Keep Oregon Historical Society budget intact

Lack of access to our state’s historical documents diminishes us. Not only writers and historians suffer, but everyone who reads, or goes to school, or needs to be informed about the world prior to us. In other words, everyone.

The Oregon Historical Society is scheduled to reopen on April 2nd with drastically curtailed hours: one to five pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But even those hours are tenuous. The state legislature wants to cut the OHS budget funding in half, from $2.4 million to $1.4 million.

If you think that funding this century-old institution is frivolous, consider, as local historian Michael Munk pointed out recently, that the City of Portland just voted to subsidize the wealthy owner of the local soccer team. Is a professional sports team more important than our historical heritage? Is this what we’ve come to?

There is still time to lobby your state legislators to maintain funding for the Oregon Historical Society. You can also sign the petition.

No more band-aids

Out for a morning walk, I saw a flyer stapled to a utility pole, offering opportunities of work to provide “Health Care for Children.” As someone who has flirted with reformist politics in the past, I was surprise at the strength of my antipathy toward that poster.

Now, I believe children should have health care. But I also believe that the elderly should have health care, and those of us inbetween. As a man in my fifties without insurance, I have empathy with anyone who is doing without. It’s a crime. Literally!

But I have come to believe that these kinds of incremental reforms are effectively scams. Oh, sure, the people who organize them are often sincere and hard-working –and clueless. They pit the old against the young, and, in the end, none of us get what we need.

For several years now I have had a similar resentment against the perennial beggars of taxes for the schools (or social services or jails or whatever.) As the rich get bigger and bigger tax breaks, the reformers demand that we continue to be enablers for this gigantic rip-off.

I say it’s time to stop this approach. The system is broke folks. Big time. It’s time to say no to anything short of fundamental and revolutionary reform.

Yes, support education and health care, but not through a system that funnels our money to criminals. In the meantime, how about free schools and free clinics? Where are all of the idealistic doctors and teachers? The system as it is does not deserve our support any longer.

The Germaine Truth an experiment in CyberFiction

In the early part of 2006, we will be officially launching The Germaine Truth, an experiment in CyberFiction, based on a fictional town in Eastern Oregon.

In the early part of 2006, we will be officially launching The Germaine Truth, an experiment in CyberFiction, based on a fictional town in Eastern Oregon. The website includes a newspaper, a chamber of commerce site, local history and genealogy pages, a chat room and bulletin board.

The heart of The Germaine Truth is a blog called Applegate Trail, written by fictional character Susie Applegate, which provides the main narrative. The serial cyber-novel is part mystery, part soap-opera, and part commentary on the rural/urban divide.

The town of Germaine, Oregon, in order to adapt to the future, has become a center for appropriate technology and organic agriculture. City folk, new agers, old hippies, and eco-activists have begun to move into Wilbur County, seeking to be part of this experiment, but this has caused a lot of tension among the pioneer descendants of Germaine, who, for the most part, are conservative, and skeptical of city people.

Germaine is set in the real-time, contemporary world, so state, national and international news is very relevant the progress of the story. There is room for a number of writers to work on this project, which is interactive in the sense that news stories in The Germaine Truth newspaper will influence the direction of the narrative. Letters to the editor, classified ads, and related web sites are also welcome if you get really into (which we hope you will).

Check out the website in progress, if you like, at The Germaine Truth. or use the link at the top of our page.

*Caution: you will need a good internet connection to view the flash presentation.