They are not the only bad guys

Farmer's MarketIn about 1968 my best friend came back from Seattle. I remember him showing up at our flat in – what was known as – Lower Piedmont after being gone about a year. There are two things I remember about that first visit, he brought the first joint I had every seen and he kept saying It takes two to tangle. I was reminded of that a couple of days ago, when I friend posted a online petition to the Republicans in Congress.

The petition may have been telling – asking? – the Republicans not to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress, or may have been on Tom Cotton’s stupid letter. I don’t remember. But I do remember thinking that a Democrat, in a Blue State, signing a petition to the Republicans was a waste of time. It got me thinking why would someone put out a petition like that.

Often, the email or linked website wants you to send some money after signing the petition, so I think the petitions are often a pretext to raise money. That does not diminish their outrage, however. Sometimes they are just for the outrage, usually the outrage they want us to get. Usually over some stupid thing the Republicans did. Don’t get me wrong, at this point my disdain for the Republicans is almost boundless. But sometimes I get a email that is just a sky-is-falling scream. Oh my God! look what some sheriff in Texas did to some poor black woman.

Today, a got a petition for the Koch Brothers. Really! It said Our Message to The Koch Brothers. Your reckless spending is doing nothing for our country – in fact it is hurting our democracy. Now, the Koch Brothers are not going to look at that and say, Oh my God, Steve Stern is against us, let’s change our behavior, even if there were five million Steve Sterns. This is really a message for Steve Stern, Let’s make him afraid so he will stay on board.

Fear is the ultimate motivator and, every day, I get messages trying to scare me. Every day, I get a mailbox full of anti-rightwing propaganda saying be very afraid of bigots, be afraid of gun loving killers, be afraid of rich tax cheats. Everyday, they are telling me how bad the other side is, They are lairs. They are not Liberal and Fair and Open to diversity like we are. They are not kind and gentle like us. They are Bad, maybe even Evil. Dislike them, More!

I like to think that it is just the Right that campaigns on fear, but my side is just as virulent. Apparently, It does take two to tangle.

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Reading about Tom Cotton


In reading about Tom Cotton, the unhinged Senator who authored the truly wacko letter to Iran inferring that the Obama Administration couldn’t negotiate a permanent deal, I realized that what most disturbed me was that he had been an officer in the Army.

I was in the Army and know, first hand, that the Army is chock full of idiots, so being bothered about Lieutenant Tom Cotton surprised me. I was  was disturbed that a person so lacking in common sense, would be charged with leading troops into the meat grinder but I hadn’t been disturbed that he was a Senator. That’s what surprised me, my low standards for a Senator, my lack of surprise that a person of such low common sense would be a Senator.

That is more than a little sad.


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Where did that come from?

Charlotte-3017I went to watch granddaughter Charlotte play basketball over the weekend. When the game first started, Charlotte played a pretty good defensive game but she seemed to be playing offense at a much lower pitch.

To back up. Charlotte is what we used to call a jock (your mother will explain that to you when you get older, Charlotte). She just likes sports: so much that she is playing basketball in the local Catholic Youth League.

That did not come from my side of the family. My parents were not jocks – the rumor was that my father had been a boxer at Cal but he went to Cal from about sixteen to almost nineteen and I never saw the killer instinct he would have needed to beat up on students who were older and, presumably, bigger – so I am going to stay with no jock. I am not a jock; I liked to to ski and hike and even some lightweight mountaineering but those were ways to get outside into the wild (or semi-wild). When I was young, in grammar school and then, later, highschool I  played the required football and ran track and never particularly enjoyed it. My daughter, Samantha, ran the Bay to Breakers, a couple times – in informal costumes – but quit playing soccer way sooner than I would have liked. None of us had the intensity that Charlotte seems to channel.

Maybe it comes from Charlotte’s father. I don’t know.

Well, that’s not quite true, I don’t know, but I do have a theory and a hint lies in the word channel.  I think the world is evolving, maybe not the whole world, but the elite West Coast world and probably the entire Western world (and elite Eastern world). Leisure is increasingly becoming busting your ass at sports just like it was in 750 BC Greece. When I was a kid, there were jocks and nerds, but now the nerds are the jocks.

Today’s mechanistic theory of life is that everything is physical. We are little, self contained machines, influenced only by our DNA strands. Even our minds are in our brains. There is alot of evidence that the mechanical theory is not true – or not complete – but it is the accepted dogma and most scientists, especially older scientists, are dedicated to guarding us against any heresy. Still, I don’t think that Charlotte’s athleticism and competitiveness only comes from her DNA, I think she is tuned into a new, different, world.

Watching Charlotte playing basketball, she seemed different from the Charlotte who was the star of the game the last time I watched her play Soccer. Here she was more hesitant, more willing to let someone else shoot. Watching, I began to think that this was a gift, she experienced being the star at Soccer and here she was able to experience being a supporting player. I don’t think her coach must have felt the same way because she pulled Charlotte out for a good part of the first half.  When Charlotte came back, however, she started channeling her Reshanda Gray.Charlotte-2999

She started to charge and shoot and make baskets. Her team won 18 to 12 – these are little girls shooting at ten foot high baskets,  18-12 is a pretty high score – and she was the biggest scorer (at one time, I think Charlotte had scored as much as the entire other team). Standing there, in a Catholic Boy’s School gym, the noise so loud it was hard to talk, I kept thinking, Now where did that come from.

Charlotte-3036 Charlotte-3037

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Michael Graves

capistrano2Michael Graves died a couple of days ago and I feel a loss from it that is bigger than I expected (that is if I had thought about it at all). I think that I have only been in one building designed by Graves, the Capistrano Library. It was one of the most interesting interiors I have ever been in. As good as a Frank Lloyd Wright house and, unexpectedly, almost as completely designed, right down to the table lamps. Even more unexpected was that the library was packed on a mid-week late afternoon.

It was a soft thrill, for lack of a better way to describe the hour or so, walking through and around the building. Good architecture – which, for purposes here, I’ll define good as original, thoughtful, and appropriate to its location – influences us in a positive way. Most architecture is neutral, but Graves was anything but neutral. He designed the stuffing out of everything. I once talked to a City Planner who had worked in the Portland City Hall, one of Graves’ signature buildings, and he said that it was an almost impossible place to work and I believe him. I just not sure that I care how well it works as a machine but how well it works at enriching Portland.

Architecture, good architecture, great architecture – which isn’t always good, certainly Frank Lloyd Wright’s great building weren’t always good – has nurtured my life as long as I can remember. It is a gene, or interest, that I think I got from my Daddy, maybe when he took me to see Frank Lloyd Wright. It was one of the few things we did together and that has emphasized its importance. I don’t particularly care what style the architecture is, I love buildings from Baroque to Mid-century Modern, from the San Francisco City Hall complex to the Oakland Museum. The Capistrano Library is one of my favorite buildings, just walking around it has enriched my life, and I bet that it still enriches the community of Capistrano. That is a nice legacy.

Hacked by ISIS



Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. Eric Hoffe

Sometime last Saturday, my blog was hacked by ISIS. I found out when I got an email from Malcolm Pearson saying Did you know you’ve been hacked by Islamic State? I am happy to say that Michele was able to unhack it in less than an hour. That is more than pretty good; according to Eldora Speedway, whose website was also hacked by ISIS, it took the Darke County Sheriff, FBI & GoDaddy working together atleast an hour to unlock their website.

Which brings up the question, Why me? Michele says it is probably an automatic hack because I mentioned ISIS in a headline, but why would they hack Eldora Speedway in Darke County, Ohio. And why the Isle of the Wight County,  Virginia, website? or the Sequoia Park Zoo Website? It seems so random and strange and creepy. I feel both, sort of honored in the I don’t care what they say about me just spell my name right way, and creeped out in the Holy shit, these wackos actually kill people way. It drives home that ISIS is basically incomprehensible to me.

Anything I say about ISIS or any group, for that matter, is just my projection. I can’t, really, put myself in the shoes of someone that so believes their answer is god’s command. I can only guess as to why my website was hacked, and all those guesses are only what I would do. Or what I think I would do, or fantasize I would do, but never have.  Anger? I can relate to that. All I have to do is read about the murder of Ahmed Al-Jumaili last Thursday to make me angry. Not angry enough, long enough, to hack a website and chopping somebody’s head off is a huge stretch – obviously, I hope – but I can understand it.

Hate, sure. I’ve felt the corrosive burning of hate. Boredom, absolutely. I volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1965 because I was bored. I would have gone, too, if the Battalion Recruitment Officer hadn’t talked me out of it, telling me that the only job in Vietnam I was qualified for, would be as a door gunner on a Huey, often a short lived assignment. But he did talk me out of it. If he had pushed me, instead, with tales of my saving civilization as we know it, I might have ended up there, killing people (or trying to).

But a voice from heaven? that’s hard for me to relate to. I guess it would be nice to be noticed by god, but I would rather be given a winning Lotto number. Hell, there is also the very real possibility that the the hack might not even be from ISIS (although it did say ISIS is everywhere in a, sort of, homage to Anonymous.

What ever the reason, however it happened, Michele was able to get me unhacked and update my website in the process, so I would like to say No harm, no foul, but it did screw up Michele’s day. She unhacked me in an hour but the rest of the day was consumed with making upgrades and changes.

Thank you very much, Michele!ISIS-0957



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