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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Red Bell

Catherine Jeffrey has this painting, titled The Red Bell. It struck me that it was Mr. Hulot's bicycle, and it should have a soundtrack accompanying it, such as Jacques Tati had for his Hulot films, Mon Oncle is the one in mind.
If memory serves, a repro of the house in Mon Oncle was in the 104 Centquatre for a spell last year.

pix: top

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The Ontario McPower Plant in St. Thomas. It is the only power plant used solely for supplying electricity to light the golden arches in Canada.

pix: a beautiful original at
       messed up by me.

Hello to a New Friend

Hello to JoAnn, who has joined the Group of 11, now 12...reminding me of Canada's Group of Seven artists who are such a joy to behold. We had gone to the Group of Seven museum, in the little town of Can't-quite-recall. I could look at art forever.

Monday, March 29, 2010

O, Canada!

I went to University in Canada. I think MacKenzie King was PM at the time. Imagine my surprise that Ann Coulter had slunk across the border ( a skank who slank ). Apparently she was not appreciated. I could have predicted that. As I recall, Canadian students take serious exception to the type of hate-speech which we here in the States accept, mumbling something about Furst 'Mendment 'n Stuff.

Looking At Religion

I looked at religion and I saw God and the devil. I saw saints and sinners. I saw great love and great hatred. I saw all those things, the ferocious to the idiotic.

I saw rituals a thousand years old, and I saw chaotic satyric orgies in ancient forests. I saw statues of chaste virgins and measured my walk by the mileposts of hermes. I heard silence, and I heard chanting and singing. We saw sacrifice chased with blood and bone, and then sacrifice unbloody. We heard intolerance and arrogance, and then reconciliation and hymns of community.

We saw belief, agnosticism, and atheism, all tied together in a viscous web of belief.

Looking at religions we saw all these things.
Religion is all things to man, and man's prayers are imperfect Art, of which he is the untutored artisan, striving to throw a pot, or sketch a hand, or write a poem.

And Religion is our imperfect pot with a drooping handle, our stick-figure hand, our doggerel poem, that we think are pretty good art, and we think they are works like Faith itself - Faith! which is the striving of Life to BE! despite the roadblocks! despite the injunctions against Life! despite the consequences of its lust to Be!

Faith is the One and the Many, the Love and the Hate; it is the Hard Place and it is the Big Easy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Listening To The News

Baysage has asked me whether I have actually stopped listening to the news. I would have to say, yes, I did do so...pretty much. I think I have good reasons.

1) I do read the news: BBC, Bloomberg, a little HuffPo if I want a blast of adrenalin, and NY Times, WaPo, and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, as well as Mother Jones, and about 4 alternative news sites.

I consider TV news to be rude, loud, and intrusive. I really dislike arrogant, in-your-face news that doesn't have much to say. I remember it from 2002 -03 and the run up to the Iraq War. In-yer-face with lies and self-deception! One really gets the impression that "The News" is but an ongoing coda to the Eternal Tale Told by an Idiot...full of this, replete with that, and signifying that good taste be given the "bum's rush".
It forms the news more than reporting it. I glimpsed at the news the other day and saw Sarah Palin had Twittered ( a good description of her speech ) that it's time to "reload".

Good Lord! Hasn't that governership-quitting fool ever heard of Neoptolemus?
Neoptolemus was killed by the Lacedemonians - upon on altar - in the exact manner he had killed another.
When these people call for violence, they are calling violence upon the heads of all: themselves, their children, and their grandchildren, as well as their putative "enemies". Why in the name of heaven would I want to hear such news, without the wise and sage observation that public figures ought not drink of the wine of violence? I do not. I furthermore do not wish to hear anything such a misshapen political figure has to say about anything.
And this is what happens when someone in your household has to "watch" the news: you get this royal dose of fecality from the Media Favorites and/ or Celebrities dumped into your life!

Media News is no more than 50% information. The rest is entertainment to relax, to work you up, to outrage you, to arouse....
For all I care, one may as well have Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown on doing the news. Or Flavor Fav doing a reality show on his staircase.

2) My local news is usually an insult to intelligence.
The word "working" or - more correctly - "workin'  "  has taken over. It is a word of many uses, a Protean word. Not like "on tap" which was adopted years ago to mean "next" or "coming up" or "to be followed by"; when we cutely cut to commercial, some wondrous story would be promised to be "on tap".

But workin'  - there's a word that can do so many things, it banishes carefully constructed sentences.

I first heard the word workin' some years ago, when a member of the waitstaff at some eatery sauntered up to the table. It was late-ish in the meal, so I knew I was not to be interrogated as to whether the chow was good or not. We had already affirmed the goodness of the chow at an earlier date. So what was this bit of conviviality?
I was asked whether I was " still workin' on it? "
Now this was at least 10 years or more ago, and "workin' on it" had not yet come to be standard in the glossaries of restaurants. It conjured unpleasant images in my mind of a dog " worrying " a bone around and around his doggie dish...something like Spike, the big,  plug-ugly bull dog in the Tom & Jerry cartoons: big Spike pushing a bone around his bowl with his nose, trying to get the last shred of meat from it. Perhaps the question meant "Shall we bring along the bone-breakers to allow you to suck the marrow out? ( seeing that you are eating like an unrestrained carnivore!)"

Well, I was speechless. I thought I was again in one of those places I've written about, where the waitstaff mocks the customers as a gesture of brotherhood and friendship. I mean, I was in no way sitting there staring off into space, nor silently meditating upon my meal. I was actively engaged in eating - as I recall. And being actively engaged in eating, it is very disconcerting to have some busybody 20 years your junior come up and ask if that display you're putting on means you are still eating!!!

Then WORKIN' was discovered by the local news people. They no doubt heard it in their local eateries, and thought it was a smashing word. Originally, accidents occurred on the roadways, and "they" were working to get them clear, where "they" is assumed to be known to refer to the roadway authorities in charge of such matters.
Now, however, accidents themselves are WORKIN' ! If an accident has occurred, it is no longer potential; i.e., "on tap", but it is actually workin' ! And this apparently means (a) an accident has occurred, (b) the problems caused by the accident are yet ongoing, and (c) the authorities are trying to clean things up.

And it applies to more than mere expressway accidents now. It applies to everything. Musical events have been heard to be workin' :  it happened, it is continuing, and it rocks! The Weatherman has adopted workin' , and now snowstorms are no longer merely imminent and dumping snow on us up to our eyeballs, but the storms are workin': they are on the way, they are on the Doppler radar, they are dumping snow on us, and they probably will continue to do so for a few hours. All the while, the salt crews will be a-workin' to clean up after the hard-workin' snowstorm.
You take this inane speech and combine it with that idiotic grin they have plastered on their faces, and it is a blow-up workin'.

I think I shall try something like "belax", in the sense of  " accidents on the expressway are belaxing today ", which will mean that there are no accidents, the lack of accidents is ongoing, and the authorities are not busy trying to ameliorate the situation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Scott of the Antarctic & The Tea Party Opposition to Health Care

Scott in winterquarters, October 1911

Robert Falcon Scott, the Antarctic explorer who with his entire party died of exposure in their race to the South Pole, left a journal in which one reads his observation:

We could have come through, had we neglected the sick.

Scott of the Antarctic was not of the generation that could neglect the sick.

essentially a rephrasing of a brilliant post at:

Old Folks

The 100th or so reunion of my elementary school class of "aught-7" or whatever is to be held this fall. I talked to a friend I hadn't spoken to since then, and it was a thrill. He asked me whether I knew anything about the whereabouts or disposition of certain members of the rare and disappearing species that constituted our class, but I said I did not.
So time goes on as it does these days, 2010. Not a montage of pages of the calendar falling, or newspaper headlines spinning into view, but more often pictures of beasts of uncontrol and lack of good taste swirl into view, all the nonentities that make up the days of our days: Tiger Woods, Tea Baggers, Bankers, and the like.
So the ancient number who purports to be my school chum sends and email gently laughing at old folks' loss of memory. This is not something I find amusing. I have found spring chicks in their late 30's making jokes about their own "senior moments", and I frown at them, usually observing that they'd remember things if, indeed, there was anything worth remembering in their vapid lives.
So I email back, something like "Ha-ha. Never heard that one before. Super." Nothing controversial.
Then two weeks later, he emails me, saying - say - do I know anything about the whereabouts and disposition of certain members of the rare and disappearing species...

So I tell him we chatted about it. And making old folks jokes is very dangerous and bad juju. And knock it off. It is part of a conspiracy to marginalize a segment of the populace. Ixnay.

At this point, I have lost track of my point in this post, but I have thoughtfully strewn markers about the desk in front of me, so I easily pick up the thread. Most of us have been designed to be creative innovators, not warehouses of memory's knick-knacks. Some of us would pay a pretty penny forget! Alas!

The picture above is my "dream" house, where the functions are spread out in front of me;  a place where I shall not forget, where there are not quite so many "slips" between the "dock" and the "ship"...or "loose lips sink ships" or whatever. Personally, I have left the bedroom full of intent only to arrive at the kitchen feeling at sixes and sevens, and that feeling of lost volition has left me wondering exactly what kind of "cuppa" I was heading for, and what - in the name of all that's holy - is "java" anyway?


Monday, March 22, 2010

A Matter of Collateral

The governments of our country over the past 30 plus years have taken on enormous debt, as collateral for which they have pledged our assets, our lives, our well being.

A system like ours, American Capitalism of 1980 to 2010, is a vicious system, destructive of the many subject to its depredations. I am not, nor ever have been opposed to Capitalism as a general economic theory. But I am adamantly opposed to the 1980 to 2010 version of Capitalism, called American Capitalism.

The Tea Baggers inherited a fortune in anxiety, dispossession, and frustration. Their problem is they think the cause is everything but the real cause: their own economic-political-religious belief system, which has betrayed them.

The Hurt Locker

Chris Hedges is quoted from his book War Is A Force that Gives Us Meaning in the beginning of The Hurt Locker:

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

That is our update of Oliver Wendell Holmes' Memorial Day Speech of 1884:

"...the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire."

We still love it.

Trial and Error

In January, groups allied with Israel's Mossad assassinated Mahmud Al Mabhuh in Dubai. There were at least 11 assassins involved.

The word on the street is that it was "practice" for a bigger hit, a much bigger name and target considered an "enemy" of Israel.

Wonder who?

Quid Novi Romae?

Ancient Rome News!!!

Brian Williams was talking about another threat of some sort, whether political, economic, climatic, I don't recall. But he did say "What we have to look out for now..." In short, another things, or things, going wrong, or about to go wrong.

Which is exactly how they delivered the news back in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: the terrible "ifs" accumulating over time as bonds of affection break and systems fall apart.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Vote!!

Health Care Vote:

The Tea Baggers seem to have self-destructed with an overdose of "N" word screaming, and general indecency. What a blast it was to see them! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I only wish that Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman had been there like two Weird Sisters incanting and chanting "N"..."N"..."N!!"

Wow! I never would have thought to see this even five years ago. It was KKK With Attitude all the way !!
Well done, madames and sirs! You've thrown away the masks, and we see your true selves, and all the lineaments of your madness! It was awesome!

No News Is Good News

An interesting article, ostensibly about Japan, but speaking to much more; please consider once again how we have gone from JAPAN INC. of the 1980s to the fairly miserable present of the Japanese economy: another flagship of capitalism bites the dust.
He talks about the "curtain of tragedy" being raised, but it will be in about another nine years.

Jesse's Cafe Americain
20 March 2010

Curtain of Tragedy Will Be Raised Soon Enough, But Perhaps Not Next in Japan

...Economics is a subject rarely taught in the general curriculum. A person reads a few articles by supposedly learned men, and thinks themselves in a position to pronounce broad judgements for or against anything. Those who would appear informed enjoy repeating slogans and cartoons of thought to support their biases, which they themselves do not really understand, but draw emotional comfort from them. The irony is that they are so often arguing nonsense, and against their own best interests. Such is the power of propaganda to hold up caricatures and denounce them, and energize the public to enslave themselves...

...Grab something solid and hang on to it, and to the faith that sustains you. Do not be distressed if it feels as though the world has lost its reason, and is made blind, and all is deception and trial, for this is part of the process which has begun. If a war comes, then the world will lose its ability to reason in its temporary madness. We are in for a rough ride, and revelations of what is life and what is nothingness, what is true and what is false.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace. But with disgrace comes humility, and with humility comes wisdom. The humility of the righteous will guide them, but the sly illusions of the proud will destroy them." Prov 11

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Your Granma's Capitalism

Since I don't think very much, I like to wander around looking for things by people who do think, then read them, then sit back and wonder what is wrong with it all.

One prominent failure of the so-called intellectual and educated people is this business of substituting an icon for a reality. In this case, an argument about capitalism and socialism uses hackneyed, worn-out iconic concepts of the economic-political systems involved, shuffles them like a deck of marked cards, and puts it all back together with a "ta-da!"
How boring it all is.
TNL Features - MarketWednesday, February 4th, 2009

Kevin Rudd’s New Socialism
by Francis Cianfrocca
"Here’s the problem: you simply can’t eliminate the rewards that accrue to talent, industry and luck. If you try, you get Maoism or Soviet communism, endless misery, and political evil."
Again, the cute and engagingly jejune attempt to believe that capitalism rewards talent, industry, and should say "good" luck; the fruits of life are as unequal as the people themselves are unequal in their gifts, industry, and propensity for "good luck".
From our special vantage of 2010, we know there is a great deal more to Capitalism than that. We know that capitalism, like any other form of economico-politico-force & compulsion, rewards also according to the unequal conspiracies, schemes and treasons of the devious:  riches to those with a talent for enriching themselves at others expense, industrious at conniving at unfair practices, and punishing those with the "bad luck" to be born poor and to endure in that state.
Capitalism is also grifters and lobbyists helping their cronies, depriving those in need of resources, and the rule of the oblivious rich. In a word, it is the same as any Socialism in Russia we have ever known. Communism died because it thought it could beat Capitalism at its own game.

Health Bubble

No one has been able to tell me why the incredible increases in health care cost and my medical insurance in particular, do not constitute a "health care" bubble. Surely we must be able to identify the underlying "asset" whose increasing valuation is causing this?
My next question was does one actually need an asset for a bubble to form? We have money chasing what exactly? Health? Youth? Malpractice suits?

It looks like the Congress will actually do something. The bubble may still explode. Bubbles, bubbles, and bubbles.

The Language of the Universe

The personification of God is a mistake, in my opinion, but one that is endemic with beings such as ourselves: we cannot but help but make the unknown powers into entities somewhat like ourselves...only more powerful.

When you look at the universe in all its vasty, alien beauty, or when you meditate on the miracle and the great joy of your children, we feel God.
But it is not the joy, and it is not the vast, overwhelming beauty that is God; it the "grammar-less" communication of the Living and the Holy to us that we feel to be God.
We feel it as it is being communicated to us by the "language" of the Intense. (The language of the Intense is the sometimes brutal, sometimes joyful,  crash of the awe-inspiring into us, where words and discrete moments of time are overwhelmed by the immensity of the situation. I trust we have all had such experiences.)

God is the "speech" and "music" of all that is - without grammar and syntax as we know it, without musical theory familiar to us - and all that we perceive. Some of us feel forced to put it into words of human language, and we end up personifying God - essentially imprisoning the concept within the web of words.

We have to learn to accept and feel familiar with the ways of communication that do not rely on language and logic. Such a process does not lead to license and anarchy, rather it leads to a more difficult project: to live life in a godly manner as evidenced by our actions and thoughts, not our words.

God is not Omnipresent.
We do not have God within us. Rather, we are in God.
And you cannot believe in that which is everywhere and at everytime; that's nonsense. God is beyond the picking and choosing of what we call "belief systems".

If you will pardon what may seem an indiscretion, to speak of God in words and logic is similar to speaking of the joys of love in words and logic: it is much better in person, it is much better as a living action. The universe and all that's in it are overwhleming. That's why the Holy overwhelms us; it is the nature of things.
We are forced to live in the Intense and Overwhelming whether we wish to or not: the intense joys, the unspeakable sufferings and evils.

The Holy speaks to us the way it is: Immense, Awesome, Intense, and speechless with wonder.

We try to cope with it, and end up "dumbing" it down.

We have to learn how to make moral decisions in that realm of unspoken Intensity. We can no longer rely on language to first trivialize the things we see, and then to debate about them, and finally to make some sort of decision - the last step in a "decision making process".

(This is the Zen...without Zen. Forty days in the wilderness, fasting, without leaving the city. Forty years wandering, while at home, and the Night of Power every day.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mysteries of the Old West

In 1968, the film Bandolero! came out, starring James Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch; and George Kennedy played the sheriff, July Johnson. He had a deputy, Roscoe Bookbinder, played by Andrew Prine. James Lee Barrett did the screenplay, based on a story by Stanley Hough.

In 1989, Lonesome Dove made its debut, starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones; Chris Cooper played the sheriff, July Johnson. He had a deputy, Roscoe Brown, played by Barry Corbin. Larry McMurtry wrote the story, and the screen play for the series was done by him and William Witliff.

Question: are there any more July Johnsons around, and do they have deputies named Roscoe?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Man Without A Country

...exiled, and condemned to sail forever upon the Staten Island ferry.

Risky Behavior

I wrote a post about Fukuyama's "end of history" and the festival "end of history month":

wherein the following occurs
The philosophical argument: Fukuyama examines the influence of thymos (or human spiritedness). His argument is democracy hinders risky behavior. Enlightened rational thought shows that the roles of master and slave are unsatisfying and self-defeating and hence not adopted by lofty spirits. This type of argument was originally taken up by Hegel and John Locke.
I forget where the brainy-type lingo came from, but I assure you, it was not from me. However, if this quotation is nearly correct, and is a proper description of Professor F's views, someone has been able to look at History and totally excise the segment dealing with Athens and the Pelopenesian War.

Democracy may hinder certain types of risky behavior, but - as the Tom Cruise movie "Risky Business" points out in its profound analysis - democracy surely promotes other types of risk taking.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Settlements in East Jerusalem

Lebensraum. Everbody needs Lebensraum.

Lebensraum comes with a price. Everything comes with a price, but most of us pretend it doesn't, or the the bill will be "paid forward" to the shmucks of the future, we laughingly refer to as "our grandkids".

Ihrer Raum ist / 
meiner Raum, und /
Lebensraum, /
Lebensraum überalles.

( can be sung, as if in a karaoke bar of the future of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. )

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Johnny Machino

Either the Human Bat, or Johnny Machino - the robot gangster - is truly going to be " sannsorƟinn "

( pronounce Ɵ as "th" )

pix:   and all questions are answered - presto!

I had so many comments, that...

...I got the title of this post mixed up with the first sentence!  Now that's a first! Or is it? Not sure. Anyway, I've managed to forget what I set out to do: I booted up Blogster, I signed in, I have a new post screen staring at me...I obviously intended something here beyond scratching myself.

Oh, yes. Obama. I do not think Mr. Obama is the greatest guy of all time, but if he cannot get his party to pass health care and some meaningful financial regulation, the result will be an affirmation of the unusual confrontation we have where 45% to 49.9% of the population believes that, having lost an election, they may actively nullify anything laws that may squeak through.

This same thing was tried out in the middle of the 19th century, and it was a major dust-up getting things settled again. When I was young, we may have hated the other party's guts, but if they won, they got to run the country. We never imagined we could just buy guns and ammo and ignore the laws of the land. (It has gotten so far, Glenn Beck wants his own "purified" church.)

I'm waiting to see.
You already know what will happen if Obama fails. Maybe you don't. Maybe I did not tell you. There are always at least two timelines that stretch before us, each requiring infinite computation until the end of the world. It's our job to choose.
If we choose to defeat health care and various other measures of Mr. Obama's, the result goes far beyond the destruction of Mr. Obama's leadership ability; it confirms the nullification view that we can ignore what we dislike - up to and including secession, which I think I heard sometime last year. This would speed the dissolution of our way of life; politicians, sensing this, would become even more venal and self-serving, and so would lobbyists and business.

I have invested a lot in telling you how bad things will become. I already got it right once or twice. I am not in any hurry for a repeat performance. My words can be just breath into the wind, and they will pass away - as will I - and a good nation may endure, having made good choices for good futures.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Man Bites Dog

I was thinking about going to see a screening of the above film, known as "C'est Arrive Pres de Chez Nous" in its original French release. I was reading some reviews. I came across the following:

" this generation's most telling and unflinching look at our views on violence."

I really do not think we have unflinching looks at anything at all. If we did have unflinching views on the violence that's going on, we'd all go mad.

The Belly of the Beast

     I have done most of the paperwork involved in my brother's disability claim. He had an appointment to see a doctor for the State agency that does the local work for the Social Security Administration. I made the sixty mile drive to take him to the doctor's office.
     He hasn't had a drivers' license in a long time. I remember once being in a bit of a panic, when the forms we were filling out came to the point where some sort of state-issued card with a person's name and address had to be presented to some officious minion in the Kafka world of the bureaucracy - or the Ikiru world of the government, but without Watanabe-san's great soul - and I had no idea what he would use. It turned out that he had a state identity card, useful for those who do not drive. I had never heard of such a card before. I wondered if you had to present it like a passport when you travelled between the townships.
     He thought it strange that I had never heard of such identity cards, and he gave me a funny look, which was fine with me, having myself become very tired of casting funny looks at every entity that claims some familial relationship to me. In fact, I rather enjoyed it.
     So I made the trip, allowing my aged parents the luxury of remaining at home and being yelled at by various strange men and blonde bombshells on FOX...or that rather odd "morphadite"  of the two species: Glenn Beck.

The clinic was Bauhaus old. It had been designed with something in mind about fifty years ago, something minimalist, yet not so minimalist that a number of cylinders like pipes could not be fabricated into some sort of decorative web over the sign, a sort of sign that looked like the Olympic Ring theme multiplied to exhaustion in some sardonic fun-house.
Birds of spring were giving the cylinders the glad eye, thinking scrub and till, thread and foil, and the birds and the bees...and nests.
It never ceases to amaze me how many establishments, ostensibly built to serve the health and welfare interests of humanity, incorporate into their designs some absolutely atrocious niches, cubby-holes, and astragals all aparently intended to resist the mundane efforts at cleanliness and hygiene. I recall my mother-in-law resided at a very nice establishment on Lawrence in Toronto.

Yet, there far above the reach of anyone except a lift-all were the light treatments, made from wood: an intermeshing that was probably intended to diffuse light and look natural, but to me was an outrageous expanse of surface gathering piles of dust, and not amenable to the easy method cleaning during the eight-hour shift on straight-time, resisting even the tad more heroic staff who might go to the closet and procure the large ladder. These were well above the height of standard ladders. There was a mezzanine off the second floor, where the library was placed, overlooking the dining room, and these light treatments were just above that level, at a slight angle upwards. So you could not really see all the filth, but that was - I'm sure - the architect's idea in the first place.

     The doctor's offices were drab. Wear and a film of dirt and dust muted any colors that had once been there. Our father went with us, so I told him to be sure he took a leak before we left: some of my brother's doctors have offices in clinics where there are no rest rooms. I remember once being in one, and I had to walk to the hospital across the street, sign in, and get a visitors' badge just to use the rest room.
     There were sweat suits...a lot of sweats. The nurses for the most part tended to be very rotund. It's not that they were uniformly large, although some were. But they were quite rounded, all drawn with the same circular protractor. And the uniform of choice was sweats.
     There was a lot of hair that had been washed a couple days ago, staff and patients alike. Maybe it was a type of gel that gave it that look. I remember black sweats and black strands of curly hair, glistening like a Moor's dagger, while the nurse held a the door to the examining rooms open, and stretched herself towards the nurse  at the front desk...speaking, I think, but possibly trying to stretch out her full rounded frame and reach some scrap of paper on the desk, while not letting loose of the door - which would probably slam shut and lock her out: they keep many doors locked in this part of town.
     I was tired, so I spent most of my time asleep in my chair. I woke with a sore neck.
     My brother had been in the back examining rooms for over an hour, and he was in a foul mood, and gave vent to the usual invective about sitting around for hours in doctors' offices.
      When we walked back out to the car, he threw his cane in the back seat. I cautioned him against appearing too spry while we were still within sight of the office. He grunted.

     Lunch was on the menu. Funny sentence that, lunch "being" a menu item; self-referential statements, and all that. My brother and my father played that time sanctified game of discussing which restaurant to eat at, as if any of them were any good. These discussions usually mean that a certain place does not make you vomit outright: that is a "good place".
     We went to a local place down in the Bucket o' Blood district where my brother lives, and we decided to pretend that it was a "good" eatery. The staff knew him, and they said hello. He beamed a smile back, tired of having to play his role of disabled person, and happy to play one of the guys in the crowd. The waitress, Sandy, came over and pinched his cheek. There was an unusual bonhomie, I thought, until I remembered that he used to tip in the 30% range.
     Sandy wore jeans. She had a t-shirt on that seemed to have a broadside on it, but I did not want to stare, in case she wanted to pinch my cheek, too. Her hair was long and pulled together in the back in a braid; a thickly braided rope, it seemed that it should have been a tie-back to some old-timey set of drapes in a Victorian house, worn and thready, color faded to gray, yet still substantial.
     I looked at my brother, and he was smiling, and saying what a hell of a bunch of people they were down here, and, say, he'd rather live here than anywhere else in the world. My father didn't hear any of this, and I smiled. Everyone was pecking at food, or reading the insubstantial newspapers of the present age, or gazing out the window at the parking lot. And some were talking about spring.
     "Kathy..." I heard my brother say.
     "Who?" I asked.
     "I was wondering if Kath was here."
     "Who's Kath?" I said, then adding "You're getting like old Bill, mentioning names nobody else knows. You know,  Bill'd say  ' then I sez to ol' Blackbird...' "  I looked at him, "Did you ever know who old Blackbird was he was talking about?"
      He shook his head. "Kathy's the owner's wife. I wondered if she was here today. Usually is."
      Pretty soon a leathery number comes up for air from back by the kitchen. I figure this is Kathy. After nosing around a few cubby-holes and patting a few backs, she wanders over to my brother and pats him on the back.
     "How ya doin', stranger."
     So he smiles a smile as wide as outdoors, like the Pope, President, Dalai Lama, and Paris Hilton had just walked up to him.  "Stranger? Whatcha talkin' 'bout? You the one been on vacation."
     She says something about how hard she works every day, smiles, and wanders back towards the rest rooms. He never introduced her to me, and she never even glanced at me, nor my father - like we did not exist...a fact from which I derived a vague sense of comfort.

     The food was just under mediocre. My father had a Sloppy Joe, which seemed to me to possibly have been the eponymous Joe of the entire messy species, and my brother and I had pick'rel - as they say it. There is sort of a religious veneration of "pick'rel" in those parts, stemming from the old days when there was no mercury in the fish, and people could buy fish caught that day. But that was sixty years ago, or more.

     It was a day when you had to hold yourself in, lest you scream out in madness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cool Scoot

Which one of these gentlemen at Daytona is related to me? All of them? Which is the inventor of the beer-cooler scooter, a vehicle which Medicare does not pay for?

Too Big to...Recall

I am going to take a break from watching a movie with Warren Oates in it - he's some sort of soldier and he's very good as usual - to make the observation that our economic system has probably taken a wrong turn when it strives for massive and dinosaurian economic entities.

The banks become too big to fail, at least until that time when they will be allowed to fail - for whatever reason - and die their horrible deaths.

Toyota created the Toyota system of driving costs down, which led to fewer and fewer suppliers; the fewer suppliers were easier to handle and much easier to put the thumb-screws to on costs. However, what has happened is that a problem from the low-diversity supplier gene pool has propagated through the system, like a computer virus, and this is going to cost a pretty penny.

There are no guarantees. If the Toyota system is the economic equivalent of going extinct due to lack of economic diversity, Toyota will disappear - or at least mightily change. No one would have thought of the present state of GM thirty years ago, and the pace is picking up: I think Toyota's critical time of dancing around the meteor crater of extinction will be much less, yea or nay.

Profit maximization has led to enormous companies: if bad things happen, the results are enormous. If you choose the wrong path, you may run to extinction. There will be no more bail-outs, because no one can afford it any more.

Another example is the Wal-Mart paradigm, which results in one enormous store in a community having driven out the diverse Mom and Pop operations. Something goes wrong with Wal-Mart, there is no retail anymore. And I suspect there is something going wrong with Wal-Mart, because I shop at Wal-Mart: there are simple things I cannot buy there, for various reasons. (I mentioned the Cascade dish detergent that won't remove coffee stains, whereas the Cascade from Kroger does.)

When these dinosaurs fail - and fail they will, because they are just too complex for our managerial skills - there will be...
Wait a minute! Why am I telling you this? Stick around for ten years, and you will see for yourself!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Homeland-Patriotic Church of Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch

Die Heimatlandische-Patriotische Kirche!

Newsletter for the German National Lutheran Diaconate

You have probably heard by now that one of Rupert Murdoch's minions, Glenn Beck, has virulently attacked religion - and in particular Christianity in the form such as evidenced by the Canticle of the Virgin Mary: "My soul glories the Lord...He casts the mighty from their thrones, and raises the lowly..." - lumping such concerns for the poor as code words "Economic Justice" and "Social Justice", which only belong to Communism and Nazism, according to the profound Beck.

The Homeland-Patriotic Church  envisaged by Beck - and, by inference, by Rupert Murdoch - would play a role essentially that of the German Lutheran Church played after 1933 as a National institution subservient to the political masters of Germany.

Boycott FOX!
Boycott the Homeland-Patriotic Church!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I was in the Drones Club the seems recent, maybe it was yester...and the Major asked me if all the tedious Palestinians in Gaza had been eradicated yet by assassination, war, famine, or disease.
"Not quite all of 'em," I said.

Not quite bloody all.


A comparison of Avatar and Confucius in the Asia Times sees this:
Different takes on coping with change
By Francesco Sisci

In flocking to Avatar, Chinese filmgoers perhaps see more clearly than their government that tempestuous changes are something that cannot be managed but can only be endured. This subtle difference is in a nutshell the one described by economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950) as creative destruction in the capitalism system.

After over a century of capitalism's evolution, Schumpeter, born in what is now the Czech Republic and a devoted student of Marxist literature, argued that modern crises were not crises of the capitalism system, but integral parts of the system. The sudden ups and downs of the capitalist cycles were not a warning of impending total revolution, but the nuts and bolts of the system in which people lived, and from those crises capitalism would be reinforced, not weakened.
In a way, science fiction - almost a literary version of Schumpeter's creative destruction - is part of the present, as Avatar and daily experience in China prove.

The second paragraph is what interests me: an article of economic and political faith, unaccompanied by any proofs or caveats: just baldy stated. The crises may indeed be integral to Capitalism, but there is no proof they are benign, nor that they may always be the beginning of a step forward.

I have no idea what the third paragraph is supposed to mean.


Mutually Assured Destruction Capitalism...or "MAD Cap"
From Mark Mardell's Blog for the BBC.

Unvarnished views from Philadelphia

Mark Mardell
15:36 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

He ( John Sutherland, a small businessman a few miles from Philadelphia) thinks a majority vote is the only way. He says after he wrote his article he had many e-mails in support. But some attacked him for saying insurance companies should be made to cover those with pre existing illness. His critics said that if they did, the companies would not be making the maximum amount of money.

He shrugs and says: "If people think that way, what can you do?".
He's right in that there is a philosophical gulf between the two sides.
But Pres Obama is trying to rally people like John and persuade them the gulf is so wide that a majority vote is the only way forward and it's worth one last push.
(bold emphasis mine)

There is nothing about capitalist theory that demands a "maximum" return. The concept is extremely flawed. For instance, returns could be "maximized" if environmental laws and constraints were removed.

A Democratic Capitalist System does not and never did propose to strive for the maximum possible return to any given individual......

It was always and is now the maximum benefit for a society !

Past & Future Impacts

What appears to be a very large impact crater has been located in the DR Congo. The removal of trees from the area over the previous decade has allowed it to be spotted from space. The green areas are still tropical forest.

Look at the size, and imagine the destruction in the past.

Look at the deforestation, then imagine the coming destruction.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Another Jesus Spotting

Some blokes opened a jar of Marmite - a yeast spread to put on toast, crackers, etc. - and saw the face of Jesus thereon.

It looks more like Jesse James to me. Is it blasphemy to mock the face of Jesus on the lid of a jar of Marmite? Or is it blasphemy to put forward such a claim? I recall a cheese sandwich apparition down south a couple of years ago. I believe that cheese sandwich is now in the Smithsonian...or the Vatican, I can't recall.
Face shots are pretty neutral. I mean, if there were a good shot of God looking angry, pointing to a clear copy of the 10 commandments, and shaking His other fist at the camera, I think there would be some sort of moral revival. But face shots? Too ambiguous.

For myself, I do not need signs and miracles. I am strong in my faith.
I believe in God in each and every jar of Marmite on the grocery shelves, even though I have not had the time to personally open each and every one! Amen.


Brazil applies trade sanctions againt the US for its support of cotton:

Critics say the US has given its cotton growers an unfair advantage by paying them billions of dollars each year.

In 2008, the WTO ruled that subsidies to US cotton producers were discriminatory.
Northrop and EADS withdraw US air tanker bid

Northrop Grumman and EADS had won a contract in February 2008, but this was then cancelled following a Boeing appeal.
At the time, there was substantial political opposition in Washington to the involvement of EADS, which owns Airbus, the European rival of US-based Boeing.

Socialism, price supports, protectionism, all have a long history in this country. Why do we feel the need to pretend they do not?

We do not wish to mar our story of ourselves as heroes: singular heroes, standing alone, with nothing but Purity and Truth to guide us.
It's our story, our narrative, our screenplay. If we don't have that story, we got nothing, and even the billions of dollars that Wall Street sucked from us would turn to ash within their mouths.

Keep the Story Goin'!    
Keep on Truckin' !

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Alex's Dad and Shaniqwa Again


I wrote about Alex's Dad in:

and since this dealt with songs based on or referring to the name Shaniqua, or Shaniqwa, I was happy to come across some beautiful pictures from Shaniqwa at

Poetry Ahead

I am a couple of weeks ahead in my poetry blog ( over on the right under the rubric: My Other Blogs, of which there is one ) and I put one up that's fairly depressing, a song to fear, famine, and death. I may decide to be optimistic and positive, in which case I shall remove it. However, for the time being, it is a profundis clamavi ad Te, Domine!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Uqbar Living

A Highrise Tower of Individual Homes.

The Natural Once More

I have written about Bernard Malmud's The Natural a number of times here. I suppose it is because it is a story that has gone for me from being inpenetrably boring to fascinatingly filled with the stuff of life. I have read some reviews and analyses of it, and they make little sense to me. I do not really feel the impulse to speak about further, and it is only that I feel it is so filled with meaning, that it would be mean-spirited and base not to share a vision of it: a fine vision of the World and Mankind.

The fuller essay will await the future, a time when I have much more leisure to indulge myself, not having to scrounge around for a job in a world where there are no jobs for the young, much less for the aged. However, I can share some things with you. If someone takes my untutored and disorderly impressions and runs with them to the definitive insightful analysis of The Natural, so be it. It cannot be helped.

If you know anything of the story - and I hope you do, at least Robert Redford's film version, for I shall not spend much time filling in the lacunae in your reading - the main character is Roy Hobbs, the natural baseball player, and perhaps the greatest born genius for the game ever. His quest to baseball greatness was diverted in his youth after he had been shot by an insane woman, who had been travelling the countryside, seeking the best athletes in order to kill them. By a chance train ride, they fell together, Roy's natural abilities were shown during an impromptu demonstration of pitching and batting, and she had her victim.

When Roy makes it to the big leagues, he still has his own bat, Wonderboy, a bat he had fashioned himself from the wood of a tree struck by lightning while he was still a kid. In the big leagues, playing for the New York Knights, Roy makes a phenomenal debut, and the Knights are lifted from cellar-dwellers into second place in the league. Suddenly, Roy goes into a batting slump, and things begin to deteriorate. "Pop" Fisher, the manager and co-owner of the Knights, finally suggests that Roy try another bat. Roy refuses to use some other bat, and it is a test of wills.
Finally, in a game when a distraught father of a sick boy has entreated Roy to hit one for his son - this being the only thing left that might help him, medical science having given up - Roy caves and comes up to Pop to say he will bat without Wonderboy, just as Pop caves and tells Roy to go to bat, even with Wonderboy.
Needless to say, Roy hits one into next Thursday, the distraught father rejoices - sure that a miracle will cure his son, and a mysterious lady in red has revealed herself in the stands, giving Roy a feeling of confidence.

There's much more. I'm just interested in Wonderboy, fashioned from a tree split by lightning: the burning bush. Wonderboy is Simche Torah. That tireless and "childish" devotion to the word of God, so irrational and so bizarre to the Age of Reason, is the miracle-bearer. Without Wonderboy, bats are just bats; they are only differentiated by their length, color, grain, weight...just like laws are not the Law.

There is much more than this, however. Wonderboy will break, but we will have to deal with that later.

Future China

From the BBC

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said China must reverse its widening income gap between rich and poor.
He said benefits of a growing economy - expected to expand by 8% this year - should be distributed more fairly...

The speech touched on many issues, but on a number of occasions the premier spoke about the need to make China a fairer society.

"We will not only make the 'pie' of social wealth bigger by developing the economy, but also distribute it well," Mr Wen told about 3,000 delegates, returning to a theme that he has often spoken about during his premiership.

"[We will] resolutely reverse the widening income gap," he added later, in a speech that lasted more than two hours.
As part of that project, the premier said China would reform the household registration system that classifies people as either city or rural dwellers.

If China succeeds in this, it will jump into the future, while we back here are still squabbling about whether the health care system needs reform, and what is the meaning of the second amendment if there is no state militia.
People of the Future argue about how to effect fairness and well-being. Pygmies of the Past argue about how many types of fire arms they may possess.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Am watching The Saddest Music in the World.

I much prefer Il Cortometraggio di Barney, the short subject Barney Gumble did for the Springfield Film Festival.

Odd Systems

Lately we have been analyzing "Odd" or "Paradoxical" Systems, such as the system of Secret Intelligence. What makes the Secret Intelligence System an "odd" system seems to lay in the fact that no mechanism exists for making secrets un-secret for those agents which need to know them. Such a mechanism or "czar" of secrecy - a central intelligencer - assumes that all secrets to such a central office are clear, trasnparent, and obvious...all in such a crystal clear way that sort of negates their nature of being secret in the first place.

One indication that the system is indeed an "odd" System is the fact that, popularly, it is believed not to be so, and is portrayed in films and TV as being quite clear enough for Bruce Willis to put it all togther in the nick of time.

Another Odd System is the Justice System when looked at from the angle of rectification and re-establishment of Justice after Justice has gone awry; i.e., pardons being issued to those wrongly convicted.
Texas has pardoned a dead man, a Mr. Cole,  for his rape conviction after his death eleven years ago and those DNA tests we hear so much about.

As for the actual perpetrator:

It transpired the man had confessed earlier. He had sent letters to court officials four years before Mr Cole died - but the admission was never followed up.

This seems to be based on the "odd" and well-known truth that if one does not wish to speak to penetrating personal questions posed by law officers, one has something to hide; similarly, one would not be in jail, if one were not somewhere, sometime guilty of something. Proof to the contrary is "odd" in this type of system.

Again, this is portrayed in popular culture as being the exception, not the rule: the confession of the true guilty party leads to heroic and selfless devotion of cold-case cops and Justice prevails.

Instead of outrage, perhaps we should express an abiding interest in why we have "Odd" Systems in place that seem to work oddly, and ask whether we should change them.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


I noticed this morning that another had joined into the bedlam we call "Blog". His name is Arsen, and I have had a feeling of a long-ago-French-experience of some sort ever since I saw it a while ago. I finally recalled the fictional character Arsene Lupin, a canny fellow who squared off against Sherlock Holmes.


So, What Do I Know?

Not much, to tell the truth. But I do pay close attention, which is a lot more than many others do. When I wrote that the Han Empire of China would start disintegrating around 2016...what do I know?

Not much...but I do have this today:

China editorials call for end to residency permit rules

By Shirong Chen
BBC China editor

More than a dozen Chinese newspapers have published a joint editorial calling for the abolition of the household registration or "hukou".

This system limits rural migrants' access to services in China's more prosperous cities...

...The hukou system registers every Chinese citizen according to their household origins as either town dwellers or country peasants.

Nowadays it is widely seen as a source of discrimination in terms of access to services like healthcare and education.

Since economic reforms began 30 years ago, many Chinese migrant workers have left the land to contribute to the country's rapid growth and industrialisation.

But they remain registered as rural dwellers and are not entitled to the same welfare as their city counterparts.

This has created social inequality...

...The Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, admitted on Saturday that the bulk of the country's industrial workforce was now made up of migrant workers from the countryside.

However, it could take years to completely separate the hukou system from welfare provision, and eventually abolish it in the world's most populous country.

That sounds promising.
I admit, however, I don't know much. I have numerous short-cuts to create the "illusion" of being smart. One of my favorite "dodges" is to be contrary to whatever the popular media is celebrating - on the good bet that soon the celebrated thing or person will "come a cropper".

There was Japan, Inc back in the 1980s.
Now we see Japan, Inc. 10 years after the "lost decade" still sort of wandering about with a dazed look, and we see the celebrated Toyota system having led the world's largest auto maker into a situation where one lowers costs by reducing suppliers...then having a problem from the surviving supplier spread throughout their world-wide product line.
Now there's China, Inc.
China's is a great country. However, one thing I know: if the US media love it, if people like Kudlow go into ecstasies over it, it is heading for trouble.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Celebrate The End of History with Francis Fukuyama

End of History T-shirts:  $8.00       (Add to Cart?)

entry on Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay "The End of History?", published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. In the book, Fukuyama argues that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signal the end point of humanity's sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government.

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

This story is the same one as the one I told about my friend who read Revelations 30 years ago, and told me how the end of the world was imminent in 1980, only his wife had a serious stroke, underwent extensive re-hab while he struggled with 3 kids, and after 3 years and much improvement, she divorced him and married a friend.
It was "end-of-world", only he got the detailed images a bit wrong.

So did the Neo-Cons. So did we all.

We are viewing the End of History over the next 10 years. With Francis Fukuyama, I celebrate the End of History!

Actually I agree with Mr. Fukuyama in many areas. The article continues:

Fukuyama's thesis consists of three main elements.[3]

The empirical argument: Since the beginning of the 19th Century, there has been a move for States to adopt some form of liberal democracy as its government.

The philosophical argument: Fukuyama examines the influence of thymos (or human spiritedness). His argument is democracy hinders risky behavior. Enlightened rational thought shows that the roles of master and slave are unsatisfying and self-defeating and hence not adopted by lofty spirits. This type of argument was originally taken up by Hegel and John Locke.
I agree Democracy hinders risky behavior, and take this as more proof that we no longer live in a Democracy. I also agree anent lofty spirits and the unsatisfying nature of master-slave relationships, again which beliefs put us at odds with the modern day reality.

Narrative versus Reality: The Ticking Bomb

Reading the report of the 9 / 11 Commission, one thing becomes clear: in our system of government secrecy and classification, there is always the "Story" or "Narrative" that someone somewhere within the enormous Government and Military Secrecy Establishment will make a decision correctly to share information with government agents that need that information.

After 9 /11, it became clear that there was no such screenplay device, no "deus ex machina" which will suddenly share the info at a critical moment, enabling the hero to defuse the bomb or whatnot. Then there was an enormous amount of money spent to try and correct this, and to assure that someone somewhere will share secrets.

That is a story. It is not reality. There is no one anywhere who can and will make the right decision to share secrets in a system devoted to secrecy. There is no nexus where everything comes together, where someone has total vision.

A story, a narrative, and a myth. How many myths rule our lives today? Jospeh Campbell was wrong; what we need is more myths of the type which ennoble us, not the ones of today which degrade us: degrade our wisdom, degrade our religion, degrade our hopes, and make us such as we are today.