Well, it's been a busy year so far. We're hunkered down, avoiding the Covid, keyed up, toying with racist fascism, and dimly worried, denying how…
My On-line Posts for the Last Two Months
It’s been a busy month of distractions from progress on my book. In addition to writing this long-envisioned book (old reference books are now scattered across my office floor), I get involved with issues and ideas on the internet. Here’s some you might like. (I’ll use italics, as here, to introduce each idea area.)
Top of the list goes to comments about commenting. What ever became of civility and respectful interchange on the internet?
For instance, Joseph Brown had objected to a Steve Hanley idea, but added, “much better job on this article.” To which Steve Hanley replied, “Meh, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.” So, Joseph replied, “… there is nothing wrong with your writing – just some topics you get emotional about. It can be off-putting. Sorry I was so harsh, but turns out that there might be some emotion around those issues on my end, too.” Which caught my eye, so I added, “What? Empathetic back-and-forth on the Internet? Unheard of! What if this sort of behavior became a trend?” To which Steve quipped back, sarcastically, “There is no room for intelligent dialogue here. This nonsense must stop!!!” I took it a bit further, “What if everyone were to start treating each other with intelligent respect? What would that do to our snark skill and competition?”
Similar positive reinforcement went to the publisher of Cleantechnica regarding his objecting to Bernie Sanders about flip comments he had made about Elon Musk:
“Thanks, Zach, for trying to support Bernie and Elon, both decent and mostly successful in what they are doing for our world.
In an on-line world quick to react and hate, pointing out some flaw while ignoring the complexity of progress, such decent people as them and yourself can get tripped up by all the snark. Kudos to those who keep their ideals and wits anyway.”
The political back-n-forth started out with connection to Adam Kinzinger, an Indiana Republican congressman daring to buck Trump and his frenzied followers:
“I agree with Noam Chomsky that Republicans are the greatest threat we and the planet face today. That, even though the Republican family and friends I’ve known are not arrogant with ignorance, like their party has become.
This is a moment for decent Republicans to stand brave against the riled vitriol. I only hope Adam will be as outspoken and clear as he seems when he assumes prestige in the renewed Republican party.
The “Party of Lincoln” has become a perverse reversal of the Republicans of yore. They used to honor what Thomas Paine termed “the nation,” meaning the will and well-being of all of us. Republicans of that era hadn’t sold the nation out to transnational corporations and mean-minded moralists.
As a libertine, progressive, environmentalist Democrat, I’ll be watching Adam with hopeful anticipation.”
Four days later I added:
So far, so good. You’ve identified a problem that I hope you don’t succumb to. The extremes on either side of the spectrum will never be happy unless a leader passes their purity tests. They are different sides of the same coin, and their scare tactics, tests, and out-of-context scores have helped destroy compromise in Washington.”
It’s become a fund-raising industry, riling us (Reps and Dems) up with scare tactics and out-of-context disinformation diversions, unfair attack/defend scuffles instead of intelligent conversation. Running primaries in gerrymandered districts invites only extremists to the runoffs. (Oh, how I wish we could use ranked-choice and instant runoff voting; it would let democracy function much better.)
Will your party’s riled rabble bring you down in your eventual primary? Or are you “going against the grain,” ahead of the trend you’ll help champion? I think the latter.
I’ll be interested to learn what criticism the left has of you. I most often agree with a more Bernie Sanders / Noam Chomsky sort of critique, but that doesn’t mean good Republicans can’t re-emerge. What you’ve said and how you say it, so far, impresses me. Your boldness is appropriate and well-timed. Country First could help rescue and renew our country.
I see you sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee. I am interested in promoting a rapid transition out of our former fossil fuel habits and into a cleaner, healthier, more economical energy gathering and use, including electrifying our transport. I hope you can confer with scientist Michael Mann, journalist Naomi Klein, and Tesla wizard Elon Musk. I hope you’re not just another Republican shill for the Koch’s.
Perhaps you could meet our (Oregon’s) Earl Blumenhouer in the bi-partisan Climate Caucus when you take part in that (and urge Oregon’s new R congressman Cliff Bentz to also participate). Perhaps you could meet and work with our senators Wyden and Merkley.
Your position is historic. Stand in your integrity. Model a new way and lead us into a new time.”
When the New York Times did a piece on Kinzinger, I contributed this:
“It takes guts and patriotism to thoughtfully speak despite the scorn of his party and family. Though I regret he remains a Republican, I see him as an early leader of a new wave there. We’ll see he isn’t alone in his disgust for what Trump has led Republicans to become.”
On other political themes, I responded to a Tom Tomorrow cartoon on the charge that impeaching the president was “a partisan hit-job”:
“Accusing the Democrats of “a partisan witch-hunt,” while utterly backing this dangerous white witch, was itself blatant partisanship.
This same projection can be seen in the “Stop the Steal!” movement, used to try to steal the election.”
3-31-21 to Adam Kinzinger, one of seven Republicans standing up to Trump’s bully tactics:
I am way liberal and disgusted with Republicans of late, but I agree with your brave and needed stance, so I sent a bit of money as a token of my appreciation for your cause.
Also, politically, I responded to my Senator Jeff Merkley, not just to agree with him, as I often do, but to raise concerns for President Biden’s sword-rattling:
“Again, proud of you.
If anyone reads these, I would also like to register that I oppose the saber-rattling going on towards Venezuela, Iran, and China.
None of these people or their government is my enemy. I would rather we proceed with respect and fairness in our relations. How would we like their aircraft carriers moored just off our coasts?
Please resist and redirect the apparent Biden stance of pushing threats and a war economy. The sudden and precarious Democratic advantage will be ruined if he perpetuates needless wars and related assaults on their media, government, and elections.
Let us reform our identity as seen by these people. Our world is weary of wars and urgently needing other attentions. Peace and prosperity for everyone is possible.”
A similar response went to KOS regarding Elizabeth Warren’s approach:
“Like most here, I admire what Biden is doing on covid relief, climate responsibility, and staffing to start fixing our racial and economic injustices. Finally, Dems who win something!
However, Biden’s saber-rattling as regards Venezuela, Iran, and China, while still backing Saudi murderers very much concerns me. We need to relate honorably, not rev up the imperialism.
Trash Trump though I do, at least he wasn’t an obvious warmonger. Careful, Biden. Don’t undermine a long-term Democratic reign with the same old foolishness in arms and banking.”
I’m also interested in electric cars and other innovative technological approaches to fixing global warming. How to praise and promote decent products?
“I wish there was a “Good Earthkeeping Seal of Approval” process and award for all products, not just EVs. I would like to know which products are made with beneficial environmental and worker health standards, durability or recyclability, and fairness in profits. Such an awarding agency would publish the reasons for its decisions for the products it favors and those it does not. My dollars are like votes, denying or supporting those products and companies according to what they’re doing to the common good. Part of every economic exchange is the ethics involved. Many people care and would steer their dollars with such awards and reports in mind.
Similarly, in response to an innovative off-road electric:
“When I worked briefly for Ford in the early 60s I observed their small, cute, practical English Ford (as I vaguely remember it being called). But, even as VW Bugs began showing up all around Detroit and were resentfully ignored, the English Ford couldn’t be purchased in the U.S. Instead, after the hype of a massive ad campaign, we got the Edsel!”
(Reply: [It was the] Ford Cortina.)
I added a side-note to a Cleantechnica forum on GM stalling on EVs:
“Having earned my Masters of Divinity from a seminary then at the University of Chicago (where both atomic bombs and the economic theories driving our society for decades were developed) I see that religion and ethics have very little impact on war or greed.
Tall cathedrals and irrelevant rituals rather than world-honoring, world-saving justice, economics, and technologies.”
To which the author replied, “Thanks for that highly cogent insight.”
I’m impressed and hopeful about President Biden’s picks to stimulate a new Green Economy.
3-24-21 to NYT on Biden’s bold energy and infrastructure plans:
I’m proud of the Democrats and Biden for this bold start to a much-needed renewal of how we get and use energy. I hope Americans support and strengthen the party so we can get some continuity and momentum into positive change. Enough stubborn obstructionism and frantic funding of last century’s toxic ways!
This investment will pay more than it costs. The money leaving my town now could pay for locally available fuel sources. The same transition to a more local and healthier local food supply can be favored as well. The foods we eat, the cars we build, the energy we gather – all these cleaner activities and jobs should get our funding rather than continuing to prop up old, dirty, unhealthy, expensive ways.
I regret Biden’s plan does not include a gas tax. We should all pay for the pollution we’re creating. The subsidies to those legacy industries should stop. The cost of gas and diesel should go up. We’ve mounting disasters to compensate for, and we’ve new ways to devise and deploy. A gas tax will quickly lead us to build, buy, and use technologies that cost less to build and run.
So, yes to Biden and those seeking to implement a Green New Deal! I would hope Republicans join in collaborative and creative ways to address our urgent, shared humanity-wide problem. Individual, collective, private, and public mutual innovation and investment will veer us away from a hot, toxic future and towards a healthy and happier one.
3-25-21 to Cleantechnica article on FDR New Deal and Today
Thanks for the article and the informative readers’ responses, fleshing out that era. Humanity needs to reconsider just what it takes to have a healthy, happy life. A Green New Deal would be an important part of a larger transition. Energy independence will go a long way to helping us all to live and let live. We’re duped at being desperate for jobs, no matter how they waste lifetimes and resources. We don’t need “full employment;” we need enough work to support free, healthy lives, not be endlessly plugging away at systems that generate profits upward no matter what gets left behind. The future could be brighter than we have imagined so far.
The above-mentioned Good Earthkeeping Seal of Approval has to do with my main concern: rescuing and reviving Eden on Earth. In that vein, to NYT forum on Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s economic theory of paying Mother Nature back:
“We take a lot from the earth’s life, oceans, and soil. What do we return to them?
What if we were to agree with the advice in Genesis One regarding this good creation, that we should “replenish” it?
What if we were to systematically lessen the life we take and the poisons we add, and we instead were to feed this Eden?
How bounteous and beautiful could it become?”
Then, to Charles Eisenstein, essayist, on trying fictional rather than argumentative writing:
“Right on, Charles, write on! Tweek your ease with writing into a new form.
I have a gripe about Science Fiction. It uses unusable mechanisms to solve or further plots, unrealistic magical thinking.
Rather, how about utopias/dystopias built of Science Possibility? It can be visionary but built on what we already know is true and what works. Given what we know, how could it be?”
Locally, Ideas for what to do with the local, large Billings Farm stirred controversy. I tried to suggest some uses, not knowing Mary Billings had sold the farm. The new owner had suggested bison and dirt bike tracks.
2-9-21 to Nextdoor Neighbor regarding potential uses of Billings Farm
I’ve lived near the edge of the Billings Farm for three decades. I met John [Billings] before he passed and have continued to appreciate what Mary has done. Her desires no doubt help inform ideas for the long-term of this lovely property.
It is a town treasure, a pastoral soothing just to view. The geese and coyotes have their place along with goats and lamas. Perhaps bison, camels, and caribou could also live there. Deliberately planting to attract migrating birds and butterflies would augment it.
Some have wanted a golf course. I’ve imagined frisbee golf or some-such new sport or recreation that makes use of the property without developing and controlling it so much. Wandering paths and dispersed, inobtrusive picnic sites could be nice.
Bike courses? Perhaps, but we already have a sportbike area near the dog park and gobs of excellent trails around town. We’ve excellent baseball diamonds and parking off Mountain Street. More housing? We’ve lots of places for that without cluttering up those graceful fields.
Depending on what the Billings family wants, perhaps a wide and creative seeking of ideas could be organized and welcomed.
(I sent the new owner, Todd, a letter with similar suggestions. Awards went to other ideas, but I’m hoping to converse with the new owner.)
Finally, I dared to step into the fray at the New York Times regarding notorious sex magazine publisher, Larry Flint:
2-11-21 to NY Times comments on a review of Hustler publisher Larry Flint’s life:
“While Playboy portrayed images of 20-21-year-old women, selected from hundreds of shots, airbrushed and perfectly lit, Hustler showed less attractive women, sometimes older or pregnant, blatantly posed to show all. It crudely satisfied male curiosity in ways that left sleazy, guilty arousal or perhaps amusement at the raunch. Not admirable, but more honest about how profane sex can get.
He was the naughty yang of our puritan yin culture.
I once was called to the board for having referenced “One Nation Under Sex” in a sermon because Flint’s name was attached to Eisenbach’s careful and interesting research. (Flint had written an opinion piece chapter, and his name probably promoted sales.) Though I welcomed the book’s ordinary human honesty about Dolly Madison and Abe Lincoln, etc., others took that as deserving shame and blame, if mentioned at all.
That he was shot by a white supremacist shows a typical clash of values. In our usual media, swear words and sexual references get blurred out while napalm and insurrections get rationalized and excused. What was more upsetting to Americans in the Vietnam era, the burned skin of that poor fleeing girl, or that we could see her innocent vagina?”
There you have it, readers.* Rescuing and reviving Earth as Eden, a potential Green New Deal, encouragement to a Republican for daring to buck Trump, warnings to Democrats on reviving imperialistic war warnings, innovative electric cars, local land-use, and mentioning unmentionables. I hope you see how religion isn’t a supernatural wish fest or a fun fest in virtual reality, it comes down to actual conditions for our actual world.
* All ten of you. I get weekly reports of readership numbers. The graphs look great – sometimes an increase of 100%! But that might mean two people tuned in instead of one. Well, if you’re one of those who read this far, know your presence is counted – and appreciated. I spend a lot of time and life energy on my earthlyreligion web site, hoping one day it will have the readership to make actual, helpful change in this precious world and even earn some money for having tried. Same for my upcoming book.