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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Miracles And Mulligans

I have been at my mother's place for my own private Easter Week and Stations of the Cross. I escaped at the beginning of Tre Ore services and made it back home. When I got home, I switched both computers on and basked in their glow, one rich and red like Gamma Crucis, the other mercurial silver like NGC 253, and the words pour forth.

After one hour, my mother called to inform me that my brother, who had just recently lost his wallet in an indiscretion and whose medical, insurance, and ID cards had been lost, had misplaced the new wallet I had bought him... filled with all the newly replaced medical, insurance, and ID cards I had newly procured for him.

I had been at my mother's since Wednesday, and we had been pouring over her papers and documents for two days straight, only stopping to go grocery shopping and to go to the post office to get letters in the mail before the 5:00 PM pick up.

They task me, this family of mine.

And I am quick to anger.

This is not a trial, this is not an affliction. It is a Mulligan. A Do-Over.

My first life was not perfect. In many respects it was OK, but in many important ones, it was and is severely flawed.
So I must engage with life and its problems, not flee from them as I so often did first time around.

Only by engaging intimately with Life in its important aspects can anyone be afforded the chance to experience things of the greatest value.
Many of us have done well in our lives, and we withdraw behind gated communities, and we shut ourselves away from the full array of life. In doing so, we ensure that certain bad things are excluded, but also we ensure that certain beneficial possibilities are also excluded. Whether the bad outweigh the good won't be known until a final reckoning.

This is what Kazantzakis wrote about in Zorba The Greek.
A life of dynamic engagement, not one of distance and flight and remoteness.

So I figure my second life is a Mulligan.
Or at least I get to bring my golf ball out of the rough and place it on the edge of the fairway, and no penalty strokes.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Favorite Films

My favorites are:

(1) La Grande Bellezza,

(2) 8 1/2   (Eight and a Half)

(3) Dark City

I dance....,  and shine....,   




At my advanced age.... Benny Goodman had passed on to his great Swing Band reward sixteen years ago or more before my present AGE...

God is giving me a mulligan.

I am doing  life over !

Personally, I think that is better far than walking over a bed of hot coals... or any other nonsense we tend to think important..

Lord, did I not see my friends on the week-end, and did they not overwhelm me with their attar of humanity!!!

I love you all, and it is the scent of mankind that drive me mad !!



Coriander makes me happy.



Some people were surprised that I had scraps of poetry named "Ade Ileke".

So, hmmmm....  I am not going to explain everything, but "Ade" is the husband of my daughter,

Ade means "King" in Yoruba and maybe Nigerian slang .  (I do not know, Rra! --- and that is Botswana talk!)

Ade calls me Mr. M_____.

I have not told him to call me by my first name, even though he has been married to my daughter for 4 years. If I have to call him "King", then he may very well call me "Mister".


Sure As Shine

Spheres, Layers, Levels, and What-Not of Dante

The ascent through Paradise will be about learning to see the brightness of God shining through all reality.

From The American Conservative:

How Dante Saved My Life
A midlife crisis is cured by The Divine Comedy

Please notice how the word "shining" is used.
I use the word "shining" instead of "prayer", "meditation", and "visionary experience" usually.

Ever cool.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Republican Ping Seekers

"Where is that blasted ObamaCare black box?"


Political Cartoons

Bashar Al Assad

by Alishahi

Mr. Alishahi does not catch the interesting characteristic of the Legolas ears:


Friday, April 11, 2014

As Passover Approaches

 Minnie's Four Sons

Just a Thought: On the Four Sons
By Aharon E. Wexler
04/10/2014 12:17
After Elijah, the most famous guests to grace the Passover Seder are the Four Sons. We are told that one is Wise, one is Wicked, one is Simple, and one Doesn’t Even Know to Ask.

I am not talking about a wishy-washy “kumbaya” moment. No one needs to yield their deeply held beliefs. An Orthodox Jew and a Reform Jew are still going to disagree fundamentally about the nature of God and mitzvot (and this is a good thing). I am a believer in competition. Competition not only improves the selling of the product, but enhances the consumer experience...

I really never liked using economic metaphors - such as "competition" - for religious phenomena. The word "competition" here is used more like a word in a commercial advertisement.
Furthermore, I would think it would be obvious that Competition in Religion, particularly between different strains of the same Religion, have notoriously been nurseries for Discords and Conflicts of a mortal nature. We had our own era of religious wars, and these blood-lettings still continue.

May the Lord deliver us from similar states of mental exhaustion, as is evinced in this article!


I wonder if this writer is related to old Sam Wexler?


Карти з України

Letters From The Ukraine

Putin warns Europe about Ukraine gas debt
Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) — Dragging much of Europe into his fight with Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged European leaders Thursday to quickly help Ukraine settle its gas debt to Russia to prevent an imminent shutdown of Russian natural gas supplies to the continent.

Putin's letter to 18 leaders, released Thursday by the Kremlin, is part of Russia's efforts to retain control over its struggling neighbor, which is teetering on the verge of financial ruin and is facing a pro-Russian separatist mutiny in the east.

A large Russian military buildup alongside the Ukrainian border has also raised fears that the Kremlin could use the tensions in eastern Ukraine as a pretext to invade, following Moscow's annexation of Crimea last month...

I have said many nice things about Mr. Putin, even though I have never met him.

That may have to stop.

I do not see Mr. Putin's threat as credible, and if it is not credible to me, it is hardly credible to anyone that matters in this affair.
Exactly how a nation that is essentially a petro-giant can make a living by shutting off the flow of hydrocarbons is beyond my understanding. I am young enough to remember the fuel embargoes of the past, and they led directly to conservation measure which drove down the price of fuel in the 1980s. (Of course, we soon forgot history and started driving SUVs that got 14 miles to the gallon, but my point is still valid.)

This bit of business tells me things I wish were not true about Mr. Putin, but there they are.


Affordable Health Care ! / ?

The Original Building Of The 9th Street Ministeries Clinic

From The Angry Bear

Polk County Arkansas 9th Street Ministries Medical Mission Clinic is Closing

April 10, 2014 10:36 pm
Polk County, Arkansas 9th Street Ministries will be closing its medical clinic mission April 24, 2014. It has been in place since 1998 offering free medical services to those who did not have Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance. The reason for its closure has nothing to do with finances or lack of support although I imagine it was difficult during the Great Recession to raise funding.

“‘Because people are qualifying for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, our free medical clinic will not be needed anymore,’ Stacey Bowser RN, 9th Street Ministries Clinic Director, stated.

‘We’ve gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won’t be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission.’”
300 hundred people is a lot of people to see in one day of the month. It is so many that I doubted the veracity of the article at first.

However, the clinic required a large pool of health care professionals to supply their needs to take care of 300 people in one day. Not all the professionals are available each month. And the health care people themselves may be ill, or may be on vacation, or may be on jury duty, etc.

So this clinic was a big deal, I think. It probably needed a pool of 20 available doctors, 40 nurses, and 80 assistants to draw from to be able to be at the clinic on "crush" day.

It was an enterprise we should be grateful that the folks in Polk County ran. It was a lot of work, and they are glad that it is no longer needed. I would think the people who visited the clinic are also happy about this outcome.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Equal Opportunity Weapon Society

School Daze
They prepared for guns but faced knives instead.

In the era of Newtown and Virginia Tech and Columbine, danger and bloodshed came Wednesday to Franklin Regional High School not at the end of a barrel but rather at the points of two flashing blades.

Just after dawn, police said, sophomore Alex Hribal went on a rampage through a wing of the Murrysville school in a scene straight from a horror movie, slashing and stabbing 21 students and a security guard with two 8-inch knives. The swift and apparently random attack ended only when an administrator tackled the boy. Within five minutes, a high school hallway was transformed into a bloody crime scene; sleepy students waiting for first period suddenly became victims of violence; and a slender, dark-haired 16-year-old from Murrysville described as quiet and studious, and looking younger than his years, emerged as the latest face of the national epidemic of school violence...

They prepared for guns, but they got knives instead. Next time it may be Molotov cocktails as the evolution of our Weapon Society continues. 

This is what I finally caught onto after the Newtown massacre:  this is a weaponized society, and we must build our lives around the core tenet of possessing weapons.

Notice an administrator tackled the boy.
If everyone had been packing heat, the administrator would have shot him. However, the administrator did not have a knife and the requisite knife fighting skills, and he may not have had a gun, either. So he tackled him. He would not have tackled a guy with an M-16, I think. or a Glock.

This surprises us, because much of our understanding of our society is dreams of the Old West: scenarios spun out at length we have seen over the years.

No one uses knives except old "Snake Eyes" Ike Dalton, and other villains... like Blue Duck.

Are these statistics acceptable to us as a society, even though they are knife fatalities instead of gun ones? If they had been gun deaths, we would have shrugged, said some prayers, and gone our merry ways.

A Thumbs Up For Equal Rights and Opportunity Weapon Society!

Knives Are OK !


Get Acquainted With Distributism

Advertisement For Nankin Mills, A Ford Village Industry

There is more to the world than Capitalism and Socialism.
What vicious lack of ingenuity leads most of us dull and laggard thinkers to conceive of the vasty universe as subject to a mere 2 economic realms?

The American Conservative:
... Hilaire Belloc [and]... G.K. Chesterton, couldn’t have agreed more, and they both directed much of their energies into disparaging what they deemed to be the “Servile State,” an economic system whereby an unfree majority of nonowners work for the pleasure of a free minority of owners.

Belloc and Chesterton were supporters of distributism. Distributism is not a form of socialism or communism. Rather, it envisions an economy with the widest use of private productive property. Distributism is best viewed as a humane microcapitalism. While the American version of it is found in Jefferson’s agrarian society, the Russian version of it is found in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “democracy of small places.” Belloc and Chesterton were not opposed to capitalism per se, but they saw unrestrained capitalism to tend toward state-sustained monopolies. When Chesterton quipped, “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists,” he had in mind a robust economy of small businesses and family farms.

The pastoral ideal of village and farm runs through the writings of many prominent Catholic literary figures. What does one think J.R.R. Tolkien was up to when he gave us those ecoguardians of the forest, the Ents, in his Lord of the Rings trilogy? The smokestack, assembly line, and A-Bomb nauseated Tolkien. What was the Ring itself but greed and power and audacity all rolled up into one formidable symbol? The only industrial power in Middle Earth is Mordor, that vast wasteland, where “nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness." ... 
... Middle Earth fans may not recognize it, but Tolkien was providing a critique of modernity...

The article is by 
Arthur W. Hunt III is associate professor of communications at The University of Tennessee at Martin. His new book is Surviving Technopolis: Essays on Finding Balance in Our New Man-made Environments.

I believe this was also a part of the impetus behind Henry Ford's attempts at dispersed and small Village Industries that relied upon water power, and of which only a few examples still exist around Michigan.

St Pete Films: бок о бок

A poster for the sixth annual St. Petersburg LGBT film festival from last September.
бок о бок  means  "side by side".


Money As Speech

Money is not Speech, and free money is not free speech.

If there is free speech, and the Supreme Court sees speech as equivalent to money, there should be free money, too, somewhere. But there is no such thing. One might say that there is a right to make as much money as possible, but that is not the same thing as the exercise of "free money".... whatever that might be.

The idea behind the free exercise of speech was that all people have equal rights to speak in all public forums. But when one person has millions and another has not, then the voice of the one with less money is drowned out.

The forum of speech used to be the forum, the town square, the assembly, wherein all people could give voice to their ideas.
However, the forum now is the intrusive cable TV, which by its very nature is commercial and profit driven and requires money. This commercial nature of the public forum is vastly different from the open and free town square.


Hitler's Justice

As luck would have it, as the hand of fate or fortune aligns events, I have finished reading Hitler's Justice by Ingo Muller. The book describes how the German judiciary system paved the way for the rise to power of the Nazi party, and then abetted them in their terrible program.

Then, by the chance alluded to above, I have read a post in The Bell from February 26, 2014:
Back [in 1972]..., the Supreme Court under Warren Burger started scaling back the burden on police to obtain search warrants in the war on drugs to show it was tough on crime.

Here’s the troublesome, if pretty straight forward, Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Court began by allowing cops to search cars in traffic stops. No expectation of privacy in your car, you see, not like your house or body. The holdings didn’t make any more sense then.

The Conservative Ascendency’s assault on the Fourth Amendment has continued unabated. Adam Liptak reported today in the New York Times:
The case about searches followed a confrontation at the Los Angeles home of Walter Fernandez, who was suspected of a role in a robbery. “You don’t have any right to come in here,” he told police officers. “I know my rights.”

Under a 2006 decision, Georgia v. Randolph, that objection was enough to bar a search of his home without a warrant even if another occupant consented, at least so long as Mr. Fernandez remained present.

The police arrested Mr. Fernandez on seeing that he had apparently beaten his domestic partner, Roxanne Rojas, who was also there. An hour later, with Mr. Fernandez at a police station, the police returned, and Ms. Rojas let them in. They found weapons and evidence linking Mr. Fernandez to the robbery.

He was convicted on robbery, gun and domestic abuse charges after the trial judge refused to suppress the evidence collected at his home, and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The question for the justices was whether the police should have obtained a warrant in light of Mr. Fernandez’s objection. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said no.

The general rule, he said, is that any occupant’s consent is sufficient. The 2006 decision, he added, was limited to objections from people who were physically present. Expanding that exception after the objecting occupants were gone, even at the hands of the police themselves, he wrote, “would raise a plethora of problems.”

Among them, Justice Alito wrote, was how long the objection had to be respected. “A week?” he asked. “A month? A year? Ten years?”
Now Justice Alito is widely regarded as so much smarter than you and I that it must be disrespectful to respond, ‘Long enough to get to the squad car and call an assistant district attorney who then can get a warrant authorized by a duty judge. So, maybe a couple of hours.’

I have a genuinely disrespectful response that more befits Justice Alito’s question:

‘There’s no “plethora of problems” here. In fact, there’s none. Your question assumes, in a situation where neither hot pursuit nor the imminent destruction of evidence exists, a limit on how long an officer denied entry need wait under the Fourth Amendment before searching the house without a warrant. Even for one who’s not an Originalist, it’s hard to read it that way.’

The Times continues:

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, wrote that “the police could readily have obtained a warrant to search the shared residence.”

“Instead of adhering to the warrant requirement, today’s decision tells the police they may dodge it, never mind ample time to secure the approval of a neutral magistrate,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.

Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission momentarily illuminated for all the restructuring of American civil society begun by Richard Nixon and his appointees to the Court. In the hundreds of obscure cases, like Fernandez v. California, we see the details of our new relationship with power.

As I’ve said before, read Ingo Müller’s Hitler’s Justice (Harvard Univ. Press, 1991) on how the German judiciary paved the way for Hitler and then abetted his worst.

I do not mean to imply any anti-Semitic or any other racial antipathies on the part of anyone. We speak only of undermining the rights of free peoples. I am sorry if the parallel to pre-Nazi Germany offends, but sometimes only a Hitler can suffice.

The Judicial Activism of the three above surpasses anything in the past. Mr. Thomas in a recent opinion on campaign finance went so far as to solicit future cases, indicating how he would vote!


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Noah Who?

 The Space Gun In William Cameron Menzies' Things To Come

I intend to see the film Noah.
She-who-must-be-obeyed will not; she objects to Russell Crowe.

I cannot let that keep me away. I must see the Bible film that the so-called conservatives dislike.  I mean, I heard one clip of someone complaining that Noah gets drunk in one sequence. The speaker apparently never read Genesis in its entirety. I suppose the same guy complains about Adam's and Eve's evening wear back in their innocent days.

Most people that one sees on Cable TV are borderline illiterate. They are opinionated without being informed.
They also say things like "going forward".

"Going forward." What the heck is that?
It sounds like a crude attempt to speak in the future tense with more emphasis than is given by difficult and obscure verbs like "will" and "shall", or convoluted expressions like "are going to"... or even "are fixing to".

I mean, if I wanted a new and expressive way to talk in the future tense, I'd call up Steve Harvey on his morning show, or I'd send a telegram to Cedric the Entertainer, or buzz Tyler Perry. They would give me something with a little meat to it.
"Going forward"?
That expression, "going forward", sort of sums up everything that is dull, insipid, and uninspired about the way business people speak about things. I cringe when I hear it, because it is some dullard imitating another dullard, who themself is imitating some other previous dullard, and so on in an infinite regression of dark and dull mirrors.

Going forward, I put my mind to it and try to come up with an alternative......
I'll try "the shape of things to come."
Such as, "It is the shape of things to come that I will spend more time fixing my typing errors."

Not too awful.

In fact, watching the trailers for Noah, some of the crowd scenes featuring the flood witnesses of the unlucky persuasion (they will drown soon, according to the story), the near riots of those unlucky ones whom Noah leaves behind remind me of the film Things To Come.
It featured a spaceship - instead of an Ark - which would transport some lucky humans to safety, and the unlucky were getting their collective noses out of joint.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Congress As A Commodity Exchange

Buy! I Need 4 Senators against Voting Rights!

Mr. Clarence Thomas noted that he wished to remove all limits on political contributions in his opinion on McCutcheon vs FEC.

The 1976 decision in Buckey vs Valeo was the first to equate speech with money.
I consider it a gross fallacy.
Money is not speech, and it never will be.

The men who form the conservative wing of the Supreme Court are the Originators of a new era in political corruption, which will adversely affect us all, as our elected representatives will become Commodities and the Senate and House mere Exchanges where men and women are bought and sold.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Late Great Fort Hood

What will we do if next year there is yet a third shooting at Fort Hood? What if there is a fourth?

At what point do we break down and start to madly laugh at the tragi-comedy that constantly recurs and turns our lives into a Groundhog Day of anarchy?

We can put up with a shooting in a different school in a different city in a different state once a month. We can accept as a reasonable statistic shootings in different offices and different streets with different names and different venues.

But what will we do if it begins to happen over and over again in the same place?

We have to do something, because it will expose our madness.

There is a shoot-out sequence at the end of Wes Anderson's film The Grand Budapest Hotel.
It was comic, because shots were flying everywhere and no one was hurt, a lot like our imaginary weapon world.
I thought immediately of the intentionally or unintentionally comic shoot-out in Django Unchained.
Then I unforgivably thought of Fort Hood, with shots filling the air............

and nobody really dying.
If somebody really, really died, we would grieve, not laugh, and we would change our lives.



The New Oxonian

In June, 1214, the University of Oxford received its Charter from Pope Innocent III. But even though that’s a purely symbolic date and event, it marks the beginning in the West of a formal intellectual process that goes back to antiquity and, over time, produced the modes of analysis and styles of argumentation that led to a rejection of the epistemological status of faith as a mode of knowing, superior to reason, and of metaphysics as a way of description superior to natural philosophy.

I am quite proud of the Catholic Church's history in education and knowledge. I am proud of the Protestant history which ensued. I am proud of the tradition of Jewish learning and the contributions to our knowledge.
I am inordinately proud of the great Arab tradition that formed the bridge between antiquity and the present day.
It was this pride of accomplishment that led me to learn Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
Later I learned the German of Luther, Jakob Ammon, and Menno Simmons.

How are we all doing today?


Wes Anderson's Film "Fort Hood"

This is a warning that a post on the above title will soon appear.

If you think you will be offended, do not read it.


The Web Of Beliefs... And The Ensuing Arachnophobia

Mozilla Firefox

We have spoken much of Belief Systems.

Sometimes they sleep Rip van Winkle for fifty years or more, and we do not recognize them when they reclaim the light of day, and sometimes they are the ruling dynamos of life, and snap to attention when our eyes blink open in the morning.

New York Times
On Thursday, Brendan Eich was forced to resign after two weeks as chief executive of the technology company Mozilla because he donated $1,000 to support a 2008 California ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage. Many supporters of gay rights, inside and outside the company, said his presence was a slap in the face, and threatened a boycott.
Should executives be held to account for unpopular or even offensive views, or does such a stand repress free speech?
There is a lot here.
We see a man being judged 6 years after he did something to support his belief system. We see "many supporters of gay rights" stating that this 5 year old expression of belief is a slap in the face that apparently stings with the nerves recently assaulted.

I no longer go deeply into such things.
I have learned "nothing in excess".
I have learned that when someone slaps your face, let your first response be the peaceful one. ("turn the other cheek"...  The Sermon on the Mount does not necessarily state that we constantly "turn the other cheek"... just that the first time we should have a peaceful response. In dealing with normal humans, that should be enough.)
Morality and Ethics are lived, not talked about. If you talk about them, you are avoiding them.

I was, however, fascinated by the response of the CEO of the online company responsible for the campaign against Mr. Eich.

When Ideas Hurt Others, Act
Christian Rudder
Christian Rudder is a founder, and now the president, of OkCupid, the online dating service whose campaign to shun Mozilla if they kept Brendan Eich as chief executive helped lead to his departure. His book "Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" will be published in September.

It is unfortunate that an individual should suffer for his private beliefs, but in the case of Brendan Eich those beliefs amount to little more than bald cruelty. Opposing gay marriage is selfish and wrong. It denies other people happiness to satisfy your opinion of how the world should be. Unlike, say, opposition to gun control, or to publicly funded health care, opposition to gay marriage isn’t politics, it’s just prejudice.

It is only by moving the popular understanding of right and wrong, however incrementally, that any meaningful moral change comes about. Because this issue was at the nexus of love and technology we believed it was completely within OkCupid's purview. We acknowledge the gray area here: How do you set one man's right to free speech against equal rights for millions of people? Our choice was to get involved in something, and get a little messy, or stay silent. We chose the former.

My co-founders and I were conflicted about making an example of any one person. But we wanted to show the many would-be Eichs out there that when you make life harder or worse for other people, when you give your money and your time to make others miserable, you will be called to account by your business partners.
This is as true for a chief executive as it should be for any person. It’s just that when you lead a popular company, the stakes and the stage are much larger.

I like the idea that opposing same sex marriage is selfish and wrong. It may indeed be wrong-headed or vastly unsympathetic, but I fail immediately to see how it is "wrong", and I fail always to see how it is "selfish"... unless Mr. Rudder means expression of beliefs is "selfish".... if they disagree with his views, they are also "wrong".
I particularly like the notion that a political contribution  five years ago to a political cause whose support has been very fluid and changing is made equivalent to "bald cruelty".
I think opposition to same sex marriage is not the equivalent of hatred.
The peaceful step was ignored, and any further dialogue between the parties will be poisoned by acrimony.

This embrace of irreconcilable opposition was an obvious step for Mr. Rudder to accomplish the transformation of Mr. Eich to Mr. Eichmann !

Addendum, personally I think same sex marriage is a fine idea.

I find Mr. Rudder's ideas as herein expressed to be rudimentary blather. The forthcoming book, Dataclysm, ought to be interesting.


The Transitive Relation Of Paul Ryan's Budget to Edward Hickman

Edward Hickman, Ayn Rand's Überkumpan (Supersidekick)

In mathematics, transitivity is expressed as follows:

A relation R is transitive if   for all a,b,c    "if (aRb and bRc,  then aRc)".

Equality " = " is transitive according to this:

If a=b and b=c, then a=c.

However, I am not so sure if extends to things like "admires" and "is a philosophical adherent of".

Paul Ryan is philosophically in the camp of Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand was obsessed by the life and acts of Edward Hickman, felon and a cold-blooded killer.

The ever charming Ms. Rand thought the killer was a perfect prototype of the Nietzchean Überkumpan, or Super Sidekick.
Nothing like Übermensch, or "overman" or "superman" with its notions of future euthanasia for the riff-raff; just good old boys with a dash of hyper-Capitalism and a whiff of apple pie.

Edward Hickman was the Loeb to Ayn Rand's fawning Leopold.
In the original version of her first novel We the Living: "What are your masses [of humanity] but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?" (This declaration is made by the heroine Kira, Rand's stand-in; it is quoted in The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Ronald Merrill, pp. 38 - 39; the passage was altered when the book was reissued years after its original publication.
If we substitute "to be slaughtered" for "to be ground underfoot", you have a philosophy.

I said that the So-Called Conservative budget is one that ostensibly saves the country by sacrificing those who are not up to a certain standard of wealth. (Ostensibly, since if the so-called conservatives gain a majority and put these things into practice, it will be the beginning of the end... for a generation or so.)

Surely Mr. Ryan's admiration of Rand is not transitive; i.e., we cannot infer that since she doted upon the murderous, so also does Mr. Ryan, and - by further implication - does the so-called conservative movement of Tea Baggers.

Surely not.
You bet your life.


Another devotee of Ayn Rand. This man who oversaw the building of a financial debacle once wrote,
"Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. "
(signed) Alan Greenspan.



It will be stated that this article takes things out of context, and that I argue that Republicans admire serial killers, and the absurdity of that argument is a reductio ad absurdum, so this is all nonsense.

That is not what I mean.

I mean you should be very careful of who your friends are and of what you allow yourself to be influenced by.

I mean very specifically that when you pick beliefs that will found the basis of your values, when you pick those beliefs that you think are so fundamental that you yourself will never question them, but will allow them to uncritically direct your life.... be very careful.
The Mind is a trickster. It can lead us to victory or defeat, fame or infamy.
Our fortunes and history can be beacons for the future, or they can be cautionary tales of tragi-comedy.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Your Future Is A Big Brown...

For years I have said that the Republican Party and their supporters and contributors wish to "balance the budget" upon the backs of most of us who are not in the top wealthy percentile of the population.

The new budget in the House demonstrates this clearly. It is the middle class and the poor who will have their backs broken by the straws of austerity.

These people are entirely predictable.

Case in point:

UPS fires 250 employees for staging a 90-minute protest to defend co-worker
Business Insider
By Hayley Peterson | Business Insider – 3 hours ago
UPS is firing 250 Queens, N.Y., drivers for walking off the job during a 90-minute protest in February. 
The company dismissed 20 of the workers after their shifts Monday and issued notices of termination to another 230 employees, notifying them that they will be fired once the company has trained their replacements, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told Business Insider.
The workers were protesting the dismissal of longtime employee and union activist Jairo Reyes, who was fired over an hours dispute, according to Gaut. The New York Daily News first reported on the firings.
Local politicians are threatening to cancel city contracts that give UPS millions of dollars in breaks on parking fines.
"They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers," New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told The Queens Courier. "That’s outrageous. These are good, hardworking employees who have a contract for UPS. To try and break this contract, break this union, is something that is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate."
UPS fired back that it might need to terminate additional employees if the city alters its contract.
"UPS appreciates its business with the New York public offices," Gaut said. "Ultimately if that business is reduced or eliminated, the result will be reduced need for UPS employees to serve the pick-up and delivery requirements of City offices, potentially impacting the livelihoods of the many local UPS employees that did not join in the illegal work stoppage."
 Both sides are at fault here.
I am not a supporter of unions at the expense of business.

However, the important part is the open threat in the last paragraph. UPS is threatening to fire even more people if anyone dares try to bring them to account.

That, fellow citizens, is what the Future Time Bomb is all about: arrogance, misuse of power, and the chickens coming home to roost.


Why Johnny Can't Write

Common Core is under attack from all sides. Textbook squabbles are sweeping every state.

Education is more like a political caucus among people who do not have a great deal in common.

My nieces and nephews do not learn cursive writing, and this is supposed to free up time for more important topics. But their standard writing is pretty poor looking, and they do not seem to be learning any other important things.

What could be more important than writing, and thereby expressing oneself?

If we cannot write, we are slaves.


Why Is the Second Movie in Iconic Film Trilogies So Often the Best?

The above link is to a thoughtful (yah!) and long (boo!) article in Huff Post Entertainment.

My answer is a bit more succinct:

a)  in the first film, the director is still under the control of the money people;

b)  in the second film, the director has unusual freedom based on the success of film #1, and the money
people think that nothing succeeds like success, so have at it.
Thus, the director is able to fully flesh out the vision.

c)  everyone runs out of steam, and the thrill is gone.

This fits The Matrix perfectly.
Also the Alien oeuvre and many more.


Famous Film Still Remakes

Bea Arthur as Brigitte Helm.


Very Specific Emoticons

-( : { )

This is the Smiling Kaiser, which can cover a range of emotions, from Die Welt ist mein Feld to Fritzchen Freudig, Fritzchen Freudig, Morgen gibt's Sellerie Salat.

It is also used on note cards to signal the traditional taking down the Christmas tree on the Kaiser's birthday, a tradition which is fast dieing out.


Professor Gauvreau On Cinema: Redefinition

The False Maria and Rotwang in Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang and produced by UFA (Universum Film AG).

I think Metropolis is an excellent example of a cinema concept that escapes quite early on from the conceptual confines of the writer, and effectively redefines itself in a very interesting dynamic between Art and Observer.
(My paradigm for this phenomenon is Fight Club, which entirely changes upon viewing after the attack on the World Trade Center in 9/11.)



This is the first of a series of "stuff" wherein I place my half-baked ideas into the words of real experts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Time Bomb Of The Present


Supreme Court On Campaign Contributions

Chickens Hitting The Road

But they will be coming home to roost very soon. Sooner than the so-called conservatives think.
Chickens always come home to roost.

And surprisingly enough, we are not always happy at their return.


It is decisions like today's that clearly demonstrate the mendacity of Mr. Scalia, who contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers, counts Money as equal to Speech.

Money may talk while nonsense walks, but money is not speech itself.
The misunderstanding makes clear the Conservative mind and the degraded meaning of "conservative" in today's America.


The Science Of Dismal Invention

General Dyer

She-who-must-be-obeyed has been reading history of the fair gender in the British Raj. We relate the readings back to Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet and its cinema version, The Jewel In The Crown.
We were talking about Jallianwalla Bagh, or the Amritsar Massacre by General Dyer, which also was an episode in the film Gandhi. People had gathered in a walled courtyard and park contrary to government orders, General Dyer ordered troops in, and opened his men to fire indiscriminately: men, women, and children.

In the film, a General Dyer says that the troops would have given aid to anyone who had applied for such. A judge then asked him how a child wounded by rifle fire goes about applying for aid.

Some denounced General Dyer; many others supported the slaughter. Some women in the Raj - probably the majority - supported him, and worked to gather money for a fund to support him.

Reading these things makes me regret the years we spent thinking the Raj was a wonderful gift from European civilization to India. We never saw the evils behind it. We never learned that India was the opium factory of Britain, and the opium forced upon China was grown in India.

India's opium was a cash cow for Britain, and brought in millions and millions. When the opium trade was dismantled in 1910, many people predicted that India would soon be free... for without opium revenues,  it was no longer worth the cost to Britain.


We are also discussing the racial arrogance that grew as the Raj endured.

Civilizations are science, religion, belief systems, technology, and other phenomena mixed together in a complex stew.

Part of the Industrial Revolution was the principle of standardized parts. Starting early on with firearms and rifles, this eventually was combined with the automobile industry and led to the assembly line. The idea of standardization was "in the air" in this new age, and inventors were inspired to new creations.

Many new things are "in the air".
Back some years, theologians put "Death of God" in the air.
I do not really understand it, but I see a direct line from that blasphemy to Fukuyama's "Death of History" and the War in Iraq.
That's me. I know most people would disagree. But that's why I see things they do not, and vice versa.

Anyway, all these things that are "in the air" are swirling about in the stew of civilization. The Past, Present, and Future are all fluid. (A good example of this in film is Lang's Metropolis, in which the inventor of a perfect android is also an alchemist. Everything is mixed together in the conceptual space.)

Hitler was the political inventor who combined:
(1) assembly line tech with killing,
(2) the political concept of the Nation State into Religion,
(3) racial hatred into a standardized political party and program,
among others.

Many of these inventions were duplicated elsewhere in the world and in Europe.

The American Euthanasia Society taught the philosophy of a radical eugenics and endorsed the mercy killing of unfit people.
The Nazis paid this group many compliments.

Then there was the racism of Britain in India, and that of the whites in Australia. There was the genocide of the Native American inhabitants.
There was Slavery, which was the base side of the brilliant coin of Thomas Jefferson and many others.

There are many things.

Nobody is perfect...

But the rest of us are lucky that the Nazis were the ones who discovered the monstrous combinations of disaster and genocide and death and the Industrial Revolution and modern business efficiencies, for many other peoples in the world could easily have created the same things:  simultaneous inventions... just like Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin came up with their theories of evolution at the same time,  so also could other and even pernicious inventions come at the same time, or the near same time.

If not the Nazis, it might well have been someone else; maybe us. Who knows? There was a high probability that it was going to be done.

There had been General Dyer.... then there was My Lai.... Abu Ghraib...
There was the Black Hole of Calcutta... there was 9 / 11....

We have not discovered how to stop the cycle of dismal invention.


Monday, March 31, 2014


I am off to my mother's for another two days of fun, no internet, talk about ice in the lake. Maybe some Fox news.

Nobel Prize In Religion?

 Dr. Marshall and Dr. Warren, The Researchers into Heliobacter Pylori

New York Times:
Published: July 31, 1984
TWO Australian researchers have discovered what seems to be a new spiral-shaped bacterium living in the human stomach. The finding of one more microorganism among the thousands known might have been no more than a curiosity if the Australian bacterium were not now being tentatively linked to some of the most painful ailments known: gastritis, peptic ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, and perhaps other problems as well. Several million Americans have these ailments whose origins are often unknown.

The story of how the finding was made and how the research is being conducted on several continents has much to say about how science really works, not so much as a matter of breakthroughs but rather in fits and starts, with optimism, pessimism and rivalries that sometimes impede potentially important advances. Thus, while there is a great deal of skepticism about the importance of this finding, there is a great deal of excitement, too, as the potential implications begin to emerge...
I remember. Most doctors and people could not believe that ulcers were caused by bacteria - heliobacter pylori - and could be cured by antibiotics. This is an early (1984) article in the New York Times, and it reflects the scepticism and surprise still present.

Also surprisingly, there are numerous revolutions in religion, even though religions often seem like monoliths and mammoths that move slowly - if at all!

Each individual story of pain, suffering, fear, and bondage is potentially a story of redemption and freedom.
Each one of us who has walked the long miles searching for spirit may become one of the religious geniuses in the flash of an eye; when the walker reaches their goal; when the prodigal returns and the feast is laid out.

The Structure Of Religious Revolutions plays out in each of us before it finds a public venue.

Religion is filled with research, development, and revolutions in knowledge and understanding.

So why do we pretend it is dogmatic?

Why do we abandon our research and leave it to the priests, monks, and imams?


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oh, Death

Oh, Death,
Oh, Death,
Won't you spare me over til another year?
Ralph Stanley

Death is illogical. It is a vast inconsistency upon the logic of Creation.

Just as mankind turns to Science to reach beyond its limits and boundaries in the material world, so does mankind reach to life after death and the resurrection to reach beyond the crippling contradiction of Death.
Religion is the manifestation and the intuition and recognition of the power of the Holy.

The Holy is that life and logic which has no death-inconsistency.


The Florida Pop-Tart Law

 Dennis Baxley, Republican-Florida

Tampa Bay Times:
TALLAHASSEE — A pair of high-profile, NRA-supported gun bills won the support of the Florida House on Thursday.
One proposal seeks to extend "stand your ground" immunity to people who fire a warning shot or threaten to use other deadly force in cases of self-defense.
The second bill would prevent children from facing severe punishments for playing with simulated weapons in schools. It specifically permits the use of pastries as pretend pistols.

The so-called Pop-Tart bill (HB 7029) passed by a 98-17 vote. Only Democrats voted against it.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, the Ocala Republican sponsoring the bill, said the measure would bring "common sense" back to zero-tolerance discipline policies in school.

When the Republicans take over, we shall view the amusements of destruction again.
I'm looking forward to it.

Slower Than Noah's Pudding

 It's Been A Minute That Crow Go

The film Noah has received a good deal of attention. Whether this publicity be good or bad, only time will tell. There is an old Arab saying "slower than Noah's crow". I am sure Paramount wishes the revenues do not dribble in at a similar speed.

For example, we read in Mother Jones:

Glenn Beck hates Noah because why wouldn't he? Beck (of course) lashed out at the movie: "If you're looking for a biblical movie, this definitely is not it," the right-wing commentator declared, having screened the film with Paramount executives. "I don't think it's an environmental thing as much as it's just so pro-animal and anti-human, and I mean strongly anti-human."
It would be obvious that the film must at least be pro-Noah and his family. They do survive and form the early Noahic covenant with God.

If I remember properly, the rest of humankind was depraved and corrupt, which is why they were drowned in a deluge.

Even Mr. Beck would have trouble trying to make that bunch sympathethic.

 Christians on Fox News are upset that the word "god" isn't uttered in the film. "That's like writing an American history book without mentioning George Washington," says Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt. However, the word "creator" (which means, you know, god) is used many times in the picture, thus invalidating the Fox segment's point, and yet they carry on...
I don't think "God" is a proper name, actually. It is the word "god" from the days of polytheism with a capital G to show monotheism. That's about all there is to that.
And I am not clear whether they want to hear "Adonai" or the true name of the Holy, which is not supposed to be uttered anyway.

Conservative Islam objects to depictions of the prophets, and Noah is indeed a prophet. This was not a secret, and I would think everyone involved is not surprised.

There is some stuff about Nephilim, a type of fallen angel. Nick Nolte is one of these. If you have a belief system that is stuffed with necessities like a carry-on bag, those Nephilim are probably in a pocket somewhere, and this is a big deal for you.

At this point, I have decided to be truly heretical and offend orthodoxies of all Abrahamic religions and utter the true recipe for...

Noah's Pudding!     Aşure (in Turkish)

2 cups instant barley, it will be much more when cooked
1 cup canned white Northern beans, washed and drained
1 cup canned chickpeas, washed and drained
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 cups water
10 dry apricots, soaked in water overnight, cut in pieces
10 dry figs, cut in pieces
1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup walnuts, crumbled, slivered almonds, currants, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds

Cook barley according to directions on package. (If using non-instant barley, get it to boil on high heat. Then as soon as it boils, turn it down to medium-low heat and cook for about half an hour.) Set aside 1-2 cups of cooked barley and put into a food processor or blender. To the barley in the pot add the beans, chickpeas, vanilla, apricots, raisins, figs, sugar and 6 cups of hot water. Simmer for about 45 minutes on medium to medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. Process 1-2 cups cooked barley that you set aside in a food processor or blender, mixing water if needed to make it pudding-ish. Add this to the pot to thicken it. Cook a couple more minutes, then pour into a large service bowl and let cool.

Keep Noah's Pudding refrigerated. When serving, garnish with crumbled walnuts, roasted slivered almonds, currants, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. The garnish is the best part, and you might think of different ones.
(recipe and photo)

Be careful and judicious. Indiana Jones was almost killed for this arcane recipe!
It is currently on display in the kitchen of the British Museum, although the Turkish PM, "Yip" Erdogan, has been negotiating for its return to Istanbul.


The Axis Of Internet Social Media Blocking

Mother Jones

Countries which impose restrictions upon social media as outlined in Mother Jones seem to form an axis, sort of. The most recent was Turkey, where " Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip  ( "Yip" ) Erdogan says that social networks are facilitating the spread of wiretapped recordings that have been politically damaging..."

Axel FoleyNorth Korea is distinguished by being yet a member of another axis.It makes you think of an award show for axis participation. The award could be called an "Axel". The family Kim must have a whole trophy room of Axels by now.

I do not do social media, so it is a point to be mooted (debated) in some moot (used for debating) Moot (assembly for debate and legislation).


The Macaroni Of Certain Christian Fundamentalist Belief Systems

Macaroni Hall Of Fame 

In the neighborhood of the Old Eighteenth - or the 18th century to you blokes -the term "macaroni" in England  was applied to dandies who affected mannerisms and customs of a Continental European - and, hence, outlandish - nature.
It also came to mean a muddle or mosh-mish of such affected poses and voguing.
(It also means  "composed of or characterized by Latin words mixed with vernacular words or non-Latin words given Latin endings" , which is why I know the word so well, because my favorite Christmas song is In Dulce Jubilo... nun singet und seid froh !  a mixture of Latin and German.)

There is a new edition of the TV show Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and it happens that its scientific description of comets disrupts the macaronic belief systems of Christian fundamentalists of the present day USA.

Yes, "Cosmos" Fans, Creationists Also Deny the Science of Comets
Last night on "Cosmos," Neil deGrasse Tyson explained how comets work, and why they're not bad omens. They are for creationists, though.

—By Chris Mooney
| Mon Mar. 24, 2014 11:04 AM PDT
...if you visit the website of creationist Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis and search for "Oort Cloud," you will find multiple articles providing a creationist take on the origins and nature of comets. In one of them you will find the assertion that there is "zero observational evidence that the Oort cloud exists," followed later by this observation: "but if the solar system is only thousands of years old, as God's Word clearly teaches, there is no problem." In another article, you get this:
Actually the Oort cloud, like Peter Pan's Neverland, has never been observed. The Oort cloud was imagined to provide a birthplace for new comets, since comets like ISON could not exist in a billions-of-years-old universe without some renewable source. The Oort cloud is thus a convenient fiction, but a fiction nonetheless.
Is the fault in me, or is it in these creationists?
I mean, their meanings elude me. They do not task me, rather it is their ungraspable, greased-pig slipperiness that befuddles me.

Why say "convenient fiction"?
When you are speaking of things that truly interest me, two large ones of which are Science and Religion, why would you speak unclearly to me?

"Fiction" seems to be intended to mean "something which bears no basis in reality", such as Thomas the Tank Engine, and "convenient" seems to be intended to mean "easily available". Thus, the Ooort Cloud is an easily available set of statements with no basis in reality.

In the good old days, people would just say "a lie", or "an untruth", but that has fallen out of fashion, since that intemperate and ignorant attitude betrays too readily the intemperance and ignorance of the speaker.

"Fiction" comes from Latin. The verb is "facere", meaning to make or to fashion.
The passive tense of "facere" is "fieri", meaning to be made or to be fashioned, and its third person singular subjunctive is "fiat", which verb Jerome uses in the Vulgate Bible for "Fiat lux," or "let there be light" as it is usually translated, although "let light be fashioned," might be just as good, if not better.

"Convenient" comes from "convenire", meaning "to come together".
Its early meanings were "fitting", "appropriate", and "internally consistent".
Thus, we see a statement explaining a phenomenon may indeed be convenient in the sense that all its parts are internally consistent, and this is a rather big plus, and not a subtraction, as the anti-Oort cloud activists would have us believe.

This is why I find such quotes as that above so difficult to come to grips with; the people who say or write such things cannot be as dumb as they make themselves out to be.
Indeed, if my grandchildren see a news program and are upset by the chaos in the world, is it not a "convenient fiction" for me to say to the children of the world that God's in His heaven, and all is right in the world, when I know full well that the children of Syria are starving and contracting polio? When the children of the Congo are soldiering? When the children of many places in the USA are hungry and malnourished?
But the convenient fiction is a mask we wear to allay their fears.

How can the science of the Oort Cloud be in the same category of statements as a tale told to calm the fears of children?
To maintain they are is bold and brazen stupidity, therefore, the people who said the quote above cannot be saying what I think they are saying. So what, what, what are they saying? I just do not know.

But I know this: their belief system is a Macaroni of snips and scraps of holy books and attitudes and sermons all scrapbooked together in a appalling collage.

If holy books are inspired, you must accept them in their entirety. If the creation in Genesis is part of your belief system, so also must be the dietary laws that follow in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

You cannot just stick a feather of creationism in your hat and call it Macaroni !


Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Favorite

My favorite poem.
I tear up a little when I read it.

(I have used the Anglo-Saxon word trūw in the last stanza in order to try and capture the many meanings of "true", which range from "not logically false" to "firm and steadfast" to "aligning tires to run in a straight line". It should be pronounced as the modern "true", however.
The "Georgia" referred to is the Caucasian State of Georgia.)

when did you get home?
and did the ocean roar?

did you see your pals again
at the Georgian shore?

did you look into a store,
did you hold your child high?

and why was he a kid again,
and why was I a sigh?

i have already been there...
i shall not go again.
go and find your future
and sometimes i will send

an email of Christmas time,
Easter email too,
picnics, woods, and running twain
for we shall ne'er be trūw...


A New Chair Is Endowed

I have just instituted a new study area and represented as so by a label:  LGBT Studies
I appointed myself as the first professor to the Turing Chair at Montag U.

What brought this about was an old proposition about dear Professor Dumbledore of Hogwarts:

Resolved:  Whether Dumbledore be gay, or no.

"Night and Silence, who is there?
Weeds of gay pride doth he wear."  

" 'sfaith! 'tis old Dumbledore! "

(quote from my book Le Shakespeare Imaginaire)

I am appalled at this nonsensical 1984 Stalinist attempt to rewrite history and tell us that Dumbledore is gay. We did not know it before; the author did not know it before...perhaps she hid the fact until she had amassed limitless wealth, then sprung...what?...the sorry truth...the love that dare not speak its name?... I mean, how can it be part of the story when it is dumped on us like a deus ex machina that has no particular part to play in the story...the deus just stands there on the stage and looks ill at ease, waiting for a player or two to toss it a line.  
(I was about to write "waiting for one of the protagonists to throw it a line" but I got into an internal debate of Fowler versus the OED...and Fowler triumphed! Absolutely wizard debate.)

The author should have said that Dumbledore is not gay. Then we could have said, ahah! we thought so! Surely no sane gay person could have decorated Hogwarts, the school being more Huysmanian than gay.  

( In re Huysman, Huysmanian trumps gay every time; that is, the concept "gay" is rather tepid next to the real deal and sort of squinches down like a feline that knows it has met its match...and vanishes.)


Whose Death Is It Anyway?

Samuel Beckett - Waiting For Godot

From the New Oxonian:

...Now think of Waiting for Godot, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the absurd and existentially restless genres of the twentieth century. On the one hand, the drama and music of the period tolled in the death of God and certainty, illustrated by atonality and abandonment of form and the unities of classical aesthetics. On the other hand, we already see this art as periodically limited to the discovery of psychology and the aftermath of nuclear confusion.

In fifty years it will be unreadable except by literary professionals interested in last-century movements. If it means anything in the twenty first century, it underscores David Hart’s comment, “The world is dying of metaphysical boredom.” Atheism is hard pressed to be a solution to that situation, at any level...
I am very much impressed at how the Death of God follows so closely upon the heels of the magnificently grotesque holocausts of the Death of Mankind:  the Sho'a, The World Wars, the slaughters of politics and ideology.

I think there is a connection.


The Great Beauty Of Aristotle And Aquinas 2

Jep Gambardella Above Rome

The Great Beauty Of Aristotle And Aquinas 1

I had previously compared Fellini to Aristotle, a great mind who had raised certain questions about life as we lived it in the 20th century. And I had compared Sorrentino to Aquinas, who had - in a sense - at a later date filled out the philosophy of his predecessor, and had made a great new philosophy of it.

For example, Fellini showed us the vacuous pleasure lives of La Dolce Vita, and bid us to watch and observe.

Sorrentino made us complicit with the shallow ones we watched: when Sister Maria comes into the story, we sit and judge her according to our lights. When she sits quietly with her mouth open, we at our kindest judge her to be a saintly fool.
Of course, we soon learn how wrong we are.

Fellini shows us freaks and buffoons, while Sorrentino bids us to act out our buffoonery and freakish nature in the darkling audience.

 Guido Anselmi Over Rome


你好... Good Morning!


My first words in the Chinese language to a real person this morning.
I had the tones correct, too.

I said it to a lady who exercises in the mornings. I was just leaving as she entered the exercise room. I had finished wiping down the treadmill I had run on.

"你好," I said.

She smiled, and I told her I had just started studying... which was a bit of an extension of the truth; I did study some written Chinese a long time ago, but had never spoken to anyone.

She said if I ever needed any help, just ask her.

" 谢 谢,"  I said, and bowed slightly.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sixteen Tons 2

 Illustration Of Isnad

So why was I interested in such a question as whether God can create a rock so massive that even God cannot lift it?

I wondered that myself.
It is a silly question that bedevils our riddle minds. It is a riddle, an old and ancient riddle, more than a serious philosophical question. I think it has more in common with a knock-knock joke than philosophy.

Everything in the riddle is dependent upon our concept of God. Further, it is dependent upon our mish-mosh of ideas jumbled together that we call The Holy.

Consider the riddle in this form:

1) Montag claims to have infinite powers, and he can do all things.
2) Given that, can Montag create a rock so massive that even Montag cannot lift it?

Notice that the riddling part is no longer part 2), the lifting of the massive rock, yea or nay. The part which confronts us with great feelings of oddness is part 1).
We would probably say Montag has gone over the edge, and is quite mad, and should be assisted straight away to the nearest dafter.

But in the original question, God is the subject of an incredibly large belief system on our parts, and there is little or nothing "systematic" about it.
It would be more correct to call it a Belief Landfill, or a Belief Hodge-Podge.
I read various commentors on this question on a forum recently, and the members of the Abrahamic religions are infamous for their capacity to write, comment, argue, and generally go to ungodly lengths in their erudition.

Jews write a Talmud, Christians write a Summa, and Islamic commentors write opinions which are isnad-ded to the opinions of ancient scholars.

I think the riddle is a good illustration of the wretched nature of "belief systems".

A Belief System should be systematic, as is Science.

I think it is fine to have a  belief system about morals and ethics, but when it comes to God, belief systems lead incessantly to paradoxes such as that above.

If God, then grasp virtue, and never look back... and certainly do not stop to chatter on about your belief system.

A belief system is nothing more than Tony Robbin's bed of hot coals.
When you look back later, you see there was not much to it.

isnad - a chain of transmission of hadith

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sixteen Tons?

 William of Ockham... no particular connection with the post

I was reading a discussion this morning about the old question whether God can make a rock so massive that even He cannot lift it, thereby negating His omnipotence.

This is a poser for people. I am not sure why.

The first part says that God can do anything. Since that is the case, He can do any amount of Work, and work = force x displacement in a straight line = Fd.

Therefore, God can exert a Force F1 which can displace any mass M1 upwards ("lift") a distance d.

Therefore, there is a Force F1.

The second part says that there is a rock of mass M1 that is so heavy that there is no force that can be exerted to lift it.

Therefore, there is no Force F1.

It really does not matter if God is in the question or not. It comes down to a contradiction: {there is a force F1} and {there is not a force F1}.

The concept of "God" is added merely to confuse us.

We usually compound God and notions of necessity, so we usually end up with:

It is Necessarily True that {there is a force F1}          since we associate God with Necessary Truth


It is Necessarily True that {there is no Force F1}         since we say it is

Now a mere contradiction should not make us lose a night's sleep, but this is different.

To me it is the same thing as being a logical matchmaker, and saying:

Proposition A is necessarily true.
Having said that, let's consider proposition Not-A and see how they get along.


Oh, Sixteen Tons refers to the song of the same name.... "You load sixteen tons, and what do ya get? A ticket to Beulah Land and no regret."