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Friday, November 30, 2007

Our Lives In The Bush Of Ghosts 5

From the BBC we learn: Russia suspends arms control pact President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which suspends Russia's participation in a treaty limiting military forces in Europe. This comes as no surprise. We pretty much knew this was coming. I believe I have talked a good deal of how the Bush people treat Russia. There is this business of putting missiles directly next door to order to protect Europe against Iran. Again, the occasion when Iran threatened Europe is hazy, but I am sure it happened. Reading the article, it appears to embody the 1984 logic of the present age: "Russia says the suspension is a reply to the non-ratification of the treaty by Nato countries. "Nato members, led by the United States, have refused to ratify the CFE treaty until Moscow withdraws its troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia, as Russia had promised in 1999. " The USA regrets Russia's decision, but it is not clear to me whether any country other than Russia was in this deal! Anyway, this is the culmination of a number of actions by both the USA and Russia retreating hastily from the Era of Good Sense and back to a more mediaeval ambience. When all else fails, welcome Dr. Strangelove!

All Aboard For A Very Commercial Christmas!

I was playing with my dogs, Xoloft and Zymbalta, when my three nephews came by and asked whether I would like whether I would like to take a trip to the Mall. Not just any Mall, of course, but THE Mall...rather like one designed by Gustav Klimt for fin-de siecle Vienna...all rather spectacular and Egyptian, influenced by Herr Napoleon's foray into Egypt.

Last time I was at a mall, it was some years ago a few days before Christmas. I was ready to leave at 5:00 PM. It was darkening quickly and a mixture of light rain and snow had begun. There was gridlock throughout the parking lots, bumper to bumper, continuing out onto the feeder roads. I stood upon a high elevation and could see an uninterrupted line of brake lights to the East and to the West. I wondered if emergency equipment had to be air-lifted in at such times. Dismal shoppers drove by me. Their breath had condensed on their greyly transparent windows, forming drops of water which dripped slowly, but faster than the cars were going.

It resembled an infinite funeral cortege of the drowned heading back to some despondent swamp. I ran into the movie theater and watched a flick. When I exited from the movie, consumer Armageddon was over and the air was clear. God forbid, but if ever there would be need for a good Christmastide curse, here it is: May the wind be ever at yer face, may ye not be wearing a muffler, and may ye be making a trip to the Mall!

Zulu Time

Even though I have managed to get through yet another phase-shift ( time-warp, interdimensional taffy-pull) of the grand temporal reversal of Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time all in one piece and actually on time, I have decided to set my time pieces to Zulu Time, or Greenwich Time for those of you who have problems with the military-industrial complex flavor of Zulu Time ( that used by the US military....essentially Greenwich without the aftertaste of Brits.) This year of 2007 was especially significant since it witnessed the foremost effort of energy conservation exerted by the US Congress and White House hitherto: pushing back the change to standard time by an entire week in order to conserve energy. I recall when this draconian law was being debated in the Congress. I think it was a bit after Katrina; not too soon after, though. It was perhaps in 2006? And even though Katrina was old and a jade, still a number of our fellow citizens lives were enwrapped within the toxic embrace of that old sea hag, Katrina. My problem with "the Change" stems from too many diddles...(pause...hopefully for laughter...) O.K. The word is not "diddles". Neither is it "riddles". What is the bloody name for a bit of doggerel with rhyme that one, usually pre-schoolers, recites in order to aide the old memoire? (Curses! I wish I had a bit of rhyming doggerel I could use to remember that other bit of rhyming doggerel...this is how I discovered recursive functions when I read Maths with Johnny Von Neumann, by the by.) It is coming to me slowly. It did not rhyme. It was short and pithy. It was a brief hoodia of recall. I apparently thought it was something like, "Red skies in the morning...", but it wasn't. It was: Spring forward; Fall back. Now this nostrum for "the Change" is everything a bloke would want. It is clear and precise and ready to take to the pharmacy to be filled and have you back in the snuff in no time. It indicates the manner of horological modification at the proper season, as well as indicating a lower level logic, a sub-motif if you will, which marks it indelibly within the vasty warehouse of memory; sort of a " (if) you spring forward, (then) (in the fullness of time) (in this the best of all worlds) (god-willing and the creek don't rise) you must fall backwards (eventually)." Sweet. Or, sweet as, as the ANZAC contingent would have it; mostly the NZ portion thereof. This type of old saying is, however, fraught with peril, for its obverse makes perfectly good sense also. This was the source of my utter downfall. For I, upon rising that ill-fated autumnal day, recited the old saying as: Spring back; Fall forward. I even checked myself. Does this make any sense? Might I not spring back, given sufficient provocation? Say, for example, my dear wife were to surprise me on Christmas morn with an elegantly wrapped gift box containing a hooded cobra? Yes. I would indeed spring back, and with considerable alacrity, I might add. Step 2 of the pithy nugget of wisdom: does the "fall" part make sense? Well, let's assume for the sake of argument that I was back in the army...say Vietnam or Laos...and while were at it, let's go all the way and say with Allenby in Jerusalem ( I say Allenby because the general was in Zululand around the late 1880s and I seem to remember that I started this post with something about Zulus.)...and I am standing in ranks with full kit under a blazing sun... Hmmm. This is a bit of a Bridge too far over the River Kwai, come to think of it. O.K. River Kwai, full kit, blazing sun, Alec Guiness, and Sessue Hayakawa... After 3 hours of this, men begin dropping like flies. They collapse and fall forward out of ranks! Perfect sense. So now, having two perfectly good pieces of doggerel which are totally at odds the one to the other, what does one do? Well, happy to say I chose correctly this time and I did not have the unnerving experience of going out for my morning jog and finding the milk man and his horse just coming onto the streets of our fair village at some mind-shattering early hour.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judo Logic 3

The aim of Judo Logic is freedom. Within our great diversity of perception of the world, our anger at not being able to understand with the miserable tools of human philosophy and knowledge and science gives way to fear. Fear is a close cousin to Anger. The chemistry is very similar. When we understand that it would take an infinite amount of computation to encompass the universe and have a Great Unified Theory of Everything, we begin to understand that there is a way of seeing that is not computation, not data or information processing. This is the Silence I have mentioned before. In Humility, there is Silence. This Silence allows the universe to be heard. This is one of those seeming contradictions that made Zen so appealing to us in our college days. The same truth exists in Christianity, Judaeism, and Islam. However, the learned ones have chosen not to accentuate it.

Judo Logic 2

The whole idea behind Judo Logic, or Judo Philosophy, or the Zen of Disputation, or whatever nonsense title we choose, is to be able to stand on the high ground - not necessarily the "moral" high ground, just the high ground as an advantage - and survey the line of battle.

I always think of Sam Elliot in Gettysburg standing on the hill just north of the city and saying what fine ground he had chosen. Or one could think of Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski.
Perhaps one could think of the Dude Lebowski himself. The variations are infinite.

The infinity of detail in God's universe is exactly what gives rise to differences of opinion. Thus, just as diversity is good for gene pools, so also is diversity good for opinions and the mens sana in the good old corpore sano of mankind. Widely differing opinions are a sign of health. That is the way God wants it. That is why God created mankind as individual units of consciousness with the ability to create their own Reality: there are as many realities as there are men; quot homines tot sententiae.

The thrust of Judo Logic is to kindly let people who demand Sameness of Thought to exhaust themselves until they can see.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When Writers Go Bad 1

Yes, that is a title from Gary Larson. Just like the one where we have what we say versus what the dog actually hears: Blah,blah,blah, Rusty,blah,Rusty,blah,blah,blah. So it is with writers. We think we write things of insight and clarity which by their sheer effulgence will enlighten the readers. If the glister is so great that the readers are rendered zombies by sensory overload, so be it. We have many fields out back that need cheap labor. I have started a miserable trek through the pages of writers on the politics of the day. Hitherto I have limited myself to The American Conservative, which has a bit of style and scads of substance, and Cal Thomas, who possesses neither. There are so many others, all with imperious likenesses on their pages, shot from a obeisant vantage point, giving the scribe an unusually majestic air of authority. Thus far, I judge that they need every such trick in the book, as well as prestidigitations from volumes not yet penned. Today I shall look at This is a site I have seen before and I believe I wrote about its use of pictures of women with a focus on their breasts. We have today Suzanne Fields with The Cut-Rate Pursuit of Power: "The drip, drip, drip of robotic, monotonous answers is finally revealing acute insights, exposing the real beneath the veneer. We're finally getting below the paint to see the real people hidden under the polished political surfaces. Hillary's convoluted answers to simple questions suddenly betrayed her carefully applied cosmetic answers in the early debates, making it harder to keep her (face) powder dry. She's not just a front-runner and a woman, but half of a power couple who may finally be required to pay for the excess baggage, both his and hers. The former first lady is the most exposed candidate in the race, and the least known. Despite the endless revelations of scandal and sharp dealing, we've never got to the bottom of "Wifewater," her financial killings in the commodities markets, the whereabouts of the lost records that suddenly and inexplicably showed up in the living quarters of the White House. We probably won't ever learn more about them than the mixture of facts and factoids in all the books by and about the Clintons. But the questions, like ghosts, haunt perceptions of her character as the focus on the present continues to sharpen. The double talk -- "the tripletalk, quadrupletalk, Olympic nonresponsiveness," as columnist and author Peggy Noonan calls them -- suddenly sounded an alert, like fog horns cutting through the mist on a dark sea. " The drip, drip, drip which echoes very effectively the boredom of robotic answers carries through a bit too far. If we had limited it to the first sentence, it would be style and satire. However, by the time we get to the "convoluted...cosmetic...(face) powder" the beating tattoo of the drip-drip of cute tropes has irritated me beyond reason and has warned me that Ms. Fields is all style, style, style ( and not too endearing a style at that ) and no substance. If there is substance, she will be niggardly of it and dispense it to her famished readers crumb by ratty crumb to demonstrate her absolute authority. The appeal to Peggy Noonan helps oodles, since Ms. Noonan actually has style and substance, but it also makes it very clear that Ms. Fields has written herself into a Vicious Corner ( a la the good old Vicious Circle ) of absolute dithering wherefrom only a lifeline from Ms. Noonan - or some other writer with the good sense not to attempt to delineate blather by blathering oneself-may extricate her. If I write like this ( and I suppose I have indeed ), then take me out and shoot me; don't consider taking me to the venerable glue factory. At least keep your wife and kids off the streets, lest they be afflicted by the wayward hack writer! But there is more. On October 11, 2007 we see Huck Finn on the High Court When I saw this title, I said to myself that there was no way she could be talking about Clarence Thomas. No. Not really. Well......she is. Now why did I find this odd? There has always been a bit of controversy about the book Huck Finn, and the controversy was such that I found it hard to create an analogy between Huck Finn and a gentleman that sees himself as a bit of Bigger Thomas and Tom Robinson. In fact, if Mr. Thomas sees himself as Bigger Thomas and Tom Robinson, why perforce must we we go him one better and say he is an emblem of Huck Finn? Who, by the way - in case you have not read it- is a white boy who uses language that got Dog, the Bounty Hunter, fired. I know what this is: a writer short of time who becomes too enamored of their first take on a situation, so they try to force their tropes and turns and twists into a semblance of sense and tie it all up with a bow......or a St. Jude statue, as Ms. Fields does: "As a schoolboy, he won an award for doing well in a Latin bee. The prize was a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. He suspected that it meant that some people thought his effort to learn Latin was hopeless. But he was proud of the statue. When a malicious classmate broke off the head, he glued it back. When the classmate broke it off again, he glued it back again. This time, it stayed glued, and he carried it with him wherever he went, all the way to the United States Supreme Court. No hopeless cause there. " I think Mr. Thomas may well tell the statue story and honi soit qui mal y pense. However, to repeat it in this way, as if this were a book report from the fifth grade we were trying to lengthen and pad out with fluff, is inexcusable. Next, we shall look at Thomas Sowell.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Et In Acadia Ego

No, the title above is not a mistake. I was with someone last night who mentioned that the last time they saw Vegas, the tickets for Celine Dion were $280. Of course, he said he did not attend at such prices, but the rest of us choose to ignore the disclaimer and instead to concentrate on this appalling example of conspicuous consumption and to bring it up at judicious intervals all evening. Since Ms. Dion is French-Canadian, I wrote "Acadia" ( appelation of French Canada- the root from which our Cajun comes ) instead of "Arcadia". The above image is a painting by Nicolas Poussin showing shepherds clustered around a tomb whereon is engraved the words: Et in Arcadia Ego.

Men In Black

A Matrix of Repression is spreading across the global. In the era of globalization, it is irony to observe that the end game will be closure, confinement, and walls built to keep people out...and perhaps to keep people within. What is terrorism and illegality is...... exactly what these guys......

say it is!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Judo Logic

Someone once described to me his ardent desire that his new born son would, in the fullness of time, attend University and would be healthy and smart and would have the intellecetual acumen to be able to withstand the onslaught of the smirking, sneering, liberal Dons or Fellows or Professors who demean Christianity and would try to send all their students down the easy path to perdition. He said his son should be able to withstand their logic. His son would be tutored in the philosophical ways to fight and demolish error. I said that it would be a whole lot simpler if you taught him not to let his opponents choose the battleground. Or, if the battleground is the Secular University and we have no other choice for matriculation, then we should not allow the enemy to choose the weapons, nor the ground rules, nor anything else, for that matter. Having been a student myself, I know how it goes: the Professor has authority and learning and logic; in short, he has everything on his side, including our feeling of being subordinate to him, since he controls our grade. However, I recently learned one ought to do Philosophy just as one does Judo: let your opponents thrust cause him to overreach and we use his own efforts against him. For example, if one argues God's existence, one cannot accept the Scientific Method as a touchstone of Truth for the existence of something. God does not fit into a test tube, so one must find some other way to assert the Truth of God-propositions. Thus, one must attack the opponent's very basis of logic: assigning truth values to propositions. You do not neeed to defend your beliefs until the opponent has demonstrated that his criterion of Truth is acceptable to your debate. Now the ball has been tossed back into his court. Now he will propose various criteria. Shoot them down. Make him do the work. There is no good and transcendent way to assign Truth. Truth is belief, pure and simple. The opponent will wear himself out trying to come up with an iron clad definition of Truth. Stake out you own battlegrounds; don't let others define them for you. You will only fall into their traps if you do. This is why I refused to answer when people asked me whether Jesus was my savior. Whether I answer yes or no, I am immediately in the midst of combat on their terms, on their battleground, using their logic. They will use their things better than I. So I did not answer. Instead I wrote their sins in the sand on the beach with my finger. That's a joke. But...if you do not let others define things for you, if you do not let society define your being, then you must do it yourself. In this process you will come across an old pal, God Himself. You will say, "Haven't seen you in a month of Sundays." He will say, "I have been here all along. You just did not recognize Me. You had someone else's glasses on."

What The Pres Did And When He Did It

As a snippet from Mr. Mclellan's book causes us to question our collective insanity for putting up with outrageous nonsense, I feel compelled to point out one verity which I have learned over many years: When we have attained the point where one may observe that "The President did not know that what he was telling Mclellan was false." "The President merely repeated what he had been told." "Although the President gave his full authority to the denial, he obviously was uninformed." and so on, we have come to the point where we either fish or we continue to dither and cut bait. For when we have reached the point where the highest powers in the land are portrayed in a nebulous casuistry of lack of responsibility because they were uninformed, we are very close to the point where even the true believers will begin tittering in the audience. When the President's defenders must use the defense of ignorance to support their man, their man has been fatally wounded.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reality As An Ideal Construction 3

I heard someone say they disagreed that we create Reality. I asked them, "What do you think is the purpose of consciousness?" The role of consciousness in life is exactly to create a Reality in which a life form may live well. Natural selection and genetic change help form life to the various situations it finds itself, but consciousness works faster; e.g., the use of tools to build a shelter is faster than waiting for a mutation to give you a carapace impervious to the elements. The role of consciousness is precisely to create a Reality for consciousness. What other purpose would it have?

Why Don't You Write More About God?

Given the Blog Title, some inquiring minds wonder why I sometimes appear to write about everything but God. Therefore, I shall make it clear now. My friends, or -more correctly-those people who happenstance find themselves in close quarters with me for more than 15 seconds and feel enforced to converse, will blurt out "God again!" when I mention the Holy, as I invariably do. For me, the touchstone of all conscious life is the manner in which we deal with the Holy. God for me is not some alien being, not remote, not intellectual, not saved for one day of the week, not something so abstruse that you need an advanced degree even to mention Him, not here, not there, not seen, not invisible. God is the most wide, most great, most important aspect of the Conscious Being we refer to as Man. I understand nothing in my short life if I do not understand my relationship to God. There!

American Empire 3: The End Of Freedom

When did the American Empire begin? Did it begin with the war against the Native peoples of the continent? Or did it begin with the Civil War and the period of despotism over the vanquished South? It may have begun with the invasion of the Phillipines and the Spanish-American War.
Certainly the Civil War showed what America was capable of in terms of firepower and sheer slaughter, as well as military innovation and invention.

In the 1/3 century, a generation, that followed the end of the Civil War, we awaited the next conflict. This was the Spanish-Ameridan War, started over what appears to have been a staged explosion of the battleship Maine. (Foreshadows of Tonkin Gulf and WMDs in never changes...the bloody minded have nothing new, but they don't have to, because their lies always work.) It reached its greatest power in World War II and continued through the era of reconstructing Europe and Japan.

When the Soviet Union fell apart and China decided it was better to export toys rather than revolution, there were no more wars. However, the men whose entire consciousness was based on war and emnity and competition and brutality could not conceive a world without war.
Therefore, they give us the denouement of Empire:
whereas the USA and Soviet Union achieved the enormous moral victory of not blowing up the world and actually beginning to decrease nuclear arms, now such arms increase again;
whereas the USA was a beacon of Democracy, it now uses Democracy as a punch line in a crank phone call at best;
whereas the USA used to have some fund of moral value which attracted others, it now has torture and Abu Ghraib;
whereas there used to be a belief that all citizens were participating in the growth of wealth and benefit in the country, it is becoming increasingly clear that more and more the USA is a country where a small number control a vast majority of the wealth. (This is demonstrated by the recent abuse wherein we provide the less wealthy with mortgages which will destroy them - potentially-and they will only be able to pay if the housing bubble were to continue indefinitely: sub primes. This ruse had the intention of DECEIVING the people who were not fully participating in the economic growth. It deceived them into thinking that they were. And it worked for a while.)

From the foregoing, we see that a period of Imperial Growth is often marked with great benefits and great good. Empire is not necessarily a perjorative term. However, when Empires go bad, they go bad quickly.
We have not yet reached the point where the imperial party has gained absolute control and all politics has become merely the machinations of the rich...but we are close. This business of the possibility of the Presidency being in to exclusive possession of exactly 2 families for a quarter of a century is ominous.
During this time we have seen how outsiders are marginalized by the political process. ( Perot, Nader, et al. Mr. Ron Paul is the most recent. He has been studiously ignored by the Large Media. However, his supporters have utilized the Internet for fund raising. Mark it well: if he has a measure of success, the Republicans and Democrats will seek to hobble the Internet after the 2008 elections.)

The next year will be very informative. I believe that things will happen in politics domestically which will absolutely astound us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reality As An Ideal Construction 2

We may provide a simple Mr. Wizard test with which we distinguish Objective Reality ( Johnson's cobble stone) from Reality as Construction: (1)Reality as basic and simple, free and independent, or axiomatic (objective reality) occurs in situations free from language, memory, imaging, and other forms of conscious behavior; a void silent of data. (the Johnson kick: the leg and foot accelerated to the stone.) (2)Reality as construction, dependent, or derived occurs in the fullness of consciousness; in situations where there is so much conscious activity that it almost stifles one. (the Johnson observation: the mind and mouth creating "Thus do I refute Berkeley!" and Johnson's feeling of satisfaction at having successfuly demonstrated his point.) At this point, assuming that I have not been so obscure as to have lost your attention to something vastly more interesting such as a ticking clock, one may notice that in the silence of the void of Reality as basic and fundamental (1) bears a great similarity to certain concepts of Zen or Ch'an Buddhism. If you notice this, I may take the liberty of pointing out that it also bears a similarity to certain concepts of Christianity, Islam, and Judaeism, as well as just about every form of Religious consciousness with which I am aware. It has been one of the purposes of all religious geniuses to pierce the veil of deception which separates us from God; that exiles us East of Eden; that perpetuates the myth that the World itself is cruel and not the mankind which inhabits that World.

Reality As An Ideal Construction

Reality is an ideal construct; beings possessed of what we call "consciousness" create Reality. This is not to say that all existing things are somehow dependent upon Mind or Consciousness. This asserts that a conscious being's awareness of itself existing in a Real life in a Real universe is an awareness not of something external called Reality but of a construct of that being's consciousness. Hence, when Samuel Johnson refutes Berkeley and kicks the paving cobble, his foot does not hit an ideal cobble, but rather a very "real" cobble, durable and painful in its inertia. When, however, Samuel Johnson appeals to some objective truth, such as prevails in the "real" world, he appeals to something constructed by consciousness: an ideal within an ideal; the consciousness of Reality is not simple and brutishly direct- as in kicking the stone- but rather is complex to a great degree and dependent upon Johnson's history, his memories, his beliefs: the entire range of his consciousness. When we experience an earthquake, we experience Reality in its independent and overwhelming existence. When we discuss religious beliefs, we experience Reality differing within the minds of every discussant; almost like (forgive the flippant simile) a funhouse filled with myriad mirrors reflecting light each in its own way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dogmas Versus Dogs

I had awakened and was rudely tumbled from my bed by what appeared to be a horde of Viking toughs. It greatly resembled some credit card commercial advertisement of the s& m sort wherein the hapless holder (of credit card) is buffetted by various unscrupulous forces only to be assuaged by this particular financial institution which is caring, thoughtful, has no sub prime assets, and although not Muslim, does not believe in Interest nor Loan Sharking. The last Viking to depart my shambles said, "Mr. Adeejeeree sends his compliments." I gathered my wits and hastily donned my clothes, beating a straight path to the nation's capitol ( it is a small country and the capitol is at the 4 corners at the traffic signal) and to the Ministry in charge of such outrages. Mr. Adeejeeree is the Minister of the Interior. I have a feeling we traded for him with Sudan (after his posting in the Darfur region) for a draft choice to be named in the future. He saw me, smiled broadly, and said something sporty about the Uqbar Soccer League. I cut him off with wildly gesticulating hands, flailing arms, and an incensed brow. Long story short, I had spoken to him a week previously about encouraging Tourism and by a singular Malapropism of the Memory, Mr. Adijeeree remembered the conversation as being about Barbarism. It was partially my fault, for I had also spoken about George Bernard Shaw and his pacifism in WW I and WW II. Since Adijeeree had read Lit. in the day, we had talked about some Shaw plays. Thus did I contaminate Adijeeree's memory. I asked, "What did we speak of last week?" "One of Shaw's plays... Major Barbara, I think." And protean memory became Barbarians At The Gates, barbarian invasions, the Barbary Coast, barbarous table manners...all forms of barbarism...which is a state of being a barbarian and not a state of being a tourist. "" I repeated with scorn and disgust- no, not for the play, rather the object of scorn was the Minister himself, or more correctly, the misfired actions of his Ministry. " are encouraging...not tourism...?" "No. Barbarism I'm afraid, old chap." Now I do not like being called "old chap". It reminds me of (1) discarded lip balm containers on the pristine slopes of Vail, and (2) an old leathery cowboy costume. I sensed that the English suffix for denoting dogmas: the "-ism" , had once again wrought havoc upon the hapless non-native speakers of the English tongue. I began to understand why, when one arrives at this quaint nation paradise, the customs officials at the airport or the quay insist on everyone exchanging insurance information, just as it if were a no-fault automobile collision rather than an entry into an idyllic Eden. Note: the Ministry has set up a committee to look into changing focus to "tourism" rather than "barbarism".

In Tempore Rerum Novarum

What a thrill it is to live in such exciting times!
Our understanding of the universe in which we live has undergone more changes in 100 years than it has in the previous 100,000. Even now Science tries to discover the secrets of Dark Matter. Dark Matter is supposed to be a prime constituent of the universe, but it has never been observed and was originally included into theories to explain why the universe was, after all, not literally flying apart in its rush of expansion.

Dark Matter has mass and is invisible. When the "matter" is settled, another revolution in thought will have occurred; that's about the 344th paradigm shift in my lifetime. The Dark Matter is so preponderant that some scientists have described the observable entities of the universe as floating within a wash of Dark Matter, this dark matter keeping everything compact, so to speak. If this is not the ancient - not to say discarded-notion of the Aether, then I don't know what is.
The Aether goes back to prehistory, I'm sure, and we catch on to the grab bar of its careening trolley about the time of Heraclitus. The Aether is a medium in which the entities of the universe swim about in ptolemaic regularity. Newton saw no need for the Aether. Subsequent generations saw no proof for the existence of the Aether, and so it was consigned to the dustbin of thought. In fact, I think the Aether hung around the old pool hall of Natural Philosophy, hustling games from kids, until J.J. Thompson proved that the speed of light was a constant.

Not so fast, pally.

We are digging that concept back out of the tip, dusting it off, and bringing it into the house. The story of Dark Matter and Aether reminds me mightily of Boudou Sauvé des Eaux, or Down and Out in Beverly Hills, take your pick. wherein the disreputable downer-on-his-luck is samaritaned, brought in and fed, and is taken to buy a new suit of clothes.
And the old guy looks pretty good when you dress him up.
And, pace my grandfather, you apparently may make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

I touched on this refurbishment of old concepts- sort of Flip This Paradigm or Conceptual Intercession-once before in wherein we see :
More precisely, we may inhabit a dodecahedral cosmos. It is, according to the scientists, the best way to account for the latest satellite observations.

and a dodecahedron is but a soccer ball, and this soccer ball was what Pythagoras said was the Holkos, the prime element which contained all the other elements of the universe. So Pythagoras beat Science to the punch and had to wait 2,500 years for royalties.

Also Democritus with his Atomic Theory.
People will say that the ancient ideas had no connection to the modern scientific ideas. This claim is based on the fact that the ancient did not have a scientific method with which to cast their theoretical nets wide upon the face of the Deep, so to speak. (This view ignores the Antikythera device, as well as Archimedes and many others.)

However, I find it striking that the same essential ideas recur in grossly differing milieus. It is as if the human mind is constituted to be aware in certain ways and certain ways only, just as the eye sees only in the visible spectrum. Thus, certain great motifs, emblems, paradigms and templates of understanding are repeated throughout history.

Thus, the Aether as the medium wherein we all bathe. If I were to say "...wherein we all float," then the effect is transformed into something alien and frightening: Pennywise of Stephen King's IT. However, the medium where we swim, bathe; that is comforting. The aetherous medium has both aspects of Love and Comfort versus Fear and Flight, combining these opposites within its meaning. It is a very wide ranging concept, therefore.

We live our lives between The Fear of God and The Love of God. There will always be an Aether and there will always be a Vacuum; the Full and the Void; the Plethos and the Kainon. We fast to purge, to empty, to be void in body and to be abased and humble in the mind. We eat to fill, to feast, to be sated in body and to be exalted and drunk with nutrients! All life is what we already know, see, do, and feel. We only have to try to pick Life back up out of the dirt ( or the swimming pool as in the films mentioned above), brush it off (or dry it out), and everything will be...not necessarily fine, but everything will be better........


Saturday, November 17, 2007

How Long Do We Have?

I prayed for rain with the Governor of Georgia, as well as a few millions other people. How much time do we have with climate change? Goldman Sachs says the amount of credit crunch damage might well be $400 billion. As a coda of despair, Alan Greenspan says that things are going to be mighty different for Western society in the future. How long may we continue with a government that does nothing intelligently, not even waging war? Not long. We do not have the time. In the words of Oliver Cromwell, "In the name of God, GO!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marginalization=Slavery=Our Way Of Life

I had written about how our society "marginalizes" large numbers of individuals and effectively removes them from the mainstream, thus freeing up more "goodies" for us, the consuma-trons that have not yet been marginalized.
I said some things about Black Americans. SO I was taken to task by one of the 2 black members of the Grey Beards, essentially for the reason that I am not black, and so on... I have aged beyond the point of being politically correct and feeling obligated to give way to (1) black people, or (2) women, or  (3) black women.

Now Robert ( we shall call him "Robert" in this post......mainly because that is his name) is a black man and he was calling me out. Of course, I did not back down. We were not discussing the black experience as seen through the eyes of black people; we were talking about the black experience as seen through the eyes of other observers.
What is the status of Black Americans? Consider the present situation of foreclosures on householders with sub prime mortgages. I have heard this discussed. I believe all the rational heads on Cable have talked about it. I believe I heard Ms. Orman discuss it. They ended up by saying that people should have given enough weight to the "fine print" ,as it were, that the mortgage rates would escalate in a few years.

Another trap, like gambling, like drugs, like alcohol... First, society spends money and time to create Icons of Responsible Citizens. One of the icons is Home Ownership. So we pitch Homes to the black populace and create wondrous landscapes for hours...then a minute of "read the fine print."
Now this is not the end of my tirade, for it is obvious that the injunction "read the fine print" is also related to education. Now just how good is the Educational System? Briefly, it is terrible. People are not being taught to read. People are not being taught to see through the lying Icons that consumer society serves up to them, for the society depends on consumerism. If people did not buy, the whole thing falls apart. So people must not be taught to think critically.
In Detroit, if I recall, the graduation rate from High School is 25% as reported in 2007. AND if you do not believe my baloney anymore, I will quote the following: Talking Points Memo: TPM
The Plunging Homeownership Rate for African Americans  

"The rate of homeownership among blacks increased sharply from 1994 to 2004, rising from 42.3 percent in 1994 to 49.7 percent in 2004. In just three years it has now fallen back to 46.7 percent and it is virtually certain to decline further in the next year and a half. In other words, the big push to increase African American homeownership rates was in reality a big push to increase foreclosure rates among African American households, but the ideologues of homeownership were too blind to notice the impact of their policies."

We shall remain slaves until we stand up against this oppression.

In the New York Times, November 11, 2007, page 12 of Sunday Business section in an article beginning on page 1, same section, dealing with Countrywide Bank:  

"...At a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute about two weeks ago, he [Mr. Angelo Mozilo, founder of Countrywide Bank] explained that borrowers forced lenders like Countrywide to lower their mortgage standards. The industry faced special pressure from minority advocates to help people buy homes, he said."

Forced? This is all rather like the AMA saying that minority advocates forced doctors to provide more health care by eliminating the extra cost of anaesthesia.
It makes a grammatical and syntactical sense, but it is entirely laughable. If advocates knew what was going on, they were in on the feast off their own people. If they did not know, then what kind of educational system do we have when leaders are ignorant?
The sub primes were a scam on the poor just like state-run lotteries. The sub primes were a destroyer of a group of people just as insidious as drugs, as violence, ...and as non-nutrtitional food that fills them to an obese childhood and an adulthood of disease, during which the chances they will have health care are not rosy.

Various Semitic Forms Of Fascism

The Grey Beards Club has grown quieter now. We sit around in Hanaan's place, satirically referred to as a restaurant, and listen to our digestive processes. There is nothing to argue about. If some one says "What about Hillary...?" we silence them with a deadly scorn. As if the political process has usurped Paris Hilton's venue and now reigns supreme on the Cable media "The News". We are burdened by everything from the start of Iraq through Abu Ghraib through Faluja up to the present where all the inhabitants of Iraq are smiling ( they are if they know what's good for them!) and saying that everything is hunky-dory and good-bye Americans...we love you!! (That's all Bush wants; to have Muqtada As Sadr say "Thanks"...or "Shukran".) Then they will turn around and kill each other. And every life we spent will be...what? We do not seem to be able to look at the possibility that the lives are wasted, so we will have to endure another 30 years or so of the dim wits that make up public opinion come up with ways to ensure that the lives were not wasted....theoretically, at least. Thus, we now look at the concept of Islamofascism. Since the President seems to use it, it is obviously a crock. I don't think anyone in the administration knows fact 1 about fascism. Clearly, when we use "fascism" in a perjorative sense, we cannot be referring to General Francisco Franco whose fascism did not bother us for the longest time...if ever. When I was a child, all we children in the Catholic schools were taught to revere the great General Franco who saved Spain from Communism and Anarchism. In short, we were taught that some Fascism is good: Franco's form of it. Anyway, there are other forms of fascist-like behavior. The good Levine, der Engel, brought to our attention a situation which may be of interest to so-called Christian Zionists. Reading in the Telegraph we see some verification of Levine's tale: "Christians in Jerusalem have attacked what they say is the increasingly common phenomenon of ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on them. The statement followed a brawl between an orthodox Jewish yeshiva (religious school) student and an Armenian archbishop." ... "Daniel Rossing, the director of a Jerusalem centre for Christian-Jewish dialogue, said there had been an increase in such incidents recently as "part of a general lack of tolerance".

The Third Party

Conservatives...Conservative in the sense it was applied to Barry Goldwater...have found a candidate and are raising funds for him via the internet. The candidate is Mr. Ron Paul. This may be the first steps in a real multi-party system, also. I mean, why just stop at raising money? If the people of the USA begin to use the internet to create and nurture their own politicians and their own parties, you will see the Democrata and Republicans join hands hastily in the best spirit of working together and apply some sort of censorship to the internet. A good start would be to tax internet usage. In 7 years they would not place a temporary ban on taxing the internet. They would allow the individual States, most of which are now run by fools, to kill the internet and turn it into a docile creature of the corporate state. And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Zero-Sum Game

In a zero-sum game there is a clear cut winner and a clear cut loser; there is no sharing of the "pot" or the goodies.
I tend to view our society as one based on zero-sum principles: the more you have, the less I have.

Therefore, I must expend every effort to ensure you have less. One of the ways of doing this is the process of marginalizing large portions of the population. We quote Juan Cole:  
"Cranky rich people hire sharp-tongued and relatively uninformed young people all the time and put them in their mass media to badmouth the poor, spread bigotry, exalt mindless militarism, promote anti-intellectualism, and ensure generally that rightwing views come to predominate even among people who are harmed by such policies. One of their jobs is to marginalize progressives by smearing them as unreliable." [Cole, Informed Comment, Feb. 8, 2005])
(emphasis mine)

Mr. Cole is speaking of marginalization in political discourse, but the principles remain the same: Debase, Defame, Discredit, Dispossess.

Of course, the text book case would be the history of Black Americans. Black Americans have been marginalized and they still are. The greatest leaders were killed off. Drugs were allowed to flood the nation's cities. Even today the stereotypes of laziness are invoked to argue for vast illegal immigration to perform labor that American citizens are purportedly too shiftless to do.
Black America is a vast population which has effectively been shoved aside into a cocoon of its own and left to its own devices. There are leaders, but they are not creative leaders. They tend to the masses of people dispossessed within their own country, but they will not counsel them to rise up and claim their rightful patrimony.

Why? There is money and livelihood in not doing so. Most black leaders have a vested interest in the status quo and the illusion of progress. To become radical is to jeopardize all that. People of whatever color are tempted with the concentrated fruits of exploitive capitalism: Drugs, Palaces of Gambling, colorful bottles of alcohol, insinutating advertisements of tobacco, pornography of sex, pornography of violence, pornography of fear... Sooner or later, a soul falters and is entrapped.
Now they are prey of the Criminal Justice system, a system which will never let go and which will brand them indelibly forever...lest they try to redeem themselves. It's quite a system, this marginalization. The more that the poor do not have, the more there is for the rest of us. Happy Holidays, you cute little consumers!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

In The Name Of God, Go!

In the Asia Times:
we read  
Spooks refuse to toe Cheney's line on Iran  
By Gareth Porter WASHINGTON - 
The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program. The aim is to make the document more supportive of Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts provided by participants in the NIE process to two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers... ...But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the "unsatisfactory" draft NIE, but without making its key findings public. ...Cheney's desire for a "clean" NIE that could be used to support his aggressive policy toward Iran was apparently a major factor in the replacement of John Negroponte as director of national intelligence in early 2007. 

And so it goes.
Cheney wants to cook the books to agree with his office, The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense want something more representative of the range of opinion of the intelligence community. Of course, what this makes immediately obvious is the fact that Mr. Cheney and crew obviously use this method to get their way and it is clear that they did so in 2002 and 2003 in beating the drums for war in Iraq. In essence, the tiger does not change his spots.
This is not news.
Mr. Cheney knows he perverted the truth and is quite proud of the fact, secure in his opinion that it was all for a higher goal, a goal of such prisitine morality that its achievement would absolve all sins and crimes implicate in the pursuance of that supreme goal. There is still talk about intelligence being wrong, not perverted, merely because so much of the population is rather dim and witless and still thinks the intelligence community as a whole played dumb.

What is to become of the American Empire? This empire has existed in various stages of growth and development since the USA became a colonial power. What distinguished the American Empire from the other empires of its times: the Russian, the British, the German, etc., is the thread of democracy and law, extensively written, spoken, debated, by the Founding Fathers who were products of a time when public life and private were consonant with the spiritual lives and produced a moral sense of remarkable acuity.
The American Empire is now beginning to fall apart. Iraq is not the beginning; it is the end, or the presager of the end. The American Empire will be destroyed by its own enormous creations: the financial system which becomes perverted by greed, the ecological system which is perverted by lies and chemistry, the political system which is perverted by greed and lies, and so on. Under the Empire, Genetically Modified food will eventually be force fed us, as if we were geese for foie gras, in order to increase profit for global corporations.

The American Empire will strangle on its own excesses: an excess of greed, an excess of pride, an excess of ego pure and simple coupled with its own bizarre taste for gigantism and monsters which it quaintly refers to as "economies of scale" or whatever the buzzword is. Nothing is inevitable. I would feel a chance to escape some impending doom by having the present administration resign.

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell addresses the Rump Parliament, "Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! "

In the spring of 1940, as German Panzers raced across Europe and the British reeled back from their failed Norwegian campaign, the peace policy of Neville Chamberlain was revealed at last to be a disaster, Leopold Amery, MP, ( who had been two years senior to Churchill at the Harrow School) rose in Parliament to condemn this policy and quoted Cromwell, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

Now as Mr. Cheney attempts to cook the intell books again, we raise our voices to proclaim that enough is enough. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, we cannot take another year of your administration: IN THE NAME OF GOD, GO!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Peace Poem 23

I am fasting a day early, hence, the poem. The originals are on ( see link at right). My Southern Rose The willows stand stiff daguerrotypes; Generals of the War between the States; their beards so full and majestic in their stance. They maintain their verdant burden and sweeping low in gallant bow! chorus My rose of Maryland! Bloom forever! The South’s own herbal honey! The Balm of Appalachia; sweet liquor of Antietam! The wild flowers strewn up to the sky, Soldiers of the war; their eyes so young and filled with hope: like idols in their fane. They stand in silent loyal witness, reeds in ponds innumerable. chorus My rose of Maryland! Bloom forever! The South’s own herbal honey! The Balm of Appalachia; sweet liquor of Potomac! We’re coming east from Morgantown, from the Cumberland. We stop to eat at Hancock where you can stand and throw a stone apiece into Pennsylvania’s green fields and into West Virginia’s land. chorus My rose of Maryland! Bloom forever! The South’s own herbal honey! The Balm of Appalachia; sweet liquor of Patapsco!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shall We Bomb Pakistan?

It entertains me to no end that a Zogby poll ( or was it a Zagat's review?) at the end of October stated that 52% of Americans favored bombing Iran. Of course, they had little hint that the most profound threat of nuclear instability was always going to come from their good old friend Pakistan. A year or so ago, while talking about Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the state of Pakistan, I managed to say something glib along the lines that he would disapprove mightily ("be spinning in his grave") over the developments of the present: Mr. Musharraf, a man who was both President and Head of the army. A lady recently emigrated from Pakistan (and, thus, imagining herself to be more knowledgeable than I) took me to task and said something to the effect that outsider don't know nothing! Or, at least that outsiders should let Pakistanis make the judgements about their leaders...or some such nonsense. I mean, if we were to allow Pakistanis to make the judgements about their government, that means I would not be able to condemn General Zia al-Haqq to the deepest pit of hell, which is where he most certainly is. Anyway, events have proven me correct again, and democracy has had its left hand chopped off, as it were, by a man who is along the historical lines of typical American allies outside of Europe: despots, tyrants, and usurpers. I am lead to believe that our government is frantically trying to re-establish some semblance of democracy, preferably by getting the Pakistan police to bash some heads wearing dirty turbans rather than clean bowler hats; to cut a few throats girded by ragged shirts rather than tasteful cravates; to whack a Waziri instead of a Iuris Doctor or lawyer. Mr. Jinnah himself was a lawyer. He was called to London's bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1896. He does not approve.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Anna And Her Machines

Above is the infamous Woking RR. Wet Spot Machine, thoughtfully supplied by AnnaMR at one of those links over at the right side of the blog.
I have pondered over other enormous products of industrial society designed to accomplished other ( ostensibly) homely tasks. I submit the following:
The Whitby Angler Hook Baiting Machine ( designed to automate the placement of "bait" upon the hooks of fisher folk.)

American Empire Revisited

It is fairly obvious that the American Empire is already in existence. I have been writing as if it were a future phenomenon. Sorry about that.

Arab American Film Festival

My daughter and I went to a few screenings at the Arab American Museum's Film Festival on November 3. It is a beautiful building. On the way to the auditorium, I saw some art work by I.M. I use only the initials since the artist wishes to remain anonymous.
Anonymous, I thought, yet Acronymous:
I.M. indeed! I know who the artist is. When I see signs of peace enclosed within a climate controlled glass case, looking for all the world as if they were ancient mummies under the control of Zahi Hawass, I know who is responsible. I know who's behind it all when I see the signs enwrapt in gilded wire, imprisoned and forced to our rude gaze, while we abuse these ancient icons with our uncomprehending eyes. Eyes wild with inchoate desires...

Well, on to the film.
We saw Ar-RaHalat ul-Kubraa or, as it was translated, Le Grand Voyage, or "The Great Trip". It was about a father's Hajj to Mecca.

The father, portrayed by Muhammad Majd, was driven to Mecca by his youngest son, played by Nicolas Cazale. The family lived in France, having emigrated from Morocco some long time past. At the beginning of the film, there were various attributions and kudos to a couple of choses de Maroc, so I thought perhaps the trip was from Morocco to Mecca. However, it became clear that the trip was through Europe, and would be even longer than the trek across North Africa to Arabia.

The Arabic title actually means "The Greatest Trip", or Le Voyage Le Plus Grand, and not merely a great trip among other possibilities. Since this is the father's one and only Hajj, and since the son was brought up more French than Moroccan, or more secular than Muslim, this is a great and singular voyage to adulthood and a preliminary approach to the holy traditions that are the warp and weft of humankind.
Afterwards there was a panel discussion. I became unruly and said unfortunate things. The security forces hustled me upstairs past ullulating women who keened my passing in despair, reaching out to touch me and saying "Dummuzi!" I was thrown ignominiously into an exterior cul-de-sac which had a sign titled: The Dustbin of History!


Peace Fast

The poem for fast day 22 is at I took part in a Poetry Slam last week. I came in in the middle of the pack...pack of ravenous auto-centric despots who are yet enslaved to their wild desires. (silence)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Night And Silence; Who Is Here?

Resolved:  Whether Dumbledore be gay, or no.

"Weeds of gay pride doth he wear."  
Antonio: 'sfaith! 'tis old Dumbledore!  
(quote from my book Le Shakespeare Imaginaire)

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

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

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

Our Lives In The Bush Of Ghosts: The Mystery Of The Afghan Opium

Not really a mystery, I suppose. So, recently our client state of Afghanistan under the presidency of Hamid Karzai had the good fortune of producing a bumper crop of opium, perhaps the largest in its agricultural history. What has become of it? Where did it go? Who is enjoying it now? The entire situation is menacingly farcical: our Afghan ally producing opium to poison our cities...and we cannot do anything. The only thing the government can do is hope that no one notices. This was my tax dollars at work. In the Bush world of ghosts, there are NO good options; all the forks in the road lead to a sovereign and malignant ghost.