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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Prodigy of the Seas

The World has its protectors. There is the Prodigy of the Seas; he is a great protector of the World, and looks after the well-being of the Oceans and the lives therein, and the atmosphere, too. You may imagine him as a spirit of great majesty, drawn from the dominion of the kingly pinakothek of our imaginations, but such is not the case.

He is the drunk down at the far end of Mickey Muldoon's. He sits in the shadows, waiting for the Genius of the Cold to walk in, but she never does anymore.

So one day I talked to him. He smelled vaguely of ammonia or piperidine; I tried not to focus on the smells. It was just after the earthquake in Haiti. I asked him if he could protect the world against quakes. He laughed.

"You guys, " he said.
"What guys?" I asked.
"You guys" he said, with an uncertain expansive wave of a floppy arm, meaning to take in all mankind perhaps, but restricted to Mickey Muldoon's. "You think everything'sh..." He was beginning to slur his speech.
"...everything'sh a movie! Like...a movie. Ya know the Job story?"
I nodded that I did.
"You guys 'spect the story like Job's a good guy, Job's smart, family, kids, good job, and Job should be cool with everythin', right?"
Again, I nodded.
"Nah. The big guy..."
"God?" I asked.
"Yesh, God, the big guy, he ignores what you guys write. He's the director, and He does his own re-write."
I said, yeah, so what? Job comes out on top in the end, so it's all a moral tale, good triumphs, and so what?
"No." he said, shaking his head. "Job is just a detail that you fell in love with...just a detail...devil's in the details!" He laughed, and looked quizically at his incredibly empty glass.
I bought him another. He would not be driving tonight.

Why Latin?

Naumachia : a ship-fight held in the flooded Colosseum;
Ancient Rome's equivalent of demolition derby.

I almost had a job teaching Latin at a young ladies' school. However, given the option to learn Latin, only two girls expressed interest. Who can blame them?

Why Latin?
Latin is firstly a link to classical culture, which culture was intimately studied and known by the Founding Fathers of this country. Think of all the idiots in this country that write and babble about strict constructionism of constitutional law, seeking to understand what the Founding Fathers meant, but who have not the slightest connection to the classical pageant which formed the school for that superb generation.
Second, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic were the languages of the generations that established our religious way of life. To have no connection here is to be slaves to those who have to interpret religious writings to us. We have given up on understanding on our own. We out-source understanding and inspiration. And cable TV and the Internet are filled 24 hours a day with misfit preachers and baleful spreaders of hate and intolerance.
Third, the classical culture was a slave culture. Here we are, 150 years from the outbreak of the war that ended slavery in our own country. Our understanding of slavery and its ongoing consequences is not very profound. Now we might find ourselves wanting further to understand the Founding Fathers, whose vision was so influenced by a culture that rested on the labor of slaves. We may wish to study the effects of slavery from another perspective, from other eyes and other times.
Fourth, we are fond of comparing our times to the Roman Empire; we know next to nothing about the Roman Empire, except what C.B. DeMille has shown us in his films. We make judgments and create our stories for our futures based on celluloid fantasies that were not intentioned to be tools for learning. The politics and morals and the struggles of all times - not just Greece and Rome - are constant human themes of baseness and heroism which we come to again and again throughout history. Pick a time outside our own to hold up as a mirror to our follies...that we may no longer have vision as through a darkling glass.


Don't Go In

I was getting flack from the ROMEOs who sometimes come into Hanaan's Diner - known to be the hang-out of the TYBALTs, my own group of plug-uglies. Anyway, so one guy brings up Russia's complaint about opium copming from NATO controlled Afghanistan, saying what else can we do?

So I say, we could have not gone into Afghanistan  to hold onto it for 8 years plus in the first place.

So he sez, yeah, but now we're there? Be constructive? We're there now, and we gotta make the best of it. So what do we do, then?

And I sez, you do not go in in the first place, that's what ya do.
It's like Iraq, you don't go in all by yourself based on lies you told yourself.
And don't do them. You either nationalize the stupid banks and straighten them out and set them free again, or you let them go under; you don't give them my money and then just hope......

Don't ask me how to put the salami back together after it has hit the fan for this reason:
the salami did not hit the fan all by itself, YOU threw it into the fan, thinking it would be a cool way to make a sandwich. Clean up your own mess.

This is part and parcel of our overall Corporate-Government ethos:

Microsoft wants something, so the state of Washington gets scared and has to come up with $100 million in incentives and tax abatements...otherwise Microsoft threatens to go elsewhere;

The government has just invaded a country and established a half-baked occupation, and now we're getting our butts kicked. So what do we do now? We need more troops and a longer time-line of occupation......or else, the government and our elected reps threaten that we'll lose !!

They play this game over and over. It's time to call their bluff.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NATO's Opium

Russia is complaining about the amount of opium copming from NATO-controlled Afghanistan. The NATO forces have stopped their anti-drug campaign - which amounted to a couple of photo ops of weeds being burnt - because it alienated the farmers, whose hearts and minds we need to win over,...and so on, and so on...


Bank of America Gave Montag $29.9 Million Package (Update1)

February 26, 2010, 5:21 PM EST
Ha-ha! So long, suckers!

Sweet Do-Nothing Deity

God: dolce far niente.....sweet do nothing.

When I was writing the last posts, it struck me that Baysage and I have very different views of God. I think Baysage thinks of God as an active agent, whereas I do not.

Let that sink in.................

I do not mean that God just doesn't do anything, that it all dolce far niente with Him. What I mean is that if your thinking is along the lines of notions like "omnipotent", and "almighty", and stuff like God keeps the universe in existence from second to second, the entity God is so active, that activity defines Him, and it is redundant and odd to say that He is doing things.
To me, an active agent is a doer that needs to be distinguished from inactive agents. God is not among this group. Therefore, it is misleading to dwell on His doing-of-things.

For example, that's why I don't think of prayer as pleading and begging God to do stuff for me. What's done is already done...and what's going to be done is already done...when you're in the realm of "omnipotence" and "almighty" that's what it means: everything is done. It doesn't mean that it could be done; I mean, "omnipotence" doesn't mean that God could do it, if He only stopped goofing around long enough to get His act together! It doesn't mean that of course He can do it, but He can't just make up His mind yet. It means: Done! That's what it means.
Prayer for me is the road map, not begging. Since everything is "done", I want that roadmap to see where it is I'm going. Everything is "done", but I still can't see through the trees or through the mountains, and when I come to blind corner, I've got to still be careful; I've got to avoid dead ends and stay away from places where the bridges are out.
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the road map....sometimes we try to follow it...prayer is turning the corner, taking the fork in the road...I'm in the car, I'm driving; what's more, I'm driving a Toyota and I can't stop the sucker!
The Toyota Corporation and the US Congress and the Regulatory Agencies: they're "agents", they talk, they "do" things. Of course, maybe they do things too late, but that's what active types do sometimes; they're not "omnipotent"!
I'd rather have the road map than sit here begging for "agents" to "do" things.

(Apologies to Baysage if I have misconstrued things. He's smarter than I. He'd say "No. Montag's smarter." But that's obviously just a Japanese-type-polite-etiquette thing he's doing.)

The New york Knights 2: Baysage on Corporate Parasitism

Baysage has anticipated me in his comment on my previous posting, wherein he states that "God has nothing to do with it."
That's pretty much the right story. We have a major problem in that we have allowed our narrative of the future become a brochure for a trip to sunny catastrophe, and we have compounded it by saying that it's God's will.
It ain't.

It is not God's will in the slightest.
The Flood is more like the Trail of Tears that will be cause by our forced relocation east of Eden.

The quote from Kinsella points to the cause:
"one strikeout with the bases loaded is worth ten strikeouts with two out and nobody on."
In other words, it is more profitable to throw the game - Shoeless Joe Jackson here - than it is to play by the rules and win it straight. Wise Guys, a  coupla generations of Wise Guys.

Baysage mentions the fact that the state of Washington is going to fund some Microsoft plans with tax abatements, or grants, or some other give-away. This has been going on a long time. Read Lee Iacocca about how it's done. Lee's a great guy, but he did the same scam while he was at Ford, and he comes right out and tells you how the corporates play that game.
It's even more poignant with the auto makers, because they promised jobs when they couldn't even raise capital to build cars Americans wanted, mainly because they were building cars Americans did not want. So now we own part of GM.

The past quarter century and more has been a history of Government Corporatism, where laws were written for corporations. Look at the changes to eminent domain laws since 1980, and look at how they have been implemented. Look at the history of the Poletown project in Detroit where a community was ripped apart for the jobs promised by a GM plant - a plant heavily using robots that never was able to deliver jobs at the promised level built by a company that couldn't build saleable cars.

Once again, back to the Depression and World War II. There were sit down strikes in 1937, 1938. This was one year before WW II. The biggest gains of unions did not happen in 1932; they came in FDR's second term.
The battle was just really starting to be fought, and to bear fruit. WW II interrupted it. The outcome of WW II was a boom for everyone. That boom is over.
Now the battle will be fought again. Corporatism is "winning". I say "winning" because what passes for success is strange nowadays. If Corporatism was a sucessful regime, I think we could eventually live with it. Based on the most recent corporate bail-out, Corporatism is not a resounding success: it is a failure. Corporatism is like a malign parasite that is too stupid to know that it ought not to kill its host. Corporatism kills.
That was the idea behind plants in Mexico. That was the idea behind NAFTA. That was the motive behind Globalization: when you've killed the host organism, jump to another host.
(Corporatism kills because we are too unidimensional - almighty dollar! - and our entire world view lacks robust diversity: even our religious minded people are parochial and crabbed, denying Truth to other worshippers of God! And thinking that religiosity is evidenced by a display of the Ten Commandments in front of the City Hall!)

God has nothing to do with the Flood that's coming. We are doing it all. And we can't stop, because in our stories and narratives, in our minds, it all Book of Revelations, it's all Mayan calendars, it's all Deluge - it's God is angry and He's coming........but He ain't; He's headed in the other direction, away from us.
(If you've seen Forbidden Planet, we are Morbius, and it is not Monsters from the Id, by Monsters from our consciousness that is bent on our own destruction.)

And we still don't have any idea why things are unravelling. We think it's because of some resetting of the calendar in 2012. And when that date passes, it will be some other abstruse notion. We will look everywhere, except where the fault is: within ourselves. It is within ourselves, not because we are "sinners", not because we are "idolaters", and not even because we allow abortion, as ghastly as that may be: the fault is within us, because it is within the grasp of sentient beings to choose the future, then to articulate that future...and we have chosen wrong and we have allowed our leaders to tell us lies about the future. We have allowed our leaders to dumb down education in order that we and our children will be too stupid to recognize lies, so now we believe the meretricious stories. Our leaders find it far better that we believe that God wills to destroy us, rather than we know the truth: that our own educated and privileged leaders will to destroy us!

The next time Corporatism stumbles, overburdened as it is with its too-big-to-fail dinosaurs, is going to be the end of it. If we assume capitalism has its ups and downs, the dynamics of an up is much different than a down: for one thing, when things deteriorate, the plunge down is incredibly rapid - just remember how fast the Dow fell in 2008 versus the time it took to gain similar amounts.
And there is no guarantee anywhere that the economy can climb out of the hole it digs for itself. The next big down is the last one.
God does not will it, but He sees it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The New York Knights

The Knights were Roy Hobbs' team, the team of Bernard Malamud's The Natural. Roy Hobbs was possibly the great baseball player of all time. As a young man, he was waylaid on his path, and did not play in the major leagues until he was thirty-five years old, old age for most ball players.

I'll be writing more of Roy Hobbs. I have already written of him here, comparing his story to that of Noah.

I did it because we are in the Time of the Flood. I don't pretend to know the will of God. Just recently, I have read a woman writer who said that the most important characteristic of a prophet is that he or she be 100% right!
Well, that's a tall order. Even the prophets in the Old Testament don't seem to be 100% right. We seem to have gotten in the habit, as Christians using Old Testament prophecies to demonstrate the divine birth of Jesus, that everything a prophet said was true. It appears, however, that a lot of what was said was not true. Certain important things were right on the mark, some were a bit wide of the mark.
This leads us to reflect on the nature of Truth and God, but I don't want to do that here.

End of Times belief is everywhere, and prophets are a dime a dozen. My wife came in the other night to tell me that Jim Bakker was on cable, apparently prophesying that the Second Coming was nigh, or if not the actual Second Coming, something pretty bad for mankind. Jim Bakker appears to have some sort of holy manna - or refried beans - in tin cans which, if purchased by the faithful, will somehow alleviate the coming scourge.
So I asked whether he was not only talking about divine destruction, but also that we could dodge the divine wrath by buying tin cans - with a long shelf life - of his product? Like stocking a fall-out shelter with food back in the old days, when we were young, and the only thing we had to fear was Russia dropping bombs on us - surely not being beset by our fellow citizens robbing us blind, running scams on us, and destroying the economy.
But, you know, come to think of it, there was a Twilight Zone episode where there was a report of nuclear war, and one family on the block had prepared a fall-out shelter - like the provident ants of the proverb - while the rest of the neighborhood had not - like the fiddling grasshoppers they were! Well, it was neighbor against neighbor, trying to get into that fall-out shelter. I remember Claude Akins was a "grasshopper" neighbor.

We are in the Flood. There's nothing we can do, so I advise us not to pretend anymore. We who have been born for this time are many: the Boomers. Up until now, we thought they were so many of us, mainly because our forbears came back from the wars and procreated like mad. Sure. Good story, there. But, we are like the seeds of the distressed maple tree: numerous and filling the air, covering the driveways of suburbia...because the organism in distress strains to continue its life; we are many because many of us will fall away.
The Flood is coming, and we are either Noah, or his laughing neighbors, making jibes about drydocks 100 miles from the nearest puddle.

It's time to get on the train to join our team, The New York Knights, and enter the big leagues.
That's what I'm writing about in my book: where we are and what we've learned. To quote another writer about baseball, Kinsella:
"one strikeout with the bases loaded is worth ten strikeouts with two out and nobody on."
I'm sorry I haven't told you so before...but I think I have, in a way. Doesn't really matter. Like Roy Hobbs, we can't turn back the hand of time. It's time to get to the Big Leagues, and to win one for Pop.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Republicans do not filibuster; they phineas-t-bluster.

American Exceptionalism

One stark and sobering way to frame the crisis is this: if the United States government were to nationalize (in other words, steal) every penny of private wealth accumulated by America’s citizens since the nation’s founding 235 years ago, the government would remain totally bankrupt.

That's pretty exceptional.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Apologia Pro Poema Sua

Someone has complained about my fast day poem (over on the right in the peace-weaving site); not for this week, but for next week; I anticipated being busy, so I did a week ahead. The complaint was, accordingly, early, but still timely.

So someone doesn't like the adjective "hirsute". I considered "pelted" or "ermined", but it was too much Alexander Pope. I wanted to jump in and out of the bukowski of life. So "hirsute". There is another pun on it, but I don't do lascivious puns here, only on my other sites, so it may never see the light of day. Hint: it is a pun on "air guitar".

My poem was seemingly about Encolpius, and I was Petronius Arbiter. (I'd hate to see what Stanley Unwin would do with that sentence!)

If you need clarification, you will have to ask The Periodic Englishman, if he has returned from the Hotel-Dieu ( or hospital, as we all wish he has ).

Solar System Hockey Tournament

Played Neptune Nanooks last night; play Mars tonight: University of Ares Valles...we call 'em Arse-Vales.


Free Will

Source of the Rivers of Eden

Some choices are beyond Free Will.
Some choices take years for the individual to be prepared to make them. St. Paul's Road to Damascus wasn't paved in one day; it took a while.

Our idea of Free Will reduces to the notion of Chatter:  the inability to perceive through the cosmic background noise that permeates our lives.

Freedom is silent. It does not necessarily chatter, debate, argue, converse. It is humility in the face of creation.
Persuasion needs words and intrusion. Exploitation needs logic and argument and force. Compulsion needs violence and obsession. Our notion of Free Will is indeed Slavery.


My wife asked me yesterday whether I thought everything would be daughter's upcoming wedding. The marriage of two people, would it last? would it be a good and fine thing?

I said, yes, I did think so. I mean, I had had a premontion about their future even as far back as high school when they briefly dated. I couldn't explain it; the feeling was just there. (Maybe at some future time I shall go into detail about it, but not just yet.)
Even after they had gone their separate ways for years, only to find each other again...I had forgotten, but then I remembered that there was a great intention between them.

She remembered all the pain and tears, a screenplay broken up into Acts I, II, and III intermitted by despair, followed by candles and birthday cakes.
Life is like that, a painting of an enormous sea done from a palette of our blood and tears, the small boats of our hopes keeping us afloat on the tidal waves of suffering and all the passions of the material world.

Praise God, Life is good.

If you agree, then we shall have to spend some time over the next 25 years investigating the deeper, true meaning of the word "good". There is so much we do not know.

A Controversy of Films

There is a major motion picture right now that critics say is anti-military and anti-American possibly, because of the story's slant against the type of military slaughter of aboriginal inhabitants of a far-away civilization.
Right-wing critics see a conspiracy against the best of America, though how such slaughter came to be considered our best is somewhat hazy.

The story is...Afghanistan:

Page last updated at 08:07 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010
Nato strike kills a number of Afghan civilians

Nato has confirmed that a number of civilians were killed in an air strike in southern Afghanistan on Sunday.Twenty-seven people died and 10 were injured in the raid in Uruzgan province, the governor told the BBC.
 Nato said it hit a suspected insurgent convoy, but ground forces later found "a number of individuals killed and wounded", including women and children...

Montag's Law of Government #1

Observe a couple things:

(1) the gridlock in Washington prevents legislative government from functioning;

(2) the Patriot Act;

(3) the war in Afghanistan which had been won in 2001-2002.

As government becomes more and more incapable of creatively functioning for our welfare ( the non-creative stills grinds on : the Bureaucracy does its job ), it tends to become progressively more and more tyrranical - depending not on the will of the governed, but on oppression and coercion.

When society is not drawn to respect and mimic the values exemplified by an enlightened leadership, because that leadership is obviously ineffectual and craven, then society must be moved and motivated by beatings and whippings.
Government will curtail individual rights, because rights interfere with the functioning of government. This was clear to the Founding Fathers who strove to curtail tyrannical government.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Carry On, Reader

Deep Joy...or High Gaudium...or even gawdie-boldness.

I have been studying the world through the linguistic mesh of Stanley Unwin's philosophy, and find that it suits me, and I feel happy as a wet-dog-shaking about the whole thing; i.e., my drips of gawdie deep joy fly off in a holy asperges-me like water off the shaggy dog.

So, there. Now Carry On, Reader...
like the brilliant demi-Desmonde that you are.
( a reference to Jerry Desmonde combined with demi-monde...and so on. )

pix: either the copyright name on the picture, or Bow Peterman, if you will.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010

cold winter morning hands,
hot coffee cup, lips blowing;
fog...the frost...and wind!

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Link

I finally got around to adding Doctor C. from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to my links list. The Eastern Shore is almost like an island all to itself - at least to me. I feel the mainland slip away the few times I've driven across the bridge leading from Annapolis.

Even Ocean City, a place I've been forbidden to enter by She-who-must-be-obeyed, exerts a retro Raymond Chandler-type of fascination of pleasures of the flesh decidedly out-of-date and best enjoyed by driving into town in a flivver.

I don't know much about Maryland.

Wal-Mart Investigations

After 45 days, it has been determined that the Cascade Dishwashing Detergent sold in Wal-Mart does not remove coffee and tea stains from ceramic cups, while the Cascade purchased at Kroger does.

Thanks, Wal-Mart. Cheap prices are pretty expensive when the stuff doesn't work.

The Bedlam of Revelations

Matthew Chapter 4
Then the Devil took him along into the city, and he stationed him upon the battlement of the temple and said to him: "If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him: "Again it is written, 'You must not put Jehovah your God to the test."

The second paragraph says that we do not put God to the test.
I understand this as a direct command not to prophesy on behalf of God, setting forth our own stories of the future for that which remains within His heart alone; you must not put God to the test of your interpretation of the Book of Revelations, for you are then playing the part of the Evil One.
The original meaning of  "prophecy"  did not mean to divine the unseen future, rather it meant to speak forth and declare. Declaring the will of God has come to necessarily mean future events. However, it also applies to what has occurred in the past. The more religious and simple among believers have come to think that prophets are 100% percent correct in everything they say about things to come. However, even a cursory reading of the sacred texts will demonstrate that this is not true. Prophesy does not rely upon someone determining the logical truth of its statements; that is all part of our modern day insanity.
As I noted yesterday, until we can declare the meaning of God's work in the past - not just have some sort of theological opinion about it - we cannot declare the future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Future & The Past

There was a incredible show on cable: Sid Roth I think his name was,  and he was Jewish, and he was seemingly all for Yeshua as the Messiah, and he had some odd number on his show plugging his book about Islamic tradition and the Anti-Christ,  or Ad-Dajjal, as they might say in Cairo.

So I didn't turn away in disgust, but listened to it. And I learned something.
Praying, as I usually do...I really can't claim too much intelligence of my own, I asked about it all : all this End Times stuff.

And surprisingly - surprisingly for you, dear reader, although not very surprising from my point of view - I had an answer fairly quickly. It was a bit convoluted, and I'm not sure I understand it entirely quite yet, but here goes:

We shall be able to interpret the Future when we are able to interpret the Past.

In particular, remember St. Paul's saying that we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed; this indicates a certain understanding of the words of Jesus that He would return before all of the generation present at His time had passed away.

If we can correctly explain why Jesus did not return within the lifetime of the Disciple Generation in the Past, then we may correctly explain the Future.

Now, you'd think we could do this. We cannot. We can surely give opinions, but we cannot establish a necessary chain of events to explain it.
Therefore, neither are we able to foretell the Future. And we don't have a lot of luck with the Present, either.

The explanation ends with each generation seeing itself at the Center of History: each and every generation that has read Nostradamus, for example, interpret his quatrains in light of their own experience and tradition.
Why is the Center of History everywhere through time, and why does your generation see it as a walk into catastrophe?
Answer that, and you may get some smarts,

Second City

I love Virtual Reality.
I love games...even though I don't really play any anymore, except mind-games, I suppose, and even that doesn't have the same thrill it once had.

I know some involved in an alt.reality - like Second City - and they are involved with the economic system: selling their artwork produced in the virtual world........................everything just like the real world, only the currency is simoleans instead of green backs.

This is a total waste of time.

The people devoted to Alternate Realities should be assiduously having their avatars live in alternative social systems in order to simulate and test for a future which will actually work for Man and the World - the real Man, the real World, and not give us this punctuated series of great guzzling wealth and absolute despair!
Of course, I used to think they would investigate new religious disciplines, but they seemed to devote themselves to gods of warfare and a grimey mish-mosh of ancient myths. So the same thing is happening with economics and politics and society.

Just as good scientists use simulations on large scale, we should be simulating our visions of true Utopia on a massive scale.

The Internet was created to make the Future!
Don't let it be a re-make of the Past!

Time....Is Not On Our Side

True Madness may be measured by us, ourselves, and our lives.

The removal of rain forest coverage is one sure fire way to suicide for the planet, I don't think even the most conservative critic of Climate Change would argue against it: there is no "science" upon which to base opinion - no science which may be faulty or skewed one way or the other - only the evidence of the removal of the forest and the introduction of some economic enterprise, such as cattle raising.

Yet, at this point in our lives, even a sane approach to husbandry of the rain forests escapes us. Is there any wonder why other issues prove intractable?

Forest Footprint Disclosure makes us aware of how the things we consume everyday are involved in the dance of destruction:

and The Global Canopy Program " ... is an alliance of 37 scientific institutions in 19 countries, which lead the world in forest canopy research, education and conservation. Our work programmes all aim to define and explore the range and economic value of forest ecosystem services and to share our findings with decision-makers in Government and finance."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where Is Costa-Gavros When We Need Him?

Z ?

literally:  is he alive ?
This is pronounced " dzei ? ", sounding just like the name of the letter "z" in the Greek alphabet.
I use it to ask whether "Caritas" is still alive.

"Caritas" usually translates as "Charity", as in St. Paul's greatest of the virtues. However, we usually think of Caritas as being something we may turn on and off. This is a grave misunderstanding. Caritas is always on. Caritas is concern for the well-being of Haitians, for example, before thousands die; it is concern for the planet before the wages of exploitation become evident.

Caritas is Love, Peace, Well-being, and a concern for all of creation at all times: our duty - a husbandry as faithful stewards during our lives here on "Boot Camp" Earth.


pix: Yves Montand in Costa-Gavros' film  Z

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Ssea of Hopeles


Counting Sheep Bed

pix: jenn ski

Industrial Plant


The American Popular Media

I have not much good to say about  Big Media in America. There is no news of true importance that makes it through to us: nothing about the things that really go to the bone.

Consider this:
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2006 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report

“While foreclosures are not at historically high levels, a 42 percent year-over-year increase is certainly noteworthy,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “The increase in the number of properties in foreclosure was driven partly by the general slowing of overall housing sales, and partly by the impact of monthly mortgage payments increasing dramatically for homeowners who held some of the riskier types of adjustable rate and sub-prime mortgages. As more and more of these loans re-set, we saw a surge to finish the year, with the fourth quarter producing more foreclosure filings than any of the three previous quarters.”

Most of us had to wait until 2008 to find out.

Now, in all fairness, Big Media treats us the way we wish to be treated, so it a vicious circle over time, our childishness and addictions and their enabling of it. We actually need someopne like Walter Cronkite to tell us what is really important; we could have seen these figures and not cared one bit.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I was watching Michael Roemer's film Nothing But A Man from 1964, and I noticed a lady whose lips and eyes were perfectly those of the Oracle in The Matrix from 1999. It turns out it was Gloria Foster, who indeed played Lee in Nothing But A Man and the Oracle in The Matrix.

Ivan Dixon was playing the main character, and that was a treat, also.

There are so many very good actors that we submerge into obscurity under the weight of our peculiar Popular Celebrity: as if Ivan Dixon was born to play in Hogan's Heroes...and nothing else.

The Again-Falling

La Caida

From the series "Letters from "

" Nowadays, we are always falling here. It takes a special effort to remember not to fall. That's very tricky for us: to recall, yet not remember. We feel sorry for ourselves sometimes: to be so rich, yet so impoverished. Ah, well... "

pix: Oscar Salomon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speaker For The Living

A Modern Day Speaker for the Dead

I wrote a poem this week for the Peace-Weaving blog about foreclosure and sheriff's sale of peoples' homes; it was about tears and was about the violent war being waged against people everywhere - now and in the past.

Ruth made a great and inspired comment. One of the people at Hanaan's Diner said that Orson Scott Card wrote about the Speaker for the Dead.
The concept of a Speaker for the Dead was a good concept, based as it was in the reality of the 20th century and the present century; reminiscent of Joyce's story of change The Dead; reminscent of the play Copenhagen, where there is so much complexity, Heisenberg and Bohr can't speak until they are dead.

Now maybe we'll be Speakers for the Living.
Not finding our future in some half-baked rehash old the old political parties, but a commitment to the Living, and to the Future: Speakers for the Living.


We have many gods. The god of conscience and society that we build and structure over our lives is probably the most familiar. It is this god that enforces social morality and is this god who gives the law and enforces it, and is happy when we obey.

And then we have angels, demons, all manner of entities.

You will know God when you come across Him; He does not mess around. It's all very clean and quick. There is no conversation of believers and non-believers over tea, no debate whether it is good to forgive debts - as we forgive our debtors.
Praise God who has liberated us from empty words! Qui nos liberavit ex verbis inanibus!
All the words of the present age are slave words and thief words and words of compulsion that are used by the rich and powerful to entrap the weak. It is well to be free from them. We actually seek the God about whom Mary said: He casts the mighty from their thrones, and He raises the lowly!
That is the God who doesn't mess around.

Lost In Translation

Israeli minister calls for action over insult

Danny Ayalon furious at insult hurled during speech at Oxford Union

Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, announced yesterday he was exploring ways of pressing charges against a student protester who shouted "slaughter the Jews" in Arabic during a disrupted speech he was giving at the Oxford Union this week...
Film showing a student shouting "Itbach Al-Yahud " [slaughter the Jews] during rowdy scenes at Monday's event were shown on Israel's Channel Ten television.

Problem is, "Itbach" doesn't mean "slaughter". I'm not saying it wasn't meant to be offensive, however. It means "Bake the Jews!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Foxes And Birds: The Choice We Cannot Make

Matthew 8:
19. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."
20. And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
21. Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."
22. But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

I have read numerous interpretations of this. There are a number of attempts to constrain it and fit it into something that agrees with what we think we already know about the divine will. It is first of all an incredible game of paradox: The Son of Man is standing right in front of us, and says He has no place to lay His head. Well, so what? Did He not hear us? We were talking about what interested us: following God - a pretty cool thing for humans. What does the response mean?
Since the disciple speaks of following, the response deals with following, just as the conversation with the other disciple deals with following. Jesus says you wish to follow, but there is no place to follow to; there is no "wherever", no end point, and actually nothing that we mean by a goal. If you follow me today, you will not reach any thing you expect, even the smallest thing at the end of the first day - no place to sleep. If you follow, it will not be like any trip you've ever imagined. You can't even imagine it now.
You think that at least you'd be able to eat the dinner you prepare...except for the fact that you won't have had the time to prepare food, and you had to rush off; you won't have a place to sleep...not even a park will be in a very different place.

To follow God is not to plan a cross-country skiing trip to Standish, Michigan.
To follow God is to abandon the plan, abandon the trip, and give up any thought of arriving at Standish...or even Omer, for that matter...or East Tawas.

Then choose between the quick and the dead. Jesus uttered this enormous paradox of unfilial lack of devotion, because He knew it would be the ultimate stumbling block for the disciple here, and this disciple would not, could not heed it...yet. If the disciple understood and could have obeyed, he would never have said that he must first bury his father. But he did say it, and showed that the demands of society learned as a child still ruled him, as they do us, even when we are face to face with God.
He knew it because we flee from these run-ins with God.
A run-in with God is like this: Choose, fool, between the quick and the dead...and do it NOW! AND it's going to be something you really, really, really don't like!
Well, of course we don't like it. We have our own way, so the heck with the impetuousness of the divine.

God is the Choice We Cannot Make, the trip we cannot plan, the goal we cannot envisage.
God's commands are never easy, because they are supposed to be things we cannot do easily. There is no fulfillment of God's Law apart from the struggle itself to fulfill the Law.

How Conservativism Has Changed

From Glenn Greenwald:

Merely advocating what Reagan explicitly adopted as his policy — “to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against” Terrorists — is now the exclusive province of civil liberties extremists. In those rare cases when Obama does what Reagan’s policy demanded in all instances and what even Bush did at times — namely, trials and due process for accused Terrorists — he is attacked as being “Soft on Terror” by Democrats and Republicans alike. And the mere notion that we should prosecute torturers (as Reagan bound the U.S. to do) — or even hold them accountable in ways short of criminal proceedings — is now the hallmark of a Far Leftist Purist.
Even though Conservatives constantly pay homage to Ronald Reagan, they have nothing to do with his way of thinking or living anymore. What can be more pathetic and frightening than seeing people disrespect a man they purport to respect, to honor the icon, but ignore the spirit?

Goodluck, Goodluck

I salute Nigeria's new Acting-President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

My Mother thinks I am extremely picky about food. She thinks I am always complaining and being difficult. So when I am visiting them, she asks me what I want for breakfast. On the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, I told her I wanted one sausage and one grapefruit. She then said, "No eggs?!"  I repeated that I wanted one sausage and one grapefruit.
She said it was a shame she had to have people fill out questionnaires for breakfast, but she had often been "burnt" by picky eaters. I said that's because she does not listen to people; she makes too much food, and has to throw it away - correction:  would have to throw it away, were she a normal person...she saves left-over breakfast links for at least one week, maybe more; she once saved the remnants of my father's birthday cake for a year, and fed it to him exactly one year, two weeks, and 3 days later. He said it was OK.
She said she listens; the problem is that I'm a picky eater. So I say what does being picky have to do with making too much food. If she would even just pay attention to how people respond to her questionnaires, she would have the right amount.
She says she listens; it's just that if there's too much salt or something, I won't eat, and I throw everything off.

Fine. Leave it at that. And it would be fine were it left at that, but then we have to talk football. And we cannot discuss football the way normal people would; we have to discuss football through the gross distortion of right-wing fat boys and sky-pilots:
"Rush Limbaugh had a football analyst on who said that Indianapolis would win: any team with Peyton Manning on would win. You could take any 10 players at random and put them on the field with Peyton Manning, and that team would win."
I said that I wished I had gone into football analysis when I was younger. I mean, I was fully capable of saying things like any team with Peyton Manning on will win. There; I just said it.
"Well, there's more than that. This man has established himself over the years..."
"He's established him as an analyst by saying things like '...any team with Peyton Manning on will win?' " I thought about it briefly. "Say, did Peyton Manning's team go undefeated this year? Because they would have had to, if this guy is right."
She was ready. "Well, of course, he's actually a clergy man..."
"...that Rush has on, because he's always right about football."
"Not so good on faith and morals, though. A clergyman talking about betting on football?"
"He didn't talk about betting."
"He said which team is going to win. There is an implicit injunction to the faithful to get their money down on the Colts. You know, like the faithful steward who took the talents and drachmas and wagered them on Sea Biscuit...on the nose."
"No. The Super Bowl...."
"What? Is part of his ministry? He was encouraging gambling. Heck, talk to the boys in Vegas. They know. Probably every time the Football Reverend opens his mouth, a whole bunch of money from the faithful comes tumbling in on the team he picked."
She laughed. "He probably got involved while he was helping those with gambling addictions, and is harmlessly an observer."
"It's a good thing he wasn't running the campaign against painted ladies. He'd be on Rush's telling people all about an observer!"

Now I was handed a plate with three fried eggs.
"Thanks. I didn't want eggs."
"Oh, I forgot..."
"That's OK. They look good...mmmm! I'll eat 'em. And that's the best grapefruit I've had in a long time."
It was. Grapefruit in my area have not been good for a couple of years.
"Say..." I said, looking at my father and winking at him, "...where's that English muffin I didn't order?"
She was standing in front of the stove. "Oh," she said, reaching over her left hand to the toaster, pushed the knob, and two halves of an English muffin slid into the heat.
"It'll be a minute." she said.

The Incredible Robustness of Newspapers

(When I see Rupert Murdoch, I think of The Shining, and I hear a mantra: "chodrum"..."chodrum"..."chodrum"...booming in my mind.)

Rupert Murdoch has delightedly painted a picture of the future with no newspapers: no trees cut down for newsprint, no newspaper unions,  no ink, no union pensions, etc. All of this will happen within 20 years, thanks to the heaven-sent electro-gadgets, like Amazon's Kindle. He also wants Amazon to charge more for electro-books that they sell.

OK. I have nothing invested in thhis newspaper thing, one way or the other. I have never even thought too much about it.

However, by now we should know one thing:  NEWSPAPERS ARE ROBUST !
 - a newspaper does not break down;
- a newspaper does not need batteries;
- if one drops a newspaper, it does not break;
- if the newspaper falls into a puddle of water, it is still readable;
- if a newspaper falls intot he bathtub, while you are reading it and relaxing, it does not electrocute you;
- if you lose your newspaper, you may buy another for $1;
- you may use it to discipline dogs;
- you may use it to use as packaging material for items being shipped;
- you may use it to serve fish and chips;
- it is on all the time, no warm-up, no battery to run down;

And so on. I am not tongue-in-cheeking this. My parents, having been forced by Comcast ( an electro-gadgets company ) to be HD compatible, now have little boxes even on their little TVs, plas some of the new Comcast remotes do not work adequately for these older sets, and this requires TWO remotes now: the old one to turn the set on/off, and the new one to does the other things.
I suppose Comcast could send someone out for $100 per service call to rectify this, but they were supposed to have done it properly in the first place.

Electronic Gadgets are not robust. They break down.
The companies that supply them are not motivated by public service; they only respond to profit.

Toyota- one of the paradigms of the modern corporate world - is experiencing the results of the Toyota-system: reduce the number of suppliers and drive down the costs. Problem is, when the fewer suppliers have a glitch, there is no diversity of suppliers available to fill in. Their accelerator problem seems to be due to one supplier, and there is no other, so the problem spread throughout the system, and "infected" all Toyotas.

If we have learned one thing so far in the 21st century, it is : Big Government and Big Businesses screw up, and the bigger they are, the bigger the screw up.
If no alternatives exist, everything will fall apart; any "infection" becomes a "pandemic", any economic downturn becomes a "too big to fail" scenario.

The insane emphasis on profits, combined with an almost total disregard for human values - both the customers as well as the employees - are going to bury our capitalistic system. People like Murdoch will monetize the Web into a straight-jacket which will kill the Web, just like the schemes of people like him are right now successfully killing everything else around us.
There actually is more to Business than Amassing Money. We have demonstrated over and over again that we are on an extremely dangerous course. The precipice may be near, or it may be far, but we are staggering in its direction.
Complexity and lack of robust diversity and simpler technologies to fall back on,  mixed with our weaknesses is going to be a gunpowder like we've never seen!

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I love coffee in the morning. I particularly like Melitta coffee, made in a Melitta filter; it forces you to do one or two cups at a time, and - although I would like enough to fill the bathtub on cold mornings - such a method forces you to slow down, think about how much you are drinking, and not get into the habit of making too much and throwing the excess away.
I learned to be thrifty back during the oil embargoes in the 1970s. President Nixon even asked us not to display Christmas lights back then...and we obeyed his request. We even had wage and price controls during the 70s, all you people yelling about socialism: McDonalds had to ask permission to increase the price of a chesseburger by 5 cents. (They got their increase...Ray Kroc had been a major GOP contributor.)
By being thrifty, for example, putting another cup of water into the electric tea kettle after having made a cup of coffee - thereby using the residual heat of the electric element to pre-heat the next cup of water - I calculate that I had saved $1.20 up until the fall of 2008. I stopped keeping record after that.

A morning without coffee is like Saturn without its rings: large, lumbering, bloated gas giant - cold and remote, looking for corners to eclipse in and get that bright thing in the middle of the solar system out of its methane encrusted eyes.
- like Jupiter, another gassy ball with disfiguring red blotches, that has a headache worse than Shoemaker-Levy crashing into the atmosphere, one chunk after another.
- like Pluto, disrespected and relegated to the B-list of planets.

Coffee is creation - convection currents spun by the coffee background radiation (CBR), creating Cartesian vortices, swirling about the teaspoon of Cremora (I don't use it, but I have observed its use.) - a product relatively slow to dissolve, creating a spiral galaxy of foodstuff particles that circles run until it finally winks out, as if swallowed by a black coffee hole at the midst of the galactic cup!
Sugar, being more soluble, goes into it like a shot - no swirling there. It dissolves so fast, that sometimes it dissolves even before coming into contact with the liquid coffee. This particular characteristic has allowed scientists in the European Union to daisy-chain a five kilometer long sequence of coffee cups and balanced sugar teaspoons together, the dissolution of sugar causing the electrolytic nature of the coffee to change, thereby triggering the next sugar teaspoon to be dumped, and so on, all the way through five kilometers. Since the sugar dissolves just before hitting the skin of the java, it essentially steps back a millisecond from the classical physics time of dissolution, thereby essentially moving back in time. After five kilometers, they have been able to move local time back to 2008 (again!), which result has led to the scrapping of the experiment.

When I don't have Melitta, I grind my own to a fineness usually only obtainable by the grindstones of Fate...or Nemesis; a Turkish fineness capable of penetrating even anti-flu masks worn in Singapore. The smell of ground coffee - finely ground, as is this - changes over the course of time, every day being a little different.

I love it.
And, this is the only time I have talked about it - right here. I go to coffee shops, but I am not the type to rhapsodize about this or that coffee, how to make coffee, coffees I have known and loved; I just drink it, hopefully like it, ask for more, please. If it is bad, I do mention it. There's a lot of bad coffee floating around.
It makes you realize what a paradox we inhabit: we will drink tasteless and foul coffee day after day, and the people selling it will continue to make it day after day.............
There is a basic Economics course here: bad coffee drives out good.

Crap seems to rule nowadays. Case in point: Wal-Mart.
I was in Wal-Mart last night; their coffee section was a pig sty: spilled coffee, the displays all disarranged, and they had no #2 filters - hadn't had any for a week.
Wal-Mart is a funny place. As I have said, at the one by us, the greeters seem about as happy to see you walk in the door as they would be to see the plague coming in. Many shelves are empty, and they tend to stay empty for a spell. The store is so close, I can stop in easily more than once a week, and I do; when I do, I check those shelves, and they don't fill them up in a hurry. And there is dirtiness and disorder. Wal-Mart is where I was first introduced to "Dry Roasted Peanuts" of that superior type that incorporates corn syrup solids and paprika and maltodextrin...
All these extra things fall to the bottom of the jar, and form a pile of sawdust. Plain peanuts do not have sawdust.
I shopped in their meat section once.
There are some good things. It also is the home of name brand stuff that didn't quite make the A-list: Smucker's creamy natural peanut butter is decidedly chunky. They have the spring water dispensers the customer is supposed to operate - fine; but do you want to buy spring water from a dispenser in a location that's sort of dirty?

Anyway, I always check out their coffee section, mostly to laugh. I swear, it is an unsightly mess. Some days it looks like demented children have taken down all the packages of coffee, and then threw them back onto the shelves as if they were nerf balls.

Then there's the clothing. I have gotten sub-standard clothing everywhere, not just Wal-Mart, but I swear that the clothing at Wal-Mart has some sort of nasty smell. I bought some t-shirts last year and they were cheap. So, OK, they are going to fall apart, maybe last one summer. OK. But what I hadn't counted on was the smell of whatever stuff they had treated them with. I didn't dare wear them without washing first, depreciating the damn things about 10% right off the bat.

You know, my problem is I got Melitta Coffee dreams, and a Wal-Mart reality.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Learning From History

Everyone actually does get an "A" for learning from History. All those doom-sayers that go around, spouting  "Those who do not learn from History,...blah, blah, blah..." are preaching to the choir, because we all learn from History.
The only difference - entities such as we - between Past, Present, and Future is our choice of which tense of the verb to use: Did, Does, or Will Do.
This is not really as comforting a thought as it may seem at first.

Most of us, having received the news that we got a 4 point in Learning from History, would draw the conclusion that our views of the Future: our prophecies, our forecasts, are just most of the same old stuff, just gussied up a bit with people running around with jet-packs, and everyone having health insurance.
However, instead of statements about the future being just like statements about the past, using the same images and what was learned etc., it may be the other way around; i.e., statements about the Past and Present are just like our perceived statements of the Future...only we dull them down a lot.
Instead of taking experience and creating a bleak vision of Terminator 2, prehaps we take a premonition of Terminator 2 and create a bleak present and past.
You have got to love it.

Infinite Brick Corners in the Sandwiches of Memory

There was a brick house. There was a large back yard, open and sunny to the south and shaded by a line of pompeian trees along the northern fence line. (I say "pompeian" because, in memory, the trees are large and overreaching, monumental and monstrous - like painted trees in Nero's Domus Aurea - yet still and unmoving - like polaroids of the murals at Pompeii.)

The back porch occupies the north-western corner of the brick house, and is simple screens in wood frames in that cool perspective, parasoling in the shadows of the trees.
As one approaches from the sunrise-facing house front, and walks along the northern perimeter, the corner of the porch is approached; it is a corner of mostly screen and wood - as mentioned - and only five or so courses of bricks below the porch cap.
One walks a progression of delicate MRI slices of reality in this movement from sun to shade, then to sun again in the backyard. As the light filters through the leaves, one moves from dark to light within an instant: click! - too fast for eyes to adjust - then back to blind darkness, and out again. Each one is quite distinct and its reality no longer depends on the smooth continuity of one's awareness: like sliced deli meat, each view falls from the rotund and robust natural casings of one's life, only to be gathered up by memory as they hit the ground behind, the dirt and grass whisked off, and we shall eat them later in the sandwiches of remembrance.
Approaching the corner, this sequence of magic lantern infinitesimal slides - illuminated by twin Mazda lamps -  reaches a threshhold, and:  boom!, we turn the corner, and we begin to leave the cool shade behind.  Brilliant in the sun, bedsheets festoon the clothesline and fill with winds - the very same winds our teachers told us yet contain the atoms that once were breathed by Einstein, that once made up -even! - the body of Jesus! Yet there they are, caught within the drying sheets, filling one's future dreams with atomic inspirations.

Sit beneath the white, white sheets; become a captain of imaginary ships: Pan, Hook, Sindbad; Neverland and Cities of Brass roll out within the alleyway, and the freshly painted garage is a mountain of glacial mystery.
Always try to get around those infinite corners.