May 25th, 2009

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Native American History -- Alive and Kicking!

While reading through comments on Mammothfail, I found this awesome website specializing in contemporary Native American history and discussions of literary portrayals. It is all about raising awareness of various tribal cultures as living cultures.

This kind of information is not easy to find. Even online, the bottlenecks are there -- the "native" part of the 'net is well connected internally but doesn't have dense connections to the rest of the 'net. (Can't say as I blame them.) To get the good stuff, you have to hunt around until you hit a native-run site and from there look for a good hub that connects to a lot of others. Conventional history is serious jackpot territory.

Anyhow, for anyone interested in writing or reading about Native American culture, this is a good resource.
moment of silence, candle

A Day for Memory

Today we visited my parents. Dad being a historian, the television was on the Military Channel's special Memorial Day marathon. Thus I am reminded to give thanks to the memory of warriors past and present by whose vigilance and sacrifice our freedom is maintained. To those who have served before, my thanks. To those who are yet in harm's way tonight, my prayer for safety.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead.
-- Havamal


If you are a veteran, or you know someone who is, and you have a story you'd like to share, here is an opportunity.

For anyone wishing to express their thanks in a tangible manner, here are a few organizations that care for veterans' needs:
Disabled American Veterans
Veteran Love and Appreciation Fund
National Veterans Legal Services Program
Armed Forces Foundation
moment of silence, candle

Poem: "There and Back Again"

Among my favorite authors is J.R.R. Tolkien, who managed to capture both the heroism and horror of war. The following poem was inspired by The Hobbit and originally appeared in The Minas-Tirith Evening Star Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 2004. This is my Memorial Day offering.


There and Back Again


Beneath our ponies’ feet, the last hill climbs
Beyond whose crest my heart yearns toward the sight –
To see once more the lights of Rivendell
Whose windows shine with welcome through the night.


In Hobbiton, life’s simple, so it goes;
We plant in spring, and harvest in the fall.
In burglary, the loss outweighs the gain
And fourteen’s not so lucky, after all.

The coins and jewels that jingle in our packs
Cannot replace what we’ve lost on the way:
A lightness in the step, companions true,
And maybe something more than I can say.

Beneath our ponies’ feet, the last hill climbs
Beyond whose crest my heart yearns toward the sight –
To see once more the lights of Rivendell
Whose windows shine with welcome through the night.


The road seems less enchanting than it did
Before I knew what lies where this way ends.
So touch the harp with gentle fingertips,
Sing softly, and remember fallen friends.

The Lonely Mountain smoulders far away
And Lake-Town must rebuild its former grace,
But I want only one Last Homely House
Where I can rest in comfort for a space.

Beneath our ponies’ feet, the last hill climbs
Beyond whose crest my heart yearns toward the sight –
To see once more the lights of Rivendell
Whose windows shine with welcome through the night.


I’ve drunk my fill from so-called glory’s cup:
I’ve answered wanderlust, and battle’s call,
I’ve won the treasure, done the deeds, and oh …
It isn’t like the minstrels’ songs at all.

We see the journey over now and done,
Adventure set aside for fonder things;
Pray, let us speak no more of orcs and swords
Nor dragon’s fire, death, and golden rings.

Beneath our ponies’ feet, the last hill climbs
Beyond whose crest my heart yearns toward the sight –
To see once more the lights of Rivendell
Whose windows shine with welcome through the night.


Our weary hearts now seek no more than this:
To sit with friends by firesides aglow,
To smoke a pipe and, when the winter comes,
To gaze through frosted windows at the snow.

Thence onward I shall travel to my home,
Fling open wide the round green door, and then
From safe familiar places give my thanks
To know we’ve made it there and back again.

Beneath our ponies’ feet, the last hill climbs
Beyond whose crest my heart yearns toward the sight –
To see once more the lights of Rivendell
Whose windows shine with welcome through the night.
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A Critique of a Flawed Economic System

Here is a very sharp look at what's going wrong with our economic system, and it's not just a few bad apples:

Don’t pin the recession on AIG’s Joe Cassano
The problem isn’t a few technical glitches in the system that allowed the Cassanos of the world to drive Mack Trucks of leverage through a loophole or two. The problem is, at its roots, a profound collapse of morals on Wall Street that would have found its way to financial destruction using any available set of instruments and laws. We are talking about people who sold giant rafts of bullshit mortgages to pensions, who stuck municipalities, innocent taxpayers, with time-bombs of subprime debt. And not just one trader here and there, but thousands of them, with the sober approval of the highest level executives in the biggest firms. On its most basic level what these people did is rip off huge institutional investors — old people, taxpayers, you and me — by finding ways to game the system and trick the big institutional fund managers into buying what they thought were safe investments, but were actually financial lemons that could barely make it out of the lot.