon dependence upon cheap labor from around the world (at sometimes irresponsible costs), environmental degradation, over-dependence (again) on fossil fuels and an over-dependence upon pre-packaged stuff.

I'll stop there, for now. I bring this up to ask the question to you: What do you see as our big problems as a culture (Let's say 1 to 3 big problems)? Terrorism? Poor church attendance? Pollution? Jobs? Abortion? Gay marriage? Communism? Capitalism?

I'm inviting you to convince me of your issues. Keep it concise but make your case. Let' s not deal with solutions at the moment, just the problems. I'll follow up with a solutions post at some point.


ADDENDUM: Contrary Goddess has this to offer on the topic, in a bit of coincidence.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Minus Car Project

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Hey! I can't believe I haven't added this blog to my site before now. I've been visiting for months now.

The Minus Car Project is a blog devoted to reducing (obliterating?) our dependence on the personal automobile. I'm bringing him up specifically because he has an end of the year summary post that's worth checking out.

Among various stats he kept for the last year, the author kept record of how often he was transported in a car vs how often he biked (he's in the process of ending his own dependency upon the car). With the resultant numbers, he showed how much cold hard cash he saved last year by reducing his auto-dependency. Anyone have use for an extra $3000-ish a year?

Check it out.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The First 100 Hours

Earth Day Bicycles
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The Democrats have released their plans for their first week in office as a majority party. Firstly, they're saying that they will make changes to encourage ethical behavior. Fine, fine idea.

"On Thursday and Friday, we're going to adopt rules that will change the way the people's house operates to ensure its integrity, to ensure its openness and to ensure its transparency," incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday.

Fine, fine idea.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Of the other items on their agenda, glaringly missing is direct discussion about and action upon the Iraq Invasion. I know this is just their first week, but they'd do well not to forget what got them in office. Action is called for and action soon.

Of the eight areas they are committing to work on this week, I only see one as critical.

The Democrats say they will roll back multibillion-dollar subsidies for oil companies and work towards energy independence as a goal for the United States. I don't sense the urgency that is appropriate to this issue, but at least they're committed to look at it.

Given that we have committed ourselves to a future based upon the promise of unlimited cheap oil - not to be found in reality - I'm hoping they'll take a serious look at the issue and begin to take significant action.

Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

One of their agenda items is a commitment to a Pay-as-we-go approach to the budget. Would that they'd be similarly committed to a Pay-as-we-go approach to our economy and environment.