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A Christmas Story

December 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Pat LaMarche

What Would Mary Do?

by Pat LaMarche

The Black Friday numbers came in a week or so ago. Shopping’s down, spending’s down and the per capita expenditures are down. Retail spin-doctors cite a whole host of reasons the numbers might be headed south. Nestled in among the, “Gee Virginia, don’t depend on Santa Claus,” rallying cries is the supposition that it might just be because — according to the National Retail Federation — “consumers report they expect to have tight budgets this year, despite a recovering economy.”

Tight budgets? I’ll say.

An April 2013, My Budget 360 report entitled, “US Household income continues to fall in midst of recovery,” states that over the past five years or “since the recession started, household income is down 7.3 percent.” And the cost of living over the same period went up about the same. Heck, according to Bloomberg News, the cost of living went up 2.3 percentin 2012 alone. So as resources get ever dearer and purchases outstrip consumers’ grasp, it’s likely more and more people in the United States will find it difficult to play Santa at all this year. (more…)

Porthole to the Future

November 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

New Ships Aim Toward Brighter Horizons

by Jan Lundberg

The young man sat on the pebbly beach, looked out over shades of turquoise framed by pine-studded points of sunlit land, and said to himself, “This is the place to be.”

The next minute he noticed around him a couple of cigaret butts and bits of degraded plastic, and wondered aloud, “How can anyone harm nature?”  Then in a matter of seconds he questioned who the hell he was to point a finger at any polluters, when he had taken a jet plane and used a car to get to this almost unspoiled spot.  It was great to be in the Aegean instead of back in the States, but what was the worth of running around the globe trying to spice things up for a more meaningful life? (more…)

Opening the Box

July 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Culture, Politics

Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

by Angola 3 News

Last month, we were devastated to learn that the Angola 3’s Herman Wallace had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and that he was continuing to be held in isolation in a locked room at Hunt Correctional Center’s prison infirmary. Reflecting on his confinement while battling cancer, Herman said: “My own body has now become a tool of torture against me.”

On July 10, Amnesty International launched a campaign directed at Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, calling for Herman’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds (take action here). “After decades of cruel conditions and a conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts, he should be released immediately to his family so that he can be cared for humanely during his last months,” said Amnesty USA campaigner Tessa Murphy. (more…)

Just Enough

March 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Family, Jan Hart

Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself…

by Jan Hart

For as long as I can remember money has been one of the most important relationships in my life.  I’m pretty sure I’ve paid as much attention to money as I have to any other relationship. I’m not proud of it. But maybe I’m getting better at putting relationships with people and my environment ahead of money.

I kind of had a fairy tale first bonding with money while I was young. I grew up in a middle class home and heard my parents talk openly about our finances and knew that we got along with money, and at times without it.  At 10 I bought my first 4H goat, Valentina, for $40. My father loaned me the money and I paid it off over the next year. He also taught me how to keep track of my income from chicken egg sales and allowance as well as my expenditures for chicken and goat food in a small brown spiral tablet. As long as I was a penny in the black it was good. (more…)

War’s Lingering Phantoms

February 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Hearing the Stories as a Prelude to Rebuilding

by Robert C. Koehler

“War’s lingering phantoms haunt every society.”

As two hellish, costly and needless wars struggle toward collapse, this is the time — now, right this minute, before the next false alarm goes off — for us to look honestly at the cost and quality of national security based on militarism. It’s time to squeeze the romance out of war and get it through our heads that war is not inevitable.

War is just another form of mass murder. Its core principle is dehumanization — of all participants, the enemy and the good guys. This is because you can’t hate, dehumanize and train to kill “the other” without dehumanizing yourself and damaging your soul.

“Kill! Kill! Kill, without mercy, Sergeant! . . . Blood! Blood! Bright red blood, Sergeant!”

The dehumanization happens at an individual level, to soldiers who, in basic training, go through an intense process of overriding their humanity and establishing “muscle memory” that allows them to kill on command; and who then participate in the killing of the enemy — often enough, in our current wars, the killing of civilians, including children — in battle situations. (more…)

Bad Girls and Tricky Boys

February 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

The Gateway Ghosts of Flagstaff, Arizona

by Mary Sojourner

They worked for free. No budget allocation necessary, no bids for building and installing, no $28,714.99 chunk out of the City budget, no steel, no rock columns, no treated log. Unlike the gateway sign recently approved for 89N’s entrance into Flagstaff, the bad girls and tricky boys of the early Nineties went on about their daily business voluntarily, which had much less to do with welcoming tourists to our town, and everything to do with survival — and what, to my human eyes, seemed to be fun.

They — the teasing females and wily males — were the ever-alert, ever-busy members of a prairie dog colony that once occupied the center of a little traffic circle on which a faux-classy motel and a pseudo-Mex fast food joint now squat. I was one of many lucky humans who watched them — and blessed the red light that often stopped us near their home, and the rare Friday late afternoon traffic jam that would let us sit through two changes of red to green, long enough to begin to see the differences between the individual dogs — the chunky one who was always scrounging food, the two young pups who seemed to chase each other from dawn to dusk. I lived in a trailer in Kachina, worked in town, ran errands on a daily basis. Over time, over seasons, the prairie dogs reminded me to slow down, pay attention, to get my head out of my too human reveries and resentments. (more…)

To Divine Is Human

February 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Nancy Mattina

In the Beginning There Was Science…

by Nancy Mattina

Despite all the ardent prose glowing from the electronic gadgets that surround me, I still find myself browsing my undusted shelves for something to read. I rarely buy bound books anymore, which is why my collection of mostly paperback editions reflects the quirky canon I came of age on: Henry Miller, Kazantzakis, Joyce Carol Oates, James, Zola, Gordimer, Bellow, Steinbeck, Austen, Heinlein, Flaubert, Dostoyevsky, and the like. These wistful sentinels have long lined my walls, the listing pillars of my literary crèche, the ones who expected me to think about the world as it was, is, and might be. I don’t sell them off even though the words in them have since ascended spotlessly to the digital cloud. (more…)


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