June 10th, 2009


News on Violence

These articles touch on related topics ...

Norman Solomon | Words and War
Norman Solomon, Truthout: "It takes at least tacit faith in massive violence to believe that after three decades of horrendous violence in Afghanistan, upping the violence there will improve the situation. Despite the pronouncements from high Washington places that the problems of Afghanistan can't be solved by military means, 90 percent of the spending for Afghanistan in the Obama administration's current supplemental bill is military."

I like how blunt this is. Also, my "faith in massive violence" is not that great.

Khmer Rouge Jailer Says Ordered Killing of Children
Reuters: "Pol Pot's chief jailer told Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday that children of inmates at the regime's S-21 prison were murdered to keep them from seeking revenge later in life. Duch, the first of five senior cadres to face trial for the 1975-79 reign of terror in which 1.7 million Cambodians died, said he accepted responsibility for the children's deaths but was following orders."

Now why does that phrase, "following orders," sound familiar...?

" I Was (We Were) Following Orders" Just Ain't Good Enough
Time after time, the Bush administration's Department of Justice used its authority to craft, not advise but, craft, position papers, granting plausible deniability to any and all who, in the future, may be called upon to answer for their actions;“We were told this was acceptable; we were just following orders.”

Oh yes: it's all over the torture debate.

Is THIS the company America wants to be keeping? The moral high ground of the Khmer Rouge?

Low-Impact Woodland Home

Here is a website with photos, descriptions, and features of a low-impact woodland home. It looks like a hobbit burrow except the door is not round. This home was built by an ordinary person, with help from some friends. It used mostly local materials. It is cozy, safe, and beautiful -- the kind of place where many people would enjoy living -- but it cost less than building or buying a conventional house. This is a very good example for sustainable building and green living.

Poetry Fishbowl Report for Tuesday, June 9

Tuesday's fishbowl started off with a spurt of prompts, followed by a gap and then several more prompts later in the evening, which I enjoyed. I started at noon and worked until 11:30 PM, for a total of 9 1/2 hours allowing for lunch and supper breaks. I wrote a total of 17 poems, mostly medium this time, plus one short and one epic. There was nothing rhymed or metered, and only one form poem, an acrostic. I did write several poems that used quatrains, couplets, or other regular stanzas. Most of the poems came from a single prompt, although a few combined prompts. This batch of poems also leaned strongly toward the humorous and whimsical, a nice change of pace from deep thought and controversy.

This month, 15 people sent prompts. There was one first-time prompter: welcome, madshutterbug. There were 44 comments including mine.

The following fishbowl poems have already been posted:
EDIT 6/24/09, 7/4/09: Added poem.

"Cats Who Fear No Evil"
"Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in the Kitchen"
"False Wishes Come True"
"In the Garden of Ouroboros"
"the moments that fill the soul"
"Speak Down the Centuries"
"Time's Keeper"
"Washing at the Window"
"The Witch and the Frizzled Hen"

miintikwa is seeking cosponsors for "the moments that fill the soul," which needs $5 more to be fully funded. This poem has now been sponsored and posted.

This month's donors include: ellenmillion, talix18, miintikwa, minor_architect, jenny_evergreen, and janetmiles. Special thanks to first-time donor miintikwa. Thus far there are no general donations, so no poetry poll unless something lands in the general fund later. I will get the donor perk-post up as soon as possible.

Family Skills: Summer Fun

Summer is an ideal time for family bonding because children are out of school, and many parents take their vacation time off work. When money is tight, it can be hard to think of activities that are both fun and affordable. Here are some suggestions that are fun for the whole family and cost little or nothing.

Hold a water fight. Choose your arsenal from water balloons, water pistols, sponges, or even a garden hose. Suitable for areas where water is not terribly scarce ... though it does kind of water the lawn for you.

Visit your county or state fair. Entry tickets are usually cheap, and while the rides cost money, viewing the livestock and craft exhibits is free. Plus there is usually a swag barn full of political, safety, entertainment, and other displays where people give away stuff like pencils, magnets, and bags with their logo on it.

Attend a community theatre play. These usually present either classics (like A Midsummer Night's Dream) or weird modern stuff (like Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack). Pick what you like. Tickets tend to be reasonable, but if you volunteer at the club to make sets or something like that, free attendance is a common perk.

Walk through a street fair or outdoor art festival. From middle to late summer, many towns have one or more festivals with some combination of vendors, live music, shows, etc. It usually costs nothing to walk through these, and bargains abound for the savvy shopper.

Visit a U-Pick berry patch or a fruit orchard. Some are single-crop establishments but many have multiple fruit types and cultivars so that something is ripe during much of the warm season. Go on a weekday for minimal crowding, or check weekend schedules for demonstrations, lectures, crafts, or other activities.

Shop at a farmer's market. By early summer, they will have an assortment of fruits and vegetables from local growers. Many also have people selling jewelry, handmade soap, or other crafts.

Have a picnic. This traditional and fun summer activity gets everyone out of the house to a nice park. It's cheaper than eating out and the food can be better. Pack things that don't need refrigeration or things that can be prepared onsite (parks often have charcoal grills available).

Invest in a family pass at the local swimming pool. These give good bang for your buck if you visit the pool frequently during its open season. Swimming is excellent exercise and a good survival skill. Pools customarily offer swimming lessons, sometimes free if you have a family pass.

Go hiking. County, state, and national parks have miles of trails for you to enjoy. Dress and pack appropriately; choose trails suited to your stamina. Name plants and animals as you encounter them -- bring along a pocket guide if you wish.

Visit a museum, exploratorium, or other place of learning. Some are specialized while others have many different types of exhibits. Check the bulletin board because they often have lectures, movies, or other entertainment at certain times.

Take pictures. Photography is a fun hobby and a good way to record memories in tangible form. Disposable film cameras are cheap, useful for kids who aren't ready for a regular camera yet. You can even get disposable underwater cameras!

Visit a zoo, wildlife park, butterfly house, or arboretum. Most have a modest admission price, but some are free. Gift shops will have fun and educational items. You may pick your own path or find a guided tour, depending on what the place offers. Discuss the importance of protecting nature.

Grow a garden. If you haven't already started one, that's okay; some vegetables and flowers can be planted almost any time. If you don't have room for a big garden in the ground, consider a container garden or windowbox. Seeds are cheap; plants can be cheap or expensive; but you can often get some from a friend for free.

What are some of your favorite summertime activities?

Poem: "the moments that fill the soul"

Here is another poem from the June 9, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from miintikwa, then cosponsored by miintikwa and jenny_evergreen. Yay, teamwork!

This poem uses no capitalization and minimal punctuation to create a soft-edged, dreamy mood. (Yes, I'm a fan of e.e. cummings.) It also uses plentiful sensory details to create a sense of "being there." The repetition of certain words underscores the theme of connection.

the moments that fill the soul

the first star kisses the glowing moon
the clouds catch on the crescent
and shred into soft tufts of cotton

the cottonwood trees release their fluff
to float over the still surface of the lake,
silence punctuated by the distant plunk of bullfrogs
leaping into the warm shallow water

fireflies twinkle as the shadows deepen,
taking wing in the soft summer air,
making quick flashes and slow glowing streaks
as they search for each other in the darkness

somewhere the moonflowers are blooming,
and the little roses that grow beside the roads,
their perfume drifting on the gentle breeze
so that it tastes faintly of honey

the hills cup their hands to hold the lake
as the lake holds the reflections
of star and moon, tree and firefly

these are the moments that fill the soul
the way the light and the water fill the lake

Bloggapedia Syndication

One of the major blog catalog services, Bloggapedia, is teaming up with some other companies to offer syndication of blogs. I signed up mine, so if you're interested in this sort of thing, you can watch for The Wordsmith's Forge, Gaiatribe: Ideas for a Thinking Planet, and Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews to appear in that format. This is the Bloggapedia text on the topic:

What is syndication and what does it mean for me and my blog?

Essentially, it means there are websites out there that would like to offer your blog content for download on devices like smartphones and e-readers, for a small fee. Because these websites are looking for the best of the best in blog content, they've partnered with Bloggapedia If you choose to allow us to syndicate your blog you'll receive a 30% royalty on the profit from the syndication of your blog once the submission of your blog listing is approved.

Whenever someone downloads your blog content onto their device via Bloggapedia's syndication service, we'll pass on 30% of Bloggapedia's revenue from that sale to you! Payments are made quarterly; minimum payout $25. Funds will accrue in your account until the minimum payout amount is reached.</span></span>

Poem: "Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in the Kitchen"

This poem came from the June 9, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from haikujaguar and sponsored by janetmiles.

Ooo ... brownies. Have some recipes too.

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in the Kitchen

“Patience is a virtue.”
                          – Bread

“He who hesitates is lost.”
                            – Brownies

“Grow up.”
    – Broccoli

“Never forget what it’s like to be six.”
                                        – Brownies

“You are what you eat.”
                           – Stew

“Chocolate is the food of the gods.”
                                     – Brownies

“Plan ahead.”
     – Jello Salad

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
                                      – Brownies