musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

January 13, 2008

Objective voter information at Project Vote Smart

For those of you who choose not to follow my liberal-slanted political posts at Spirit Blooms, I thought you might be interested in this information.

Project Vote Smart is a non-profit organization that researches and provides objective information about election choices in the U.S. Read more about the project here. At the Project Vote Smart website, you can view any presidential candidate’s voting record, synopses of what they voted on, and other information that will help you to make an informed decision. To learn more about the current presidential candidates, just go to the “Current Candidates” page, click on the “President” link, and you’ll find a listing of all the 2008 Presidential Candidates (Democrat and Republican). Click on a candidate’s name to view information about the candidate’s background and experience, and find links to other information, including the candidate’s voting record.

I haven’t looked very far into the information provided there on third party candidates. I clicked on “All Candidates” and saw that there is limited information there about some of the third party candidates, but the one I clicked on didn’t have complete background data, so the information found at the site may be most valuable to those who generally vote either Democrat or Republican.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:34 pm PST, 01/13/08

January 7, 2008

It’s dark out there

We’ve had a few more days of rain, enough to soak the ground, and this storm came before the ground dried out from the last rain, which is good — and unfortunately unusual for us in our past few drought years. So I really shouldn’t complain about the weather, but . . . it’s awfully dark out there.

I balk at turning on lights in the middle of the day, but that’s what I’ve had to do the past two days in order to get any work done. I’m sorting through files, which is a bit scary, especially in the dark. I’ve also hibernated through these dark days to some extent because I’ve been under the weather. We both had the flu over the Solstice and Christmas, and though we’ve recovered, it tried to come back on me a few days ago, sending me once again in search of my vitamin bottles and throat lozenges, and whining about an earache.

It’s a good, wet winter, good for staying indoors and drinking hot beverages, celebrating the fact that we’re actually having winter, even if it is most people’s idea of spring or fall. The more wet winters we have, the less likely we are to have such horrible fire seasons.

Meanwhile, because I’ve decided to keep politics mostly off this blog, whenever I get the urge to wax political I post my views at my other blog, Spirit Blooms. I am putting my political blogging efforts into support of Dennis Kucinich for President.

Don’t worry, I haven’t given up this blog, and I don’t intend to. I’m still somewhat of a mystery to me, and I intend to keep writing, even if not mystery novels. I’m also still opinionated and have lots to say about writing, books, and lots of other stuff you might find interesting. Mystery of a Shrinking Violet will live on until the bitter end of my blogging adventure, whenever that is, sometime in the far future. I’ll be back in a day or two, hopefully with more to write about than the weather — or politics, which I honestly hate but can’t avoid in good conscience these days.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:21 am PST, 01/07/08

October 15, 2007

Politics and the environment collide again

This is a political and diplomatic soup I never expected as a result of global warming, but I never was all that good at chess either.

Political dramas are playing out over the Northwest Passage, igniting fresh strife regarding who owns northern waters and the numerous islands that are revealed as ice melts.

If you’d like a look at what’s happening by way of the now-familiar backward chronology of a blog, check out BBC News’ Diary: Taking the Northwest Passage. It chronicles an actual passage by David Shukman on board ship with the Canadian Coast Guard. He includes information about the disputes that have risen in the past and may again in the near future. Shukman also answers questions from readers, with the help of Professor Jean-Eric Tremblay, the chief scientist of the expedition, in Northwest Passage: Your questions answered.

If you wonder how much global warming could change your nearest coastline in the next two decades, take a look at ABC’s What Global Warming Looks Like. It features the work of Edward Mazria, an architect who turned to spreading information about global warming and the contribution to it by the building industry. He’s produced a set of images showing what he predicts some large coastal cities in the US will look like in 2030, with projected rising water levels due to global warming.

Thanks to Georganna Hancock at A Writer’s Edge, for her post, Writing on Blog Action Day, and its heads-up that today is Blog Action Day for the Environment.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:45 pm PST, 10/15/07

October 3, 2007

Five years ago today

According to PRNewswire, Dennis Kucinich, in an impassioned plea five years ago, made a point-by-point argument against going to war in Iraq. He analyzed what he knew of the intelligence, and he persuaded 132 other legislators to vote against going to war. You can read the text of his speech five years ago in this PDF document.

Where would we be today if more people had listened?

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:03 pm PST, 10/03/07

May 16, 2007

Judging the news

I’ve never been much for reading or watching the news, especially when I was younger. I used to catch criticism for not doing the grownup thing — watching the news or reading the paper as much as everyone else did. I managed to keep up with most of the important news, but I noticed early on that the news upset me, a lot. It got me worked up about things beyond my control, and raised my overall fear and frustration level, without giving me all the facts, or any resolution. It’s possible this news avoidance started when I had a brother serving in Vietnam and saw war news every night during the dinner hour. Maybe it began even earlier. But those negative side effects of the news stayed with me and seemed to outweigh or play down the benefits of keeping up with every little thing presented as news. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 8:14 pm PST, 05/16/07

February 17, 2007

Indie publishers ask for less and win

Less turns out to be a good thing at times in today’s corporatist economic and political scene, and especially in the publishing arena, where seven very big fish own almost everything, having devoured nearly every other fish in the water. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:25 pm PST, 02/17/07

July 11, 2006

Order and chaos

The cat’s litter box is clean. That mundane detail isn’t your favorite sentence I’ve ever written, I’m sure. Mine either. But my day often seems to revolve around whether that task has been accomplished, and what comes after it. I go through a list of chores, on the days I think to make one, eventually reaching the line that has to do with writing, after checking off a lot of other stuff. Today writing comes after important things like the cat’s box, which is of utmost importance to her, though slightly less to us except through our affection for her, since we don’t use it and it’s out in the garage, easy for us to forget. Vacuuming comes next, mostly pet hair this time of year. That task must be accomplished while the day is still cool enough to have windows open, or not at all. A late-in-the-day shower will be in order, after all the creepy stuff on the list is done. (Bear with me, I do have a point here, this isn’t merely a run-through of my chores.) (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:57 am PST, 07/11/06

July 4, 2006

What is privilege?

The subject of privilege came up on a forum where I sometimes participate, and it seems a relevant topic for Independence Day, since we tend to think of the US as a relatively privileged nation. The discussion grew out of one person claiming to be oppressed (my word choice, used to boil the idea down), and another saying he was equally oppressed, with a resulting one-upmanship of who was worse off or better off, at one point involving the term privileged. Out of that grew a separate discussion on what it means to be privileged in this world. Here’s what I shared on the subject, with some edits:


To me being privileged means having more than one’s basic needs met, and there are degrees of privilege, and it is relative, and basically meaningless. I’m more privileged than some people I know, and less privileged than some I know. But all I can really say about that is what I see on the surface.

It’s tragic that so few people in the world have adequate food, water, sanitation, shelter, clothing, necessary transportation, education, rest, safety, security, and health care, even some people in the US. Those should be basic, subsistence level expectations, especially considering how far we’ve come technologically in this world. Unfortunately those advances seem to be reserved for the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries, for those living under certain forms of government and economics. Basic civil and human rights should also be considered subsistence level—everyone should have them. Not everyone does, even in the most economically “privileged” countries. We can’t even agree on what civil and human rights people should have.

But I also think many people in the world have a skewed notion of what it is to live under what they consider privilege (i.e. better apparent economic or social conditions than theirs). It looks easier. In many ways it is. It’s no guarantee one will be happy. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:40 am PST, 07/04/06

March 26, 2006

Tolerate my religion and I’ll tolerate yours

While changing feed readers today I had to decide how to categorize various blogs. I noticed how often a religious or spiritual blog could also be classified as a political one. I find that surprising on one hand and inevitable on the other. Surprising because when I belonged to a church for a few years in the late 70s we seldom spoke of politics in relation to religion. The blending of the two was discouraged at that time. Yet some merging of religion and politics seems inevitable today. It’s impossible to discuss one without someone mentioning the other. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:49 pm PST, 03/26/06

March 10, 2006

Why we blog

A recent Washington Post column queried Bloggers on the Reasons Behind Their Daily Words. Reading it got me to thinking yet again about why I blog.

I started my website back in 2000, when Shadows Fall was first published, for the same reason most writers do, to promote my work. Four years later I started this blog as a way to provide up-to-date content on my website and let visitors know what I was working on—basically as a way to keep the website from stagnating when too much time passed between novels. Little did I know at the time that the blog would engage so much of my attention.

The immediacy of this format holds a certain attraction. Type, click a button, and what you’ve written is published. But that has its drawbacks. As easy as email, which carries its own risks, a blog can suck you out into public view in a way that’s scary and in some ways deceiving. It’s easy to forget you’re putting yourself “out there” to the degree we do online. After all, I’m seated here alone at my home computer as I type this into a little window on my screen. It doesn’t feel public at all, at the time I write. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:55 pm PST, 03/10/06

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