musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

November 8, 2010

I won’t ask if you voted, but…

I don’t know why I can still be shocked by anything political or even remotely related to politics, but I’m always shocked by the numbers of nonvoters when I see statistics about them. I’ve voted in all but one or two local elections and all general elections since I was old enough to vote in 1974, less than a month after my 18th birthday. Early decisions involved some pretty big issues, such as the death penalty in California, the Equal Rights Amendment, and California’s Political Reform Act of 1974. Bully for me, right? Well that’s about how I feel, no big deal. I’m sure I feel almost as powerless, as an individual voter, as most non-voters do. Things quite often don’t go the way I voted. But it still shocks me to read the numbers of nonvoters. Why? Because I figure, with as few chances as we have in life, and especially in government, to have any say, voting is the one say we still have left. I guess I feel a little like those pro-gun activists who say their weapons will have to pried from their cold, dead hands. That’s how tightly I hang onto my right to vote (which interestingly isn’t even guaranteed in our Constitution), that one little ray of hope in our increasingly disheartening political maelstrom. But that’s me, and it’s why I vote. What I wonder is why don’t more people vote? While my title might imply it’s something to be embarrassed about, I don’t feel that way. I’m not trying to be judgmental here. The fact is I believe the secret ballot is of great importance, and so is privacy regarding whether one votes or not. But as a liberal, when I read that the majority of nonvoters are liberals, and I see liberal interests circling down the drain with each election, and a lot of so-called liberal politicians who are so middle-of-the-road they could easily pass as conservatives, well, my frustration bubbles up and I want to know. Why?

Why do people not vote?

Gregory Rodriquez surmises, in his Los Angeles Times column, that the reason may be not that they don’t care but that they care too much. This makes a lot of sense to me. It’s much more likely for people to feel disheartened and even depressed over something that matters to them, than about something that doesn’t.

Then there are those who claim not voting is a form of activism, choice by non-choice. The League of Nonvoters even claims to consider voting a violent act. Well yes, it can be. But can’t nonvoting be every bit as violent? What about when the death penalty appears on the ballot? What about choosing who represents us in issues such as war, torture, the rights of the wrongfully accused? Isn’t sitting on the side-lines and letting the more violent answer rule, an act of passive violence in itself?

I’ve also heard that people just can’t stand all the politics, the ads, the mud-slinging, the lies, the disappointments, and the need to keep up with political news and information in order to vote at all intelligently. Well, that’s my least favorite thing too. Though I do read about it, discuss it, and even write a little about it (very little), I get so angry sometimes it makes me crazy. It stresses me, gnaws at me, and has a kind of killing effect on my spirit. Politics is a nasty business. Each time an election turns out badly (in my opinion), I think I may never vote again, that I want to be the one hiding my head in the sand, ignoring politics, not getting so upset by it all, telling myself that it’s all an illusion anyway, when we vote for either major party we’re voting for the same bunch of liars, cheats and thieves. There’s more to life than that, there’s a life after this, where voting won’t matter. But still I vote, because to not do so would be, I feel, a surrender to all those unsavory elements, all the lies, the money-grubbing, and – I’ll say it – outright evil. Surely I am responsible, to some degree, if they win and I have ignored the whole mess, withheld my say in it?

So why don’t people vote?

I can’t answer these questions for anyone else, only for myself. But if you want to read more, you may be interested in the results of the Pew Research Center’s survey of nonvoters.

More on the nonvoting phenomenon from Huffington Post and Fire Dog Lake:
Non-Voters Expected To Be Majority Again
2010 Midterms Determined By Non-Voters More Than Voters

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:17 am PST, 11/08/10

November 5, 2010

Bill Moyers and Rodger D. Hodge On the Plutocracy

Perhaps all is not yet lost for the USA. Today I came across an absolute must-read for Americans who care about our future. It’s long, but worth the trouble:

Bill Moyers speaks on “Welcome to the Plutocracy” in a tribute to the late Howard Zinn. (Full text transcript at

The following Harper’s Magazine article was mentioned by Moyers in his speech: “Speak, money” by Roger D. Hodge which was followed by an interview of Rodger Hodge by Scott Horton.

Note, I’m not anti-Obama. I voted for him. I support what he says he wants to do. But I think he and all the rest of us need to see a re-visioning of his presidency in light of the economic situation. Heck, we need to see a re-visioning of the entire Democratic Party. Perhaps the recent election results will help President Obama understand that.

I also hope Republican voters can come to see some of their own economically suicidal errors, one of which is letting super-rich corporate monsters like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers feed them Fox News and fund supposedly people-first campaigns like the Tea Party. In case you aren’t aware, progressive liberals are people-first too. Dennis Kucinich used “We the People” banners in his campaign as well. But he also didn’t accept corporate funding of his campaign. That led to him being shut out of debates, just as Green Party candidate Laura Wells was shut out of the California gubernatorial debate between Whitman and Brown. She was even arrested for trying to attend the debates, with valid tickets in hand. I found it interesting that in the election results news, mainstream media didn’t even bother with the numbers for third parties this time around.

We have all been hiding our heads in the sand, including the super-rich who have so far benefited, but who are as doomed as we are if current (at least since 1980) policies continue, just as the Mayan kings or the Trojans before them. You really should read Moyer’s speech. It’s a thing of beauty, aside from the depressing content.

My conclusion, and I’ve known this for a long time, as have many other voters in both parties: We need comprehensive campaign finance reform. Recent court decisions have made it clear it has to be a Constitutional Amendment. Otherwise we’ll never get our country back, and this madness will continue. Big money will continue to keep us at each other’s throats with political divisiveness, and politicians of both major parties will continue to do their bidding, until they have destroyed a once great nation for everyone, including themselves.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:57 pm PST, 11/05/10

August 13, 2010

What I’ve been up to this summer

It’s been such a nice summer here so far, maybe that’s why I haven’t felt a need to blog. We’ve had a much cooler summer than elsewhere in the country, so far, cooler than our usual annual roast. We’ve only needed to use the air conditioner a couple of days. I’ll use that as my excuse – as if I need one – for not blogging sooner.

But I’ve found some good things online during my time away from here, so I thought I’d share.

As you may know by now if you’re a regular visitor to this blog, I’m deeply interested in both J.R.R. Tolkien and Carl G. Jung, so I was delighted to find some lectures at Gnosis Archive about both, sometimes even mentioned together.

J.R.R. Tolkien: An Imaginative Life
is a series of three lectures by Dr. Lance Owens in which he covers Tolkien’s biography including a bit about his experiences with the Silmaril, and even goes into a little Tolkienian analysis of Jung (as opposed to the other way around). I found this series positively fascinating. Not to mention, the drawing on the linked page (if you scroll down) that Tolkien titled “End of the World” reminds me of a Tarot card, namely the Fool card in the Rider Waite Smith. Although Tolkien drew it in 1912, just three years after the RWS was published, I suspect that Tolkien came up with the image independently. He seems to have spent a lot of time tapping into the Collective Unconscious, before Jung even had a chance to apply that name to it. In fact the drawing reminds me of Jung’s description of “dropping down” in order to engage in Active Imagination, which Jung didn’t write about until at least 1913 and then only in his Red Book, which wasn’t available to the public until last year. Of course in the interim Jung wrote about Active Imagination in his published writings, but not before Tolkien came up with the drawing and, it seems, did some Active Imagination of his own.

Various synchronous connections between these two men have left me pondering long before I came across these lectures. One that stands out is that Jung created his Red Book as a result of his experiences with Active Imagination and a guide he called Philemon, and in Tolkien’s fiction, which he created as a result of his own wanderings in another realm, he mentions a Red Book of West March that contains the history of many Middle-Earth people (Hobbits) and their adventures.

Another lecture series, or rather one long lecture broken into three parts, that I’ve enjoyed is Stephan Hoeller’s C.G. Jung and The Red Book.

In between other things I’ve also been continuing my reading of the John the Lord Chamberlain mystery series by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. I’m now near the end of book six, Six for Gold. These are great fun to read when I need a break from heavy hitters like Jung and others who, although they have a lot to say, can take some doing for me to assimilate, especially late at night when my brain is tired, which is when I tend to read.

We’ve also had a sick friend to take care of. Our black cat Raven became quite ill with a serious infection a few weeks ago. He’s been on antibiotics and forced feeding since then, a little over three weeks, and this has taken a lot of our time and energy. He’s gradually recovering, but we’re still uncertain what the outcome will be when he comes off antibiotics, so we’re just hoping and doing the best we can for our little friend. He is finally eating a little on his own and acting more like a normal cat again, so we are more and more hopeful for his full recovery.

Recently I’ve been enjoying seeing the Big DIpper hanging from its handle in the northern sky at night, but last night Ken noticed something odd in the western sky, a kind of brilliant planet with a tail, and today I came across an article explaining what it was – a close alignment of four planets, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury. It should be visible again tonight, and if you go out to take a look be sure to look for the Perseids too.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:31 pm PST, 08/13/10

May 31, 2010

One For Sorrow

The John the Lord Chamberlain mystery series, by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, is set in sixth century Constantinople, also known as Byzantium. I’ve been meaning to read this entire series for some time, but I waited until I could get the whole series.

One for Sorrow begins with a rowdy May festival commemorating the founding of the Empire’s capitol. The public entertainment includes a trained bear and a lovely female bull leaper who reminds John, Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, uncannily of a former lover. The evening’s continuing street revelry results eventually in the escape of the bear. In the chaos that follows, John finds his friend Leukos dead in a back alley near a house of ill repute. John is ordered by Emperor Justinian to investigate the death, since Leukos was the Emperor’s Keeper of the Plate and he appears to have been murdered.

John questions his friend Isis who operates the brothel, as well as an innkeeper with a shrewish wife, a knight from King Arthur’s court on a Grail quest, a stylite or “pillar saint” living on top of a column, and the ancient wandering soothsayer who was consulted by the victim shortly before his death. John even looks up the beautiful bull leaper, partly to satisfy his curiosity and partly to appease his young friend Anatolius who declared he was in love with her at first glance. When the Emperor abruptly calls off the investigation, John, for reasons of his own, continues his sleuthing against the Emperor’s wishes, risking the emperor’s deadly wrath.

All these colorful characters and scenes are wrought in realistic and believable detail. Interwoven are John’s reminiscences of his years as a mercenary, his enslavement and subsequent mutilation (John is a eunuch), as well as his grief for his lost relationship with a Cretan woman.

I found myself identifying with John, and I found the story line intriguing, with just enough historical detail to keep me turning pages and looking forward to my nightly forays into Byzantium. I especially liked the way the authors handled the conflicting belief systems, the early Christian church with its internal dissent and imperfect leaders as well as followers, and the outlawed but persistent paganism. All in all, this is a fascinating mystery. I was impressed with the interweaving of the various story lines, and the care the authors took to do careful research without weighing down the story with unnecessary material or emasculating its fictional elements (John’s condition notwithstanding). It held my interest and kept me in suspense to the harrowing climax, all the while feeling as if I was there in that distant time and place, uncertain what would happen next, but also with a little time to explore the scenery. The pace was very well balanced in that regard, which made this a fun read for me, in which I could savor each chapter.

As an added bonus, the book includes a glossary in the back with helpful historical details that aren’t necessary for enjoyment of the story, but are nice to have. There’s also a map of sixth century Constantinople in the front.

While I highly recommend One For Sorrow, I want to point out that it was only the first in a series of eight mysteries so far. I’ve read a couple in the series now, and the other, Four For A Boy, was every bit as good. The eighth book in the series, Eight for Eternity, is available now (see the Amazon link in the first paragraph above or visit your favorite bookstore), and I was very tempted to read that before this one. After all, it got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and my experience with two of the series titles so far convinces me that these are readable and enjoyable in any order. So if you’re anxious to delve into the latest first, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

If you’re interested in this series and its authors, you might also find their web site fun: Mary Reed & Eric Mayer. You can also find a link to Eric’s Byzantine Blog in the right margin blog list here.

One For Sorrow
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen Press 1999
ISBN 1890208426

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:37 pm PST, 05/31/10

April 14, 2010

Time passes so quickly

I did not intend to leave the blog hanging for so long. Blame it on the passage of time, which seems so often to run away from me these days.

I’ve been busy, but with what I’m at a loss to tell you. I have not been writing, not fiction at least. I have become somewhat addicted to Facebook and at least one game there. If I’m spending a lot of time there, though, I would have to blame it more on their slow site, or maybe my slow computer, than on avid interest in what’s on offer, except for keeping in touch with some special people, and well, ahem. My name is Barbara and I am an Internet addict.

I’ve been reading a little. Right now I’m in the middle of The Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise von Franz. Before that I enjoyed Sepulchre by Kate Mosse.

I started knitting a pair of socks.

But spring is here, and it’s so beautiful outdoors that one can’t help but spend a lot of time gazing out windows when indoors, or being outdoors enjoying our spring weather. The hooded orioles arrived in from Mexico in March this year. March! I don’t remember them ever being here so early. The weeds arrived early, as usual, with our several deluges of rain late in the season. Flowers, flowers everywhere, and birds. We’ve spotted a goldfinch or two. A pair of red-tailed hawks honored us with a close encounter a few days ago. Raven (the black cat) added a few more head counts to his distinction in the neighborhood as a gopher hunter. It’s a ghastly business, killing gophers, but as a result of his eradication efforts my poppies aren’t getting eaten as soon as they bloom. Aloe vera blooms, in a spray of soft orange flowers, outside the nearest window as I write this, and hummingbirds hover frequently there to take sips of nectar. This is way too much distraction from blogging for me. But I’ll try to return here sooner next time.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:36 pm PST, 04/14/10

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