Author Archives: Jasper Henderson

Trees, Wind, Light

I made this video at Gualala Point on January 20, 2017. It was a cold and blustery day with sudden showers that soaked you through your rain gear, but we also saw a rainbow.

Cat Poem

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This poem was originally published alongside many student poems in the Mendocino Poets in the Schools
2016 County Anthology. This Spring I was teaching rhyme to a class of fourth graders when one student raised her hand and said, “Why don’t we read your cat poem?” It turns out the kids like it, which is about as high a compliment as a poem can get.

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Cat Gone Two Weeks

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by Jasper Henderson
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Cat be nimble           Cat be quick
Cat sleep on window   And then get sick
Cat be happy            Cat be sad
Cat bites ankle          Cat is mad
Cat be bored            Cat be aware
Cat hear noise           Cat get scared
Cat be fat                Cat be in love
Master’s home           Time for a rub
Cat be hungry           Cat meows
Food bowl refilled       Cat chows
Cat in the hat            Cat in a box
Cat in a fight            Sounds like a fox
Cat is tired              Cat takes a nap
Cat wins a job           The better mouse trap
Cat on a fence           Cat in a hole
Cat in hiding place      Where did cat go?
Cat has gone out        Cat is due back
Where could cat be?     Alas and alack!
Cat has gone missing    Cat just flat gone
Cat left no clue          Cat left no song
Cat was so mean        Cat did us wrong
Cat gone two weeks     Cat gone too long
Cat came back!          Just yesterday
Cat sauntered in         We said hoo-ray!
Cat is the best           Cat is my friend
Cat needs a rest         So this is the end

The Blood-Sex Iconostasis

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I’m thrilled to announce that my story “The Blood-Sex Iconostasis” was published today in Joyland San Francisco. Here are its opening lines:

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Night falls over town. The fog doesn’t recede. Sodium lights flicker to life. Some hold steady; others strobe on and off in lugubrious, neurotic cycles. The sky takes on the sickly orange glare of their light. The parking lot at Safeway empties. Cats are fed and dogs put inside for the night.

Benjamin lowers the blinds and wanders from room to room with a candle on a drip pan. Beneath a bag of tealights in a box he packed before college, he finds his compass. It still has lead in it. He reaches deeper into the dark square and feels the triangular prism of an engineer’s ruler, pinches a stiff parallelogram of eraser, pushes away the flimsy plastic cylinder of a cheap kaleidoscope. He pulls the ruler and eraser out, then finds his old clamshell phone masking-taped to its charger. He plugs the phone in and swipes his smartphone off. After almost a minute the ancient one flares on, screen glowing blue against the dark.

He sits cross-legged on his one nice rug and constructs a heptagram. (Click here to continue reading.)

Vote For Jill Stein? Six Arguments For, Deflated

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Dear Friends and Family —
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         I know that many of us are looking towards the coming election with dread. Any semblances of reason and hope seem to be missing. Our political system seems broken. And so, naturally, we look for a third option. And there is someone on the left who would happily take your vote: Green Party candidate Jill Stein. But to vote for Stein is in fact to use faulty reasoning. In essence, it means voting against your best interests. In the following essay I address — and deflate — six arguments in favor of voting for Jill Stein. I hope that you’ll read it, and I pray that you will vote with your and my best interests in mind.

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With love,
Jasper Henderson
Emeryville, California
12 September, 2016

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Argument 1: “Hillary and Donald Are The Same.”

 

  • Is this really true? The last time we heard this line was back in 2000. But think of all the things George Bush did that Al Gore almost certainly would not have:
    • Started the Iraq War.
    • Passed the PATRIOT Act.
    • Enacted vast tax cuts for the rich.
    • Allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to lapse.
    • Appointed Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court
      • which led directly to the Citizens United ruling.
    • Passed No Child Left Behind.
    • Gutted the EPA.
    • Significantly worsened climate change through inaction and environmentally hostile policy.
    • Policies led directly to the Great Recession.
  • Let’s be clear: the presidency of George W. Bush was a pretty much unmitigated disaster.
  • If Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, had not taken 2.7% of the vote on the left, it is certain that Gore would have won, and the terrible list above would not exist.
  • We know that there are upcoming similar decisions that the next president will make:
    • Filling at least one vacancy on the Supreme Court.
    • Deciding whether to fix or destroy Obamacare.
    • Commanding the military in relation to Syria, Iran, Russia, and China.
    • Setting climate change policy (staying in the Paris Agreement).
  • Can you with a straight face claim that Clinton and Trump would act identically on these issues? Their stated stances on each of the above items clearly indicate otherwise. Do you remember when this argument was made in 2000?

 

Argument 2: “I’m Not Voting For Trump.”

 

  • In a two-party or “winner-takes-all” system, as we have in the U.S.A., to abstain or to vote for a third-party candidate is a guarantee of voting against your best interest. Unlike in, say, a parliamentary system where your faction can gain seats with even a minority of votes and possibly use those seats to join a coalition, in the U.S.A. only the highest vote-getter wins any power — and they win all the power. Think: if two leftist parties split their voters 30% and 30% and the rightist candidate took the remainder of the vote (40%), the rightist would take all of the power. This is why in our system we have to form coalitions BEFORE we vote in general elections.
  • If you vote for a candidate guaranteed to lose, or you don’t vote — rather than voting for the candidate most closely aligned with your interests with a real shot at winning — then in a real sense you are voting (or abstaining) against your best interest. You are cutting off your hand to spite your foot.

 

Argument 3: “I Feel Like I’ll Never Get to Vote For Someone I Like.”

 

  • This is probably not true: most on the left both liked and voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
  • Maybe you mean, “I’ll never get to vote for a socialist.” Again, though, this is untrue: almost all Jill Stein supporters voted for Bernie Sanders in the last year.
  • This is how our system works: you vote for your very favorite candidate in the primary — and then win or lose you vote for the major-party candidate whose positions most align with your interests in the general. Work hard for your candidate in the major-party primary, and hopefully they’ll make the general!
  • Also, as a side note, you shouldn’t like Jill Stein. She is a licensed physician who nevertheless has made numerous statements suggesting that vaccines cause autism. This conspiracy theory is blatantly false and is damaging our country and our children. To pander to a fringe constituency on this issue shows a lack of character that I find disqualifying. But even if you really like Stein, voting for someone with no chance of winning the presidency is extremely foolish.

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Popular vote tally from 2000 presidential election. Bush won Florida, and the election, by 537 votes.

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Vote tallies from 1932 election in Germany, the last before Hitler became dictator. If the Socialists and Communists had banded together, they might likely have prevented the Nazis from seizing power.

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A list of current polls, showing Clinton either just behind or just ahead of Trump, with Jill Stein playing the spoiler.


Argument 4: “The System Is Broken. I Won’t Participate.”

 

  • In spirit I agree with the first part, that our system of elections and politics in general has many, many problems. However, when your car is having issues, you try to fix it — you don’t just abandon it in a pull-out or heavens to Betsy torch it.
  • The best way to fix our system is from within That’s how we ended slavery, passed the Civil Rights Act, created Social Security, ended the Vietnam War, ended Prohibition, enacted the free public education system, and got women the right to vote. None of these struggles was easy, nor was any won by not voting, or voting for doomed candidates.
  • Not participating does not qualify as action. Real action — action that can lead to change — is civil disobedience, armed insurrection, or community organizing. Pick your poison and get to work. But don’t lie to yourself that the act of voting against your best interests will in any way lead to systemic change. Much more likely the opposite.

 

Argument 5: “But the Green Party Is So Great!”

 

  • The Green Party, at the presidential level, is a once-every-four-years pageant for some misguided leftist to feel important and claim there’s zero difference between Republicans and Democrats.
  • If the Green Party is serious about building a movement and achieving real change, it should focus on local elections and build from the ground up. Its efforts in this department can be generously described as just getting going, and more honestly described as effectively nonexistent. The Green Party has only 130 elected officials in the whole country. This, out of more than 511,000 elected offices in the U.S. Do the math to figure out what percentage of offices Greens hold: .03%. If you round up. One in every 3,930 elected officials is a Green.
  • The real opportunities for change exist inside the Democratic Party. Activists are making real progress, and Bernie Sanders’s campaign went a long ways in pushing Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ platform to the left. But she has to win for any of these accomplishments to mean anything.

 

Argument 6: “But Hillary Will Win No Matter What.”

 

  • Want to wager your life on that one? Want to wager someone else’s?

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Number of votes by which Bush beat Gore in Florida: 537

Number of votes cast for Ralph Nader in Florida: 97,488

Number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq War: 4,424

Number of U.S. soldiers wounded in action in Iraq War: 31,952

Number of Iraqi civilians killed in Iraq War: between 100,000 and 650,000