Saturday, March 27, 2010

care-fully remixing the USA

"Whose country is it?" asks New York Times columnist and blogger Charles M. Blow. I agree with his observation that the "bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they’re only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation."

Blow continues, "A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy."

Many on the left will cheer his closing remarks, "You may want 'your country back,' but you can’t have it. That sound you hear is the relentless, irrepressible march of change. Welcome to America: The Remix."

I, too, am thrilled by the possibilities of a remixed USA. However: there are a lot of our fellow citizens who do not feel welcome in our remixing country, and that frightens me. As I have blogged before, that "increasing sense of desperation" is likely to lead us one final step into full-blown fascism.

Sara Robinson wrote that the last, irreversible step occurs when legitimate politicians join with the violent disaffected. The pols think they can use the mob, but it has always--always--worked out badly. The more that violent tactics are accepted, the more things escalate. The more those who make the laws flirt with those who use destruction, the quicker the rule of law becomes the rule of violence.

Robinson writes that we can still prevent that last fateful step, by nonviolently countering lies and violence with truth and attention. Her other measures include passing healthcare reform (check!) and other ways of rebuilding the social contract.

What I do not find, in Robinson or Blow, is compassion for those who are so fearful that they see violence as a real option. If "we" rub "their" noses in the inevitability of change, then "they" may well react badly, and drag "us" along into chaos with them. Without embracing racism or any other oppression, we must reach out with compassion, and offer some stability in this remixing transition.

Imagining that there are two competing sides virtually guarantees that the more violent "side" will prevail. Knowing that we're all in this together, and working hard to accomodate the needs of everyone, may help us keep dancing to "America: the Remix."

Friday, March 19, 2010

window farms

Hydroponic gardens for urban windows! See a video here. Learn more about how hackers, foodies, teachers and gardeners are collaborating online to create vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield edible window gardens using low-impact or recycled local materials at

Friday, March 05, 2010

10 commandments a la Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens proposes a revised Ten Commandments, in a new Vanity Fair article. After several pages of his usual snark and deliberate mis-understanding of modern Christian thought, he comes up with a pretty good decalogue:

"It’s difficult to take oneself with sufficient seriousness to begin any sentence with the words “Thou shalt not.” But who cannot summon the confidence to say: Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color. Do not ever use people as private property. Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations. Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child. Do not condemn people for their inborn nature—-why would God create so many homosexuals only in order to torture and destroy them? Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife. Turn off that f***ing cell phone—you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us. Denounce all jihadists and crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions. Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above. In short: Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form."

Thanks, Cal.