Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holy Spirit, Mental Illness Linked


Some get it. Some don't.

Paul of Tarsus was hung over and had been smoking opium when he was overcome with it. Jesus of Nazareth was tempted by it in the desert after fasting. Joseph Smith was 18, drunkenly praying that God would forgive him for sins of debauchery when he got it. Wovoka witnessed a solar eclipse on peyote that compelled a generation of Ghost Dancers.

Metanoia, visions, angels, the Holy Spirit--God's work on Earth, Right?

Maybe it's all in your head.

NPR's religion correspondent, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, went looking for the "God Spot," that place in the human brain that receives the Holy Spirit then compiled her results in a book she called The Fingerprints of God where she describes Temporal Lobe Epilepsy with a scientist's fascination in exquisite detail.

In July of 1997, two and a half years after my younger sister was killed in a car/bicycle accident (she was on the bike), I was drowning my sorrows at Orman Dam.

The full moon nuzzled Bear Butte as a thunderstorm erupting on the western horizon directed the remnants of sunset at the Hills; slashes of fire, then blood splashed the mirror in the south. My sister, out there dancing with Terry Peak in that crescendo of existence-or-not-epiphania said to me, “I am Living Rock, I am Water. All Life begins here.”

So hey! Call me crazy. I got it, too!

The United States of North America



The United States Constitution is the finest instrument ever created by the human hand. The Preamble is the body, the Bill of Rights is the neck, the Amendments are the strings. It is a fluid universal execution of human and civil rights.

It's time for all Americans to enjoy the protection of law by being part of one nation: erase the artificial borders and grant Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to all the people of North America...Mexico, Central America, Canada, even the Caribbean if they'll have us.


ip is not a New World Order guy, does not support the North American Union (god bless you please, Mr. Roddenberry) and believes that the US Constitution is a big enough canvas in order to paint a more perfect masterpiece, a big enough score for all to sing. No violence. No more drug wars.

Let's debate it and draft a dream referendum to be delivered by and for the people.

Christ announces He smokes medical marijuana at legislative hearing

From the Helena Independent Record:

"Christ, who is also a medical-marijuana patient, encouraged lawmakers to tread lightly into stiffer regulations, even as he said more government involvement is needed in the industry.

“It’s going to take an army of people to regulate this,” he said.

Christ, who said he has two intestinal disorders that make sitting down uncomfortable, particularly praised Montana’s law that allows medical-marijuana users to smoke in public.

“After this speech, I am going to go outside and smoke a bowl,” he told the panel.

Shortly after, he produced a large, glass pipe and left to do just that."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's time for plastics to be diverted from US landfills


Packaging, packaging, packaging!

ip has joined the global boycott of plastics used for packaging, especially of food for commercial sale.

From Biomass Magazine:

Estimates suggest 200 billion pounds of plastic is produced every year. Due to the technical limitations or inconvenience of recycling, only a fraction of that material resurfaces in new plastic products. It takes no imagination whatsoever to throw away plastic and doom it to the fate of a thousand years in a landfill, but plastic waste doesn’t just threaten terra firma.

The Pacific Ocean is home of the world’s biggest landfill: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Air and ocean currents form a huge, slow-moving spiral of debris—mostly plastic—accumulated from all corners of the globe through decades. And unlike biological material, plastic doesn’t biodegrade and decompose. Instead, plastic photodegrades, meaning it shatters infinitely into smaller and smaller pieces without actually chemically breaking down. Because of this, the amount of plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch only grows.
 
The tiny plastic bits, called nurdles or “Mermaid tears,” are reported to outnumber plankton in the vast region six-to-one and are mistaken as food by bottom feeders and other filter feeders, which poses a threat to the entire food chain. The water-bound garbage dump has gotten so large it has split into eastern and western patches. Reports indicate the eastern patch, located between Hawaii and California, is twice as big as the state of Texas. 
The Pacific Ocean is home of the world’s biggest landfill: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Air and ocean currents form a huge, slow-moving spiral of debris—mostly plastic—accumulated from all corners of the globe through decades. And unlike biological material, plastic doesn’t biodegrade and decompose. Instead, plastic photodegrades, meaning it shatters infinitely into smaller and smaller pieces without actually chemically breaking down. Because of this, the amount of plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch only grows.The tiny plastic bits, called nurdles or “Mermaid tears,” are reported to outnumber plankton in the vast region six-to-one and are mistaken as food by bottom feeders and other filter feeders, which poses a threat to the entire food chain. The water-bound garbage dump has gotten so large it has split into eastern and western patches. Reports indicate the eastern patch, located between Hawaii and California, is twice as big as the state of Texas.

If the BP calamity leads to the use of the stranded wind that Doug Wiken suggests to convert plastics to fuel in this process, currently being developed in India (incidently still recovering from Union Carbide's crime at Bhopal).
"... a much bigger opportunity obviously shines under the bonnets of cars. And the Zadgaonkars say it’s only a matter of time. “We’ve had a couple of vehicles running on our fuel for the last two years and they’ve been performing just fine,” says Umesh, who points to a list of reasons why their fuel should power your vehicle. “It has all the properties of motor spirit, even better flammability, can be calibrated to meet Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms and vehicle performance improves with use of plastic fuel. It also scores points on the emission front: vehicles run on the plastic fuel have successfully passed PUC tests."


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Barrasso Defends US Genocide

From the Rapid City Journal:

Before the Memorial Day holiday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010" which includes a provision authorizing the Cobell settlement. It now awaits approval in the Senate.

Individual Indian trust beneficiaries have expressed overwhelming support for this settlement. Not only does it put $1.4 billion into the hands of individual Indians in a relatively short period of time, but it promises to make another $2 billion available to individual Indians over the next10 years, preserve sacred Indian lands for future generations and create a fund for post-secondary education worth up to $60 million.

This is the largest judgment against the United States since the founding of the Republic and we have a unique opportunity to right an historic injustice.

For these reasons, I intend to direct our attorneys to work with the government to extend the settlement agreement yet again so justice may have a chance, even though every extension delays distribution of our funds.

Enough is enough. A few tribal leaders in Indian Country, some with misguided intentions, want to terminate the settlement for their own purposes.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, has introduced an amendment that he says would "improve" the settlement agreement. But the agreement provides that the settlement terminates if there are any changes. Barrasso knows this.

Tribal leaders should know better, and most do, than to support a new senator from Wyoming who rarely, if ever, has supported Indians. Barrasso has tried to gain support from certain leaders in Indian Country for his amendment. He argues that his amendment really does not make significant changes to the settlement.

Of course, most tribal leaders and individual Indian trust beneficiaries are not buying it. Still, there are a few wrong-headed tribal leaders who support his plan to kill our agreement.

If your tribal leaders are voting to change the settlement in any way, they are helping Barrasso kill our settlement and they are depriving you of your money.

Understanding who is with us and who is against us is important because the National Congress of American Indians (being held today through Wednesday in Rapid City) plans to consider a resolution that would help Barrasso kill the Cobell settlement.

Any legislative changes to the settlement agreement will terminate the settlement. Let me stress that most tribal leaders support our settlement.

It is my understanding from conversations with senior Interior and Justice officials and certain tribal attorneys that there will be no settlement with any tribe if Cobell is not settled.

Tribes are not parties in our case and would receive no funds from our settlement. Nevertheless, they are beneficiaries of the settlement.

Tribes will benefit directly from the $2 billion land consolidation program, which would result in the largest restoration of land to Indian tribes in U.S. history.

It still amazes me that tribal leaders would oppose our multi-billion dollar settlement that so clearly benefits them and their members - even though they did nothing to help us.

This is not the first time in our history that some of our leaders have decided to sacrifice individual Indian interests for their political gain.

I am working hard to see that they fail.

Elouise Cobell, who is attending this week's conference in Rapid City, is a member of Montana's Black Feet Nation and a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit over mismanagement of the Indian Trust account.

If only Senator Barrasso believed $3.4 billion is only a fraction of what is truly owed to tribes. Contact Senator Thune and urge him to reject Barrasso's amendment and pass HR 4213.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

South Dakota: Broken Red State?

From NPRs Talk of the Nation:

Excerpt: 'Red Families V. Blue Families'
by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone

"The demographic data suggest that life patterns do differ regionally, that some of the differences — higher teen birthrates, for example — may be a source of concern, and that the differences are great enough to suggest that family policy and family law are likely to differ regionally. Moreover, the differences in the age at marriage and the incidence of teen births are relatively recent in origin. The entire country experienced a decline in age at marriage and an increase in the teen birthrate in the 1950s; the subsequent decline in fertility and increase in the age at marriage, in contrast, has been far more regionally concentrated, with the changes occurring more thoroughly and dramatically in the Northeast and more slowly in the South, the Mountain West, and the Plains.

The differences in family structure, of course, do not occur in a vacuum. We recognize, for example, that they strongly reflect wealth and that wealth plays a major role in reinforcing both the political and family patterns we describe. Moreover, we realize that family formation varies within the states. White Californians, for example, may experience patterns more like that of Massachusetts, while the large Latino population in California marries and bears children at younger ages, producing state totals distinctly different from those of the South or Northeast. We also make no statement about causation; we cannot say, for example, that a pregnant 19-year-old is choosing to conceive and bear a child because she lives in Mississippi rather than Massachusetts, or even that the Mississippi teen has become pregnant because of a lack of access to contraception, less optimism about her economic future, racial patterns that make early sexuality more common for blacks than whites, or religious patterns that discourage use of birth control or abortion, though we note that others have looked at these issues.

Finally, we acknowledge that our red and blue family paradigms intersect with other cultural constructs. Mormon life in middle-class Utah, for example, may differ significantly from rural life in Baptist portions of Arkansas even as they both embrace portions of the social conservative family frame. Indeed, we suspect that while there may be one dominant blue pattern for the well-educated, there are at least two comparable red patterns. The poorer red areas, such as Arkansas and Oklahoma, combine high rates of early marriage with high teen birthrates. The somewhat better-off families in states such as Utah and Nebraska have high rates of marriage at younger ages with relatively lower levels of teen pregnancy.

Despite the differences within and between states, however, we believe that the cultural differences between regions of the country frame the world views voters bring to the ballot box and the milieus in which legal issues are decided. Issues related to marriage, contraception, abortion, and divorce take on different symbolic and practical meanings if young adults characteristically marry at 22 rather than at 29, and if teen pregnancy is a routine pathway to marriage rather than an inopportune event to be managed. Moreover, we suspect that political attitudes might well vary between states where over half the population lives in married-couple households versus those where household patterns are more diverse.

Causation, however, runs in multiple directions. Bill Bishop's book The Big Sort argues that the regions have become more distinct — and different from each other — as the like-minded have become more likely to move closer to each other. He maintains that the most dramatic movements have occurred in the country's technological centers (e.g., Silicon Valley in California or the high-tech corridor near Boston), which attract well-educated, ambitious — and overwhelmingly blue — professionals. Steve Sailer, a columnist at the American Conservative, notes further that states where the costs are lower (cheaper housing and family-related expenses) are more likely to be Republican, suggesting that family-oriented Americans may be voting with their feet as they also seek out more family-friendly communities. Moreover, even if diversity exists within each region, and even if regional differences reflect an amalgam of income, class, race, and the ethnic origins of the original European immigrants who settled there, they frame family law decision making. Other scholars are examining the correlations among these factors and finding statistically significant connections between family styles and voting patterns. Michigan political scientists Ron Lesthaeghe and Lisa Neidert, for example, have demonstrated that family characteristics showed a significant correlation with voting preferences in the last three presidential elections.

They measured family factors in terms of a host of variables that include postponing marriage and childbearing, overall fertility, marriage, abortion, and cohabitation rates, which they describe as indicators of the second demographic transformation (SDT) and which we link to the blue family paradigm. The political scientists found that the weaker the state's score on the composite SDT measure, the more likely it is to vote Republican, which "is to our knowledge one of the highest spatial correlations between demographic and voting behavior on record."

What we are doing in our analysis is both simpler and more complex than that of the political scientists. It is simpler in that we are not performing the type of statistical analysis they perform. Although we accept their more-sophisticated calculation of the strength of the correlation between family characteristics and voting patterns, we do not attempt to say whether each of the variables we discuss independently correlates with political preferences. Instead, we break down the components of their term, "second demographic transition," to examine the role of factors such as teen births or abortion rates in the construction of family understandings.

In the process, we have begun to unlock the factors that help determine the acceptability of legal innovations. Family life has changed in the United States, it has changed unevenly across the country, and it is a major factor determining the life chances of the next generation — and aggravating the increased inequality that characterizes our society. The critical question for us is understanding the legal frameworks that create and reinforce different pathways to family life, such as the variations between support for abstinence-only education or contraception, the restrictions on or broader availability of abortion, the creation of family-friendly workplaces, and the meaning of marriage or cohabiting relationships. Having observed substantial demographic variation between regions, this brief exercise convinced us to probe further. We wondered what accounts for these regional differences and whether they are reflected in the law. Finding some answers requires returning to the broader literature on the family to which both of us have contributed."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spearditch: western South Dakota's graying White-topia




This NPR story verbalizes the decision of one progressive to flee a town once touted as western South Dakota's destination of choice after fourteen years raising two children who escaped hours after their own high school graduations in 1991 and in 1995 for the University of Wyoming. It was good, too. Our meticulously preserved 1902 Furois-built arts and crafts on Canyon Street was adjacent to Spearfish's magical city park.

Kindergarten enrollments have dwindled for the decade and a half since. The resultant soaring median age of the retirees seeking deliverance from the cultural diversities thriving in Colorado, California, and Minnesota drives the exploitation of South Dakota's regressive tax structure and reinforces the racially insulated SDGOP enclave that Spearfish is today. Harley owners, some of whom have ties to clubs with nefarious pasts and many of them pre-1970s graduates of Spearfish High School, cruise the streets in summer and then recuse themselves from the brutal Lawrence County winters for warmer white compounds in Sedona or Mesa. Often, there are elderly parents in one of the ubiquitous long-term care facilities.

But, where are the children? Young families can't afford real estate in, or near, Spearfish. They live in Belle Fourche, Lead, St. Onge, and Sturgis whose populations are more child-welcoming; families shop at WalMart and then drive home. In the winter Exit 14 looks like a monument to the clear-span building that has been air-dropped into Antarctica. Main Street Spearfish is often ignored; a stroll reveals a few 60 or 70-somethings going into the Bay Leaf Cafe, Ace Hardware or one of the banks.  Life-long residents drive to Rapid City and Denver to shop forsaking local merchants.

While Black Hills State College historically brought younger people to the bars downtown, now non-traditional students have become the trend at BHSU. Younger enrollees that just can't afford to attend universities elsewhere also leave upon graduation, a handful of Native students among them.

South Dakota Democrats, be stalwart. It's nothing that the Yellowstone supervolcano won't fix.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Can heptane power more than NASCAR?



Yep, pure heptane.

The explosion of the beetle-killed pine in this photograph would be measured in megatons. Now consider that there are 70 million acres of collapsed pine forest in the United States alone.
Turpentine distilled from the California pines such as Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Gray Pine (Pinus sabiniana) yield a form of turpentine that is almost pure heptane. When producing chemical wood pulp from pines or other coniferous trees with the Kraft process, turpentine is collected as a byproduct. Often it is burned at the mill for energy production. The average yield of crude turpentine is 5–10 kg/t pulp. In 1946, Soichiro Honda used turpentine as a fuel for the first Honda motorcycles as gasoline was almost totally unavailable following World War II.

The heptane produced by the dead trees in this photograph could power NASCAR for 152 years.

--------------------------

So, here's the part that nobody wants to talk about publicly:

For parts of the West this is as much a reduction in the threat of weaponized wildfire than an economic development opportunity. Harvesting timber is diesel fuel intensive. Just paying for pine removal after the collapse of the housing market has exacerbated the potential for catastrophic conflagrations.

Keystone, Hot Springs, Custer, Pringle, Hill City, Rochford, Nemo, Silver City, Deadwood, Lead, Newcastle, even Rapid City, Piedmont, Sturgis and Spearfish are at extreme risk from the tactical use of wildfire.

Just six strategically-placed improvised fuel air explosives (FAEs) deployed during red-flag conditions have the potential to create a firestorm that would be virtually unstoppable. Repeated discussions with the Forest Service, law enforcement, fire department officials, even the Rapid City Journal, elicit smirks and suspicion from their representatives.

Now it's public.

Monday, June 7, 2010

US Support for Israel Enables Colonialism









From the Huffington Post:


"...The obvious comparison is asking all European Americans to "get the hell out", and leave the land to its rightful owners, Native Americans. One could argue Mexican Americans might have an argument to stay in certain parts of the country.

The European migration to America isn't such a stretch if one thinks about it. Colonialism makes use of people fleeing religious persecution to populate their new possession . . .

At any rate, we all know what's going on here. The hyper-pro-Israel lobby, in both parties, hasn't much liked the fact that Helen Thomas dares to speak up and question that most sacred of topics, and right from the front row of the White House Press Gallery. Heck, she had the gall to ask President Obama about Israel's "secret" nuclear weapons. She even asked the current White House spokesman why the US had not condemned the Israeli attacks on the aid flotilla. No wonder they want her the hell out. "

Mr. Olson: You're no Helen Thomas.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

South Dakota and Montana at risk to KeystoneXL


Cory at Madville Times is connecting the dots that outline a major oil spill resulting from a hypothetical breach in the TransCanada KeystoneXL pipeline. Here is a view of the Alberta Tar Sands at Google Earth. This graphic appeared at Missoula Independent that allows a user to navigate the alleged BP crime scene in the Gulf of Mexico over a home zip code. Here is a live feed of the spewing well from the House Select Committee on the Environment.

Now go to the bottom of ip and read one partial solution.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

He Served


1941




1944


Happy Father's Day, Dad. Hope all your drives from that Great Tee-box in the Sky are going to the greens.

Respectful pronouncements are forthcoming at the Elkton Record, the Brookings Register (whose obit writer deserves an h/t), the Rapid City Journal, and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader; click this link to Skroch Funeral Chapel. This emerging bio is just barely authorized by a skeptical, smarter, yet slightly more crotchety sister.

CMSgt Lawrence Eldridge Kurtz, USAF (Ret) 90, his devoted wife and friend of 65 years, Harriet, sleeping beside him, gratefully and peacefully joined beloved daughter, Lynn, at 0005, 19 April, 2010. His father, Gustav Adolph, who had arrived in America speaking only German in 1897, and his mother, Iva, daughter of Elkton's co-founder, Ulysses Kretsinger, two sisters and three brothers also preceded him in death.

Born fifth of eight, 29 December, 1919, on a rock-strewn, hilltop farm in Richland Township, Brookings County, his first memory was of an open motorcar trip from Elkton to Chicago and back again with Grandmother and Grandfather over dirt roads.

Milking cows, burning corn cobs for heat, sleeping three to a bed, taking turns at the outhouse with diarrhea, trudging behind a horse-drawn plow for what must have seemed like years, walking (or, if Gus didn't need it that day, two to a horse) a mile and a half uphill both ways to Richland School #48 maybe through blowing and drifting snow at -20, day followed humble day.

For sixteen years his greatest joys were the Christmases when each child was presented with an orange. A favorite story recounted a day in 1935, when, in the worst of the Dirty Thirties, he and brother Kenneth walked across a completely dry basin that had formerly held Lake Benton.

To attend high school in Elkton, Lawrence lived with Grandfather and Grandmother Kretsinger, a stern household at the home in which sister, Leslie and husband, Dave, live today. Although he recalled a mostly unpleasant experience, Lawrence excelled in track, played the kettle drums in band and earned the move to Brookings to attend his final year of high school then graduated from the Aggie course at South Dakota State College. His favorite treat in Brookings? Nick's, of course. Burgers were a nickel.

Since world war came as no surprise to most, enlistment represented an odd deliverance to Lawrence. The Army Air Corps seemed like the logical assignment for a twenty one year-old man with the skill and patience to fix those things that were unfixable. During his deployment in Guam, while strolling on the beach near the base, he espied a young woman walking toward him. It was his sister, Irene, who had joined the nursing corps and was also stationed at Guam, unbeknownst to both.

Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska, and its close proximity to the Union Pacific Railroad hub at Columbus brought Sergeant Kurtz (whose friends were now calling Larry) where he met a sultry, sassy, stenographic superstar with whom he would fall inescapably head-over-heels, ass-over-teakettle. Having helped build the aircraft that carried the bombs that led to the end of that war in 1945, he flew in an identical aircraft to take photographs, not only of the results of his B-29s built at the Martin Plant in Omaha, but also circled the signing of the Emperor's surrender on the USS Missouri.

A bright, blue-eyed daughter born a few weeks later accompanied her parents to a post-war Canal Zone, the outpost critical to arming continents for a stewing Cold War. In 1947, Larry, Harriet, and toddler, Leslie were assigned to the Department of the Air Force, newly created to execute that mission.

In 1954, while stationed at Castle Air Force Base near Merced, California, Harriet and Master Sergeant Kurtz (much to the dismay of a pampered eight and a half year-old sister) presented a breathtakingly handsome boy, now taking vaguely artistic liberties with sacred family history.

Reassigned to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, the emerging brain of the Strategic Air Command, Dad and Mom delivered a sweet little brown-eyed girl in 1956. In 1957, Senior Master Sergeant Kurtz was ordered to Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, Spain, the passage on the USS Independence a vivid family memory, and a year later, he was awarded the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, one of 620 elite non-commissioned officers.

Maintaining the B-52s flying the sorties while cradling armed nuclear weapons every day to the margins of the Soviet Union and to forward bases throughout Europe from Franco's Spain as attache' to the Inspector General of the Air Force for three and a half years, Larry still found time to shower his family with a richness of travel experiences. He took us to Expo 58, the Brussels Worlds Fair, to Paris and Lisbon. We saw Pompei and climbed Mt. Vesuvius. We saw Rome, where Pope Pius XII blessed our rosaries just weeks before he died. We saw the watery streets of Venice in gondolas and watched glass being blown. We boarded cable cars and ascended to a castle in Bavaria. In Las Palomas, base-housing families stood along la calle to wave at President Eisenhower, Generalissimo Franco and my dad driving by in a motorcade. Kurtz hob-nobbed with colonels and played golf with generals; his uniform emblazoned with citations, airmen snapped to attention.

But, living out of a flight bag took its toll, so in 1961 he made the decision to fly us home and retire. After a year at Dow Air Force Base, Maine, Larry called it quits after 20 years, nine months. He bought a 9' plywood travel trailer and put a hitch on the '60 Mercedes Benz 220 that he had purchased from the plant in Germany, our drive through Quebec and on to South Dakota now just another delicious memory. He remained "inactive reserve" for another ten years and somewhat later on a night of quiet reflection he quipped, "I'm finally free of the bastards."