Neda Kindles Fire

Neda in Life

I came to blog because of Neda, Twitter, and the constraints of 140 characters.

The Iranian election this past summer erupted into mass demonstrations, one result being the random murder of Neda, a university student in Tehran.  Outraged at this murder and failed election, I joined Twitter in late June 2009.  Information from Twitter was contemporaneous, edgy, and peremptory of newspapers and television.  My first ID was CodeLegionaire, reflective of my background and creed.  CodeLegionaire, however, was a bit misleading for I never served in the French Foreign Legion, so I changed my Twitter ID to NoRedDeer, a reference to the Greek philosopher Archilochus and Homer’s The Iliad “roe [red] deer” or coward as it was written and interpreted in those bygone days.  No Red Deer indicated a bravery, an act of defiance against the despotism and fascism erupting in Iran.  “noreddeer” is still my Twitter ID.

Twitter, however, limits users to 140 characters and I had to write more.  I started a blog under the Google format named No Red Deer.  That blog is closed and integrated with Mustang Latigo (read on).  My posts were quite specific about Iranian politics with some risk analysis entwined.

The blog No Red Deer, however, was Iranian-directed and I had more to write, more things to say about the world, my life out here in west Texas.  So, I started another blog that would not have Iranian content, but would focus on my past, my present in the Southwest.

My second blog I named The 27th Heart, so called for Unit 27 of Angus stocker calves I ran on my place.  The 27th Heart became ill and as I tried to load him into the stock trailer, he became stressed, wobbled to the corral fence, and knelt down in panic, hysteria, a kind of shutting-down.  He had become partially blind.  I am a gentle stockman, so I backed off and let him be.  I ached and grieved for him and the whole process of streamlining stocker calves to the feedlot I questioned.  I take care of my livestock in a non-violent fashion; I always have.  If I encounter a problem, say, a panicked cow or a horse that is wild-eyed and nervous, I walk away for there is another day to herd, to saddle and ride.  Coffeeonthemesa listed my blog on her site as The Gentle Stockman.  I like that brand-moniker and if my friends in the cattle and horse business disagree with my approach, then take some time and talk to me about managing cattle on foot or on horseback.  Talk to me about training horses.  There’s no screamin’ or yellin’ or usin’ Hot Shots on my place, and those that do, to paraphrase Pericles, have no business doing business on my ranch.

The 27th Heart blog site started slowly, but as I began to write for it, my interest in composing snatches of my past and present intensified.  And, as I wrote and became familiar with Google’s format I found other bloggers that shared my interest in nature, land, livestock, wildlife, and good writing about all.  (See Jerry Wilson’s blog, Observations from a Missouri River Bluff.  He no longer posts, but the archive for 2009 is worth reading.)

There’s another blog and another side to me, however, that few know.  I have a sarcastic, critical, radical blog called Mustang Latigo.  Its content revolves around the educationist jargon and cant that universities and colleges must endure.  My intent in writing Mustang Latigo is to eviscerate educationist concepts–without mercy.  Laura Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, in her inaugural address, stated that metrics measure, but she wasn’t so sure what they measured.  I agree.  If you have been out of education for a few years, I can tell you that the educational system has been hijacked by federal and legislative committees that are market-driven, business-dominated, and uniformly intent upon changing, even destroying, academic culture.  And, my critique includes bureaucracies-in-general.  To paraphrase Reinhold Niebuhr, all bureaucracy is evil, impinging the liberty of the individual.  Mustang Latigo is my Confucian side; The 27th Heart is my Lao Tsu side.

This brings me to my WordPress blog, Sage to Meadow.  Coffeeonthemesa wrote a piece on quail, using a phrase that described the quail she saw moving “from sage to the meadow.”  I liked that.  It describes plant and terrain, sage and meadow.  Sage configures for me, the purple-blossoming plant of the West, the scent after rain, and the crushing of its leaves to instruct the nostrils to attend desert heaven, the part of my life after I moved to Amarillo, Texas.  The meadow signifies my background in central Texas, the fields of paintbrush, bluebonnet that in the spring permeate the air, bringing me to heel at nature’s side.  And, so, I have the blog, Sage to Meadow, to carry The 27th Heart a little farther down the road in remembering and understanding land and people in the American Southwest.

All of my posts are composed on Sage to Meadow, but I will continue to enter a link on The 27th Heart.

Neda’s death prompted me and others to question the #iranelection, to enter Twitterverse, and start blogs of all colors and shades, black even.  That young woman, Neda, wanted to sing; she wanted to attend a protest rally against the #iranelection.  She should have sung; she should have raised her arms wrapped in green, protesting fearlessly the betrayal of the Persians.  But she could not; cut down, bled out, lifeless on asphalt in Tehran she became.  From her death, distributed on YouTube, Twitter, she launched a thousand ships bearing words that kindled fire.

And, that’s how I came to blog today.  Neda.

Neda in Death



Filed under Life Out of Balance

7 responses to “Neda Kindles Fire

  1. I admire how you have so eloquently told the genesis of your blogs. Thanks for explaining. I sometimes feel I could just burst with things to write but am never sure how much to feel comfortable putting on my (once business based) blog. Perhaps this will give me courage to do more.

    • Martie: Well, you hit it right on the head. Since I still teach full-time and this blog Sage to Meadow and The 27th is open to all, I do have a hard time reconciling my criticism of assessment (the imperious word, assessment) with what I want to write as “an ecological memoir of living with land and people in the Southwest.” So, what I’ve done is do the criticism thing with Mustang Latigo and then write this blog Lao Tsu style wise. Nonetheless, Martie, I feel fragmented, but less so now (today) than I did before I wrote the present post. Business based blogs are most important. Good ones give the consumer information that is useful about products, etc. I would like to read your other blog. Email me the address, if you care to share,at Thanks, Martie. I so look forward to your writing.

    • Martie: I have your business website. No need to send me the address. Must read more about your “Life After Retail.” Thanks, Jack.

  2. Aaah, Jack, I can’t even articulate how moved I am by this posting, by your desire to remember Neda and so, too, all the others who have lost their lives in the world’s ongoing struggle for freedom. It feels like a shift has taken place, a gentle, but certain movement, an expansion through which all of us feel the freedom to express ourselves with openness and Love. Thank you for this.

    • Teresa, I appreciate your comments, especially. There certainly is a movement and expansion. I think you are an integral part of the change. I must back read your posts. Thanks, and Happy Holidays to you. -Jack.

  3. Angie Cook

    In addition to your Confucian/Lao Tsu reference which immensely pleased this instructor of World Literature, I am especially taken with your reverence (sans obvious religious connotations) for the four-legged inhabitants of your ranch. In this land of West Texas machismo, your approach to the land and to all the inhabitants of that land chips away at the Hot-Shotting, gun-toting, can’t-speak-in-complete-sentences image of the West Texas rancher I pass everyday barreling into the Wal-Mart parking lot in his one-ton pickup spewing empty Dr. Pepper cans.

    Thank you.

    • Angie, glad I pleased the instructor in you. You have such a way with your words. I’m laughing, but then again I’m not at the picture you have conjured up for me. Oh, yes, on the Lao Tsu reference, I know there is a more recent spelling of Lao Tsu, but when I was writing the post all I had here was an old 1970s copy of the Tao Te Ching. At least out here at my place in West Texas I had a copy! I really like your piece of writing.

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