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Monday, October 30, 2006

The Universal Churches

In all the discussion about Religion I have seen, I have never seen a reference to Arnold Toynbee's concept of Universal Church. In Toynbee's A Study of History the thesis is presented that all civilizations we are familiar with have created Universal Empires ( e.g., Rome ) and the main use of these empires is create a fertile ground where a Universal Church comes into being.

When the empire falls, as must all things of man fall to ruin, it is the Universal Chruch which carries on the remnants of civilization into the new age. Quite a different view of Religion and Churches than what we are used to.

When the slaves were packed on board ships in West Africa they had nothing except their minds and hearts. The slaves in Haiti brought Vodou with them and this was the only link they had to the world they had left, other than oral traditions. In this instance, Religion preserved the spirit of a people.

I am so tired of reading nonsense about Religion. Our opinions are not history. Read The Religions of the Oppressed by Lanternari.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Faith Bashing

I was reading Killing the Buddha site and came across a book review:

This deals with a Mr. Sam Harris’ book Letter to a Christian Nation. The review writer starts by describing a situation where she and her Buddhist companions were opposed to a developer’s plans to clear-cut a mountain top for a resort; by implication there were grand designs of money and jobs for the other locals, so there were those for and those against the development. There was a lot of work in order to deal with the anger that will arise in heated discussions. Good little story.
When we get to the book review, we remember that not all Buddhists are smiling. Some of them have a not so hidden agenda.

First, about Mr. Harris himself we read:  

Harris does not consider himself a Buddhist because Buddhism is a religion. But he is, by his own account, someone who sits in meditation as taught in Buddhist centers, with other Buddhists.  
I suppose this somehow – magically, perhaps – establishes the bona fides of everyone on our side: Buddha, Buddha, Buddha…chanted like some mantra. There is a certain irony in that this review occurs in the site Killing the Buddha (KtB). The name of the site is based on the story that teaches the moral that the Buddha you see is NOT the Buddha.
Yet the writing is heavy with Buddhas.

There is an implication that Meditation Makes the Buddhist. Meditation is only one step of the Eight-fold Path. What happened to the other seven? Then Faith comes in for a good shellacking:  

For instance, he writes: "While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers.  
I believe one of the definitions of Faith is belief without absolute verification.
Believing without proof does not hold prestige. What holds prestige is the acts of those who fight in the big jihad of forcing one’s actions to conform with the will of the Holy. That holds prestige…in fact, it holds more prestige than sitting in meditation as taught in Buddhist centers.

We have already talked about statements that cannot be proven to be true or false; something as simple as “The Cure concert was great!” cannot be proven true or false. There is no means of verifying it since some will have liked the music and some will not have liked it. There is no characteristic of "being musically great" which may be measured with the same ease we use to measure the attendance figures.

We can generate an infinity of statements that cannot be proven and we deal with them constantly. We experience the reduction ad absurdsum of everything when we come to:  

Harris also makes strong cases against creationism, in support of atheism, and generally attempts to "demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms." And he uses the language of scientific certainty (he is himself a neuroscientist) to support his claims. It is easy to say, as many do, that Harris is prone to fall into the same fundamentalism that he so articulately dismantles. But this is simply the nature of an argument like his. He is trying to say that some things actually are intolerable, things like beliefs that inspire people to fly planes into buildings. But unlike the intolerance of religious absolutism, these things are intolerable for good reasons.  
Yes. It is too facile to say that Atheism is not susceptible of verification, just as is Faith. Yet what would be the point? I do not think it would add anything positive to this process. And Neuroscience as the effective means to establish atheism? Surely not.
If something cannot be proven nor disproven, it really does one not a bit of good to bring in "hard science" and have it strut its stuff. One gets the notion here that science may prove something that is not capable of proof.

It was quaint to see the entire history of Islam collapsed into a flight of airplanes. And it would be too facile again to point out that horrible things merely require horrible people. If religion is involved, however, it gets the bad rap. . If the Holy were responsible for every idiocy that comes forth from mankind, the universe would indeed be a strange countryside.
I am not really sure that the last two sentences quoted make a point of any kind. I mean, I sort of think I know where the author wants to go, but she does not really go there. The reviewer is extremely sympathetic to Mr. Harris. I am not clear why.
Why would a self-proclaimed Buddhist finds this so enchanting? It has all the earmarks of erudite, well written twaddle.

It reminds me of the story in
where an old Granny with a gangrenous leg refuses amputation for religious reasons:  

What life do these people mean to save this grandmother for? A life of poverty wherein she finds herself an object of scorn and ridicule? Perhaps Granny has born enough suffering and decided that it is time to leave suffering behind. That is one point that never dawns on thepeople of Reason who heap scorn upon her; maybe Granny has attained Nirvana
The problem of Religion is the attitudes of mankind that are made very clear in this review.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cheney: I Recommend Democracy With A Side Order Of Death Squad

A quote from a Z Magazine book review:  

With the U.S. occupation grinding into a quagmire in 2004, Vice President Richard Cheney called for the “Salvador option” in a nationally televised debate...

This remined me of the fact that there was a discussion within this administration about the use of "death squads" to keep the enemies of democaracy at bay, just as we supported such death squads in El Salvador. If I remember correctly, it was one of these squads that killed Archbishop Romero.

When Bremmer disbanded the army and the old police, there was nothing left to keep order. This is when the decision not to disarm the militias was made. This was a policy decision and there must have been discussions about it. Cheney's remark above was one instance when the discussions came to the light of day.  

To the Vice President of the most powerful country in recorded history, an acceptable instrument of policy was a DEATH SQUAD! And he reasoned about them as if they were pawns on a chess board. In short, our administration made a conscious and deliberate decision to allow the militias to remain armed in order to use them to maintain order AND to possibly play a role of death squads against the insurgents.

Now we are seeing the results of this insanity. Hammorabi estimates 100 people killed per day. This would seem to support the high kill figures of the Lancet study. There is something seriously wrong.


Brennt Iraq?

Mit brennender Sorge schreibe Ich.
When I said that a previous post was my last on Iraq, I meant my last post in English.

If you want to read about Iraq, read Hammorabi, a blog written by a fellow who's an Iraqi and has been there continuously. It follows the whole trail from initial hope to present despair.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Putting Away The Things Of A Child

I read an article which I liked very much:  
We're all big babies

If you read it, I will say up front that I am already aware that I transgress all his guideposts of measuring adulthood, so I do not require further e-mails or comments from you pointing it out.


Catonic Thoughts

...ceterum censeo Creationem Consulto delendam esse.  
( "...furthermore, I believe that Intelligent Design must be destroyed." because it is disguised idolatry - or polytheism.)

I was originally going to title this "Catonic Love" - an absolutely horrible title. The reference is to good old Cato, the Roman Censor. And the creation of the adjective "catonic" was a play on "platonic".

However, catonic is too, too reminescent of catatonic, not to mention catamite. This source of confusion is immeasurably compounded by the fact that I never could keep clear the meanings of catamount and catamite. 
( You may think this odd, but I did spend one summer of my high school years swimming, sun-bathing, and reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I believe Caligula was termed a catamite or had some such rent-boys about the palace.)

I can look at the word catonic and see cat-o'-nine-tails by reading too fast. It is a short trip then to cat on a hot tin roof and any number of misleading notions.

Wacky Religions?

Often I come across articles and essays written by very learned people who wish to take Religion to task for being dangerous and inimical to human well-being. In fact, some wax so eloquently that - for all the world - you would think that they had tackled Old Man Religion McBug-a-Boo who was raving and flailing about and now these writers were sitting on his chest, calling for the EMS guys to come with a straight-waistcoat (or, straight-jacket) and deliver this insane old geezer to the local mental hospital.

However, I think humanity can act quite insane with or without Religion. If Religion seems beyond the fringe, I am quite sure that if you look around, you will find the tell-tale traces of human activity, full of sound and fury.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's Ahead Now That We've Destroyed Iraq


I think this will be my last post on Iraq.
I opposed the war from its inception.
The reason given for the war - the presence of WMDs- I believed to be false based on the fact that the UN weapons inspectors had been in the country for nine months and clearly stated they found no indication of them.

This assumes the UN weapons inspectors actually knew how to inspect for weapons. I guess we did not think they knew how to do it.

I wondered at the so-called intelligence. The clear and unambiguous intelligence we had we chose to ignore. If it was difficult to get intelligence, as has been stated, this meant that we had no intelligence, we ignored the excellent intelligence we did have, and listened to Chalabi who was in D.C. I did not believe in the purported connection between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein.
The religious fundamentalism of Osama did not set well with the secularity of Hussein. There was never a report of any connection before our government decided it needed to establish one. Before the war started in 2003, Bin Laden put out a video that was widely shown on the US media. In this video he stated that Saddam Hussein was Hallaal. This is not really like slapping him on the back and saying he is kosher. Hallaal meant that Saddam Hussein's neck could be put under the butcher's knife. Hallaal meant that it was O.K. to slaughter Hussein.

And the interpretation put on this video was that Bin Laden and Hussein were friends! You had better hope the mortality figures of over 600,000 are not correct. You heard correctly: YOU had better hope. The ultimate responsibility falls on our shoulders. We allowed this to be done in our names. We cannot wash the blood from our hands. I remember Christmas of 2004 arguing the war with a friend from Cleveland. It ended up by him saying: "Oh, heck! You read everything about it!"

So we looked at each other and laughed. No more war discussion. I read the BBC every morning. I probably always will. I learned in the 21st century to not trust the media of my own country. Phil Donohue and Bill Maher lost their shows over inappropriate criticism and lack of idealogical correctness. It was just like being back in the USSR. There is talk of impeachment of the President. I do not want this. I wish he would resign. That would give us Cheney. He'd last for a month then he'd resign and go sit on the boards of numerous corporations. We have utterly wasted 5 years. We have not even learned anything from our disaster.  

Muhammad Yunus and his creation of the Grameen Bank received the Nobel Prize recently. Please read about it if you wish. This is the type of Capitalism which works to alleviate the rural poverty and years of neglect which exist all over southern Asia. There is a clear difference between Bhopal - where local people are seen as inconsequential, so much so that we may establish toxic factories without safety measures standard in the world of the rich - and the Grameen Bank.  

Check out the new National Space Policy signed by the President on October 18. If the President were Eisenhower, this policy would seem reasonable and innocuous. When the President is someone of a far different caliber and outlook, this policy takes on a more sinister tone. The main player in space will probably be China. China has just recently had the surprising yet edifying spectacle of a neighbor who has planned and worked and waited 50 years to develop an atomic bomb in order to deal with the USA. We must not allow yet another area of the universe be opened up to mindless aggression.


Sunday, October 22, 2006


Kattbanjo ( aka. Little Catacuracha ) is back. Hooray and Yippee Skippee! You may visit her site yourselves. I assume you can find the way. I would link you to it...I would, that is, if I actually wanted to share.

Buddhist Expectations

I was talking to a friend about Buddhism. He is an associate, actually, though not really an associate. More like like an acquaintance from the dawn of history. (Not a friend, surely. What I mean to say is that I tried friendship once. It didn't work!)

So I said something about meditation as being one part of the eightfold path. So he brightens up and says that he has been meaning to pay a return visit to some monastery in upstate New York where he once spent a week or so. He still has his begging bowl as a memento. In fact, he wished to go strongly and would soon make plans. I asked him what it is that is doing the wishing.

There is a lot of paradox here based more on the metaphysics rather than ethical or religious notions. However, this one had never, ever, ever uttered a word more profund in his long life. Nor did the one who heard it understand it. THIS I will meditate on.



The USA has banned on-line gaming from the Internet. Online gaming group Partygaming has to restructure its business.

"Gibraltar-based Partygaming has focused on expanding outside the US, as the threat of a crackdown loomed. "Whilst the US has historically represented the majority of the group's revenues and profits, I am pleased to report that our non-US business continued to deliver strong growth," chief executive Mitch Garber said. "

Notice how little difference there is in Business whether one is describing automobiles or revenues from gambling addicted teenagers.

I have remarked previously on the often stated proposition that the Mob or Cosa Nostra in the USA is believed to have moved into legitimate businesses over time and furthermore, that as the Mob became more like Business, so did Business become more like the Mob.


Business without a proper Ethics is the Mob.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kevin and Pat Tillman

I read Kevin Tillman's article this morning. I'm sure most of you already have read it. It took way too long for us to see through the "illusions" created by our government. The next time, living a lie may be even more deadly.

note: the link is no longer valid and leads to a search page. I do not care for the site, but there it is.
May 4, 2011.

The Work of Philosophy

"This [the U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism... when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other." Benjamin Franklin What is the process by which the people become so corrupted? I believe it is a matter of not paying attention to the great needs of life: loyalty, fidelity, bravery, faith. Franklin spoke during a period of turmoil and war during which all these virtues were demanded of the citizenry. It is not war we require, rather the focus on the great virtues called forth by our noblest passions. It is the work of Philosophy to keep our focus on the Good and to keep our understanding of what is Good clear and elevated, not permitting it to be degraded. There is so much that degrades us in our civilization. Politicians seek power. They do not have good ideas. The best of them find good men and women with good ideas and build upon them. It is the work of Philosophy to provide these ideas; good ideas, not the tripe Alfred Rosenberg supplied to Hitler, but the inspiration to godliness and nobility. We have come through a period during which our nobility has been brought low, our faith has left the church and entered into public fray, our loyalty has been betrayed by those who should have been our leaders. Let us leave it behind with a sign of relief. Let us turn to good women and men who may assist us to retrieve our stature.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Palestinian Olives

When I buy olives, I always ask if they are from Palestine. I guess this is the only way I can show support. Besides, all those Palestinian olive groves will be stolen, burnt, or bulldozed soon. A message to the USA and Israel: I think you've killed enough Palestinians by now. I can assure you that I have gotten my tax dollars' worth many times over! And Hamas was elected. Deal with it. Or deny Democracy. We would rather deal with Mahmoud Abbas. He wrote a thesis in University denying the Holocaust. Figure that one out if you can.

Faith and its Manifestations

Read today: which is a site I often read. It is the Society for Mutual Autopsy, autopsy meaning "to see with one's own eyes" literally. Found an article which I will quote and try to briefly summarize:
No Prosthesis for Jesus To avoid hell, a Christian chose death over the amputation of a gangrenous limb. Gotta love that old-time, fear-based religion! By John Sparks and Mary Beth Crain
A few days ago, I posted a blog describing journalist turned author Jennifer Skiff’s request for “God Stories” for a book she’s working on. And it struck me that just as there must be millions of people who’ve had experiences that convinced them of the existence of God—that’s the subject of Skiff’s book—there must be just as many who’ve faced trials or witnessed events in life that led them to seriously doubt, even reject, God... Yet another kind of reply came from Kentucky author John Sparks. He told the tale of an old Appalachian lady who, clinging to her brand of fundamentalist beliefs about salvation, chose to die a terrible, painful death rather lose a gangrenous limb and thus her place in heaven...—J. Spalding * * *
John Sparks: Some years ago I worked in the laboratory of a mid-sized rural hospital, which meant that I occasionally had to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for the pathologist if his own technician didn't happen to be available. One night I had to draw blood from an elderly patient suffering from developing gangrene in one limb. My father was an amputee and, thinking that the patient had been admitted for an amputation, I mentioned Dad's operation to the patient's sons and daughters who were present. They immediately corrected my mistake: this patient was not going to have an amputation, because her Christian faith was such that she felt she had to keep her body entirely intact for the Resurrection...
The old patient suffered for two or three weeks and finally died, to the last refusing amputation of that gangrenous limb because her faith simply demanded that her body be intact to be raised in the power of the Lord..
It's a hard thing to think that people can, and do, die for extremely deeply felt religious beliefs that in the long run turn out to be worth [very little].
Mary Beth Crain: John Sparks’ story made me ponder the irrational, perverted, and thoroughly self-destructive lengths to which human beings will go in affirming their faith in God...
Sparks’ tale of the old Appalachian lady who suffered a terrible, needless death rather than lose a gangrenous limb and her place in line for the Rapture is a wonderful, if distressing, example of religion gone berserk. Had someone invited this poor woman to follow her logic to its ridiculous conclusion, I wonder if she would have been forced to rethink her position...
Our old Appalachian woman was obviously controlled by a fear-based religion so insidiously lethal that it overrode her very instinct for self-preservation.

Even as we realize the need to talk between faiths to increase our understanding, we may still find ourselves condemning our own co-religionists.The same standards of what is acceptable religious belief as described above would, if applied to the Lord Buddha, condemn him as a wild man seeking suicide.These standards would decry Gandhi's fasts as the work of a mindless terrorist.
What life do these people mean to save this grandmother for?
A life of poverty wherein she finds herself an object of scorn and ridicule?
Perhaps Granny has borne enough suffering and decided that it is time to leave suffering behind.
That is one point that never dawns on the People of Reason who heap scorn upon her: maybe Granny is attaining Nirvana!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I received an email from Nicole E. Billionaire today. She wants me to handle some of her stateside investments while she is still taking care of things in Nigeria. Poor soul! I shall, of course, steal her millions and leave her penniless. Sometimes I actually feel sorry for these simple folks. On another topic - the main topic actually - there was another email that startled me briefly. It stated: End Time Share Maintenance Fees. Of course, I read this as something to do with End (of) Time. (or EOT as we call it.) Then, I realized that it wasn't enough that EOT presaged the end of everything as we know it, but we had to pay upkeep for the catastrophe.
Add Maintenance Fee to that old maxim about Death and Taxes. I peaked at the contents without opening the virus-ridden IED and suddenly all was clear. It had something to do with Time Sharing of condos and nothing at all with EOT and Death, unless you time-share with the Grim Reaper.

For the longest time I would see crude signs posted by the side of the road saying: Camp Fire Wood. I naturally assumed that there was a chain of camps for RVs and such and that "Fire Wood" was the name of the campgrounds. I assumed that the rustic and crude nature of the signs was part of their genius marketing which was intended to give a subliminal impression of Nature untrammelled by the works of civilization. This interpretation lasted for a couple years, believe it or not, until I finally saw a sign by the road that said: Campfire Wood for Free. Oh, I thought, wood for campfires. That makes more sense.
Then very recently I came across: Invisible Fence Dog in Training. I think I had recently been reading about Japanese robo-canines, so I was ready for a major change in how the Species Canis Domesticus was defined. I read the notice as saying that the breed of dog called "Fence Dog" ( which obviously was bred to work in concentration camps and prisons) lived nearby and the breed had been improved by adding the characteristic of "Invisibility" to it-not a bad improvement for a guard dog, and this dog was in training. So as I passed I scanned the area with my peripheral vision, hoping thereby that I would get a fuzzy glimpse - like the Predator in the film of the same name - of the so-called invisible dog that guarded the fenced perimeter. This nonsense only lasted for 20 seconds until I recalled what "Invisible Fences" were and knew that the sign meant that dog A is being trained for an invisible fence B and numbskull C driving by best keep his eyes on the road.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Rabbi of Goray and Justice Scalia

I was reading about Justice Scalia in KeepMedia this morning.
A feisty Justice Antonin Scalia defended his conservative view of a rigid interpretation of the Constitution at an unusual forum Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union's annual meeting... Scalia, whose "originalist" theory asserts that the Constitution should be interpreted in its 18th-century context, believes in a limited right of privacy. He is against the right to abortion, which was first declared by the Supreme Court in 1973. Such a question, he says, should be up to the people and their elected legislators. "I apply the limitations on American democracy that the American people have adopted," he said. The rights of homosexual people, too, he said, should be left to the people rather than courts.
I wrote a comment:
If I remember correctly, many Jewish women from all over the East made the trek to Goray in Poland because the rabbi of Goray was known far and wide to be more inclined to bend when dealing with divorce.Some rabbis were strict, some were lenient. If you wanted strict construction, you went to Lublin where the strict rabbi resided. Else, to Goray.There is a difference in the hearts, not in the Torah.
I have exactly 3 concerns here:
First, the business of putting oneself in a context that existed 300 years ago is an extremely iffy proposition. Why should things - which today in the present are not clear - suddenly become clear by putting them back 300 years? (Actually, this does work and it is effected by being ignorant of 99% of the details that existed in a particular situation 300 years ago. Thus, we are kept from a swamp of details and have clarity, but not informed clarity.)
Furthermore, whose definition of the context does one use? Which historian do we invoke?
I suppose I mean to say: If I can not believe my own eyes (and heart), what makes me think I can do better with John Adams' eyes and heart? Thus, I cannot use my own writing, but somebody else's writings, preferably someone who lived 300 years ago. I may use his writings, but writings do not make me totally privy to the context in which he lived. They DO NOT make me totally in context since -as mentioned above - I cannot know the vast majority of the detail 300 years ago.
How do you deal with totally new situations which not only did not exist 300 years ago, but were not even conceptualized 300 years ago? Obviously, there must be a further system of analogical reasoning or some other scheme by which we put ourselves into context ( which does not even exist for the new situation ) and reason by analogy and metaphor and parallelisms to what actially did exist. And it is right here that the pretense to Historical Context falls totally apart.
Second, I assume the learned Justice is opposed to slavery and other forms of indenture.Why, then, are the rights of homosexual people asserted to be best left to the people, not the courts?
Slavery was left to the people. The highest court in the land upheld the institution. There was a radical cure effected by President Lincoln. At present, homosexuals are second-class citizens and find themselves bereft of basic right the rest of the population takes for granted. AND it is the ancient context of the slavery clauses in the Constitution that led our country to endure slavery and a similar context takes Justice Scalia down the same type of road.
Third, Justice Scalia is quoted as saying:

"If you fall in love with an evolving Constitution," he said, "do not think that it will evolve in only one direction." 
Is this a threat? I mean, is he saying that if I embrace a Constitution evolving liberally, beware! for it may also evolve conservatively and mothers get your kids off the streets then!
I never thought that evolution is only in one direction. It is just like going to Goray. Is the Torah strict or is it lenient? The people who journeyed to Goray to speak to the Rabbi did not ask the question. For them, the Torah was the Torah. But how does the Torah reflect itself in the world of men? In their hearts. If their hearts are merciful, the Torah is merciful. If their hearts are hard, the Torah is hard.
Justice Scalia has no faith in the hearts of his fellow citizens. He must flee back to a paradigm of a land that existed 300 years ago, a land which cannot be but an image devoid of the greatest part of its almost infinite detail.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What I Believe

I was born Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools through high school.
I go to mosque to study Arabic.
My favorites authors are Avivah Zornberg and Gershom Scholem, both outstanding students of Mishnah.
I am currently studying Buddhist Logic and Metaphysics. (Meditation is only part of the eight-fold path.)

I still think America is the greatest place in the world. We do not need leaders who lie and deny. We do not need leaders who strive to deprive.
We need a commitment to blood, sweat, and tears in pursuit of our Faith. We need to know what our Faith is and we have to commit ourselves to the struggle to support it: the big Jihad to win control over ourselves. We do not need torture. We do not need a state of constant war to last for generations. We have to be resolved and strong, for sure, but we must deny the hideous scenario created by the present government which creates a shadowy Islamo-fascisist conspiracy which will last for generations.

WE DO NOT NEED LEADERS WHO REDACT THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS to assure the supremacy of the military-industrial complex. We are now following the Romans: Empire - decline and fall. The Romans at least had the excuse that they were morally witless, not having Faith to guide them. We have no excuse.


The Iceman Cometh

There is a cute story for the season. It's about paranoia, but of the best type: paranoia as comfy slippers or sitting before a warm fire on a cold autumn day.  

Read the Tomgram, 
Mike Davis on Manifest Destiny, the Sequel

Herein we see the Saudi government has plans to build a 560 mile long fence on the Iraq border. Add this to Israel's new ghetto wall and the USA's new gated-community-wall along the Mexican border and with a little ingenuity, we could have a globe girdling wall and have it hook up with China's Great Wall just in time for the 2008 Olympics (tm).
What will we do when the Iceman gets here?
Will we continue to sit around in drunken Consumerism in the Bottom-of-the-Sea Rathskeller? Where all tomorrows have become today...and quickly vanish in intoxication.

David Kuo was on 60 Minutes yesterday. Talking about the Faith Based Initiative, I have a quote of his:  

At the end of the day, both parties played to stereotype -- Republicans were indifferent to the poor and the Democrats were allergic to faith.

He told of being at an Evangelical Convention where there were information and publications on everything - except the poor.

Yesterday being Sunday, I watched the televised goings-on of Pastor John Hagee, the foremost Christiano-wiseguy. There was all politics, all Iran, all nukes in Korea, all advice to Caesar. There was no humility or charity nor any other pesky virtue.
There were quotes about total victory, however. In the world of Pastor Hagee, Jesus is a political subordinate to Big John.
To blaspheme in this manner is equivalent to tearing out your own heart and replacing it with iron. It is Lady Macbeth seeking to change her own nurturing gender to that of a blood-maddened soldier in order to kill without compunction.

Those of little wit speak of World War III or World War IV.

When the War comes which is the result of our sojourn here in Harry Hope's Bar, the place where we have withdrawn from the rest of the world to live in our drunken dreams, it will come on as a whirlwind.  

As we sit in the semi-darkness, our cheap booze in jam jars on the dirty tables, we squint through the street facing windows of Harry's Bar. They haven't been cleaned since his wife died years ago, and they are almost as opaque as etched crystal. The people on the street become figures of dream, wispy and indeterminant figures with unsure outlines, blurs that come into view, come closer to each other, binding themselves in an amorphous shadow, part into smaller sections and go their ways up or down the street. It's so hard to see. Fashions must have changed. It's hard to tell. Maybe someday we'll go outside and take a walk around the ward. Until then, we'll wait for the Iceman. We'll wait for the wife-murdering Hickey.  
Didn't we see Hickey's trial on television? 
Didn't we see Hickey in his white Ford SUV being chased on the highway?  

Damn! This booze ain't got no kick to it! Just then, an infernal explosion blew in the front window and Harry's head ended up by the cash register while his body still sat at the table, jar of booze in its hand, puzzled and searching for its lips.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Le Creuset

We have just purchased a Cocotte Ronde or Dutch Oven or French Oven made in France by Le Creuset. I am glad that it is made in France. Many people have things they bought at Wal-Mart and are made in China. That’s O.K. for them, I guess. By the way, 8,000 to 10,000 executions per year are carried out in China. What a power house! What a great combo of Capitalism and Capital Punishment! (Maybe we could outsource?)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Compact of Medina and Other Things

Compact of Medina
There is an good account of the Compact of Medina established between the first Muslim community in Medina and the non-Muslims of the city. This will be instuctive for people who judge the political theory of Islam to be based solely upon dhimmitude and second class citizen status.

This is true whether these who judge are non-Muslims or Muslims, for both are prone to error. It would be rather unfair to judge the political acumen of Muhammad by the actions of subsequent leaders. It would be rather like judging the abilities of George Washington based upon the acts of the current President.  

Religion and Politics I was talking to my psychiatrist recently ( finally!, I hear a gasp of relief.) Actually he is not my psychiatrist in a professional role; he is an old friend who happens to be a trick-cyclist (as I call him. Most people call him a shrink, so trick-cyclist is a welcome change.) Anyway, the upshot of it was that the rise of political Islam has tracked and been tracked by the rise of political Christianity. The tenor of both movements is aggressive. They are Paganism on the one hand and Jahaliyya on the other. Jesus once said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's. This statement establishes the basic conceptual difference between the realm of Caesar and God. They are different in understanding and they are different in reality.
The divide bewteen them is illustrated by the nature of people who pursue power. Consider the people you know who have pursued power. Look at the Congress and Administration of the USA. The appetite for Power overwhelms the taste for morality.
Desire for Power does not even guarantee that these people can perform their basic functions. Once they have been elected, they face the great void of their own being: there's nothing there except that Lust for Power, and then they indulge themselves in their tawdry vices of degradation, greed, and corruption.

Asking One's Higher Father The President said that when he was considering the Iraq War, he consulted not his father, but his Higher Father. If this was a political ploy, it was shameful. If it was true, it was a thing whose name I will not mention, for I still believe we should talk respectfully of the President.

A Look in the Mirror

I was talking to someone about the governance of Arab countries. He spoke of the Arab street. He spoke of how alien it was to have thousands of peoples pouring into demonstrations about such things as, oh, say, cartoons of the Prophet. This was a great distinction between THEIR countries and our country: this lack of control. Our democracy is the best and, sad to say, perhaps not suited to Arabs due to their lack of self control. What a gelding of Memory! Did he forget the fall of the Berlin Wall? Did he forget the crowds of Eastern Europeans claiming their freedoms? Did he forget Kent State?

Friday, October 13, 2006

What Happens Now?'re nothing at all, Neither fish nor fowl, You're too busy fondling . . . Your own self-esteem. Victor Jara, Chilean singer Tortured and killed under General Pinochet The Wiseguys in D.C. are actually quite likeable. We certainly never believed that "Neo-Con" meant anything other than "We want power!", did we? I mean, it's sort of like "Neo-Nazi", vague and indistinct while remaining quite creepy. That's what nice about such labels. They don't mean anything, but they give the illusion that they do. They cover up the real goals: "We want power!", "We want to kill some guys!", "We believe in praying to dark gods!", and so on. However, the just desserts of the wiseguys in Washington require another Dante to create for them their own Holiday Inn Suite in Hell.

November Elections

The present day Republican Party has posed as a moral leader and has acted like a moral idiot. Will I, a conservative, vote for them?
Not a chance.

 People who want Power want one thing: Power. Nothing else. We have to have elected leaders. However, to expect ethical behavior from any figure of power in D.C. at the present time is a dream. The GOP gave us a war that will go on for at least 7 years ( Army: troops in Iraq at present levels until at least 2010), this war is of very doubtful outcome, and it was started on lies (remember: Hans Blix had been in Iraq for months and was saying that there were no WMDs.).

This GOP gave us debates on how we should torture. Now our elected officials sweep into view and we imagine them as clerics and acting like Monty Python's The Spanish Inquisition. Do not for one minute think there is no connection bewteen the glorification of violence and power and greed in our society and the presence of torture and school shootings and unjust wars. Do not think that our contempt for the poor and have-nots and homeless and our distinctly unChristian neglect of them does not lead us further into a narcissistic paganism. Do not for one minute think that they are not connected. They are. I ask myself, "WWAD?". What Would the Amish Do? I'll vote accordingly.

I think I voted for Nader in 2004.


Thursday, October 12, 2006


My nephews said that the concept of "Christiano-Wiseguys" is the only intelligent thing ever to crawl out from my blog. http://URL Then they added that it was the only intelligible concept to see the light of day in my blog. I ran. I did not need a weatherman to see which way the wind was going to blow.

Fascists Again

Just as the 20th century was English Empire ( including the quondam part: the USA) versus Fascist versus Communist, the 21st century will be English Empire versus Islamo-Fascists versus Christiano-Wiseguys. I was talking to a friend who asked me where the word "fascist" came from. Well, it came from the fasces which were a bunch of birch (?) rods wrapped around an axe which used to be carried before the Roman consuls (I think) as a symbol of their power. I believe Mr. Mussolini picked it up in the 1920's. A reader kindly commented that Franco and Salazar were not fascists. Maybe they were Phalangists. And no more about this where do words come from. Phalangist - deal with it. Well, General Franco ( for whom I have only the fondest vague feelings ) was assisted a great deal by fascists. Hitler provided the air power for the bombing of Guernica. At this point, I believe that I have definitively shown you that the term "Islamo-fascist" or any expression of the form "_______o-fascist" is a meaningless expression.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

World News 10/10/2006

Mr. Rumsfeld While up north I read the NY Times about Donald Rumsfeld. I had never understood him nor felt empathy for him before. I hadn't thought too much about his military philosophy. Succinctly, he envisages a small, mobile, and flexible army able to respond quickly with high tech weaponry. This is not the type of army required for occupation of a country. Occupation of an unfriendly country needs lots of troops and they sit there holding the country. There seems to be an egregious dissonance between Mr. Rumsfeld's views and what has actually been going on for the last 3 years. Once the role of the small, flexible force was finished - back when Saddam's statue fell - we were really in the soup. Now we needed a big, hulking presence. We had disbanded the Iraqi police and army. There was nothing left except the small, mobile force unsuited for the role it was suddenly called upon to play. My question: Mr. Rumsfeld and company are smart people. Once it was apparent that the small and flexible army phase was over did they not meet the new situation with what it required? Why? Why? Why? Mr. Putin Three cheers for Mr. Putin and Gazprom. They have decided to go it alone on the development of the Shtokman gas field. It will be 100% Russian. Good. We never did enough to assist Russia in the years following the collapse of the USSR when everything fell into chaos and the Russian Mob ran the country. Gangsters took control of state industries and we pretty much looked at it and thought what a lovely view of a new capitalist society! Russia isn't even a member yet of the World Trade Organization. They haven't jumped through all the hoops. Mr. Chavez Our local gas station is Citgo. Actually, it was Marathon until Katrina. Since gas was in short supply after Katrina, Marathon cut them off and they were able to continue as Citgo. So I have been buying Citgo and will continue. (If I remember correctly, Citgo was Cities Service was Sinclair Oil...and Sinclair had that cute dinosaur. I may have met Harry Sinclair once.) All of a sudden my parents think I should buy my gas elsewhere because some fop has said Venezuela has applied for associate status in the axis of evil. The only thing I have against Mr. Chavez is the fact that he provided price relief on heating oil for Massachusetts and not me! I point out to my parents that no oil company of any sort has done me any favors and since we are going to actually continue to be dependent on foreign oil, then I will continue to pay 2 cents per gallon less at Citgo than at the station across the street. What's that? You are surprised we are going to continue our foreign oil dependence? Just look at how important that issue is in the mid-terms.

Dogz Rule!

We took a trip up north to Antrim County to dog sit for 10 days. Nice deal. No traffic. Clean air. Nice folks. She-who-must-be-obeyed stubbed her toe viciously the first night we were there and could not walk the dog, a job which fell to me. Of course, I knew I was going to have to walk the dog sooner or later, but I thought with a judicious flurry of inconsequential activity at just the right times someone else might walk the dog. No such luck now. It is not the "walking" to which I object; it is the "putting one's hand into a plastic bag". This I had never done before in my life. So I did it. I imagined it would be rather easy, bag on, a smooth, fluid stoop...and scoop! What could be simpler? Just about anything , as it turned out. It is Fall and the leaves-never slow on the uptake-had come in on cue and fallen. Leaves were everywhere and they were just the right color to camouflage things. I mean, I have golfed in the Fall and have had a heck of a time finding a brilliant white golf ball in the leaves. Imagine finding something vaguely the same color as the leaves! Of course, this was all due to the fact that the dog did not do everything in just one spot. He anointed a spot of ground, then scooted over a few feet, then scooted again: 3 stops. Easy enough to GPS the first spot and take care of things. Now find the other two in the camouflage. I realized that now there were scoot, stoop, and scoop. I was surprised that my menial chores had internal rhyme. I tried to think of others. I came up with "smoot" but this was from the "Smoot-Hawley" tariff and I could not think of how to work Utah's own Senator Reed Smoot into the act. Furthermore, I discovered that I hadn't really thought things through. Once you have a filled plastic bag in hand, what do you do with it? Do you just walk around with it? A clear plastic bag? A bit of a smelly little albatross around one's neck! I remember once I was looking up a lady about some business thingey and I found her in the right neighborhood on the street next to my cousin's house. She was walking a dog. I asked if she were Ms. so-and-so, she said yes, and I held out my hand, saying I was Mr. such-and-such. Well, she had a plastic bag in her hand, a used plastic bag. Missing only 2 beats, she switched it to her left hand and proferred the right. I had the pleasure of shaking the hand of a fine lady which had just been hefting dog waste. I wasn't going to put the wretched bag into my pocket; not even a double bag. Originally I had fashioned a scoop from a gallon milk jug to use so I wouldn't even have to bag my hand. This scoop worked fine for 1 day. The next day the dog, having had an entire night to mull things over, decided to carry on maneuvers in tallish grass. Well, a scoop won't work in tall grass. Nothing really does. The tall grass stems sort of comb things and...well, you get the idea. So I used the quondam scoop as a device for carrying things and if I were confronted, I could retreat into the fantasy of carrying leaves ( I used leaves a lot during those 10 days) in a jug. Of course, the dog enjoyed it all. He refused to do what I wanted or go where I directed. His contempt was complete. I mean, why would you even remotely consider listening to some guy who followed you around picking up your waste products as if they were the most precious things he'd ever seen? One neighbor thanked me for my services. I smiled, wondering what it would take to turn his happiness to wrath if what I was doing then merited a fulsome thank-you. Even the walking was not all that it should have been. Just when you had gotten into a brisk stride, little Agamemnon would need to mark territory. It was about 15 seconds between markings on average. Greedy little cuss. If we could make these territorial squirts hold up in court, I'd be rich! Something to think about. And, yes, the dog's name is Agamemnon (almost- slightly changed to protect the innocent). The whole name is Agamemnon Spartacus Simonides. No, I'm not kidding. We were in Petoskey for a day out and some pesky children wanted to pet him. I wasn't sure, although I did allow the show of affection. I mean, it wasn't my dog and, cute as a buttoniere as he was, I did not know him well enough to know how he would act with strangers. (In re kids petting dogs: I have an acquaintance who had a dog. The child of a local Major League Baseball celebrity wanted to pet said dog. The canine party of the first part, dog, nipped the pest on the cheek, requiring 2 stitches! Now, how would you like to find yourself in court up against a sports celebrity!?!? I mean, they do not even convict sports celebrities for murder in this country! What chance do you think you and your dog would have in a lawsuit against a sports celebrity?!) So the father of petting children shows up, all smiles and amiability and asks, "Cute dog. What's its name?" "Agamemnon Spartacus..." "Oh...huh?" "...Simonides." He looked at me and waited to see if there were more nomenclature to come. "I'm just dog-sitting. I didn't name him." "Oh...cute dog." A couple of beats and "Come on kids." And off they went to play airplane and tag and what-not. A boy and his dog.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Super Cilious

I have been savaged as being a supercilious drone. No, really! I know it's hard to believe, but there you are. I come across in a certain way, I guess, when I write. The criticism was directed there: if you want to fancy yourself Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, so be it, but for me... And so on. Well, I used to be sorry when I irritated people. I regret it now, but I'm not really sorry. That's the way it is. If I didn't do it that way, I would be mute. A long time ago, I faced the dilemma: what do you do when you write something that other people may not be familiar with? Well, it seems to me that this comes up quite frequently. I am not smarter, but I am an obsessive reader. So, I can either (1) just write the way I do and hope everything is cool, or (2) I can explain things at length, thereby insulting my audience by always assuming they don't know what I'm saying. I did not want to be so openly arrogant as to imply everybody was a ninny. I mean, who'd want to read the twaddle if you were always insulting them? So I write it the way it comes into my head...cry havoc...and let slip the dogs of war!! (This was the quote that got me attacked: cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. I tried to explain that at the time I was writing something and I was really, really, really short of time and needed to put something down, so I immediately went to Shakespeare - as we all do in similar circumstances! And you don't even have to say it was Shakespeare; you could assert it was Christopher Plummer playing the Klingon General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country!)

What Would Jesus Do?

Some people say that they ask themselves the question, "WWJD?" or "What would Jesus do?" when they are presented by a moral dilemma. At least, we hope it is a moral or ethical question. There isn't much point in asking "WWJD?" if we are talking about buying a new car. Well, I suggest we ask "What would the Amish Do?" or "WWAD?" They have demonstrated a commitment to Christianity which makes a mockery of the commitment of the rest of us. Too many of we modern day Christian Wiseguys have created our own new, improved versions of Jesus and made an idol out of this creation. When we ask "What would Jesus Do?" we are asking "What is it we want to do?" The Amish have showed us true Christianity consists of many things, one of them being Love and Forgiveness. And this is a far cry from the Christian Wiseguys calling for people to be assassinated. A great portion of our country worships Power and Wealth and truly believes in degrading mankind. For years we have studied violence and have not been able to establish a causal relationship between the violence in the culture and explicitly violent acts. We have been asking the wrong questions, then. We have been running a 60 year experiment in hatred and violence and blood and gore and intolerance and now with school shootings running at a pace of 1 per week we are about to see how our experiment turns out. Even popular religious themes - the "Left Behind" series for example - are violent and tales of catastrophe. Not love but wrath. Not forgiveness but getting even on a metaphysical scale. Everything reeks of blood. Resist it. Resist the call of the blood. Resist the entreaty of the vampires who seek our destruction.