Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Notes - Week of December 4

I took these photos while flying in commercial airplanes...

1. Adventures come in every size. First thing each morning I step out into the new day in search of my morning newspaper.The air is cool and scented with matted walnut leaves. My stocking feet became wet with condensed dew as I walk along the garden steps. Each puff of the morning breeze stirs the tree branches overhead to bring down a fresh rush of leaves.

The timing of the seasons is about right - I relish a change every few months. I get tired of the sameness of summer – grand as it is – the crispness of fall gives me new vigor. My Granny Smith apple tree has just comes into its own, also Kiwi fruits, and red/orange persimmons… Our kitchen counter look like a farmers market with the produce I gather. Yesterday morning as I stepped outdoors a flock of high flying geese – over 100 - forming one huge “V” shape - passed noisily overhead. Stirring!

2. In my late teens and early 20s I was pretty much a summertime mountaineer. Growing up in the shadow of Sequoia Park (Visalia) my friends and I determined to be rock climbers. In the early 1960s we had no teachers other than a few books that we were able to find – mostly published in Great Britain. Our equipment came from the Army Surplus store and a new start up company in Seattle – REI – that at that time only sold carabineers, pitons, and climbing ropes (120 feet of 5/8" Hemp rope!). We had fine adventures testing our skills to the limit.

Winter shut down our rock adventures because everything was covered with ice and snow – but we had read about ice climbing – Ah ha!! – just the thing… So three of us determined to climb a sequence of frozen cataracts in Sequoia Park. We rented bear-paw snow-shoes, packed backpacks for snow camping, acquired crampons from somewhere, and between us had one ice ax. The cataracts were a series of waterfalls – all well frozen over – no free flowing water – composed of crystal clear ice –

Our method was sound – we roped up, the lead person advanced to a point where a steel piton could be driven into reliable ice or a rock crack adjacent to the ice, carabineer attached and then the rest of the party advance, one person at a time, secured by rope... and then the process repeated. The way was steep, but it was a reasonable route. The concept of crossing very steep smooth clear ice was new for us, but the crampons gave us security– At one point we discovered that there was liquid water flowing under the ice and if we struck the ice with the ice ax it would produce a jet of liquid water shooting out from the ice! What fun!

Progress was slow but by early afternoon we reached the top of the cataract. Now we discovered a new challenge – we discovered that our route was covered with fresh powder snow almost waist deep. We took turns breaking trail – and it was exhausting work! We found the bear paw snow shoes impractical in such deep soft snow. Our goal was to reach a protected frozen lake about a mile and a half away – it passed through a steep glacial valley and we were pretty well all worn out by the time we reached the lake. Here he established out camp - set up the tent and sleeping bags. A hot fire and some warm soup revived our spirits.

Three of us in a two-man tent was pretty cozy, and in the morning we discovered that it was necessary to chip free the sleeping bags that had frozen into the ice. It was a glorious clear day and we were anxious to get an early start because we knew we would be facing the deep snow again… Going down was somewhat easier and the air was warmer… but half way through the glacerial valley we had another surprise… first we heard a great roar and looking around us we saw an avalanche of snow come crashing down over the trail that we had walked just minutes ago. That was the first of three avalanches that we were to see that morning. When we got to the cliff that formed the cataracts we choose a non ice-covered route and rigged the rope so that we could rappel down the cliff– faster and safer than returning by the ice route. All things considered it had been a fine adventure…

2. This quote by Vaslav Havel the first elected president of the Czech Republic was made at the time when the Czech people were dreaming of a free country. The same quote is suitable for all those who are boldly making a statement in our time about corporate greed and dealing with worldwide economic disparities.:

“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons ...Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

3. So how do I assess the Occupy movement at this point in it's evolution?

In most ways I see it is a positive movement. But I also want to share with you my questions about the movement...

The root causes are the same as when "Occupy" first surfaced– many Americans feel left out – There is bitter anger at Wall Street and the Banking industry that continue to make shameful profits, often overstepping legal bounds, and taking their profits at the expense of “the rest of us”.New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929. Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929. Read more:

Something is seriously out of whack when corporations disparage workers and labor, and at the same time prevent the workers from earning a living wage so that the workers can buy the products being produced!

Lobbies and special interest groups continue to work with a compliant Congress to make life easier for those who pay the lobbying interests. And those of us without lobbyists are left holding the bag. Fox News continues to promotes a one sided message promoted by the wealthy interest lobbies. If you have enough money you can engineer and “sell” public opinion.

Graphs showing the disparity in America today:

This is an anger that is not going to go away just because Occupy encampments are shut down. The movement is not fading – only evolving. The “genie will not be put back into the jug” – the hundreds of thousands of angry disgruntled people will not suddenly change their mindset – we have a national issue ( in international issue ) here and it will continue to evolve and take form.

What is happening is in the American tradition of citizens raising their concerns within the legal bounds of the Constitution – The test will be whether out institutions support the constructional challenges before us. Powerful financial interests are seem to be doing what they can to crush the movement. It comes down to this: – are we a government of the people - by the people - for the people…? Or are we are government of the corporations - by the corporations - for the corporations…?

My concerns

1. Decision making within the Occupy meetings is free and democratic - decisions are made by vote. I wonder,though, if the group often isn't just speaking to itself... What would it take to make the message know to a wider base? Many of the very people that the 99% is seeking to serve are alienated because of the reporting on FOX news. Up to this point the "occupy" settlements have been in big cities and exchanging views in long meetings - how can the message become more populist ? Being forced out of the camps may in fact be a good thing for stimulating new approaches.

2. There is great danger from elements that would like to coopt the occupy movement - and turn it into something that it is not today. By judiciously avoiding stated goals or stated leaders the large gatherings of participants are open to change. However every successful movement that I can remember has stated objectives and leaders - Many in the land are confused about who there movement is and what they stand for...

3. The long term success of the program depends on maintaining a Gandhi like peaceful resistance. I admire the discipline that I have seen thus far by the vast majority... and the efforts of the movement to control the few problem makers. There have been multiple occasions where police provocateurs have attempted to incite the demonstrators. Insight and discipline are required to deal with them.

Case study:

One last piece: 1. If you have ever been involved with voter registration you will find this youtube video of interest:

-I'll leave it for you to interpret the data-

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