August 30, 2013

Strange priorities

Winding down the week, I think Bill Clinton gets the award for best sound bite:

"A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon."

Happy Labor Day! And please remember what it means.

August 28, 2013

50 years back

One thing West Virginia does well is public ritual. On Wednesday afternoon, the state officially observed the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. There was music, speeches, an appearance by Gov. Tomblin and other officials, a bell ringing, and a reception.

The event was organized by the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, which was established by legislation in 2012 (legislation which some of us worked for a few years to enact).

I took several pictures, including some of my friend Rev. Ron English, who worked with Dr. King, attended the  march, and spoke at the event. The picture, alas, did not turn out. But this article in which he tells his story turned out very well.

JUST ONE MORE. Here's Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz on how Dr.King influenced his work in the field.

August 27, 2013

Of the Future Fund, pronunciation, lite beer, and sacred honor

I mentioned in earlier posts that I went to North Dakota with several members of the WV legislature to study that state's Legacy Fund, a permanent mineral trust fund from taxes collected from the oil and gas boom up there. (Note: El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia did not pay for my part of the trip.)

Regular readers will recall that I have been working with allies to build support for creating a Future Fund in West Virginia from severance taxes for the last few years. It's a way of turning the extraction of non-renewable resources into a permanent source of wealth for the state.

I learned several things while up  there. One was how to pronounce the name of the city of Minot. I was guessing something like "minnow" or "minute" but it was "my knott." Another takeaway was to drink light beers if one is trying to keep up with the boys.

But I digress...

Back on topic, I heard an eloquent argument about the importance of preparing for the future as a matter of honor from North Dakota Republican state Senator Dwight Cook, who chairs the Finance and Taxation Committee. He told me that we should follow the example of the founders who signed the Declaration of Independence. He argued that the signers weren't acting simply to benefit themselves but rather those who came after. He then talked about how in the last lines of that document they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. He concluding by saying that of those three, you only get to take the last one to the grave.

So there.

SPEAKING OF THE FUTURE FUND, here's some coverage from WV Public Broadcasting and the Daily Mail.


A FAVORITE TARGET OF MINE gets whacked here.


August 26, 2013

The poetry of myth

El Cabrero has been on the road this week. Instead of ranting about current events, I'm trying to settle accounts with the ideas of Joseph Campbell, the famous student of mythology. My short take is that when he's good, he's really good. And the converse.

Here's some classic Campbell:

Whenever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky. Furthermore, it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums, and the link between the two perspectives is dissolved. Such a blight has certainly descended on the Bible and on a great part of the Christian cult.
To bring the images back to life, one has to seek, not interesting applications to modern affairs, but illuminating hints from the inspired past. When these are found, vast areas of half-dead iconography disclose again their permanently human meaning.
It's hard not to agree with a good bit of that, especially when you think about the lunacies of literalism, such as "creation science." I can't go all the way with Campbell and am allergic to his politics but he does have his moments.

JUST ONE LINK. Here's my latest rant on cuts to the Head Start program. Notice that I performed the charitable act of feeding a troll.


August 25, 2013

Sea Monster Sunday

I'm recovering from a long road trip but here are two weird items to start the week: some sea monster remains and a giant sea bug. Thanks to a friend for passing this along!