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Friday, February 12, 2016


Our economic problem is wrapped up in the fact that so much retirement money depends upon stock markets to generate returns. This goes back to the inception of 401(K) plans, and the enormous amount of money was welcomed by Wall Street.
However, this enormous amount of money also changed the face of financial markets in ways that are known and unknown.

The years of good returns are over for most people. Some older people have yet once again experienced a substantial decrease in their savings due to the random-downward-walk of Wall Street.

Yet, everything is more and more expensive, beyond the inflationary increases.
Businesses have come to expect endless growth and increase, but it cannot be sustained.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Boney Shwa Wildlife Refuge

I mean, who in their right minds chooses to have an armed stand-off with the entire Federal government at a place called

Bad Luck Wildlife Refuge


Misfortune Wildlife Refuge

or maybe 

Adversity Park

or, worse,

Protestors'  Misery?

I mean (again),  Malheur means "adversity" or "bad luck" in French, so the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is the lastest place I would have gone to on January 2, 2016 to protest.
Just saying.
I would have picked a place like Boney Shwa Wildlife Refuge, properly known as Bonne Choix Wildlife Refuge, since Bonne Choix in Quebec is used for something like "good choice!!"
(We used to go to the Bonne Choix grocery mart in St. Hippolyte, Quebec,  all the time; we'd say we're goin' to the boney shwa, and est-ce que tu désire quelq'chose? or usually you, toi, quelq'chose?)

There was a Mr. Finicum was among the protestors, and he was eventually shot dead by an officer of the law... apparently having forgotten that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws  and  the police will have guns.

I read about the stand-off since Day 1, and it seemed to me Mr. Finicum was a martyr who had found his cause and was in search of his martyrdom,  but forgive me if that is too harsh. It seemed that way to me well before he died. He was a good man and father, but he was intemperate when it came to the Bureau of the Interior's land use policies.

Now we see in the Toledo Blade
...  The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning after the FBI surrounded them and they yelled at law enforcement officers in armored vehicles to back off and prayed with supporters over an open phone line.

The tense standoff between law enforcement officers and the four occupiers played out on the Internet beginning Wednesday night via a phone line being livestreamed by an acquaintance of occupier David Fry.
Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator. “You’re going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with,” he said. “We’re innocent people camping at a public facility, and you’re going to murder us.”
“The only way we’re leaving here is dead or without charges,” Fry said, who told the FBI to “get the hell out of Oregon.” ...

"Unraveled" seems to be the right word.

I like the idea of praying over an open phone line.
What is the litany of this technology?
All the Saints of Heaven.... join us in a conference call!
All the holy martyrs...  join us in a conference call!
All the holy angels... join us in a conference call!
and so on.

You need to have been a Catholic back in the mid-20th century to know the right way to intone such a litany: Omnes Sancti, orate pro nobis! 

I hope you do not think me to be harsh. Life is harsh... and it's getting harsher.


Flint: Governor Snyder Covers Up

From the Toledo Blade:
More sunshine in Michigan
Published: Sunday, 2/7/2016
... A recent report by the Center for Public Integrity ranks Michigan dead last in government transparency. One big reason: The governor’s office and Legislature are both legally exempt from the state Freedom of Information Act. In Ohio and nearly all other states, the executive and legislative branches are subject to “sunshine” laws.

After his office was engulfed by the Flint water scandal, Governor Snyder made a show last month of releasing his emails on the crisis from 2014 and 2015 — a move reminiscent of tactics employed by a desperate President Richard Nixon to prevent disclosure of the Watergate tapes. Some of the Snyder emails were heavily redacted.

The governor did not release communications involving his executive-office point person on Flint. Nor were any emails disclosed from 2013, when crucial early decisions may have been made.

Michigan passed its open records law in 1976, in the wake of the Watergate scandal. With the tainted-water scandal a national embarrassment, the state needs a new law that makes the executive and legislative branches as transparent as possible, with exemptions only for matters of personal privacy.

Mr. Snyder took office vowing to support transparency in government — a pledge he has done nothing to fulfill. Extending the Freedom of Information Act to those who do the people’s business in Lansing would be an ideal way to start.

Mr. Snyder was a successful businessman. This is yet another of the millions of examples that success in one field does not necessarily nor often easily transfer into another field. People who support candidates, saying that they think business-like please take note.


Parasitical Pharmaceuticals 2

Martin Shkreli, CPP - Chief Predatory Parasite

I omitted part of the Logic Of The Parasite in my first post on parasite pharmaceuticals:

We already mentioned that a type-2 drug company is a parasite interested only in maintaining control of a drug and a group of hosts to sell the drug to, then the drugs of interest and under the control of the type-2 drug company will not cure a disease - at least, not quickly.

If the drugs wrought miraculous cures, the group of hosts would disappear and the type-2 drug company along with them.

Further, since the type-2 parasite drug company buys from a type-1 drug company (which type-1 company is a classical research, test, and market drug company)a drug  Rx1  intended for certain range of manifestations or aspects of a certain disease   Dx1,
it follows that since the type-2 drug company is not a research nor testing company, the probability that further drug research will occur in the near future for treating problems of the disease  Dx1  is very, very low; the original type-1 drug company is probably not going to do more research in that disease for a while, since it was getting rid of the drugs it developed already for that disease.

Hence, the group of hosts - the sufferers, if you will - are being condemned by our Economic System to (1) being subjects of predatory drug companies, and (2) being beyond the hope of near-term research into their disease.

This is not Economics.

This is Particular Genocide of the suffering.

As such, it should be outlawed.

perhaps mr. shkreli called the lawmakers "imbeciles" since they could not discern this obvious fact.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

L' Hebdomadaire or Hebdomedarius

 Which Monk Is The Hebdomedarius?

While I was in Toronto at the beginning of the year, my friend Gil and I spoke of various and sundry things. Somehow "Charlie Hebdo" came up and one thing led to another and it ended up with me saying, "Do you actually think that most people do not know that 'Hebdo" is an abbreviation for French "hebdomedaire",  which is from Latin 'hebdomedarius',  and means a weekly magazine... literally (every) seven days?!"

He bloody laughed at me.

Well, the only reason I knew it was the fact that I was familiar with the Latin "hebdomedarius":
The Hebdomedarius (otherwise termed Aquillarius Canonicus) was, as the name implies, the officiant of the week; each monk in holy orders being obliged to perform divine service in rotation.
(i.e., every 7 days)

VICAR of Catton in the diocese of Norwich
and "hebdo" itself was Greek, since the Latin for "seven" was septem and one would expect something like "septenary". (The "s" in septem in Greek became an aspirate "h", the "p" became a voiced "b" and the "t" became a voiced "d", so the sequence in Latin s-p-t is Greek h-b-d.)

So....... Charlie Hebdo means Weekly Charlie, and I learned a valuable lesson of some sort. So did he. I think he got the better lesson.


Arizona Papers

 Moment of Silence

I told the story a couple of times about the Army sergeant who was having some new recruits fill out their paperwork and asked them if anyone had Arizona papers... anyone?... anyone?
It turned out he was from the South and was actually looking for "errors" on the papers. It is a true and cute story.

However, Arizona is often not so cute.

Think Progress
Arizona State House Says All Invocations Must Mention A ‘Higher Power’
by Jack Jenkins Feb 9, 2016 1:56 pm
... “Prayer, as commonly understood and in the long-honored tradition of the Arizona House of Representatives, is a solemn request for guidance and help from God,” Arizona House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro wrote in a memo about the new unofficial rule, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. The lawmaker also said that anything that doesn’t invoke a higher power would not qualify — including moments of silence...
"Higher power"?

God is higher than I, and He is a power. That is quite the doxology.
I think the Arizona House likes crap like this because it reminds them of Alcoholics Anonymous, which famously invokes a "higher power".

That which addicts do to find help out of their addiction is not necessarily the way one should pray. For pity sake! As if invoking a "higher power" ever made a politician heed the Sermon on the Mount.

... Towns in Alaska and Alabama already grant people who do not believe in God the right to open town hall sessions with secular orisons, but those changes only came after significant pressure from nonbeliever organizations. In fact, activist groups have forced lawmakers in at least one town to eliminate the practice altogether: Phoenix, Arizona officially ended prayer before governmental gatherings on February 4 after members of the Satanic Temple, an atheist advocacy group, signed up to deliver a “Satanic” prayer before a city council meeting. The city replaced it with a moment of silence.

Now that is a step in the right direction. Cherish all those moments when politicians are silent and motionless, for else they would be compelling us to their schemes and defrauding us to pay for it!

Electrical Performers

Électrice, a stage performer with a show about electricity.
Very little available on this topic.
pic: Capt. Geoffrey Spaulding

From Fritz Lang's 1927 film,Metropolis, the Robot Maria is brought to life.


Parasitical Pharmaceuticals

Martin Shkreli

I think the magazine The New Yorker pretty much reflects the general decline of IQs in the past 57 years.  (Lt. Ripley, Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?  And Ripley was in deep space for 59 years. The answer is Yes, they did drop.)

Their article about the Drug Industry and Martin Shrkeli
Everyone Hates Martin Shkreli. Everyone Is Missing the Point
By Kelefa Sanneh February 5, 2016
... Most of our Presidential candidates claim to disdain Washington politicians, but, on Thursday, Shkreli put that disdain into practice—and helped illustrate, to anyone paying attention, why it is so richly deserved. He is candid even when candor doesn’t pay. (Can there be any doubt that Hillary Clinton, after her own recent appearance before Gowdy and some of his colleagues, would have loved to send a tweet like Shkreli’s?)
Last fall, Trump said that Shkreli “looks like a spoiled brat”; in fact, he is the son of a doorman, born to parents who emigrated from Albania. Look at him now! True, he has those indictments to worry about. But he is also a self-made celebrity, thanks to a business plan that makes it harder for us to ignore the incoherence and inefficiency of our medical industry. He rolls his eyes at members of Congress, he carries on thoughtful conversations with random Internet commenters, and, unlike most of our public figures, he may never learn the arts of pandering and grovelling.
He is the American Dream, a rude reminder of the spirit that makes this country great, or at any rate exceptional. Shkreli for President! If voters in New Hampshire are truly intent on sending a message to the Washington establishment they claim to hate, they could—and probably will—do a lot worse.
This is pretty awful nonsense.

There are two points:

(1) the Health Care system is indeed beyond control at present, and

(2) there are Type-1 Drug companies that actually research, produce, test, and market drugs, and there are Type-2 Drug companies whose plan is to buy niche drugs and raise the prices phenomenally, wasting no time and money on actual research.

This second type of drug company has a Parasitical Business Plan.
These Shrkeli-type Type-2 drug companies find a group of hosts (those suffering from a disease) and find a drug that some other Type-1 drug company developed to treat that disease. They buy the drug and raise the price, and procede to live off the group of hosts.

Notice that the drug involved ideally should not "cure" the disease.
If the disease is such that the drug cures it, then the administration of the drug will "destroy" the host community of sufferers, and that is the last thing a Type-2 drug company wants; no parasite should destroy its own hosts. If it did, it would destroy itself.

This last point is the immorality involved here with that wonderful son of Albanian immigrants: Mr. Shrkeli does not wish to cure illness;
Mr. Shrkeli wishes to prey upon the ill.
That is all the difference in the world between legitimate business and illegitimate business.

Parasitical Pharmaceutical Capitalism!
The New Yorker could not even see that. The writer was too busy spinning fantasies about immigrants making good and doing Horatio Alger riffs.


News (??) Media And A Turing Test

Barack Obama Knows Exactly What He's Doing...

Barack Obama Knows Exactly What He's Doing.... [end]

I could not find the exact - or near exact - results of the New Hampshire primary for about 15 minutes this morning.

I could easily find that Trump won and this was another kick in the pants of the Republican establishment. I could easily come across articles that ripped Senator Rubio to shreds for his robotic debate last Saturday. (Actually, if the Republican debate Saturday evening past had been a Turing test, the test subject would have classified Senator Rubio as a non-human.)

I could find reams of theory about Senator Sanders and the Democratic establishment. I could read scads of print about Hilary's crunch time. I could read about how Gloria Steinem just does not "get" modern young women.

But I could not get numerical data. I did not want to know that Trump won all alone by itself; I wanted the numbers. The best I could do was "landslide", which apparently is adequate in the surreal standard weights and measures of politics, just as "as big as a grapefruit" is used in the early stages of pregnancy... no centimeters, no grams, just a homey image and that's all ya needs ta know.

New media has been high-jacked by educated-types who think they have enough experience to make deep comments. No wonder the education system is in crisis! What good is education if all one can do is preach and tutor the dummies out there in the media audience?
What contempt for the public! Maybe this is part of the "voter protest" reflected in the primaries thus far?

Using just Republican-RI-or-AI  (real intelligence or artificial intelligence... sometimes it's hard to tell the diff), Billy Kristol spent a enormous amount of time last week extolling Senator Rubio, all with well reasoned and deep insightful writing... much like that with which he supported and yet defends the Iraq War.
Yet events put pressure on Quarterback Kristol, and he was sacked ignominiously yet again.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Man With The Golden Keyboard: Follow Up

Credit Suisse compared today's environment to the period after the Great Depression.

 pic/caption: Business Insider

Is any one of the idiots running for president even making a pretense of addressing the situation I talked about yesterday? This article is from this morning, and once more the meme of "disaster for savers" (read: retired folks) is invoked.

Business Insider
CREDIT SUISSE: Markets will be lousy for the next decade, and it is a disaster for savers
Matt Turner
Feb. 9, 2016, 11:42 AM

Here's the upshot: After an initial multiyear recovery in stock and bond prices after a crisis (the rally we saw through last year) comes a long stretch of lousy returns.

Wilmot said that would be "disastrous" for savers and posed a serious threat to the fund-management industry.

Consider this part of the "easy money has been made" meme...

Wilmot said:

This is not an attractive prospect for savers, or fund managers. Efficient diversification will not be enough to earn good returns; even very well established track records will provide a less reliable guide to future performance; and bond managers will probably have to stray far from their comfort zone to deliver even modestly positive real returns.

For savers, particularly retiring baby boomers, ultra-low yields are little short of disastrous, especially given that a 100% allocation to bonds or annuities is the default option for retirees. More generally, the prospect of a decade or more of zero real returns on "safe" bonds poses a huge structural challenge to the fund management industry. Up until now, the investor response has been to move up the risk spectrum within fixed income, by increasing exposure to riskier credit and more illiquid investments, but this approach may be nearing its limits...

The Fed is going to announce something tomorrow. If they are going to goose the market casinos, I'll get back in for a while. Otherwise, they have lost their reason to exist, and I had better get my book finished and hope somebody wants to buy it.


Why do I call it the Golden Keyboard?
As I was writing, I was smacked into a memory of The Man With The Golden Arm, the scourge of heroin addiction, the deaths due to the present day mixing of heroin and fentanyl, and I saw a very quick peek into the future of our society where we are between the panics in Needle Park and the highs of our militaristic weapon society's heroin/fentanyl wars.


Monday, February 08, 2016

New Syrian Taxes

Reading KABOBfest
Worst New Syrian Tax Ever
By Guest ⋅ December 11, 2015
We stood by and we watched him crush protests, bomb civilians and oversee his country’s demise just so he can stay in power. But now, he’s gone too far. We must put our foot down. It is time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go.

On Thursday, the long-necked leader announced a raft of new taxes, including most egregiously, a 10% levy on all kabobs and shawarma sandwiches. This threatens not only to diminish meat consumption but goes against everything we at KABOBfest stand for.

Also, a Syria expert on CNN probably speculated that this tax will drive Damascus’s Alawite and Christian communities to Islamic State, where the sanctity of meat is recognized.

The tax is just plain upsetting. “Last week I had to pay 220 Syrian pounds for my shawarma sandwich instead of 200 and the restaurant owner told me it was because there’s a new 10% ‘reconstruction tax’ that’s being imposed on each sandwich,” 50-year-old Damascus resident Tony Abu George said.

“My niece, who works in Raqqa as a sex slave, tells me there’s no such tax in the caliphate. In fact, it’s like an all-you-can-eat shawarma party!”

Mabruk al-Shawareb, a spokesman for the Assad government, said the new taxes were necessary to replenish state coffers after four years of costly war against opposition forces and extremist groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)...


Horrible (?) Hezbollah

Hezbollah soldier salutes the statue of Jesus in Saydnaya

There seem to be quite a few photos of Hezbollah people respecting Jesus and Mary.
Both are mentioned in the Qu'ran, of course.
Maybe they respect their neighbors, too. 


Continuous Transportation: Rail

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

SAFEGE Monorail 1959
Chateauneuf, south of Paris
It appeared in Truffaut's film Fahrenheit 451


Christianity In The Middle East

Saint Sebastian, Martyr, painted by Guiliano Bugiardini

Prisoner of Abu Ghraib, presented by my country and paid for in part by my tax dollars



Myth is a form of Story.

The ancient Greeks used myths to add information to the random world about them: they sensed things and their past learning and cognitions helped them process that which was new; they added the new to the structure of the old; and the stories of myths helped them structure the world physically, dynamically, religiously, and morally, for these myths were their pre-existing structures of consciousness - the scaffolds they used to carry the new marble images to the parthenon of their awareness.

There are narratives that entertain, there are narratives that inform, there are stories that amuse and stories that establish facts; there are stories with political points and there are stories about ethical issues.

There are many kinds of narrative or story; they are not all the same.

Myth is Story that is used to aid in understanding Life.


The Man With The Golden Keyboard: 1 The Hecatomb

The Sacrifice of Polyxena by the Achaeans to Ensure Fair Winds to Sail back to Hellas

A great many people - scads of them, actually - tell me at those inopportune and scarce times when they happen (1) to bump into me, and (2) engage me in conversation, and (3) talk about my ideas,  have told me that they never know when I am serious.
I understand that. I do not understand why they think seriousness is so important, but I do understand why they never know whether I am serious or flippant, because the whole thing about having a functionality - like an ability to play the piano or write a bunch of sentences - is to be able to be serious about being playful.
Like, you know, to be able to mozart the sounds and the furies into a jelly-roll-morton presentation belted out in a bessie-smith gravel voice, and to paint it with turner and constable tones, def gainsborough!


I believe that my generation, the Boomers, are the inspiration for the modern day Zombie cinema-consciousness.

After years and years of whining about Social Security and safety nets and an equal number of years of doing the absolute minimum to amend such problems as do exist, our country will knowingly or unknowingly institute policies designed to kill off the Boomers.

The malaise that is afflicting the stock markets and economy, the phenomenon of dismally low interest rates has destroyed any chance of a good life for savers and those on fixed incomes. This situation will not change any time soon.
In fact, it will probably not change for 20 years or more.

Nature is making plans: wealth is being concentrated within a small percentage of the population, those who have the best chance of survival. The rest of society will be winnowed brutally,a dn the chaff will be blown by the winds of history.
There are numerous interludes in history that are similar: enormous suffering and vast dislocations, but after a time, things get back to a status of not-too-bad and the tears of those who wept exist only in those photos taken by progressive, socially-conscious photographers.
The Boomers faces will be all Appalachian mothers and coal miners glances and Dust Bowl kids running for shelter.............

There are so many of us Boomers... a horde preying on the welfare of the younger wage earners.
And the metaphor is apt, for the Days of Growth and Roses are gone.
The blood-suckers will be put out on an ice-floe, or they will be sequestered and budgeted into their heavenly rewards.
And when the time is right and the population has righted itself, there will be growth again up from the depths, and we shall forget the bad times past, just like the Leave It To Beaver years forgot the Depression.

When I saw the film Fahrenheit 451, I intuited immediately that I and a lot of my generation would end their days in exile, reciting old knowledge, memorizing books, far from the urban ovens of the coming Hecatomb - that extensive loss of life sacrificed.

And we shall see again that the only way this society communes with the Powers is through the willful sacrifice of conscious beings, whether bulls and oxen or human beings. Consciousness is like the strings of a lyre and it is music to the ears of bloody gods.


the process may be viewed at
The Guardian
Financial despair, addiction and the rise of suicide in white America
Kevin Lowney lies awake some nights wondering if he should kill himself.

“I am in such pain every night, suicide has on a regular basis crossed my mind just simply to ease the pain. If I did not have responsibilities, especially for my youngest daughter who has problems,” he said.

The 56-year-old former salesman’s struggle with chronic pain is bound up with an array of other issues – medical debts, impoverishment and the prospect of a bleak retirement – contributing to growing numbers of suicides in the US and helping drive a sharp and unusual increase in the mortality rate for middle-aged white Americans in recent years alongside premature deaths from alcohol and drugs...

 An important point is that this article deals with White Americans.
This merely means that we have already worked out how we are going to deal with non-White Americans. Now we want to look at how to kill the white ones.

Another important point is that this article about Boomers and some younger than Boomers.
I don't think those in power care about whom they kill with "friendly fire"... God will sort them out.


The Future Of Cellulose

A robo-Tradescantia-Zebrina drawing water from the Dead Sea.
It appears to be on the west bank...


Cosmetics News!

The Cosmetic News

While in Carson's yesterday, I had a chance to look at the new Sylvia Plath ™ line of cosmetics they have just launched along with intense media coverage.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Portfolio Theory Is Dead

I was talking with my banker Friday. Among the items of converse, I mentioned that I thought that there was a disconnect between the real economy and the stock market; equities were no longer valued properly according to expected returns and future values, etc.

He agreed.

So, by agreeing with my observation, good or poor, the implication is that there is an extremely good chance that classical portfolio theory is invalid at the present time, in as much as the risk associated with stock owning is risk far in excess of what one might expect of the normal business cycle.
Portfolio Theory was not formulated under the hypothesis of the present disconnect between stock markets and asset valuation.

My banker has not thought that far.



Pryaniki: Russian gingerbread or spice cookies.
Mix the sugar, eggs, soda, cinnamon, honey...
cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, anise...

Pinkhus Karlinskii, Supervisor of Chernigov Floodgate

pic:  Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii
Library of Congress


Big Thumbs Up, Gun Dudes !
An 11-year-old Tennessee boy will spend the rest of his childhood in jail after a judge found him guilty of murdering an 8-year-old girl during an argument over the girl’s puppy.

Benjamin Tiller was found guilty Monday of first degree murder for the October death of McKayla Dyer.

Police said the boy used his father’s shotgun to kill his neighbor after the girl refused to let him play with her new puppy, a local ABC affiliate reported...

I read this story first in ParisMatch, which account ends with
L’arme appartenait au père du petit garçon. Elle avait été acquise de façon légale.
The weapon belonged to the father of the young boy. It had been legally acquired.

 McKayla Dyer, 8 years old; an acceptable statistic in our society
A federal appeals court challenged the legality of Maryland’s assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban on Thursday, saying the law infringes on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, ordered the original district judge to use stricter constitutional standards in reconsidering an earlier decision that upheld the ban.

“In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment,” Chief Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote in the majority opinion. He added that the law “significantly burdens the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home.”

SEE ALSO: D.C. gun law casts pall over Md. resident five years after plea deal

Maryland’s ban was enacted in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. It prohibits the sale or ownership of 45 types of military-style rifles, and of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Proponents of the law, including Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, said most mass violence incidents have involved military-style weaponry and high-capacity magazines, and such weapons are not necessary for self-defense...

I believe that were I a judge, I would interpret the Right to Bear Arms to extend to atomic weapons and beyond. Then a foolish society would find its peril quickly, instead of letting itself die slowly.


The Hegelian Phenomenology of "Hail, Caesar!"

Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix in Hail, Caesar

I saw the Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar! Friday evening. It is about the studio production of a film called Hail, Caesar!: A Tale of the Christ. Since then, I have read 6 reviews of it: the New Yorker's, the New York Times, the LA Times, and three more sundry reviews. They all seem to say nice job, well done, and spend a lot of time recounting the story. Some take a tentative stab at some heavy interpretative stuff. There was some gab about riffs on previous cinema, as if riffs were somehow profound. Maybe they are.

It seems to come down to the fact that everyone thinks that the Coen Brothers are criticizing the studio system.
Since there is no more studio system, this seems like an unlikely horse to flog with such an array of talent. Perhaps there is something else in this film.

I don't do recounting of story. If you have not seen the film, you will be totally at sea for what I am writing. Go see the film first. Or refer to:

Eddie Mannix is a fixer; when the foibles and weaknesses of mankind show up in the stars of the screen and threaten the fairytale universe the studio has spent millions creating, it is up to Eddie Mannix to straighten things out and get everything back on the right track.

Mannix is not just a fixer; he is The Fixer.
He is not The Fixer in the sense of Bernard Malamud, but in the sense of a possible character of Isaac Bashevis Singer who would have rode into the town of Goray after the upheaval caused by Sabbatai Tsevi, the phoney Messiah, and returned that world to normality.
He is a Fixer with a capital "F" and a m'shikh (messiah) with a small "m".

Is this far-fetched? I don't think so. When we meet Mannix, he is going to Confession, like any good Catholic circa-1951 (we know the year because we see some rushes from a film in production with the Roman numerals displayed). It has been 24 hours since his last confession. When we take leave of Mannix at the end of the film, he is going to Confession again, and 27 hours on his watch have passed.
He tells the priest this, who tells Mannix maybe this is too much confession.
Mannix even keeps the Holy on schedule. It's 27 hours, God; no more, no less. Take a memo.

The film looks at the extremes of Communism and Capitalism, as personified by the Communist writers' cell and Capitol Picture Studio. When George Clooney's character Baird Whitlock returns from being kidnapped by a Communist writers' club (!), he tells Mannix that the Commies have all the answers to history and economics and the future in a book they call "capital with a 'K' ", referring to Marx's Das Kapital.

The extremes are ridiculous.
Extreme capitalism is personified in the head-hunter from Lockheed, who says that Mannix's work is foolishness and Lockheed does the real work of the world, as he takes out a photo of the H-Bomb exploding at Bikini Atoll. He wants Mannix for Lockheed.
The real work of the world is death?
This is 1951, and by the time Mannix's children are grown up, the USA will be dropping the products of capitalism - bombs, Agent Orange, etc. - on Vietnamese whether Communist or not.

And the Communists are ridiculous.
As the antithesis of Capitalists, they cannot even keep their ill-gotten gains, the $100,000 dollar ransom for George Clooney's character, Baird Whitlock, whom they had abducted. They are poseurs of History and not its agents.

Organized religion?
In the scene where Mannix runs the Christian and religious issues of the film Hail, Caesar!: A Tale of the Christ by a priest, a rabbi, an Orthodox priest, and a Protestant minister is precious in its depiction of the inane discord between the four representatives of organized religion and the befuddlement of Mannix, who sits between the four men, a middleman who finds it hard to understand those whom he must deal with.
This is the strangeness of the one middleman - morally obsessive - between the clueless and religious, whose morality seems to resemble sound bites more than scripture.

Here we see that Eddie Mannix is akin to a Hegelian synthesis that comes into being in the field of the antagonism of the Thesis and the Antithesis, which in this movie are the extremes; he exists as something between and more than Capitalism and Communism, more than Art and the Workaday world, more than Holy Religion and Dismal Indifference.

In the end, Mannix's true devotion is to his job of allowing the world of the studio to continue in existence. Mannix is like one of those inherently devote souls without whose prayers and labors the world would cease to exist.
He does not have exquisite control. We see him talking to his wife on the telephone, and they are discussing a seeming problem their son is having playing baseball. Mannix says he will call the coach of the team and try to fix the situation.
Soon after, in the only scene at home, Mannix is eating a late, warmed-up dinner before returning to his office, and his wife tells him that their son played another baseball game, and that he was still at short-stop position, and everything went very well.
Mannix mentions he forgot to call the coach. Things worked out. Mannix didn't helicopter into the baseball diamond and talk to the coach. Things worked out, as they were allowed to.
(Since we only see a little over a day of Mannix's life, we really do not know his family life very well, although we may assume what we see is typical. One of the reasons brought forward to join Lockheed is time with the family; imagine that: family time and H-bombs.)

With Mannix, things will work out, no matter how wretched the human material he has to work with. Mannix will allow the flotsam and jetsam of the universe which is the world according to the Studio to be the very best it can be, for they are all a part of a communal effort to create a film which hopefully will reap benefits for everyone involved, the capitalists, the laborers, and the consumers.

And there's a point: to benefit all involved.
There are inequities, as the writers demonstrate, but Mannix inhabits a world devoid of politics. Politics is the Art of those who Compel and Persuade and Enforce for imaginary ideologies and forces of History and the true words of God... and that is not the world of the studio.
The world of the studio is the real jimmy-rigged world of souls.
A Sullivan's Travels of detail after detail.

He can cajole. After roughing up an almost-Communist Baird Whitlock, he tells him to get back to the set, and he tells him to be the greatest star he can be.
He can threaten. He explains exactly why a gossip columnist should not run a story embarassing to Whitlock and the studio, since the source was a Communist agent, and if that bit of information got back to the media - and there is no doubt Mannix would see to it that it did so - the gossip columnist would at best look like a Commie stooge.

Finally, the title itself is thought provoking.
The most common use of "Hail, Caesar!" that comes to mind is

Ave, Caesar! Morituri Te Salutant!

Hail, Caesar! They who are about to die salute you!

If you do a search, that will be the first response, as recorded by Suetonius in De Vita Caesarum, wherein Suetonius has the emperor Claudius respond

Aut non...

Or not...

They who are about to die... or not...
I think the Coen Brothers are using the studio system to portray a Practical Kingdom of the world where we may at least live and work together. They are not criticizing the old studio system; that has been done and they could add nothing to that futile exercise.
But our future, that is not yet done, and they are despairing of the idiot extremes.


Baby Names: Marie Pacifique?

Everyone is still working on baby names as February 15th approaches.
This will be our first grandchild. I have called her Zoe, which seems appropriate, as Zoe means "life".

I have been preoccupied. My mind turns only on the potential futures. Terrifically we are immersed in out thoughts, and we ignore the puppet shows of presidential candidates.
(We suspicion they will all implement policies which shall "ice-floe" the elderly anyway, won't they?)

The weather forecast for our drive to Maryland has improved since February 3rd, at which time the GFS models forecast either 1.5 inches rain or 15 inches snow in Maryland. The snow would have been spread out over a number of days, making it more manageable than the previous 31 inches of snow spread out over 36 hours two weeks past, which pretty much was it for the eastern seaboard below the Mason-Dixon line. Schools were out for a week, and municipalities were asking for volunteers to help shovel out bus stops which were piled high with snow.

Back then we all were thinking snow, snow, snow, ... and pregnant ladies traveling to hospitals along roadways covered by 31 inches of snow...
We all were so focused that I think we may be able to handle 15 to 20 inches with aplomb.
It occupied a good portion of the mind. My mother said that she expected to look out the window and sees snow everywhere. She did not see any, because we live up north of Maryland, where there is no snow really, and today the temperature is supposed to reach 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and my seasonal allergies are continuously in some vast legislative tumult about the scope of their powers: the sinuses claim outrage that the bronchial passages are overextending their grasp, while the chthonic powers afflict me with an unexpected satyriasis, and the tinnitus of autumnal hay fevers flows into winter and laughs a metallic chuckle.

I looked for snow every day, also, and there was none. I informed the powers that be that I would accept the 31 inches and shovel out the drives of all the infirm and elderly within a 2 mile radius if they would transfer the powder up our way and keep it away from our daughter.
Until we moved in 2003 I used to shovel out our house, our immediate neighbor's house, and the house of the old lady across the street. I don't think we ever got 31 inches snow, however. We would not have had places to store it.

I hope the baby's name is Mary-something-something. Mary is a fine name. It is powerful and focused. One never goes wrong with a patroness such as Holy Mary.
My wife had an aunt by marriage whose name was Marie Pacifique, whom all the Irish relatives called Aunt Pacifica.
I was thinking along the lines of Mary Pacifica until it dawned on me that all the kids at elementary school would be goofing around, saying

Mary Pacifica! Mare Pacifica!

making a joking pun on the Latin for "Pacific Ocean" :  mare pacifica ,
and what is worse than hazing in Latin? (In my imagination, I already have the child going to a rather snooty school.)

The kids always used to make fun of one of She-who-must-be-obeyed's paternal nephews by changing his name from

Meyer Hans Joachim

into a teasing chant of

Meyer Hansy Waffles!

One must be careful with names.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Automobiles Of The 2016 Blizzard

From L'Obs  (or L'Observateur):

Automobiles in Washington



Snow-fies From Maryland

photos from the big storm:


Friday, January 22, 2016

One Thing To Remember... Tar Candies

Tar Candies Growing from the Asphalt

Information is everywhere and easily available.

Being intelligent beings, we take a great deal of pleasure in processing information, generating belief systems, and generally establishing credos of common sense and how-the-world works.

That's why the cable TV 24-hour/7-days-a-week and the Internet are like colorful, appealing, sweet jujubes made of tar and turpentine: they make us bite, we find they are not quite what they promised to be, and we have the mess stuck in our teeth forever.

Back before 2008, I was all gloom and doom. Very few others were.

Now everyone is gloom and doom, except the people like bank presidents who are interviewed on (1) cable TV, and (2) on the Internet.

Every attitude acts like tar candies, and it is a struggle to find what's really going on. Just as we should not have believed those who in 2008 said the DOW would hit 50,000 - and that right soon - so should we not hearken to those who say the sky is falling now.

Look at the herd mentality that we exhibit.
I mean, is this the species that we really want to have unlimited access to automatic weapons?


The "tar candy" was based on the notion of "tar baby", and that concept has become murky as it has been used sometimes in what might be considered racist form over the years.

I wanted to use "tar truffles", but it was too, too, reminiscent of Tartuffe, and I would constantly be wondering why Moliere was popping into my head.... as he seems to be right now.

Peak Creative Destruction

Joseph Schumpeter

In the world today, creation is destruction and destruction is creation.
This has been brought about by philosophers and economists and scientists, and has been handed down to the rest of us.

Markets no longer act like they did in 1955; markets are active growth/destroy machines now, wherein speculation - which used to provide a chaos in the movement of money smallish in comparison to the rest of the market - now dominates the marketspace.
This is reflected in the present day, where markets giddily swayed and zoomed up and down even before corporate earnings were presented...
corporate earnings are a smaller component of market movements.

Schumpeter stated that capitalism was a process of Creative Destruction, which was used to study innovation in the economy: steam locomotive manufacturing companies are destroyed and diesel engines made by GM take over.

However, the notion was derived from Marx's critique, and Marx wrote:
... And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented...

We have reached Peak Creative Destruction almost, and that is when creation and destruction merge into the Future Nausea we have created.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Et... Après La Tempête

And... after the storm...

One of the victims of the Al Qa'ida North Africa attack in Burkina Faso:

Leila Alaoui, photographer

At this time, we may wish to remember that it was our government that funded Al Qa'ida when it was just a fledgling terror wannabe.

Tempête du Désert

... or, Desert Storm.

Twenty-five years ago on January 18, 1991.

I was reading L'Obs a couple of days ago and they remembered the day with all the pomp and circumstance that was due it, being the beginning of the design of the shape of things to come.
I remember sitting comfortably, watching TV, watching smart bombs fall down air ducts, stop, retrace their steps, take a left turn, and find a nest in the HVAC unit of the bunker of Tariq Aziz, born Mikhail Yuhanna, Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister and member of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

He was not in the bunker, but if he had been, he could have been the first Christian killed in the Middle East in our ongoing wars. As it turned out, he was in jail indefinitely until June, 2015, when he escaped by cardiac infarction.

If you recall, the paths of missiles bombing Baghdad looked like a premonitory trailer for Independence Day fights against alien motherships.

It marked the beginning of that battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East that we are still engaging in today.

pix: L'Obs

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I am listening to Takashi Shimura singing Gondola Na Uta and I cannot escape!


Oh, Happy Day!

Montag, As He Wishes He Could Be!

I have been reading my blog.

It is such wonderful nonsense!

It is not nonsense, nor is it sense! I feel such love for you all.