May 29th, 2009


Poem: "The Map to Crossroads"

This poem was written during the May 5, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was prompted by asakiyume and sponsored by janetmiles. This poem connects to several others written about "travel and exploration" this month, and you may recognize hints of them in the verses below. Also, this is the second poem this month that was sponsored later ... good poetry is like peanut butter, it sticks to the roof of your mouth. That always makes a writer feel good.

The Map to Crossroads

There is a place where all paths meet,
deep in the realm of dreams,
a place known and loved
by travelers of every land and age.

There they can rest from their wandering,
sit by the fire with friends they’ve never met,
and tell tales of secret roads they’ve walked.

Here the bird is free of the cage
and colored feathers flicker in the firelight.
Here the men of the river-city
sit with the sisters of the mist.
Here the sea-sailor and the star-sailor
share a mug of nut-brown ale
with a bard who fingers her harpstrings
while muttering under her breath.

This is the campground
that lies beyond the shores of night,
the turning point of all journeys,
and the only map you need
to find your way to the Crossroads
is the soul of an explorer.

Good New for Women and Habitat Recovery

I spotted these two good news items today:

Yale Study: Damaged Ecosystems Can Recover Rapidly
Environmental News Network: "A recent study by Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies reports that if humans commit to the restoration effort, most ecosystems can recover from very major disruption within decades to half-centuries. The study was written by Holly P. Jones and Oswald J. Schmitz and will appear in the June edition of the journal PLoS ONE. According to the study, researchers compiled information from 240 independent studies conducted since 1910 that examined large, human-scale ecosystems recovery following the termination of both human and naturally imposed disruption."

This does not mean it's okay to leave our messes untended or make new ones ... but it means that nature is good at repairing itself after widescale disasters such as tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and humanity. So for example, if we stop killing everything that swims in the oceans, we should be able to eat out of them again in 25-50 years. That is better than we had any right to expect.

Lesley Abdela | Finally, a UN Agency for Women
Lesley Abdela, The Guardian UK: "This autumn the UN General Assembly will vote yes or no to a new 'super-agency for women'; $1 billion is being discussed as the starter annual budget. Just like the House of Commons, the UN has finally been shamed into reforming itself. The UN sets global standards for human rights, but has no single agency with the resources and clout to work globally to improve the lives of women. As a result, the UN system has badly and unforgivably let down the world's 3 billion-plus women. In 2006 a UN high-level panel set up to recommend reforms in the wake of the 2005 world summit gave the UN null points for services to women. The panel found the way the UN system works for women 'incoherent, fragmented, and under-resourced'. Many of us have been saying for years the UN system is a son of the 1950s, patriarchal and hierarchical, so it is good to see it's official."

While far from perfect, the UN is as close as we've come to admitting we're all Terrans together. This would be a great step forward to protecting one of the most oppressed groups on the planet. Women are probably the biggest "underclass" after the poor.

How Education Is Failing Everyone

This article looks at why education is not only failing our children, but everyone.

William Astore | Selling Education, Manufacturing Technocrats, Torturing Souls
William Astore, "Hardly a week goes by without dire headlines about the failure of the American education system. Our students don't perform well in math and science. The high-school dropout rate is too high. Minority students are falling behind. Teachers are depicted as either overpaid drones protected by tenure or underpaid saints at the mercy of deskbound administrators and pushy parents."

When I was teaching at an online school, I made a point of including some "life skills" classes, art and music classes, etc. to offer as well-rounded an education as possible. It was a chance to make up for the patchy job done by public schools. And believe me, I saw exactly how patchy that education has gotten.

Wangethi Mwanga Recipes from Kenya

Now if I saw that in a header I'd be "Clicky, already!" But I hate it when posters don't give more details. So, Wangethi Mwanga has variously been described as a journalist and a top chef, and this is his recipe blog. Kenyan cuisine evidently uses a lot of vegetables, so it tends to be healthy and affordable. The directions are ... a little patchy, but an experienced cook should be able to extrapolate what to do. I am eyeing that vermicelli bread and recalling that we're doing an Afro-Caribbean theme for Midsummer this year.

New Camera!

I have a new digital camera. I'm excited about exploring its features. So far I have put the batteries in and it turns on.

This camera was sponsored by browngirl and by my partner Doug. Thanks everso! You two get to make requests for what you'd like me to shoot, and I'll do my best to capture it in pixels. I will then attempt to post at least some of the photos here.

Sometimes the People on My Side Are Jerks Too

Recently I got an activist call from CREDO Action that I do NOT support:

NBC has no business airing propaganda about public health care.
We only have a few hours to act.
Rick Scott's discredited infomercial slamming public health care is
scheduled to air on NBC this Sunday -- e-mail NBC News President Steve
Capus today and ask him not to put it on the air.

Americans' lives depend on whether we pass the right kind of health care
reform. So why is NBC News airing an infomercial that will spread
dangerous misinformation?

One of the drawbacks to free speech is that sometimes people use it to say stupid things. That doesn't make it okay to stomp on their rights. I wish that NBC would not air an infomercial full of lies or even misleading truths. But I'm not going to tell them they can't do it. Maybe they'll win, and lots of innocent people will continue to suffer and/or die because they can't afford to pay money for the care they need. (I'm one of them, by the way.) I think that that's wrong too, and I hope our country decides to become civilized and provide adequate health care for all its citizens. In a democracy, though, convince enough people and you can get just about any stupid thing done. That doesn't mean we should throw democracy out, either.

What it does mean is this: 1) Be informed. Be diligent about finding out the facts of issues that concern you. If the evidence seems contradictory, ask who benefits from it and keep digging. If you don't have time to do all your own digging, find sources you trust and use them. That includes paying attention to input from qualified experts. 2) Be responsible. Use your right to free speech thoughtfully, and encourage others to do likewise. Cast your votes, whether political or activist or financial, with due consideration. 3) Remember that you can't take away people's right to be jerks and idiots. Just use them as a bad example and resolve to do better yourself. I am grateful for the people who make fools of themselves so that I don't have to make the same mistakes.

The case FOR public health care:
The Case For A Public Health Care Plan
FAIR Study: Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare
Most Americans support a public health-care plan
Kennedy affirms support for public healthcare plan
Framing The Health Care Debate

The case AGAINST public health care:
Eli Lilly CEO Makes Case Against Public Health Insurance Plan
The case against socialized health care
The Case Against Single-Payer Health Care Gets Stronger
America Needs Health Care, Not Sick Care

Single-Payer: Is Nationalized Health Coverage the Way to Go?
Public debate over 'public option' for healthcare
Public v. Corps in National Health Care Debate

Physicians for a National Health Program
Health Care for America NOW
Universal Health Care