Sunday, March 14, 2010


There has always been bias in the teaching and interpretation of history.  There is literally no way to prevent this, and corrections, such as they are, rarely involve new facts and are simply yet another reinterpretation of data that has been around for a long time.  History is not only written by the winners but is rewritten endlessly to fit the viewpoint of the modern age, and endless view starting from now and looking backwards without even a real sense of the biases that shape us.

Most of the time this process is done by people who are genuinely well meaning, who believe that their perspective really Is based on better facts and less clouded judgment than previous interpretations. 

I can't buy it this time.  The rearranging of history coming out the Board of Education in Texas reeks of cynical maneuvering.  I have been find genuine belief behind some of the most tragic acts in history, been able to imagine that if I believed as the people involved believed that I might have done the same thing, regardless of how easy it is for me as a modern person to look back and scold folks that are often long dead.  With a little work and a beer or two I can bring these skills into the modern world and apply to them to the people who's opinions I find to be most vile and to see that whatever else, they truly Believe in the things they are saying, even if from my view those actions and those beliefs are heinous and destructive.  I can in fact not hate the sinner and still revile the sin, as it were.

Not this time.  The mention of the McCarthy hearings makes the whole thing so sadly, sickly ironic to me. Joe McCarthy didn't check for communists under his bed at night.  He didn't attack communists because they were strong, he attacked them because they couldn't fight back. 

So, yes, Texas educators, teach sympathy for McCarthy.  Sin, the only sin I believe in, is the silencing of open dialogue.  The people who have pushed this change through in Texas are devils in their actions, as was old Joe.  The devil knows when he's lying.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions but the devils are always ready to pass out paving stones.

If government in this country had Any noble purpose, it is the defense of the weak from the strong.  It rarely ever works that way, but it's all we have.  Freedom from religion and religion's freedom from government control go hand in hand.  Capitalism is a progressive policy that can lead to more and more economic freedom for the individual unless those who have climbed their way to the top are given the 'freedom' to halt progress at the lower rungs.  Every freedom we have has to be tempered with the rights of those who that freedom will impinge upon.  Free trade without regulation becomes oligarchy.  Unchecked power in religion leads to theocracy.  Unchecked liberalism leads to totalitarianism. 

Bah.  I'm sounding preachy.  I won't erase what I wrote, but I'll let it rest.  The right to choose your religion, live your own life and not be owned, body and soul, by kings or corporations are what My interpretation of history says the founding of this nation gave us.  Protecting the rights of the individual Requires limiting the rights of all group entities: churches, companies, political parties, unions and most especially governments...

Then again, freedom is an every day choice.  Maybe they're just trying to remind us how complacent we are about it all.  If they take away the parts of American history that have to do with fighting for equality and personal freedom maybe a few people will remember that that fight never ends.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Butterflies, bees and wasps, oh my.  It might be that Spring really does follow Winter.  The grass is getting greener, the air warmer, all in all it's a beautiful day today.  There are no buds that I could see on the trees, so perhaps the old ones remember how the weather tricked them last year and how painful the late season cold was.  I suspect we may still have some snow and icy rain to wade through, but even as broken as my perceptions are (as they always are when my spine, and especially the top of my spine, is this out of true) I can feel Spring starting to bubble up through my bones.

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I went out walking, camera in hand, for a while this afternoon.  It always overwhelms me how busy the parks get on the weekend.  It makes me wish for a less normal schedule, one with the occasional weekday free and clear.  Maybe I'll do that this summer when I've got faire and Renleather going at the same time.

I was talking to Cass last night at the gallery showing and she asked me if I ever feel like I'm an alien.  The question made me smile because that's been a growing sense over the last decade.  I've been exploring just how far away from normal I feel and I keep building more and more bridges back to something like the everyday.  It leaves me feeling like an anthropologist trying to interact with a tribe in the Andes.  Not so much with the smug sense of cultural superiority, more of the deep fascination combined with the frustration of the myriad failed attempts at communication on even the most basic level.  There is also a feeling of how dangerous it is not to understand which overwhelms my desire for interaction at moments.

And then sometimes it just leaves me with a feeling to observe, almost afraid to move because I feel like I'll interrupt something.  Knowing full well that just by observing I'm still interacting, still there is the desire to keep my impact as small as possible, to observe the natives in their most natural state.

I find that I'm even more that way when I have a camera.  I don't want to be noticed.  I want to build a blind and just shoot with a really long lens, capturing everything as purely as possible.  I know intimately how disruptive it is to have the giant, black eye of a camera pointed at me.  Maybe I'll buy a birding lens for my anthropological research.

It was nice sharing that moment of a mutual sense of alienness.  I'm pretty sure Cass and I don't come from the same far away as she comes from somewhere where people are graceful and lighthearted and where heads are shaped to be beautiful when bald and wherever I hale from I suspect it is not so green or so graceful, but one alien to another, it's good to have that moment.

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I checked out the book Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain on Lyn's recommendation and so far I find it to be well worth reading.  I need to find and/or make a few tools that I don't have if I'm to follow along with the text.  I did the initial three drawings, one of my face, one from memory and one of my hand.  They were terrible.  The one from memory especially.  I can tell where they tried to teach me 'how to draw faces' when I was a kid.  Terrible.

What's funny is that the one of my face... and maybe even the one of my hand... weren't as terrible as I would have guessed.

Which does not mean you get to see them.  You're not that special.

Well, okay, some of you are.  But really. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So there was an involved discussion on Talk of the Nation this afternoon and it spawned an interesting notion in my head.  I gave up on the notion of making guns illegal a while ago.  It really is a matter of civil liberties as well as a few other odd and ends that I'll gleefully ignore for the moment.  I often say that the best gun control would be a strict enforcement of a one strike policy on the use of a firearm in the commission of Any crime.  I still believe this, though it would require removing from prison a whole lot of other folks we have locked up.

But, here's the new question:  What about liability insurance?  Here's the thing, to drive a car, to open most types of open to the public businesses, to be any of a dozen different kinds of performers, you have to have liability coverage.  But not for guns.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the insurance industry with a passion but it's the very excesses I despise about their way of doing business that make this work in my head.  They don't want to have to pay.  So, if the guvmn't says that you have to carry a million dollars of liability insurance to own an operable firearm, they will require proof that you're not likely to blow your own foot off cleaning your gun and equally they'll want Some kind of evidence that you're not going to go on a mad rampage. 

Now, for those that like your guns, the comment about mad rampages might scare ya.  But here's the thing, if they can't sell policies, they make no money.  So the insurance industry won't limit access to firearms on anyone who is anything other than a major risk.  Just look at the number of wingnut drivers on the road, you'll know I'm right. 

So will this top gun crime?  Nope.  Gun control does fuck all to stop actual gun Crime.  It might give people some pause though and might weed out the small number of people who through accidents of birth or injury are too stupid to own a gun.  Might weed out a few unstable crackpots too.  Maybe.

A million dollars of liability sounds like a lot but it's not really.  And it won't fix shattered lives and money can't pay for everything, but sometimes it might help with a medical bill or two.  I figure this one to run around fifty bucks a year but that's a raw guess with only a little data to back it up. 

My apologies to my co-worker who has been scowling at me since this occurred to me but really, while I am almost certain this will never pass, I believe it to be perhaps the best compromise I can imagine.  I can support gun ownership as a right, but all rights come with responsibilities and I don't see this as an unfair.