Friday, August 03, 2007

This sculpture in onyx by Emily Young is similiar to one
she created in hard chalcedony called "Time in the Stone,"
featured in a recent issue of New Scientist magazine, with
her short essay, "A message to the future." In it she points
out that it was in studying stone and fossils that geologists
in the 18th and 19th realized the immense age of the planet.
Her sculpture in chalcedony could well last a million years.
"When I carved this face, I felt that I was carving my own
consciousness onto it," she writes. "If the Earth suffers
some searing catastrophe, this chalcedony head will survive...
if we don't all make it to an acceptable future, happy and well,
as scientists tell us is extremely possible, I hope my stone
carvings will be waiting to be read in some futurescape of
strangeness, and be a memorial to us. The Earth is and has
been so powerful, so wild, so beautiful--the source and surrounding
of all that we are and are capable of. But our deep respect for her
is dribbling away, and we are destroying her. This is my protest:
I want to shout down the years, and tell the future of that bit of
its past that was us."
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collaspe

"We Step Up"

As news outlets have been reporting for hours now, a major interstate bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during the evening rush hour today (Wednesday). As of this hour, there are 7 known dead, but it's not clear how many vehicles are in the water and unaccounted for. After reporting and showing incredible footage of the twisted highway bridge, hours old now as it is well after nightfall in Minneapolis, TV commentator are marveling on the "fortunate" circumstances that probably cut down on the loss of life--the proxmity to a Red Cross headquarters where nurses were in class (they treated children from a school bus) and that the head of Emergency Medical Services happened to be nearby and was on the scene in minutes. But if you know anything much about the Twin Cities, you know it was more than luck.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have strong civic structures, a practical belief in public services that goes beyond political party. They believe in the practical value of government. Public and private cooperation there is a longstanding tradition, also beyond party or any rivalries or differences.
This is a part of the country that has hot summers and particularly, it had frigid winters with snowstorms that can brew quickly and dump lots of snow. A culture has developed over the years of an optimistic acceptance of bad weather, and above all, an alertness to others in trouble because of it and a willingness to help. If you see somebody stuck in the snow, you stop and help them--that's just something you do. And chances are, you've seen it often enough.

So it's not surprising to me that people on the scene instantly began to help and rescue victims, or that many people have training and experience in helping, or that there were good plans in place and good cooperation among agencies, municipalities, levels of government. You can hear how normal this is in the interviews. "We step up," said one police official. It's what they do.

The Twin Cities is a special place, because the culture emphasizes what is potential in all of us, to think ahead and help when its needed as simply the right thing--and the normal thing--to do. The rest of America can learn from the people there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer strawberries (and a few blueberries) from our yard.
Summers were such a symbol of happiness to Bergman
because in Sweden they are so short. As is life, but Bergman
had lost his fear of death long before the end. Live, and have
a strawberry for the maestro.
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From Wild Strawberries, one of Ingmar Bergman's greatest
(and most accessible) films. A great DVD, too, with Bergman
at 80. His death at age 89 was announced yesterday.
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Save Darfur Now

The headlines are all variations on UN to Send Troops to Darfur but we've been here before without that actually happening. Gordon Brown, the new Brit Prime Minister (and friend of the Queen---J.K. Rowling, that is) finessed a deal with the French and got Bush's support (after mumbling solidarity on Iraq) for a Security Council resolution, since passed,to deploy an international peacekeeping force of 26,000 "with a tough mandate to stop the massacres of civilians that have driven 2 million people from their homes."

But the Save Darfur Coalition points out that the UN voted to send such a force last August and it never was deployed, for the first time in UN history. The Coalition urges citizens to sign a petition in favor of this deployment.

Letters, faxes, emails and calls to representatives of national governments urging them to actually contribute to such a force also seem in order. This disgrace must end. Save Darfur now.
Impeach Gonzales Now

"No brilliance is needed in the law," said English novelist and lawyer, John Mortimer. "Nothing but common sense, and relatively clean fingernails."

But when you've got the people's #1 representative of the law who has no sense and dirty hands, who lies about his own crimes and advice on how to break the laws, then it's time to uphold the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney General of the U.S. Alberto Gonzales should not resign. He must be impeached. And the legislation introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives to begin impeachment investigation must be supported by House leadership and the rest of us. Politics has nothing to do with it anymore. This is about the future of the integrity of the law and of justice in the United States.
Finally Figured This Out?

Wired Magazine: Ten Reason to Throw Your Cell Phone Away.

For a Boomer perspective at 60's Now.


Ingmar Bergman, stage and film director, shown here
directing his last film, Saraband, in 2001. An obit, one of many
summaries of his work, and my posts from a few years ago.
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

The only butterfly I've seen this season. BK photo.
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What the Future Won't Be

If this survey is correct (and it is by a primarily Democratic polling outfit), what the near future won't be is Republican:

A new Democracy Corps/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey finds young people "profoundly alienated from the Republican party and its perceived values." Key finding: "Young people react with hostility to the Republicans on almost every measure and Republicans and younger voters disagree on almost every major issue of the day."In the presidential race, "both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lead Rudy Giuliani -- the most acceptable of the Republican offerings among youth -- by significant margins. The President’s standing is substantially worse, to the degree that is possible, than we find in the broader electorate. Moreover, the disconnect we see between the Republicans and our nation’s youth runs so deep, that it likely will not only outlive the Bush administration, but potentially haunt the Republicans for many years to come."Complete survey results are available.