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Friday, October 30, 2009

Wii Bowling

I was snooping around senior housing in Port Desespoir today, looking for a place for my brother. At one place there was a Wii hooked up to a large TV, and some ancient numbers were Wii bowling.

I have never done or played Wii.
I don't think I'd like Wii bowling; it just doesn't have the Lebowski of real bowling balls and wooden alleys.
The real Big Lebowski.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Taste of Flu:2

My daughter in Maryland received her H1N1 shot today.
The process took 5 hours, about evenly split between standing in line outside the hospital and queued up inside.
She has asthma, so she needed the injection. They took 2 patients at a time, so she went into the inoculation room with another lady. The other lady wanted an injection for some reason. The reason was not one of the approved reason for not using the vaccine nasally.
It turns out, they had exactly shot left; exactly 1. Everything after that would be administered nasally.
So my daughter said, Ha! I have asthma!
and received her shot.
The other lady was a bit pissed.
We still have none here.

My daughter said that after standing in line outside for 2 hours, and watching the occasional medical helicoter land on the hospital, it all began to remind her of "The Fall of Saigon".
I don't know what happened to the people after her who needed the injection. I guess they had to return home.

Criminal Enterprises

An office in the Headquarters of Beagle Boys, Inc.
(I know; the Beagle Boys didn't wear stripes.)

pix: black and white dreams

Greek Mythology For Today:1

Winged Mercury chats up Athena in the snow.

pix: black and white dreams

The Curse Of Empires

Jumanji Game Board

The curse or bane, if you will, of empires is Reality.

Reality is the left upper-cut to the chin of Sargon, Caesar, and Hitler. In short, it is the world of facts which so quickly and elegantly derails the freight train of the imagination.

In effect, how do you run it?

Let me put this proposition forward:  A country which cannot control its own financial system in such a manner as to avoid widespread ruin and inequity is not a country that can run an empire.
The entire neo-conservative undertaking of American Empire was never, ever founded on ruminations about such homely things as: how shall we pay for it? Or, rather, when the question was put to the neo-cons, their answer was something along the order that it would pay for itself. In such a fashion they believed, for example, that our future client state of Iraq would reimburse us for our efforts through oil prices and profits.

As Max Lerner points out on the Nazi enterprise in 1941, if it were to be successful to a degree, it would face the terrible dilemma of mere existence after the wars were over, for the Nazi economy was based on war and the production of war material; the Nazi economy was an unreal economy, an economy of Mordor.

The stuff of childrens' minds, a Neverland of Empire! Glorious Jumanji of the present age!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Unknown Option

Choppers in Afghanistan

The Asia Times

Helicopter rumors refuse to die

By Ahmad Kawoosh

MAZAR-E-SHARIF - Persistent accounts of Western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taliban fighters, strongly denied by the military, is feeding mistrust of the forces that are supposed to be bringing order to the country.

One such tale came from a soldier from the 209th Shahin Corps of the Afghan National Army, fighting against the growing insurgency in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Over several months, he had taken part in several pitched battles against the armed opposition.

"Just when the police and army managed to surround the Taliban in a village of Qala-e-Zaal district, we saw helicopters land with support teams," he said. "They managed to rescue their friends from our encirclement, and even to inflict defeat on the Afghan National Army." ...

2 Big 2 Fail, (or be 4gotten)

The Secretary of the Treasury apparently telephones a set of big bankers every day.
I suppose the Fed Chairman does pretty much the same.

I do not believe they call my uncle Aloysius ( pronounced A loi' shus ) down at the Credit Union for updates.

To be too big to fail means we have reached a point where the distinction between State and Business has become so hazy as to disappear.

"Private Enterprise" is only an empty phrase when we speak of things which are so important, that we must spend tax money to rescue them...not just once...nor twice, but always! Too big to fail means "forever".
It is also Socialism, and it is National.
I do not mean, however, it is National Socialism.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Taste of Flu

In my county, the supply of regular flu vaccine has run out, and there is pre-enrollment for the H1N1 - which is not quite yet available. However, as of today, pre-enrollment is temporarily suspended.

This is all from the Oakland County, Michgan, Health Department web site at a few minutes ago.

An interesting turn of events.
I remember getting a swine flu shot back in '76...
I wonder if this sense of genial frustration is what is experienced in Baghdad when the power goes out...

Ahh, if Gods wills...we get the flu. If not, we don't.
That's the spirit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Is God Perfect?

God is as perfect as our lives are not.

Very often, God is the perfect refuge, the perfect home, the excellent self-sufficiency where we live without being prey to other men with ravenous appetites, nor subject to a world disdsainful of our weaknesses, a world ready to wash us away with tsunamis, or drop a mountain on our heads.

Very often God is the garden in the Persian carpet, the flowing streams of Eden.

Is God absolute perfection? Only as much as our lives are not.
The more things - good or bad - we say about God..............the more we open up our hearts of darkness for future generations to be appalled.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I never really had the chance to be an atheist.
I tried to at University, but it was all rather as if I had joined the fraternity where they chug-a-lugged divinity at toga I never really had a shot at it.

I mean, when I tried to be an unbeliever, I always checked back to see how His Nibs was doing, whether my unbelief had broken His heart and gone zero at the bone. I realized that after some months, I hadn't telephoned, and He might be worrying. I got His check every month, so there was no need of funds. I took it and cashed it at the Bank of Rake's Progress, just down the way.

I couldn't get away. He tasked me then, and He tasks me now.
It was all very much like I were Captain Ahab, retired from the sea, and sitting quite comfortably in the local Nantucket pub, only to be cruelly fronted by the White Whale like some ghastly cetacean Ancient Mariner...his back porcupined with spikey harpoons...reminding me my life is not over...not by a long shot!

What would the story be...told from the perspective of Moby Dick? Does he feel sorrow for those profane and blasphemous rascals pursuing him in their cannibal whaling boats -  boats chased and fitted with dead whales' bones - and hearts filled with passion?
What does He feel for those who do not pursue with fire in their eyes?
I guess...
I guess He calls them Ishmael.

Homeland Security For Dummies

We have a system in place where we can safely board a passenger airplane, safe from terrorists and hijackers, but not safe from the pilot and co-pilot.
If there had been one of those metal security cockpit doors on the plane, and it had been locked, how would the rest of the flight crew gotten inside to awake the pilot?

I propose a law that states either the pilot or co-pilot must be awake at any time.

(Was one of the Heene children aboard that plane ?!)


I realized how difficult it is to talk about symbols when I read a blog wherein was said:

" ...explains the use of the emotional symbols   :-),  ;-)  ... "

where the author is talking about happy-faces-in-type as symbolic of emotional states.

I think "symbol" should be a carrier of meaning. A happy face doesn't "mean" anything necessarily; it is a representation or mimicry.

Happy faces are "billboards", "stand-ins", or "typesetters' puns". To call them "symbols" really messes things up.

Res Novae Interruptae

Or "Revolution Interrupted".


The president was accused of being "a socialist, not a Democrat." His plan was described as "undisguised state socialism." One critic, who controlled some powerful media outlets, suggested that communists had infiltrated the president's administration.


• "Roosevelt is a socialist, not a Democrat," declared Republican Rep. Robert Rich of Pennsylvania during a debate on the House floor on July 23, 1935. That remark came after Republicans hinted they were considering a move to impeach Roosevelt, according to the New York Times.

• "The New Deal is now undisguised state socialism, declared Senator Simeon D. Fess (R-Ohio) today as he pictured President Roosevelt as the New Deal's leading socialist," reported the Chicago Daily Tribune on Aug. 7, 1934. "The president's recent statements," Fess said, "remove any doubt of his policy of state socialism, which necessitates increased activities of the government in either ownership or operation of industry, or both."

• "The Russian newspapers during the last election [1932] published the photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt over the caption, 'The first communistic President of the United States,'" said Sen. Thomas Schall, a Republican from Minnesota. "Evidently the Russian newspapers had knowledge concerning the ultimate intent of the President, which had been carefully withheld from the voters in this country. In fact, the voters of the United States were meticulously misled as to such intentions." We found Schall's comments in the book, All But the People: Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Critics, 1933-1939.

The critic who controlled media outlets was William Randolph Hearst:

"On September 6, Hearst newspapers began a prolonged assault on the administration. The New York American published a front-page editorial titled, 'The Radical Brand on the New Deal.' It charged that radical and communist leaders had already given their approval to support Roosevelt against Landon. During the next two weeks Hearst editors trumpeted these recurring themes: that communists had infiltrated the New Deal; that communism was un-American and undemocratic; that 'America can only judge Mr. Roosevelt and his administration by the strange silence that has prevailed in official quarters.'"

That was as much as Roosevelt was willing to take. The White House issued a statement that mentioned "a certain notorious newspaper owner," and rebutted the accusations. The statement concluded, "The American people will not permit their attention to be diverted from real issues to fake issues which no patriotic, honorable, decent citizen would purposefully inject into American affairs."

It is the same fight.
There will be no new World War II to interrupt least, none that we are aware of yet.
So these issues will be fought out.

It is the same fight.
That's why I have started reading columnists and commentators from that era, in order to gain insights free from my own personal involvement. To most of us, those people of 70 years ago are as remote as Noah.

We are in the midst of something vastly complex. Some of us can see only what the Wall Street Journal tells them to see, some see politics, some see ecological issues...
It is all these.

It's like we were an Afghan wedding party, dancing, smiling, and we are just about to shoot our rifles into the air to celebrate...

Shah On A Prayer Rug

Revolutions are usually captured by a new despot who fought against the previous despot. The freedoms Iran should have experienced after Khomeini never materialized, disappeared down the sink of clerical despotism.

What is the position of Khameini in Iran?

He is nothing more than the old Shah on a prayer rug.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paradox & Irony & Contradiction In Christianity, Islam, and Judaism

The Tower of Babel

Arrogance is the absence of Irony.
Humility is the acceptance of Irony.

A Tale of Irony: The Tower of Babel
When mankind wished to build a tower to reach the heavens where God was, their project was thrown down, their unity was destroyed forever, and they were driven out on the face of the eareth, speaking in mutually incomprehensible tongues.

Arrogance could not conceive...
Arrogant hearts could not believe that they were not God's equals, and that they were not worthy of a place in heaven, and that they would not succeed.
Irony: instead of great success, there is abject failure.
Irony: the overturning of events; good becomes bad, the sweet goes sour, the joy becomes tears, the gold becomes a gilded cage...

So far, the 21st century has been our century of Irony: our sense of inviolable security turned to fears, military arrogance turned to desperate struggle, the greatest economy in the world falling into ruin...

The Abrahamic religions are filled with paradox, irony, and contradiction.
We have hitherto seen this as (1) a proof to unbelievers of the falsity of religion, or (2) a mystery to believers, or (3) an embarrasment best ignored.
Assuming the religious geniuses were not fools, and were up to something a bit more interesting than spouting nonsense, what was the point?
The point is not that life is rich and complex; we know it already. I do not need Jesus, Moses, nor the Prophet to inform me of that.
The point is not that life is inherently irrational, illogical, and chaotic.
For there is no point.
If we are dealing with conscious beings who propound these religions, and these beings speak in paradox, irony, and contradiction, it must be very obvious that if there were a "point", there would very soon be an antithetical or ironical "point":  if you love peace, prepare for war;  point "peace", antithesis "war".

We wonder about paradox, irony, and contradiction when we withdraw from the run of events and begin discoursing about the way things are; are they irrational, are they chaotic, are there any lawlike rules? We wonder when we finish the race, when we are out of the running:  ekdromema  and are sitting on the sidelines, talking about the race afterwards.

The genius of religion tells us that we are always in the running: endromema.
The ideals of religion are impossible to us so that we may never attain them, at least to our way of thinking. The race of religious ideals is the perfect Achilles and Tortoise race, where Achilles will never catch up to the tortoise with a head start.
Achilles and the Tortoise is one of Zeno's Paradoxes.

The point is:
Religion is living life as a process.
We are always writing and re-writing the screenplay, making it better and better and tighter and tighter, for that time when the Director calls for it.
When we are called for our screenplay to take over the direction of this film, it has to be "good", and good enough to deal with future paradoxes and ironies.
If our script is bad, heaven help the future, for we here on earth are busy sowing the wind, leaving it to our children to reap the whirlwind.
(for a brief outside discussion on religious contradiction and its discontents, see here: )

Friday, October 23, 2009


I don't believe in such things as Absolute Truth, nor Absolute Good.
If you wish to turn them into super-duper name tags for the Divine One, go right ahead.

There is Good. There is Bad.
It is quite obvious.
And it is obvious that Good promotes life, love and well-being.

Our problem is not that we cannot see the difference between Good and Bad: our problem is we are too weak to make the proper choice. We have been tutored too long in the ways of weakness.

To emulate the lilies of the field is strength.
To hoard and covet is the weakness of the incomplete.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Koan Of Christianity

Since the only sin in sexual mores espressly condemned in the New Testament is adultery - moicheia - and the divorce rate in the US is at least 50%, it raises questions.

The remnants of Jesus' life we have portray not strictly ideals to be achieved, but ideals impossible to achieve - unless (1) you become superhuman, or (2) you realize that the goal is defined by your consciousness and maintained by your consciousness and supported by your belief and conscious striving.

Once we realize perfection is impossible, we shall have arrived, if and only if we have striven to be where we aren't.
If we have not strived to be good, when we realize absolute perfection is impossible, we will fall away into the old refuse of the earth.
If we have strived to be good, and we attain absolute perfection, we shall be insane.
If we have strived to be good, we realize that perfection is not possible to attain, but is a ceaseless striving: in effect, our good consciousness creates that which is not realizable on the earth: absolute perfection.

Good consciousness is built on good teachings and good actions, no politics, no coercion; no persuasion and no threats. Every bad idea, every vile impulse, everything we can think of doing - even if we have not done it - interferes with our creation of good reality.

This is what Jesus meant by sinning in the heart; if you lust after a woman in your heart, it is the same as adultery.
The lust is not a one time sin; it is an ongoing bad consciousness and weakness; it is born, grows, and lives on through time. It is the tendency to be weak which is ongoing. Averting the sin is nothing compared to destroying the long and involved process of weakness and deceit that leads up to the sin.

What we have gotten used to calling "sin" is nothing but an overt act in a long history of covert fear and loathing. Sin flashes out like a nova; the nova galaxy had been there for millions of years, but remained unnoticed until it lighted up.
We sit up and take notice.
But it is the long process, the history of each individual life that is sinful, not the separate and discrete "sins" which we can notice.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Giorgio De Chirico Gets A Flat


I was reading some entries earlier in the year of some blogs I have marked down to follow, and I came across an interesting description of cable TV:
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cutting Back

...knowing isn't required. Just spouting, taking a predictable position, playing their role, over and over, enlightening no one, adding nothing new...

So, we are all pretty much aware of it, but we do prefer the same brand of delusion, and hate is a much better waker-upper than coffeee, so what the heck?

There is a new Zombie movie out: Zombieland. The trailers for it look terrible, but that's not the point. Zombies and Vampires are so much in our popular art, they form their own genre. Our entertainment depends heavily on the Un-Dead. They are in our minds, in our imagery.
Is the iconography of the Vampire and the Zombie more prevalent than that of God?

I think we imagine ourselves as supremely powerful, supremely extraordinary,... and supremely damned.


The Point Of Still Being A Marxist Today

..."The point of still being a Marxist today," Prof. Panitch says, is to think ambitiously, "to recover the spirit of the revolution." Karl Marx, a freshman of 19 at the University of Berlin as his brain began to explode with ideas, sent his father a letter. "There are moments in one's life that represent the limit of a period and at the same time point clearly in a new direction," the young genius wrote. "Every change is partly a swansong, partly an overture to a new epic that is trying to find a form in brilliant colours that are not yet distinct." Surely one can be forgiven for seeing a little pink in the sky.

The Globe & Mail

The 18th Brumaire of Barack Obama

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Not 2012...It's 2011 !!!!

If Mr. Obama cannot galvanize the troops to secure a Congressional majority in the House and Senate in the 2010 elections, this is what will happen:

1) his administration will become more and more ineffective;
2) Republicans will be re-elected in 2012;
3) Republicans will reduce spending, having run on a platform of fiscal responsibility.

However, a country with 9.8% official unemployment - double it for mistakes and underemployment - is not a country truly spending like a drunken sailor.
It may be spending like a drunken sailor when it bails out irresponsible banks, it may be inebriated when it lurches around looking for wars and more military bases, but when it comes to the day to day taking care of business, taking care of the people, it is not seriously over-extended.

Our capacity utilization is less than 68%, so we are not running full out.

The deficit actually should be greater...
Inaction will not wave its magic wand.
We have no prospects - drat! - of a war to the end, as we did in the 1940's.
The rest of the world will not destroy itself, leaving it to us to re-build them.

When the Republicans come back to "straighten things out" by their ideas of fiscal responsibility, remember Phil Gramm, remember the Bush years deficits, remember the Titanic - because it will be the beginning of the end.

Hillsdale Day: October 15

(The memorial day was to have been April 30, the anniversary of Lissa Roche's suicide, but there was a conflict. It is interesting to note that Glenn Beck seems to have a student from Hillsdale, briefly, but there is too much hidden about that part of his life.)

Modern Conservatism betrayed its true nature to view at the incident at Hillsdale College, Michigan, where in 1999, Lissa Roche killed herself.

She had been carrying on a 19 year affair with her father-in-law, George Roche III, the president of Hillsdale College.

...As one of his first acts as president, Roche brought in conservative author and icon Russell Kirk to teach at Hillsdale, but more importantly to give the world notice that Hillsdale was serious about being conservative. If Roche had been as serious about thinking as he was about fund-raising and public relations, he might have noticed that Kirk’s book The Conservative Mind, specifically the chapters on Edmund Burke and John Adams, had some significant things to say about the relationship between reason and appetite, lessons that would have increasing relevance to Hillsdale College under George III’s increasingly autocratic leadership. That meant that Kirk also had something to say about the two strains within conservatism—the libertarian and the traditional—which appetite and reason represented...

George Roche III was great, because he was a great fund raiser for the Conservative causes. He was lionized by Conservatives.
However, you cannot keep up a 19 year affair without people becoming aware. In particular, you cannot commit so heinous an offence as George Roche did, year after year, without people becoming aware of it, yet to frightened to mention it.
Money was God, and the Republican Party had only One God. They looked the other way.

Lissa Roche went out to the gazebo, a central place at Hillsdale, and killed herself.

The entire story is
Death at the Gazebo:Conservatism In Extremis at Hillsdale College
by E. Michael Jones
(note November 24 2011: 
is the location.)

I am not aware where it is available at the present time.
However, its importance is inversely proportional to the oblivion which modern society and media have banished it.

And this Conservative society loved Ayn Rand.
Just as the predators love her today.
Remember that Alan Greenspan was one of her foremost followers, and one of her main sources of economic information.

How the Servant Became a Predator: Finance’s Five Fatal Flaws
 by Bill Black

...As financial sector elites became obscenely wealthy through predation and fraud, their psychological incentives to embrace unhealthy, anti-democratic Social Darwinism surged. While they were, by any objective measure, the worst elements of the public, their sycophants in the media and the recipients of their political and charitable contributions worshiped them as heroic. Finance CEOs adopted and spread the myth that they were smarter, harder working, and more innovative than the rest of us. They repeated the story of how they rose to the top entirely through their own brilliance and willingness to embrace risk. All of their employees weren’t simply above average, they told us, but exceptional. They hated collectivism and adored Ayn Rand.

Things To Come

There was a piece in the Times about an airline pilot who was not laid-off, but was reduced in rank to first lieutenant in charge of making "blip......blip" pingy type noises for the sonar machine. Anyway, he now made 1/2 of his previous salary. He now pulled in $34,000 per annum, making less than his wife, who teaches grade school.

Pretty soon, Ohio and North Carolina will be vying with each other not to claim to be the birthplace of Aviation.

So I viewed Things To Come yesterday. Based on H.G.Wells' The Shape of Things to Come, it was produced in 1935 (I think) and directed by Alex Korda.
The Decline of the West notion involves a war starting in 1940 and dragging on until 1966 or so.

-This forecast of the future was based on World War I, where armies remained locked in trench warfare, continously dieing, yet not gaining anything for their blood.
Wells and his adaptors could not know that the War foreseen by them - World War II - would end in total victory for one side.

Of course, it needn't have. The Manhattan Project was anything but a sure thing. If Oppenheimer and General Groves had taken the wrong turn - perhaps following Teller's research on the fusion bomb - there may not have been a bomb in 1945.
What if WW II had dragged on another three years? That would only be 9 years for the Brits, and we have wars nowadays much longer.
What if the Reich had developed their own Fetter Bube ( Fat Boy ) and the Allies and the Reich started blasting atomically?
Where would we be today?

Raymond Massey arrives on the scene of an England ruled by local warlords, much like Afghanistan. Massey is John Cabal, and he is a member now of the United Airmen who have formed Wings Over The World - a group of technicians and specialists and scientists devoted to peace, and having set up their own supra-national group to bring real peace to the world.

- In the 1930's it was still possible to see Science as a real liberator. This was before Science became totally part of the mechanism of war. It was a simpler age - a Hugo Gernsbackian age where plucky boys could make their own laser guns from parts left over from their crystal set receiver.

This is where we end that narrative. The rest of the film has its own vision of man's place in the future and man's soul, but I shall leave it for another time.
Right now, I am more interested in the late 1930's. The Depressed economy had not returned to health by the late 1930's; many truly revolutionary things waited until 1935 to start: such as Social Security - which everyone was forced to be a part of - and many parts of the New Deal were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court by 1936. Things were getting better, but slowly.
World War II did not so much end the Depression.
It was a clear victory with the total destruction of the other side's ability to make war that ended the Depression; it was the large scale destruction of Europe that ended the Depression. At this point, there was only the US and the USSR, allies for a bit longer.
The war itself liberated the returning veterans into college and good jobs. The re-building of Europe and the rest of the world let American manufacturing and Industry explode into new heights of growth. There was so much to do that Labor and Management co-existed...they were too busy going to the bank to fight anymore.

Whatever economic re-organization that America was due to undergo in the late 1930's and the 1940's, as the gap between the haves and the have-nots widened, did not occur because of the war. Back in the day, some said that we essentially leap-frogged over social revolution due to the war, because those very GI benefits provided so much for the Middle Class: education for oneself and one's children, help on mortgages, and common bonds of shared emotional experience between man and woman that cut across classes.
These civil bonds were unhealthily strengthened by a Cold War extension of WW II, during which Ideological hysteria was set free: blacklists and McCarthyism.

The blessings have been squandered.
Since the end of the Vietnam war, we have:
1) blundered around looking for war;
2) apparently lost the ability to hold a country once invaded;
3) lost political vision;
4) lost our Manufacturing and Industrial pre-eminence;
5) since 1980 or so, unlinked Government Spending from Ability to Pay, living in a fool's paradise - totally deceived by the faerie lights of our own Myths.

The great things we've done, we don't even recognize them.
One of the greatest Moral and Spiritual achievements of the human race was the refusal of the US and the USSR to use nuclear weapons, instead slowly and laboriously to find their way through a maze of distrust to a world where we could have totally disarmed. (Of course, we did not have the pluck to go all the way, yet.)
There should be an international holiday. There is not.
Let the Nobel Committe and pick out all the negotiators involved, American and Soviet, and issue a belated and partially posthumous Peace Prize to them all.
Their names and pictures should right now be inspiring children in their schools.
No such thing.

Starting September 24, there were sit-ins and occupations  in the California University system by students disaffected from the present social set-up, who see the future as having been destroyed by our greed and stupidity.
Radicalism still breathes.
We are back before World War II, looking at the discords and failures of our system, and wondering what we shall do.

Too Big To Fail

too big to administer privately, hence requiring government participation.

To be too big to fail is Socialism and Communism. Period.
The only thing in the State which needs to endure is the State itself.
The State alone may be too big to fail, but not private institutions.
To be too big to fail is to be part of the State.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Communiqué From An Absent Future

UC Berkeley Walkout September 24 2009

...For those whose adolescence was poisoned by the nationalist hysteria following September 11th, public speech is nothing but a series of lies and public space a place where things might explode (though they never do). Afflicted by the vague desire for something to happen—without ever imagining we could make it happen ourselves—we were rescued by the bland homogeneity of the internet, finding refuge among friends we never see, whose entire existence is a series of exclamations and silly pictures, whose only discourse is the gossip of commodities. Safety, then, and comfort have been our watchwords. We slide through the flesh world without being touched or moved. We shepherd our emptiness from place to place...

we want everything

Monday, October 12, 2009

The End Of Days

End of Days and Rapture-think is a cop-out by exhausted Christian wanna-bees who don't have the pluck nor the gumption to see things through: they got to sit down and call their butler, God, to take care of things!

A lazy Christian is no Christian at all. Clean up your own mess. Get the world back on track, morally, physically, environmentally, spiritually...then see what happens.

Miracles And Prayer

I expect miracles, too.
I suppose I could go as far as to say that I believe in miracles.

Well, the nice things about miracles is that they are by defintion out of the ordinary and supernatural, and - to my little mind - are therefore beyond reasoning about them.
So I am relieved from arguing about miracles: they're miracles! They're Miraculous! They transcend Reason!

For the most part, if you find yourself in a mess and you turn to prayer, it's already too late.

There may be a miracle. They do happen. But, for the most part, you have certain bodily parts in the wringer, or you are backing into the buzz saw, or the lawnmower man is waiting for you to come out of the house.

Prayer is the road map for the rest of your life.
If you see it as an invitation to a miracle, God usually passes. He doesn't even send His regrets.
But once you have blundered your way into your own private hell, turning to God is learning to get the heck out of Hades. Prayer is the road map.
If you use prayer as a tool, you will be disappointed.
If you use it as your invitation to some completely different, you have taken that proverbial small step at the beginning of 1,000 miles.


Justin Bieber

America's approach to Pedophilia:

Family takes pictures in the tub; Wal-Mart calls cops; kids taken away for a month; lives turned ujpside down.

Ready for the rest?

This morning, some ephebe named Justin Bieber is singing and bouncing on The Today Show.
The camera catches a coy little crotch grab.
Isn't that cute.
Shall we have Wal-Mart calls the cops on the entire nation now?

Pedophilia is only wrong when it's private.
When it's public, we have added the safeguards that it must be a commercial venture, such as selling records, and it is O.K.
Justin is a bit older, maybe 15. Perhaps then it's O.K.? Why is it acceptable for a 15 year old to grab his crotch on national TV?
I might be completely nuts, but I seem to think a crotch grab is an invitation, not a warning; an enticement, not an admonition; and it is such to ALL who see it!

Boys and girls, Justin and Jon Benet...we go to crazy extremes...because we know we cannot control ourselves and our desires and our lusts. It's hard to spot our duplicity, but now and then it pops right into our faces...
We use accusations of sex with underage children to condemn, then we kick back and admire underage children in sensuous poses...
and give them money...
and give them adulation...
and act like Humbert Humbert panting after his Lolitas of all genders.

A Philosophical Examination of "Believe In..."

By J. G. Ballard, 1984

What I Believe

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels.

I believe in the forgotten runways of Wake Island, pointing towards the Pacifics of our imaginations.

I believe in the mysterious beauty of Margaret Thatcher, in the arch of her nostrils and the sheen on her lower lip; in the melancholy of wounded Argentine conscripts; in the haunted smiles of filling station personnel; in my dream of Margaret Thatcher caressed by that young Argentine soldier in a forgotten motel watched by a tubercular filling station attendant.

I believe in the beauty of all women, in the treachery of their imaginations, so close to my heart; in the junction of their disenchanted bodies with the enchanted chromium rails of supermarket counters; in their warm tolerance of my perversions.

Google up the rest of it, if you wish

Rumors And Scuttlebutt

I heard that the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Obama, because Kenya has never had a recipient!!

Or, rather, if you wish to be picky about it, Kenya has never had a recipient since Wangari Maathai in 2004. She is a lady. He is a man. It was because Kenya has never had a male recipient of the Peace prize that the Committee awarded it to Obama! Whew!

And the Huffington Post - as Left as they come - says that Africa hails it as a win for Africa!! Ah-ha!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Museum Of Moving Objects

Exquisite composition of stationary bike with...stationary books? They aren't actually books, but DVDs and CDs and VCR tapes, but still I love the...what? irony?...everything that is quick and moving and gosh-amighty-hair-in-the-wind is suddenly sedentary, stationary, and subdued. Instead of a meeting of the minds or a clashing of the cycles, we have withdrawn to Sunday tea with treacle.
Yet inside our hushed Sunday sitting rooms, where tea and cakes abound, our madness is barely kept covered...boiling in Boschian tea pots, rattling the tops, throwing off the quilted tea cozies! we jump through the windows and run as naked as rain-forest foragers! jumping into poison sumac patches, rolling to the lake!

It used to be
I was so free...
as the whiskery thing on a time-
or the eye-numbing teller on
that races
through its paces
like sixty!
But, wait!
one sweeps in numb circles;
other's battery goes dead;
like butterflies
poster board
science fairs!

pix: faith in honest doubt (  )

And Now For Something Completely Indifferent...

In the NYT, front page, top, right, there is the column we always expected:  in Health Care, the Lobbyists and Monied Interests are winning.

Long story, short...

That is why nothing will change....short of major economic collapse, short of demonstrations and riots, short of revolutions and upheavals...nothing will change in Washington, D.C.; nothing will change in the adamantine hearts of this generation.

If we have a penny, we shall not give you a mite. If we have a dollar, we shall not give up a penny. If we have a million, we shall not give up a thousand to lighten your burden, and to ensure peace and social discord.
We spit in the Face of God and His Mother - "He casts the mighty from their thrones, and raises the lowly".

We are on borrowed time.
I don't use literary devices or tropes when I say that I have seen myself as Ausonius, writing poetry in the cold of the autumn of the Roman Empire. I know I write for the future, a different future where this generation is a sad and miserable memory.

"I am Ausonius, Decimius Ausonius - grammarian, rhetorician, soldier, poet, and confidant of emperors - and I stand in Gallia. I am at my place in Burdigala, and I feel the cold wind of Fall blowing from Alemania upon my leathery cheek."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Duke Of Omnium a character in Anthony Trollope's The Pallisers. The story centers on Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser. Lady Glencora has a cousin, Alice Vavasor, who holds strong views on politics. She speaks of supporting the secret ballot, something Plantagenet - an up and coming star in the Liberal party - is not yet radical enough to support.

Alice is a Liberal, recently changed nomenclature from Whig.

I respect Liberals and Conservatives.
I dislike Right-wingers and Left-wingers.

Liberals and Conservatives have true differences of opinion and theory. Wingers are alike in their madness.

A Heck Of A Town

Apparently some Republikaans cheered the fact that their fellow countrymen in Chicago will not be hosting the Olympics.
Republikaans are odd entities, and they speak an odd language.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Prize

Congratulations !

But nothing is so easy in this maze we live in. People applaud, and others criticize. Endless talk and arguments.
I have a friend who insists on sending me half-baked articles on health care; they seek to persuade, not to analyze. And most of their logic is "something I don't like happened after X, therefore, it happened because of X."
I don't know why the dim insist on spreading their gospel of dimness, but they do. So finally I wrote back saying that such and such an article was politics and persuasion. She writes back and says I have not faith in Capitalism, and she has no faith in Big Brother.

I have no faith in Capitalism, I have no faith in Big Brother-ism. I do not think human life may be reduced to either; life cannot be painted into either vicious corner.

And Faith is for God, not some Ideology.

What good is talking about anything, when we're all idiots?

I was on Jury Duty. In the jury room, I read a July People magazine about Jon and Kate, trying to find out exactly who they were,.and why their faces are everywhere.
In July, Jon was having an adulterous affair with someone called Hailley Grassman. And this entire country was tuned in and loving it.

....a country of moral morons.

Shopping At Levine's Freshest Fish Market

Levine does have the freshest fish and seafood, just like the sign says.


"See this?" he said, running his finger down the motifs, often called guls, after the Persian word for flower. :See how they are all slightly different: the lines, the number of dots? This is the hand of man. In a handmade carpet, the kind you seek, there can be no design exactly the same. Even if you try, agha, it's impossible. The wool thread may be a different size and they could make only five knots when before it was six. Or the dye is a slightly different color. Small things, but important. This is the beauty you must see. There is beauty in these inconsistencies. It is human. It is life. But the gift of imagination and creativity comes from God. So you see, these carpets show the perfect hand of God in the inspiration and the imperfect hand of man in trying to follow it. Listen well, do you understand this?"
"I think so."
"Are you a believer?" he continued.
"I am not a Muslim." I said.
"No, I mean do you believe in God?"
"Good. Very good." he said. Then you must think hard about what I told you."
Excerpt from The Root of Wild Madder by Brian Murphy.
Simon & Schuster, NY, NY 2005

 To me, God, Allah, Shaddai is the elusive and hard to grasp. God is hard to grasp because He is similar to those carpets which vary the knots and the dyes. To me, God is the Design, but the design is creative and exists as constant growth and life.

God is the corn and wheat fields of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, not the marbled memorials of death which dot the landscape there.

When I first went to Gettysburg - when  was in eighth grade -  I entered the Pennsylvania memorial, and was immediately transformed into something I had never sensed before nor hardly since. But I walked with the dead amid the marble halls, and gazed with incredible longing at the life just beyond the perimeter of the shrine, where there was green grass, trees, and flowers in bloom.
I sensed I had joined the gods in unchanging death, in absolute immobile perfection, and I discovered it was cold. All who dwelt there were either dead upon their entry, or the marble drained the life from them over time.

God said the Perfect was the symbol, but the Life was the fact; I remembered God as a symbol, but if I wanted to talk with Him, I had to jump back into that endlessly buzzing bazaar of activity.

So, now I'm back.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The New Land

I have heard of a newly discovered land where Truth and Light both travel at the speed of 55 mph. This slows things down quite a bit. The poor and suffering don't seem to appreciate it, but the well-off are quite happy with the state of affairs.

Treasons, Strategems, and Spoils are light of foot, and run quickly about, sometimes approaching that old bug-a-boo that exists in our universe: the Einsteinian speed of light.
Disease and Sickness have been politicized, and turned into the hash-browns of politics, dispensed after an election by the party victorious.
Religion straddles the fence dividing the lands of Farmer Disbelief from those of Farmer Inane-and-Jejune.

If you travel faster - or if you seek the Truth faster - than the slow liesurely 55 mph, a policeman will appear from behind a billboard and fine you for impeding traffic. When the Lie rules, speed is of the essence. All things must be accomplished before...before....well, before things break down, if I have to say it. I mean it is like financial bubbles: they can only last so you had better be quick. If you can't be quick enough, then slow down time, elongate it, stretch it out, so your plans may come to their hideous fruition.

Philosophy hangs out in Vegas. I saw him there playing Black Jack, drinking free booze, and smoking coffin nails. A pair of floozies hung on his shoulders, name of Persuasion and Politics-as-Usual.
The night sky in Las Vegas is totally obscured by the light pollution from the casinos, so I walked into the desert, and I headed to the Observatory behind the hills. Once there, I found that Light had slowed even more, that no stars at all were visible - the light wouldn't reach us for a thousand years.

Even though these paragraphs here are about 17 millimetres apart on the display, I have written them down over the course of centuries. The Einsteinian time involved is immense, and requires a serious temporal inflation for the government to be able to pull it all off.
Me? I live in that high-rise where the giraffe is the door man. He delivers the mail as high as the 12th floor.
There's a Margarita Party tonight in the Aquifer out back. It's a lot lower than last year, so they removed the diving board in July during the seasonal low water. It's all cyclical. It'll all come back.

Sink Or Save?

It is commonly agreed that we should save more. Previously, we were saving nothing..."I'm in debt up to my eyeballs!", as the commercial famously said, before offering us something else to buy.

How do we save, when there is no attractive savings instrument?

It is better to buy now. No point in saving at 0.75%. None at all.
Buy gold. Buy land.

Why are we cajoled into buying when we should be saving - when rates are reasonable - and badgered to save when rates stink?
That's how it works.

It's a conspiracy of the rich against everyone else. Of course, everyone I've mentioned it to say that I'm paranoid crazy. They said that the rich and their government would no more perpetrate such a scheme against me and the rest of working America, than it would conspire to flood the urban areas with drugs!
Yes, no more than it would dream up a scheme to invade Poppy-stan and reap substantial billions in drugs while the rest of us mill about at funerals, burying our soldier sons and daughters!!

Leaving me standing there, panting, unbelieving, wondering...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Wild eyed radicals? In the book of Job, we read: "Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach thee." I just wrote my Fast Day poem a few days ago for the first week in October. In it I referred to Nut and Geb, one the goddess of the sky, the other the god of the earth in ancient Egypt. Job speaks to God in heaven; he speaks to the earth below. Interesting

The Prussianization Of America 1

This is the title for a new set of postings. People are so fond of the Nazi-era, they forget the Prussian era. The warlords of Prussia seem to fill the bill for an parallel to the leadership of today: constant war and rumors of wars, and - oh, by the way - it' has just been discovered that billions and billions are unaccounted for in payment to private military subcontractors... I believe the same thing happened in the Civil War...the Revolution...Cain vs. Abel....... There is admirable continuity. Who is the continuity girl responsible for this amazing consistency? I mean, we never miss a beat. The only time we came close to disaster is 1991 when the USSR fell apart, and there was that peace dividend thing, and - holy hannah! war almost disappeared! - and who would pay for Johnny's Harvard education then? O.K. More to follow.


Mozeewink has joined our band of brigands. Welcome.

Morning Prayer

I pray: God; Your will be done. and nothing else. I stand silently, but I never let any previous notions about what God is, or what God's plan is for the world, or any other such nonsense intervene. I do not meditate that God is good, God is great, God is the alpha and the omega, God bless America, God help us!....nothing. I don't look at pictures of praying hands, little angels, solicitous mothers, or solitary individuals walking down a lonesome road...nothing. I don't dream of divine paradoxes to instill in myself a sense of wonder. My being alive after my life so far is enough of a wonder for me. I refuse to define God. If I define God, I am writing a screenplay for how God is supposed to act in "The God Show". (There are certain similarities to the concept Nirvana in obstinate silence.) By acting as Jehovah's screenwriter, I am substituting my will for God's. God; Your will be done.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I wanted to extend a welcome to Jose Castillo and Mrmemitchell, who have taken up the gaunlet of becoming followers. Ahh, the gabby, long winded days of winter await us!

My Vacation in D.C., Delaware, And New Jersey: September 2009

Breakfast Menu.
They believed in hearty meals back then.

Republikaans Talk Radio

My favorite conservative opinion-monger.

Steve Zissou And The Life Interior

I tried to use my enclosure link to the website The Cunning Realist and made a mess of things. It has nothing to do with Steve Zissou ( and the life aquatic...), but that's the way I remember stuff: Bill Murray films as mnemonic devices.

(I watched Steve Zissou: The Life Aquatic again. I cannot really tell you why this is a significant event in my life. All of Bill Murray's films seem to be fine sandpapers that smooth out some existential rough edges... of which I have many.
I have spoken of Broken Flowers of 2005 frequently, a film whose first 15 to 20 minutes I missed and found the experience without the introduction and setting the scene to be a much more engaging experience than I usually have with films. I sort of became unusually involved as I had to figure out what was the story line, and as it became clear, it was as if I were walking through the film next to Bill Murray.)

So I hope all is back to normal, and here is the post: ( ...and may Steve be with you!)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The Great Lull

While Rod Dreher emphasized the "boredom" angle in his kind link to this post, I liked this observation by Haffner (my bolds):

A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills -- accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation.

What is the state of Americans' interior lives right now? The past fifteen years have featured the following in rapid succession: a stock market bubble and crash, a bitterly contested presidential election, 9/11, anthrax attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan, war in Iraq, a housing bubble and national binge followed by economic collapse, and a historic presidential election. For a decade and a half there's been a series of national obsessions, an unprecedented, formative, near-constant stream of "raw material" from the "public sphere."

With the frenzy over the financial market collapse now fading, those deliveries, as Haffner put it, have suddenly ceased. Throw in a materialist culture and a consumer who can't afford toys anymore, and you've got a lot of people without an interior life to fall back on. Giddy chatter about revolution and fond memories of war and torture beat sitting quietly in a room wondering who you are.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Good Walls, Good Neighbors

A Belfast security wall from Workman Avenue to Lanark Way
1988 - 2003
I was reviewing all our many wars. You know, we like quick results. I recall writing that some people were saying the stimulus wasn't working. After having spent years and years destroying the economy, we wanted a six month fix from the new Administration. Iraq may be a success...but it may only be recognized as such 100 years from now. Ditto Afghanistan...maybe 200 years. In two centuries, the Afghanis will stand up their model democracy and take a vote of thanks to the NATO forces who inspired them so long ago. It takes a while, Look at the photo of Belfast above. Walls don't come down overnight. Mental walls may take longer. It's a long term investment - God willing, the river doesn't rise, and the cows don't run away - that'll pay off in spades in the far future. Israel may still have its walls. Baghdad may still have its neighborhood walls: good walls make good neighbors.
So, don't say we never did anything for out grandkids, other than leaving them outrageous debts to pay off. 100 years from now, everyone will give a darn!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Arabic Classes

"Ay! This donkey! He is slower than the Crow of Noah!"

One particular insanity of this whole period of our history is the lack of classes in the Arabic language. While we flock like lemmings (!) to Chinese, we ignore Arabic...mainly because there are more Chinese speakers; i.e., there may be more Chinese consumers for whatever bric-a-brac the Corporate Mandarins of our ruling elite may choose to sell.
In Le Monde:  
La langue arabe chassée des classes
LE MONDE 08.09.09 14h02 • Mis à jour le 09.09.09 08h31  
L'arabe, une langue d'avenir ? Les Danois y croient. Copenhague vient d'introduire, à cette rentrée, l'arabe dans les collèges. Tout en accélérant l'intégration des 10 % des 31 000 collégiens d'origine palestinienne, libanaise et irakienne, la capitale danoise veut préparer les bataillons de commerciaux qui partiront demain, espère-t-elle, à l'assaut des pays du Golfe. Un discours simple et pragmatique qui n'a pas cours en France, où l'enseignement de l'arabe, pourtant centenaire, est laissé à l'abandon par l'éducation nationale, au profit des mosquées qui ont capté la demande...

If I remember my high school French, this article says that Denmark has just introduced the study of Arabic into its colleges. This will speed up the integration of the 31,000 college students of Arab lineage present in Danish colleges, and will prepare Danish business people of the future in their dealings with the Arab France, the Colleges have pretty much abandoned this field of study to the Mosques.

The article has that nasty economic justification for everything, and there is a fear just barely remaining swept under the carpet about all those people of foreign extraction, but that is how we all think, and to expect Le Monde to express things differently is to expect too much. Learning language not only builds bridges; it opens the bridges and strange people flock across said bridges to flood one's culture with anomalies. Just look at me; having studied Arabic, I think I have all the answers, say what I want to say, and pepper my speech with obscure aphorisms ( "slower than Noah's crow!" ) like a supporting character in a picaresque novel.

Language is an instrument of Revolution, both in the Student of the language, and in the Society wherein the student will become a fluent speaker. A flood of new Arabic speakers - the serious, the crazed, the sober, and the bizarre - will do more than Democracy's bombs to change regimes.


Friday, October 02, 2009

My Vacation

We went by ferry from Delaware to New Jersey shore.
We did not only cross distance - as most of us do on vacation - but we did a time-cross thing, too, at no extra cost.

Georgia O'Keefe and Ansel Adams Get A Flat

pix: Emergence of Advertising


Sooner or later, each individual undergoes a revolution where the past is torn away and all is future. Societies also undergo revolution. The more uncertain the times, the more intense the revolution. Each society gets the revolution it deserves, for it has prepared the way by constructing the symbolic story of the contest it faces: us versus them, good versus evil, science versus religion, etc. Germany after World War I needed a revolution...badly. It got a failed revolution in 1918, and it got its Bad revolution finally in 1933, when the Nazis took power. The USA, deeply divided and in conflict during the 1920's ( Labor versus Business ) and the 1930's got its revolution in World War II, where sufficient blood was spilled to slake History's thirst. As conflict and tension increase in a society, the probability that blood will be spilled increases. Whether the revolution or war is seen as good or evil depends on how the society has prepared itself: the American Revolution versus the Nazi Revolution, is a good example of preparing oneself in honor and knowledge versus preparing oneself in hate and ignorance. We shall always kill each other until we realize that it is we ourselves, the story makers and storytellers, who create the killing fields in our imaginations long before we pick up our guns; we plough the field with the blade of discord and we sow the seed of inequity and fertilize with hatred...the whirlwind waits the harvest. At present, the tension is nothing compared to what it will be within the next 4 years. We shall get the revolution we deserve. Whether the turning of history topsy-turvy will be good or evil is unknown; what is clear is that there will be bloodshed; we are still primitive and bestial. It is not 2012 we need fear. (It is 2 years after that.)

Just Say NO!

(I Refuse to Occupy!)
“I know that the US is financing some of Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories. I also know that many Americans believe that they are helping establish security in Israel. But this is not true, for real security will not be achieved by military means. Please help your government understand that by supplying weapons it is not helping the Israelis or the Palestinians. I would like to ask you to support those that are seeking peace for both Palestinian and Israelis. –Maya Yechieli Wind May 26 2009

Republikaans Health Care

According to Alan Grayson, D-Florida, the Republikaans Health Plan is (1) Don't get sick, and (2) if you do get sick, Die Quickly. Rough, but it does capture the essence of Republikaans thought.

Homeless In Rome

Under the Ponte Flaminio, Rome pix: Toni Garbasso

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Red Square Interlude

In 1925, Comrade Stalin meets Venus rising from the Sea. Mindful of Haephestos, he rebuffs her advances, and the rest is history.

Chaos Definition

King Khshayarsha ( Xerxes ) at the Hellespont
Definition on the edge of chaos... always prone to re-definition, always like Proteus capable of a new face. Like the war in Iraq...always re-define the goal. Thus, we never lose. If we are on the verge of disaster, we re-define our objectives and demonstrate that we have accomplished them. Since the movie 300, we know more about Greek history. Xerxes, the Persian despot, wanted to subjugate Greece in his second invasion. He wanted a satrapy on the European continent. As time went on, the fortunes of war changed and the fates were unkind to Xerxes' plan. The Persian did sack Athens and burn it. Xerxes said his goal was to punish the Greeks - particularly the Athenians - and to terrify them so they would never cross the Persians again. Then he pulled out and returned home. By re-defining his goal, Xerxes snatched a minor victory from the jaws of defeat. Our time is the time of true very Confucian it all sounds. Economics is the science of chaotic economic systems. The best thing in Economics is to catch the elusive Economy as it is about to change shape. There is no science. There is informed art and faith, surrounded by Mathematics.
This could be quite fine...if the practitioners believed in art and faith.

The Afghan Drug War

Fortune magazine has an article Inside the Afghan Drug War ( )subtitled: Afghanistan's drug economy is as pervasive as its poppy fields, linking impoverished farmers, heroin traffickers, and the Taliban. There has been recently a good deal of effort aimed at the short-memoried, detailing opium production in Afghanistan, how the Taliban is behind it, and how we - the USA and NATO - have always been opposed to it. This is, of course, a re-writing of History. The Media gets away with it, because its audience is essentially brain-dead and dull, yet avaricious for any scrap of information which floats its way. The audience of the American media reminds me of some huge, bloated underwater leviathan, sedentary in its cave, blinded to reality by its enforced captivity, and only able to see in the region of the electro-magnetic spectrum controlled by Media. Here in its lair it scoops up information floating plankton-like within easy range of its ever open mouth, lined with teeth worn and useless. Let's go back to February 15, 2001, before the magic date where everything changed, and the war began which might yet destroy one of the last vestiges of World War II: NATO. JALALABAD, Afghanistan (February 15, 2001 8:19 p.m. EST U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan -- once the world's largest producer -- since banning poppy cultivation last summer. A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation's largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year. "We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields," said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier -- a sea of blood-red poppies. ... Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, banned poppy growing before the November planting season and augmented it with a religious edict making it contrary to the tenets of Islam. The Taliban, which has imposed a strict brand of Islam in the 95 percent of Afghanistan it controls, has set fire to heroin laboratories and jailed farmers until they agreed to destroy their poppy crops. The U.N. surveyors, who completed their search this week, crisscrossed Helmand, Kandahar, Urzgan and Nangarhar provinces and parts of two others -- areas responsible for 86 percent of the opium produced in Afghanistan last year, Frahi said in an interview Wednesday. They covered 80 percent of the land in those provinces that last year had been awash in poppies. (available at ) It is a fact that NATO and the USA and the government of Karzai did little in the eight years they have been the power in Afghanistan to eradicate this trade. There have always been seizures and burnings for show at home, but from 2007 through 2008, opium production was at the highest levels ever. Who is responsible? Cui bono? Look to find out who profits. Essentially we have spent billions to secure cheap oil in Iraq - which is not cheap - and drug money for unnamed persons in Afghanistan. We have allowed certain people to control the opium trade for at least eight years. I do not think they are all Afghanis. I think there are many Americans - proud and patriotic and who encourage us to "win" this "war" - who have profited and continue to do so.

To Hell With Bank Of America

I have had it with the mega-bank, Bank of America. My Countrywide money market accounts - all now digested into its enormous gut - do not count toward establishing my minimum balance to avoid a $12 service charge per month, because B of A says my Countrywide accounts are viewed as being in New Hampshire ( huh?! ), whereas I live in quite another state. I started with Standard Federal Savings, then Standard Federal Bank, then ABM-AMRO ( who was my last mortgage holder ), then LaSalle Bank, then Bank of America. Now I get no interest and ever increasing service charges. I am looking forward to my next visit to the branch office. I know they are not responsible, they just follow orders. However, I think it is high time we said we are mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it any more!