Friday, May 24, 2013

The Day Custer Got Siouxed


June 25th is the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Or as some call it, "The Day Custer Got Siouxed."

I propose that we appoint that day as the day "We the People" make our stand against the arrogant corporations and politicians that want to subdue us into oblivion. We do not have to finally give in to survive like the great leaders of Native America did.


The trouble is that after they won, they disbanded and went their separate to avoid another conflict and lost a little each year until they lost big time in 1890. That was the problem with the Occupy movement too and what we must not repeat. We are fighting not only the corporatocracy, but the government too because they are owned by the monied interests that got them elected. Once we start we cannot back down or disband.
I realize that there are honest business owners and politicians we must keep them on our side, not alienate them.
What do we do? Spread the word. Facebook, college newspapers, classmates, co-workers, whatever. I'm open to ideas. I only have experience as an individual. But if you understand the significance of that date in American history and know a little about Indian warfare, You will know that Indians all over were fierce fighters, but they fought for individual honor and lost too many battles. It was not until they learned to work together at the Little Bighorn that they won a major victory.Refuse to drive or buy gas. Buy only used items, shop locally, civil disobedience, Ideas please.
June 25 is only the beginning.
Please follow my comments: Bearly Literate at Alternet.org and Truthdig.com
Here is a post by Ezrabiggins   Notice. who answered my appeal on Truthdig
Notice.
June 25 Day of Action Do not work. Do not shop. Do not buy gas. Walk or bike or bus downtown. Set up clearly marked education tables: "Lost Rights" "Reject D.C." "War Crimes" "Dollar Collapse" "Change Your Bank" "Student Debt" "Homeless Veterans". Tuesday June 25 -- It's About Time.
Get a permit and march. But individually block traffic while holding a sign. One person at a time stops a lane of traffic. Ask for drivers' support. "Honk your horn." "Park and Join Us." If you do not cause trouble you will have no effect. No violence. No destruction of property. But be loud and cause inconvenience. We will not be contained or obedient. Tuesday June 25 -- It's About Time.
Plan locally. You must communicate the message to the unemployed, the homeless, veterans, students. Talk to strangers. Use this forum--the comments to the week's Chris Hedges column--to share ideas and information nationally. You must be the leader. Tuesday June 25 -- It's About Time.
June 25 was the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The day Custer fell.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Modern Mound Builders of Minnesota



The Man-Made Mound of Northern Minnesota 

      I am temporarily working out of Thief River Falls and, coming from the rolling terrain of central Montana, I am amazed at the vast flatness of the region. The town is located in the Red River Valley of Northwest Minnesota at the confluence of the Red Lake and Thief rivers. It is also at the bottom of the ancient lakebed of Lake Agassiz. The Red River valley is so wide and flat that spring usually brings a flooding concern as spring melts the abundant snows of winter. It will not take much to spill over its pathetic banks. The valley is so wide and flat that you cannot even see the hills that contain it. It is so flat that any visible rise in elevation is clearly man-made. The highest points are generally roads, railroads and county maintenance sand and gravel piles.
     So, this is where I am travelling each day when on the horizon I see a very large hill in the distance and from my knowledge of the region’s geology, I know this is not just a hill, it is a man-made mound. My mind goes back to my youth in Minneapolis and the swallowed up city of Mound which was named after the ancient Indian mounds. I also recall the many burial  mounds along the Big Sioux River on either side of  the border of South Dakota and Iowa from the time period when I lived nearby. And then… the Mother of all Mound communes: Cahokia, right across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis, the most sophisticated and largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico.
     The era of mound-building indigenous peoples of North America lasted some 5000 years and left behind thousands of mounds from the size of a dome shaped two-person tent to Monks Mound at Cahokia which is about 100 feet high, 955 feet  long, and 775 feet (236 m) wide.  (http://www.cahokiamounds.org). That is one big man-made hill—and built to last, centuries after the people left for reasons unknown.

Monks Mound
     Why did they build these mounds? They were built for many reasons; burial, worship, rituals, sacrifice, and even foundations for a few homes of the elite. They came in different shapes too; rounded, cone-shaped, flat-topped, elongated, ridged, and even animal-shaped. Some even had designs worked into them with rocks or further raised earthworks. They were engineering marvels and built to last—long after the builder’s cultures and peoples disappeared from memory. It is only by archeology and anthropology that we have learned anything about them--and keeping developers from destroying any more of it! 
     These mounds and/or clusters of such were the center of many peoples’ lives—villages were built around them, commerce was conducted around them, and each culture had their own styles of building and reasons for building them. But one thing seems to be sure, they were the center of their lives.
     Now, back to the mound I see growing larger as I come closer. I begin to see something big and shiny on top. Could this be a modern monument to inform the visitor of the finds archeologists have found? Or perhaps it is a shelter to allow people to rest after climbing to the top? Closer, closer, I am beginning to make out a… what the?… a large tractor! Why is there a tractor on top of this mound? Surely something is afoul here.
      Then I smell vaguely foul odor and soon I see a sign identifying this modern marvel of a man-made mound. It is the Markit landfill near Hallock, Minnesota. It is man-made alright, but for hiding our waste out of sight—in plain sight. The center of their lives is no longer holy.
     The landfill is built as a hill to keep it well above the shallow water table. The waste has already been sorted for recycling and is baled up to reduce windblown liter. The area around the site was remarkably clean, so they must be doing something right
 The tip on top is the tractor
You can see the bales of trash stacked up ready to be buried 
You  can also see the road angling to the top on the right.
Here’s to the future. Oh, what a treasure trove for our progeny to dig up and wonder why in the year 2525.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What is the Most Important Invention in History?

The World's Most Important Invention
There are many devices and techniques that have been highlighted as important advancements in human history, but it seems to me that every contrivance ever made for humankind’s benefit has also been turned into a tool for destruction. So what invention really deserves the honor as the most important advancement in human history?

The agricultural revolution is a good contender; we no longer had to live as hunter/gatherers and could live in one place without having to be continually following our food, whether it be migrating herds or ripening fruits and tubers. Agriculture meant that we could, with fair certainty, grow enough food to feed us all year by storing it for use all through the year. We could also grow enough food to feed the animals we had convinced to be docile enough to keep us company until it was time to eat them. All of the new agricultural tools and techniques allowed us to settle down in one place and form communities for mutual benefit. But the list of unintended consequences soon became long; food was locked up and what used to be free for the taking was now far from home, living in large communities also produced of a whole lot of shit in the streets that you couldn’t ignore or move away from, and caused a big stink and was favorable for diseases to breed in, and worst of all, living so close each other all the time led to the creation of tyrannical despots, bureaucracy, politics and organized religion. These eventually led to wars for gaining control of water and fertile land, then larger territories, then slaves to do the work for free, then wives. Eventually, the spread of civilization led to ruining the environment and threatening the way of life that we spilled so much blood to attain. We are faced with possible widespread catastrophes, which may lead to an eventual mass die off of many species of plants, animals, humans, or even least disrupt the parts supply for our electronic essentials.

The wheel is the mother-of-all labor-saving uses and can claim credit for building empires, it was also non-existent in the New World and they seemed to get along well without it. My biggest argument against the wheel is the role (no pun intended) that it has played, and continues to play in war as a transporter of weapons and as incorporated in weapons, thus contributing to thousands of years of bloodshed. Even outside of the arena of war it has contributed to wasteful consumption. The wheel has also brought about a multitude of speed related fatalities, and not just deer caught in the headlights. And last but not least, the wheel in integral to some absolutely abominable auto designs—the Pacer and the VW Thing are at the top of my list.

As a bibliophile I should vote for the printing press as the most beneficial technological leap for it made books affordable to most people, along with widespread literacy. It also contributed to the advancement of knowledge and has even unified peoples. Unfortunately, it has also been used to spread hate and disinformation to deceive and control nations and peoples. Too often people will believe what they read without questioning the sources, truthfulness, or rationality of the pamphlet, advertisement, or email. Other unintended consequences are junk mail filled with miracle health cures; get rich quick testimonials; how to get 100 mpg; celebrity gossip magazines; romance novels; and third-rate novelists who have captured the money of lazy readers.

So, after examining many of mankind’s greatest hits, I nominate the humble toothbrush as the single most important technological invention ever introduced to humankind. It not only contributes to the better health of the teeth, but also to the whole body, and it makes face to face communication so much more pleasant. It is rarely ever used as a weapon, indeed, a very poor choice to those who have tried. In fact, I have yet to hear of any instance where it was confiscated at an airport by an overly cautious TSA agent (you know the type, the guys wearing both a belt and suspenders), even if it had a sharp rubbery tip. It is very portable and easy to tuck in a pocket or behind an ear, thus we never need be without this most important invention in the history of humankind.

FYI: the photo at top is an ancient toothbrush.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mandatory Insurance Anyone?

There has been much clamoring about the government interfering in our personal lives, but little is said about how much insurance companies are interfering in our personal lives. It seems to me that big insurance interferes with our personal lives far more than big government does.

For some time now certain Astroturf groups have been screaming that it is unfair to force Americans to buy health insurance and even claiming that it is unconstitutional, but nothing is mentioned about other kinds of insurance that we are all forced to pay for in one way or another.

They make the argument that you are not forced to buy auto liability insurance if you choose not to own a car, but the public transportation agency you use must and it is factored into your fare. You may rent an apartment and not have to buy renter’s insurance, but insurance costs are part of your monthly rent. And just about any piece of equipment you buy has factored in the insurance costs that the manufacturer, distributer, and sellers all have to carry.

Then there are the professional liability insurance costs built into the fees charged by medical providers, lawyers, real estate and insurance agencies, financial services, and construction contractors of all kinds. Let’s not even get into the reasons for the rising cost of these various kinds of liability insurances…I’ll save that for anther time. But my point is that there are precious few Americans who are not subject to mandatory insurance of one kind or another.

So, why not make health care insurance mandatory? Why do many consider that one area taboo?  They paint the picture red, titled it “socialized,” insert images of Stalin and Mao, and then convince themselves that they are protecting the Constitution and the rights of Americans.

Now let’s put our thinking caps; what is the purpose of insurance? It is to spread potential risk over a large group of people in order that no one has to pay the whole cost in the event of any loss and all must contribute into the fund even if they never have to use it. Now, what are taxes for? Taxes are imposed so that the cost of government services are shared by all citizens even if they do not personally benefit from all services. And "social" refers to the redistributive policies of the government to benefit the public interest. So we have “socialized” police and fire protection; “socialized” road construction and repair; “socialized” water delivery, garbage removal and sewage treatment; and many other “socialized” services that few of us could afford to pay for a we use them.

So, whatever evil names and connotations you want to tack on to either, taxes and insurance are intended to spread costs over a large population for the benefit of all. The problem then is when tax rates or insurance premiums are out of proportion to the benefits offered or in getting too high for many Americans to afford. So why not take another look at mandatory health insurance? Let’s just make it affordable for all.

One more thing—many of these social medicine fear-mongers are seeking a public office at some level or another, but I would bet that a nice health insurance package will come with the job. In fact, there is one local candidate who told me that they are anxious to be elected so they can get the insurance that comes with the position so they could quit going to the Community Health Care Clinic.

Now, I wonder…where will the money for their health insurance come from? You Betcha…taxes! Do you think they will object to taxpayers footing the bill for their health insurance? Bets anyone?

Good for you…bad government.  Good for me…good government.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Think Before You React


Every day we see items in the news that inspire gut reactions of outrage. The trouble is that we too often do not take the time to think about news and by thinking I mean critical thinking. A good example was when President Obama publicly spoke out upon hearing of the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. But at least he recognized his blunder and made amends.

Can that be said of many in the news commentary business that fight over being the first to give their gut reactions to things that they know very little about, like the recent killing spree in Norway? When the news first broke there was immediate blame placed on Al Qaeda, Muslim extremists, and jihadis in general. How wrong they were. The same thing happened in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing—it must have been Muslims. Wrong again.

I am constantly getting emails that have gone through many generations of forwarding, all expressing outrage over one thing or another, but what they all have in common is a lack of examination of the facts. It rarely takes me long to verify the lack of veracity or the twisting of facts from these largely anonymous articles. But these emails just keep going around long after the lies have been exposed.

What is wrong with America is just what Adolph Hitler recognized as his power base when he said   “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.”  Far too many of us fail to think critically about what happens around us each day. Because of that we, or the people we elect to represent us, give support to laws that pass to “get tough on crime” only to discover the unintended consequences that come back to bite them.

9/11 scared us, but was our collective gut reaction appropriate? Are we happy with the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are we happy with the way the Patriot Act has curtailed many of our freedoms? Were our leaders using critical thinking skills when they took these measures to “Protect our National interests?” Or were they just counting on the people not thinking so that they could pursue some hidden agenda? Of course, I am not suggesting that our leaders have nothing but the highest respect for the people who elected them.

Now, what do you think?  And take your time thinking, don’t just react.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Protesting Corporate Greed...Finally!


Americans are finally joining the rest of the oppressed world in protesting against corruption at the highest levels of government—not in Washington, but in Wall Street and the corporatocracy for which it stands, for there is where the real power in Washington lies. Thousands of people of all walks of life—well maybe not conservative Republicans—are occupying Wall Street in protest of corporate greed that has led to the polluting of our planet, people loosing jobs and their homes and the rising cost of basic commodities because of market speculators and devious accounting methods.

There is a growing grassroots movement—not the Astroturf  kind or the genetically modified, fertilized, and liberally (I know, liberal is a foreign word to these folks, but it still fits here) sprinkled with herbicides to kill all competitors',  kind of grassroots movements—popping up all America who are not fighting big government, but rather big business. They want the government to put big business in its place, not be bought out by it.

I’m referring to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and it is happening, not just in Manhattan, but in cities all over our nation. For the last several weeks, a growing number of people, who are fed up with corporate greed, have set up camp, albeit without tents, in Liberty Plaza. The group is growing daily and recently over 700 protesters had been arrested by the NYPD for obstructing traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge; a set-up from the reports coming in. Incidentally, the NYPD has recently received a 4.6 million dollar donation from J.P. Morgan Chase. I just have to ask if this is why the police are so diligent in keeping these peaceful protesters in line. The police have even been ordered to not accept donuts from protesters in the square. There have even been incidents of protesters being maced by over eager officers.

Do these protesters have the answers to America’s problems? I don’t know, but they are no longer satisfied with complaining about problems, they are pulling themselves away from the comfort of home and making themselves be seen and heard; enough’s enough. And that’s where change starts.

We have got to start looking at new ways to solve our national problems instead of doing the same things over and over hoping that the next time will work for sure. Think about it; if we keep smashing our head against the wall we may eventually break through, but what about the damage done to our head? Many feel that the solution to one of our current problems is the creation of more jobs; but is that really the answer to our problems? Ask the working poor who may have several jobs and work more than forty hours a week if job creation is the answer to their problems.

Just creating more work is not the answer; our whole economy needs restructuring because we are placing more value on stuff instead of us. When job creation means the removal of mountaintops and raping the earth to squeeze out every drop of oil and extract every chunk of coal to the detriment of the air we breathe and the water we drink, is that worth the jobs created? Arsonists keep firemen busy, along with all the trades that must rebuild after the fire, but does that justify the arsonist?

Our whole economy depends on growth to stay alive; no city can maintain zero growth and expect to remain viable. But when does the growth become too much? America became the economic power we have come to rely on because we had more room to grow than Europe or Asia did. After World War II came the Baby-boomer's who fueled the need for more of everything, but now smaller families are the norm so growth can only come from having more people, either by convincing Americans to start having larger families or by encouraging more immigration, either one is unlikely to happen. But, if by chance it does, could we still keep a healthy growth without eventually depleting our natural resources? Just how far do we want to go in gambling our children’s futures away?

So since Wall Street and our elected representatives are not listening to the people-–remember We the People that our Constitution was written for? —It is time we speak up and protest. It is time we come up with a new economy that values teachers more than hedge fund managers, an economy that values us as humans, not just as consumers, and one that values our children’s future. We must come up with new ideas to accomplish this, so let’s start thinking and start acting—just as they are on Wall Street right now.

To follow this event, keep listening to NPR or go to www.alternet.org and www.occupytogether.org. Learn how you can be a part of it. Be a part of it.

And if you must, I’m sure the Corporate Faux News Reporters will have their own spin on what’s happening.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Proud to Be

When I first came to Montana I was amazed all of the bumper stickers on vehicles proudly proclaiming Montana roots; third, fourth, fifth generations signs were and are very common to see. I thought, wow, that’s great to be proud of your heritage, I didn’t see bumper stickers proclaiming, “I’m Proud to be a Minnesotan” back in my home state. But, after further thought, I got to thinking, what about me? I chose to live in Montana, I’m proud to live here now. But those people had no choice in where they were born. Montana was a decision made for them. So where is the proof they are “proud Montanans?”

The longer I lived here, the more I began to observe how many Montanans seemed to have no respect for their state by the way they ignored many state laws, like drinking and driving, speeding, and littering. When I travel scenic highways I must be on guard against Montanans speeding around me to get from point “A” to point “B” as fast as they can. If they were proud of Montana, wouldn’t they take the time to enjoy its scenery? And I see no proof of that “proud” spirit when I see our highways littered with empty beer cans and cases, diapers, and fast food garbage.

There is a town up on the Hi-line with posters speckling the town like fly feces on a barn window, reading, “Treasured State, NOT Treasured Landscape” When I first saw this I thought, “What the Nantucket?”


Yeah, I get it, they have something against the Missouri Breaks National Monument—for whatever reason that makes sense to them—but as I drive through the Missouri Breaks I see a “treasured landscape.” Well, I guess you have to come from somewhere else to treasure it, because as far as I can tell, they are not proud of the beauty Montana has to offer in their portion of the prairie.

Then, thinking about our nation as a whole—it seems to be filled to the brim with people proclaiming they are proud to be Americans; but I have to ask, just why are they proud? Have they bothered to learn its history and geography—beyond high school level? Have they bothered to read the US Constitution—beyond the Second Amendment? Are they honest about paying taxes? Do they bother to vote? So where is the proof that they are proud of their nation?

And what about your religion, is it something you inherited, but never bothered to learn its basic tenets, or read its holy book, or follow its teachings? Show me the proof that you truly believe what you say you do.

I see a lot of people who are rabid about defending their nation and their religion; they’re willing kill or die for what they say they love—without really knowing or honoring either. They are where they are and believe what they believe by accident of birth and yet they have the audacity to put down another nationality or religion or people who had no choice in where they were born or what color their skin is or in what their fathers believed and worshiped.

On second thought, don’t show me the proof; show the world the proof, the world watches how we behave and they are not impressed. Then, show yourselves the proof that you are proud of where you live, of the government you support and the religion you follow—even if you have to start from scratch to learn it for yourself. Prove it to yourselves before you expect anyone else to believe you when you say “I’m Proud.”