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  • Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

    Archive – Oh!! Christmas Tree!

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th December 2012 (All posts by )

    (From the old SSDB archive – a reminiscence about the search for the perfect Christmas tree, December, 1981.)

    It really takes a gift to find yourself on a soggy-wet mountainside in on a Sunday afternoon in December, with a fine drizzle coagulating out of the fog in the higher altitudes, slipping and sliding on a muddy deer track with a tree saw in one hand, and leading a sniffling and wet (inside and out) toddler with the other.
    Yep, it’s a gift all right, born of spontaneous optimism and an assumption based on the map on the back page of the Sacra-Tomato bloody-f#$*%^g Bee newspaper, and a promise to Mom. Said map made the %$#*ing Christmas tree farm look like it was a couple of blocks, a mere hop-skip-and-jump from the back gate of Mather AFB’s housing area, an easy jaunt on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, a lovely and traditional Christmas pastime, choosing your own tree from the place they were growing in!
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Holidays, Humor, Miscellaneous, North America | 6 Comments »

    History Friday – The Legend of Sally Skull

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th November 2012 (All posts by )

    It was said of Texas that it was a splendid place for men and dogs, but hell for women and horses. Every now and again though, there were women who embraced the adventure with the same verve and energy that their menfolk did; and one of them was a rancher, freight-boss and horse trader in the years before the Civil War. She is still popularly known as Sally Skull to local historians. There were many legends attached to her life, some of them even backed up by public records. Her full given name was actually Sarah Jane Newman Robinson Scull Doyle Wadkins Horsdorff. She married – or at least co-habited – five times. Apparently, she was more a woman than any one of her husbands could handle for long.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Miscellaneous, USA | 1 Comment »

    Re-Run: Therapy Culture

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Among one of the small stories that I remember hearing, or reading after the monster tsunami that struck South-East Asia on the day after Christmas several years ago was the one about the clouds of mental-health professionals, breathlessly hurrying in to offer grief and trauma counseling to the understandably traumatized survivors – only to discover that – well, most of them were getting along fine. And if not fine, at least reasonably OK, Yes, they were grieving, they were traumatized by all sorts of losses, their lives and livelihoods, their communities and their families had been brutally ripped apart, but a large number of the survivors seemed inclined to be rather stoic about it all. They seemed to be more interested in pulling up their socks, metaphorically speaking, and getting on with it. It appeared that, according to the story, their culture and religion predisposed them to a mind-set that said: the incomprehensible does indeed happen, wheel of life, turn of fate and all that, and when it happens, pull up your socks and get on with it.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Personal Narrative | 21 Comments »

    In the Post

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 9th August 2012 (All posts by )

    I’ve been thinking for a while – based on my own use of the service – that the good old US Post Office is something well past its best-if-used-by date. Oh, no – not that it should be done away with as a government service entirely. But I can contemplate delivery of the mail only two or three times a week with perfect equanimity … which is at least a little tragic for there were times when the daily arrival of the mail was a much-looked-forward-to thing. When I was overseas, or in a remote location – like Greenland (and in military outposts today I am certain) the arrival of the mail (three times a week) was anticipated with keen interest, since it was our lifeline to the outside world. There were letters from family, loved ones, magazines, catalogues and packages with goodies in them – sometimes gifts, sometimes items ordered … the whole world, crammed into a tiny box with a locking door in the central post office; the magical envelopes, the catalogues and magazines in a tight-packed roll, the little pink slips that meant a package … and then, between one or two decades, it all changed.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Customer Service, Miscellaneous, North America, Politics, Tea Party, Unions | 6 Comments »

    Trees: Phototropic Simplexities

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 25th June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ Cross-posted from Zenpundit — this one’s a prose poem: it begins with a statement so tight it needs to be unwound, & unwinds it ]
    .

    I wrote this urgently starting when it “woke” me at 4am one morning in the late 1990s or 2000, and as soon as it was out, I found myself writing another piece in the series, a game design. Together, the pair of them represent a stage in my games and education thinking intermediate between Myst-like Universities of 1996 and my vision today of games in education. In this posting, I have added the words “figuratively speaking” for absolute clarity: otherwise, the piece remains as written all those years ago.

    ***


    A copse. Photo credit: Ian Britton via FreePhoto.com under CC license. Note how the wind sweeps the trees into a group shape.

    ***

    Trees: Phototropic Simplexities

    Trees are phototropic simplexities, no wonder we like them they cowork so well too: copses, see.

    *

    Meaning:

    Trees we know: I as writer can refer you, reader, safely to them, “trees”, in trust that the word I use will signal to you too — triggering for you, also — pretty much the assortment of branching organic thingies about which I’m hoping to communicate that they are complex entities whose complexity comes from a simplicity of rule — branching — repeated with variations, said variants doing their branching in thirst of light, each trunk rising, limb outpushing, branch diverging, twig evading other twig much as one who seeks in a crowd a clear view of a distant celebrity shifts and cranes and peers — branching, thus, by the finding of light in avoidance of nearby shadow and moving into it, into light as position, that light, that position, growing, and thus in the overall “unified yet various”, we, seekers of the various and unified love them, to see them in greens themselves various in their simplexity is to say “tree” with a quiet warmth; while they themselves also, by the necessity of their branching seeking, if clumped together seek in an avoidance of each other’s seeking, growing, thus space-sharing in ways which as the wind sweeps and conforms them to its own simplex flows, shapes them to a common curve we call aerodynamic, highlit against the sky huddled together as “copse” — this, in the mind’s eyes and in your wanderings, see…

    *

    Meaning:

    Trees we can talk about. Simplexity is a useful term for forms — like trees — which are neither simple only nor complex only, but as varied as complexity suggests with a manner of variation as simple as simplicity implies.

    Trees? Their simplexity is conveyed in principle by the word “branching”. Its necessity lies in the need of each “reaching end” of the organism to ascertain from its own position and within the bounds of its possible growing movement, some “available” light — this light-seeking having the name “phototropism”.

    Simplexities — and thus by way of example, trees — we like, we call them beautiful.

    Clustered together, too, and shaped by the winds’ patterns of flow, these individual simplexities combine on an English hilltop (or where you will) to form yet other beauties.

    *

    Thus:

    Trees are phototropic simplexities, no wonder we like them they cowork so well too: copses, see.

    *

    Meaning:

    I love trees. Want to talk about simplexities, beauty.

    I wish to talk about beauty because it is beauty that I love, if I love it, that is beauty: love is kalotropic, a beauty-seeking. I am erotropic, love seeking — you can find in this my own simplexity, my own varieties of seeking, of the growths that are my growth, and clumping me with others under the winds, the pressures that form and conform us, you can find also the mutual shapes that we adopt, beautiful.

    Simplexity, then, is a key to beauty, variety, self, character, cohabitation… Tropism, seeking, is the key to simplexity. Love is my tropism. Ours, I propose.

    *

    Meaning:

    Beauty is one simplexity perceived by another: the eye of the beholder, with optic nerve, “brain”, branching neuron paths that other simplexity, “consciousness” the perceiving.

    *

    Meaning also:

    That all is jostle, striving — a strife for life, in which the outcome overall is for each a “place in the sun” but not without skirmishes, shadows. The overall picture, therefore, beautiful — but this overall beauty hard to perceive when the specific shadow falls in the specific sought place of the moment, the “available” is not available, and the strife of the moment is paramount.

    Branching being the order behind simplexity, differentiation…

    Differentiation for maximal tropism at all levels — life seeking always the light, honey, beauty, is always and everywhere in conflict also with itself, competitive: and competition the necessary act of the avoidance of shadow, and the shadow creating act.

    And beauty — the light, thing sought, implacably necessary food and drink, the honey — thus the drive that would make us kill for life.

    I could kill for beauty.

    I could kill for honey.

    Figuratively speaking.

    *

    Implying:

    Paradise and Fall, simultaneous, everywhere.

    It is at this juncture, at this branching, that we are “expelled from the garden” — can no longer see the beauty that is and remains overall, that can allow us to say also, “we are never outside the garden” — for the dappling of light on and among the leaves has become to us, too closely jostled, shadow.

    And shadow for shadow we jostle, and life is strife.

    *

    Thus:

    The dappling of light on leaves, beautiful, is for each shadowed leaf, shadow, death-dealing, is for each lit leaf, light, life-giving: a chiaroscuro, beautiful, see.

    Roots, too, have their mirror branchings.

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Photos, Poetry | 1 Comment »

    Such a Disagreeable Man

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th May 2012 (All posts by )

    I’m sure I’m no ascetic; I’m as pleasant as can be;
    You’ll always find me ready with a crushing repartee,
    I’ve an irritating chuckle, I’ve a celebrated sneer, I’ve an entertaining snigger, I’ve a fascinating leer.
    To ev’rybody’s prejudice I know a thing or two;
    I can tell a woman’s age in half a minute — and I do. But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,
    Yet ev’rybody says I’m such a disagreeable man!
    And I can’t think why! –

    From Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida

    I suppose that one of the most enjoyable things about romping in the halls of historical research is getting to know people, some of whom are famous and others notorious, all of them interesting and they tickle my interest to the point where I would have very much liked to have met some of them personally. Sam Houston is one of them in Texas history that I’d have loved to meet, Jack Hays another, Angelina Eberly a third. I would have loved to have met Queen Elizabeth I of England – three of the four are complicated people, as nearly as I can judge from reading accounts of them. I just would have liked to have had the chance to form my own, independently-arrived at opinion, you see. About the only way that I can indulge this curiosity is to work them up as characters for various books – walk-on parts, usually. Assemble the various views, take a look at some known writing of theirs, consult the grave and sober historians and come up with something that I hope will be revealing, true to the historical facts, and at least a jolly good read … but now and again, in the pages of history, I encounter those that I don’t like very much at all. Some of them are so immediately disagreeable, dislikeable and all-unpleasant that I marvel they lived long enough to make a mark in history at all.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, History, Miscellaneous | 10 Comments »

    Sunset Sky With Balloons

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th February 2012 (All posts by )

    At the balloon festival in Abilene, Texas – 2010

    Posted in Americas, Miscellaneous, North America, Photos, Tech, Transportation | 5 Comments »

    Slides

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 12th February 2012 (All posts by )

    I love the English language. Yes, I understand I have a lot to learn, and it isn’t as romantic as French, but neither is it as barbaric sounding as some of the Slavic languages (not saying these people are barbarians, just the sound to me grates a bit).

    English, to me, seems for some reason (I am obviously no linguistic expert) to be one of the easiest languages to twist and turn for modern usage. I have a vendor that manufactures their products in Germany. The manuals come in several languages, and you can see heavy English usage in the foreign languages, mostly for technical terms. I asked my wife about this – she is fluent in German. Her response is typically that “there isn’t a word for that in German”.

    Does anyone remember slide projectors? Of course we do. Such a hit they were in the sixties and seventies and eighties. You could actually put a slide in a slide projector and project an image on a screen of the Pyramids, or a product, or a photo of good old Aunt Sally from that vacation you took at Niagra Falls.

    Today, we have Power Point to replace the pictures and modern ways to project images on a screen. But we still call the separate pages of the presentation “slides” and the unit is still a “projector”. I have some young admin assistants that on occasion help me to create Power Point presentations and I have asked them before if they have ever seen an actual “slide” or a slide projector. Most of the time the answer is no.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 20 Comments »

    Committee of Vigilance – Part 2

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th February 2012 (All posts by )

    The shooting of James King – political murder disguised as a justifiable response to a personal insult – inflamed the city of San Francisco immediately. King, shot in the chest but still clinging to life was taken to his house. Meanwhile, an enormous mob gathered at the police station, and the police realized almost at once that the accused James Casey could not be kept secure. He was removed under guard to the county jail. The indignant mob was not appeased, not even when the mayor of San Francisco attempted to address the crowd, pleading for them to disperse and assuring them that the law would run its proper course and justice would be done. The crowd jeered, “What about Richardson? Where is the law in Cora’s case?” The mayor hastily retreated, as the square – already guarded by armed marshals, soon filled with armed soldiers. The angry mob dispersed, still frustrated and furious. No doubt everyone in authority in the city breathed a sigh of relief, confident that this matter would blow over. After all, they controlled the political apparatus of the city, at least one newspaper, as well as the adjudicators and enforcers of the law … little comprehending that this shooting represented the last, the very last straw.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Law Enforcement, Miscellaneous, North America, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Graphic Novels on Health Care and other items….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 8th February 2012 (All posts by )

    -from SHOTS, NPR’s Health Care Blog:

    Health care reform is no laughing matter, but MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s new comic book on the subject aims to communicate some pretty complicated policy details in a way that, if not exactly side-splitting, is at least engaging.
     
    In Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, Gruber steps into the pages of a comic book to guide readers through many of the major elements of the law, including the individual mandate to buy insurance, the health insurance exchanges where people will be able to buy coverage starting in 2014 and how the law tackles controlling health care costs.

    I draw your attention to another graphic novel: The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.

    While I was buying a copy of Persepolis from a real-life book store a few years ago, a young woman at the sales counter mentioned that there was a “great” graphic novel about North Korea that I might like. I’m not a graphic novel reader and I think Persepolis is it for me unless I decide to review the health care book, but it interested me that she seemed so enthusiastic about the topic of North Korea and graphic novels. I guess it makes sense given our “information overload” society. I don’t know. Why not look for clarity?

    PS: Linking is not endorsement and all that.

    PPS: What’s the “all that” about? Eh, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for the past week or so and my blogging has been pretty terrible because of it. I linked the health care graphic novel because it amused me, not because I am simpatico with the message. I think you all knew that already….

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Bioethics, Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Media, Medicine, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Politics, Science, Society | Comments Off

    Frontier Surgeon or Ferdinand and Hermann’s Excellent Frontier Adventure

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 28th January 2012 (All posts by )

    The practice of medicine in these United (and for the period 1861-1865, somewhat disunited) States was for most of the 19th century a pretty hit or miss proposition, both in practice and by training. That many sensible people possessed pretty extensive kits of medicines – the modern equivalents of which are administered as prescriptions or under the care of a licensed medical professional – might tend to indicate that the qualifications required to hang out a shingle and practice medicine were so sketchy as to be well within the grasp of any intelligent and well-read amateur, and that many a citizen was of the opinion that they couldn’t possibly do any worse with a D-I-Y approach. Such was the truly dreadful state of affairs generally when it came to medicine in most places and in all but the last quarter of the 19th century – they may have been better off having a go on their own at that.

    Most doctors trained as apprentices to a doctor with a current practice. There were some formal schools of medicine in the United States, but their output did not exactly dazzle with brilliance. Successful surgeons of the time possessed two basic skill sets; speed and a couple of strong assistants to hold the patient down, until he was done cutting and stitching. Most of the truly skilled doctors and surgeons had their training somewhere else – like Europe.

    But in San Antonio, from 1850 on – there was a doctor-surgeon in practice, who ventured upon such daring medical remedies as to make him a legend. His patients traveled sometimes hundreds of miles to take advantage of his skill …
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Germany, History, Medicine, Miscellaneous, North America | 9 Comments »

    To The Lifeboats

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th January 2012 (All posts by )

    Pretty damned ironic, that the Costa Concordia disaster happened almost exactly a hundred years after the Titanic. It’s not all that often these days that a European/American flagged passenger ship becomes a catastrophic loss to their insurance company – although it happens with dispiriting frequency to inter-island ferries in the Philippines and hardly any notice of it taken in Western newspapers. The contrasts and ironies just abound; fortunate that the Costa was so close to land that some passengers were able to swim to safety, and that rescue personnel were at the scene almost before the air-bubbles from the sunken half of the ship even popped to the surface.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Europe, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous | 41 Comments »

    In Translation

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th January 2012 (All posts by )

    Ever since I finished the Adelsverein Trilogy, I’ve wanted to have a German language version out there.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Diversions, Germany, Miscellaneous, North America, Personal Narrative | Comments Off

    DeLeo’s Deli

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th January 2012 (All posts by )

    When I was a baby troop on my first overseas tour, at Misawa AB in Japan, I had a regular date in the form of a guy that Jenny bequeathed to me. Jenny was my friend simply because we were the only two women in the barracks who worked shifts. She was about to rotate out; her tour was up and she was going home.

    She also added, by way of convincing me to consider him as a regular date, “A nice guy, he’s a gentleman and he’s always good for a meal, he’s Baby Deleo.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Personal Narrative, Recipes | 17 Comments »

    What is on your Desk?

    Posted by Zenpundit on 26th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted from zenpundit.com

    Time for a bit of lighthearted, blogging fun.

    I spend a lot of time reading and writing and I do so primarily within a specific environment – my home office. The space reflects the man, to some degree.

    Surveying my office space here at home, I noticed that my desk has begun, like a coral reef, to accrete various objects, oddments and curious like a layer of bric-a-brac sediment.  Some objects change, others stay forever.  Exclusive of papers, books, printers and a computer, here’s what my desk holds:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Diversions, Human Behavior, Humor, Miscellaneous, Style | 18 Comments »

    Stand Off at the Salado – Conclusion

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st November 2011 (All posts by )

    (Salado Creek today – not much water in it, because of the drought. And that is an egret. Part One of this post is here.)

    Texas did not have much of a regular professional army, as most western nations understood the concept. Texas did have sort of an army, and sort of a navy, too – but mere tokens – the window-dressing required of a legitimate nation, which is what Texas was trying it’s best to become, given restricted resources. What Texas did have was nearly limitless numbers of rough and ready volunteers, who were accustomed to respond to a threat, gathering in a local militia body and volunteering for a specific aim or mission, bringing their own weapons, supplies and horses, and usually electing their own officers. They also had the men of various ranging companies, which can be thought of as a mounted and heavily-armed and aggressive Neighborhood Watch. Most towns and settlements of any size on the Texas frontier fielded their own Ranger Companies. By the time of Woll’s raid on San Antonio, those volunteers and Rangers were veterans of every fight going since before Texas had declared independence – a large portion of them being of that tough Scotch-Irish ilk of whom it was said that they were born fighting. That part of the frontier which ran through Texas gave them practice at small-scale war and irregular tactics on a regular and continuing basis. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Ghost Ship

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th October 2011 (All posts by )

    (I came across this post in the old Daily Brief archives, and thought it would make a fantastic post for Halloween … for reasons that should become clear.)

    The searchers found it, the ghost ship, when they were looking for something else; it lay, broken but deceptively complete, draped across the crest of a dune, like a seabird on the flat swells of a calm sea. But this metal bird had landed in a desolate and frozen sand sea, an aeronautical Mary Celeste, all of itself, and remained eerily preserved. Baked in the desert sun, wheels-up, pancake-landed and broken in half aft of the wings and entirely empty of its’ crew … but still, their gear, and extra ammunition was perfectly stowed, the guns functional … the radio worked, so did the compass and at least one of the engines. There were still-edible emergency rations, drinkable water, even a thermos of still-potable coffee … everything as it had been left. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Film, History, Middle East, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous | 7 Comments »

    Rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods and the OWS library

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — Jefferson, economics of possession and ideas, Occupy COG, library ]

    .
    1.

    Let’s start with Thomas Jefferson. I don’t know if he was the first to mention this curious distinction on record, but he makes the point nicely:

    If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

    John Perry Barlow quotes that gobbit of Jefferson as the epigraph to his essay, The Economy of Ideas.

    2.

    Here’s Lawrence Lessig, in his essay Against perpetual copyright:

    Tangible goods are rivalrous goods
     
    For one person to gain some tangible item, another person must lose it. For one person to gain the ownership of some piece of land, the previous owner must surrender ownership. T his is the ordinary state of physical property, and the laws around physical property are designed around this fact. Property taxes, zoning laws, and similar legal constructs are examples of how the law relates to physical property.
     
    Intellectual works are non-rivalrous
     
    Intellectual works are ordinarily non-rivalrous. It is possible for someone to teach a work of the mind to another without unlearning it himself. For example, one, or two, or a hundred people can memorize the same poem at the same time. Here the term “work of the mind” refers not to physical items such books or compact discs or DVD’s, but rather to the intangible content those physical objects contain.

    3.

    As someone whose work falls almost entirely in the “non-rivalrous” category, I am naturally very interested by this distinction, both for my own sake, and because (if the coming economy is an “information” or “imagination” economy) it may be the hinge on which the future of that economy turns…

    4.

    Which brings me to the Occupy movement, and to this curious fact which I found in an article I didn’t otherwise read. It’s from David Graeber, On Playing By The Rules – The Strange Success Of #OccupyWallStreet :

    It’s no coincidence that the epicenter of the Wall Street Occupation, and so many others, is an impromptu library: a library being not only a model of an alternative economy, where lending is from a communal pool, at 0% interest, and the currency being lent is knowledge, and the means to understanding.

    In quoting this, I mean neither to endorse nor to condemn the movement, but simply to note that its center of gravity as described here (although technically, books are rivalrous goods) falls clearly within the non-rivalrous category: it is a market-place of ideas.

    5.

    As a one-time tank-thinker, I was trained to spot early indicators.

    I don’t know what this one means, but I suspect it’s an indicator. Give me another to pair it with, and I may be able to foresee a trend.

    What do you see?

    6.

    I spotted a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov‘s The Master and Margarita in one of the photos.

    tumblr_lsdaiufma61qzpfhxo1_500.jpg

    photo credit: Blaine O’Neill under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license

    and DH Lawrence, Sons and Lovers and Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories; Strindberg, The Plays and Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape; Dr Who, yeah and Star Wars too; William Gibson‘s Neuromancer and his Mona Lisa Overdrive; Max Marwick‘s Witchcraft and Sorcery; Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland — and for the politics of it all, Marina Sitrin, Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina and Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict… which I’ve linked for your convenience.

    7.

    For what it’s worth…

    Nathan Schneider‘s article, What ‘diversity of tactics’ really means for Occupy Wall Street, cites Zenpundit blog-friend David Ronfeldt‘s study (with John Arqilla) Swarming & the Future of Conflict — along with (among others) Gene Sharp, whose work I discussed on Zenpundit a few months back.

    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Political Philosophy, Politics | 11 Comments »

    The Obama economy really is the pits

    Posted by onparkstreet on 18th October 2011 (All posts by )

    I’ve been in a mild funk lately because of all of the changes to one of my favorite little corners of Chicago Land. Closed and vacant shops mixed in with lightly populated high-end condo buildings turned rental. Halted construction and empty lots from development projects that fell through after the 2008 “crash”. Noisy restaurants where once stood second hand mom-and-pop shops, stationers and book stores. Closed, closed and closed. And yet, the local government persists in its grand 20-year economic development plans (I am not making that up) so that citizens are paying good money to brick streets, put up complicated and fashionable street lights, or have closed door meetings between developers and governmental officials. Welcome to Chicago and its suburbs. Lots of this-FEST and that-FEST sponsored by local officials in order to bring in business traffic, although many residents are inconvenienced by the crowds, noise and garbage. Some months ago while walking through the hospital, I overheard a conversation about this very neighborhood. It wasn’t very reassuring. I heard the words “scary” and “changes”. Urban blight. The beginnings of urban blight. People are so in denial.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Obama, Personal Narrative | 10 Comments »

    Strawberry Cows Forever

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th October 2011 (All posts by )

    For Dan, another in my series of Texas cows… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Miscellaneous, North America, Photos | 12 Comments »

    Tea Party and / or Occupy?

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 9th October 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — parallels, opppositions, analysis, games, coincidentia oppositorum ]

    .

    labelling-bodies1.jpg

    My friend Cath Styles, who has been developing an iPad playable version of my HipBone Games under the name Sembl for the National Museum of Australia, made a point I’ve been trying to make for a while now, with sweet lucidity, in a recent blog post:

    A general principle can be distilled from this. Perhaps: In the very moment we identify a similarity between two objects, we recognise their difference. In other words, the process of drawing two things together creates an equal opposite force that draws attention to their natural distance. So the act of seeking resemblance – consistency, or patterns – simultaneously renders visible the inconsistencies, the structures and textures of our social world. And the greater the conceptual distance between the two likened objects, the more interesting the likening – and the greater the understanding to be found.

    That’s absolutely right, and it gets to the heart of my games and analytic practice — to see and acknowledge both parallelisms and differences, oppositions…

    Oxford is the polar opposite of Cambridge as anyone at the annual boat race between them will tell you — yet they’re so similar that the term Oxbridge exists to distinguish them as a dyad from all else the wide world round…

    Similarly, in the example illustrated above, Cath shows two items from the Museum collection that were juxtaposed by players of an early version of her game, and writes:

    the Sembl players who linked the above branding iron to the breastplate – because both are tools for labeling bodies – cast new light on the colonial practice of giving metal breastplates to Aboriginal people.

    * *

    Since the essence of my own analytic style (and that of HipBone and Sembl games) is the recognition of parallelisms and oppositions, I was particularly interested to see one group of early Tea Party folk reaching out to the emerging Occupy movement. Here, then, are two posts in which we can see the beginnings of recognition that there may be a kinship between the two…

    Occupy Wall Street: Another View:

    You know what the “Occupy Wall Street” movement is?
    .
    It is all the things that were in the original Tea Party, but were steadily ignored as the TP became a Republican booster club.

    That comes from a post on FedUpUSA, a site with the Gadsden flag as its web-logo that was [as “Market Ticker”], one of the founding orgs behind the TP. It’s from someone who identified as a Libertarian Party activist.

    Here’s another post from FedUpUSA, not so identified:

    An Open Letter From FedUpUSA To Occupy Wall Street Protestors All Over The Country:

    This is a letter to OWS from FedUpUSA, one of the original Tea Parties:
    .
    We support you in exercising your First Amendment Right. We are outraged that any peaceful demonstrator would be assaulted or abused by any authorities.
    .
    If you are protesting because there are no jobs— We stand with you.
    .
    We are for a free economy and recognize that what we have now is NOT a free economy; it is not capitalism what we have is a fascist state or crony-capitalism. There is nothing free about doing business with Countries that manipulate their currencies to attract cheap labor. We agree that these jobs need to come back to America.
    .
    If you are protesting because no one has gone to jail— We stand with you.
    .
    Regardless of what is being said from the white house and media, we know that there are many in the financial district and the banks that have committed fraud and outright theft and we too want to see them prosecuted. We support the stop looting and start prosecuting.
    .
    If you are protesting because everything costs more— We stand with you.
    .
    We see prices rise in our food, gas, clothes yet our wages have stayed the same or have decreased. The Federal Reserve has bailed everyone out but us and not only are we going to have to pay for that, those bailouts make the price of everything else go up because it devalues our currency. We support monetary reform.
    .
    If you are protesting because you are tired of our bought and paid for government on both sides— We stand with you.
    .
    We are also against the banks and big corporations buying our politicians and writing laws that favor their special interests. We understand that our economy is broken BECAUSE of this and that all of our other issues will never be addressed as long as the financial elite control OUR government.
    .
    We understand that these issues cross party lines and ideologies and effect each and every one of us. We also understand that these issues will never get fixed as long as we continue to let the media, the elite, and members of the government separate us by our differing ideologies.
    .
    Only Together, can we Implement Change
    .
    It is time, We Americans, put our ideologies in our back pocket and not let them separate us so that we can work together for this ONE COMMON GOAL: to get the special interest money and elite out of OUR Government and return it to US — the people.
    .
    As long as the banks, largest corporations, and wealthy elite control our government, we will never have a representative republic and laws will continue to be passed that only benefit the few 1% at the expense of us 99
    .
    Demand that NOT ONE MORE LAW gets passed until they pass:
    .
    Lobby reform:
    .
    It is a Federal Offense punishable by a minimum 5 years in prison to:
    .
    Lobby any member of the US Congress outside of the district you live, work, or own a business.
    Lobby a member of congress while they are physically outside the district they represent.
    .
    Campaign Reform:
    .
    It is a Federal Offense punishable by a minimum 5 years in prison to:
    .
    For any one person, corporation, enterprise, group, union or the like, to donate more than $2,000 to any one candidate during one campaign period.
    For any member of the media to deny equal access to competing candidates.
    .
    These two laws will cut the control the Financial elite have on our government by leveling the playing field. You will have just as big as a voice with your representative as the big box retailer that resides in your town. Simply, it will end the Crony-Capitalism that is strangling our economy.
    .
    I encourage all my fellow Tea Partiers to join Occupy Wall Street protesters in their non-violent, peaceful protests and together demand that the Government be returned to the people. After all, this is precisely what the Tea Party was intended to be before it was taken over and marginalized by the establishment politicians.
    .
    FedUpUSA.org

    * *

    And we’re deep into John Robb territory…

    What do you think? Do the parallelisms strike you, or the oppositions — or, perhaps, both?

    FWIW, Cath’s Sembl version of my game looks like it is going to be a beautiful steampunk affair…

    Posted in Americas, Conservatism, Leftism, Libertarianism, Miscellaneous, Tea Party, USA | 25 Comments »

    Dead Sea Scrolls & Nag Hammadi Codices online

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 28th September 2011 (All posts by )

    [ corss-posted from Zenpundit — archaeology, Biblical scholarship, eschatology, digital literacy ]

    .

    Both the Dead Sea scrolls from Qumran and the Gnostic and associated codices from Nag Hammadi are now available for study online:

    quo-codices.jpg

    The Nag Hammadi Archive can be explored via the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, and the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls via the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

    Here’s a description of the War Scroll from Qumran, which “is dated to the late first century BCE or early first century CE”:

    Against the backdrop of a long biblical tradition concerning a final war at the End of Days (Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel 7-12), this scroll describes a seven stage, dualistic confrontation between the “Sons of Light” (the term used by Community members to refer to themselves), under the leadership of the “Prince of Light” (also called Michael, the Archangel) – and the “Sons of Darkness” (a nickname for the enemies of the Community, Jews and non-Jews alike), aided by a nation called the Kittim (Romans?), headed by Belial. The confrontation would last 49 years, terminating in the victory of the “Sons of Light” and the restoration of the Temple service and sacrifices. The War Scroll describes battle arrays, weaponry, the ages of the participants, and military maneuvers, recalling Hellenistic and Roman military manuals.

    You can see why I’m interested.

    The Nag Hammadi texts are a little less well known but include — along with a variety of other texts, some of them self-described as “apocalypses” — the now celebrated Gospel of Thomas, which Bart Erhman reads as continuing a “de-apocalypticizing” of Jesus’ message which he finds beginning in Luke and continuing in John:

    In the Gospel of Thomas, for example, written somewhat later than John, there is a clear attack on anyone who believes in a future Kingdom here on earth. In some sayings, for example, Jesus denies that the Kingdom involves an actual place but “is within you and outside you” (saying 3); he castigates the disciples for being concerned about the end (saying 18); and he spurns their question about when the Kingdom will come, since “the Kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth and people do not see it” (saying 113).

    Again, you can see why I am delighted that these texts are becoming available to a wider scholarly audience…

    In both the Nag Hammadi codices and Qumran scrolls, we have texts that were lost for almost two thousand years and discovered, somewhat haphazardly, in 1945 and 1947 respectively, providing us with rich insights into the religious ferment around a time and place that have been pivotal for western civilization.

    Now, more than half a century later, the web — as it becomes our global museum and our in-house library — brings us closer to both…

    Posted in Christianity, History, Internet, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Miscellaneous, Religion | 2 Comments »

    Bookworld

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th September 2011 (All posts by )

    There was a lot of discussion earlier this year and in a great many different writing and general interest venues regarding the success of indy writer Amanda Hocking  – which, however you slice it, remains a self-published and e-book success story. Candidly, I think that we need another zombie-werewolf-vampire saga like Custer needed another Indian, but hey- that’s just me. Not my cuppa, but if it floats yer boat . . .  To paraphrase the lyrics of a certain old pop song – I can barely run my own life, why the hell should I want to run yours? Yeah – Sunshine, go away and get those kids off my lawn!

    Anyway – as an indy-POD-author, untrammeled by the shackles of the literary-industrial complex, I had to give the Ms. Hocking all kinds of mad respect, for writing savvy,  plus marketing skills and the sheer neck to go out and just do it. 450,000 copies of nine books, each at a price of .99-2.99 and the author getting 30-70% in royalties  . . .  is  . . .  a  . . .  a lot of turnips.*

    I’m an English major, dammit! But I appreciate the business aspects of it all.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Internet, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments »

    Eating Good in the Neighborhood

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th September 2011 (All posts by )

    For your weekend delectation … excellent eating, in San Antonio and environs:

    On the grill at Easy Picken’s BBQ, in Harper, Texas. Alas, they don’t have a website, and are only open Fridays and weekends … but the grilled meats are sublime.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, Miscellaneous, Photos | 11 Comments »

    Into the Wilderness – Part Two: The Platte, Fort Hall & the Desert Sink

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2011 (All posts by )

    (The continuation of the essay from 2005 which eventually became my first historical novel – To Truckee’s Trail.  The print version is going to a second edition, but it is currently available as an e-book. Along about 2006 I began to be overcome with a belief that we had to reclaim our American history, to remember who we were and where we came from, to know that the American experiment was a grand and optimistic one, and that our forebearers were for the largest part, decent, courageous and honorable people. So, I turned to writing rattling good adventure yarns in an attempt to educate readers painlessly. We can’t let scum like Howard Zinn and Michael Moore have it all to themselves, can we?)

    Fifteen miles a day, more or less; the inexorable calculus of the overland trails. The wagon trains can only move out in late May, when the prairie grass is grown tall enough to feed the draft animals. And they must be over the last palisade of the high Sierra Nevada before the way is blocked by the winter snow. And they must do so before their food supplies run out. Any one of a hundred miscalculations, missteps or misfortunes can upset that careful arithmetic and bring disaster upon all. Is the water in that creek running fast and high? Can it be forded, or should the wagons carefully and laboriously be ferried over. An accident to a wagon, the loss of any of the supplies, an ox-team felled by disease or accident may be compounded later on. Balance taking a day to cross a high-water creek, against a day six months in the future and an early snow fall in the Sierras. Balance sparing a day camping by a pleasant spring of clear water, and the men going to hunt for meat – which when dried over the fire and stored away, may mean the difference between a nourishing meal by an ice-water lake half a continent away, and starvation in that place instead. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »