Monday, March 23, 2015

Water in Palestine

Yesterday was World Water Day.  Today, Juan Cole has a report posted, Israeli control of their water a continuing threat to Palestinian Surely, important to read as I've always thought the control of water as a resource would reach crisis proportions in this century. It's happening now.

Water and Farming

Wendell Berry: As agribusiness replaces men with machines, the American landscape loses its stewards, and the culture they built.

Related: The California drought and the need to change the nation's food systems.


"My personal ideal of feminism is not one in which women of the ruling class have equal power with men of the ruling class, while poor men and women go to hell together. This is, however, because my ideal of feminism requires a general commitment to social justice and human dignity. A liberation which sets some women free to humiliate and exploit others is no liberation."  - D. A Clarke , Unleashing Feminism

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"I'm from Missouri--you'll have to show me."

Richard Seymour has recorded segments for Tariq Ali's series on Telesur.  The latest is a review of the media's performance on Ferguson, Mo.   Put some of this in context while digesting the media's coverage of Antonio Martin or Tamir Rice.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On This Thanksgiving Day

Poetry on Gratitude
Denise Levertov:
That Passeth All Understanding - Oblique Prayers
New Directions, New York, 1984, p. 85

 An awe so quiet
I don't know when it began.

A gratitude
had begun
to sing in me.

Was there
some moment
song from no song?

When does dewfall begin?

When does night
fold its arms over our hearts
to cherish them?

When is daybreak?
Praise Wet Snow Falling Early - 
  - New Directions, New York
 Praise wet snow
          falling early.
Praise the shadow
          my neighbor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
          the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our hand,
our murderous hand,
                    and gives us
in the shadow of death,
          our daily life,

          and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tomas Young, R. I. P.

Tomas Young, one of the first Iraq veterans to publicly oppose the war, passed away on Monday, November 10, 2014. He was 34 years old. He was shot and paralyzed shortly after he started his tour of duty. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. May he never be forgotten. Bill Moyers interviewed Phil Donohue and Ellen Spiro about their documentary Body of War, which was about Tomas Young:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Terminology: women, words, and violence

GLOSSWATCH, always good:
Anyhow, today I am angry. I am angry because a violent male has been sentenced to four days – just four days – in prison for a sustained sexual assault on a female victim. We are required to refer to the perpetrator as a “she”. We are asked to call the rape of a woman, using a penis, a “lesbian” assault. We are expected not to call this male violence, for that would make us “violent TERFs”. But it is male violence. It is.
If there is a problem with terminology here – if the right to self-define clashes with the right to call violence by its proper name – then that problem is not caused by feminists. It’s caused by males who rape women and all those who refuse to identify them as such. It’s caused by a gender hierarchy which non-feminists both defend and refuse to acknowledge. Feminists don’t owe anyone a solution to the linguistic contradictions emerging from this mess. It’s not for us to tiptoe around with language so that no one feels “erased” by the description of a male penis violating female flesh. It’s not our fault. We didn’t create this gender hierarchy. We challenge it. If you prefer to micro-manage it, making tweaks here and there while those at the bottom of the pile continue to suffer, go ahead. But again you are not a feminist.

Monday, September 22, 2014

310,000 can't be wrong

Surely not; 310,000 marched in NYC. Matt Sutkowskiwriting about yesterday's global climate march, praises the intent if the marchers, but wonders if the momentum for policy change will be maintained - and will the politicians listen? He's got his doubts, and so do I.  (Juan Cole's Informed Comment gives background on their effectiveness, with a little history about these protests.). It's all about momentum. Sustained momentum.

Because there's this, from the Guardian:

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tear Downs. Progress in Houston?

Demolition crews began taking down the 1930s-era Josephine Apartments this morning.
In May, the Houston Chronicle reported the 75-year-old complex was sold to Tricon Homes, a local homebuilder known for putting up new townhomes in Inner Loop neighborhoods. At the time, the company said it did not know what plans it had for the complex, which sits the corner of Ashby and Bolsover in a Southampton neighborhood.
The complex was built in 1939 by architect F. Perry Johnson with one-bedroom units arrayed in a U-shape, a floor plan common to that time period. The exterior is notable for horizontal bands of dark brown brick on the sides and parapets to mask the roof. The units, roughly 750 square feet each, have hardwood floors and faux fireplaces. The original owners had it built with central air conditioning to make the units more marketable.
The residents were previously asked to move out by July.
Well, there ya go. I lived in this neighborhood. These are charming 1930's Art Deco apartments in Houston gone to be replaced by cheap yuppie hovels. Another neighborhood trashed.  

Years ago, I'd take out of town visitors on the AIA Houston walking tours.  On one tour, the guide pointed out the Medical Arts Building and sadly commented that the next day it would be demolished. True, it had fallen on bad times, and when I saw it in the early 80s it was filthy and neglected, but the design and detail were memorable. 

If a town has no historic features left, it shows itself to be short-sighted and lacking in the ability to recognize what is valuable and in the innovation necessary to repurpose and preserve old structures. But the developer who bought the Josephine Apartments property clearly didn't want to do that. 

WASHINGTON POST: An economic defense of old buildings
Jane Jacobs, a woman akin to the patron saint of urban planners, first argued 50 years ago that healthy neighborhoods need old buildings. Aging, creaky, faded, "charming" buildings. Retired couples and young families need the cheap rent they promise. Small businesses need the cramped offices they contain. Streets need the diversity created not just when different people coexist, but when buildings of varying vintage do, too.
"Cities need old buildings so badly," Jacobs wrote in her classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," "it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.”  

Ever since, this idea -- based on the intuition of a woman who was surveying her own New York Greenwich Village neighborhood -- has been received wisdom among planners and urban theorists. But what happens when we look at the data?
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has tried to do just this, leveraging open property-parcel data in three cities to analyze the connection between the kinds of places Jacobs was describing and the numbers that economists and businesses would care about: jobs per square foot, the share of small businesses to big chains, the number of minority- and women-owned businesses.  

The novel geospatial analysis, drawn from the District of Columbia, Seattle and San Francisco, suggests that older, smaller buildings do matter to a city's economy and a neighborhood's commercial life beyond the allure of affordable fixer-uppers. In Seattle, the report found one-third more jobs per commercial square foot in parts of town with a variety of older, smaller buildings mixed in. In Seattle
San Francisco, it found more than twice the rate of women and minority-owned businesses. In the District, it found a higher share of non-chain businesses.
The findings don't necessarily mean we should save all old buildings from demolition, or even that one old building is better than one new one. But they give preservationists (and Jane Jacobs enthusiasts) new data in fierce development debates over how rapidly changing and relatively older cities like Washington should grow.
Photo credits - Josephine Apartments, Preservation Houston. Medical Arts Building post card photo,