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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Continuous Transport

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

The Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton Railroad

Track West of Washington Court House

Abandoned Right-of-Way at Bondclay

Abandoned Right-of-Way at Lyra

I used to work near a spur where the DT and I used to run trains.


Continuous Transport

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Train going up Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.


Drought 旱災


The current drought...., that is, the drought in Taiwan, not in California nor Australia.

The picture above is Shinmen Resevoir, which is said to be on the verge of being empty in 32 days.

Furthermore, the nine frogs of Sun Moon Lake are all revealed back in February. I do not know how many are visible now, but it is a different way to think about a drought. Instead of a severe drought, we could say a nine, ten frogger.

Or if there are torrential rains, such as in the south of the USA over the last few days, instead of saying there was a rain of biblical proportions, we could say that it was a frog-topper!

On the other hand, I doubt we need such metaphorical expressions.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Vatican II Revisisted

What Critics Get Wrong About the Significance of Vatican II
Drew Christiansen | May 22 2015
French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran opened a four-day conference at Georgetown University Thursday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican II quoting the late French President Charles de Gaulle. Reflecting on the significance of the council, the cardinal recounted, the general told the apostolic nuncio to Paris, the council was “the most important event of the century, because you can’t change the prayer of a million men and women without affecting the balance of the planet.”

“Without pronouncing dogmatic sentences,” the cardinal said, “the Second Vatican Council expressed its teaching on many questions which occupy the conscience and activity of man.”


Georgetown University church historian John O’Malley, S.J., took direct aim at the mistaken belief that a pastoral council is less weighty than a dogmatic.
 “If, indeed, we look at the number and importance of Vatican II’s teachings,” Father O’Malley said, Vatican II is not Council Lite but the very opposite.” He went on then to identify the council’s teaching. Among those he listed were:
  • what God has revealed is not a set of propositions but (Christ’s) very person;
  • Sacred Scriptures is inerrant only in what “serves to make the people of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith”;
  • the purpose of church is to promote the holiness of its members;
  • “‘the people of God’ is a valid, crucially important and, moreover, traditional expression of the reality of the church”;
  • the church has “the responsibility of exerting itself for the well-being of the world”;
  • “the dignity and excellence of political freedom”;
  • freedom to follow conscience in choice of religion; and
  • “the dignity of conscience, ‘that most secret core and the sanctuary of the human person.’”
These teachings are not constitutive doctrines, like the Trinity and Incarnation, “but they are nonetheless,” said O’Malley, a historian of both the Council of Trent and of Vatican II, “truths of the utmost importance for understanding…what it means to be a Christian in the world today.


I And Thou

 Martin Buber

As I have mentioned, I do not believe in God.

If someone were to ask me, I say that I expect God.

Having reached this point, if someone asks me to explain what I mean by "expect", I use the metaphor of a conversation; if people are engaged deeply in a conversation, if they are speaking intimately, such as Martin Buber speaks of in "Ich und Du" ("I and Thou"), you "expect" a continuation of the conversation.
If you speak and there is a silence, you are greatly surprised.
What has happened?
Has the telephone gone dead?
Has the other party hung up?

Those things happen when you really do not expect too much. When you think you are speaking to a dope, you are not surprised when there is a vast silence, or there is some bizarre nonsense in return. But when you are intimately engaged in an interaction between intelligent entities, you "expect" that the other party is engaged, and you "expect" responses.

So do I when it comes to God. The expectation is that of mutually active engagement and interaction.
I expect the mail lady to come every day between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM, but there is no particular mutually active engagement between her and me. Different expectation.
Similarly, I believe in certain forms of the Theory of Evolution, but I do not "expect" any sort of "I and Thou" relationship to be established between it and me. I am using beliefs for some purpose other than "hanging out" together.

Reciting Homer's Odyssey

Story is a form of this mutually active interaction.
A good storyteller - Plato's Ion comes to mind; there is a dialogue devoted to Ion's recitals of Homer and it was the first dialogue I ever translated - however does not engage in a conversation with his audience, although he holds them in a state of enchantment.

The hearer of the story is very active in hearing, processing, interpreting and finding meaning in the story to which he is listening. However, there is no response to the storyteller.
If I am having a telephone conversation and the person on the other end of the phone is telling me a story, when she finally stops for air - I am imagining that this "she" is my mother - I often do respond with a story of my own.
But typically good storytelling does not have this response, and I think it is because of the enchantment of the story told by a good storyteller: although I am very active in understanding the story, I am almost zero in trying to think of a response or my own story, because I am mute with that enchantment and wonder.

Syrian Odyssey

Everyone seeks to engage and tell their story.
When I was young, I did not talk much, and when I did, it was usually something I found important. My father was diffident, and my mother could not listen; even now she hears but does not engage actively to understand what others are trying to say.
As a teenager, I found this maddening.

Now I write to tell my story. Some people listen, some don't.

Other people are hobbled by poverty and cannot develop their ability to make their story in the world.
Others are hampered by illness and disease; others by wars and violence.

This is where we shall all overcome: where we triumph over the shortfalls of our lives, the failed picnics, the wasted parties, the things over which we had no control..... the regrets, the weeping and keening over galactic spills...

The future is the world where all of us may tell our stories, and there will be some one intimate "Thou" listening and understanding.

God may perform that function if we stop believing - which is a silly practice in philosophical epistemology, for pity's sake! - and begin to expect and live the Presence.

The above picture is a time-worn scenario of "holiness".
It tells us to "practice" God, mainly by (1) staring upwards into space, and (2) folding one's hands tightly, and (3) having a caption in a famously fancy script telling everyone else what is going on.

Godliness is not a movie following a script. All the saccharin smiles of all the saints on all the engraved holy cards in the world do not help any individual on the road to God.

God is not practice, nor exercise. God is not a cabinet separated from life, not a special compartment of the train of life, not some first-class meditation hall on the airplane of life......

We have everything we need to live.

Apartheid Denial 2

Israel jails Palestinians for Facebook comments
Activists say Israeli authorities are "watching social media closely and targeting Palestinians" for online postings.
Patrick Strickland | 23 May 2015 13:49 GMT

The "double standard", he added, also extends to "protests and other events". Last Sunday, Israelis marched through Jerusalem's Old City, home to many Palestinians, to mark "Jerusalem Day", a holiday celebrating Israel's 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem.
The week before that march, the Israeli High Court ruled against two non-governmental organisations' appeal to prevent the Israelis from marching through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Although the court deemed it permissible for them to march through the area, it also demanded that police have a "zero tolerance" policy for anti-Arab chants and incitement, adding that anyone who chanted "Death to Arabs!" should be arrested.
During the march, hundreds of Israeli protesters nonetheless chanted such slogans. "Death to Arabs!" many were filmed chanting without police intervention. "Muhammad is a homo," others sang, referring to the Islamic prophet. Several Palestinians were arrested during the Jerusalem Day march during clashes with police.
Back in Jerusalem, Iyab Shalabi echoes Rimawi's comments. "There are so many Israeli groups on Facebook calling for Arabs to be killed, but nothing ever happens," he said. "[Israel] wants Palestinians to shut up and be quiet, to accept the occupation. Israel is trying to deliver a message that any Palestinians - whether from Hamas, Fatah or the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] - can be arrested."...

As the Mothers of Invention asked, "Who are the brain police?"

As long as the violence continues, people will continue to interpret reality as a process of violence.  Therefore, there will be no end to violent acts and violent language, and thus no end to free speech turned to violence and denial of free speech to monitor violence.

Violence only truly ends in exhaustion.


Apartheid Denial

Palestinian laborers with permits to work in Israel step off a minibus as they return to the West Bank at Israel's Eyal checkpoint near the West Bank town of Qalqilya, May 20, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

First international blunder of Bibi's new government
Author Mazal Mualem Posted May 21, 2015
TranslatorDanny Wool
“A government was elected. It has a clear agenda, which is the security of its citizens throughout the country, including in Judea and Samaria. People sitting in the cafes on Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv must not be allowed to set the country’s agenda.” That was part of a response by the Likud’s new Knesset member Oren Hazan to a decision to suspend a pilot program segregating Jews and Palestinians on buses in the West Bank.

Palestinians who enter Israel for work now can return directly to the West Bank using public transportation. According to the new plan, they would have to get off the buses for a security check when they re-enter the territories. What these instructions effectively do is create a situation in which Palestinian commuters are forced to leave their buses, while Jewish commuters can continue unhindered...

Moti Yogev, a colonel in the reserves and a resident of the settlement of Dolev, waged a long struggle on behalf of this kind of segregation. When the pilot segregation program was announced May 20, Yogev of HaBayit HaYehudi was quick to congratulate it, considering it a personal and political achievement. He responded to widespread condemnation of the plan by saying, “None of those criticizing the decision is actually familiar with the reality of the situation. What they are saying about it is hypocritical, false and irresponsible. The reality is that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria live better here than they would in any of the neighboring Arab states. (note A)

Ya’alon also defended his decision, saying, “There is no segregation. A properly functioning state can keep tabs on who is coming in and leaving. That’s all this is about.” This time, however, the use of public safety considerations to excuse the galling ethical injustice of segregated buses did not withstand the test of reality. Security arguments barely survived a few hours before Netanyahu ordered that the pilot be stopped. By then, however, the plan itself had already caused serious diplomatic damage to Israel, including the settlements of Judea and Samaria.

This example of segregation for reasons of security was immediately presented as an example of Israeli apartheid. As an exceptionally talented apologist, Netanyahu immediately recognized the potential damage that the sinister combination of buses and segregation would have in an enlightened international narrative, and particularly in the collective memories of the United States and South Africa. (note B) 

With the term “apartheid” appearing more and more over the past few years, in the context of Israel’s occupation of Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu realized that he must act quickly to limit the damage, and ordered the program to be suspended immediately...

This article speaks for itself. What I found interesting was the speed with which it was stopped due to similarities to segregation in the two USAs (United States of America and the Union of South Africa) - note A:

- and the line of thinking that bore similarities to discourse about slavery, in particular how certain slaves, the ones who worked in the master's house, were better off than slaves who did not - note B:

Although many deny that Apartheid exists, yet its manner of thinking and processing information exists in the minds of many.

Friday, May 22, 2015

It Takes A Whole Criminal Cartel To Raise A Child

From the enormous and influential gangster banks that have just been fined 5.7 billions of dollars - but no one goes to jail, of course - to a national past time that creates celebrity quarterbacks that cheat and lie about it, we provide an education for the coming generations.

There are articles which assert now that the New England Patriots are not protesting NFL discipline, because the head coach cannot entirely believe the account of his star quarterback.

The Clintons made $30 millions dollars last year due to - gosh, would you believe it!? - their folksiness and God's grace.

When I write the post The Critique Of Ouroboros

I had not yet read Seymour Hersh's article trashing the official government-media-(intel-military-industrial-complex-yadda-yadda-yadda) account of the death of bin Laden. I wrote the post because I did read the criticism of Mr. Hersh, and I found the criticism so bizarre that I wrote about it.

It was so odd to me that I have looked into the matter, and I tend to side with Mr. Hersh.
The Columbia Journalism Review has harshly criticized the media and government:
The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful
Seymour Hersh has done the public a great service by breathing life into questions surrounding the official narrative of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet instead of trying to build off the details of his story, or to disprove his assertions with additional reporting, journalists have largely attempted to tear down the messenger.
Barrels of ink have been spilled ripping apart Hersh’s character, while barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his claims—even though there’s no doubt that the Obama administration has repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about the incident. Even less attention has been paid to the little follow-up reporting that we did get, which revealed that the CIA likely lied about its role in finding bin Laden, which it used to justify torture to the public...

How corrupt are we?

I mean, this is the bin Laden affair where barely a few months had gone by and all the Navy Seals had signed on to book deals and helped provide expert advice to the movie industry...

We live in a Stalinism of the morally deluded.

Since we have nothing of substance to function as a spiritual guide, we create anomalous fairy tales to be our guide. For example, in Syria, we follow the convenient fiction that Assad must be removed at all costs - just as we ten years earlier freely chose to be deluded that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 - and that forms our policy of catastrophe.

And we enforce those delusions!

And we teach them to the next generation.


Der Schatten Des Vampirs

“…the inadequacy of our plans,our contingencies, every missed train, the failed picnics, every lie to a child.”
John Malkovich as F.W.Murnau in The Shadow of the Vampire.

On Mothers’ Day we couldn’t go to my parent's summer cottage, because they had two or three dogs,  and my daughter was allergic to animals. Ditto Fathers’ Day... July 4th... my birthday... and so on.

We used to have picnics with our friends on Fathers’ Day. The fathers would play tennis. The mothers minded the children and laid out a picnic.

We don’t do that anymore, and have not for a long time.The children have families of their own and we have all fallen away.

Die ausgefallenen Picknicks...
Die Zufälligkeiten...
Der Schatten des Vampirs...

The failed picnics… the contingencies...the shadows of the vampire.

 Walking through the forest at Babi Yar today...

 מיין אייגן פּריוואַט באַבי יאַר
 meine private Babi Jar, wo meine Freunde getötet wurden.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mozilla Madness 2

It seems highly possible that my problems with Firefox are due to the Google Search.
I cleaned everything up again, and then switched to for searching, and so far no extra page listings that consists of advertisements.

I'll keep my fingers crosses.


A Vast Despondency


... covers the planet, as we await our fate.
The graphic story of Hellboy is very much positive and cheery compared to the thoughts of the impossible dilettantes of destruction that have mused and mourned about our futures in the media since 9/11.

Just the other day, I ran a composite of the Seven Gods Of Chaos:

Top: Wolfowitz, Kristol, Perle, Feith
Bottom:   Libby,  Bolton,  Ledeen

but there are more than a mere seven eldritch eminences... many more.

In the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman has delved into dark and dangerous palantiri, I think:
Go Ahead, Ruin My Day
March 18, 2015
 As the saying goes, “to err is human, to forgive is divine,” to which I’d add: “to ignore” is even more human, and the results rarely divine. None of us would be human if we didn’t occasionally get so wedded to our wishes that we failed to notice — or outright ignored — the facts on the ground that make a laughingstock of our hopes...

Well, we know what he's talking about now, even though he has deftly hidden his topic from us.
He says, "...facts on the ground..."
Most people when they wish to talk about facticity or what is real and factual, merely use the expression "the facts".
Since Mr. Friedman's facts are "on the ground", we know he is talking about military matters, conflating "facts" with "boots" and imagining both being "on the ground".  Since Ramadi - which to me is the City of Ashes, just as Falluja is Pumbedita - has fallen recently to ISIS, we in in for a ride through the Middle East.
O.K., so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?
"I despise ISIS as much as anyone"?! Really! Nothing like establishing your creds, Friedman.
In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad.
ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really?
"Homegrown Sunni Arab response..."  Sounds rather grassy-rootsy... if you ignore the beheadings and tortures and what-not.
If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim.

Mr. Friedman does not even condemn the choices that led us to this point. Why does he not rend his garments, pour ashes (ramaad) over his head and beg forgiveness for his support of the intrusion into Iraq.

What he calls "scar tissue" is the residue of the freely chosen sins of the fathers that shall be visited upon their children.

He is a frightened man who sees his past decisions coming to consume him.

 Second Great Awakening in America

The shallow ideas of American Exceptionalism and the mission of spreading its gospel in the form of globalization was a hidden theme of Mr. Friedman's. It is a direct descendant of the revivalist and missionary fervor of the 19th century American second and third Great Awakenings, where according to Percy Miller, quoting Edwards A. Park:
God had kept America hidden until the art of the printing press and the Reformation were achieved; then he ushered it on stage, and only now... can we see what God intended...
So has He designed this land for the comprehensive and variegated activity of His church; and as He has  mingled, so he will continue to mingle in it those diversified elements which coalesce with the richest and the most durable character... A character gleaned thus from all nations, will be so versatile, so energetic, as to qualify us for mingling with them all and elevating their religious spirit.
Miller; The Life of the Mind in America

Compare that to Friedman as discussed in Wikipedia:

Friedman first discussed his views on globalization in the book The Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999). In 2004, a visit to Bangalore, India, and Dalian, China, gave Friedman new insights into the continuing trends of globalization and the forces behind the process, leading him to write a follow-up analysis, The World Is Flat (2005).
One of Friedman's theses states that individual countries must sacrifice some degree of economic sovereignty to global institutions (such as capital markets and multinational corporations), a situation he has termed the "golden straitjacket"

Friedman supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writing that the establishment of a democratic state in the Middle East would force other countries in the region to liberalize and modernize.

 I Abhor Firebombing Luxury Vehicles As Much As Anyone...

Through all of his work runs the thread of the superiority of his ideas of democracy, economy, religion, and society.

Now he sees what his ideas have wrought.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Apparently Oklahoma is the earthquake capitol of the contiguous USA, and this is due to fracking.

When I first read about fracking, it was obvious that introjecting large amounts of fluids into the earth would be a problem, because the fluids would tend to decrease friction between adjacent stone particles. First one disturbs the ground, then one reduces the friction, and that seemed a bad idea.

I did not take any particular braininess to see that.
The principle is that of shaving every morning: water makes the razor move across the beard easier.
Water, not soap. Water accounts for most of the ease of shaving, and soap accounts for no more than 10% of total friction reduction.

If the chemicals which are in the fracking fluids also reduce the surface tension of the water, then the water is made "wetter". This is what laundry detergents do: reduce the cohesion of water molecules, allowing them to infiltrate the pores and interstices of the fabrics in the washing machine.

You can even hear it. Start filling the washing machine and listen to the sound of the water falling into it. Add the detergent. You should immediately be able to detect  a reduction in the harshness of the noise of the water falling. The water's surface tension is reduced, and the infalling water easily pushes the water present in the washing machine aside.

If this particular problem of fracking was not contained in every environmental assessment of potential fracking sites, then the personnel involved were either incompetent or liars or both.


One Of My Totem Films

8 1/2

People between the present and the past; both the burden of the traditions of society and the personal history of his own odyssey.
We attempt to make sense by stringing together words and images.

Directed by
Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini
Ennio Flaian0

Marcello Mastroianni
Claudia Cardinale 
Anouk Aimee
Barbara Steele...

A full list of Cast and Crew is available at IMDb:

Asa... Nisi... Masa... ?

A+sa; ni+si; ma+sa which is a substitution cipher.

The children used the chant "Asa nisi masa" three times (I think...) to make the pictures on the wall of their bedroom come to life.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bush Reunion

Top: Wolfowitz, Kristol, Perle, Feith
Bottom:   Libby,  Bolton,  Ledeen

A Mendacity of Neocon Republicans...

"Mendacity" is used as a term of venery:
Venery refers to hunting game animals such as wild boar, hares, wolves, bears and — especially — deer. A close relative to venery is venison, nowadays always meat from a deer but in earlier times the flesh of any hunted animal.

Venery dates from medieval England and is closely connected with the royal forests established by the Norman kings and nobles after the Conquest of 1066...

This led to the expression terms of venery, collective nouns for types of game and other wild animals, such as cete of badgers, murder of crows, parliament of rooks and paddling of ducks.


The Reality Of ISIS

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities.”
Karl Rove, advisor to President George Bush 

If you ask yourself "who and what created ISIS?", recall this good article on the the deliberate lies that were used to destroy the balances of power in the Middle East:
The Phony ‘Bad Intel’ Defense on Iraq
May 15, 2015

Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld began promoting the notion that Iraq might have weapons of mass destruction and that “within a week, or a month, Saddam could give his WMD to al-Qaeda.” This was an early articulation of the bogus “conjunction of terrorism and WMD,” now immortalized in what is the most damning, first-hand, documentary evidence of U.S./U.K. collusion in launching a war of aggression on false pretenses and how it was to be “justified.”

This evidence was contained in the “Downing Street Memorandum,” written on July 23, 2002, though not published until May 1, 2005, by The London Times (discussed in more detail below). The goal was to systematically conflate Iraq’s supposed stockpiles of WMD with al-Qaeda and 9/11, as a kind of subliminal fear/revenge message to the American public.

It was not long before the agile Rice did a demi-pirouette of 180 degrees, claiming that Saddam had suddenly become “a danger in the region where the 9/11 threat emerged.” By the summer of 2002, the basic decision for war having been taken, something persuasive had to be conjured up to get Congress to authorize it. Weapons of mass deception, as one wag called them, together with warnings about “mushroom clouds” were just what the Doctor Rice ordered.

Sadly, CIA’s malleable director George Tenet followed orders to conjure up WMD in a deceitful National Intelligence Estimate issued on Oct. 1, 2002. The NIE’s main purpose was to deceive Congress into authorizing war on Iraq, which Congress did just ten days later.


We are still suffering the karma of bad intentions that flows from this cynical and debased deception.

We were all guilty, so we shall all be punished.


Siberian Odyssey

Young Cadets In Siberia

The Siberian Times
Stunning photos of Siberia and its people feature in new book
By Derek Lambie
21 October 2014
Stunning images of everyday normal life in Siberia have formed the basis of a new book by a French photojournalist. Guillaume Chauvin, who was born in 1987, spent a year documenting Russia armed with nothing more than his camera and a note pad.

Much of his research for Le Vie Russe – Russian Life – came during a long, but fruitful, stopover in Siberia where he admits he fell in love with the area and its people. Part-photo book, part-diary, it spans 272 pages and is a snapshot of the vast country as it stands at a crossroads between the traditions of the past and the modern world.


Le Vie Russe, Entre Siberie et Aujourd’hui  can be purchased directly from Guillaume Chauvin’s website for 19Euros.

the boys are playing with some electronic game.

Monday, May 18, 2015

East Of Mad Men

I tried my best to find a reason not to like the ending episode of Mad Men, but I admitted failure.

Of course, it was long and tedious for a bit, and I finally gave up at 10:45 pm and hit the <record> button in order to watch the rest of it in the morning. I mean, I am in bed by 8:30 and rise at least an hour before the birds begin caterwauling, so I was really into this show.

I had watched a number of episodes in the preceding Mad Men Marathon, but they were interspersed with homely chores, ironing, folding clothes, etc., and it did not seem to drag. Once I sat down to watch the final episode with no interruptions, it was another matter.
I could not muster enough feigned interest in what was going on, and rapidly began to fail.

I saw the last 20 minutes this morning, and it was a good ending.

It was the best way to handle things, I think.

I wondered a bit about the character of Don Draper, and I kvetched about his seeming "bi-polar" sociopathology, but it was good.

I am firmly convinced that the germinal inspiration of Mad Men was Mr. Weiner musing on what would happen to Caleb or Cal,  the character played by James Dean in East of Eden, when he grows up.

The character in Mad Men, Richard Whitman, who later assumes the identity of Don Draper, is the son of a prostitute, and so also is Caleb in East of Eden.
Richard Whitman spends some time in a bordello, and Cal happens across his mother running a bordello in Salinas.
Cal's father is remote and cold;  Whitman's father is gone and the only male influences he has are abusive.

Whitman joins the US Army and fights in Korea, where he inadvertently causes an explosion which kills the real Don Draper; Caleb takes his brother Aron to Salinas to their mother's bordello and forces him to meet her, an act which causes Aron to recoil in disgust and eventually join the US Army to fight in World War I, where he is killed in battle.

From the basic equivalence of Cain and Abel and Caleb and Aron in East of Eden was born Richard Whitman and Don Draper.

A very good journey.


Yahoo's Email Mess

 "In Yahoo! Mail, we all FLOAT !

Email #1
If I send an email to Joe Doakes, who is on the contact list as "Doakes" with the address "", then the email appears in the SENT folder as "me...Doakes".

So far, so good.

Email #2
If Doakesie replies, it shows up in the INBOX as "".

Email #3
If I reply back, this time the latest email - my reply back to Doakes or email #3 - appears in the SENT folder as "", for all the world as if I an emailing myself.

Furthermore, the Doakes reply - email #2 - to which my email #3 is a reply is now changed in my INBOX to ""  !!

Again, for all the world as if I am emailing myself.

Now try going back and finding emails from Mr. Doakes!

Why do Tech companies think they must justify their existence or their charges by continually re-inventing the wheel?
For pete's sake, it's email! Leave it alone as it was when we could understand what was going pon, before all your "improvements".


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Some Websites I Like

Nicotinamide or Niacinamide


Alltop is a news accumulation site broken down into areas:

Work Health Culture Interests Tech People Good News Geos Sports

where "Geos" refers to "Individual Countries", and things can be broken further down alphabetically.

When you cursor over an entry, a box appears with a brief description of the article, usually enough to get a good idea of what the main thrust of the article is, saving the time of opening in another tab or window.

It manages to get one through a lot of possible areas of interest quickly... no Flash ads; in fact, very few ads at all.
I find it infinitely preferable to what the BBC and CNN have become.
It gives me news.


Due to a run-in with basal cell carcinoma, I have a renewed interest in my skin, the skin being the most extensive organ of the body.

This site is primarily focused on acne, but there is more. The forums are seemingly populated by intelligent folks, which is sort of new for me.
There are good articles with pointers to further medical research and papers.

This was an article I read this morning:

Licochalcone – the licorice root extract in Moisturizer and AHA+ (Glycolic Acid – 10%)

Check out this recent paper about Licochalcone. It shows that acts as an anti oxidant and reduces skin stress. This effect is probably very important in acne.
and you may copy and paste the paper's title into Google, find it on Wiley's, and read it.

It reminded me that among the anti-microbial effects mentioned for licorice root extract, I recently read a paper that stated it attacked the microbes that cause dental caries.

Even better was:

Evidence keeps mounting for the use of niacinamide in acne and general skin health
I have written about niacinamide (AKA nicotinamide), the active component in vitamin B3, for a couple of years now. Evidence shows it can help significantly reduce acne through its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the more I look into this ingredient, the cooler it becomes. The latest double-blind study I found in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice has researchers administering 4% niacinamide to patients with melasma or dark patches of skin from sun exposure...

And, if you recall, last week on the evening news (NBC, I think), there was a spot on Niacinamide or Nicotinamide and the fact that if people used a supplement, it led to a 23% reduction in recurrence of basal cell carcinomas.

Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America  is a top notch news site.
It takes on the stories the main stream does not, and it is a well designed site with enough pictures and enough printed words... (I cannot tell you how important "enough printed words" is; I mean, the BBC has begun to look like the Comix Newspaper in the film Fahrenheit 451 !)...

Today there were two interesting articles:

The Syrian comedy troupe that isn't afraid to poke fun at ISIL
Six young filmmakers use humor to counter ISIL propaganda — and win back friends who've joined the group


Indonesia’s transgender priests face uncertain future
An ancient tradition is slowly disappearing as many transgender youths choose to become beauticians instead of bissu

I thought the article about transgender priests interesting, because it is a very common phenomenon in many cultures, not just in Indonesia, and it is not a well-known phenomenon. However, one of my young relatives has been undergoing hormone replacement therapy for a few years...
Quite young, in fact.
So far, I have nothing to say about it. My attention has been elsewhere.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Starbuck's is reported to be moving its bottled water business out of California due to the drought.

I am not a wild-eyed radical, but I have never bought bottled water, except for my parents if they wanted me to get them some, and I have rarely drank bottled water.
Years ago, I took one look at bottled water - and here I mean the small and individual plastic bottles of 12 ounce or so capacity  -  and immediately thought it to be a bad idea.

All that plastic made from fossil fuels struck me as bizarre.

I also never use the Keurig-style coffee / tea makers; same reason; plus the fact that I do not like the taste.

I think of all of that and the effects of climate change... and the Sargasso Sea of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean... and this is why, dear reader, I started throwing popsicle sticks out of my automobile window. After all, they are wood. Why should I attempt to push garbage against the tide?


Monday, May 11, 2015

The Critique Of Ouroboros

Ouroboros is the serpent which bites its own tail, forming thereby a circle.... a mobius strip, maybe, or perhaps a figure eight. You get the idea.

I came across such a serpent-bites-self critique in CNN today.

Was the bin Laden killing story a lie?
By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst
Updated 8:30 AM ET, Mon May 11, 2015
(CNN)Seymour Hersh is one of the giants of investigative journalism. Early in his career he broke the story of the My Lai massacre during which hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam in 1968.

Hersh was still going strong after 9/11, breaking (along with "60 Minutes") the story of the prisoner abuses by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq for The New Yorker in 2004.

Now comes another blockbuster from Hersh in which he asserts, "The White House's story (about the 2011 U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden) might have been written by Lewis Carroll."


The principal claims that Hersh's article makes, which largely rely on the assertions of a single, unnamed, retired senior U.S. intelligence official, are:

• That the 2011 U.S. Navy SEAL raid on the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was hiding in northern Pakistan was not a firefight in which SEALs went into a dangerous and unknown situation, but a setup in which Pakistan's military had been holding bin Laden prisoner in Abbottabad for five years and simply made him available to the SEALs who flew in helicopters to the compound on the night of the raid.

• An officer from Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency ISI accompanied the SEALs on the raid and showed them around the Abbottabad compound, and the only shots fired that night were the ones that the SEALs fired to kill bin Laden.


• Saudi Arabia was financing bin Laden's upkeep in his Abbottabad compound.


Mr. Bergen replies:

Hersh's account of the bin Laden raid is a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense.

Let's start with the claim that the only shots fired at the Abbottabad compound were the ones that killed bin Laden. That ignores the fact that two SEALs on the mission, Matt Bissonnette, author of "No Easy Day," and Robert O'Neill have publicly said that there were a number of other people killed that night, including bin Laden's two bodyguards, one of his sons and one of the bodyguard's wives. Their account is supplemented by many other U.S. officials who have spoken on the record to myself or to other journalists.

I was the only outsider to visit the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden lived before the Pakistani military demolished it. The compound was trashed, littered almost everywhere with broken glass and several areas of it were sprayed with bullet holes where the SEALS had fired at members of bin Laden's entourage and family, or in one case exchanged fire with one of his bodyguards. The evidence at the compound showed that many bullets were fired the night of bin Laden's death.

Common sense would tell you that the idea that Saudi Arabia was paying for bin Laden's expenses while he was living in Abbottabad is simply risible. Bin Laden's principal goal was the overthrow of the Saudi royal family as a result of which his Saudi citizenship was revoked as far back as 1994.

Why would the Saudis pay for the upkeep of their most mortal enemy? Indeed, why wouldn't they get their close allies, the Pakistanis, to look the other way as they sent their assassins into Pakistan to finish him off?

Common sense would also tell you that if the Pakistanis were holding bin Laden and the U.S. government had found out this fact, the easiest path for both countries would not be to launch a U.S. military raid into Pakistan but would have been to hand bin Laden over quietly to the Americans.

Indeed, the Pakistanis have done this on several occasions with a number of other al Qaeda leaders such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander of 9/11, who was handed over to U.S. custody after a raid in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi in 2003. So too was Abu Faraj al-Libi, another key al Qaeda leader who was similarly handed over by the Pakistanis to U.S. custody two years later.

Why cover it up?

Common sense would also tell you that if U.S. officials had found out that the Pakistani officials were hiding bin Laden there is no reason the Americans would have covered this up. After all, around the time of the bin Laden raid, relations between the United States and Pakistan were at an all-time low because the Pakistanis had recently imprisoned Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who had killed two Pakistanis. What did U.S. officials have to lose by saying that bin Laden was being protected by the Pakistanis, if it were true?


All sorts of things are, of course, plausible, but in both journalism and in the writing of history one looks for evidence, not plausibility.

Hersh has had a storied career. One hopes that he won't end it with a story about the Obama administration and the bin Laden raid that reads like Frank Underwood from "House of Cards" has made an unholy alliance with Carrie Mathison from "Homeland" to produce a Pakistani version of Watergate.

Where does one start?

For me, it is evident that we are dealing not with knowledge, but with two competing stories. I would not even go so far as to call them two competing theses, because neither one resembles a self-respecting thesis.

The first thing that is extrremely fishy is the fact that Mr. Bergen uses a formulaic theme for his "story", which essentially is  "Somebody we esteem highly has aged and fallen into his dotage," or simply put, the decline and fall of the once great and mighty.
That is a theme everybody likes, and thus everybody gets sucked into.

But even that theme is not enough.

Mr. Bergen looks for evidence, falls into the Bill O'Reilly-Brian Williams Syndrome of being in a privileged position in Abbottabad, and thus being the only person - in Western journalism - who can speak informedly.
Mr. Bergen saw bullet holes which he knows were made the night of the raid.
I would have liked to find out how that is done.
Were there local CSI tapes with the date next to each hole in the wall?

The ouroboros comes in at 

  • Saudi Arabia was financing bin Laden's upkeep in his Abbottabad compound.

Why would the Saudis pay for the upkeep of their most mortal enemy? Indeed, why wouldn't they get their close allies, the Pakistanis, to look the other way as they sent their assassins into Pakistan to finish him off?

Why indeed?

If Pakistan is Saudi Arabia's closest ally, as Mr. Bergen states, why was Bin Laden not removed earlier?

If Pakistan is not Saudi Arabia's closest ally, Mr. Bergen just told a bald-faced lie, or maybe the answer is  - and Mr. Bergen is the one who is telling us all this  -  that Pakistan keep some prize objects around the house until some nation or state or something comes up with the right amount of pay-off.
Then they sell the obbject to the highest bidder. Or let the highest bidder do the dirty deed.

In any event, secrecy and downright lying seems to be part of the strategy.

In any event, we are not dealing with epistemology, with knowledge, but with who has the better Story (or Myth - in its original sense) at this stage of the game.

I sense that Mr. Bergen might be paying a favor to some important Mr. Big somewhere in order to have produced this "odd" serpent of a piece.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

NFL Football: Is Deflate-Gate A National Disaster?

I grew up playing sports, and I like sports generally. I once wrote that the main difference between ballet and football was the fact that the outcomes for football games or matches were stochastic and described by probabilities, whereas the outcomes for ballet performances were not.

Imagine placing a wager on whether the Nutcracker or the Mouse King would win their battle!

The business of intentionally and illegally under-inflation of balls for a New England Patriots play-off game is not a national disaster.....

However, the mentality and behavior that has led to this corruption of sports is!

Imagine the Mouse King dropping his sword, and then pulling out a semi-automatic gun or an anti-tank rocket launcher!


Beware Of Science!

 Dr. Doom  ( Phd. Cantab )

I believe it was an aide to the Australian PM who just recently said that Climate Change was a UN hoax dreamed up by scientists "in cahoots" with that New-Worldian-Order organization.

Although unstated, I got the distinct impression that the scientists who were working with the UN were the Dr. Doom and Doc Ock types, leading to reflection on what Dr. Sheldon Cooper first pointed out: the prevalence of advanced degree holders in the legions of evil!

Actually, scientists err usually on the side of caution, rather than haste, for we are still in the grips of our old-timey-geological-era ways of looking at things: like, the mills of the gods grind fine, fine... but they do grind slow, slow..., slow.

As I have written before, such is not always the case, and may be rarely the case in chaotic or near-chaotic regimes.

For example, consider a CNN report on climate:
New temperature records highlight global warming's continued rise
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
Updated 3:38 AM ET, Sat May 9, 2015
(CNN)New climate change records have come along to remind us that Earth's thermostat is steadily pushing upward.

More exactly, there are two global high temperature records and a smattering of climate change low points.

March 2015 was the warmest March since record-keeping began in 1880, says the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association. And the first quarter of 2015 was the warmest first quarter on record in those same 136 years.

That gives 2015 a stab at trumping the hottest year on record -- which was 2014.

The uninterrupted continuation of the warming trend is no surprise. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred in the past 17 years... 
 yadda, yadda, yadda; ice caps melting and whatever.

The article emphasizes the slow but steady progress of change...
However, remember the year 10,000 died in Europe from a heat wave, and the scientists who issued the definitive report remarked that they expected such results, but not so soon!

Perhaps the CNN article should have emphasized the slow but steady progress of change and compare it to that of a sandpile, rising from a table top as individual sand particles are dropped slowly... until a point is reached when it avalanches.
Then everything changes quite rapidly.

We never know all the parameters; our knowledge is never perfect.

Consider another CNN story from the same day:
American doctor declared free of Ebola finds the virus in his eye months later
By Faith Karimi and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Updated 11:23 PM ET, Fri May 8, 2015
(CNN)American doctor Ian Crozier was treated for Ebola in Atlanta last year and declared free of the virus in his blood. But he had no way of knowing it still lurked in his eye.

At the time, his eyes were the least of his worries.

"There were lots of things sort of higher on the food chain," he told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "I was struggling to learn to walk again."

But not long after, mild burning and light sensitivity afflicted his eyes.

Less than two months later, he was back at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; testing showed the virus was still living in his eye...

Now, did you really see that one coming at us?  Something like that could avalanche into a whole new pandemic.

Maybe that Australian bloke has a better view of Doc Ock: