Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Salmon Chanting Bridge

Deep below the dark surface of the lower Willamette River, on a moonlit night, the ancient race of fish makes their way upstream towards their birth streams. Their ancestors have made this journey a number of times too numerous to record. Their migration is an ancient ritual, known to the first people of this land and all others in human memory.  Although they are not as numerous as they were in a previous time, these fish are survivors, driven by primal instincts and sheer will power.

This time there is something different about the journey; there is something big and new in the river as they count the structures that span the wide water. Here, between the eighth and formerly ninth spans, counting upstream from the Big River, is a different kind of span over the water. This span has 12 legs, 2 groups of 6 on each side of the river. These are fun to swim through! But the best part is the two soaring towers above the legs, and the long cables like webbing hung from the towers. And the lights; this span glows and shimmers above the water!

The ancient fish of the salmon nation smile as they pass under the new bridge. They are happy. They sing an old song taught down the generations, a chant to signify the approach of their journey's end that is picked up by all of the travelers. High above the water, on the new bridge that is quiet because there are no motor vehicles, the humans hear the ancient song of the salmon, the rhythmic chanting from a time long gone.

And the humans smile, knowing that they are on Salmon Chanting Bridge.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


The Koch Brothers (pronounced like "coke," but I prefer "cock."); who are they? These multi-billionaire brothers are the big money behind a lot of conservative causes, including the Tea Party. They are heavily invested in the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as one example of their involvement in American politics. In 2012, the brothers donated at least $200 million to Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. The Board of Directors of another conservative group, Freedom Partners, is led by a long-time executive of Koch Industries. Freedom Partners claims at least 200 business members, each paying at least $100,000 dues. The group provided $115 million last year to the Center to Protect Patient Rights, another group fighting Obamacare. 

A quick look at the Koch Industries website shows a list of companies owned by the Brothers:

  • Flint Hills Resources
  • Koch Pipeline Company
  • Georgia-Pacific
  • Koch Fertilizer
  • Koch Chemical Technology Group
  • Koch Supply and Trading
  • Koch Minerals
  • The Matador Cattle Company
  • Koch Business Solutions, L.P.
These are each huge companies, many global in scope, and many based on the petroleum industry. 

It is interesting to contemplate how we are each linked to these Koch companies, and that contemplation is beyond the scope of this blog. However, as an example, I took a quick look at INVISTA. 

From the INVISTA website: INVISTA transforms daily life through its innovations in the nylon, spandex, polyester and specialty materials industries. You may find INVISTA's products in your clothing, carpets, cars and computers—just to name a few. Included in their product line, INVISTA manufactures these fabrics that you might have heard of (and might be wearing right now): Cordura, Coolmax, Lycra, Thermolite, and also Stainmaster carpeting and Dacron fiberfill. 

The Koch brothers are very successful businessmen, and they put huge amounts of their money into very politically conservative causes. There are also reports that the brothers are starting to buy media outlets; I'll let you think about that one.

Think about the $200 million ($200,000,000) that the Brothers donated to the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce last year to fight the Affordable Care Act. And by the way, this was just one of many, many donations the Brothers make to conservative causes. Consider that the 2013 federal poverty guidelines, the annual income that defines "poverty" in the United States, lists $15,510 for a family of 2 people, and $23,550 for a family of four. Census Bureau data for 2013 show that 46.5 million Americans are living in poverty; that's 15% of us! The $200 million spent by the Brothers to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, a law that would provide health insurance for people in poverty who previously couldn't afford it, represents the annual income of 12,895 2-person families living at the poverty line, or 8,493 4-person families living at the poverty line. 

The Koch brothers are the big money behind the Tea Party movement, those wonderful people who have shut down the federal government. Without the Koch money, the Tea Party might not have gotten off the ground. 

Think about this as you put on your Lycra running tights, your Coolmax t-shirt, your Dacron fiberfill winter vest, and your Cordura day-pack.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013


The world wants to know wtf is wrong with America. Simply said, the American government shut itself down. The results of this shutdown will be far-reaching, and Americans on the edge will be the most hard hit.

What is wrong with America? It seems that there are people in government who are anti-government. How does that make any sense? What do they hope to gain? How can this strategy have any positive results for anyone?

Part of the answer is that the United States isn't - united.  There is a sub-population that is anti government, and they have elected representatives who feed the flames of anarchy under the guise of conservatism. It's weird, totally weird. And we all suffer because of it.

Here is a very good segment of the Rachel Maddow show about the then-pending government shutdown. It is worth watching because it shines a very bright light on the shutdown, anti-government mentality of this minority that controls the House of Representatives.  The fact that these people are members of Congress is reason to be worried; very, very worried about the future of America.

Can the United States continue to be the united states? Are we still one country, or are we two or more populations separated by a widening chasm of political difference? The whole world is watching. And the whole world is wondering wtf is going on in America. So am I.