pattern language, politics

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Matthew Yglesias writes:

… if the recession ends, then it seems likely that we’ll slip right back into a new recession. I wish that weren’t the case, and that everyone would just react to an oil price spike by biking to work, but realistically we don’t seem to have made nearly the scale of adjustments that would be necessary to let the country shrug off a return to oil that costs over $4 a gallon. SOURCE

In essence he is saying what we should have known when Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, wrongly, that we would all plant vegetable gardens in our suburban lots. Mother earth incarnate. No takers.

My impression is that Yglesias is all for some incremental moves that would signal some acknowledgment of the need to move beyond slavery to an oil economy. But he also knows that incremental moves will not achieve the change that is called for by the current crisis.

The perfect storm in the world is created by the collision between finite oil and continued slavery to the notion of private automobiles. Both these forces create a dysfunctional society that eats away at the possibility of a humanity that is not itself profoundly dysfunctional.

At the center of what is dysfunctional is the suburb which is entirely subservient to the requirements of the car. The combined costs of the car, the detached house and the costs created by reliance on the automobile is indeed the origin of a permanent recession. This is why there has been no bounce-back in valuation of either cars or detached houses. In essence, these are becoming less and less marketable.

The solution to this conundrum would be simple enough if our vaunted designers and architects and planners could do what Wright failed to do — stop being naive about human nature and stop building the car into everything. In fact, eliminate the car from the areas where people live. And reintegrate into living areas all the institutions and services needed to create well-rounded lives.

The thought of Christopher Alexander and the constellation of ideas we associate with the phrase pattern language is the answer to the economic crisis which is at bottom not economic but evolutionary.


Seen differently. we are not in a permanent recession but in the throes of a move in the market away from what hurts us to what helps us. It is that simple. What helps us is not something we can buy with money but what we can earn by the application of common sense and some smarts to the problems we face.


President Tightens Screws on Special Interests

President Tightens Screws on Special Interests

Music to our ears.

The President will keep surprising people for eight years if all goes well. And maybe beyond that if his successor is hip. The result wll be government by as well as for the people. Step by undramatic step. Like this tightening of the screws on special interest just announced.


Here’s an excerpt:

First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.

Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists. If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact.

This is particularly important as huge reforms come up for consideration. We are already aware of the monstrous efforts of the right to submarine health care. No way. We are revving up a people’s campaign that kicks off June 6, but as usual it is already rolling. Stay tuned because pledges are becoming actuality as we speak.

And with these new rules we have some hooks to hang miscreants on if they try to run around the rules.

politics, theology

Some Salient Phrases

In this era of ambient copyright and undefined roles, when people invent themselves by even rejecting their own names for some descriptive (or self-deprecating) moniker, it behooves me to lay claim to some original thinking. The following are phrases I arrived at myself to describe thoughts or theories I have developed over time. In one case — that of “benign genocide” — I later found that an Australian thinker had used the same phrase to describe the fate of aborigines.

Here are phrases I feel are significant with brief explanations.

Creedal Messianism

Christianity is the attribution to Jesus of messianic status and the transition of this thinking into a creed which effectively distorts and even inverts the meaning of the narrative we have been given. A living way that only a few brave minorities have embraced was turned into a religion that has compromised the values of nonidolatry, tolerance, helpfulness and democracy. Religion is the problem in my declension of things. I have developed creedal messianism in most of the theological writing and podcasts on this site and in my book Beyond Creed: From Religion to Spirituality.


Benign Genocide I arrived at this during my time working in UN agencies a decade ago. It refers to the fusion of capitalism and philanthropy into a system that accepts and even helps perpetuate predictable loss of life in the millions around the world to the absence of education, human rights and medical care.


Herculean Conscience Following Jonestown in 1978, my book Jesus and Jim Jones proposed the term herculean conscience to describe the sort of person (found in the middle class members of the Guyana community) who takes on his or her shoulders the burden of achieving justice throughout the world. When a reasonable desire to be a good citizen and decent person becomes fused with rage at injustice and subject to paranoid leadership it becomes herculean conscience and can lead to destruction both of the herculean individual and those he or she would “help”.


Jaws of Hell There is a real world out there where power is fused with the capacity to act with impunity. I see this as the actual residence of what theology has understood to be the devil or satan. I believe that one of Jesus’ purposes was to overcome this construct and locate the resolution of the problem of evil within history. I have used the term jaws of hell to cover speculation regarding conspiracies, crimes, the results of deception by powerful persons and other depredations that are entirely the result of the fusion of power with impunity, the absence of laws or values that can restrain the impulse to confuse ends and means.


Grass Roots Church This is the title of a book I wrote in the 1960s. The phrase refers to the idea of local ecumenism in which the functions of the church, chaplaincy, teaching and abandonment — are carried out in a rational way.


As a sort of antithesis to all of the above, I will append this little sonnet:

Being remembered is our great brass ring:
Lou Gehrig waving to a tearful crowd
Top gun first woman tour de anything
A photo of some fleeting moment proud
How fatuous to store what time defies
Believing our forevers really last
This life is fleeting as smoke on the rise
Wind dissipates the dust of every past
Some say that love will in the end remain
Thus the Apostle in his greatest text
He staked his whole life on life yet again
He had no question what was coming next
It’s much more likely we’ll keep keeping on
Than we’ll have life here after we have gone



Cybersecurity — Securing Our Digital Future

Cybersecurity — Securing Our Digital Future

Strong words. We are moving into the world we already live in. Only we only barely perceive it. The seismic economic shifts perceive it. Things will have less allure. Convenience and mobility more. Even our vaunted and significant obesity may be only a stage in the transition we are so dimly alert to. The world is inverting. Cyber is where we already are and where, for the same length of time the dying auto industry has thrived, it will develop and thrive, until it is replaced by the next true wave of human ingenuity — perhaps toward peaceful existence.

For a less speculative take on all this, flip to the White House site and see what Melissa Hathaway, Cybersecurity Chief at the National Security Council, had to say today about cybersecurity. I will leave you with a salient paragraph immediately below.


Protecting cyberspace requires strong vision and leadership and will require changes in policy, technology, education, and perhaps law.  The 60-day cyberspace policy review summarizes our conclusions and outlines the beginning of a way forward in building a reliable, resilient, trustworthy digital infrastructure for the future.  There are opportunities for everyone—individuals, academia, industry, and governments—to contribute toward this vision.  During the review we engaged in more than 40 meetings and received and read more than 100 papers that informed our recommendations.   As you will see in our review there is a lot of work for us to do together and an ambitious action plan to accomplish our goals.  It must begin with a national dialogue on cybersecurity and we should start with our family, friends, and colleagues.


Obama Organizes Health Care Reform in Air Force One Conference Call

Obama Organizes Health Care Reform in Air Force One Conference Call

Yep. Our indefatigable President is calmly reaping the benefits of the organizing that has always been a hallmark of the movement that is, as we speak, revving up once again to achieve time-sensitive objectives.

Click To Listen To The President’s Live Conference Call With Grass Roots Core Supporters

You will be on the Organizing for America Blog and the call is reachable from there.

All I can say is that this is an indication of the strategy that will be used to actually achieve the agenda that the president ran on.


Get involved! Without involvement the same forces that beat health care reform in the past will deal us a humiliating defeat again.


President Lauds Largest Solar Generator in Western Hemisphere in Nevada

From The President in Nevada: “We Come for the Sun”

You know, it’s always a pleasure to get out of Washington a little bit. Washington is okay, but it’s nice taking some time to talk to Americans of every walk of life outside of the nation’s capital. And there’s nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week. (Applause.) Like millions of other Americans, we come to this beautiful city for the sights and for the sounds — and today we come for the sun.

Because right now, we’re standing near the largest solar electric plant of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere — the entire Western Hemisphere. More than 72,000 solar panels built on part of an old landfill provide 25 percent of the electricity for the 12,000 people who live and work here at Nellis. That’s the equivalent of powering about 13,200 homes during the day.
It’s a project that took about half a year to complete, created 200 jobs, and will save the United States Air Force, which is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, nearly $1 million — $1 million a year. It will also reduce harmful carbon pollution by 24,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing 4,000 cars from our roads. Most importantly, this base serves as a shining example of what’s possible when we harness the power of clean, renewable energy to build a new, firmer foundation for economic growth.

politics, theology

Civil Unions Should Be Required of All — Marriages Should Be “Religious”

The headline says it all. This is the solution. It always has been. The laws around marriage are from the state and we should call assent to these laws the basis of … civil unions. Marriages are religious constructs. They should be non-legal ceremonies in religious institutions. The present confusion is the result of a cultural fudging of what we call the separation of church and state.

Two ceremonies regardless of gender. Civil if you want legal protections. Marriage either to bless such unions or bless one that does not want the protections of the law.