Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wow. Is it history, coincidence, or neighborhood security?

The NY Times carries an article, "Fugitive Slave Mentality", about the Zimmerman/Martin killing in Florida.

I have to wonder -- does this in-depth analysis of the deep-seated racial bias of Zimmerman and the local police chief take into account how abysmal America is at studying history?

The piece quotes a 1793 Fugitive Slave Act, and a court case from 1844 regarding those interfering in recapture of slaves escaped from Kentucky to Michigan. The judge instructed the jury that those interfering broke the law because they failed to take the slave catcher at his word. The parallel the NT Times author draws is the comment by the police chief that he took Zimmerman's claim of self defense -- supposedly at Zimmerman's word. this despite three witnesses that have come forward to confirm Zimmerman was down and getting his clock cleaned by Martin, and the obvious injuries from a beating that Zimmerman bore. It seems to me there was more there than simple "take the white (or Hispanic) man's side" mentality.

I mean, what is the chance that the police chief in Florida is a student of slave laws, and court proceedings (and judge's instructions to juries) from Michigan?

On the other hand, the opinion piece by ROBERT GOODING-WILLIAMS doesn't actually mention why the neighborhood where Zimmerman took part in the neighborhood watch program set up the neighborhood program, why Mr. Zimmerman was part of the watch program and outside, keeping a watch on his neighbor's property and families. Mr. Gooding-Williams doesn't discuss what cultural profile Mr. Martin might have resembled -- law abiding, family guy, pursuing legitimate business -- in someone else's neighborhood. At a time that the neighborhood has taken to actively and publicly keeping a watch for untoward activities and persons. I mean, one account places the incident, and Mr. Zimmerman, in a gated community. How come none of the accounts mention that Mr. Martin was near his home, or why he was in a restricted access community?

What few have claimed, yet, is how this incident fits with President Obama's Federal Hate Crimes law, passed weeks after being sworn into office. This is the bill that officially defines a "protected" class of citizen. That is, no white and heterosexual person in America can be the victim of a Federal Hate Crime. By law. Only other races and gender proclivities.

For my money, except for President Obama's law, it appears to me that Mr. Zimmerman is the victim of racial hatred, expressed and exploited in mainstream media by hate-mongering "leaders" and "activists". And that impedes finding justice for Trayvon Martin as well as for George Zimmerman. Because the last thing the racial bigots care about is justice. They make their money, their social status, and get their axes ground by exploiting the hate of others.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Minorities and TEOTWAWKI

Demi W. commented on JMG's "Waking Up, Walking Away" post on The Archdruid Report blog. Demi claims that the poor, and especially minority poor, will face dire threats to survival as the collapse of peak oil and the end of the age of industry continues. She claims that the middle class will panic first, as they attempt to retain the trappings of privilege.

I am an African American female "prepper" who lives in a largely Hispanic area (urban Phoenix, AZ). My take on the whole peak oil issue is that the average ethnic minority in this country most likely sees the peak oil issue as less of a threat to their way of life. IMO, for whites, the peak oil issue and overarching sustainability movement is about trying to adjust to life in a way that allows them to minimize the impact to their standard of living as much as possible and there will be MUCH resistance.

On the other hand, for many ethnic minorities, their struggle has always been about survival on the most basic level. They are not bogged down on whether or not they can live with downsizing to a smaller hou[se] or going from two cars to one, as many do not and/or never have owned a vehicle or needed one for that matter, to get back and forth from their jobs to their suburban homes. Likewise, riding a bike or taking a bus wouldn't necessarily be a major transition for inner/urban city ethnic minorities, IMO.

In the end, I think that it is going to be hard for ethnic minorities to go off to some rural area or small town and feel accepted, especially during a crisis, because, from experience, I tried rural living in South Carolina,for a few years and I by no means felt "welcomed" at any point or time.

To Demi W.,

There is much truth in what you say.

If you look at Sharon Astyk's writing, and here from JMG, they both focus on survival being related to individuals making good choices.

Sharon discerns between the formal economy -- the fancy numbers that President Obama and Wall Street make up and throw around -- and an informal economy. The informal economy is a web of interlocking relationships within families and communities, where the "economy" cannot be measured in dollars, but in exchanges of work, of goods, and of assistance that have nothing to do with monetary value. A child doing chores, care for the sick and elderly, showing another to garden successfully, these are examples of "value" flowing through an informal economy.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa, when some farms were still the old agrarian model -- a family operation, a place to raise children (the Amish and Mennonites still adhere to this view) and live, depending more on what was raised on the farm than what could be purchased with the cash crops, and depending on skill and available resources than the pesticides, seeds, and fertilizers that could be bought.

What TV advertising and merchandising, so-called modern education, and local and federal governments have made of farming, today's agribusiness, is an entirely "formal" economy function.

I am not a part of a minority race, though growing up on a farm is, I contend, a minority culture. There are many of various races I respect and work with; also many I don't trust and avoid. I think of myself as more culturally aware than racially aware. There are those that are prone to violence, aggression, and hate, and I tend to avoid them, whatever culture or race in their background.

Walking Away

I think the observation Demi W makes about leaving urban existence for an economic environment less entrenched in the formal economy is reasonable, and applies to all people trying to "escape".
In the end, I think that it is going to be hard for ethnic minorities to go off to some rural area or small town and feel accepted, especially during a crisis, because, from experience, I tried rural living in South Carolina,for a few years and I by no means felt "welcomed" at any point or time.

Any community, like any family, is aware that some outsiders mean them harm. When their history of outsiders includes arrogance, disdain, disrespect for custom, or criminal acts -- they tend to regard outsiders as potential threats. Where the entire history is that outsiders have brought resources of help, growth of the community, and security -- they will be welcoming until the community notices problems.

Rural towns and areas have seen their share of predators, of government programs and marketing ploys that have cost people and families, sometimes dearly. In the South, the legacy of the post-Civil War era of occupation and exploitation by "Northerners" is still a potent force, especially in communities but lightly touched by the flows of cash and excess of modern education, modern marketing, and modern "development".

Walk away -- from cultural baggage

One big problem is cultural baggage. The way you have lived, the rules and preferences that have given one comfort and security. The rituals and celebrations you observe, the values of what is good and what is preferred, the shared history with your community. Culture. This is baggage that hinds you into a community.

What TV sitcoms and marketing, what government programs, what job offers and other reasons stories of relocating assume, at bedrock, is that there is one, single culture that is "America".

While much is made of racial tension, my own observation is that the real problem is cultural tension. I have known too many people of various races that live comfortably within the dominant American culture to believe otherwise. It is the cultural differences, the clinging to beliefs and values from "the old country" or imagined by demagogues that keep people apart.

In the traditional, historical form of marriage within the Christian community, where the husband is the head of the household and the wife is subservient to the leadership of her husband, each new bride will face this kind of cultural shock. She will face having to replace all she knows of right and wrong, of who is in authority, of her duties and loyalties, as she leaves life in her father's home and makes a new home for her husband. The wise and caring husband faces a dauntingly similar task, of reconsidering all of his own cultural identity in terms of being part of a family and no longer of his parent's family, of being responsible for nurturing his wife and children to come. Both assume new identities within their community, no longer just a mere adult, but now a family, a couple recognized in a community event, a wedding.

Physically moving to a new community is the simple part.

Becoming part of that community demands that the rituals and celebrations observed, the values of what is good and proper, and the shared history all come together; the newcomer must choose to live in the culture of the new community.

That means learning to act in ways that the community expects and respects. Learning to make choices and decisions based on values accepted and expected in the community. That means learning who is related to whom, who is who's relatives, who was neighbors in the past couple-ten decades, which members of the community are frowned upon, which are considered cherished burdens. It means that the culture of the new community must become the foundation of life at home, at work, and in your relationship to others.

In many communities with ties to older, Christian ways, definitions of "decent" attire can vary widely. The 1960s introduced the "Sexual Revolution" -- that conflicts direly with many family values, especially in smaller communities with a communal history in Puritanical or "conservative" Christian teachings.

Pride and identity

The resistance to accepting and adopting the culture of a new community, or changes in a community, might express itself as "pride". The belief that the values and preferences of one's youth, or past, or recent community, is good and right is expected. But it must take second place to learning to live in the new or changed community.

In modern America few talk about "identity". There is an assumed racial identity, but that I think is divisive, and diminishes us all.

Since the 1960s much has been said and evoked about sex between adults. It has been accepted by some that a marriage is between a man and woman (or some mix of genders), that there is little difference between a married couple and "living together".

I disagree. A marriage is a cultural event of the community, that happens to involve those getting married. A marriage re-defines the identity, permanently, of those getting married. Regardless of the religious recognition and component of a marriage rite, the community collectively recognizes and accepts that the individuals involve are no longer single, but part of a family. The community will make different opportunities, and express different expectations, of the new family members.

To many cultures with strong traditions of family and marriage there is a distrust of those that see no harm in cohabitation, in expressing an intimate relationship outside the bounds of marriage.


Some communities see those that work as being "regular" folk; those living without directly working for someone as being a burden on the community. Such a community, perhaps especially if there is a strong rural tradition, will view askance any newcomer that isn't accepted for work by someone respected in the community. Applying for work, after all, requires convincing an employer of one's worth to an enterprise, one's suitability in demeanor and temperament to be an assent in the workplace, and by extension, in the community.

Receiving funds from the government, from a trust fund, from a pension fund, does not carry the assumption that one has been approved. Think of getting a job in a new community as meeting a girl's father, and getting his agreement before being allowed to date the girl. It doesn't matter if it irritates (or scares) anyone. In many communities, some ritual of "acceptance" will be expected.


The End Of The World As We Know It. Where some see a violent and massive crumbling of civilization, others see a gradual overall decline in numbers of wealthy, both middle class and upper class, with a widening breech in culture between the poor and those not poor. Most foresee local and intermittent disruptions in availability of energy, of food, of security and comfort.

If one were to choose to move to a community less entangled in the formal economy, the time is when the choice is considered. Every day delayed spends another day of one's life in something that is to be abandoned, "walked away" from. And the later in the collapse you try to find a safer haven, the more stress will be on that haven, and the tougher the ordeal to get there and to be admitted. Getting physically relocated is the mere start of the effort. Once there, you have to make a new life, in the midst of a new culture that few are minded to help you learn.

Whether your race is an important part of your identity or not is a personal choice, just as all cultural perceptions and identifications are a personal choice.

Just be ready to walk away from your current culture.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Permadesign, vs. Wal-Mart and Capitalism, and energy of transportation.

Some terms for this writing.

Permadesign -- the design, or planning efforts, of a permaculture effort to raise food and preserve habitat in harmony with nature. At least, that is my current understanding of permaculture.

Capitalism -- Government oriented toward sustaining the social and economic practices of creating industries to make products from resources, and to sell those products. Capitalism, and industrialism, make use of relatively inexpensive resources to create more valuable products and resources, principally to concentrate wealth from customers into the hands of those accumulating and exercising money -- capital.

Wal-Mart -- One of several chains of stores in a capitalist economy, focused on fair quality goods at moderate prices.

Like many stores and other retailers, including shopping malls, shopping districts, strip malls, and "downtown" business districts, Wal-Mart intends to draw customers from a significant distance, usually in excess of comfortable walking distance of up to 1 1/2 miles. Some stores and malls expect a shopping reach of 40 to 100 miles.

A Saks Fifth Avenue or other "high end" store relies on customers that shop once or twice a month -- or a few times each year. A hardware store might expect customers to visit weekly "in season", plus a few times a year for other needs.

But the shopping mall, the strip mall, even Grand Avenue shops, as a group, expect to draw customers from a distance, and to draw them regularly for varying needs.

Each customer travels to the store or group of store. When travel is not by foot, then commercial energy is expended. That is an indirect energy loading of the commercial enterprise on their community.

For that matter, consolidated schools, central county and local and state offices do the same, they impose the expense of time, energy, and resources on their community to make the retailing, drivers license and various taxing activities cheaper for the vendor. Consolidating schools trades energy of parents and community to gather children to a central location for advanced career paths for administrative staff.

I would find credible a community's interest in energy issues, when building codes favor walking access to shopping and employment for residences. The interest should shift from employers that draw employees and/or customers from long distances, to walking distance access.

Leavergirl at Leaving Babylon writes about how designs for permaculture make an assumption that they have a clean slate, a godlike right to dictate what some local piece of nature will be like, instead of growing what nature has established into a new, permaculture kind of sustained growth and usefulness. has a more pointed element, "Native Landscaping" -- using plants that don't need watering, once established. Not only is water considered to be the next limiting factor to continuing life as America has come to know it, but water inevitably means energy use. Thus, native landscaping, or xeriscaping as sustainable landscaping is known, is a proven energy saver.

Which actually brings me to Wal-Mart. And Lowes. And Jay's Ranch Supplies (Ponca City, OK).

These are all retail outlets, depending on customers to buy what they sell. And none of them take efforts to identify the varieties and uses of plants that are well suited, without special care, to years-long growth in a sustainable fashion.

Yet Wal-Mart, Lowes, and the city of Ponca City each claim to be energy conserving, and be interested in sustainable approaches to business and life.

Huh. Not much Transition to reduced energy dependency here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Forced choices

Billll (Billll's Idle Mind) opposes government-mandated abortion services that offend religious teachings.

An example might be to counter someones argument in favor of abortion, for example, by asking if there should be any limits to it at all. The first trimester? The third? How about the 45th, . .

How about letting the historical Church rule apply, the one that says a person becomes a person with Confirmation (about the age of puberty, and demonstration of learning Church dogma)?

Or we could use the version of this that was incorporated in the original limits to compulsory education, "completion of the eighth grade, or age 16, whichever comes first".

I could accept a compromise. Let women and their families that believe in God, or at least understand their place in family and community, choose otherwise. A first trimester rule makes sense to me. The scary part is where the government gets involved gets into pressure and legally forced application.

The opposite to "abortion", is too often "botched, illegal abortion", "suicide", and "criminal and/or poverty way of life for mother and/or child". Or "destruction of community and family ties and dreams of a good family life". Or "descent into life under public welfare".

If churches, businesses, schools, or cigar clubs open their doors to non-member workers and non-member customers, they are a public business, and have to accept the whole public, and meet all public employer and public business and school requirements.

The devout bus driver, or devout owner of the bus company, cannot pick and choose who rides the bus, or pick and choose which laws offend her/his faith.

It takes building the family, understanding that people raised in a good home should expect to make a good home and raise their children. It takes teaching our children they should *expect* and *be eager* to "become their parents". And that sex isn't just frolicking around like Hollywood or to satisfy cosmetic, fashion, and advertising hype -- it means that *first* to choose your life-long partner and co-parent. And avoid *learning* frolicking with lots of people because that learned skill is destructive of the happy home. I don't mean "abstain because it is healthy". I mean "choosing the wrong partners makes you less able to make a good family." And, especially, "choosing the slick, accomplished bed partner will never result in a good home for you and your family."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Charles De Gaulle, that wit

Charles De Gaulle is cited as author of:
I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

Before Barack Obama, before President B. Hussein Obama claimed that he "couldn't wait" for Congress, I had always thought that De Gaulle's statement was witty, and humorous.

Sounding like this President, it just sounds like a scary premonition.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Angst at home for those serving in Afghanistan

Jessie at Rurally Screwed writes that she finally got a word from her husband, serving in Afghanistan.

I have been considering the story. Apparently the sergeant accused of the shootings was on his fourth tour, after twice being wounded, once a severe traumatic head injury.

One report I read cited some percentage, slim but noticeable, of such injury survivors that go on to commit violent acts.

While we wait to find if the father of two now ensconced in Ft. Leavenworth, KS, was in his right mind at the time, I have questions.

I know that the National Guard has been tasked for deployment more in the last decade or so than previously. And that there is an element in the government that treasures our troops serving in the Mid-East, as that gives our military infrastructure and core cadre experience and skill under fire, making them more effective for many years.

So -- was this sergeant returned to combat because of errant priorities on the part of medical, supervisory, or Department of Defense policies? Is this a consequence of budget and political strategy from the White House? If it turns out that sending that man into combat, again, was a blunder -- who needs their desk vacated to protect the rest of our service people from similar abuses?

I cannot imagine having to be the one to inform that sergeant's family of what he was accused of. If this was a lone act, that is horrible. If this was a preventable failure of a heartless policy -- that needs to be fixed.

I am not advocating discharges for anyone that fit any kind of "been injured, might go haywire" pattern. What I am advocating is assuring that service people are not misused when they haven't fully recovered from injury, and that treatment for injuries received under fire is competent.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sex ed -- or family life?

I wrote my Senator this morning.
Dr. Coburn,

With all the national angst over sex education, where is the complementary discussion of the social and cultural imperative of raising a healthy and well-nurtured next generation?

Where are the social studies classes that express a national consensus on *why* young people and adults should have children?

We have focused on sex. It hasn't demonstrably improved America, or Americans.

I believe that a well-raised child will mature into an adult that respects his or her upbringing. That such a healthy and balanced adult will emulate their parents, form a family with a similarly responsible adult, and raise children in a similarly healthy manner.

We hear all manner of observations that child abuse perpetuates in following generations. Where is the attending emphasis that the purpose of a citizen must include forming a family and raising children to serve family, community, and nation (in that order)? If we are to decry child abuse, why isn't "patriotism" defined as "how many children did you raise to serve their nation?"

If children from the elementary grades are instructed that forming a family is important, we can define the importance of building that family. Of choosing a healthy life style, of insisting that we mate with someone of healthy background and lifestyle.

We can make the preservation or blurring of cultural divides a conscious choice, for them, rather than mere adolescent rebellion, flirting with family taboos, or echoing racial biases.

I suggest that America's founding fathers adopted certain Biblical strictures limiting sexual conduct outside marriage for the same reason they are in the Bible -- that raising sons for the army to fight the next generation's wars. America is rich enough in people today that such strictures on sex need not be continued -- but the need to raise children in the culture of the family, the community, and the nation of the parents remains.

It is *not* the government's place to raise "good" citizens. But I believe it *is* the place of compulsory education to expect all children in America to form families if they can, selecting mates well suited to making a family, and raising children in the culture of family, community, and nation. Teaching the culture of family and community, and even of the nation, is a matter of the home. The schools should inform about healthy nurturing, teaching values, the difference between disciplinary action to remediate problems and actual discipline, the will to complete a task.

In this context, I consider a family as a life-long joining of some number of adults to raise children. The children might be of natural birth, or adopted, the genders of the adults is entirely unstated. And, yes, I would prefer the IRS to adopt this model of family for tax purposes.

A social studies program emphasizing living to form a family instead of personal service or even personal gratification without regard for consequences, I believe, is the correct response to questions on abortion and divorce, and divided families.

This kind of flies in the face of the Sexual Revolution (STDs, broken homes, unwed mothers, etc.). I don't think it affects women's liberation, or racial concerns.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 17. Is St. Patrick's Day a religious holiday?

America was enriched by Irish immigrants, though at the time they arrived, few were actually welcomed.

One of the traditions that the Irish brought to America was the celebration of St. Patrick's victory, driving the snakes from Ireland. I won't ask what at the bugs and mice that the snakes had been living on. That would be rude.

The shamrock, the four-leafed clover, the celebration of beer and Irish emerald green. These are all recognized symbols of the day. Named after a Catholic saint.

So, is St. Patrick's Day a religious holiday, or a secular celebration of a holy man?

Or just a different name to sell t-shirts and beer?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Is it the free trade, or the growth (and rebellion) of colonies?

Dr. Coburn,

I wonder if the current Federal Government hasn't fallen into the role of an empire of colonies (the 50 states and possessions).

I say that, because enormous taxation is levied on the states, to benefit those the government sees fit to benefit. Wealth is gathered into select (and possibly corrupt) hands. And the rights of the states to participate, to voice their conclusions, to object, has been shuttered.

Where in a republic, as I understand the term, the states collectively assign responsibilities to an overarching government, what we have today is an oligarch that arrogates powers and authorities to himself. The President, and at some level the Congress, have dismantled the relationship of Republic between the Federal Government with and among the states.

The problem I foresee is that colonies don't remain subservient forever. They rebel, establish their own priorities, take up responsibility for meeting their own needs and goals.

This thought occurred to me while reading the ArchDruid Report dated February 22, 2012. John Michael Greer holds a systems view of society and culture, and governments. His post contends that it is free trade that dismantles empires; I think instead that free trade is one of the arms of colonial management that exacerbates a transitory relationship. Colonies form, develop, and go their way. Empires, I believe, are inherently unstable. Either they grow or die, and each region of the empire likewise grows or dies. Any regional weakness weakens the overall empire; every regional strength accelerates the day that empire as a form of government will collapse due to conflicting interests.

The states of the United States flourished as members of a republic. I think now that the electoral college is probably one of the strengths of that republic. When US Senators were no longer selected by states but by popular election within states, that was a drastic move toward dissolving the needs of states to mind their own businesses within the frame of a republic.

Free trade among the members of the republic, the states, has shown itself to be a good thing. But I shudder to think what free trade does to empires, as the US slides further from a republic form of distribution of powers.

This might be at the center of a "no nation can long endure" moment that faces us now.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mr. Billll nails Chicago tactics of the Left

Billll's Idle Mind eulogizes the euphoria of the liberals celebrating the demise of Breitbart.