Thursday, January 05, 2012

Oh, Deer

Hello everyone.

Happy New Year and all that crap.  Let's hope all the self-professed "experts" are wrong and this isn't the last year for the human race.  I've still got a lot of stuff to do, and there are just some things I won't be able to get done by December 21st.  Like celebrate my 40th birthday.  Not that I'm looking forward to being 40, but I'd rather be 40 than dead.  I just hope that on my 40th birthday I don't find myself wandering what's left of a post-apocalyptic world, wearing a mailman uniform, and drinking my own pee like Kevin Costner.

Christmas was interesting.  A couple friends were in town, and they came over on Christmas Eve (which was also one of the friend's birthday).  My friend Brian was also here, and the two of us played music and drank way too much.  We had to convince Brian not to drive home, and he agreed to stay the night here as long as we took shots of whiskey with him.  I was already "speeching my slur" before we took the shots, but the added helping of Bushmills on top of a belly full of PBR meant I spent Christmas Day nursing the worst hangover I've had in probably a decade.  Good times.

In part because of the Christmas debacle, Cathy and I spent a quiet New Year's Eve by ourselves at home.  It was nice.

I've started a new blog devoted strictly to politics, the appropriately named Rob Talks Politics.  Check it out.  This means no more politics here on my personal site, although everything is political, so I'm sure some of my comments will have a political edge to them.  But the main theme here will be about stuff happening in my life.  And I plan to keep the obligatory Moment of Tucker.  Sound good?  Good.

Deer News:

Speaking of Tucker, the other day he and I took a walk around the property, and I noticed a fawn/young deer (its spots were gone, but it was small and its nose was still stubby) lying on its side, flopping around on the ground.  It was slowly dying.  Tucker also noticed it and wanted to go investigate, but fortunately he listened when I told him to stay.  The deer tried to get up once or twice but fell over, so I figured it had been hit by a car (the road wasn't too far away) and definitely had some broken bones.  It wasn't going to make it.

I wasn't sure what to do, so I called Cathy at her work, figuring she's got much more connections and experience with stuff like this than I do, since she grew up around here.  She asked around at work, and one of her coworkers called her husband, and the gist of the conversation was that it's illegal to shoot the deer, and I should call Fish and Game and report it.  So I did, and the woman I talked to said there's nothing they could do about it and that I just needed to let it be until it dies.  I told her I wasn't thrilled about the idea of letting a deer die slowly and painfully, and that I also wasn't thrilled about eventually having a dead deer rotting so close to the house.  She "helpfully" said I could always take it to the dump once it was dead.

The last thing I wanted to do was load a dead, decaying deer carcass into the back of the truck and then haul it to the dump.  Thanks for nothing, Idaho Fish and Game.

I relayed all this info to Cathy, but what to do with the dead deer took a back seat to finding out a way to put this poor, suffering deer out of its misery.  It was pretty brutal watching it flop around on the ground and struggle to stand up.  It's something I won't forget any time soon.  Cathy told me the coworker's husband was friends with a sheriff deputy who lived down the road, and the deputy agreed to stop by and shoot the deer.  I was relieved.

I shouldn't have to point out how ri-god-damned-diculous it is that it's illegal to shoot an injured deer to end its suffering, but that Fish and Game won't take care of it.  I get why it's illegal, because poachers could simply say the deer was already injured, and they were just putting it down.  And I'm sure the reason why Fish and Game didn't send anyone out is because they are chronically underfunded.  But still.

While waiting for the deputy, I mentioned on Facebook what was going on, and the overwhelming consensus from the many comments was, "Fuck the law.  Do what's right."  I agreed with the consensus, but there were a couple problems.  First, we inherited our gun collection from Cathy's father: a couple of .22 rifles and a 12 gauge shotgun, which weren't exactly ideal for this project (especially the shotgun) and probably haven't been fired in at least 10 years, maybe even 20 or more.  We also have a .357 handgun, which probably would be more suited to shooting the deer, but again, this hasn't been fired in a long time, and it looks like an antique.  It's a police service revolver that probably belonged to Cathy's grandfather, who was a cop on the mean streets of rural Massachusetts well before I was born.  Oh, and we also didn't have any ammo in the house.

Second, I don't know much about guns.  In fact, I've never fired a gun in my life, other than BB guns.  I doubt it would've been too difficult to figure it out, especially considering some of the people I've known who are into guns aren't exactly the second coming of Albert Einstein.  But I didn't really want to go experimenting with guns on the deer.  I could see the headline in the local newspaper: "Man Shoots Himself Trying to Poach Bambi."  There will definitely be a day or two of Cathy and I going out and doing some shooting and getting used to the guns in our near future, but that didn't help me at the time.

Third, and probably most importantly, even if I had shot it, there was a sheriff deputy on his way.  I didn't know what to expect from him, and I didn't want to find myself having to deal with the possibility, remote as it was, of having to pay a hefty fine for shooting the deer.  So I waited for the deputy to arrive and tried not to dwell on the twitching and flopping deer outside.

The deputy finally showed up a good three hours later, after it had gotten dark out.  I was irritated it took so long, but later I found out he wasn't showing up as part of his duties, but stopping by on his way home.  Apparently the sheriff's department has more important things to do than to shoot a dying deer, and this guy was just doing a favor for a friend.  Either way, I'm glad he stopped by.

The deputy seemed nice enough, but he still made me nervous, as all cops do, even when I have no reason to be nervous.  I guess they're trained to intimidate people and keep them nervous.  After he started talking to us, he relaxed, and so did I.

I showed him where the deer was.  It had moved a good 20-30 feet from where I'd first seen it because of all the flopping on the ground and failed attempts to stand up.  The deputy asked what I was going to do with the deer afterwards, and I told him I didn't have any plans.  A couple Facebook friends suggested I keep the meat, but I have no idea how to gut a deer.  Besides, it was a scrawny little fawn, so I don't know how much meat you could get from it.  Probably a lot if you know what you're doing, but I don't.

I told the deputy I was going to go stand over by the house while he shot the deer.  I hadn't thought about it up until that point, but I couldn't see any reason to stick around and watch him shoot it.  So I walked away and eventually heard the gunshot.  The shot didn't bother me at all.  In fact, I felt quite relieved once I heard it.  The cop took his time coming back to his car, which I thought was weird, but when he came back he told us dragged the carcass over by the road.  That was pretty cool of him.  He didn't need to do that.  He didn't even need to stop by.

I never did find the deer carcass later on, not that I went looking for it, but I can't help but wonder if someone stopped picked it up.  I hope so.  It's enough that Cathy buys bird seed to feed the smaller birds.  We don't need to be feeding the ravens as well.

Reading Materials

For political stories, see my political blog.  Otherwise, check these out:
In Closing

Here it is, your moment of Tucker (taken near Grandma's house):


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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey Goodness

Hello everyone.

As we wrap up November 2011, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this past October marked five years of me doing this blog. Yay!

Of course, I probably should have mentioned that last month when it was actually five years to the day, not today. What's the point in celebrating a five year, one month, and two day anniversary?

But I didn't realize I'd passed the five year milestone until a couple days ago. I have a hard enough time remembering my own birthday, let alone my blog's birthday, so cut me some slack.

I've been teaching myself HTML and CSS lately. I'm also planning on learning Javascript and some other computer languages, programs, and/or software in the near future. I have an idea for a website that I'm going to try to build myself, either from scratch or by customizing a template. I had been thinking about trying to find someone to build the site for me, but then I just thought, "Why can't I build it myself?" I already have some basic HTML experience from this blog, from our photo site, and from other projects, and I'm fairly intelligent, so why not learn how to do it myself?

But I'm quickly discovering that this sort of stuff is incredibly tedious to study. It's not terribly difficult--it's just all right-brain stuff. Or is it left brain? I always confuse the two. What I'm trying to say is that it's all logical stuff. So I find myself walking around with a headache most of the time. Maybe it's just a tumor and completely unrelated to the HTML and CSS language stuff. Or not.

I think it will be much easier once I start playing around with the language instead of just studying it. I'm probably going to fool around with the colors and fonts and formatting right here on this blog. I won't make any big changes (at least not on purpose) because after five years, I'm used to this layout the way it is. But I used the stock Blogger template when I first started this blog, and I'm really bored with it. So I'll probably change the colors at the very least.

The new project won't have much to do with what I do here, so I plan on continuing with this blog. Although, the new project will kinda involve Tucker. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving News

Well, the turkey we made seemed to be a hit because Cathy and I sure got lots of compliments. I think if we're going to do it again, barbecuing is definitely the way to go. Here's what we did:

We started with an 18 pound turkey. I didn't want one that big, but it was the smallest one we found. Also, full disclosure: I broke one of my rules and didn't get a sustainably-raised turkey, mainly because a sustainably-raise turkey would've cost around $100 and required a drive to Spokane. So we caved and went to the local Safeway instead.

Here's how we prepared it. We thawed it in the beer fridge for a few days prior to Thanksgiving. By Thursday morning it still hadn't thawed all the way, so we soaked it in cold water in the sink for a half hour or so. Meanwhile, we:
  • Cored two apples and cut them into chunks
  • Peeled two Mandarin oranges and split them into segments
  • Diced a couple stalks of celery 
  • Diced an onion
  • Peeled several (don't remember how many) cloves of garlic and cut them in half.
We mixed all those ingredients with some fresh sage and stuffed it into the cavity.  Then we coated the turkey skin with melted butter.  Finally, we put the stuffed bird in a roasting pan and put the neck, giblets, and extra stuffing in the pan around the turkey, and added a cup or so (didn't measure) of white wine to the pan.

For the barbecue, I started a chimney of "real wood" charcoal (in Eugene I used to get mesquite charcoal, but the closest I can find here is "real wood"--it doesn't say what kind).  When the coals were ready, I dumped them in the barbecue and put the turkey pan on the grill.  It barely fit under my Weber barbecue lid.  I started a second chimney, and when that was ready, I added it to the first, along with some mesquite chips that had been soaking in water.

From then on, we checked the barbecue every once in a while to baste the turkey and see how things were going.  Incidentally, we couldn't find a turkey baster (though I'm sure we have one somewhere in the house), so Cathy went to Safeway to buy one, and of course they were all sold out.  All they had was one meat injector, which she picked up.  It actually worked better than a baster because we could baste with it and inject juice into the turkey.

A couple hours in, I added a third chimney of charcoal, and that was all I needed in total.

About four hours or so after we started, it was done.  Here's what it looked like:

Not bad, eh?

We also made slow cooker stuffing and garlicky mashed potatoes.  My sister made sweet potatoes, homemade bread, and a couple desserts, while my nephew's wife (my niece-in-law?) made salad and another dessert, and my niece brought drinks and deviled eggs.  Everything was fantastic (except the deviled eggs, which I think are always disgusting, so I didn't have any, though other people said they were good).

In short, it was a success.

It was also lots of fun to hang out with the family.  Even though we live within an hour or two of each of them, we don't get to see them very much, mainly because they live an hour or two away.

Anyway, with an 18 pound turkey, even though we insisted that our family take some with them (they didn't seem to mind too much), we still had lots of leftovers.  Over the weekend I made a batch of my "award-winning" chili, substituting leftover turkey for the beef, but keeping the pork.  It was an all-white-meat chili.  I still plan on posting the chili recipe here at some point, I promise.

Cathy also made a damn good stock out of the turkey carcass plus some onion, celery, and seasonings.  Then she used some of the stock to make turkey noodle soup.  We also had turkey tacos.  And turkey sandwiches.  So many turkey sandwiches.

Fortunately, all the turkey is now either gone or is in soup or chili in the freezer.  I think I've had enough for a while.

And Now, A Musical Interlude

After posting a Tortoise video in my last blog, I realized this is the video I should've posted instead. It's not that the music is any better here than in the live video--it's just that this video is a lot of fun, especially for someone into photography like I am. Here it is:

Reading Materials

This one is going to be a long one.  Cue the obligatory "That's what she said" joke...

In Closing

Do me a favor, drop by check out my friend Erin's new website, Cross Sectional Views. She's a great writer, and her posts are insightful and always worth a read.

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker (taken last August):


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To Serve and Pepper Spray

Hello everyone.

In my last post, I wrote about how ridiculous I thought it was that our weather forecast called for 1-3 inches of snow, and yet we had a Winter Storm Warning. Well, as it turned out, we actually got about a foot and a half of snow, which of course is much more Winter Storm Warning worthy, but quite different than "1-3 inches." And on top of that, we got another 4-6 inches of snow yesterday morning. But then last night the air warmed up and it began to rain, so now everything is a big slushy, sloppy mess.

Every so often when chunks of the wet snow slide off the roof and hit the ground, it makes a big booming sound that scares Tucker. I told him it was just snow and it happens all the time, and that it didn't seem to bother him last year when he was just a little puppy, but he seems skeptical. I even took him outside to inspect the piles that had just fallen off the roof for himself, and all he did was pick up a big chunk of ice with his mouth and run around the yard like a cuckoo bird.  Of course, he liked to do that all the time in the summer, too, except he'd have a pine cone in his mouth instead of an ice chunk.  At least he sticks with what he knows best.

Occupy News

In case you haven't heard, here's the latest. Some UC Davis students decided to form their own Occupy group and pitch tents on their campus to protest, among other things, the steep rise in tuition California students are facing. When the campus cops told them to leave, they refused and locked arms to form a human chain. A cop then hosed them down with pepper spray at close range. Here's a video taken from four separate perspectives:

Good thing those campus cops were there in full riot gear to protect the students from the scourge of their seated classmates, eh?

Despite what Megyn Kelly says, pepper spray is potentially lethal, and "U.S. troops fighting overseas are banned from using it in combat by international treaty." It's pretty bad stuff. If Megyn Kelly really thinks it's a harmless "food product," I'm sure she'd have no problem letting someone spray a generous portion of it all over her face.

I'll let you, the reader, fill in the space after the last sentence with the obvious joke. I choose to rise above that sort of juvenile humor. Unless it's a joke about poop or farts. Those are always hilarious.

Anyway, pepper spray is designed to cause great pain and/or blindness. Normally something designed to cause pain and/or failure of one's basic bodily functions is considered a torture device. But when it's cops/military/government doing the torturing, people tend to be really good at coming up with ways to justify it.  We love our obedience to authority, don't we?

I've been reading online comments from people excusing the cops' actions by claiming that the cops were just doing their job and that the students were breaking the law. Except I've yet to see anyone point out exactly what law they were breaking. The closest I've seen is a quote from the college chancellor claiming the students were "violating university rules." But university rules aren't exactly the same as the law, no?

The First Amendment is supposed to guarantee the right to peaceably assemble, and the video makes it clear that's exactly what these students were doing. They were sitting down, arms locked. They weren't even chanting or yelling, for crying out loud. Even more, this was a protest by students on their own campus, and if anyone had a right to be there, it was them.

But let's assume the students were breaking some mythical law. How does that justify what happened here?  The justification for cops to carry pepper spray (or a gun, or a Taser, or a nightstick) is to protect themselves against threats. But how much paint thinner does one have to inhale to be deluded enough to think a dozen or so unarmed kids sitting on the ground pose any sort of threat to armed cops in full riot gear?  Also, why were the people sitting down the only ones targeted? After all, if simply being on campus is a crime deserving of chemical weapons to the face, why don't you see the cops pepper spraying all the students standing around watching? There were certainly a lot more of them than the dozen or so sitting down.

If you support the cop's actions, you have nothing to complain about if you get pepper sprayed the next time you get pulled over for speeding.  It's that simple.

The only crime committed at UC Davis that day was not by the students, but by the pepper-spraying cops. It was about crushing a Constitutionally-protected protest before it picked up steam. As Glenn Greenwald noted, this is all about intimidating others into submission and silence.

See, unlike other countries that outright ban free speech and free expression, our government pretends to allow it. And as long as people engage in the "right kind of free speech," the kind that can be manipulated and exploited by those who actually run the country, the corporate shills who dominate our media and political discourse will sing the praises of the First Amendment. But when people actually engage in free speech that threatens said status quo, the full force of the state will come down on the people in the form of pepper spray, tear gas, nightsticks, flash grenades, and skull-cracking rubber bullets to the face. We're seeing it now.

The administrators at UC Davis (along with the faculty, students, and cops) should consider themselves fortunate that the students didn't riot after the pepper spraying. People tend to respond to violence with more violence, even nonviolent protesters. If the cops keep up this type of behavior (and since they take orders from politicians, I expect more of the status quo), people are going to react. It's going to get ugly(er).

Pressure is on the chancellor to resign. Her walk of shame was caught on video. The cop who did the spraying was put on leave (with pay, naturally) while he's being investigated. I'd be shocked if anything happens to him. I don't even expect a slap on the wrist. He'll likely be back pepper spraying lawful protesters in no time. That's what happens in a police state.

Or maybe something will come out of this.  Maybe some real changes will happen.  Time will tell.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out one cool thing to come out of this: an awesome internet meme.

Here's one more thing I want to discuss. This photo has been making its way around the interwebs:

As I've mentioned before on this blog, for every job that's available, five people are looking for one. That's just the official numbers--the actual number is likely much higher. Also, that doesn't include people who already have a job, but whose job doesn't pay enough, so they're looking for a replacement or second job.

The point is this: the problem isn't that people don't want to work--it's that there aren't enough jobs. The people protesting are not to blame for this fact. They're not looking for a handout. They just don't want to be doomed to a life of poverty and debt servitude. In fact, the only demanding a handout are the Wall Street scumbags that tanked the economy then demanded a bailout.

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that so many people have the basic premise behind the Occupy movement wrong given that our corporate media is not in the business of informing people, but rather selling corporate advertisements. I'm sure the lack of information and abundance of misinformation is even worse for the soldiers stationed overseas. Hence the sign. Don't believe it, though.

And Now, A Musical Interlude

Tortoise is my favorite instrumental band, and one of my overall favorites, instrumental or otherwise. Here's a set from one of their shows in Europe:

Reading Materials: 
  • I linked to this earlier, but Glenn Greenwald is always a must-read, and definitely worth two links in one blog post.
  • Pepper-spraying is not limited to California and New York.  This story combines my interest in the Occupy movement and my interest in photography.
  • A pregnant woman miscarried after being kicked and pepper sprayed during a Seattle protest.  Where is the "pro-life" crowd calling for murder charges against Seattle's finest?
  • An NYC cop pushed and threatened to arrest a woman who had identified herself as a legal observer.  That legal observer also happens to be a New York Supreme Court judge.
  • Matt Taibbi shows how much injustice there is in our system.
  • Scott Olsen, the Oakland victim of a rubber bullet to the head, is now up and out of the hospital.
  • Obama gets mic checked during a speech.  I'm sure that won't stop the usual gang of idiots from claiming the Occupy movement is really a Marxist/Muslim/Socialist/Kenyan plot funded by George Soros and ACORN to create chaos in the streets in order to destroy capitalism and force our kids to get gay married to illegal immigrants and have semi-annual taxpayer-funded abortions.
  • Amazon customers comment on the brand of pepper spray used at UC Davis.  Hilarity ensues.
  • One of the reasons I'm all but done with Facebook these days (though I admit I do sometimes lurk).
  • What happens when an elementary school teacher catches a boy and a girl smooching during PE class?  Well, the school calls the cops to see if they should investigate it as a sex crime, of course.
  • Here's a handy chart to help illustrate the relative value of money.
  • Rand Paul: "Millionaires and billionaires pay all the taxes."  I guess the next time I'm at the store, I'll just tell the cashier, "I don't have to pay the sales tax because I'm not a millionaire or billionaire.  Hey, Senator Paul said so!"
  • Black Friday is coming up.  Most of what you know about it is probably untrue.
  • This article debunks myths found in an article that supposedly debunked myths about eating local food
  • Every time an Oregon Ducks fan makes the "O" hand signal, he or she is also making the sign language symbol for "vagina."  Seriously.
  • Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a knack for pointing out the obvious.
In Closing

We're having Thanksgiving at our place this year.  I'm going to attempt to barbecue a turkey.  I've never tried such a thing before.  Hell, I've never cooked a turkey in the oven before.  So it should be interesting.  If it turns out to be a complete disaster, you'll probably hear all about it right here on Rob Dow's World.  So stay tuned.

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker (and Cleocatra):

"It's too cold to play outside."

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weddings and Stuff

Hello everyone.

No, I'm not going to talk about the Occupy movement today. I know there's a lot to talk about, but I'm just burned out on the whole thing, and that's nothing against the movement or its supporters. In fact, I'm not even planning on talking politics at all right now, even though there's plenty to talk about. I just need a break from it right now.

So for this post I'm just going to focus on stuff happening in my life.  Of course, I suppose everything is political, even stuff happening in my life, but you know what I mean.

The point I'm trying to make is that if you've dropped by specifically for my insightful middling political commentary, and/or if you couldn't give two craps what's going on in my life, you might want to skip this one. Your loss.

Rob Happenings

Cathy and I went down to Eugene last weekend to see two of our friends get married. Yes, to each other. Technically, they got married last spring, but no one was there to see it, so Saturday was the big ceremony with family and friends.

It was a success. They had the ceremony at an art gallery, and as they're both creative, artistic people, it was not only appropriate, but it was also really fun to be around all the art. Notwithstanding my snarky comments about a few of the paintings looking like Froot Loops cereal, there was some amazing work there, and it was inspiring to be surrounded by it.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom each gave a little speech to each other, sort of like vows but not really, and both of their respective speeches was well-written, tear-jerking stuff. Each of their moms also went up front and gave a little speech as well, and their speeches were also top-notch.

I began to worry.

Here's the thing: I was the Best Man. And I had to also give a little speech when I did the toast later on. I wasn't terribly worried about the public speaking aspect, as I had gotten used to speaking in public on a semi-regular basis while working as an academic advisor, and besides, I already knew a lot of the people who were there. Speaking in front of people you know and who know you is much easier than speaking in front of strangers, at least to me.

Leading up to the ceremony I had (mostly) teased the groom that I was going to give a Celebrity Roast-style speech about him, and he was a bit worried I'd embarrass him in front of his family and coworkers. In reality, I was just going to tell a few funny stories about him, none of which would make anyone think less of him. Truth be told, I'd have to make something up if I wanted people to think less of him, because he's a really good guy. But I had at least 15 minutes worth of material and only 2-3 minutes of allotted time, so I had to pare it down.

I had a tough time finding the line between saying nice, appropriate things and being myself. It's much easier for me to be an asshole than to be nice. In fact, I can be an asshole with little to no effort, but it takes a lot of work to be nice. I'm also much better at being an asshole than being nice.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional wrestler. I wanted to be a bad guy, naturally.

It's not that I want to be an asshole--I really don't. It's just the way I'm programmed. That's why I write. I can focus my asshole-ishness into a character, and that allows me to be me without hurting anyone I care about.

Anyway, before the ceremony I got my speech pared down to a couple minutes. I planned on saying mostly nice things that truly came from the heart without having to resort to stupid cliches, and I also managed to get in a few lighthearted jabs. I felt confident.

But then after hearing everyone else's speeches, I was a bit worried that mine wouldn't measure up. The thing was, it wasn't so much about my ego. Mostly, I didn't want to disappoint my two friends at their wedding.

But I went through with my speech anyway, more or less as I had planned, and I think it went well. I didn't screw up in front of everyone and make a fool of myself. People laughed when they were supposed to laugh, and people "Awwed" when I hoped they would. Afterward a couple people said it was a good speech. The bride and groom didn't seem upset afterward. If they were, they hid it well.

Cathy and I stuck around to the end to help tear down and clean up. We were exhausted, but some friends wanted to go out for drinks afterward. We went along and ended up more exhausteder. But it was fun.

Even without weddings and wedding-type events, these Oregon trips are incredibly draining. I hate the 9-10 hour drive each way. There's a couple hours in the middle of the drive that snakes though the Columbia Gorge, which is nice when it's not windy or icy. The rest of it sucks.

And when we're in town, we never have enough time. Never. This trip was even worse in that respect. We drove down on Thursday, did the rehearsal and then went to the rehearsal dinner on Friday, had the wedding on Saturday, and came home on Sunday. This meant that there was really no way we'd be able to see any of our numerous Eugene friends who weren't at the wedding. And we didn't even get to spend much time with our friends who were at the wedding. So this trip also included a generous helping of guilt.

But then again, it's a one day drive from Eugene to our place, and all our Eugene friends have an open invitation to come up here and spend as much time with us as they can handle.

I did, however, manage to pick up a few bottles of something very special from Oakshire. Stay tuned.

And Now, A Musical Interlude

I came across this recording of Nirvana doing "Something in the Way" during a 1991 BBC session. This version is heavier and darker, and I like it better than the one on Nevermind, which is pretty darn good in itself. Anyway, here it is:

I think my last music-related post was about Nirvana, too. I like Nirvana, but I wouldn't call myself a hardcore fan. I guess I've just had them on my brain recently.

I'll try to branch out and post something different next time.

In Closing

There's a Winter Storm Warning in effect for our area.  We're supposed to get up to three inches of snow over the next 36 hours.  They've really lowered the bar on Winter Storm Warnings lately.  It used to be you had to get a blizzard, freezing rain, and/or snow accumulation that could be measured in feet before it was considered Winter Storm Warning worthy.  Three inches in 36 hours?  Sounds like typical North Idaho winter weather to me.  But what do I know?

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker:


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Thursday, November 03, 2011

On "Violent Protesters" and a Few Reading Assignments

Hello everyone.


That's how I've been feeling lately. I don't know if it's the cold, dreary weather, or the fact that I haven't had a whole lot of interaction with people not named Cathy lately, but I'm just not feeling terribly inspired these days. I haven't done much in the way of writing on my book for the past couple of weeks, and I haven't been terribly motivated to do the tons of projects around the house that are crowding up my to-do list. I did, however, find time to write a to-do list, so there's that, I guess.

I haven't even been in the mood to brew any beer. It's that bad.

So now I'm forcing myself to pump out a blog posting with the hope that it might help fight the doldrums. Here goes nothing...

Occupy News

In what should come as a surprise to no one, there's been a big crackdown on Occupy protesters all across the country. Cops in full riot gear have been sent in armed with batons, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and tear gas grenades to dispel the scourge of hippie drummers camping without a permit.

One noteworthy incident took place last week in Oakland, CA, where Scott Olsen, who served two tours in Iraq, was shot in the head at close range with a "police projectile"--either rubber bullets or a tear gas grenade--leaving him with a fractured skull and an inability to speak due to brain damage, though fortunately doctors expect him to fully recover.  To protect and serve!

When several people rushed to help the man who was laying on the ground motionless, a cop threw a flash grenade into the middle of the crowd. I'm sure that if he could, that cop would've arrested those people and charged them with obstruction of justice or some other bullshit charge for attending to a fellow human being. How dare they?

Now I know some you may be thinking the cops are being a bit heavy-handed toward the protesters. But they have to do something. After all, the Occupy crowd is being barely inconvenient, and we can't have that. If the cops did nothing, the movement might become slightly more inconvenient, and then what? We can't inconvenience the plutocracy, now can we? And we all love the First Amendment, but only if it's used to protect certain types of speech, such as unlimited, anonymous corporate campaign contributions, not regular people with signs.

(end sarcasm)

The latest is that the protesters have become "violent." I'm not so sure. People have admitted to infiltrating the movement in order to turn it violent and discredit it. There's pretty solid evidence that cops have infiltrated Occupy Oakland at the very least. And is vandalism really the same thing as violence?

But let's assume it's true. Let's assume the actual protesters--not agent provocateurs or infiltrators--have become violent. We know that the police (not all, but some) have been violent toward the protesters, so is it really a surprise that the protesters (not all, but some) have responded in kind? Isn't that just a basic human instinct?

I'm not making excuses or justifying. I'm as non-violent as they come, but I'm also realistic. It's idiotic to expect people who have been treated this way to not start fighting back. In fact, I think it's incredibly impressive that the so-called "protester violence" has been so minimal, not just because of human nature, but because of how deeply ingrained and institutionalized violence is in our culture. Just watch practically any newscast, any movie, or any TV show, and you'll invariably come across violent conflict. Every Fourth of July we celebrate violence. It's everywhere.  So why are we shocked when victims of violence in a protest respond with violence, but cheer when the latest movie action hero does the same?

Also, shouldn't cops (or rather, the people giving cops their orders) know that protesters (or anybody for that matter) is likely to respond to violence with more violence?  You'd think that if they wanted to keep things peaceful, they wouldn't send a riot squad in to crush a campout that's already been peaceful.  You'd have to believe either they're incredibly inept at what they do, or they wanted it to escalate into violence.  I can't see a third option.

If you have an agenda (and are willing to forgo critical thinking), you can see the "protester violence" as example of a failure of the protests. Or you could see the relative lack of protester violence as an example of its success. And if you're honest with yourself and informed, it's pretty clear to see that the violence has been incredibly one-sided: committed by cops and government officials, and the victims have been the people they're supposed to protect and who pay their salaries.

But one thing is clear: The emperor wears no clothes. If a few kids taking to the streets have caused this much of a reaction, it can only mean the people who own our country are scared. And their hold on power is incredibly fragile.

Reading Materials

I've decided to start a new segment, in which I share articles I've recently read and found noteworthy for some reason. I share articles on Facebook all the time, but I realize not everyone has a Facebook account, and I don't want to encourage people to get one, because Facebook is evil.
  • Global Grind looks at reports that the NYPD has been encouraging drunks and transients to infiltrate the Occupy Wall Street camps
  • Matt Taibbi (probably the best investigative journalist in the nation) takes on the nonsensical claims of Michael Bloomberg and the rest of the corporate shills that the financial crisis was caused by poor people taking on loans they couldn't afford to pay back.  It's Taibbi.  Read it.
  • A home foreclosure mill had a Halloween party where the employees dressed up like homeless people to mock the ones the employees foreclosed upon for a living.  I don't believe in Hell, but if there was one, there'd be a special section for these scumbags.
  • The Telegraph talks about how a bunch of sociopaths encouraged a 17-year-old to jump off a building and kill himself
  • A woman who went for a late-night walk with a friend was arrested and held in jail for two days because she left her ID back at her room
  • Bill Moyers speaks.  You listen.
  • Do we want "jobs," or do we really want a better society?
  • Counterpunch looks at the Obama administration's claim of foiling an Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador, and how it relates to a desire in DC to collapse the Iranian economy so as to overthrow the government and install a US and Israel-friendly regime.  It's so ridiculous, it just might work!
  • The local Priest River Times has a blurb about a recent fire.  Ignore the writing--it's horrendous--but look at the photo to see if you can spot Cathy (hint: she's the one on the left).
  • And finally, The Raw Story has an article about and 83-year-old who is being charged with being a gigolo for offering sexual services to pay off a debt.  It's nice to know even seniors can find work in this depressed economy.
In Closing

I feel a bit better.  Forcing myself to blog was a good idea.  I should probably do it more often, no?

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker:

"If I were human, dressing me up like this would be considered illegal under the Geneva Convention."

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Head Injuries and Speeches

Hello everyone.

So far it's been a pretty uneventful Monday, and I'm thankful for that, because the weekend was anything but uneventful.

I drove Cathy to the Spokane airport on Friday morning so she could go visit relatives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. So it was just Tucker and me--just us boys. We checked out the new Spokane dog park, where he proceeded to ignore the Boxer pup who wanted to play with him, and instead focused on the ball. But he did his business and wore himself out, so the stop was well worth it.

I intended to stop by the Guitar Center in Spokane and try out some guitars on this trip, but it turns out they don't open until 11 am on weekdays (slacker musicians!), and it was only 9:30. If they opened at 10, I might have grabbed something to eat or otherwise found something to do to kill a half hour, but there was no way I was going to wait around for 90 minutes. Your loss, Guitar Center.

Not that I'm the market for a new guitar right now. But I'm sure I will be at some point, hopefully sooner than later, and it's nice to know what's out there. I have to admit I'm a good old typical American consumer when it comes to certain products. Music gear is one. Beer is another. Fortunately, that's about it.

Anyway, on Saturday I was busy multitasking by stacking firewood in between throwing the ball for Tucker. He's obsessed with getting the ball. That's all he lives for.  It was a pretty healthy obsession until Saturday, when he ended up running head-first into a steel trailer hitch pretty much at full speed. Immediately after that he kinda stumbled around and even fell over a couple times, still looking for the ball. It sounds funny, but it wasn't. It was quite scary.

Of course, the local vet was closed for the weekend, so I had to drive for 45 minutes to an animal hospital in Post Falls. The good news was that Tucker was fine, and they gave him a prescription for an anti-inflammatory painkiller. Did you know they made meat-flavored anti-inflammatory painkillers? I didn't, but now I do.

When we came back home from the unexpected vet trip, the hills to the east of our house were on fire. I'm pretty sure it was a "controlled burn," as they had been planning one there for a while from what I'd heard. And the conditions were probably right because we had gotten a lot of rain recently, and it had been raining pretty much all day, aside from a brief break when Tucker decided to take a header into the trailer. But it was a bit unsettling to see big flames in the distance.

Once it got dark, we got a bunch of lightning, thunder, and hail. I can see hail, but lightning and thunder? At the end of a storm instead of the beginning? In late October? In North Idaho? Weird stuff.

I don't think Tucker appreciated the weather too much. He spent most of his time Saturday night cowering in the bedroom and sleeping off his headache. Poor guy.

And that brings me to Sunday.

Occupy News

I had planned on attending the Occupy Sandpoint general assembly meeting Sunday evening. It was the third meeting of the group, and I had attended the first two. The first one was great. About 50 people attended. We all stood outside in a big circle. We took turns introducing ourselves and talking about some of the issues we thought were important. It was great. It was full of energy. Ego was kept to a minimum. We agreed to get together the following week, this time at one of the local coffee houses.

So we did. I estimated there was probably about 100 people in attendance for the second one. It started out well. We watched this video, which is one of my favorites:

But from then on this meeting had a different feel than the first. The circle was gone, and in its place was a bunch of chairs facing an elevated stage. If you wanted to speak, you put your name on a list, and when your name was called, you went on stage and spoke through a microphone and amplified PA system. At one point, the mayor of Sandpoint decided she wanted to speak, and her name was moved to the top of the list.

I wasn't a fan of this system. I thought it was too hierarchical. I thought someone standing on a platform orating to a crowd was antithetical to the Occupy movement's ideal that no one should be considered more important than anyone else. I also thought having to stand on a platform and speak in front of an audience would be too intimidating for some people, and some voices would get left out.

While people were speaking, there were a few people in the audience who would occasionally interrupt, sometimes to support what was being said, but mostly to argue/debate with the speaker. It was frustrating.

The content being said by the speakers was also quite different than the first meeting. There was lots of talk about "freedom," but little talk about dwindling opportunities. Lots of talk about "government tyranny," but not much talk about corporate/Wall Street tyranny. One guy talked about the UN of all things, but no one talked about the WTO or the IMF. A woman talked about housing foreclosures, but no one talked about crippling student loan debt. As far as I know, I may have been the only one there with any student loan debt.

One guy was selling giving away right-wing libertarian DVDs (with a suggested donation to help cover the costs) and promoting InfoWars and Alex Jones conspiracy theory-nonsense websites. Another guy discussed "Second-Amendment remedies," and then took it further by saying (and I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember his exact words, but I think I'm pretty close) that "We need to execute the criminals in DC." That doesn't exactly seem to jive with the spirit of nonviolence that the Occupy movement has been promoting, no? The suspicious side of me wondered if he was a plant trying to stir up shit to discredit us.

There was lots of talk about what people thought was wrong, and even what they thought we need to fix, but we never got around to planning an action.

At times I felt like I was at a Tea Party rally, or even a militia meeting, rather than an Occupy meeting.

The alpha-males dominated. Within a movement that was supposed to be leaderless, people were jockeying to lead.

I could tell many people in the audience were turned off by this. Some people voiced their disapproval. Some walked out. Some later made comments about it on Facebook.

To be clear: I don't blame the organizers for this. They did the best they could with what they were given. We're all learning here, and everyone is trying to make things better the way they know how. These are not professional organizers. They're regular people finding their voices and learning how to use them.

Still, there were certainly some encouraging moments. Many of the people who spoke had great ideas. Many reiterated a commitment to nonviolence. There seemed to be some real potential for the movement.

I wanted to speak, but I was flummoxed. I had thoughts, but they weren't yet organized. I'm not quick on my feet. I'm a processor. I need time to organize my thoughts, to stew on them, to write them down, to look at them from every angle.  Only then am I ready to speak.

When I was younger, I would react and speak without thinking. Usually I'd end up saying something stupid. Later, I would think back on it and wonder how I could be a reasonably intelligent person yet end up sounding like a blithering idiot. So I learned to shut my mouth and open my ears and let my thoughts ripen before sharing them.  It's served me well.

And I'm a writer. So during the week between Meeting #2 and Meeting #3, I did what I always do, which was to write down my thoughts. I formed the thoughts into words and sentences, and I organized them into something relatively coherent that I could share with the group. I wrote a lot--way more than I had originally planned. I basically ended up writing a speech, though that wasn't my intention initially.

There's a lot of ego that goes with writing. You really have to have a high opinion of yourself if you think other people would be interested in reading what you have to say. It's even worse with the spoken word. But I felt like I had a perspective that no one else did, and that what I had to say could contribute to the group, and maybe help steer it in a useful direction.

Still, there's a certain irony of trying to lead what's supposed to be a leaderless movement, even if the intention is to stave off other leadership. Over the years, I've tried to develop a "bullshit detector" (also known as critical thinking), and it's not confined to just other people. I use it on myself all the time, mainly to keep things real.

So when I thought about what I was going to say, my most critical side came out, and I found myself wondering what I hoped to accomplish.  Was I going to show up and give a big speech, and then suddenly the movement would go in the "right" direction, and once the revolution is over, the crowd will remember my speech, hoist me on their shoulders, and parade me around town singing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"?

Bullshit detected.

Keeping one's ego out of it is an ongoing process, at least for me.  I tried to focus on the movement, and think about what it was.  That was what was important.  I tried to leave myself out of it.  And I thought what I had to say was important, but I realized it wasn't because of me since my ideas aren't terrible original in the first place.  They're just ideas I'd picked up from other sources, and those sources probably picked them up from other sources, and in the end it's the ideas that are important, not the people.  We just combine them with other ideas and transmit them to others.  That's what I was determined to do. 

So then it came time to head to Sandpoint to go to the meeting.
And I just couldn't do it.

After the weekend I'd had, I didn't have the energy, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I couldn't handle the idea of driving for 45 minutes (each way), for the third day in a row, to attend what was likely to be a contentious meeting. I didn't have the strength to assert myself and my point of view. I didn't have the patience to listen to and potentially work with people who held beliefs that aren't supported by facts, or that go against what I value. Since I'd dropped Cathy off at the airport two and a half days prior, the only people I'd interacted with in person was the owner of the Boxer at the dog park, the vet, and counter person at the animal hospital, and I'd had a couple of brief phone conversations. That was it. I just didn't have it in me to be around a large group of people, let alone speak in front of them.

And mainly I'm tired of arguing.  It's exhausting.

So I stayed home, even though I couldn't help feel that I was chickening out.  I had to give myself the same advice I often give Cathy, which was that I'm doing the best I can, and I shouldn't be so hard on myself (along with the requisite, "Heh-heh, you said, 'hard-on.'")  I played guitar in the basement and sang screamed for a couple hours. I drank probably more IPA than I should have. I felt better.

But I had this speech I'd written. I'd spent a lot of time on it. And since I missed the meeting, and I don't know what was discussed, it's probably obsolete. I still want to share it, though. Good old ego, I guess. So here it is, with a few links added in case you don't know what I'm talking about:
I want to start by saying that at last week’s meeting, I heard a couple of derisive comments about the Tea Party. I think it’s important to remember that the Tea Party started out as a legitimate protest against Wall Street bailouts that was quickly hijacked by pro-big business political interests, mainly the billionaire Koch brothers and their Astroturf group, “Americans for Prosperity.” The movement’s energy was then redirected into electing politicians to enact policies favorable to the Koch brothers themselves, as well as their Wall Street friends. I think we can learn from their mistakes and make sure this movement doesn’t get hijacked, too. I also think we should be reaching out to the Tea Party members, because we have a lot more in common with them than we do with politicians in DC and corporate CEOs.

I also think we should be careful not to fall victim to the false left/right dichotomy. I’m just as guilty of this type of thinking as anyone else, as it’s something that’s deeply ingrained in our culture, thanks in part to our two-party system and our corporate media. Framing the issues we face as if it’s a sporting contest of left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican plays well on TV and is designed to dumb down complicated, nuanced issues into something that’s easily consumable and can draw people away from reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. I think this sort of thinking is incredibly limiting, and it should be avoided it at all costs.

I think the language we use is important, because words illustrate our thoughts. One phrase I hear over and over again is “Wall Street greed.” To me, this makes it sound like the problem is simply a few greedy people on Wall Street, and if we could just fix that problem, everything would be fine. Nonsense. Imagine watching a basketball game on TV and hearing the announcers complain that Kobe Bryant was being greedy by scoring so many points by himself and not letting any of the other players have a chance. The reason you’d never hear this is because the goal of any basketball player is to score as many points as possible. Likewise, the goal of Wall Street is to make as much money as possible. Reforming Wall Street is not going to change that. Eliminating it will.

Another phrase we often hear is “The system is broken.” I respectfully disagree. It’s not broken. It works just fine at what it exists to do, which is to serve the people and organizations that have created it. It rewards the scumbags of the world and punishes people who do the “right thing.”

A recent study showed that 94% of the Congressional candidates who raised the most money won their elections. This means that any politician willing to shill for the wealthy has a huge advantage over someone determined to represent the working class. Once elected, those shills are then rewarded accordingly with congressional leadership committee positions, or if they lose, they’re offered lucrative lobbying positions, perpetuating the system. Poll after poll has shown that Americans hate negative ads during political campaigns, and yet politicians who use them almost always defeat politicians who don’t, which rewards unscrupulous politicians at the expense of ethical ones. The corporate advertising world has branched off into politics, and now candidates brand themselves based on demographics and what plays well in focus groups. A politician with principles doesn’t stand a chance.

The problem just isn’t in Washington, but also in the boardroom. A corporate CEO who lays off thousands of workers can give him or herself a fat bonus for “increasing productivity.” If a business moves its factories overseas to where workers are desperate and easy to exploit, its competitors face a choice of either doing the same or going out of business because they can’t compete. The businesses that have the least regard for its workers, its community, and the environment tend to be the most successful ones.

The marriage of business and government has produced a system where bank profits are privatized and losses are socialized, where unlimited corporate spending to influence elections is now considered protected speech but a group of people protesting in a public park is not, and where corporations have the same rights as people but hardly any of the responsibilities. The documentary, The Corporation, looked at the issue of corporate personhood by noting that corporations exist solely to accumulate profit, but if a person’s top motivation in life was to accumulate profit, he or she would be considered a sociopath.

The ideals we value as individuals are punished by the system. The ideals we despise as individuals are rewarded by the system. The system is not broken. It’s insane. There’s no fixing it. It needs to be ditched, and a brand new system needs to take its place. What that new system looks like is up to us.

I propose we do two things. First off, I think we need to have an action, whether it’s a one-time demonstration, a recurring demonstration, or an ongoing occupation. While these meetings have been a lot of fun and have been useful, I think we need to let the community know we exist. By making our presence known, we can also potentially bring in new members and grow as a movement. I think we should set this in motion tonight, since the longer we wait, the more difficulty we might have in getting people to show up now that it’s getting cold out.

Second, I propose we make a long-term goal of developing alternative systems. In our last meeting, people suggested a variety of issues for us to address, including tax code reform, lobbyist reform, ending the Fed, and many others. While I think these are all noble causes, I can’t help feeling this is focusing on the symptoms, not the problem. What all these have in common is they are all issues of power. If we can develop alternative systems so that members of our community no longer rely on these institutions, the institutions will no longer have their power over us. There were some great ideas proposed in the last meeting, including developing our own currency, engaging in barter, switching to a credit union or local bank, and shopping locally. I think these are a great start and more ideas should be explored further. Perhaps we could develop feasible solutions for the community at large. It’s probably not economically practical to expect someone who has been laid off and has a family to feed to shop at Six Rivers instead of Walmart, but perhaps we can create a listing where people in the community can trade their skills or talents for local products or services. Perhaps we can develop a food bank that uses only locally-sourced food. Perhaps we can develop community action networks to help people fight off foreclosures, or work with existing ones. I think the possibilities are endless.

In closing, I’m incredibly excited about this group’s potential. I think we have a great opportunity here. I know of no one who’s is happy with the way everything is in the world, in the country, and in their communities. So here’s our opportunity to make things better.
I probably would've also said "thanks" or something at the end.  Or waited for the crowd to hoist me on their shoulders and parade me around.  Or dodged the rotten tomatoes being thrown at me.  Who knows?

In Closing

I'm looking forward to a nice, mellow week.  I might even get a few things done around the house. Or not.

Now, here it is, your moment of Tucker deer stealing our apples:


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Rob Dow's World

Hello everyone.

I don't want to get into the habit of starting my blog by apologizing and making excuses about why it's been so long since my last post.  So I'm not going to discuss how I did some contract work assembling office furniture for a couple days, or how I've been busy getting the house ready for winter, or how I've been playing music with a local guitar player and thinking of trying to play out in one of the local seedy bars, or how I spent a good chunk of the day last week recording my first video blog with the intention of posting it here, only to run into technical difficulties trying to upload it from my camcorder to my laptop.

Nope.  I won't talk about any of that.

I will, however, talk about something that's been taking up a great deal of my spare time: The Occupy Everything movement.

(Much More Than) Politics

If you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks and haven't heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement, here's a good rundown.  In less that a month, the movement has spread to hundreds of cities and towns in the US and the rest of the world.  There's even an Occupy Sandpoint group, and when I attended the first meeting last weekend, I counted just under 50 attendees.  Not bad for a town of around 7,000.

So what is the Occupy movement all about?  Well, I could tell you what I think it's all about, but instead I'll copy and paste Occupy Wall Street's first official statement (and to the best of my knowledge, their only official statement so far):
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

I find it hard to disagree with any of these grievances.  And I suspect I'm not the only one.

So how was this received?  Well, for the most part, the corporate media ignored it at first.  But regular people like you and me posted photos and videos on the Facebooks and the Twitters, including ones where NYPD cops indiscriminately beat and pepper-sprayed unarmed protesters, and even bragged about it, and then suddenly the movement couldn't be ignored.  I wish they'd talked about the protesters' list of grievances, but I guess that wouldn't bring in the ratings the way unarmed women getting pepper sprayed point blank by cops apparently does.  

Anyway, aside from a few good American commentaries of what's been happening, plus a few good foreign (and not so good) ones, most of the American corporate media predictably went into attack mode, especially the usual bunch of right-wing clowns.  And beyond the smear machines, most of the rest of the "really serious impartial news pundits" have attacked the movement as a bunch of dirty hippies who don't even know what they're protesting.  Bullshit.  They know what they're protesting.  Just look at the grievance list above.  They get it.  It's the corporate media that either doesn't get it, or (more likely) doesn't want the movement to gain traction, so they're misrepresenting it.

But I think the movement is working.  The establishment is worried.

The Republicans, fearful of losing their voting base to a movement they can't control, have been claiming the movement is funded by the right-wing's favorite whipping boy, George Soros.  That's nonsense.  Soros is a currency speculator and hedge fund manager.  He became a multi-billionaire through manipulating money, which is exactly the sort of behavior the Occupy Wall Street crowd is against.  The Democrats have been quick to jump on board by announcing their "support" through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and, an organization that advocates for Democrats.  Of course, they waited until the movement started gaining traction before jumping on board, naturally.  But while there's a definite leftist element to the protest, there's also a significant conservative vibe as well, such as protesters calling for an end to the Fed.  And there's also been a strong sense of dissatisfaction with Obama among the protesters.

But more importantly, the movement isn't tied to a party.  It's a people's movement.  It started more or less spontaneously, and no one person or group controls it.  It's real democracy in action.

So what will this movement accomplish?  Time will tell.  The whole thing is incredibly complicated, with so many facets, that I often find myself confused about the goals of this movement, even though I spend a lot of time following it.  But that's to be expected.  Real democracy is messy and complicated.

Think about it.  If I had a singular agenda, I could clearly state what I wanted.  But this movement is way more than one person or group's agenda.  This is a movement with a whole lot of different agendas.  Even so, everyone is angry, and the source of the anger is the criminal behavior of a small segment of the population.  We are the 99% (and I imagine so is anyone who's reading this), and we've all been screwed over by the top 1%.  Now we're pissed.  Is that so hard to understand?

So what should we do?  I say go big.  Occupy Wall Street has created a whole new micro society in a park on Wall Street.  Maybe we can learn from them.  And there's a list of demands some of the Wall Street occupants have proposed.  Beyond that?  Hell if I know.

But that's the whole point.  This isn't my movement--it's a people's movement.  Look, I hate hierarchies.  So I'm not going to be that guy who says, "We should do [whatever]."  Let the people decide, I say.  There are lots of great ideas out there. 

Am I being wishy-washy?  Perhaps.  But this is a dynamic and unpredictable time, and things are happening that are unlike anything else in history.  So who knows what the future has in store?  Not me.

But I will say it's great time to be alive.  And I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.

In Closing

I promised a chili recipe posting.  It will happen.  The photos have been taken and everything.  Stay tuned. But in the meantime, here it is, your moment of Tucker (and Cleocatra):


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