Archive for July, 2012

This is our vacation destination, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The park extends for some forty miles along Lake Superior, with about fifteen of those miles sandstone cliffs that are around two hundred feet above the lake. A trail follows the whole length of the park, along the cliffs. I hiked it when I was young, and it is really spectacular. This time I do not intend to hike with a forty pound pack on my back (the trail is very rugged) but rather to take day hikes with the children.

We were going to head north on the first day of my vacation, stopping to visit my brother at his cabin in the northern Lower Penisula, then my sister at her home further north, then on to the Pictured Rocks. But due to my (all too common) absent-mindedness, I somewhere became confused about when my vacation was scheduled. Somewhere between January, when I bid for time off, and last Friday I had it in mind that it began next Monday. I glanced at the work schedule then, and saw that it in fact started today. As one of our preparations for the trip was the essential one of trading our Dodge Caravan- affectionately nicknamed The Pieceofcrapmobile- for a ten or twelve passenger van that will hold all nine of us we are stuck here until we can find one. There are a couple we looked at on Sunday, and hopefully we will be on the road tomorrow.

I will not have regular access to a computer, and hopefully will be too busy hiking and relaxing to post much for the next two weeks. I will try to post here and there, using library computers, but it may be scant.

I will pick up where I left off when I return.

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One Down, Nine To Go

I stuck this bumper sticker on my rear window about a month ago. A couple of days ago someone ripped it off and tossed it to the ground.

When I first requested it, I asked for as many as they could send, and offered to pay for them, but the folks who offered free consistent ethic bumper stickers sent me twelve, and asked for no money. I slapped one on each of our two vehicles. And the other day I simply replaced the one the vandal had destroyed.

I figure that at this rate I am good for almost a year.

I wish whoever reacted so strongly to my sticker had left a note. I mean, I guess there probably are people who are racist, prowar, in favor of capital punishment, euthanasia and abortion. And I suppose they are hostile to the poor. Or maybe it was a leftist who objected to abortion being included in the list of evils.

I just wish I knew.

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Vote for Obamney

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This is from the soundtrack for the film The Descendents, which I had no desire to see- I generally am not interested in stories about rich people-  until a friend whose opinion I value told me it was really good. And it is very good and well-acted. But what really knocked my proverbial socks off is the soundtrack, which is all Hawaiian music. This is a sample:

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The right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness or ignorance the social and moral character of economic life, it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority…. But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life—a truth which the outcome of the application in practice of the tenets of this evil individualistic spirit has more than sufficiently demonstrated.

—“Quadragesimo Anno” (1931), No. 88.

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Icon by Philip Davydov

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“Here’s an odd question: Is it possible that the U.S. military is present in more countries and more places now than at the height of the Cold War?  It’s true that the U.S. is reducing its forces and giant bases in Europe and that its troops are out of Iraq (except for that huge, militarized embassy in Baghdad).  On the other hand, there’s that massive ground, air, and naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, the Obama administration’s widely publicized “pivot” to Asia (including troops and ships), those new drone bases in the eastern Indian Ocean region, some movement back into Latin America (including a new base in Chile), and don’t forget Africa, where less than a decade ago, the U.S. had almost no military presence at all.  Now, as TomDispatch Associate Editor Nick Turse writes in the latest in his “changing face of empire” series, U.S. special operations forces, regular troops, private contractors, and drones are spreading across the continent with remarkable (if little noticed) rapidity.

Secret American base in Africa

Putting together the pieces on Africa isn’t easy.  For instance, only the other day it was revealed that three U.S. Army commandos in a Toyota Land Cruiser had skidded off a bridge in Mali in April.  They died, all three, along with three women identified as “Moroccan prostitutes.”  This is how we know that U.S. special operations forces were operating in chaotic, previously democratic Mali after a coup by a U.S.-trained captain accelerated the unraveling of the country, leading more recently to its virtual dismemberment by Tuareg rebels and Islamist insurgents.  Consider this a sample of what Nick Turse calls the U.S. military’s “scramble for Africa” in a seamy, secretive nutshell.

So here’s another question: Who decided in 2007 that a U.S. Africa Command should be set up to begin a process of turning that continent into a web of U.S. bases and other operations?  Who decided that every Islamist rebel group in Africa, no matter how local or locally focused, was a threat to the U.S., calling for a military response?  Certainly not the American people, who know nothing about this, who were never asked if expanding the U.S. global military mission to Africa was something they favored, who never heard the slightest debate, or even a single peep from Washington on the subject.”

Read more here.

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Which Mitt?

The ultimate compilation from the Man Without A Center:

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I just noted, with acute embarrassment, that the post that stirred up such a fine conversation was titled “Distibutism, True and False”.  Boy do I feel dumb. It has been corrected.

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