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I haven’t written on this blog in years. Mostly because, heck, I’ve been tired. I did a lot of work which did not involve sitting at a computer, and when I had time to have my own thoughts, I wanted to use them to “really” write. So I tried to write a book. I’m still trying.

But I miss writing about yak racing and yule goats.

So, for the very few people out there who know this exists: maybe I’ll give this another try. Years have passed, life is different, and so the content will reflect all that. Enjoy the pun, enjoy the goat, enjoy Yule, and I’ll make a concerted effort to keep things going around here.

With great love,

The Feisty Sweetheart


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I am going to get myself a new blog (well, already done). Because as charming as this is, as adorable as I am when I talk about yaks and Sigur Ros and wife-carrying and Scandinavia and asparagus….I need a schtick before I publish my Dostoevsky-esque novel (Which I won’t do!) But anway! What if I get a new blog and I just keep it about books and thus can address other things in a sweet lovely way which isn’t so passive aggressive. Someone Somewhere will maybe find me out and know how beautifully I can write about Yaks. God, if only we had a heavy sweaty yak right now. We meaning me. I just think it’d be nice to have something so blanket-esque, but with a pulse that you can also be like “Hey get outta here! Go make milk! Har har har I will make you into a BLANKET and dispense of your needs!!!”

Really, I will try to find a way to talk about how gorgeous Riceboy Sleeps is.  I’ll put up the link, maybe, but I’m afraid the only people who are directed to this website are obsessed with yaks, and ultimately we might not have as much in common as we’d like to think. If I see a good Mountain Goat page, I’ll pass it on Love Love Loves….

(I’m so witty to myself.)

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Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honest with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The videos from the student protests in Britain are inspiring. Of course, some will dismiss them as a minority of troublemakers. Well, thank God for the troublemakers. We live in terrifying times. The planet is burning up, species are going extinct at unprecedented levels, and the number of poor people on this planet is growing. In the wealthiest countries on the planet, the rich are crushing the poor and taking the last bits and pieces from the people.

Meaningful protest is what we need, and it is what we have needed for decades. The American people have been distracted for years by reality television, faux-scandals, false populist rhetoric on the right, the pressing bills piling above their heads, etc. etc. The American left has been relegated to the sidelines. We have meaningless stands of righteousness. We blog about how absurd the new tax deal is, how deranged the right is, how corrupt the politicians are, what liars the media are (I am aware of the irony, yes). We really show them, man! Meanwhile, the multi-national corporations are juggernauts which do not rest, and their mouthpieces are driving the folks on the right wing to new extremes.

I’m all for listening to heroes like Bernie Sanders. But we need to back him up. It’s not enough for us to know what he’s saying. The nation needs to know what he’s saying. They know by seeing, and the only way they’ll see is if we get out there and show we exist. Stewart’s rally was a farce, but it showed there are those of us still willing to show up, and that’s a start.

We on the left have been thinking (and I’m guilty of this myself) that online discussion is a sufficient replacement for activism. It is not. “I am what I do,” wrote C.S. Lewis. Writing is something, discussion is something, but to risk ourselves, to brave the cold, the jeers, the police – that is to truly stand for what we believe in, rather than sit in the warmth and wag our fingers at the naughty ones. The situation reminds me of a scene where Gandalf chastises the cynical Denethor in The Lord of the Rings:

The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?”

The exchange is one we would all do well to remember. There’s been far too many TLOR analogies in the world, but spare me one more. We are all of us responsible for our planet, we are responsible for resisting evil, and we are responsible for the deeds done in our name. We are all stewards. The task upon is not to stay home, but to go out in defense of the good, resting not.

I agree with Ian Welsh’s sentiment in this post. The situation seems all but hopeless. To leave, to preserve what we can seems our only option. The system seems intent on self-destruction. But I also have a deep fondness for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who did not flee Germany when his fellows did, but remained to protest the Nazi state, and was executed for his pains. He once wrote, “Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and action.” And so we, whatever we call ourselves, are also called to line up our actions with our beliefs. This is the society we’ve been born into, and it was not all evil. I’ve had much happiness here, and I don’t want salvation outside it while others suffer and the leaders continue to accelerate the pillaging of the planet. We’ve had too many people flee for new futures in our history. We’ve had a perpetual frontier mentality, pushing on in search of more, rather than staying and challenging the way things are. I think it’s time to change ourselves in response to the faultlines in our history.

Charlie Strauss notes in this interesting post (the link taken from Gerry Canvan) that:

We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals. They have enormous media reach, which they use to distract attention from threats to their own survival. They also have an enormous ability to support litigation against public participation, except in the very limited circumstances where such action is forbidden. Individual atomized humans are thus either co-opted by these entities (you can live very nicely as a CEO or a politician, as long as you don’t bite the feeding hand) or steamrollered if they try to resist.

In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion.”

Maybe it’s impossible to resist. But it’s the right thing to do. How do we start a protest of this tax deal, or use the shocking information we’ve received from Wikileaks (see: Shell and Nigeria) to force our government and corporations to stop committing crimes in our name? I want to do more. How do we get started?

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I feel that I’m going to have a difficult time keeping a straight face talking to people who work for Voice of America. I mean, their whole mission is to broadcast into repressive counties. But their own country is engaged in cyberattacks upon an organization dedicated to, despite Fox News and Robert Gibbs and the CIAs and Chris Matthews opinions, providing information to enhance democracy in an age of corporate control. We shouldn’t be surprised in the year of Citizens United that democracy is taking such a hit (ahem: “Soldiers at risk! Let’s not ask why they’re there in the first place! My job is to blame subversive elements who may be honest and not taking payments from a corrupt system, and thus may bring down my paycheck!”) My major question is more reminiscent of the old (ahem) Real World: when do we stop being polite, and start saying: if you support democracy, when do you start taking a stand against corporate money, corporate laws, corporate financing of elections, corporate and government denial of global warming and clandestine politics?

It may be mainstream to shit on Wikileaks for putting people “at risk” but two minutes research proves that false. When will we become a society more interested in the truth, and less interested in good parties/bars/mainstream politics/the housing market/whatever the new trend is in whatever group?

“We descend so easily
Give it up for short-term memory
Fight your nature if you can
And hope for heaven where we land

All the arms around you now
Could they ever catch you then
First they tell me not to fret
Then you frighten me again”

-Halloween, Alaska.

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I haven’t updated in a while. I’ve been working hard, but my upcoming unemployment may change the rate of posts around here. It’s hard to gather up the energy to post, though, when so many people already are doing good stuff. I could just blog links. Oh well, onwards…

This essay about Julian Assange is easily the best thing I’ve read about Wikileaks since they’ve come to my attention (I probably shouldn’t conflate Assange and Wikileaks, but so it goes). Reading Assange’s own intentions in addition to zunguzungu’s breakdown-within-the-larger-context made me more enthusiastic about Wikileaks than I already was, and I’m all about open information networks.

There’s only a few more hours left to contact the EPA about stopping mountaintop removal. Please do it.

That’s about it.

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I found this article about changing the framework of our debate towards left-wing vs. the corporations to be fascinating. Via The Agonist.

Hopefully Ecuador can keep the wolves at bay with this move.

Arnold Schwarzenegger made the speech of his lifetime the other night at the Commonwealth Club in California. I can’t find a transcript, so here’s a link to the video Keith Olbermann showed. God, that was amazing, it’s sort of weird, right? Favorite line:

“They are creating a shell argument that this is about saving jobs. Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect our jobs? It’s not about jobs at all. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.”
Matt Taibi talks shit about the Tea Party. Yeah, man.
I think this is slightly old, but please read it: the eight most toxic energy projects on the planet. Terrifying, and important.
And, if there’s one reason to get out and vote in November, I think it’s this. It’s scary out there.

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An Excerpt

I recently finished reading Derrick Jensen’s The Culture of Make-Believe. It was intense.

Towards the end of the book he extensively quoted from the testimony of a German engineer at the Nuremburg Trials, which Jensen read as a young man in William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Jensen wrote that this testimony, this scene, has stayed with him over the decades. I can understand why. In a world full of so many constructed horrors, and living in a culture with so many obscene trivialities (a phrase from his book Endgame, and both the phrase and the book are excellent), this is a terrible, grim, heart-breaking testimony. So I’m going to copy it down here.

The people who had got off the trucks – men, women, and children of all ages – had to undress upon order of an S.S. man, who carried a riding or dog whip. They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing, and underclothing. I saw a heap of shoes of about 800 or 1,000 pairs, great piles of under-linen and clothing.

“Without screaming or weeping, these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells and waited for a sign from another S.S. man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand. During the fifteen minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy…

“An old woman with snow-white hair was holding a one-year-old child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly: the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him.

“At that moment the S.S. man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound… I well remember a girl, slim with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said ‘twenty-three years old.’

“I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was nearly two-thirds full. I estimated that it contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an S.S. man who sat at the narrow edge of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees, and was smoking a cigarette.

“The people, completely naked, went down some steps and clambered over their heads of the people lying there to the place where the S.S. man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of their bodies that lay beneath them. Blood was running from their necks.

“The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot.”

I do not understand anymore. I’ve known of these horrors for years. We all know of those in the past, we make movies about them. But it happens still, it is happening all the time, it is happening right now. There are horrors at this moment – women raped in the Congo (where we get coltan for our cell phones), girls bought and raped by businessmen in Thailand, people slaughtered with chainsaws in Colombia, men kidnapped and made into slaves in Brazil, priests and their congregations burned alive in El Salvador, toddlers working and dying as bricklayer slaves in Pakistan. We know of people raising machetes, chasing them down now. We know of factory workers in China committing suicide, of machine guns casually lifted and spraying bullets now, of depleted uranium poured down from the skies and then babies are born in Iraq without faces.

I know who ‘benefits.’ I do. You do. These acts don’t happen because of a few bad apples. They happen because our civilization is insane. The rich and the powerful benefit more than anyone, and are the most culpable – they know it, they don’t care, and they will mow down anyone who gets in their way, including You and I. But still… what about people like us, who know, who hear witnesses, who turn away? What do we talk about? Sustainable farming? I suppose that’s better than nothing. But most of the people I know go to bars, watch football, discuss Mad Men, read Gawker, check out new restaurants, fly somewhere exotic every once in a while. The world is burning. We say if we elect Democrats it will improve. I believed this once. How could it ever get better when the fundamentals stay the same? Our culture can’t even admit we live on stolen land. It just keeps pillaging from others, albeit at different rates.

It’s not going to get better, and it is not going to change itself until the air is choked and we cannot breathe and things cannot grow and the machines which need energy to run sputter and fail.

I don’t want to talk anymore about adorable clothing, or whether women should change their last name, or about baseball players on steroids, or the skyrocketing costs of college. I don’t want to listen to witty banter or hear banal, superficial complaints. I don’t want to see movies rife with ennui or drink amazing wine. It comes to me with blood.

Tomorrow I have to go back to being me. Hell, I might even walk away from this and watch It’s Always Sunny. I’ll set my alarm clock and drive to work. I’ll play with the kids and go to the park. I’ll have a beer on the weekend and play badminton, and joke around with people I care about. I’ll wake up with this knowledge, and I’ll somehow have to integrate it into the way I live my life. Maybe one day we’ll do something that matters. But it doesn’t feel right. The suffering continues, I need a new cell phone, and the murder and rape in the Congo are far away. I can’t hear the screams, and those who even try to walk away from this culture are labeled nuts themselves (if not worse).

I don’t want to understand anymore. I can’t. It could be such a lovely, beautiful world. But it has been overrun by insanity.

All I want to do is stand beside those who comfort the dying while knowing the machine gun is coming to them momentarily. To stand with snow-white haired ladies who coo to babies, who fill their last moments with radiance, defying the men with cigarettes and guns. There is nothing, nothing else that matters.

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