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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Peace Capitalism

Why not have the West Bank settlements pay a reasonable rent for the land? If the outlay did not justify the continued existence of the settlement, it would revert back to the Palestinians. If it did, the settlement is obviously doing well, and so is the recipient of rents. In other words, a Capitalism wherein everyone profits...the real deal, not the illusion.

The Nature Of Violence In History: John C. Calhoun

March 31, 1850 marks the end of the life of John C. Calhoun, American statesman and orator. He served the state of South Carolina in the Senate, and was a proponent of free trade, in this opposing the North, which was very much protectionist, seeking to protect the infant industrial northern society.
The South saw Northern protectionist tariffs as strangling free trade and their exports, and feelings ran so high that secession from the Union was seriously discussed. A forceful speaker, Calhoun orated thus in this period:
'We are told that the Union must be preserved. And how is it proposed to preserve the Union? By force! Does any man in his senses believe that this beautiful structure, —this harmonious aggregate of States, produced by the joint consent of all,—can be preserved by force?
Its very introduction will be certain destruction to the Federal Union. No, no! You cannot keep the States united in their constitutional and federal bonds by force.
Force may, indeed, hold the parts together; but such union would be the bond between the master and slave—a union of exaction on one side, and of unqualified obedience on the other.
It is madness to suppose that the Union can be preserved by force. Disguise it as you may, the contest is one between power and liberty.'
In the present day, we celebrate this very application of force, and never more question the nature of the outcomes of such a procedure. The productive and beneficial outcomes of Force and Violence are orated and applauded and the icons associated with them are enshrined.
The Founding Fathers saw the necessity of Union, compelled to it by the logic of history, not by the calculus of armed conflict and compulsion. The Union, although it struggled to be born, was not in its nature a compact to which the parties were driven by arms and cudgels.
Yet, the continuance of the Union was seen to be such a process of exaction and unqualified obedience.
The question in Calhoun's mind probably was:
Did we, indeed, freely agree to enter into a Union, whose existence immediately abrogates those same freedoms, upon our crossing the threshhold into it?
(note: During the aftermath of the presidential election of 1824, Calhoun denounced the "corrupt bargain" of Henry Clay and John Q. Adams, saying that power - improperly acquired - will be undoubtedly improperly used.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Memory's Malaprops:1

Mr. Malaprop is the name when it comes to quotes. Debating another chappie about some obscure political issue, I decided to quote Ronald Reagan. This is what happened when my opponent interrupted me. I said: " Mr. Gorbahev,... I paid for this microphone !! " being a combination of the remark in a presidential debate about paying for microphones and the one about Mr. Gorbachev tearing the Berlin wall down. I was always a Goldwater Conservative. A Reagan Conservative, I must admit, I always believed sort of thought of themselves as having that same big smile and that lush head of hair as the Gipper, and not to many deep political thoughts. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps not.

Halliburton Revisited

In case you missed the comment on Helliburton ( Halliburton ) being the contractor on the Death Star, a reader named Elijah responded: I have a personal experience with the wiring in Iraq. I was stationed in Balad between 2006-2008, and while I was on a patrol, my barracks building burned to the ground. About 50 soldiers lived there and everything we owned was destroyed. Very few soldiers were left back in the building and they weren't enough to put the fire out themselves. It was a horrible situation and thank God nobody was injured, but needless to say we had enough on our minds without having to recover our losses. Many of us also had belongings that could not be replaced. Going through a fire is a horrible thing and prevention is much easier than recovery. Follow-up comment this and I will send you pictures of the aftermath!

Elijah, if you are still willing to send the pix, use the email address in the profile area. Thanks.

YAHOO's Unwitting Agenda(?)

I came across an interesting phenomenon.
There was a posting in a blog called Israel Matzev dealing with the US administration won't " save" Israel from an Iranian nuke.

Sunday, March 29, 2009  
If anyone still thinks the US will save Israel from an Iranian nuke...

The author insults Mr. Olmert and Mr. Obama.
Well, why not? I mean, you have to have some sort of ending, right? May as well wrap it up with a pretty silken insult. I have always thought, however, that one may as well start out with the insult as the first sentence... and then one realizes that the rest of the bloody writing is superfluous, and you may get back to living a full-blooded life of moral imperatives.
O.K. Now I'm getting annoying.
Anyway, the blog is what the breed calls "right wing" and makes a big deal of its right-winged-ness, having links to other right-winged blogs and a mighty blog roll of the right (wing) stuff. Fine.

Now what totally surprised me was the fact that this posting had 19 commenters. Of this 19, 9 commenters with a profile in Blogger had started their blogs in March 2009, and had not yet gotten around to posting anything in their own blogs. There was exactly 1 comment by an individual that seemed to have a living blog. Of all the other profiled commenters - and of the 19, 6 were not available or not displayed - there was a grand total of 2 posts for all of them - ever.

I was somewhat surprised that some many March 2009 bloggers were interested in this particular topic: fully 9 of 19 were March virgin bloggers. I was even more surprised that some many people who went throught the trouble of establishing a blog, establishing a profile, and even rousing themselves to hacking out some commentary on Israel Matzev's post, cannot seem to write anything for themselves.
Furthermore, there were numerous links from another site to this very posting - not to the blog, but to this posting. I mean, things that did not seem related were linked, creating a impression of a good deal of info flowing back and forth.
I must contact Yahoo and see how they go about referring to blogs and topics. The column is titled Most Blogged - World, so there is some algorithm to measure activity. It appeared Monday, March 30 in Yahoo under a story I was reading about Kirkuk:;_ylc=X3oDMTI1NzZyc3Q3BFJfYWlkAwRSX2RtbgN5YWhvby5jb20EUl9maWQDYmRhMGMzMzU0NTFiYmY2YjY0Y2Q0MWRlYjBiYWRlNDYEUl9sdHADMQ--  
Most Blogged - World
If anyone still thinks the US will save Israel from an Iranian nuke... Israel Matzav – Sun Mar 29, 11:55 am EDT
Blogs About This Story (6) WMD Proliferation Party: Iranian Missile Team In North Korea For ICBM Test Launch Infidel Bloggers Alliance – Sun Mar 29, 3:21 pm EDT Blogs About This Story (5) The Day in Israel: Mon Mar 30th, 2009 – Sun Mar 29, 7:37 pm EDT Blogs About This Story (4)

These links should work for a while. See what you think. Maybe it is just April 1 effect.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art: Josep Renau

Celebridades Nortes Americanas / North American Celebrities
Spanish painter, poster designer, and muralist, he lived from 1907 - 1982. The above seems to be a satiric commentary: the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's likeness are very much in the background and obscured, George Washington barely visible above the Coke Bottle.

The Autumn Of Our Capitalism

In Science Daily: Humanity May Hold Key For Next Earth Evolution ..."We are … an agent for planetary evolution or an agent for planetary destruction,” Langmuir said. “Do we relate to the current environmental problems as if we are users of the Earth, or do we recognize that we are the byproduct of 4.5 billion years of planetary evolution? What we do may determine whether the planet is able to move into its next phase of development.” Our new capitalism must undergo a considerable change. As the beings of the greatest potential for intelligence on the Earth, God gave us the position of steward that we might exercise good husbandry over this part of Creation. Instead, we have chosen to exploit it, and to turn it into instruments of finance which - due to our incredible lack of hindsight, foresight, and insight - served to increase the suffering of mankind, not to alleviate it. I imagined myself Ausonius late last autumn when I paused to consider the meaning of what I was writing. Ausonius was a figure of the late Roman Empire. He lived in present day Burgundy, and spent his life in service of the Empire. He was a poet, too. Ausonius went out into the Burgundy countryside in autumn, and felt a presentiment of everything he stood for passing away. It was not merely as a literary device that I chose Ausonius, for it seems that I actually had stood there with him, only it was years ago, much earlier than 2008. It was indicated that I was to live my life, not in the vibrant bloom of spring of a society - as I had believed since my babyhood, as I had been taught by the wise minds of my country - but I was in the autumn which grew colder day by day. We journeyed to Detroit and stood within the Detroit Institute of Arts in the Rivera court, where the great Diego Rivera had painted the murals of Industry. As we sat and looked at them, it was mentioned that we could rent the courtyard for my daughter's wedding for a mere $20,000. Beyond the insanity of the cost - obviously established in the old period which ended in 2008 but which people still fervently held onto, the period of capitalistic autism - I could not bear to be in the courtyard, for I had the distinct impression that I was standing as a time-traveller from some other age, or a future archaeologist, standing and staring with imperfect understanding at the glories of the by-gone age. Within the murals glowed the genius of invention and creativity; delineated in vibrant colors were the riches and the nurturing attention of the enigmatic Mother Earth which had been given to us. In the murals there were the hard work and dedication of generations, transformed by Industry into people who built good and strong lives and were the root stock of virtuous families. Straining in the confines of the two dimensions were the diversity of conscious entities - striving against the ideas of each other, presenting two visions - and I realized our diverse nature and the necessity that we realize we shall always differ, conscious beings always do, but we must reconcile in the end.
And I was overwhelmed by a sense of shame that I lived in the throw-away age: America of Throw-Away Well-Being! What shall we do today? Shall we toss out the retirement accounts of millions? Toss their savings as if they were plates of styrofoam, not gold, not lives.
In truth, my face reddened as I stood there. I wondered if everyone else were feeling the same thing, the same dissonance between pictures of creative beings being gaped at by their mammalian, bi-pedal, quasi-simian descendants. I am not living in the age of reconciliation; I am living at the first breakdown of the system. After me will come the great discords and the fights and loathsome wars my country is so adept at. I am Ausonius, and I write for the future generation: reconcile with each other, reconcile with God, and reconcile with nature. It is your future generation to which belongs the brave new world of the future.
orate pro nobis omnes veniete et pro vobis orabimus...
pray for us, and from our monuments
of marble we shall pray for you...
note: tomorrow we shall discuss Iconic Participation for some idea of how those who are gone actually pray for those who remain.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hafiz Alley

Where we went in the winter of 2008-2009 to memorize the books, those few which had not been burned.
photo: magdalena wanli

The Past And The Future: Laberinto Del Fauno

The Past: Atlantis existed. It was in the area of the African Continent in the East African Rift, the zone which separates the Nubian sub-plate of the African tectonic plate from the Somalian sub-plate of the African plate. It was situated in approximately what is now the middle of Lake Victoria, or Victoria Nyanza - Nalubaale in Luganda - in an inland fresh water sea that was approximately 1000 km. long with a maximum width of 500 km.

In Plato's account of Atlantis in the Timaeus, he describes the island as beyond the pillars of Hercules. There have been various interpretations of these pillars, or stele. There is an ancient account of "pillars of Shango". referring to the god of thunder of Western Africa, but the story is placed in East Africa! The pillars of Shango form a trinity of volcanoes, the three which form Mount Kilimanjaro: Kibo, the central volcano with a permanent snow field and glacier; Shira, the most westerly and the oldest; and Mawenzi, a peak that stands just under 5350 meters, or just under 17,600 feet.
In this vicinity was the very old city we call Atlantis. It was on an island within the much larger Nyanza that existed at the time, and it was the center of a great empire which extended around the margins of the Rift Valley inland sea - of which today only the small necklace of lakes in the valley remain.

In old Islamic accounts, the city is referred to as Madinat Al-Launain, the city of the two colors, these colors being red, ahmaru, and white, abyadu, the colors of Shango. The people of the land were said, however, to be of three colors, red, white, and black. Geology indicates we are speaking of a time about 62 million years ago. This is much too early for human life, according to present science. However, the story continues that the Atlanteans became debased, and the forces of Nature and the forces of Justice conspired to destroy Atlantis.

Then we come to the Present, and we stand and stare into the Future: We are becoming as estranged from each other as was Spain in the years leading up to its Civil War in the 1930s. For a spokesman for a political party - the Republican - to forcefully state in the middle of great danger and uncertainty that he wishes that the President of the country fail...and by failure, we obviously imply that the country fail a great change in America that I have never seen in my long, long life.

In the past, we fought tooth and nail, but we came together to do at least the minimum of actions required for the well being of the country. And we never, ever wished that the country go down to ashes, so that we - the latter day messiahs of our tortured imaginations - could then come down from our slum Galilee and scream - as if in a nightmare - Lazarus, arise!! Horrid blasphemy of the Present age! Unnatural men and women! We are entering the Faun's Labyrinth - Laberinto del Fauno - wherein the spoken stories of the horror of fratricide, passionately hot, become congealed into despairingly cold aspic of novel terror.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Helliburton Contracting Ltd

Elijah commented on the outrage Halliburton pulled, is pulling, and will continue to pull in Iraq: winning contracting bids, then doing the work with people who know nothing about construction. (Notice we say Halliburton, not KBR. By now, Halliburton should have been made aware of its subsidiary's crimes. Hence, Helliburton bears the onus of responsibility.) First, it made me aware how much I actually work at writing. I like to give the impression that it just sort of rolls off the keyboard, and I do not raise a sweat. However, I am quick to anger, and the more outrageous the situation the quicker it is. The description of a committee investigating soldiers being electrocuted in the showers passes my understanding. My real first response was: let us get our guns and then go find those responsible! Imagine! Billions for bankers, millions more spent on the media coverage of bankers and Wall Streeters and bonuses...and the USA can not find it in its bag of tricks to spend money building a shower room than won't electrocute the soldiers showering in it, and it can not find sufficient executive expertise to monitor what is going on until a couple of GIs have been fried!! What kind of a pantomime horse of a country was this for the last quarter century or more? So - as you see, it is very difficult not to rant about these things, but to find some other way to talk about them. I mean people will be outraged on their own, they don't need me to point out where the exact fault is; they don't need my incredible moral focus to to throw back the bedsheets from the copulating members of the military-industrial complex. I have ranted. Everybody does. So when I rant, I blend into the crowd. That's why I try to find another way to bring it to peoples' attention. As outrages and crimes pile on top of each other in our Tower of Babel, they blend into each other and become diffuse evil. I try to pin a badge or emblem of nonsense of them to keep them fresh in my mind, if not someone else's mind, too. Second, outrage should by now be a continuous state of mind, not something invoked when someone pushes our buttons. Our buttons have been pushed; our buttons have had a heavy book placed atop them and are continually on. We don't need a committee to find who is at fault, since we are not going to prosecute Halliburton-Cheney anyway. It is another sideshow for the yokels. And this is why I think our recovery will take so long: our country has so much rotten that it will take more than a generation to clear it out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What If Halliburton Were The Contractor On The Death Star?

Sometime ago I said something about Halliburton. It may have involved the Dark Lord Cheney. I do not remember. Some Chewbacca - emphasis on the "chew" like Jabba pronounces it, not on "bac" as Han Solo pronounces it - wrote me that I was unfair, and that KBR was the principle involved, and KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, and quite a bit of blah-blah. Of course, his reasoned words were much more rational and sort of "main stream" sounding than anything I had ever written here. BUT ( and this is a big, big "but"), as it turns out, he was a well-spoken fellow who lived in dreamland - dreams compliments of Neo-con Illusions, Ltd. - and I was right again. Or, I may not have been right exactly, but in the midst of all the water that has flowed under the bridge since that time, I come out a lot better than he. Case in point: Halliburton, Cheney, KBR, Gimpel ( the fool) and Associates cannot build a shower facility without electrocuting soldiers in Iraq. or I quote this from the middle of the article, although you could even read it backwards, for it shows up the insanity of the USA as it goose-stepped into its new status as the world's biggest Homeless Shelter: ...KBR is the target of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Maseth's ( one of the electrocuted)family. They claim the company knew there were electrical problems in the building where he died, but didn't fix them. His mother testified last year on Capitol Hill. Army investigators have since reclassified Maseth's death as negligent homicide caused by KBR and two of its supervisors. An Army investigator said KBR failed to ensure work was done by qualified electricians and plumbers. The case is under legal review. "KBR is not responsible for the electrocution deaths widely reported, including that of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth," Heather Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, said in an e-mail....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Good Old Days #1

When Comrade Stalin Rode The Subway

Bank Bail Out

Wall Street Bankers Discuss Toxic Assets

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New TV Shows

My favorite would be

Wife Swapping Ghost Hunters Marooned on a Desert Island with special guest appearance by Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston

That would be a good show. The way I see it is: A planeload of normal American families, parents and teenagers, makes an emergency soft landing by a desert island in the Pacific. Stranded, without any communication, they are forced to survive by relying on their wits, stone age tools, and wife-swapping. They also investigate the obviously haunted remains of the insane asylum, the only structure on the island, where professionally unsanctioned shock therapy medical experiments were performed. Exactly how Bobby Brown and Whitney would fit in is not clear. However, they are so outrageous that we could probably just throw them in any time, without explanation, and no one would notice a simple and ordinary thing like continuity.

Obama's People !!!!

How many times have I seen or heard that phrase recently!? Obama's people... ! Chilling effect now that I have learned the full truth. Actually, I awoke this morning with the distinct impression that Obama and Ambassador Sarek were more than kissing cousins. Oh, I did not hear it a "shuddering horror pale", as Milton has it, but I was somewhat appalled on hearing that Barack Obama and Sarek of Vulcan are symbolically conspiring to alter the future! Among those who have noted this: Cosmic Iguana and in Confessions of an Aca-Fan we read: ...Listen to the speech which Amanda, Spock's mother, delivers in the NPR broadcast about being beaten up as a child because the others don't think he's Vulcan enough and you will hear echoes there of some of the stories we've heard about Obama's struggle to figure out who he was growing up. I've been surprised by how quickly the blogosphere picked up on the Spock/Obama comparison. Almost immediately, I started to see people construct graphics around the Spock/Obama theme, which clearly resonated with people other than myself. These fellows were way ahead of me. Great minds may flow in similar channels, but some of us have a rather slow and molasses-like water flowing in ours.
I am quite sure this was exactly how Charles Darwin felt that great morn many years ago when he woke up thinking "survival of the fittest!?" , leaped from his bedchambers, ran to the computer, Googled "alfred russel wallace", only to discover he was about to be bested in the race to the Royal Society for scientific kudos.
Oh, well. Better late (the phalarope, that is) than never.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Israel Nears Its Moment Of Truth

New York Times A Religious War in Israel’s Army By ETHAN BRONNER Published: March 21, 2009 ...A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.” Israel has its own little Jihad, jihad in the sense of holy war. We posted the survey results a month or so ago that showed that 90% of Jews saw the Holocaust as the defining moment of Jewish history, surpassing even Moses! The Holocaust led to the founding of the State of Israel - before any Messiah was on the horizon - and the Holocaust was the central idol of the new Jewish spirit. God did not bring them back to that land. They brought themselves, by their own efforts. It is no longer a holy land; they have created an idolatry of a historical moment and have enshrined it, for all the world like Ahab and Jezebel. Not Joshua...but bar Kochba...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warning, Will Robinson!

The UN has acted the part of the robot in Lost In Space, and the rest of us are the Robinson Family. I am Dr. Smith, of course. The UN has said that a perfect storm of food and water shortages, over-population, and climate change will makes things mighty unpleasant by the year 2030. We have ignored such tripe in the past, and I am sure we will continue to ignore least until 2029.

Title Remains

The Title of this blog remains the same.
I did get rid of the sub-title, which was pretty much the mushy type of thing you expect from religious types with imagination impediments. I mean, how annoying are those religious blogs!!?? Jesus loves you?! Right. You know, I can get through an entire decade without trivializing my rapport with God by saying something as inane as " God loves you." Or mention anything about the Sacred Heart. I have never gotten along with that 17th century innovation.

The idea of worshipping by using the imagery of some 17th century visionary is much too heated for me. Plus I don't like the images of the Sacred Heart. And I don't feel the image of a God pointing to a hole in his breast, where His human heart is exposed, to be much of an image of undying love. It has always and continues to creep me out.
However, Catholics have never had enough shame. Nor good sense. Nor aesthetics. Having lived as an RC in the bloom of my youth, I can say we settled for crumbs when there was a feast. Crumbs. Little crumby images of hearts and putti-like angels. Yucch!


The Real World

The world is not the dream world of our stories; it is a narrative being played out, and our stories should attempt to stay close to the real world story. A case in point is the thread: War is Hell. We have seen President Bush try to prove War is not Hell, rather it is a slam-dunking cakewalk and a picnic in the park. It did not work. Many Jews and their paid friends have stories about the new age of Judaism after 1948. However, reality is something different: Ha'aretz IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement By Amos Harel Haaretz Correspondent During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive... The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children... "The sharpshooter ...shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them...I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers.. He was just following orders. Let that sink in. I shall say it once more: we are a nation of fools. When we are not fools, we are cunningly depraved. Our support of Israel and our experience with the Israel lobby has degraded both of us. Instead of helping each other, we conspired to enable each other in the most vicious habits. And the debts we have caused to accumulate are going to be paid, as they have begun to be paid now. As we watch the lords of empire scatter across the face of the earth, driven from their Tower of Babel, the debts are being paid. After the lords of empire are driven forth, we yeomen of empire will have our turn. God does not do this. We do it ourselves. God does not have to destroy the proud and arrogant. Their own deeds destroy them. Consider how mighty was the force of Irony - reversal of fortune - when in 2008 the mighty American Empire which was to be the sum total of History forever ( according to Karl Rove...but, of course, he was such an idiot) experienced the first installment on its debt: the collapse of the American financial system. That is what happened. The bloody thing fell down. A so-called literary term- Irony - seemed to step out of college Lit. 101 courses and it swung a mighty axe at the Neo-con dream...and the whole fabric of lies fell apart! All we had to do was wait for the best and the brightest of Americans - who all seem to have a fatal blindness - to develop things to a critical mass, and then...Boom! We did it all ourselves. God does not have to blind us. We love our blindness. When blind greed and passion are handed out, we throng about, saying "Gimme! Gimme!" like the greediest and fattest of Children of the Damned. The work of God is to intervene with miracles that reduce our pain. He is well aware that we are more than capable at inflicting suffering upon ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Colin Simpson's Game

My friend, Baysage, said to me the other day that it was an atrocity that I could get my head bashed for expressing sentiments such as I had done - merely saying that the USA was a nation of absolute fools and being opposed to more military spending. This was in a post of his titled "Oh, Good" on March 16 2009 at My own big problem is that I am finding it harder and harder to find people to insult and to annoy. Even my father agrees with me. Case in point: I can say Bush was a fool, now my father nods his head, smiles ruefully, and says "Yeah, yeah...but what choice did we have?" I can say the USA is a nation of fools, and he agrees. I can deride organized religion, and he sighs, observing that we never knew real Christianity. I say we are idolators of War, and he now says that, although he'd say it differently, he always said that he thought we made the mistake of falling in love with War after WW II. He still attacks Obama as a spell-binding orator ( which I think is FOX-type-1930s- code for "Mussolini" and "Hitler" ). He attacks Obama for Socialism ( which is the same thing that happened to FDR in the New Deal ). So what gives with this meeting-me-half-way nonsense? What good is it to be a curmudgeon if people are all going to smile sheepishly, nod their heads, and mutter some words of agreement? I mean, I suppose if some lunatic right-winger were walking done the street and bumped into the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, they'd say, "You know, Rev, you were right as rain about them chickens coming home to roost." Smile sheepishly. Nod head. Shuffle off to Buffalo. I feel that my gloom and doom has been usurped by the natural target of my scorn. For pity sake! How can I call someone a dunce, if they are already wandering about with a gap-toothed smile and wearing a size 7 dunce cap? You can't. It is totally superfluous. I would be accused of commenting on the obvious. Thursday past, my father and I talked a good deal about things in general. I told him I no longer keep up with the news. I also told him there is no point in arguing about Obama this, Obama that. The reason lies in the nature of a game of poker favored by St. Colin. Back when we actually knew people we felt friendly towards, we used to have a party every fall at my father's place on the river. One person who attended every year was Colin Simpson. Colin passed away in 2007, and he was almost immediately canonized by not only the Catholic Church, but also the Atheists' Guild and the Brimstone Club. Colin had a number of variants of poker he'd play. We always ended the evening with a favorite called "Butcher's Block", the results of which are indicated by the name. There was, however, another game he favored, which was a seven card variation. It essentially had all cards dealt face down, ante, turn over one card at a time, bet on the best five cards in your hand. Well, we agreed that the situation today is like that Blind Seven Card: all the cards are dealt; no point, really, to argue any more. Arguing means you think you can change how the cards are dealt. They're all out there. Now we are just turning them at a freakin' time...and dreading what turns up. My father also agrees that the last depression was helped along to a speedy end by WWII and the rebuilding of Europe and the world in its aftermath. However, since there's no one around anymore big enough to fight on a world wide scale - and we can't even beat the little guys - this is probably not an alternative this time round. We also agreed on some points about economics and concentration of wealth: it is dangerous to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few; it leads to class warfare. It also occurred in the 1920s as we worked our way into the Great Depression, and is seen as one of its causes. If there is a game called "National Economy", and it has a number of strategies, what nation in its right mind would pick a zero-sum strategy called "Concentration of Wealth in the Hands of a Few" which is known to have a high probability of a disastrous outcome? Why not choose something like a strategy of allowing the wealth greater circulation to insure social concord, to insure that the country does not fall into warring camps? Yet for the past 20 years, there have been no lack of articles and warning about this particular folly. I have called this country a nation of fools for that very reason: its strategies are those that have a high probability of disastrous outcomes. The cards are all on the table. I think the game called "Restore the National Economy" will take at least 45 years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Death On The Installment Plan

Death Penalty. War. Abortion. None should occur. We have the right to commit them, but the right should lay unused. Since they are used, when we have done these things, there must exist in society a way to return the world to goodness. Killing upsets the balance. Look at us. We fought a "good war" in World War II, and we haven't been able to stop since. We keep seeking a victorious war. Even if Iraq turns out all right, I not sure our minds consider it a victory. We need to return to a correct balance. If we kill, we must admit that we have done something we should not have done, but could not avoid. The necessity of our act does not make the act good or acceptable. So we must create a state of mind - a state of being - where we admit to the act and seek to restore wholeness in the world of God's creation. Penance is individual and for the entire society. We do not usually sin in isolation. We are taught, we are led, we are forced by other forces as well as our own urgings. Penance need not be scourging and whips, but Penance is the Religion: the re-ligio, the re-tieing of the bonds that connect the universe.

Religion In An Expanding Universe

The Andromeda Galaxy
Or, what I mean by Religion. I have never written such a "new age" type title. What a thrill. And I did not have to sell my soul to do so, contrary to what some evangelicals believe. I know evangelicals who are positively on the cutting edge of boogie-men and shibboleths and generally scarey stuff. They go around howling "New Age, New Age!!" and "Rock and Roll is Evil !" and "Obama!". At each and every incantation, they expect Old Nick to doff his mask and smile a leer or two to the crowd, but it never happens: only in the minds of the fevered gospel babes does the devil jump up...which reminds us all of "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and we wonder whether rock'n'roll ( or rock and roll ) is actually the SST ride to perdition.

After the First World War, Edwin Hubble researched and made observations which established the fact that the astronomical phenomena called nebulae were in actuality too far away to be considered any longer as part of our Milky Way galaxy...and thus were independent galaxies. The Great Andromeda galaxy was established as being a galaxy in its own right less than a century ago. And all the others. Then followed the expanding universe, application of Einstein's insights, as well as those of Quantum Mechanics, and you have the almost limitless horizon we have come to be used to. But it is all very recent.

There are people living today at whose birth the Universe was a small, sub-compact, and not the super-stretch Hummer it is today. In my childhood, my exposure to Religion was from my parents and teachers. From them I drew the lessons of religion, and from them I drew the correct emotional grammar of religion: when and how to feel guilty, when and how to feel to feel justified, when and how to feel awestruck. When filled with awe by the power of God, we bowed our heads before it. That is how we were taught. If I had been born a Holy Roller, I may have done something else.

Entering more fully into symbolic life - the life of using language: reading, writing, speaking, and thinking in language - I set my own researches into God on the same roads I had been taught to follow. Here we realize firstly that conscious beings each individually establish a history of their existence by employing that very consciousness they have. It is almost a logical contradiction to say that conscious beings follow what went before. Conscious beings almost by definition make their own way, thereby developing that consciousness, which in turn develops their view of the world. Each individual's story is different. It may differ from their predecessors by a small or large degree, but it is different. If the story was not different, then there would not be consciousness; there would be physics and chemistry, but no life.

Now when I had reached 8th grade, I stumbled on Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men, a novel in which the history of man is followed millions and millions of years into the future, to the point where the Sun itself is about to end its existence. On this journey of millions of years, mankind never loses its sense of divine-in-creation: that which is (what we call) divine in that situation wherein we live - the universe. There was a Zen type feeling in the book. What I mean by Zen is this: there is a being-inside and a being-outside. We are in history. We are not condemned to be in history forever. We are in the world. We are not condemned to the world as a prison. Thus, as a mirror reflection, we see now by the end of this little paragraph that there was a St. Paul-type consciousness also. (When I say Zen, I do not exclude St. Paul...nor Rabbi Akiva...nor the Prophet of Allah. I am not "for" nor "against". We cannot choose up sides. We use adjectives like "zen" as watercolours, not as permanent ink.)

My childhood narrative of the divine was what I fancy the Middle Ages' narrative to have been: a bearded and irrascible God in heaven, angelic choirs, ceaseless hosannas, and saints milling around looking for the right place in the hymnal. The universe was small, small enough to fit within the miniscule ambit of the Church of Rome. If I could but strain sufficiently, I could see heaven far off in the stars. All evil was punished. Hitler was in Hell. Tojo was, too. Society was correctly stratified into the correct "apart-ness" of the races and nationalities. I wasn't aware of Hubble, so what was bound on little old Earth was bound in Heaven, and - by implication - the entire universe...because it wasn't all that big, and what went in Heaven must go for the whole universe! Stapledon shattered that. I actually felt as if my lungs expanded, and by some magic process I could breathe more. Of course, I also felt more exposed, more liable to new winds blowing; winds which may be gentle or stormy. The old world view was not a prison. I might say that it was metaphorically, but that would be misleading. It was a cocoon, protective and confining, until the time is reached that one leaves it.

Our lives show a series of cocoon-like structures, starting at the womb and extending to our final rest here. (The dynamic of the cocoon continues until the Resurrection, when religion says we are all in heaven and the process ends. Faith, all faith. Maybe the process will never end. This leads us to re-birth and another line of religiosity.) Finally, what is appropriate to our time is the expansion of religion, not its diminshment into obscure violence and superstition. We expand by opening one door and closing the other, emerging from the protective cocoon. We open and feel the air of the suddenly immense universe and the divine-in-creation, but we must be ready. For at this time, the STORY is going to change. And I have told you, when the story changes, it is absolutely necessary that the new story be a good story - not a horror story. For the new story to be good, we must be good. Time's a-wastin'! Get crackin'!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Le Nouveau Chomage

The New Unemployment will be that of an average of 8 to 10%, and it will resist any decrease for half a generation. Its cause, of course, is the newly found desire for Americans to save. Hitherto, almost every bloody dollar they got their hands onto, they spent. There was a large market for any number of things, objects and ideas. Now the 20 artisnal cheeses in the epicerie will decrease down to 5 - or less. How do we handle it? Shall we argue about the Welfare State some more? Arguing saves us from doing stuff.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Driftwood's Review: Romeo & Juliet

Otis P. Driftwood here, reviewing the local Arts - or what's left of them. She-who-must-be-obeyed and I attended the American Ballet Theater production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Jillian Murphy dancing the lead.
She-who-etc. loves Ms. Murphy with what borders on an unwholesome motherish doting, and she was pleased beyond measure. Yours truly viewed it in a different light, loving Ms. Murphy - who, if the truth be told - is the paradigm of some sort of Elfen Rivendellian beauty from the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien; a beauty not quite of this earth, deigning to give us a view of eternity, and scampering off to Grey Havens after only 3 hours, leaving us and never returning....................................literally! For the corporate sponsors are drying up.

We find the Arts imperiled. American Ballet Theater may never come back. Didn't some Know-Nothings and Nativists and KKK gut the Stimulus Package of Arts monies? I vaguely remember something to that effect. I can't think of anything more sad than proceeding to one's seat, looking at the nameplate affixed to it, attesting that Mr. and Mrs. X had donated a sum of money for the refurbishment of this very seat; only now everything was becoming a little tarnished, a little threadbare, or it threatens to do so in the very near future. Just what I always wanted: a testimonial to my munificence posted in a gilded relic of the golden past which is falling down around our ears !!!!!!!

BUT, I digress.
Prokofiev's music always leaves me wanting more of someone else's. It's bad enough that the seats are designed for a bygone crowd of less gargantuan proportions than we, and I must twist and turn uncomfortably trying to find a balance between pain and acute discomfort. The Capulet Masked Ball sequence features a piece of music which can only be described as lugubrious...almost dirge-like. The Funeral March from Saul would be a Irish Jig in comparison. However, in all fairness, we decided that this was what passed for gaiety in Stalinesque Russia at the time of Prokofiev's youth in 1935 or '36. The orchestra was quite adequate.

Original Sin # 1

I quote the following: Ha'Aretz Has anyone in Israel asked why the Swedes hate us? By Gideon Levy Was it a coincidence? The day after Israel's Davis Cup tennis match in Sweden, played in a practically empty arena this week, a brief item appeared on the Haaretz Web site: Historians have discovered that Sweden, former tennis superpower, aided the Nazi war machine by extending credit to German industrial plants. Coincidence or not, neutral in 1941 or not, 68 years later, public opinion in Sweden is definitely not neutral: Thousands demonstrated there against Israel, which was forced to wield its racket like a leper, with no audience in attendance. Did anyone in Israel even ask why it was considered a pariah in Sweden? No one dared question whether the war in the Gaza Strip was worth the price we're paying now, from Ankara to Malmo. It's enough to recall that the Swedes were always against us. The fact that there were times when they were awash in love for Israel was erased from our consciousness. The world is always against us, period. But the world is not against us - to the contrary: The truth is that there is no other nation toward which the world is so forgiving, even today... What's the difference between national tennis player Andy Ram and national tennis player Thomas Johansson? Johansson and his angry fans saw real pictures from Gaza; Ram and his complacent fans never did. Had Ram seen them, maybe he, too, would demonstrate. But he, like most Israelis, was spared this discomfort, thanks to the gung-ho Israeli press. Can we and Ram really criticize those who were horrified by the pictures from the war? Can we reproach those who dare to protest against the people responsible for those scenes? Are we demanding that the world remain silent once again? The demonstrators in Stockholm waved banners against violence and racism. It may be okay to ask why they waved them only against us, as there are some other racist and violent places in the world, but it is not okay to question the right to do so in general. Was there really no violence in Gaza, and is there no racism in Israel? If we were Swedes, wouldn't we protest against the pointless killing and destruction wrought by Israel? But we needn't get too worked up over the fury of public opinion in Sweden; its right-wing government is much less agitated, like all the other European governments. One need only recall the surreal scene at the height of the brutal assault on Gaza, when the heads of the European Union came to Israel and dined with the prime minister in a show of unilateral support for the side wreaking the killing and destruction. They didn't give a thought to visiting Gaza, and uttered nary a word of criticism against Israel. That is official Europe. Now, as a new government is about to be formed, there is concern that Israel will pay a price in the international arena for its composition. Not to worry: Everything will be just dandy. The world will accept Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's No. 1 statesman, Avigdor Lieberman as its No. 1 diplomat and Moshe Ya'alon as its No. 1 soldier. Lieberman's belligerent statements and the Israel Defense Forces' violent actions in the territories under former chief of staff Ya'alon will not present any obstacles. The world will accept them, too. Furthermore, the growing concern that the new U.S. administration may be about to change the rules of the game vis-a-vis Israel could also prove to be unfounded: Barack Obama's new America has already pledged to clean up after Israel, as usual. The $900 million the administration has pledged to contribute to rebuild Gaza - without a word of criticism about who caused the destruction there, as if it were a natural disaster and not the work of an unrestrained army, particularly in light of America's current economic state - is a bad sign for anyone hoping for change. Israel wrecked Gaza with U.S. weapons, and America and Europe step in to fix things, not for the first time or for the last. As the saying goes around here, what was is what will be: Israel will continue to destroy, and America will continue to mop up after it, without a word. A bad sign? Yes, for anyone who thinks that change will only come from the outside or, in other words, only from America. Note how the upcoming Durban II conference on racism is also being thwarted, because of the fear that it will harshly criticize Israel. Does anyone know of any other country that can win such sweeping international backing? But we always complain: The whole world is against us. It's good for shoring up national unity and for squeezing out more and more support in the world. The bleak prophecies about a change in America's attitude toward Israel are as old as the country itself. Whenever there's a change of administration in the U.S., anxiety spikes. But from president to president, our strength only grows: When George W. Bush was elected, we were told to be wary of the Texan, a friend of the Arabs and of oil. And what did we get? Never was there a president more "sympathetic to Israel," who gave it such a blank check for all its settlements, targeted assassinations and occupation activities. Obama is scary, too: He's already talking with Iran and with the Taliban. Most likely, fears surrounding this will also prove to be overblown, once he gets around to dealing with Israel... For decades now, the world has been buying the Zionist narrative almost in full. ( added emphasis mine) The occupation and settlements have been going on for more than 40 years with no serious impediment. Except for some international grumblings and resolutions no one has any serious intention of implementing, Israel continues to belong to the camp of the "good guys"; the Arabs are the "bad guys." The new atmosphere in the West against Islam is reinforcing this trend and Israel is benefiting yet again. Criticism of the media in the West from Israel's supporters is also quite excessive. A Swedish journalist was recently laid off from her newspaper because she sided with the Palestinian position in the conflict. It's hard to imagine her editors acting the same way if it were a Jewish reporter who had written in support of Israel. When I was interviewed once by a reporter from the France 1 channel, a commercial channel, at the doorway of a house in Gaza - where the army had killed the only daughter of a paralyzed mother - and I said that it was these sorts of moments that made me feel ashamed to be an Israeli, my words were not broadcast. The reporter phoned me the next day and told me his editors had decided not to include the quote, for fear of viewer response. When I once published an article in the German paper Die Welt, which is part of the publishing group of Axel Springer, where all writers had to sign a pledge that they would never cast doubt on the State of Israel's right to exist, the editor told me: "If this critical article about the occupation had been written by a German journalist, we would not have published it." Despite mounting criticism of Israel, Europe is still very cautious. With Europe's Holocaust guilt, its anxiety in the face of Islam and its readiness to blindly follow the United States anywhere, Israel still enjoys preferential status in the world. Very preferential. But perhaps this will not always be the case. Perhaps the worse our actions become, the harsher the criticism will be. Meanwhile, two pointless wars in two years were not enough to achieve this. Maybe the time will indeed come when the world will get fed up with this aggression and violence of ours, which endanger world peace, and will say at long last: No more occupation, no more wars perpetrated by Israel for which the world has to pay. Perhaps when Israel's dream team of Netanyahu-Lieberman-Ya'alon faces the American dream team of Obama-Clinton, conservatives versus liberals, warmongers versus seekers of negotiation - something will happen then. In the meantime, let us remember: Israel beat Sweden 3-2 in tennis and justice prevailed once again. <<< ƝÓŦƐƧ >>> ...has anyone stopped to ask whether the ghost of Sheikh Yassein has been seen lately? Or the ghost of Saddam, tormented by his own crimes - yet bedevilling us for his kangaroo court lynching? Or the ghosts of Palestinians shot by Israeli settlers - an ongoing occurrence even now. Or the ghosts of the Israelis killed in this 60 year freak show? They all find that Death discovers the truth behind the stories...and they are appalled. Every debt will be paid by us. We are paying now. Every crime will be paid for in full. Ask me how I know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Charity, Tzedekah, And Zakah

Charity is demanded of us. It is not merely a matter of calculations at tax time. In the structure of the Jews, Tzedekah is the word used for Charity. It means a good deal more than the bloodless Anglification of the ancient Latin caritas. Tzedekah comes from a Hebrew root meaning justice, fairness, righteousness. Giving to the Poor is not viewed as a magnanimous act testifying to the generosity of the giver; it is an act of what is right and what must be: it is the performance of a duty, giving the Poor their due. Similarly in Islam, the alms-giving is the Zakah. The word zakah is deeply rooted in justice and equity. The things God created do not belong to us: if we are correct to say a thing may belong, then all things belong to all things. I am speaking of the things of Creation. If you fear that what I say sound like Communism, then merely imagine that what I say does not apply to the realm of Possessions and Property, for these are entities derived from Creation - not part of it. God did not create Personal Property on any day of Genesis. The only form of world economy which will endure is that which realizes this basic fact.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Using old orange peels as Skate Board Parks.

Hurricane Names

I have heard a rumor that the National Hurricane Center will be naming hurricanes - starting in 2010 - after Blues singers or musicians. I am looking forward to the second of the season, a fight between Hurricane Bo, Hurricane B.B., Hurricane Bessie, or Hurricane Blind Willie. In my list of names, I got as far as Hurricane Coleman, only to be told that he was a Jazz saxophonist, not a blues singer or musician. At that point I lost interest.

Welfare State

From Hillman's Hyperlinked and Searchable CHAMBERS' BOOK OF DAYS on Gregory the Great: Almsgiving, in such Protestant countries as England, is denounced as not so much a lessening of human suffering as a means of engendering and extending pauperism. Gregory had no such fears to stay his bountiful hand. With him to relieve the poor was the first of Christian graces. He devoted a large proportion of his revenue and a vast amount of personal care to this object. I am particularly impressed that Western - possibly Christian - culture can debate topics for hundreds of years and never resolve them. I think it says something about the poor somewhere in some brainy book of biblical proportions. I can't recall the name. BUT it dawns on me that if a society can debate helping the poor for hundreds of years and it continues the debate forever, then there must be some focus that provides a stable signpost for wanderers. Hence, religion. Q.E.D. Now, the fact that religion is often used for nasty things is a comment on our society, not on the nature of religion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I am going to strive to be very, very clear...most of the time. I shall continue to be obscure where it serves my purposes. However, for the most part, any philosophical musing will be brief and clear. On January 31, I wrote Contrast Seng Ts'an7th century third Chinese Chan patriarch."...The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease." Republicans and Limbaugh conservatives"...You're either with us or against us..." We see what the second option above has wrought. It is at every hand. This whole notion of being "for" or "against" is, unfortunately, not very clear. It does not mean choosing up sides. What it means is the following: We you see something, you tend to immediately size it up, put it into a category, and file it away. Notoriously we do this with politics. When we hear something yelled or screamed at us from cable TV, we immediately determine whether its for our side - the side of the angels - or on the other side. Any lingering complexity of an issue is not communicated on TV. We simplify any political event into "us" against "them", and then we file it away. A case in point is Congressman Barney Frank, the head of the Congressional Banking Committee. Barney Frank came out of the closet about 30 years or so ago. It has not been a secret that he is gay. Yet I have never heard mention of it. Sometimes when I had heard his name, I wondered if that was the congressman who came out - I hadn't thought or heard about it in so long. Until recently. Somehow my parents who are nourished at the matrix of FOX suddenly are aware that Congressman Barney Frank is gay. I have not heard them mention his name in over a quarter of a century, much less his sexual orientation. But suddenly his gayness has become part of the conversation, possibly as a barely muted criticism of Democratic policies on finance. Interesting. It shows how we take complex matters, turn them to trivial mush, and go out and live the rest of our lives.
This is the point where I say that we are living in a story or narrative. The story is told in language, which is a symbolic medium. Hence, we are in the realm of symbols.
Since we are not giving Reality its due complexity, rather we are jumping to conclusions based on insufficient evidence and Bill O'Reilly shouting at someone, we are creating an imperfect story. For the foreseeable future, if we make any return to this issue, we shall act and decide based on the messed up story. This is the meaning of "for" and "against": be silent, do not rush to judge, allow the event to be as complex as you know it must be, do not assume the concepts you are presently using are the sum total of knowledge; maybe you will have to be quiet on the subject for years until you can appreciate its complexity.
Then choose up sides, if you must. Do not trivialize God's world. One of the biggest problems we face is our trivialization of the Universe into financial instruments of power. They blew up in our faces. That's what happens when you do stuff like that: everything that you misunderstood and misrepresented and trivialized blows up in your face.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Suffering And God

People have posed the question: if there is a good God, why is there suffering?

I never had much to say about that. It was sort of a mystery that I couldn't get to the bottom of. Recently - as recent as yesterday morning, to be exact - I was sitting down to write something. Ruth had posted a post that mentioned "the world in a cup", accompanied by a picture of an egg in a Spode teacup.
I wrote the title "Universe"
and was thinking along the lines of world in a cup, universe in a grain of sand type of line of thought, and I came up with something surprising...or something surprising came along and decided to pop in, actually.

If you read it - and you must, for I shall not synopsize it - it came out that we do not suffer from God's Creation; we suffer with it. Or we should realize that as we suffer, we are suffering with all the universe in community.

So it is not a matter of whether God allows suffering. Suffering and pain are; they exist. There is at least the pain of Change. If there were no Change - if God forbade Change - this pain would disappear, but at what cost? We would be as immobile and inflexible and as unchanging as the mountains. Do Mountains kiss their offspring goodnight?
And all Creation suffers. Ah, but does God suffer? you ask. He puts Himself in a special position to observe the suffering of what He has a sense, allowing its continuance. However, we learned that God's Son died for us. Therefore, God feels that pain, and suffers in community with us. (An atheist objected that God created all things; suffering exists; therefore God created it. At this point I think we would do well to look at the Lord Buddha's critique of pain,or dukha. The logic of Buddhism and its metaphysic can be very illuminating. More later.)

Madama Butterfly

We went to the Met's Live HD Telecast of Puccini's Madama Butterfly on Saturday, March 7, 2009. No one warned me. I had never seen this opera before in person. Not only in person, but with this HD telecast, the viewer is very, very close to the opera; you are not off in the balcony, you are right there in media res. I almost lost control at the end of Act II. At the second intermission, I told my wife and daughter that I might not make it through Act III. It is one thing to cry and dab one's eyes and sniffle. It is quite another to break down into uncontrollable sobbing. I am sure the other patrons would rather a whole "belfry" of cellphones were ringing than have to listen to such wailing and keening.
(Recently there has been some discussion about these telecasts, pro and con. I personally think they are revolutionary in their intimacy. That is one thing hitherto missing from opera, real physical intimacy. Until now, intimacy has to be cultured by time and study, but now we are thrust into the middle of things - and Madama Butterfly is actually crying almost on my shoulder as my heart breaks and tries to find a way to solace her.)

The Tide

There is a tide in our affairs, even at the smallest level. I have been noticing how some bloggers - including myself - seem to go in spurts of activity: producing a good deal for a while, then going fallow and letting the furrows of the mind replenish. It, of course, reminds me of Mu'awiya, the founder of the Umayyad dynasty. Unfortunately, he also caused the death of Ali and Hussein, but that is not our concern here. Mu'awiya mean "fox", and he was one of the foremost political geniuses of Islam. He was aware of the tides of men. His metaphor of government was working with fine steeds. When the reins slackened, he pulled, and made them taut. However, when the reins were taut and everyone was pulling at the bit, then he relaxed and gave them slack. In this, Mu'awiya was aware of the ebb and flow of passion and its satiety, of hunger and its satisfaction, of thirst and its remedy, or of fever and its breaking. There is a time for all things under the sun, and the timing is not chaotic, but follows a deep aquifer of logic and code.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


As conscious beings, we are able to be a universe unto ourselves; we can be all our pleasures, and we may be all our pain. In our narcissism and greed, we are centered solely on our own pleasure and needs. And it can be quite gratifying. In our despair, we are centered solely on our own pain. And it can be worse than any hell. One of the points of religion seems to be to find a focus outside ourselves. All the our experiential processing is done inside ourselves. Sometimes we never let it get back out in any meaninful way. When we are told to care for the poor, it was not meant to take a tax deduction. What was meant was to get involved in caring for the poor. We have found it so hard to let our bodies touch what we see as unclean, for that would mean actually opening up the closed universe of consciousness. St. Francis embraced the poor. Gandhi did. The Buddha did. The very concept of unclean comes not from a blemish in another, but from our own inability to open consciousness outwards; since we cannot be open, we explain it away as being a sensible precaution against some external defect. Our struggle is to break out of our self containment. We are not to love the universe, we are to love with the universe. We are not to despair of the universe, but we shall feel agonies with the universe. When we open up, we do so to join, not to take the outside as yet another object of our desire or repulsion. We are to be open to join. Our sufferings are no longer the irrational and blind scourges of an unfeeling Creation; our suffering is shared with all mankind and with the entire range of Creation. Our pain is the pain of all. Their pain is ours. So is our love their joy, and their love ours. So with all the animals and plants and stars and suns, all creatures large and small, all entities created by God enter into community with us. Here I do differ from the usual religious outlook: I pray not to adore God as an object of my worship; I pray that I may join into a community with God. And I must do more than merely pray: I must live in community with all Creation. thanks to: Ruth at

Thursday, March 05, 2009

American Sign Language and "A Stedman Caters Of Crows"

Venery comprises two arts: (1) the art of love, and (2) the art of giving names to teams and squads of animals. I am talking of the second. If I were to be involved with the first, I would indeed be "just talking".

An example of a terms of venery would be a "pride" of lions. There very often is a conscious effort to do synecdoche in the venery term: a part standing for a whole, as in our example, the lion's proud bearing is extended and changed to mean a group of lions.
Of course, there is a lot of the joker and trickster in all this, and good venery terms should bring a smile to the face, a good example being a "rash" of dermatologists. The Periodic Englishman has a post titled Like A Murder Of Crows - That's All 

The word "murder" in the title is a venery term for a team or herd or whatever of crows. Since "murder" is a bit too "zero at the bone" for a whole bunch of us, I tried my hand at it, but the best I could do was the latter part of the post title above.
A "stedman caters" is a type of English bell change ringing, and I have heard it used in memorials, so there you have it. I never was one for the brisk, light, and breezy. I fancy it over "murder", since "stedman caters" sounds a good deal like "Scatman Crothers", an actor, whom I enjoyed, and a "scatman crothers" of crows is not too bad, either.

There are other possibilities. Arabic has a phrase: slower than Noah's crow which suggests other routes. I think of Noah's crow as a guy taking advantage of the situation: there Noah is, water all around, no place to go, totally castaway - except for the winged breeds. Of course, crows, being crows, would milk this opportunity for everything it's worth, neglecting the fact that sooner or later, the flood would recede, and the slow, cud-chewing bovines would again rule the world of Hamburgers and Light.

This post actually was to deal with signing among the deaf. There is the possible "venery" term : a hush of deafs, or a hush of hearing impaireds. Personally, I think "hush" is becoming over-used, being as it is already used in the well known "a hush of ushers", which usage seems to be the definitive usage, according to H.W.Fowler, who spoke of the officious blighters who "ushed" the chapel in his youth, and went about with their indices held to their thin, pale, manta-ray-like lips shushing all the lads.

Signing has always been a very sensual experience in my part of the world.  I mean, the utter joy of the flow of words from a good speaker added to the fluid gestures...and if she plays the acoustic guitar afterwards, so much the better. I do not mean to imply anything here. I happened to have delved into the joys of hearing-impaired intimacies in my youth. I was, indeed, magna cum gallaudet for a brace of years.


What to do? Be as ruthless as Gandhi. For peace and justice, for an equitable as cunning and ruthless for non-violent aims as was Gandhi-Ji.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Lady From Tunisia

I have decided to try my hand at short stories. Here is the first paragraph of the story whose title is the above: In 2005, after Saddam's birthday, the spring came on with botticelli madness. I wanted to resist and pretend it hadn't arrived. It was winter somewhere. Surely in my soul. My cousin Joey had come home from Falluja, in the winter, and he had been bugging me ever since, telling stories of what it had been like in Iraq. By now the stories had become boring to hear. Boredom was welcome, though; it dulled the pain of outraged affection and it intercepted memory. Joey had flown home from Iraq first-class; pine-box-first-class within the maw of a cargo plane that had snugged its snout into a heap of flag-draped pine coffins, dutifully snuffling them aboard. It spit them out for the families to claim at baggage check back in the States. Joey had gone through Vigilant Resolve, but didn't make it through Phantom Fury. I had seen him at his memorial. He was sitting with his feet propped up on a prie-dieu. He said: greetings from the American Empire! I had looked around for someone to break out screaming or laughing, but no one else saw him. And he was right there in front of everyone, like death comedy jam! It had come to pass in Falluja, west of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, where everything strong got sick, everyone spoke Tourette’s, and Joey's mission had become infinite.

Rush Gives Speech Wearing Black Mu-Mu

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Parallel Universe Art: Edward Hopper

Nighthawks...Working on the Citigroup Account
pix: levi wedel