Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama at the Congress Hotel

A little lesson in character.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Countdown: Special Comment on

Countdown: Special Comment on

Countdown: Special Comment on

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interview - Naomi Wolf - Give Me Liberty

Fascinating take on how things are going in American Democracy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Surge: the failure of our success

We have created a segregated city of walled neighborhoods. In what way is this a success?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The scramble

There just hasn't really been any particularly good news lately. I believe that people in government offices and media executive suites are absolutely scrambling to control the pace at which bad news is being released to the public. They sure don't want us to know that world energy production versus consumption is now completely out of balance and permanently so. And they don't want us to know that food prices are going nowhere but up. They don't want us to know that they have no energy answer with any reasonable likelihood of being implementable in time. They also don't want us to know that even if we did have an energy answer, it's too late to save much of our current ecosystem. We're getting hot (with all of the ramifications of that) - and that's just a fact now.

My library is in trouble. The tax base has been stripped out from under us. The budget cuts that were originally so disastrous look now as if they will actually be much larger than first anticipated. Staff may be asked to voluntarily reduce their hours. That doesn't seem good - like a half step away from pink slips.

I hope others out there are seeing something different. But I doubt it. If Barack can fix this, he's a true person of the light.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ralph Nader has finally once and for all lost his mind

Perennial presidential bridesmaid Ralph Nader has now lost the moral high ground that he once had by suggesting that Barack Obama appeals to white voters because he doesn't threaten white power and because he tries to talk white.

Well Ralph - he doesn't bowl white. So what does any of this have to do with anything anyway? How is Nader's statement not racist? Is there really any political rationale to saying that someone talks white, or black, or like Borat for that matter?

As Obama's communications director Robert Gibbs stated in response to Nader, “It reminds me of the old saying, which I’ll paraphrase: ‘Better to be thought not-so-smart than to open your mouth and remove all doubt,’ which is apparently what Ralph Nader did in Denver yesterday or the day before.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fair and Balanced?

Fox News is stooping to new lows so far in this election. A recent caption to a story about Barack and Michelle Obama read, "Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama's baby mama" and was placed numerous times on the screen under video clips of Michelle Obama. The term "baby mama" is usually used in reference to an unwed black mother.

In other Fair and Balanced election coverage...

In the past two weeks, Fox anchor E.D. Hill has apologized for referring to an affectionate onstage fist bump shared by the couple as a "terrorist fist jab," and Fox contributor Liz Trotta said she was sorry for joking about an Obama assassination.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Word cloud of recent letters I've written

This is a word cloud from some recent email correspondence that I have had with a friend. I like how word clouds create a sense of mood. It's a pictorial representation of what has been on my mind lately.

I think I'm going to include more of these in blog posts. I hope everyone is doing well in this rapidly changing world.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rural America hit hard by gas prices

Today's NYT has an article entitled, Rural U.S. Takes Worst Hit as Gas Tops $4 Average. I think it's an important read. It says that the American family now spends 4% of their take home pay on gas. But in rural America people are traveling longer distances to their jobs (often in vehicles that get very low gas mileage) while also making less money. Often they are paying closer to 14% of their take home pay for gas. Many are losing their vehicles because they can't make the payment after buying gas.

This has become a class issue. Wealthy city dwellers are still paying less than 2% of their incomes for gas yet the rural poor are being forced to change their diets so that they can keep getting to work every week.

Is the Revolution coming? You know it is. Now we need to focus on making it the Revolution that we want rather than one of desperation and chaos.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The survey

Okay - the survey is pathetic. I know the survey is pathetic. The idea is that you are supposed to stretch yourselves a little bit here. Choose "other" and leave your ideas in a comment.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peak oil cliff

Maybe it doesn't really matter how we handle rising gas prices at the library.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gas prices affecting utilization

My public library is currently expanding neighborhood branches and adding a new branch. I'm wondering how the increases in gas prices are going to affect circulation, and our door count. We've already touched the $4.00 per gallon mark, and many analysts predict $5.00 per gallon by the end of summer (I've even heard by mid July).

Maybe we should all be focusing more on our web presence? Fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to drive to the library, so our neighborhood traffic is going to become even more important. Centralized branches are old school. We're going to need smaller neighborhood branches with less frequent transportation of resources between branches. It's time to start preparing ourselves for conditions that are likely to present themselves soon. Participate in the survey that I have posted on the right.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Community and perspective

While the peak oil issue has been weighing heavily on my mind, things are not all doom and gloom. Peak oil also presents opportunities. As the world that we know rapidly disappears, we have an opportunity to create stronger communities - return to a more tribal way of life. Community gardens will become an important part of our daily lives. Many more of us are going to need to be personally involved in growing and preserving food. Thinking and working collectively will be important in the first stages of a post hydrocarbon world.

There is no way around the fact that many people will not make the transition. Unrest resulting from hunger and deprivation could last a very long time. One preparation that we can make involves moving into a close physical proximity to those we love. Gather your tribe. Plan for multiple home heating methods. Learn about water purification. Grow your own food. Enjoy what will doubtlessly be considered the last years of the golden age of western civilization.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm no fun at parties

I guess its been a while since I posted anything about how I'm feeling. And since blogs have a tendency to be a little like self directed therapy (or can be anyway) I'm going to make a personal confession right here and now. This may not come as a great surprise to you dear readers, but the fact is, I have a nasty little rage issue. And it's growing.

I'm relatively certain that we have hit, or will soon hit, peak oil. Yet everyone around me seems intent upon moving to the suburbs. I have this preoccupation with the notion that almost no one around me understands that we are living in a hydrocarbon enhanced dream state. Without a steady stream of oil a hell of a lot of us are simply going to cease to exist.

If you knew that there was no reason to go to the grocery store (because nothing is there) and you have no natural gas coming into your home and your municipal water supply was unfit to drink and your mobility was reduced to just where you can walk or ride your bike and even that was entirely unsafe because of the bands of starving looters wandering the streets, how long would you last?

Now - this isn't going to happen overnight. But I see it in our creepily near future. Am I alone in these thoughts? When I look around and see myself surrounded by bloated corpses am a really alone? The folks at Peak Oil Blues are trying to help people cope with the realization that our lives are going to change in a dramatic fashion one day soon. I'm not optimistic that we'll be prepared, or that we will work collectively when the shit hits the fan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hillary's base in WV

As always, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The IMF is broke

Actually it is running a 400 million dollar annual deficit. These guys are supposed to be the masterminds of modern economic thought. Ha! Keep them away from my household finances!

Read more about it in Mark Weisbrot's LA Times article The IMF's dwindling fortunes. Looks like the "Chicago School" of economic thought is finally falling into disrepute.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Best May Day wishes

I would like to wish everyone a happy and satisfying celebration of the worker. Remind yourself today that as a librarian you are a member of the working class. Teacher pay has made some gains recently (though more remains to be done) but librarian wages are stagnant. Teachers have a strong union. Librarians generally do not. Could there be a correlation?

This country is currently in quite a rough state. Because of the poor economy there is a great deal of job insecurity. Any time there is job insecurity the opportunity for employers to abuse the rights of their employees is increased. Consequently, those who remain employed find themselves overworked and exploited. In times like these it is easy to forget that we the workers often have more power than we understand. Saul Alinsky, the father of grassroots community organizing, once said, "power goes to two poles -- to those who've got the money and those who've got the people." Tired of getting pushed? You're probably not alone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh the eloquence of avoidance

Friday, April 4, 2008

Here's some intelligent dialog on AIDS prevention

From the New York Times, during an interview about his position on the U.S. distributing condoms in Africa to stop the spread of AIDS, McCain Stumbles on H.I.V. Prevention I realize that this article is a year old at this point, but it really speaks to the Straight Talker in us all I think.

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

Hat tip to Stories In America for this little gem.

I know this is probably old, but still...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


My public library, like many public libraries across the nation, is facing a major funding shortfall over the next two years. If projections are correct, we will lose 12% of our funding next year and another 12% the following year.

For patrons, this means fewer materials, no Saturday hours, fewer programs and probably no Thursday morning hours. For staff this means that as people leave, they will not be replaced but rather their duties will have to be absorbed by those who remain. Part time staff will likely not have their lost hours (on Saturdays or Thursday mornings) replaced.

I'm aware that things are tight all over. Our economic system has allowed too few of the players to collect all of the chips. When that happens, the rest of the players have to borrow if they want to continue to play. Eventually, if this continues, the game is over.

Our director has said that he does not intend to lay staff off. But that's a lot of money and in this economy I don't think that we will have much staff attrition. Who knows what the future holds. Good thing I just finished this incredibly valuable MLS huh?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A late night thought

So I'm right around my forth decade of life and I just had a thought about my parents generation that I wanted to flesh out a bit.

It seems to me that my parent's generation defined themselves by what they did for a living. I've always been of the opinion that it doesn't really matter what you do to make money as long as you're able to, in the immortal words of our 43rd President, "put food on your family". But my parents, and maybe your parents, would ask immediately following any introduction, "so what do you do?"

As a librarian and especially as a public librarian, we're not exactly pulling down the big bucks. But there's so much more to me than my work world. I don't understand the drive to define myself by what I do to make ends meet. I'm thankful that I don't have to do anything shady for a living, and that's a rare privilege these days. But how many of us are so wild about librarianship that we'd do it anyway even if we won Powerball? Of course, for me to win Powerball would require a magical wind to blow the winning ticket into my hand from the mystical heavens.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Civil unrest: coming soon to a city near you

Charlie Rose had John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil on last night. Some of what the guy said seemed a bit delusional, such as his comment that in the U.S. we pay the full cost of fuel rather than benefiting from the subsidies that many other nations provide in the interest of economic growth. Our fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidized, so I don't know what he's talking about there. But the part that I found interesting is when he says that the elephant in the room that politicians aren't talking about is that without additional authorization for drilling, urban centers in the U.S. are ripe for massive civil unrest. I've often thought that as the price of getting to work and feeding our families continues to rise, and the number of home mortgage defaults increases, we may experience a time not far off that will make the race riots of the 60s seem tame. It was eerie having my concerns validated by the president of a major oil company.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lest we forget the lies...

Just wanted to link to this blog post that I read earlier today.

Five Years Of Hell In Iraq

I think it is important for us to remember the lies that got us there. And the liars who told them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

laissez-faire huh?

Conservatives like to advocate laissez-faire economic policies. "Let the market solve its own problems," they like to say. But now, with the Bear Sterns bail-out we find that the spirit of rugged individualism isn't really for the Wall Street set. Wealthy investors apparently deserve the very best in government economic intervention - to the tune of a $30 billion dollar guarantee.

I'm concerned about this. I'm afraid that we could be creating a "culture of dependency" among the super wealthy. All of those CEOs, investment bankers, and money managers who are making tens (and sometimes hundreds) of millions of dollars per year are supposed to at least be smart. Turns out, even at that rate of pay these folks can't keep a business afloat. And we're not talking rocket science here. Banking = save money for people - pay low interest + loan money to people - charge high interest. No brainer, right? Then you pay some guys millions and millions of dollars to see to it that this basic system doesn't fail. A bank going under should be about as likely a Las Vegas casino going on a year long loosing streak. But they managed it!

Fortunately our Federal Government has the Leave No Fat-Cat Behind program (fully funded of course) so that the Republican Party can continue fund raising for John McCain. While the bottom drops out of the housing market and most Americans are watching their assets dissolve, Wall Street gets it's bail-out.

To top it all off, the Fed cuts interest rates, in an attempt to calm Wall Street's nerves, but also causing the inflation rate to increase, the dollar to drop against foreign currency even further, and food and fuel prices to increase. Here - just take my wallet you bastards.

Oh - and Happy $3 trillion dollar (yes with a "T") Iraq War Anniversary baby. No, I didn't get you anything.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Environmental disarray

Many of you may have seen or heard about this recent news topic. Drugs in water causing troubling problems to fish, wildlife outlines the chemical contamination that we live with on a daily basis now. Some of the most prevalent drugs being found in the water supply are anti-depressant drugs that have been prescribed as if they are simply part of living in this culture.

But now I've found this wonderfully well documented blog post about the cover-up of studies that show that the most widely prescribed of the anti-depressant drugs are actually no more effective than placebos (sugar pills). The post, entitled Depressing News for SSRI Drugs: They Don’t Work After All… shows that there has been a cover-up by the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA. They've been "cherry-picking" the studies and burying the many studies that have reported that SSRI drugs are simply not effective at all.

So now the question is - should we still be outraged that we're drinking SSRIs if they turn out to be ineffective anyway? Well of course we should. All we really know is that they don't work as anti-depressants. We don't yet know what those chemicals actually ARE capable of doing. And you can bet that you won't get the straight story from the FDA.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Further evidence

Today is the big day. The one where Barack Obama could put Hillary Clinton away, but now that isn't looking very likely. In Ohio Clinton is talking up the wink and nod that a top Obama adviser apparently gave to the Canadian government regarding NAFTA. The memo in question does not quote any Obama adviser but interprets what was said as meaning that his talk about renegotiating NAFTA is just political positioning. Obama had better get control of his advisers - but what do you expect from a Professor of Economics from the University of Chicago? Why have a guy like that on your economic team in the first place?

But today what's really upsetting me is that while in Texas the big message from Hillary has been about Hugo Chavez. She's going on about how Chavez is siding with "terrorists" in Colombia. This is such a completely disingenuous argument, and really forces me to see her as an overtly right wing foreign policy nut. The government of Columbia is an authoritarian nightmare. The leftist guerrillas that have the support of many of Colombia's neighbors have been fighting for a more socialist society for years. Once again, it seems as though anyone fighting for a more equitable society can be labeled "terrorist" by the U.S. and its "folly-ticians"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No respect

As some of you may know, I'm a recent library school graduate. Yesterday I arrived at work and in my email I found a message that explained that an unfilled full-time position in our reference department was being reclassified as a paraprofessional position rather than requiring an MLS as it has previously. In the relatively short time that I have worked for this public library, we have lost two full time MLS positions in reference - a department of just a few total positions.

When I first took my library job I was encouraged to go to library school for a Master's degree. They told me that the future was bright for persons with an MLS. Now I'm afraid that future is becoming less and less bright as time goes on.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sam Webb on election 2008

Sam Webb may not be the most inspiring speaker, but I wanted to share some of the vision of the party on this site.

Out of commission

Sorry about being away without checking in, but I'm a bit gimpy right now. I fell in an icy parking lot and broke my ankle. I believe that soon I'll be mostly functional again, so I'll get back to posting. In the mean time, please get out there and vote in your respective primaries. Not participating isn't revolutionary, it's irresponsible. The time will come when our participation will require more than just voting, but we haven't reached that critical mass yet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Recession? What recession?

Barbara Ehrenreich suggests in this blog post that we now have two economies. One for the rich and one for everyone else. The idea that we might be approaching a recession is quite silly. Anyone who isn't rich knows that we've been in a recession for some time now. Recession only begins to reach the rich (read capitalist class) when the poor and middle class have to stop spending money because they either a) have none, or b) have already overextended themselves on credit.

As workers continue to get squeezed for "more productivity" by being forced to work longer hours to do more than their own jobs, we are finding that there simply is no incentive because at the end of the pay period, our paychecks have less and less buying power every month. I'm spending way more at the gas pump and grocery store and for utilities than my annual pay increase will cover. This means that no matter how hard I work I'm becoming poorer every year. And I know I'm not alone. This economic system sucks for the vast majority of us.

And then to top it off, there was this today. Apparently the U.S. ranks dead last among the 19 industrialized nations in addressing preventable deaths for those under the age of 75. Who ranked first? France and their silly socialized medical system. And that awful Canadian system? Ranked 6th. And which Presidential candidate is the only one calling for single payer health care? Dennis Kucinich, who somehow keeps being excluded from televised debates.