Thursday, May 31, 2007

If I had a Hammer...

Jordan with Hat
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From the NY Times:

When former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took a family vacation in January 2002 to Acapulco, Mexico, one of their longtime supporters, Vinod Gupta, provided his company’s private jet to fly them there.

The company, infoUSA, one of the nation’s largest brokers of information on consumers, paid $146,866 to ferry the Clintons, Mr. Gupta and others to Acapulco and back, court records show. During the next four years, infoUSA paid Mr. Clinton more than $2 million for consulting services, and spent almost $900,000 to fly him around the world for his presidential foundation work and to fly Mrs. Clinton to campaign events...

The Clintons are facing a bit of heat over their connection to this company who brokers information and have been investigated by authorities in Iowa who "found that infoUSA sold consumer data several years ago to telemarketing criminals who used it to steal money from elderly Americans."


It's for reasons like this that we desperately need campaign and political reform. These people - even if they're legitimate companies - have been paying big money to well-connected people in an effort to influence policy and it just stinks. Even if a company is NOT wanting favors or to influence policy, the very appearance of favoritism is a detriment to our Republic.

Money is not "free speech." And Big Money is even less so.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Those Clowns Running for President...

Halloween Kids
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We of course have no way of knowing this early on in the presidential race, but my early hunch says Obama will be our next president. This, mainly because of the latest polls.


Obama Leads All Republicans in General Election Head to Head Contests

Obama would defeat all Republican opponents, including John McCain of Arizona, Rudy Giuliani of New York City, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and Fred Thompson of Tennessee in prospective presidential contests, the poll shows.

I point this out with the note that Obama is not my first choice - that would be Kucinich. I'm just saying this is my early hunch of how things will turn out.

Anyone else wanting to go out on the limb with early predictions?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Living the Good Life, cont'd...

Farmer Dave
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
As both of my regular readers know (Hi, mom!) I've been reading and commenting on the Scott and Helen Nearing book, Living the Good Life, a book on simple and sustainable living written in the middle of last century. My first comment on the book can be found here.

I highly recommend the book and want to offer another quote for your reading pleasure and discussion if you so choose.

In Chapter 6, they discuss Livelihood - what we do with our time and how we make our living. They suggest seven procedures to maximize sustainability and security of livelihood. I suppose these are rules that they would suggest apply at the community as well as the individual level. They are:

1. Regulating the sources of livelihood in such a manner that all able-bodied adults will render a service in exchange for income, thus eliminating the social divisions which develop when a part of the community lives on unearned income while the remainder exchanges labor power for its livelihood.

2. Avoid gross and glaring inequalities in livelihood status.

3. Budget and plan community economy.

4. Keep community books, and open the accounts to public inspection.

5. Pay as you go, either in labor or materials, thus avoiding inflation.

6. Practice economy, conserving resources, producing and consuming as little as necessary rather than as much as possible.

7. Provide a wide range of social services based upon specialization and cooperation.


Well, there's a little something there to make most of us uncomfortable. What say ye?

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Dream Girl

My Dream Girl
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From an AP story:

Motorists pulled in to Harvey Pollack's gas station, honked and gave him a thumbs-up -- because he wasn't selling any fuel.

The owner of Towne Market Mobil in this suburb north of Milwaukee shut down his pumps for 24 hours, hoping to start a movement aimed at convincing oil companies to lower their prices.

"Somebody out there is making money at these prices, but not me," said Pollack, 57. "So I just thought: What can I do to help the consumer?"

...Pollack and station general manager John Schwartz agreed to experiment with a pump shutdown after an Internet-based push for a one-day gas boycott went largely unheeded last week.

"Somebody's got to be the first to try this," Schwartz said...

Pollack said he has virtually no control over the price he charges for gas. The company usually makes 8 to 12 cents per gallon after suppliers' prices and credit card fees. On Wednesday -- the day before the protest -- that added up to $3.49 for a gallon of unleaded gas.

Schwartz called that "outrageous" and said even he can't fill up his SUV at that price [whoosh! Irony flying over his head...dt].

"If it keeps going like this, my kids will never be able to afford to drive," said Schwartz, who has an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.


And there it is. The Truth, spoken in frustration and without realizing the irony of the statement.

You reckon your children will be driving SUVs? Autos of any sort?

Or will they be cursing us for using up the available fossil fuel resources in one brilliant 100 year burst of consumption?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Earth Day 2007

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Yesterday, my church - Jeff St - celebrated our annual Earth Day service. I know, Earth Day was last month, but we always celebrate in May. The better to increase the likelihood of good weather so that the service may be held outside.

It was a beautiful day.

We had two storytellers do an excellent job of telling the Easter Island story. The first story was Easter Island's story as it appeared to have happened (they collapsed under their own overconsumption). The second story was a more hopeful What Might Have Been vision.

What might have happened with the people of Easter Island if they had only learned to live with Enough?

Additionally, we had a blessing for a group within our church that is in the process of establishing a community on a farm just across the river from us.

More photos and the blessing can be found at the Jeff St blog.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Political Compass Chart

Political Compass Chart
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
I found this link over to ER's site and thought it interesting.

If you go here, you'll find the Political Compass website, where you can choose to take a survey to find out where they place you on a political compass.

The interesting thing there is that they measure not just Left and Right (as in More Communist or More Neo-Liberal/Capitalist or Libertarian) on the economic side of things, but also how you measure on a social side of things - more Authoritarian or more Libertarian (more State-Controlled or More Individual Freedom).

My score was:

Economic Left/Right: -6.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.05

Or to the Left of Gandhi economically and more libertarian socially.

As is always the case with this survey, there are problems with the questions. For instance, "A mother can have a job but her primary role should be home-maker"

The statement repulses the feminist in me and I would strongly disagree, but then, in reality, I think ALL of our primary role ought to be home-makers. That is what people should be about - making a home and a community.

So, strictly honestly-speaking, I would answer a Strong Yes, but instead - because of the oppressive/sexist sound of the question - I answered a Soft No.

Still, an interesting test. Give it a try.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Bible and Economics

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
I thought I'd begin a new thing today. I will occasionally post a passage, verse or verses from the Bible on matters of economics. Since I've begun watching for it, I've been surprised at how persistent economic messages are within the Bible.

Eventually, I'll create a link page so that all of these Bible Economics quotes can be accessed from one page. I think it will be an interesting experiment. Feel free to give your thoughts on these passages.

“The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,” declares the Lord GOD “Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence.”

Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying,

“When will the new moon be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,
To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with dishonest scales,
So as to buy the helpless for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals,
And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob,
“Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds...”
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD,
“That I will make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight…
“Then I will turn your festivals into mourning
And all your songs into lamentation…”

~Amos 8: 3-10

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bicycle Month

Bikin' Fool
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
May is Bicycle Appreciation Month (or some such title) with the week of the May 20th being Ride Your Bike to Work Week (different dates in different locations).

So, in honor of all that, a little humor

An 80-year old man goes to the doctor for a checkup.

The doctor is amazed at what good shape the guy is in and asks,"How do you stay in such great physical condition?"

I'm a cyclist," says the old guy, "and that's why I'm in such good
shape. I'm up well before daylight and out and ride my bicycle."

" Well," says the doctor, "I'm sure that helps, but there's got to be
more to it. How old was your dad when he died?"

"Who said my dad's dead?"

The doctor is amazed. "You mean you're 80 years old and your dad's
still alive. How old is he?"

"He's 100 years old," says the old cyclist. "In fact he rode with me
this morning, and that's why he's still alive . . . he's a cyclist

"Well," the doctor says, "that's great, but I'm sure there's more to
it than that. How about your dad's dad? How old was he when he died?"

"Who said my grandpa's dead?"

Stunned, the doctor asks, "You mean you're 80 years old and your
grandfather' s still living! Incredible! How old is he?"

"He's 118 years old," says the old cyclist.

The doctor is getting frustrated at this point, "So, I guess he went
bike riding with you this morning too?"

"No. Grandpa couldn't go this morning because he's getting married

At this point the doctor is close to losing it.

"Getting married!! Why would a 118 year-old guy want to get married?"

"Who said he wanted to?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

In Praise of Conservatives, Fundamentalists and Republicans

Stained Glass 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Just to let you know I could be even-handed if I so chose…

Here’s to Miss Marie, my fifth grade Sunday School teacher, who ensured that I knew the books of the Bible by heart and had me learn a memory verse from the Bible every week. Who prayed for my salvation and gave me a tiny old lady hug the day I got saved, with tears in her eyes. She loved me well.

Here’s to countless others who taught me in Sunday School back in the day. To a person, they were impossibly great individuals.

Here’s to my mom and dad. They taught me peacemaking with their literal take on the Bible.

Here’s to Pastor Schaefer, my first pastor, who preached the Bible inside and out. Who I can’t recall if he taught we should take the Bible literally (probably did) but who definitely taught us to take it seriously. He also loved well.

Here's to the fella who was the best man in my wedding. He, in his sort of fundamentalism, helped lead me to where I am today with his fiery interest in seeking God's ways.

Here’s to Charles Sheldon, the author of “In His Steps” (the book from which the now-trite, “what would Jesus do?” phrase came - found here online). I don’t know that he was a conservative, but suspect that would how he would be identified today. His book taught that, in order to take the Bible seriously, we must take seriously how we treat the “least of these.”

[This would be the book that most likely started me in the steps that I walk now. Being written at the start of the century last century, it could probably be called a bit formal, stuffy and overly earnest in writing style, but it changed my life.]

Here’s to Mark Hatfield, Republican Senator from Oregon and Harold Stassen, Republican politician in several roles. They give a good connotation to the term “conservative politician,” that has been so sullied of late. May their tribe increase!

Here’s to all the kind, dedicated, loving, strong conservative men and women out there who represent their faith communities and families so well. They help make America great and the world a better place to live.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Liberation Theology and the Pope

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Excerpted from Spiegel Online.

...In the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II wanted to clamp down on what he considered a dangerous, Marxist-inspired movement in the Roman Catholic Church, liberation theology, he turned to a trusted aide: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Now Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, and when he arrives here on Wednesday for his first pastoral visit to Latin America he may be surprised at what he finds. Liberation theology, which he once called "a fundamental threat to the faith of the church," persists as an active, even defiant force in Latin America, home to nearly half the world's one billion Roman Catholics...

When I visited Nicaragua in 2003, I spent some time at a Liberation Theology base community in Managua - Batahola. I was impressed with the service. It was very moving - as was the artwork.

I don't agree with everything about Liberation Theology, but there is much I do like. Here's a photo of the main mural on the podium at Batahola. It's a nativity scene with a Liberation Theology edge. In the crowd of witnesses, you can see Oscar Romero and Che Guevera, among others.

To give you a sense of what Liberation Theology is about, here's the Batahola Mission statement:

The Batahola Norte Cultural Center holds as its mission to “live a style of life which is more congenial and just, according to the gospels, and directed towards the poor. By way of our culture and an integral education, we promulgate human rights, self-esteem and equality. We believe in the empowerment of the person and the value of sharing what we are and have in order to transform this society into the Kingdom of God".

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Birds and the...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
BELTSVILLE, Maryland (AP) -- Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of America's honeybees could have a devastating effect on the country's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing its people to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

Honeybees do not just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops the country has.

Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Yikes. No doubt the work of alarmists and we needn't pay any attention to this... or the rising gas prices... or the degradation of the land, air and water... it will all be okay. If we ignore the environment, maybe it will just go away...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Confederate Grave

Confederate Grave
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
The tombstone pictured is of a Civil War casualty – Captain Joseph Read, born Feb. 22, 1844, died July 13, 1864. The poem at the bottom reads:

Dearest Joseph, thou hast left us
Here thy loss we deeply feel
But it’s God who hast bereft us
He can all our sorrows heal

He was buried in a cemetery next to Otter Creek surrounded by a great variety of beautiful and colorful birds – goldfinches, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, cardinals and blue jays and the graveyard was alive with birdsong.

Otter Creek is next to Fort Knox and a highway and, in addition to the songbirds’ music, there was the considerably less-musical sound of jets overhead and trucks rolling down the highway.

The news of the day:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq's sectarian warfare fueled a sharp increase in global terrorism in 2006, the U.S. State Department reported Monday.

The total number of terrorist attacks was up more than 25 percent from the previous year, according to the State Department's annual report on global terrorism…

The number of people killed in terrorist attacks in Iraq rose from 8,262 in 2005 to 13,340 last year, said Russell Travers, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center…