October 07, 2011

So many social engagements, so little time

The number of Occupy Wall Street solidarity actions keeps growing. In WV alone, I've heard of new actions planned for Parkersburg, Lewisburg, and Elkins since the last post. I plan on checking out the Huntington action this afternoon and will report back from that.

It looks like all kinds of things are in the works around the country, from relatively short rallies to prolonged literal occupations of various places. While I am officially in favor of whatever works, I prefer ones that don't drag out too long.

When I was on the local volunteer fire department, a member once defined a good call (response to an alarm) as one where you get in, get out, and go home. A bad one was one where you were stuck for hours doing nothing interesting.

Examples of bad calls were things like meth lab busts, which entail sitting in the truck for hours while law enforcement does its thing, or downed power lines, where you just babysat the line and kept people away from it until somebody from the power company arrived.

I've modified the good call definition to cover a good action, with a few embellishments: a good action is one where you get in, get out, declare victory, go home and put "Mission Accomplished" on your metaphorical aircraft carrier.

May all your calls and actions be good ones!

SPEAKING OF WHICH, Krugman has this to say about the Occupy actions in today's NY Times:

we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people.

The rest is here.

And here's Naomi Klein.

And here's Jim Hightower.


October 06, 2011


Since my last post here on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which isn't just for Wall Street any more, momentum seems to be building. I've gotten several emails from different groups announcing their solidarity with these efforts.

According to this CNN story, Big Apple unions are joining in the action. More on that from NPR here. It's still too soon to tell how long this will last, but this item, also from CNN, suggests it's far from over.

So far, I know of several events planned for WV cities and towns. One is set for Huntington tomorrow. Others will be held on Oct. 15 in Charleston, Wheeling, Morgantown and Martinsburg.

10 YEARS OUT. As the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan approaches, a new survey finds that many veterans of the post-9/11 era don't think the wars were worth the sacrifices involved.



October 04, 2011

Occupy wherever

I've taken part in some interesting conversations, virtual and real, over the last few days about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread way beyond Wall Street these days. At first, I wasn't inclined to pay much attention. I've seen em come and go.

But something strange happened. It just kept growing, not only in Wall Street but all around the country. Jeez, they're even planning to Occupy Huntington WV on Friday and actions are also planned for Morgantown and Wheeling. It's kind of interesting to see something pretty spontaneous erupting all over.

Nobody seems to be in charge. The fact that tons of younger people are getting involved, probably for the first time, is something you don't see every day.

This seems to be happening on a much bigger scale than the much touted right wing anti-health care reform bullying that helped put the Tea Party on the map at congressional town hall meetings in 2009.

A common criticism of these new actions is that they seem to take a (nonviolent) shotgun approach, meaning that they cover the map of issues rather than getting too specific. And from what I've seen, there's some validity to that. I tend to be pretty specific and focused about issues I've worked on. Still, it's interesting and exciting to see such a spontaneous series of actions raising economic justice issues.

It's still too soon to see whether this is a flash in the pan or the start of something big. You never can tell. Historically, a lot of big things start out small and messy. It doesn't happen very often, but it happens.

The American Friends Service Committee is encouraging staff and volunteers who have the inclination and the ability to take part in actions, provided these actions are nonviolent, that they target issues rather than specific individuals, and that they lift up the dignity of all individuals.

I'm reminded of a couple of verses from the New Testament book of Acts. The Rabbi Gamaliel, when asked about the nascent Christian movement urges a wait and see approach:

"if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; if it be of men, it will come to naught, but if it be of God, ye will not be able to overthrow it; lest perhaps ye be found even to fight against God."

I don't mean to drag God into this literally, but I like Gamaliel's point. This may fizzle out or it may have legs. We'll see. Messy or not, I'd like to see it run like hell.

October 03, 2011

Learning to be miserable

This weekend I ran another 5K run with my seven year old grandson. Unlike last time around, this Saturday the weather was wet, cold and raw. The kid in question also has asthma, which made breathing in cold weather painful. Then there were foot problems. He was running in new shoes and complained about foot pain.

While a 3.1 mile jog is a piece of cake for an active adult, it is a long way for a little kid to go. I don't think I ran that far until I was in my teens.

In my efforts to keep him going, I explained that one of the real advantages of distance running was that it teaches you how to be miserable and keep on going. Unfortunately, that is a pretty useful life skill.

He finished the run anyhow.

GETTING MEAN. Here's the latest budget gutting I mean cutting proposal from US House Republicans.

NEEDED: a left.

WALL STREET. The protests there are picking up steam and spreading beyond Wall Street. Here's a take on it from a participant and here's the latest from CNN.

KOCH BROTHERS. Here's info about more fun and games from the bankrollers of the American right.


October 02, 2011

First fire

A seasonal milestone came and went this weekend. On Saturday evening, for the first time in months, I stoked up the wood stove in a big room that serves as a sometime dining room and general vegging space.

It was an "oh yeah" moment for me. For the last several months, I've thought of the woodpile as place of physical exertion whereat I do battle with recalcitrant fallen trees. It was nice to be reminded what all that exertion was for.

Although we don't cook with it or rely on it as the primary heat source for the house, there is nothing quite like a fireplace on a chilly evening. No wonder that the hearth was the center of the home in earlier centuries.

Hestia, Greek goddess of the hearth, was poor in mythology. You don't see her rampaging around the fields of Troy in the Iliad. But she held a place of honor in the daily life and devotions of the Greeks. For good reason.

WHO'D A THUNK IT? Scientists are using Twitter to study how moods rise and fall on a global basis.

MAYBE WE WERE RIGHT AFTER ALL. Back in 2009, there was a big struggle in the legislature to address the solvency of WV's unemployment insurance fund. Labor took the lead and I tried to get in a lick or two as well. Some business groups fought it tooth and nail. It now turns out the the fund weathered the recession well and that, unlike many states, WV hasn't had to borrow from the feds.

AMERICA'S FIRST BIG YOGI didn't do headstands.