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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Imbecile En Train De Se Poser Des Questions

photo: " broken mirror" 

My nephews had circled and then came to earth Sunday morning. It was snowing, so they came in to be "de-iced", as they put it. It was but a bald-faced maneuver to read my paper, eat my food, and drink my tea, along with whatever other mischief they could hatch.

I sensed this called for strong measures on my part, so I scurried like a vole into the kitchen, chivvied some double strength Stash Earl Grey from its canister, and made a mighty pot of mighty, in fact, that I began to sing in German and hum "Ein fester Berg ist unser Gott".
"Have you..." "...something a bit..." "...stronger than tea?"
I heard a mighty chorus mutter.
"You don't want tea?" I asked, incredulously. I looked at them, snow covered little ragamuffins. My heart melted.
 "I picked up some Cointreau at the Duty Free coming back from T.O. in January." I pointed to the cabinet where I kept the real stuff.

The cabinet was filled with a series of bottles of booze in various stages of deconstruction.
"And there 's some beer..."


(I have finally found the proper usage for the word "deconstruction". I came across this usage in Foucault's seminal work "The Real As LCBO", where it is Leo Foucault, not Michel, and LCBO is the Liquour Control Board of Ontario. Bryan, my wife's cousin, gave me a cherished copy from the vaults of the LCBO.)

Maintaining a wine cellar and a liquor cabinet - I use the expression Licker Locker...actually Licka Locka!- is a iffy proposition when one does not drink. She-who-must-be-obeyed has a friend in Cleveland who thinks I am quite a pestilence. She drinks beer. Her tastes seem to be various. Every time she comes to town, I have to check and see whether we have a stock of her brew of choice. Since she only drinks 1 or two cans of the six pack- without benefit of glass or tumbler, I might add-this leaves a balance of 4 to 5 cans with nowhere to go.

Recently when she blew in like the Avian Flu, I was sent to the cheap fermented products cellar to see what was up. I distinctly remember some major-domo-ish character telling me that we had better started laying in the '06 malt liquors. In the fridge, there were 4 cans of beer, all the same brand, all of the same provenance, buried way in the back, hiding under an overturned wicker tumbrel of mottled lettuce leaves and various salad greens that had gone through Falluja.
They were not light beers. There was no light beer...and I hadn't laid in the '07 Lites!

However, I was informed that her nibs drank light beer. Not only did she do so now, but it seems that she always had done so, at least in the recollection of the intelligentsia standing around in the kitchen.
"Where did these four cans of regular beer come from, then?" I asked. "She drank regular beer last time."

I have often found that imbibers do not really have any notion of what they are drinking. I suggested that we serve the regular stuff, and she would never know the difference, only to be rewarded for what I considered my brainy little economy with an icy glare of the Wisconsin Glaciation type. So I headed to the store.


" the ice box."

They glanced at each other and guffawed.
Ice box! I had a sudden lonely feeling, as if I were to be the object of cartoon justice: say an archaic word and get an anvil dropped on one's head! Ice box, Victrola, Polaroid; the list goes on.

They bypassed the Kelvinator ( ??!! an ice box named after Lord Kelvin- rather cold indeed), passed by the Food-A-Rama, et allaient directement a la bouteille de Cointreau.

A small crystalline Steuben holding the Cointreau, a dish of shavings of Trapper Joe's dark chocolate, a Villeroy and Bosch Botanica tea cup filled with Stash Earl Grey double bergamot, and in the cup a stick of cinnamon from my Pakistani epicerie.
Outside, the snow was blowing and settled upon their three SUVs. "Eco-observation number 20." I said.

They looked up from my copy of The Times and smiled vaguely. Number 20 is something like why drive 3 separate cars when 1 will suffice. "Number 3." I added, this being a slur and a wish as to what a gas guzzler may soon guzzle, in copious amounts, and without benefit of Reverend Bowdler.
They looked up, smiled, and hoisted their tea cups in unison as if to drink to my health, pinkie fingers up, and, although unsaid, indicated that I should be hoist upon a triple pinkie petard. I had to admit that they had a nice touch to their riposture.
"You know,..."
"...sometimes...not often, but sometimes..."
" do come up with something rather good."

I smiled. "Glad you like the tea."
They shook their heads.
"...the chocolate?" I wondered.
"No, no."
"This is all great, of course."
"We meant the Blog."

I gave me comfort that someone other than the Gestapo and Thought Police read the bloody thing. However, these three in front of me were not known for various and sundy kindnesses. I hedged.
" par-tic-u-lar?"
I gave the room a quick once around, looking for the quickest exit. It appeared that a quick leap to the left, over the side table, then a down and roll to the pantry door just might be in the cards.

"That posting 'In The Nightlands' ."
"We liked it."
I waited.
"We were shocked."

O.K. An insult in a velvet glove, or a compliment in a furze-laden glove. I'll take whatever is remotely related to a compliment. My mother is an expert in this field of the ontology of compliments: the velvet glove, the velveteen glove, the crack in the wise of the universe, the give with the left and take with the runs in the family.

"The power of God is shattered like a mirror. God is broken up into shards, sharp pieces that reflect His power, but no longer unified. That's what was interesting. We see it in the world. People always moan why the news does not report the good things. Well, it's so scattered about. There is so much bad, and it is so very captivating. And it presents a unified face. But God, God is scattered around. You look and look for pieces of that mirror that once was God, then you find a piece, but you can only see so much..."

I did not know. These cute little metaphors that pop out of my writing are just my way of getting through another tedious session at the old keyboard. They actually having meaning??? The sky was greyer than the tea. The snow was making a determined effort to white-out the world.


Robbie, Kick That Soccer Ball At My Evil Self!

Morbius has notified us and the world that the Uqbar SOccer League will have its first AI team next year. You heard right! AI ! That's Artificial Intelligence. The first robot soccer team. All here is Uqbar, suburb of Tlon. Morbius has also indicated that work has been finished on the Robo fans. This should be a step forward, since the Robo-fans do not get drunk and riot. However, since the protocols for their behavior is derived from that of the old fashioned type of fan, this is not a surety. Something about the guys writing the algorithms had to break into a laboratory where the brains of soccer fans were kept in the cooler, and they dropped the soccer guys brains and substituted those of murderous criminals, which, by the by, they found to be larger, heavier, and stocked with many more neurons. This may have been a scenario for the James Whale Frankenstein, though. Can not be sure right now. Do not care to find out.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Washington Neoconservative Memorial Design 6:Intel And Ashes

This is one of the the designs under the title "Douglas Feith"
It is tentatively called "Intel and Ashes ", "Rumors in the Dust", or "Ramaadi" ( since 'ramaad' is 'ashes' in Arabic)

My Beautiful Laundrette With ATM

I was musing about disparate items: brainwashing, money, and money laundering, just plain laundering, mind, cognition, and whether I should let my laundry do my shirts.
I remembered a short story I once wrote: the Palestinians were obviously not going anywhere here on Earth, so they were offered land on Mars (snicker! snicker!) during the early process of the Terraforming of Mars, and they took it.

Well, you know how this goes. Everybody's happy. The Earth, sort of a 1984 update to incorporate a Bush-like ruling Party which has no ideology, being constitutionally incapable of anything but seat-of-my-pants philosophy and get-rich-quick schemes, is happy. The Palestinians are happy, although they have a difficult existence, but no worse than before.

Well, something valuable is discovered on Mars. Kick the Palestinians off their land. And so it goes. Nihil novi sub sole. So in the long future, there comes into being the figure of the Wandering Palestinian. This may be difficult to believe, but this actually started me thinking about the resemblance of Thought to Money.

Money is sort of a universal solvent, a source of endless liquidity into which any asset may be transformed. So is thought. Everything may be dissolved and transformed. Look how the figure of the Wandering Jew was transformed into the Wandering Palestinian. Nothing to it. I did not think of it. It was there. I was sitting there, pen in hand, and thoughts like diaspora, exodus, from pillar to post, and there it was: the Wandering Palestinian, displaced from Earth, driven from Mars, doomed to wander like a comet, in and out of the immediate neighborhood of the solar system, dodging space junk in the DeKuiper Belt, asking "Baksheesh?" with sunken eyes, and in answer to which we laugh  "Mafeesh!" and call out the dogs.

Now, just as money may be laundered, so may our thoughts. Or, so may our vision of the world be run through the laundry and rendered pink when we wash it with the bloody red pants we threw in. Belief = Liquidity !

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Now You See It; Now You Don't

I had copied a portion of Matthew 28 yesterday: Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and ye all are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (If you need to know the verse numbers, look it up.) Now I shall write another excerpt from another book called Angutttara-nikaya: (The Kalamas are a group of people who questioned the Buddha.) Now, look you, Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: 'this is our teacher'. But, O Kalamas, when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome (akusala), and wrong, and bad, then give them up...And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome (kusala) and good, then accept them and follow them. When I was younger, I saw similarities. I would say: "Look! The Lord Jesus and the Lord Buddha agree here!" However, this is an incorrect focus. Read and be silent. Do what you must. They were talking about the same thing. Yes. Upon that we agree. However, the most important thing, the only thing of any importance is what has been said, not who has said it, nor whether they agree, nor whether there be points of similarity between the followers of one speaker and the followers of another. Do not write a book nor a treatise upon this sudden dawning of what you call "truth". Live a good and holy life. Your Reason may lead you to a path which leads to an empty way, a way of no importance. So may your Faith, if you allow Reason to rule Faith. There comes a time when the greatest knowledge is in the Silence of those gathered in God's name.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

All Aboard For Circles Five And Six! 'Board!

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita...
Dante Alighieri

La Divina Commedia  
(I use the illustration above, since I am heartily tired of Dore woodcuts and mediaeval prints that give the impression the Commedia is an ancient artefact. The lights could be fires; this could be a denizen of the nether regions; this could be Virgil; it could be Phlegyas...)

The fifth circle of hell, according to La Commedia, is the venue of the Wrathful. The sixth is that of the Heretical. Our journey has just begun. In Salon there is an article: Is there life after Bush?

Gary Kamiya
and we find an interesting observation:
Paradoxically, the more you hate Bush, the greater the danger you will become as hollow as he is. (This may help explain the Carville-Matalin phenomenon: Perhaps people who are utterly political, even when they hold diametrically opposed views, in some hidden way are exactly the same.)
Perhaps...perhaps. And what is that way by which they are precisely the same? Perhaps it is their unbridled lust for power. What do you make of the present where Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton both assert they have to raise 100 million each in order to run in 2008? Power, wealth, riches...and... nothing... else... We often make the mistake at this point of foolishly trying to finish a thought, as if the thought were a debutante who had been accepted at Miss Simpson's Finishing School For Young Ladies, and needed to catch the train to Connecticut post-haste. No such need exists. Just repeat it: $100 million each. Then do whatever you feel like, short of tacking on some nonce conclusion. Dance a jig, shake your head, dig potatoes, whatever.
Let the obscenity stand alone. Let the monstrosity that is our political system be seen for what it is. It is 100 mill for Sen. Obama, 100 mill for Sen. Clinton, and at least 125 mill for the GOP guy. (I am assuming the Republicans won't be running a woman.) Let it stand alone in all its gilded glory, in all its pecuniary shame. What is the future after Bush? (1) Big Bucks, (2) Big Wars, (3) Big Religion, in the sense of Dominionist strvings for power, and that absolute, for absolute faith solves the bond of corruption and absolute power.

Herein is the millenium. The Religions devoted to Power are the same everywhere, being a crude Wahhabiism whose great appeal is its fundamental simplicity, summed up in the injunction to obey the leaders, be they Robertson, Bin Laden, Falwell, Haggee, or the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, or the new Atheists. There is a book where I found:  
Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and ye all are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Matthew 23: 8 - 12
All those peoples who will aggrandize themselves and arrogate to their own persons the authority of God and of Power will feed upon our bones, for they are the Abomination of Desolation.
To be humble is to deny the ego. It is to understand that one is not a center of the universe, one is not really a character in a story or a screenplay, and there is no audience who watches and applauds one's every move and laughs at every joke.
There is life. There is family structure. There is social structure. There is the structure of Faith, and there is the structure of Reason. There is the structure of Music...and so on. There is no ego.

Those who have an Ego, find it to be a potent idol whose hungry maw they must stoke with the souls of their followers. This is why Jesus said what He did, as recorded above. We shall fight the Christian Wiseguys just as we shall the Islamic Wiseguys. John McCain, the forerunner among Republicans, has already had a sit down with the Capo of one family, Don Jerry Falwell, for which he will be repaid LARGE.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Soccer Ball Of Pythagoras

When I first met Arvon he was mulling over the impossibility of foreseeing emergent behavior. “Even God cannot”, he said. “God can write the rules for a Wolfram process, but He would not foresee…” “ ‘Would not?” “, I asked. “ Not ‘ cannot’ ?” He thought about it. “No. God would not foresee the infinite number of steps. God is all-powerful. If He would, He could see what lay in the infinite future. But…”, he added, “..He does not wish to do so.”

The Football Of Pythagoras

Recall that in most of the world, football is soccer, hence, a football is a soccer ball. That's a bit of info you will require in the next corridor of the Pythagorean labyrinth. Stepping into the old Chronomechanikos, or Time's Washing Machine, or Time Travel Machine, or the Jihaaz az Zamaan, we see the following:  

Cosmos is 'shaped like a football
By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Online science editor 

We could be living in a small Universe where space is curved in on itself, rather like a football, say researchers in this week's Nature journal. More precisely, we may inhabit a dodecahedral cosmos. It is, according to the scientists, the best way to account for the latest satellite observations.

Now, why is this interesting and what does it have to do with Pythagoras?
A dodecahedron is a 12 sided figure, the word coming from 'hedron' meaning side, and 'dodeka' meaning 12, where 'do' is 2 and 'deka' is 10. In the cosmology of Pythagoras, there was a singular atom or entity termed the " Holkos". Holkos means 'cargo ship' or 'barge', the idea of being something large and able to be filled with thing and able to move along. (Holkos also could be redolent of holkas, meaning a winch to pull barges along a canal, giving the idea of holkos an additional notion of gravid attraction, but I may as well stand upon a peak in Darien.) This was referred to as 'the cargo ship of the whole', and one got the notion that it was the ultimate element of the cosmos and moved along, carrying all the other elements within it.
Therefore, Pythagoras saw this structure of the cosmos some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, and it was probably ancient when his brilliance stumbled across it.

Please Explain 24 Hour Post...

The posting to which I refer is the previous post; it is just beneath this one. Such is the Blogic of the case, the logic of the Blog puts the most recent on top, directly subjacent to the title and the older ones further down. Hence, my explanation of something already posted will precede the explained post in one's sight, and yet be subsequent to it in time.

Someone asked me about my post on the TV show 24 Hours, wondering about how a story may be a basis for a logical argument? Perhaps I am being fanciful in my analysis? Going back to the sequence of events as propounded by Mr. Dershowitz as an instance of the justice and efficacy of the establishment of our own Torture Tribunal, we observe:
1) the bomber is known to be a bomber, and that so absolutely, something not usually so clear and precise in the real world, but which is very clear and precise in Die Hard, where the first 15 minutes or so are spent demonstrating that Allan Rickman is (a) Germanic, (b) insane, (c) a terrorist, (d) fond of shooting old security guys fer laffs;
 2) it is known that there are other bombs, or at least there is an very high probability that there are other bombs, and they are scattered in regions of dense population, something that assumes we already have a great deal of information from some other source, but we killed that particular golden goose before we educed the info as to 'where, pray tell?';
3) the bombs will go off in such a future time that the good guys still have a chance to disable them, detonation not being so imminent that all efforts would come to naught; a bomb set to explode in five minutes, say, yet in a city whose name and location we still do not know,is narratively impossible, because if the bombs go off, game over and Bruce Willis is sitting around with nothing to do for the next 90 minutes at 24 frames per second.

We could go on. What I wanted to do was demonstrate that Mr. Dershowitz's torture warrant case was constructed to compel to torture in the exact same manner as Die Hard was constructed to compel the viewers' continuing interest and approval of all mayhem wrought by Bruce Willis to attain his goal.
We watch the film and we feel anxious, wanting Bruce Willis to conquer Allan Rickman and his evil cohorts. We feel that Good has triumphed when he does so. We have been enmeshed within the web of a finely spun fabric of a story. We watch reality and we feel anxious. We wait for good to triumph. We have been enmeshed within the web, yet we do not see that some people wish to make us prisoners, and not merely to make our suffering yet more poignant. America, take control of your own Story!  

(addendum: the members of the Greybeards Round Table whose political views are more right wing- the ones who like that young sprat John McCain- say that my disdain for torture is typical liberal softness. I tell them I have lived a long time and have seen the monsters, in the nation, in the government, in my own life. I know monsters. I have sat at the same table with them. The CIA used its Flyer Miles to fly people all over the globe to torture them with no warrants of torture. Mr. Dershowitz, you offered a gun to someone who was already using the cannon. People will do what they must do. We do not need to ENSHRINE it into law.) p.s. I am told the name of the show is 24, not 24 Hours. I could have sworn it was 24 Hours when it first came out. If there is ambiguity and you constantly mix it up with "This Hour Has 20 Minutes..." ( for my Canadian friends), call me at that 800 number on bumper stickers asking whether you approve of my driving.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Midwich Torturers: 24 Hours And Some Good Hoodia

24 Hours This is a show I have never seen. I am not sure why that was in the past. I know why it is now in the present. I have read about the cute little bundle of joy called 24 Hours (Damien by its mother), and it is not up my alley. Apparently there is torture on the show: the main character versus bad guys and bad guys versus main character. Just the type of thing for America, apparently starving for more, Abu Ghraib having only whet the appetites of the ravening crowds that make up the television viewing audience. I have seen somewhere in the cyber-sanatorium referred to as the blogosphere that 24 Hours might actually be a primer for teaching morality. People have said this. People have commented on it. There is a distinction between Fiction and Reality. I think we should try once again to get this right.
There is a distinction between Fiction and Reality.
About 2 years ago, Allen Dershowitz, an august personage who is (a) well known, and (b) Harvard, made a suggestion to facilitate the war on terror. Mr. Dershowitz suggested that suspects be put to "the question", as they used to call it in the good old days of the Inquisition. He suggested a secret court type of set-up, similar to that that was intended to facilitate the domestic wiretaps, whereby the judge presiding at the Star Chamber would authorize torture when necessary, and issue a warrant.
(When I think of it, I visualize a nasty judge, leering, and saying, "You may have the body!" - which , of course, is the meaning of Habeas Corpus. So there is a scary type of fuzziness.)
There is a good deal more than this, and Mr. Dershowitz makes his case well.
At the time I opposed the idea because of the fiction/reality problem - a point to which we will return very soon.
Of course, in the interim, we discover that government agents even overlooked getting warrants for wiretaps, a procedure that the White House fully endorsed.
I can just imagine how they would perform with torture warrants.
Mr. Dershowitz should realize the nature of the persons with whom he deals.
However, we must return to fiction/reality.
In Mr. Dershowitz's presentation, there was a scenario put forward for an exemplar of the type of case for which torture warrants ( let's call them T-warrants...just like T-bills.) would be issued: (1)there is a bomber who has at least one bomb in a highly populated area, and (2) this bomber is in the hands of the authorities (perhaps the 24 Hour guy, or guys, or gals...or the Bitch of Buchenwald), and (3) this bomb will detonate soon, and (4) we have to get information about at least the location of the bomb.
O.K. Let's get those guys from the Ghraib and do some nasty Hoodia on this sucka!
(I use the word 'hoodia' for all kinds nasty s...tuff. It just sounds right, and I made it up! I know there is a plant and a weight loss thing...I receive about 50 howdies from hoodia each day in my e-mail.
In fact, Hoodia is beginning to remind me of Tone Loc's Funky Cold Medina.)
My problem with this approach is that if I find Mr. Dershowitz's argument compelling, this compelling feeling of rectitude is due to the fact that a scenario for one of Bruce Willis's movies has been used as the argument.
When I watch Mr. Willis, I enjoy the movie and am inexorably drawn along to the point where good triumphs, having laid waste to all evil doers along the way.
This is a good story. It compells me along the way from beginning to middle to climax to denouement. It is so enthralling, I do not question it. I would never question why Bruce Willis is fighting Professor Snape ( Allan Rickman ) in a high rise.
The scenario of the bomber is not an argument; it is a story-line.
And it is boffo at the box office.
But it is not the basis for our choice.
We live in a fantasy world.
We have a fantasy government.
We are at fault, for we do not demand reality. We only demand that the government protect us from reality, from the price of gas, from the drug companies...protect us from what is real so we may continue to dream.
Am I raving?Remember that it was not I who suggested using 24 Hours as a moral primer.
The notion is so stupid that I could barely restrain myself from wrting a comment saying so. However, I don't do that. There are plenty of people who will.
Thus, we will view a show with a story from Joel Surnow and Manny Coto.
It will be compelling.
It is FICTION, you stumbling morons!
You will speak and write about the pernicious effects of Hollywood when it serves your purpose, but you will not perceive that merely because a show appears to agree with some of your half-baked political beliefs, it is still but a show.
There can be no moral justification for torture just because it appeared in a thrilling TV show!
In fiction, everything is controlled by the artists.
As Aristotle said of Homer, he was the one who taught us how to lie; poetic license was readily classed as untruth at the time.
It is called poetic license, and it does not matter whether it is left wing nor right wing.
For heaven's sake. A bunch of people with their heads in their hoodias!
(note: 'Midwich' derives from John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos, with emphasis on the cuckoos.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sheikh Raed Salah Comes A Cropper

After my Rabbi Ovadia Yosef post, people have been clamoring for equal time on this highly visible Blog. Thus, we have the spectacle of Mr. Salah: "The Israeli history is contaminated with blood. They want to build their temple while our blood is on their clothes, on their doors, in their food and drinks. Our blood goes from one terrorist general to another terrorist general."

Sheikh Salah

Israel's Chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, urged authorities to prosecute Mr. Salah to the law's full extent.

"His protests are based on lies, illusions, and anti-Semitic preachings."

Mr. Metzger is cool. He has had his own legal problems, but he also had the inspired idea of a United Nations of religions. He proposed this in 2006. The idea was supported by the Imam of Gaza, Imad Al Faluji, who said that politicians lied, but religious leaders had a different objective - to work towards a higher good.

Rabbi Metzger

This is not a bad idea. I wonder why I had not heard of it earlier?

Note: There is some unclarity and dispute about Imad Al Faluji, whether this is the same individual who was Communications Minister. However, the Imam of Gaza supported Mr. Metzger's idea.

Dr. Strangelove Redivivus 1 et Varia

This 'n that from the Serious Entertainment Industry, referred to as News. If I insist on newsy type things, I shall have to change this whole set-up. Something like a column on the side with labels and links.  

Dr. Strangelove Redivivus 1  

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticised the United States on Sunday in a rare public rebuke for failing to inform Russia of an offer to build an anti-missile base on Polish soil, reports Reuters. We have talked about this before. We have lived through this before! I know we are so great we do not have to care what anybody says.
(However, I was just reading about the Auto Industry and how in 1955 Toyota built 24,000 cars and GM bestrode the world! Everything changes and remains the same.)

Britney Spears Shears No need to provide links here. I do wonder, however, about how much of this celebrity hair cutting is actually connected to a fear of hair analysis? I think certain drugs will remain in the hair for 90 days, and if you have long, lovely flowing locks, its like having a dendrochronological record of your drug history back to the stone age!
For those who wish a photo, I supply a before and after:
Have I forgotten anything?
Oh, yes....

Goddaughter Throws Frisbee At Pontiff
Elsewhere I have mentioned my travelling goddaughter and her uncanny propensity for tossing frisbees at people. She is a member of an Ultimate Frisbee team (Manchester United Tossers, or Ann Arbor Chuckers or something like that) and to them it is equivalent to a "G'day, mates!"
The photo below was from the posting when she was on the Amazon River causing wonderment among the locals:

Recently she was in Rome:
If Benedict calls, I'm not here!

Local Weather Somewhere I am not:
Arad: (-1°C/9°C) Brasov: (-4°C/5°C) Bucuresti:(-3°C/11°C) Constanta:(-3°C/7°C) Iasi: (-3°C/7°C)



The Daytona 500 has gone into the record books. My nephews are making their way home. My wife's nephews are also making their way home. If they are flying JetBlue, they probably won't notice any gallimauffrey for a couple of days until their wits return. No doubt about it; Daytona is essentially a Mardi Gras for us, the USA. It is boys gone wild watching girls gone wild being filmed right in front of them. The Super Bowl isn't anywhere near it. I mean, they run ads on TV for getting your Super Bowls parties ready and buy your stuff at our store. I do not see ads for Daytona like that. No way! Daytona is serious Mardi Gras. And you don't invite people over to drink beer and have precious little snacks; you make the scene and party! The Super Bowl, considered as entertainment, is for lazy boys and sofa spuds and chesterfield crawlers who have gotten too old to party.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Magic Barrel

The Magic Barrel is a collection of short stories by Bernard Malamud.
This collection contains the story "The Angel Levine"; a story I referenced in a posting above our own Levine, member of the Greybeards.
At the time, Levine had said something so insightful and unusual, that the rest of the members were speechless. We were speechless for such a long time it was uncomfortable. Then, after a certain time had passed and we were no longer quite so uncomfortable in the unexpected silence, no one wished to breech the silence, which by now had taken on a numinous quality.
So I said, "We have heard from the Angel, Levine..."
What else could one say?
Levine has some Yiddish. That is nice.
I started to learn Yiddish a thousand years ago it seems. One of the first books I ever bought was by a Yiddish writer.
The first book I ever bought on my own just as a book, not a textbook, nor a book that played a part in a religious ritual, was John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.
The second book I ever purchased was Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Mr. Singer wrote in Yiddish, I came to find out.
I have that book yet. It cost 65 cents at the time.I have taped the binding and handle it with care. It's not a first edition or anything like that. It is a 65 cent paperback (it was the fashion at the time to call them PocketBooks).
The pages are becoming mottled with age, but so am I. I shall have that book forever.
I remember it well. There is a posting somewhere around here about Justice Scalia and the Rabbi of Goray. That was a good posting, if I do say so myself.
So I began to study a little Yiddish when I was 15.
Meshigaas! There was no one I could talk to.
So I finally located a news stand that sold the Forwerts, a Yiddish paper. I would go there and buy my copy. It toke me at least a week to read it.
I forget the news guy's name. Orele comes to mind, but I think that is wrong.
In my memory, we sit around and talk about important matters like learned men trying to pierce the veil bewteen this world and the spiritual.
I don't think we did. I think I just put down my money, bought a cigar - no, that's wrong, too. Just put down my money and went.
My family is not Jewish.
The only person by blood that is observant is my wife's nephew. Maybe he's not, strictly speaking, "observant", but his home is kosher.
The best part of any culture is usually spiced with a spoonful of good religion.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Women At Bay

Sometimes it seems we are living in our own dystopian fantasies: we think those films and books are fiction, but they are not. They are memories of the past, informers of the present, and makers and predictors of the future. All those massacres eventually come to fruition. They did in Iraq, didn't they? It does not matter what the objective is. The devil drives us. He offers us the carrot of our vain self-righteousness as we strive harder and harder in his work. This is a generation cursed by God, in that all it desires will come to fruition! Now that is Irony! So now here we are. God asks us " Where have you come from?" We answer " From roaming the earth and patrolling it." Then God asks " Have you noticed the women of the world? " Let us take a look: Pain of Afghan suicide women In Afghanistant, young women subjected to forced marriages and abusive husbands are more and more seeking release through self-immolation. ‘Taking To The Streets’ For Agunot Expressions of the frustration of those who for at least a decade have been advocating, largely in vain, for a rabbinic solution to the problem of agunot —women who cannot free themselves from an unwanted marriage. and most appalling for us, the taxpayers of the USA, we find that the War on Terror is actually being fought against Islamic Terrorists! The so-called Islamo-fascists are the guys we are supporting, and one item on their agenda is repression of women. Read it at Ishtar At The Gallows It is not for the faint of heart. However, we would not have started a war if we were faint of heart. We supported the war; we should be able to read about the outcome. All Christianity, all Judaeism, all Islam should weep.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Neocon Rap:MC Brownie And Floodmaster G.

You will say that this is another sophomoric attempt at humor. I agree. As I have said before, it is jejune and junior high; it is " jejun-ior high " humor. Somebody, some place, is not laughing. These are both good men. Maybe I should be glad I wasn't there. Perhaps, even in my insignificance, I somehow realize that it is more than just being a good guy; it is more than just being a good administrator. We lack a moral core about which we are absolutely certain, and which is not degraded by racism, contempt for others, greed, and lust for violent actions or stories and habits of thinking which are violent.

The Empire Of The Sun

More refugeees...Jeeeeez!

They could be from the war in Iraq. They could be Palestinian. They may even be from New Orleans...still. Guess where they are not from. That may be informative.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

V Day 2007

I have produced my Valentine for today, V day, 2007. I have also seen a picture of Muqtada As Sadr with dirty, stained teeth. Then, I read an article about how Muslims should not celebrate V day. This was written by an aged Pakistani guy. I sympathize. Poor old crab. I totally agree with him about Sweetest Day, a holiday I go out of my way to ignore.

does the heart know its own color? does it know it beats? does the desert eagle know its young? or offer its neck as their ransom? does the lion know its mate? or feel the fire of her faith? does my smallness know its magnitude in the eyes of my beloved?
painting: Ismail Fattah

Frylock Settles Out Of Court

Frylock has directed Turner Broadcasting to settle for 2 million dollars with the city of Boston. It is good to know that the security forces, some of whom required that our rights be reduced to aid their efforts, have been able to save us from the Fratricide of Frylock, the Shock of Master Shake, and the Malevolence of Meatwad.

Uncle Joe...Or Dimwitted Cousin Joe

Senator Joe Lieberman, whom I actually like as an individual, has said " We're on the brink of a decisive battle for Baghdad." He said this on February 19, 2007 and it was quoted in TIME magazine. (I was in a doctor's waiting room, and I was reading. I have not read TIME for a long, long time.) First, we observe that after 4 years in March, 2007, we do not even have control of the capital of Iraq. Second, we observe that once we have control of the capital, we have the rest of the country yet to deal with. Third, we ask Senator Lieberman to go on record NOW and tell us how much money, how many men, how much time will be required to achieve...wait a minute! I do not even know what to write here!!!!! FOURTH, what is the bleeding objective, Senator? And how do we determine WHEN we have gotten to it? FOR WE WILL NOT SIT BACK AND WAIT AS THESE NINNIES IN WASHINGTON D.C. CREATE YET ANOTHER QUAGMIRE! Then they sit back and smirk and say "It would be suicide to leave now." They would say "What's your plan?" Then they say "That's no plan." Then they continue, secure in their infamy. Put an end to it, Senator, or you will be consigned to the same circle of Hades as the man who gave you that Cosa Nostra kiss.

Words: Port-manteau Words and Duffelbag Words

Thanks to my daughter for the article on Lincoln and Herndon yesterday.
She left a message threatening legal action unless I issue an attribution of source. Since she is a lawyer, this was no empty threat. I tried to suborn her with the befuddled old father routine, but she sneered and said she would begin the suit in Maryland and left me a toll-free number for the Public Defender.

She also asked, "Why Bush?", apparently since Mr. Bush appears in the title, but nowhere in the piece.

Why Bush, indeed, I have asked since the year 2000.

I just wanted to juxtapose a REAL president versus a mid-level corporate executive who pantomimes as a president:
Lincoln: intelligent and expresses himself as such;
Bush: dull, drab, and mundane.

I am not referring to his verbal bloopers. Everyone does that. I mean that he is extremely mediocre in expressing himself. He is cursed by the prevalence of Duffelbag Words ( words derived from Sports metaphors of not a particularly brilliant type) which are among the less discrete charms of the Booboisie.
HOWEVER, the ultimate blame must be layed to the people of America ( people of the USA, that is. Canadians always complain when I imply America is the sum totality of the hemisphere). It is the people themselves who have allowed conceptions of finality, such as "culmination", "climax", and "denouement" to be collapsed into the all-around sports duffelbag expression: 
it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings, 
or, better yet,
it ain't over 'til it's over!

It is the people themselves who abbreviate "recrimination" or "regret" or "review" into the sports duffelbag expression:  
Monday morning quarterbacking.
Or consider that the Secretary of State see fit to express not that victory was achieved at long last, rather that there was but a minute left on the clock!

Inspiration thanks to: H.L.Mencken
" College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity. "

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Bush

Herndon, Lincoln's law partner, had written him arguing that the president as commander-in-chief possessed the right to initiate a war against Mexico without specific Congressional authorization.

Lincoln answered: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, - 'I see no probability of the British invading us;' but he will say to you, 'Be silent: I see it, if you don't.'"

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood,"
Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to William H. Herndon, Feb. 15, 1848.


Ovadia Yosef Comes A Cropper

Rabbi Yosef
When my brother said adieu to the slammer, he asked me what was up in the world. So I said something like Nihil Novi Sub Sole and Semper Ubi Sub Ubi, saying that it was same old same old.
"Hmmm...", he pondered. "Everyone at each others' throats?"
"It goes without saying."
He mused. He said he no longer remembered what it was like before 2001, 9/11 type 2001.
"Was there history?" he asked.
"Oh, I pretty much think there was," I replied.
So we decided to look back into the days when all was peace and fairness.
We came across the above.
On April 10, 2001 - well before 9/11- we find the genial fellow at work:
Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs
The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has provoked outrage with a sermon calling for the annihilation of Arabs. "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable," he was quoted as saying in a sermon delivered on Monday to mark the Jewish festival of Passover.

On July 21, 2001 in NewsMax:

Arabs Should 'Go to Hell,' Top Israeli Rabbi Says "In the old city of Jerusalem they're swarming like ants. They should go to hell - and the Messiah will speed them on their way," said Rabbi Ovadia Yossef during his a weekly sermon broadcast over Israeli army radio, according to Agence France Presse.

As far as we can tell, he lives yet.

In Wikipedia, we see " In 2005, Rabbi Yosef repeatedly condemned the Gaza Disengagement. He argued that he was opposed to any unilateral action that occurred outside the framework of a peace agreement. Rabbi Yosef again cited the principle of pikuach nefesh, saying that empowering the Palestinians without a commitment to end terror would result in threatening Jewish lives, particularly in areas near Gaza in range of Qassam rocket attacks. "

Therefore, the Rabbi is not mad. He is eminently sane. And yet he equates peoples to ants, rendering them sub-human. I forget the Hebrew for things that crawl upon the face of the earth. There is a word...Avivah Zornberg discusses it in her wonderful The Beginning of Desire, her study of Genesis.

My brother said, "It was better back in jail. Not so much fighting."

( We hope the mention of such a wonderful person as Ms. Zornberg will do some little bit to dispel the miasma left by writing of the Rabbi Yosef.)

Hope And Sorrow

My brother is no longer in jail. My father and I had visited him during his incarceration. We found the people that work at the new jail near Port Desespoir to run the gamut from competent to surly, rude, and barely distinguishable from the worst inmates. My father found a woman who knew a woman with whom we used to work. All was smiles. After all, we were visitors. There is no particular reason we should be treated as criminals. When we asked questions, we received answers. There was no longer a supercilious disdain or a low, throaty growl.

So on to the visitation area. Did I mention that this jail opened new in 2006? In the visitation area, the guard lead us to an alcove where there was inch thick security glass, on the other side of which sat my brother, wanly smiling. "Thanks," we said to the guard. "Don' mention it." he said. "Talk loud." Ah...hmmm? Did we hear that right? "Talk loud."? Is that some sort of criminological adieu? Something like: we are sad...our time together ( about 2 minutes) was great, but we must part...since we will be far from each other, TALK LOUD, so that even if I were at the ends of the earth, I could hear your voice and return in the wink of an eye...and so on, and so on, and so on. O.K. If that was it, it was not very interesting. White guys, especially fat, white guys-especially fat, white guys who are prison guards- are always trying to be hip. They fail badly. I did not think that I would soon be saying goodbye to someone and smartly saying, "Talk loud!" (I might, just might, say "Talk loudly!")
So we turn to the object of our visit, giving the old alcove the once over, looking for (a) some sort of grill in the glass through which sound waves could carry, or (b) some sort of telephone connecting us to the other side of the glass, again through which sound waves could carry. There was nothing. I asked my brother, "How do you talk here?". He made one of those hand-as-an-ear-trumpet motions and I think he said "Eh?"  I spoke louder. "How do you talk here? There's no phone." He laughed. "The place's screwed up." 
We managed to fill in the next 30 minutes yelling at each other. My father, who has some lung issues, managed to get himself up to proper volume and bellow his question why my brother had not gotten a haircut yet. And so it went. There were other folks there, just visiting. So there was a constant chorus of Ehs?, Huhs?, Howzats?, Run that by me agains? up and down the halls. We assumed the staff was busily writing down all the secrets being passed back and forth. We thought that perhaps the county could not afford an surveillance eaves-dropping system to spy on any shenanigans that might go on, so they came up with this wheeze.

At the end of the half hour, all the visitors panted to the elevators and shared wondering looks. We would have laughed, but we were out of breath. So now he was out. And what will he do now? Well, this has been a trying transformation for all involved.
However, yesterday I decided to emphasize drinking. I suggested that if he wanted to drink - at which point he demurred, saying it wasn't as much fun as it used to be, and he was thinking of quitting...if you drink, I said, if...try and schedule it a bit better. A which point he gave me the old goggle eye. "What?" So I toke a piece of paper and wrote down two columns, one with 5 and 2 equalling 7, the other with 4 and 3 equalling 7. On the top row that had the 5 and the 4 in, I wrote "Binge Days". On the second row I wrote "Cold Sober Days". I pointed out that we could make a lot more progress in getting him a place and a job if I could count on certain days of sobriety. I suggested he plan it better. Don't just drink. Make the binge days count. Get it out of your system. Rent a movie. Rent two or three movies. Just remember to watch the one you really want to see first. Watching movies on a binge day means the second and third movies become a wee bit disjointed. And so on. He was captivated by the notion and we expanded our talk to other areas. It was rewarding. The hours spent before now- since his decarceration-had not been amusing and amiable. One step at a time...forever.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Study Of History 1

In Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History, we see reference to the Dominant Minority, the Internal Proletariat, and the External Proletariat of Civilizations. We shall speak of these again, but for the moment we shall only glance in a cursory manner.

The dominant minority could be conceived as being parallel to the top 5% or 2% of the population which is presently referred to as having been enriched by the present government. The internal proletariat is the rest of the population, condemned to servitude as greeters in stores that sell shoddy goods from foreign lands. The external proletariat had a parallel in illegal aliens ( just as an example - do not take me to task on this.) Notice that the dominant minority was taken by surprise by the hubbub about illegal aliens, and wished to promote a policy of amnesty. Remember how many of the dominant minority had illegals in their employ. How many recent federal appointments were sabotaged by the lack of a green card? The first fellow chosen to follow Tom Ridge as head of Homeland Security fell prey to this. This shows how far apart the dominant minority is from the rest of the population. Not only do they draw themselves further away economically - but the rest of us just shake our heads and say that the rich get richer- but their view of the world tends to become skewed further away from the view of the internal proletariat.

The fervor of the population over illegal immigration shocked the dominant minority. All this example does is demonstrate how dominant minorities rule over the population with which it does not necessarily share the same world view.

This division showed up in the film Apocalypto. The dominant minority of the Indian civilization imposed a religion of terror and reign of violence. Toynbee holds that, as the dominant minority becomes less and less creative - the more it settles matters by brutish and violent methods; the more it abdicates all values bating its greed-the rest of the populace, the internal proletariat, develops its own view of the world, informed by its experiences, its poverty, its abasement, and creates a Universal Church. The Universal Church acts as a chrysalis to pass the culture of civilization from the dying civilization on to its successor, a new civilization. His primary example of this was the Church's role in the decline of Rome and the rise of Europe. Dominant Minorty, internal proletariat, and external proletariat; these are terms to remember.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In The Night Lands

 The Watcher of the South
If you have not read William Hope Hodgson's The Night Lands, well, it's too bad, because it is out of print, and it is written in a pseudo-archaic style that endears it to no one. It is a 1912 work, so its sensibilities pre-date World War I, and its horrors are horrors of the time past, the Victorian age and before; the evils are antique, but none the less appalling in form.
There are good books coming all the time. If you graduate from college and have a friend or relative in the publishing business, you have at least one book. Every graduate has a book in them, whether they write it or not. Every graduate has a screenplay for Porkie's or Animal House, but for the most part they do not write it down, and it becomes reminiscences to be repeated before the children who will think their father was quite the wild party animal in his day.

Why do I read The Night Lands? To be very brief, for the book itself is rather prolix, The Night Lands is set in a time when the Sun has gone out, and humanity has dwindled to remnants in two outposts. The world where these last stands of man are located has been infested by monsters and Ab-human creatures who prey upon man when man ventures outside his two safe zones.
The most impressive of these monsters is The Watcher of the South, a entity of the shape and bulk of a mountain of crushing magnitude that appeared upon the southern horizon a million years past and has crept progressively closer, measurably, though hardly noticeable within a year or ten, but terrifying over the course of thousands of years during which the remains of humanity charted its progress. Yet it reached a point where appeared a glowing dome of light. This seemingly halted its progress.
The last men wondered that this force for Good still existed and gave them safety, and they were glad of it. So we see we are in a world where the paradigm of God the Almighty has been broken like a little Hello Kitty mirror, and its shards still reflect the Holy, yet not unified, not seamless, not unbroken.

The power of the Holy has not been destroyed, but the evil of the age to which man has progressed is such that it has rendered the power of the Holy intermittent and parochial. Think now, what would it be like to live in a world where the power of God became futile as a cold morning's battery; you pray and have to keep your fingers crossed and mutter "I think He can, I think He can!" ? It is the present, only with the men and women of Faith removed. That's all.
Our belief in the continuity of God's love is a paradigm based on reason. Faith is living, action, not opining, not inspecting propositions. When we have created enough havoc in the world, would it not appear to us that God has withdrawn His love? When the desert takes over, when the super-hurricanes hit, when the drought strangles, would it not seem as if the Holy had gone away? But, what has happened?
We created an idol from our Reason. Then we handed it over to the professional theologians to take care of, ignoring it in our daily lives, in our daily works and business. We executed our depredations upon the world and our fellow men with plans based on Reason, not Faith.
When everything falls apart, the paradigm created by Reason, created by the bastard sons of Voltaire, breaks down, and into the vacuum Reason - a horrible, inpotent and wretched Reason now- inserts a new paradigm: God is dead, God is gone, God's love is only intermittent. Reason has a multitude of faces, and it plays all sides; reason is attention to detail, and detail is infinite, and there is Reason's strength and its weakness.

Look where we are now: a Doomsday Vault. In Dr. Strangelove, its was a Doomsday Machine. The word Doomsday has been resurrected. It is not restricted to Terminator. Apocalypse if the work of God; Doomsday is the work of Mankind.  

The final design for a "doomsday" vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government. and Under Swiss law, local governments are required to provide shelter spaces for everyone, and in the early 1970s Lucerne was short by several thousand. The new Sonnenberg motorway tunnel, just being built, seemed a neat solution: kit it out as a nuclear shelter as well and it could hold 20,000 people.

The Svalbard International Seed Vault may be a Last Redoubt. The Swiss bunkers will be among the last outposts of mankind. Perhaps. I think we have to turn from the Christian Wiseguys on TV and radio and come back to a true Christianity.
I think we must turn from the obscure and violent Islamic Wiseguys and come back to true Islam.
I think we must cast out the Jews who embrace hatred, and come back to the God who led us all from slavery and from the wilderness. links:

Told Ya!

Memories of Peter Sellers and Dr. Strangelove crept through the room as the stage is being set for Cold War II. Back at Christmas time, I mentioned that this was coming. It was fairly obvious. As the pinhead pundits of the media and blogosphere danced about a missile defense system, they forget that it would lead to an arms race, especially if the US government is seen to be inimical to the interests of other nations. There are other reasons, too. However, we see Mr. Vladimir Putin speaking in Munich. He asserts that the US has overstepped proper bounds in political, economic, and military spheres. It was a formula that, he said, had led to disaster: "Local and regional wars did not get fewer, the number of people who died did not get less but increased. We see no kind of restraint - a hyper-inflated use of force." and the riposte: But it was left to US Republican senator and presidential hopeful John McCain to lead the retort. Today's world, he said sternly, was not uni-polar, adding that it was an autocratic Russia that needed to change its behaviour. "Moscow must understand that it cannot enjoy a genuine partnership with the West so long as its actions at home and abroad conflict so fundamentally with the core values of Euro-Atlantic democracies," he said. It's pure Athens and Sparta, the Euro-Atlantic democracies being the Delian League. If we wish to see parallels, this is where they lay.
And whenever I begin to soften on Mr. Bush, I have to remember that he is responsible for more than merely Iraq. link:

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global Climate Change Idol: Mother Nature Auditions 1
Global Climate Change, make it or break it? Or we could say " Hit or Miss?" Or we could gong it.
I have decided that, since our " " " leaders " " " ( count them...that's three quotey things with the index and middle fingers of both hands.) cannot decide on what to do about climate change, and Charlie McCarthy-type scientists are called in to sit upon their laps at Senate hearings to speak ventriloquaciously about change-yes!, change-no!, change-maybe!...
well, let's forget about the science and pretend Climate change is something like, oh, American Idol.
So what we will do is take some pix of climate change showing old Mother Nature up to her unusual monkeyshines, then we will have a panel of our peers render judgement on her efforts.
I would like to hear Simon's response to her first try-out above. It would be great.
We wanted to go see Kathy Griffin last night, but the show was sold out. I'd like to hear her opinion, too.
The game is Global Climate Change Idol.
You are the panel.
Rip Mother Nature a new...azimuth!

L'Ombre Et La Lumiere

Ah, la poesie!...and lots of it! as Lemmy Caution said to the Computer Mind of Alphaville when asked whether he had dined.

I do not know whether I have mentioned it, but I do not like buying gifts for the sake of buying gifts. I despise the bric-a-brac and bagatelle mortar of our lives of pseudo-hedonistic Consumerism, where everything is cheap, poorly made, and tawdry.

Therefore, I create my own tawdry gifts, thereby saving a bundle. For Christmas, I buy fancy paper, but I print my own cards on it. I add a poem, or some sort of literary devilment, and all is done. (Apologies to real people of intelligence for any plagiarisms.) So, from Xmas 2006:  

Susan’s tree, enwrapt in needles’ mysterie, 
star visions, shining in the skies; 
gifting-time, either honey or the bee, 
hope-weaver of our lives! 
druid sylvan, motionless in prayer, 
with what eyes, solstice now observing; 
on mountains tops, once and forever, 
ancient feasts partaking? 
Susan’s Christmas place, filled to overflow, 
good food, wine and sweets embroidered; 
weaver of delight, our gifts bestow! 
all our fears occluded!

Cahiers Du Cinema

I you read Les Cahiers du Cinema, I have une histoire, numero 532 exactement, in the Cine-Manga Interactif section. It is the November Cine-Manga and you mave have to rechercher (search) for it, as it may no longer be on the front page. Try it. It is fun.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Technocracy Has No Clothes!

(c)2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps
Diebold Voting Machines

If There Is A Bible Code, Then...

of course there is a Quran code. Surprisingly, they seem to differ to the superficial glance, which is pretty much all this generation of mankind is capable of. HOWEVER, I have decided to apply the methods of Bible Code to a series of cellular automata generated by Stephen Wolfram. I shall be assigning letters to various sequences of squares ( one dimension), then sequences considered as two dimensional, and so on. I am not so sure I shall require the Bible Code after getting this far. In future postings, I shall refer to it as Wolfram Semiotics.

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto and Will Durant

Previously, from my big leather chair at the Cinematic Drones Club, I had sipped old scotch whiskey with water and said how I thought that Mr. Gibson's latest film was almost a masterpiece. I still believe it. I have some niggling problems with the time line - classic Maya (?) and Spaniards cannot be what was intended-but poetic license will cover all the chinks in the mortar. However, I have come across some contrary opinions that are decidedly strange. In we see by Sean O'Connell  

The director precedes Apocalypto with a cryptic quote by philosopher Will Durant: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." Since the quote has nothing, in context, to do with the film, I’ll assume it refers to Gibson himself.
The critic seems not to have the slightest sense that the film is a critique of violence.

I have read at least 6,000 pages of Mr. Durant's work, along with that of his delightful wife, Ariel. So I am not entirely cold coming into this. Mr. Durant's love of wisdom isn't the point. The point is his quote. People do not know what Mr. Durant was talking about. When he says a civilization destroys itself from within, what does he mean? What are the details and specifics in this destruction? ( I think people are much too familiar with quotes of brainy types being inserted into prominent positions in films and books. We have become so used to it that we tend to think that brainiac quotes are more like allegories with an aura of wisdom...but no particular meaning; certainly no meaning such that we should actually have to read some of the brainiac's works, and then study the works, and then try to understand. No. We have to draw the line somewhere.)

Mr. Durant lived through World War I. I would guess his age to be around 28 to 35 at the outbreak of the war. World War I was total carnage. It profoundly shocked the generations alive at the time. We have become inured to carnage. We dismiss WWI because we believe our own time deserves the Palme d'Or for killing. The illustrious Arnold Toynbee made it very clear in his extensive historical work that one favorite method by which civilizations destroy themselves is violence. Constant wars which deplenish the commonweal; strife within the society between the classes or groups therein; these are the true destroyers of civilization. Hence, the point of the quote is that civilizations will suicide from an overdose of violence.

We see another review in by Mick LaSalle It's a bloodbath, of course, but to say that isn't enough. Scorsese movies can be a bloodbath, but would Scorsese ever show you a man eating the raw testicles of a wild boar within the first five minutes of screen time? And what about the running motif of beating hearts yanked from living bodies? No, for those excesses one can only turn to Mel.

First, Scorsese would not flinch from such a scene. Scorsese has demonstrated time and again a loving pre-occupation with over-the-top violence. Furthermore, there may have been intent in the juxtaposition of the quote and this early scene: this is a world of violent acts; we kill to eat; but some violence freely chosen will destroy the body rather than nourish it. That is a possible gloss. The reviewers I have chosen have no eyes for subtlety. Neither reviewer had any inkling that the movie was about VIOLENCE itself.
Neither reviewer sensed that there were two arenas: (1) the internal religious violence of a civilization, and (2) a standard chase sequence with its violence. We have become so used to the expression "gratuitous violence" we think all violence is gratuitous. Not so. Try making a war movie without any scenes of violence. What interested me mostly was whether Mr. Gibson had anything to say to us. Was there any allegory linking to our society and its predeliction for War and Violence? I think so. The reviewers above didn't even get a glimpse. And...every one of my friends did not understand it when they saw it. They did some remedial work on Durant afterwards maybe, but they did not get it. I shall always remember sitting in that darkened theater and feeling the growing realization that I was watching a work of genius.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Buck Stops Here

I have been reading about George W. Bush (GWB), his papers, his library, and Harry S Truman (HST).The discussion about GWB and his library centers on the unusual amount of classified material, and the war in Iraq.Some articles have been written about GWB and HST, both unpopular in their time.
It is the job of the president to make decisions, whether these decisions be popular or unpopular. Both GWB and HST had to make hard decisions unpopular in their times. HST's turned out to be good and GWB believes his will be.
I almost became sympathethic to GWB. I was actually moved.However, GWB made his decisions in arrogance.I needed to remember why I thought the War in Iraq was an appallingly immoral act: the incredible and monstrous arrogance which accompanied it.
Shock and Awe Remember? It was Shock and Awe. Our killing of the guilty and the innocent was Shock and Awe.
The War was named as if it were a version of Grand Theft-Auto. It was going to be a replay of Gulf War I. It was Gulf War II. Only bigger and better.
Every Neoconservative worth his grain of salt was heard crowing about how quick the war would be, how painless the war would be, how cheap the war would be.
Yet any fool knew in his heart this was a crude deception.
Then Mission Accomplished. And GWB danced a Caligula-like jig upon the deck of an aircraft carrier. (Amazingly enough, an ex-marine member of the Greybeards Club saw this and immediately turned against the President back in 2003. He said it reminded him strikingly of a railroad car in Compiegne and a doctored newsreel. He did not mean a parallel between GWB and any other historic figure. He meant the attitudes were repugnant to him.The fighting men yell and get drunk with victory. This war was nothing for the people at home. They were not inconvenienced.Why this display? He said the display was to re-inforce and establish the equivalence between 9-11 and Iraq. We suffered nothing from the Iraq War at that time. Hence, the only reason for a victory dance was 9-11. At this point, he saw through the lie. Those guys at the Greybeards are way too smart for me.)
And then the 40 million dollar Inauguration. And they danced while the innocent were killed. No. I do not see any resemblance between HST and GWB. I had a professor once whose dad used to play poker with HST. He said HST had an odd game wherein deuces, treys, jacks and queens were wild...mainly as a way of spreading the wealth around. GWB only looked for the well-being of the rich. I see no resemblance between HST and GWB.

MIL Is For Millions

Fantastic returns to these armaments conglomerates have been reflected in the continuing jump in the value of their shares or stocks in the Wall Street: "Shares of U.S. defense companies, which have nearly trebled since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq, show no signs of slowing down. . . . All the defense companies-with very few exceptions-have been doing extremely well with mostly double-digit earnings growth. . . . The feeling that makers of ships, planes and weapons are just getting into their stride has driven shares of leading Pentagon contractors Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., and General Dynamics Corp. to all-time highs. . . ."[3]
War is good for business. This much we have learned.
The military-industrial-complex [would] cause military spending to be driven not by national security needs but by a network of weapons makers, lobbyists and elected officials. - Dwight D. Eisenhower
There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. - General Smedley D. Butler
A racket. The Age of War as a Racket.
It's all beginning to come together; the Christiano-wiseguys, the cosa-nostrafication of Business.
If the President is ever impeached, it will be for violating the RICO Act.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Coffee, Danish, and Cartoons

It's very late to talk about Danish cartoons, but the topic did come up at the Greybeards Club the other morning. There were some desultory remarks about freedom of speech or freedom of sketch, not backing into buzz saws, and the like. I told them the story of the time I was in the UK and Salmon Rushdie invited me over for tea and scones. Now there's a story for ya!

The Terror Of Frylock

By now you must know that the Boston Security people arrested those responsible for:

and this was on an Ad Campaign for Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Frylock is the Fries guy. When asked to comment, he said " No Comment."

Borgesian Bloopers 2

In the site Long Story Short Pier there is a page

and upon this page is a game of sorts, played according to the following rules:
1 Grab the nearest book.
2 Open the book to page 23.
3 Find the fifth sentence.
4 Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

So I decided to do it.
The page was almost 2 years old and the fun had faded long ago for the dear departed players, who are now scattered to the four winds, but I decided to play it. So I went for Borges. I used the first Argentinian edition of Spanish-English published in Buenos Aires by Emece Editores, S.A. in 1965. On page 23, the fifth sentence begins:

" The afternoon was intimate, infinite. He lay back against the tree and picked up the book from the grass. He opened randomly, his gaze falling on page 23, where a marginal arrow pointing to the fifth sentence said 'post to Hsi P'eng' ."

Close...but no cigar.

Appliances Of The Future

This one is the Military-Industrial-Lobbyist Complex brain prosthesis.
It is called "Resistance is Futile!"

Why I Hate Ayn Rand

I got up in the middle of the night, scuffed my way into the kitchen, and stumbled across an article about the Super Bowl. The Joy of Football: The Super Bowl Offers a Too-Rare Celebration of Goal-Achievement To make it even better, the author is described: Thomas A. Bowden, author of The Enemies of Christopher Columbus, is a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Thomas A. Bowden practices law in Baltimore, Maryland. My mouth watered as I read, checking the blades of my mental scalpels to whet them to unusual acuity. Unfortunately, the article is rather brilliant. Blast! Oh, God of my fathers, that my opponents should be brilliant, and my friends be such dullards! Note well the following paragraph ( if you are happy enough to read th'article): Sports offer as close to a universal value language as we have left. The sense of brotherhood that sports fans feel makes it possible for complete strangers to find themselves happily discussing the latest exploits (or ruefully noting the recent failures) of their favorite team. It is my sad observation that Religion by its very nature is intended to be that universal language of values. And it has abdicated its position to Sports. Extremely interesting from my point of view. We will hear more of this. I shall save Mr. Bowden's article and ponder it. Oh, and by the way, I do not hate Ms. Rand, God bless her soul. (It was all a subterfuge, using the name of a popular icon to get you, the readers, into my gingerbread Blog. Tomorrow I shall entitle ' Why I Hate Stuart Erwin.' )

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Washington Neo-Conservative Memorial Design 5

This design is the Condoleeza Rice inspired Barber Shop, known to Beltway wags as Secretary Powell's close shave.

...Now That Football's Done

It was some Romantic poem; something, something, in the Sun; something, something, what's to do now that football's done? I think it was written by Sir Walter Raleigh. By circumventing 99.9% of the build up to the actual game, I found it vaguely enjoyable.

I began to regret that I had seen absolutely nothing of the NFL this season. I found Prince to be a bore. The special effects of rain were pretty darn good, however. If I were a performer, I do not think I would encourage the support team to do rain effects. It would be like encouraging my Foley editor to experiment with flatulence noises. It would come back sooner or later and bit you somewhere unpleasant
The closest I came to pre-game hoopla was reading Joe Namath rate the Quarterbacks, then subjecting his interview to a Bible Code analysis.
Amazingly, the result was " INDIAN CITY BY TWELVE "!
Since 'Indianapolis' is literally Greek for "Indian + City", this looked like a hit.

I went to dinner at my brother's. He is a fine cook. We had a very good pot roast which had marinated for 4 hours in a beer and red wine marinade. Heady stuff. They live in a condo high-rise on the 25th floor. I have a fear of heights, so I shy away from the windows. It was a cold day-about -15 degrees wind chill-and the snow showers zipped through the sky like my fingers at a sushi buffet. We spoke of all things. My brother spoke of our society's nasty habit of defining a process by its failures.
For example, the mistakes and problems of doctors lead to malpractice to high insurance premiums, resulting in a shortage of Obstetricians: the practice of medicine is delimited by its failures, not its successes.
I think a similar process works through the entire national subconscious. It is our failure in Vietnam that haunts us, and thereby is present to mind more than the good things we've done.
World War II is the exception that proves the rule, for it is now so long ago, that the present generations cannot claim it as their own. It was a victory of a golden past
And we cannot define our objectives.
What was our objective in Iraq? Weapons of Mass Destruction.
They did not exist. What was our objective then?
Getting the really, really bad guy in prison.
O.K. Got him. What then?
Export freedom and democracy.
O.K. What then?
Try to keep from getting killed..
There were no objectives in any rational sense of the word; they were just steps in a series of blunders.
Look now at Health Care. What are our 5 main objectives in a Health Care Program?
We don't know.
Maybe, just maybe we will say all kids should have health care, and maybe, just maybe, we shall actually accomplish something by 2012. Maybe.Do you think the present bunch of leaders and would-be leaders can bring Health Care off?Do you think the leaders and would-be leaders can do anything about Social Security?
The future is in the young. I do not think anybody over 30 has escaped being degraded into a useless, resentful ideologue in search of something to believe in.
Now the bad news...