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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Father of the Bride 1

God bestows bounty; I guess the reception dinner is my attempt to do the same.

God blesses man and woman; I had better work on my toast... it strikes me that the father-of-the-bride's toast is what used to be a blessing, sometimes still is.

All those who gather under the tent will eat and drink, and yet my bounty will sate them for only a day at most. They will forget my toast - "blessing" - within twenty minutes of its utterance... and no one will seek me out in the future, happenstance in time of need to pray my advice, nor serendip in time of joy to seek me out and share; they will have forgotten me... except for that bungled toast I made.

Someone once said children are like Mercedes; you come to the Party and hand the keys to the Valet, and you just hope and pray that it's not like Parking Garage in Ferris Buehler. Those were the days, and not so long ago, either, when metaphors were silly and provoked a smile.
Now I rub my monk's tonsured head where the grey hair begins to grow back, and look to the needs of the people... and the other six samurai who stand guard.

When It's Good...

When writing is good, it is very, very good; and we become possessions of a good madness - eudaemonia - lost in Bermuda, swimming in the wide, wide Sargasso Sea of all that was, or is yet to be.


Oils pill 2: Bleak House

It is loudly said that British Petroleum will pay the bill for the Oil Spill.
Of course, it is BP that will pay for this mess......

Or actually BP's insurance carrier.........

which means we'll pay for it with higher insurance premiums eventually....since other carriers will insist on more costly safeguards.......

and the environmental damage and the loss of livelihood for the fisheries will be paid by BP.... and the lawsuit will drag on, the plaintiffs will be awarded a sum, it will be appealed, and after 20 years, the settlement will be reduced to a pittance....

Dicken's Bleak House....

Actually, there is a good chance BP won't pay very much at all, or will pay more in legal fees than to those adversely impacted by this mess.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oils pill

It was a typo for Oil Spill, but I guess it is more like "bitter pill to swallow" or some such metaphorical nonsense.

Anyway:  oil spill... much, much  worse than thought! ... will accept any help...

Sounds to me like another shoe falling; another one of Imelda Marcos' thousands of shoes, which is another one of those metaphor thingies for our screw ups. Perhaps we can "bail out" the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe there'll be a "Sunni Awakening of oil spills" to help save our poorly planned hides.........

Bottom Line, idiots:   Proper and Adequate and Thoughtful preparation and execution take time!
Time costs money! That cost will reduce profits! Profits must be maximized!

Socialize the cost: the cost of all poor decisions will be heaped onto the backs of those mindless beasts of burden, dumber than Sancho Panza's donkey's stupid cousin, the taxpayers of this country of miserable leadership.

And if you think I'm a fool, and ask if I can do better, I have reached the point where I'd take you up on it. Yes, I can do a better job.

Big Bill

William Faulkner wrote about the things which lay hidden under the materiality of the world, the spirit, the shadow, or - I should say - the shadows, for those evanescent entities are many - as the ancient Egyptians taught us: they had used all their hieroglyphs on spirit and soul, and when they had come to shadow, they had to turn to homely items, like umbrellas, pajamas, and tin cans in order to depict in writing the many kinds of shadows. But I digress from the object of my essay, which is Faulkner.
It is like the case of Dark Matter in the universe, things unseen and things undreamed, but must be there, and are inferred, just as in the Middle Ages the brighter minds of the Sorbonne inferred from the faint hints in Scripture to the large yet sober crowds of angels dancing on the ballroom heads of argentine pins.

Let us write today, then, about keys, house keys, car keys; being objects in the world, they must possess a hidden layer of meaning which supports form and shape, combatting the natural tendency of mass to collapse into a formless lump of quicksilver; keys with their fractal bodies, the large cuts into the metal substrate being replicated ad infinitum with smaller scale cuts, themselves being cut into bays and fjords on the nano scale: keys - the buck-toothed outline of the front door key, the descending escalator of cat's teeth on the club house door key, the two mirror-imaged, smoothly contoured ledges of the car keys.
The unseen nature - seen only by Faulkner - was the genesis of the ancient gods and powers, for was there not even a god of keys? or at least of the front and back door? Janus, looking-two-ways?
The souls of everything lie in an escape-time equation, pixel by pixel washed in a flow of color. The souls of the universe, this universe here, not some parallel offspring or avatar, lie in the keen gravitas of the shadow world which exists in the summer's day picnic between Mass and Synapse.


Jim Bakker

Jim Bakker sells some sort of magic beans that enable the faithful to live through earthquakes. I may have this wrong, but I think it is a pretty good description of the situation.

Well, once the Coast Guard sets on fire the oil escaping from the Event Horizon - I mean, the Deepwater Horizon - then I will see the Seas Burning.

Add that to an unusual number of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, added to the usual backdrop of Famine and Poverty, and I shall reconsider my opinion of Mr. Jim Bakker.

To paraphrase the immortal LaVern Baker:  Jim Bakker to the rescue!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Control Freak

We don't have control over Oil Rigs: when they explode in a ball of fire, the oil will eventually fill the Gulf of Mexico, because we don't have any mean to "control" the leaking oil.

We don't have control over the process of trying to repair the lives of soldiers in Warrior Transition Units, even though these units came about in an uproar less than 3 years ago about...  our lack of control over trying to repair the lives of soldiers.

We don't have control over Wall Street... and neither do they.
Remember the instances of "rogue brokers" who cost their firms billions in bad bets? There were quite a few of those. I could look them up. There was one with a UK bank about 5 years ago... something maybe based in Singapore... maybe the bank was Barclay's.

We have no control over our businesses.
I signed up for AT&T UVerse on a promo to (1) get good quality, and (2) to lower my cost for at least 6 months. Option (2) has not happened yet 4 months into 2010, and I am beginning to wonder if it ever will.
Businesses seem to make more money from unexplained charges, mis-billings, late fees, and penalties, rather than from any legitimate form of business.
It is not just us who have no control over businesses, it is the businesses themselves who are losing control over their enterprises.

We had better slow down and get a handle on things. Forget about multi-tasking, and learn to do one task well. There is less profit in it, but it will be better for us in the long run.

Financial Regulation

The Republicans refuse to let Finanacial Regulation be debated, and have their own proposal.
You bet they do.

It was called Senator Phil Gramm, who in 1999 was the moving force to have a Republican Congress exempt the Derivative market - whose value is measure in United States Light-Year-Dollars, by the way (USLYD) - from any and all regulation.

The fox is looking for some more hen coops.

Peak Oil

Often have I wondered what happens to the oil when an oil rig has a problem. I don't think I ever thought of one exploding in a fire-ball, and being destroyed down to the surface of the sea, but that will work. I had just thought of things like the line snaps!
So anyway, one assumes in these days of great technological advance and great wealth creation and destruction, the oil companies, flush in money, have something up their sleeves to handle such an event, and the government - ever watchful - has something in mind to remediate the situation.

Turns out, they don't.
Oh,  theoretically   they have a blow-out spill preventer, but - as luck would have it - it does not work.
Once again, the complexity of our lives has caused us to come a cropper. The next big societal disaster is going to be at least partially based on this fact: we do not have control of the complexity of our society; the uncontrolled rush for profits has led us to go fast and ignore whether we have things under control.
If you doubt it, let me tell you I am just waiting for the reports on genetically modified crops and their problems to come rolling in around 2014... and GM genes have already escaped from test plots, just as we knew they would, but 3M knew they wouldn't.

Oh, and the rig was a BP rig. Boy, was that a surprise!

Sacred Books

Religions with Sacred Books and Writings tend to accept the Language Form of Reality, rather than an experiential form.  In other words, societies with holy books - inerrant holy books - describe reality as a narrative.

At this point, we realize that narratives have themes.

When we come across stories of holy wars, and angels carrying swords, and Christian soldiers, we are observing a narrative in a sacred book culture - our own -  that has allowed a pre-existing Theme of War to overwhelm the Theme of Peace preached by the religion's founder.
When we audit the monies for the establishment of Mega-churches, we tell the tale of a Theme of wealth acquisition which has usurped the Theme of Holy Poverty. And we go to some lengths to justify it to ourselves. I believe I told the story of the Christian lady who responded to my remark about holy poverty by saying Jesus didn't just shake His money tree! I assume she meant he sold loaves and fishes from a miraculous inventory to make ends meet.

In such cultures, Fact is a Story of God's works and days, and as such a Story, it is liable to contamination from every existing Language event in the culture. ( The "meme" effect. )

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bricks & Mortar of Our Souls

There was an article in the NY Times Sunday:
Feeling Warehoused in Army Trauma Care Units

Published: April 24, 2010

...Created in the wake of the scandal in 2007 over serious shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Warrior Transition Units were intended to be sheltering way stations where injured soldiers could recuperate and return to duty or gently process out of the Army. There are currently about 7,200 soldiers at 32 transition units across the Army, with about 465 soldiers at Fort Carson’s unit.
But interviews with more than a dozen soldiers and health care professionals from Fort Carson’s transition unit, along with reports from other posts, suggest that the units are far from being restful sanctuaries. For many soldiers, they have become warehouses of despair, where damaged men and women are kept out of sight, fed a diet of powerful prescription pills and treated harshly by noncommissioned officers. Because of their wounds, soldiers in Warrior Transition Units are particularly vulnerable to depression and addiction, but many soldiers from Fort Carson’s unit say their treatment there has made their suffering worse.

Some soldiers in the unit, and their families, described long hours alone in their rooms, or in homes off the base, aimlessly drinking or playing video games.
“In combat, you rely on people and you come out of it feeling good about everything,” said a specialist in the unit. “Here, you’re just floating. You’re not doing much. You feel worthless.” ...

I do not intend to criticize the Army, nor anyone else, because the article did not awaken in me a sense of outrage, rather it gave me a sense that the blinders had been removed from my eyes. For, indeed, could any rational person have expected that 3 years after the scandal at Walter Reed, that it would be possible to read this about the program designed to correct the situation? Three years. Count them.

The question for me is why the Department of Defense, which receives so much of the annual budget, cannot perform the seemingly simple task of providing for soldiers who have been wounded physically and mentally in combat?
Well, the answer lies in the complexity of the situation.
But then I answer that there are many people who devote their lives to dealing with exactly this type of complex situation. Why no have such experts design and implement the program?
Well, actually I suppose this is actually what the Army did do: lots of experts and expert inputs in order that every one's ass is covered.

I repeat, why can we not solve these complex problems, no matter how much money is available? And by "solving", I don't even mean returning one suffering individual to health, but merely the design and creation of an adequate system of procedures for doing well as a system of monitoring the system, instead of having to always rely on investigative reporters.

Think of other complex situations:

Wall Street -  why can't Wall Street just deliver the financial goods, without leading us to the brink of financial disaster?

Foreign Aid -  once again we hear questions about Foreign Aid: why it has to be such as to destroy indigenous farming, and why the monies always end up in the pockets of the corrupt?

Education -   why can't Johnny read?

Drugs -  why can't we do anything to reduce and stop the demand ( not "flow" ) of drugs?

Poverty -  declare a "War" on poverty!

and on and on....

These complex situations are immune to any efforts we have so far made. Obviously, we do not understand the situations. I believe we fall into what I shall call the Simplistic Fallacy when we speak of such things; i.e., our need to communicate important information about complex systems causes us to simplify those complex systems, in order that we may say anything at all to non-experts. Once having done this, the simplification into easily communicated language tends to cycle back on the complex system itself, and to reduce the apparent complexity in the minds of policy makers.
(Consider Derivatives and how often you have heard of pension funds in trouble... because they did not understand what they were doing with Derivatives.)
Briefly, we are fast losing control over our systems and our lives. The Complex is beginning to branch off in ways we never imagined, and where we have no control.

Take this Fallacy and add monetary and power incentives to it, and you have a disaster. We are loosing control of things over time, because we do not realize how complex they are:  our pension funds will always end up buying derivatives, and eventually the funds go bust.

Briefly, we make up narratives that are too simple: they do not adequately render the complexity we face, and they tend to make pseudo-definite predictions ( "light at the end of the tunnel" ). Once we have done this - once we have left the area of complexity and substituted simplicity - we tend to use the simple stories and fall back on repetitive behaviors and maxims and adages.
We do not have the vigor to maintain the discipline to understand complex systems in a changing environment, so we simplify.

If you read the story, you will see this in the attitudes of some of the soldiers involved, both as soldiers under treatment and those in charge:  there is a feeling of that it is somehow shameful, being away from one's "real" unit and not carrying on like a "soldier", feelings of weakness and guilt, feelings that weakness let's down one's side... we have heard it all before. Every war and its aftermath, from Hemingway to Dalton Trumbo to Nam to Iraq and beyond.. yet, we never seem to grasp what's going on with an understanding commensurate to an ability to minister to those in need of help.
Because we have lost sight of the complexity, and think it is simple, and think that a stiff upper lip will take away the pain; simple maxims replacing the impenetrable complex truths.

As difficult as new technology is, dealing with technology and weapons systems is easier than dealing with the human mind and heart. The DoD can move men and materiel, it can do logistics and logic. But it cannot heal. There is a different logic in healing, that's what "*M*A*S*H" was always preaching - the different logic of healing... and being in a milieu where decisions actually depend on emotions for their correctness.

As a society, we find it easier to deal with Tech:  we often reduce History to Tech. In the story of the development of the Atom Bomb, how many of us have focused on the lives of the people involved? For most of us, the Manhattan Project was a symbol of how America gets things done. If it was and is such a symbol, our understanding of it is dangerously shallow.
All my life, I have watched all our problems evade any meaningful approach to a solution. For example, I have heard "Why Johnny Can't Read" over and over and over again. What about Derivatives? I've seen pension funds go under in 2 or 3 big sweeps so far, and I've seen the economy teetering on edge due to a $600 trillion market that's not transparent. One person in one hundred understands derivatives, and when the market is in a frenzy, even that one person acts irrationally.

Our society is dieing because we have given up our right to create human guidelines - which are difficult to devise and maintain. Our guidelines are either dead and rigid, as encapsulated within the tombs of present day religions, or are based on the simplistic language we use to communicate complex ideas.
Are paradigms shifting? Will all the unemployed be re-trained and absorbed into alternative power industries? Will the companies, lean and mean having cut away the fat of excess workers, actually be a success? Will they now meet the model of the "low-cost" producer in Indonesia? And do any of these questions mean anything at all, or are they merely NEW AGE economics and politics, the old wine dressed up in new wineskins to make us think that the ideas are of "good vintage"?
Do we have any idea how to do anything?
The Department of Defense cannot heal its soldiers, even though its budget is awash with money.
Wall Street cannot operate without seriously endangering the rest of us.
Even our regulatory agencies do not function if you give them 8 years of a GOP Congress and President. How do I know? I remember the FAA essentially grounding an airline in August of 2008 while it hurried up to do inspections it had let lapse for years.
Our demand for drugs is turning Mexico into History's first Video-Game Country...

We cannot build, because the bricks and mortar of our souls has been ignored for too long. Honor and decency and charity... the concepts do not fit into case studies; they do not fit into the concepts of Economics, Business, Politics...   Suddenly the brains of economics have determined that, lo!, markets are not necessarily efficient; all it took was the destruction of your wealth to enable the professors to find that out!
We have gone into the soulless pit of the world, and we are coming up empty.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Bank Bailout?

I will not fund another bank bailout with my tax money.
When it happens again, in around 2014 to 2018,   I will either:
1) go to jail,
2) leave the country.

And I shall say:  take my taxes from 2010 to 2016 that you used to maintain your military bases and pay for your wars, and fund your bailout. The disconnect between the elite that control this country and the commoners, whom it pits against each other like fighting dogs, grows worse and worse.

Oubliette versus Omnium Gatherum versus Kitchen Drawer

I have a drawer, a kitchen drawer, in which are stored all utensils of imperfect categorical defintion:
e.g. knives are in the "knife drawer", but "box cutters" are in the kitchen drawer.

I have a desk drawer, into which all tedious correspondences are thrust into oblivion: oubliette.

I have a drawer of treasures, wherein my agates and steelies molder unused, side by side with holy cards of people gone from view, interleaved with intaglio business cards of mystery businesses;  a drawer of my life-history like Pythagoras' fifth element which holds all other elements; a good shepherd drawer where there is a great in-gathering:
omnium gatherum.

The Taste of the Rustic

Everything is filled with sapor ... a Latin word I shall use instead of "flavour" . I could say everything has flavour for me, but that sounds a bit too much of my childhood days, when I merrily put pennies into my mouth, discovering the cuprous delights of coinage.

I'm sure everyone is the same, and every object "tastes" of what is seen and known, what is unknown and odd, what happened within the past 10 days, the last 30, the last 3 months, and then sometime "before then"; the taste of smells, where perfumes intoxicate with gustatory delight, and bring back memories of the long ago: the private history of the age of tropic palm trees and grandmother; where she lived in a zebra-mansion of sunlight filtered through white plantation blinds; of sun rooms facing the brick wall dividing her home from that of Benson Ford, son of Henry... whereon whose cinnabar serpentine surface are projected memory's flickering nickleodeon.

So I came across a remnant tasting of the countryside, ancient pagan (Latin: one who lives in the country) that it was, standing stoic.
It was a house by the side of the road, and it was much, much older than the main road. Its genesis may have been contemporary to the side road which ran off at a right angle, leading west, and forming the southern boundary of Matilda Dodge's old estate.
But it tasted of the sea, or - if not the great ocean - then some smaller flow, an inland lake, perhaps, or a river. It had all the earmarks of an antiquity that had once stood shoreside upon one of California's vanisht lakes, the water having been diverted to quench the thirst of Los Angeles. It reminded me of Africa's paleo-lakes running from Tunisia through rivers and wetlands larger than Mauretania all the way to the present-day quickly evaporating Lake Chad.  Or Jenne-Jeno with its inland delta mouth, denying its water to the lubricious sea. Old witness of the deluge! - fast disappearing like the Aral Sea, sucked dry like our aquifers, prelude to our own Sahel future!
It had a long porch, glassed-in, giving a great view... if there were something great to look at anymore. And there was a widow's walk like a crown-of-thorns upon a third-floor enclosed vedette, where one could safely scan the stormy horizon.

No water now. Rather, the impetuous stream now ran through a subdivision and a development, and was hidden at the base of a hill, cut off from the house's view by nice apartments.
It raged to move and catch sight of the river! I could sense it! Taste it! - like the blood of adolescent desire. Yet there it sat, like my old Da within an airless nursing home, a nursing home which breathes at regular metronomous intervals like the sound-track for SCUBA divers: ...pffssst.......... pffssst.......... pffssst .........

It tasted all wrong. It was all singular and gershom, stranger in a strange land, darkling cut-out dolls from Gabon fetched across the ocean's breadth to enslavery and fetters all bedight!

this sort of got away from me...lakes, rivers, and streams - whether real or imagined - take control of me.
lubricious above is used in the sense of "slippery", not necessarily "salacious".


The Holy is the Yearning to be the sons & daughters of God, expressed by conscious beings who - if they are conscious of anything at all - are conscious of not being the sons & daughters of God.

The Failure of our efforts creates the chain of History, and gives rise to our past. Our present imperfection makes us acutely aware of Living Now as imperfect beings who yearn to be perfect, and thus creates the Present with its Discontents.
The Future is the far off goal which creates the chain of the Future, with its promise of becoming as the Lilies of the Field.

Religion is the past, present, and future of yearning to be perfectly free...not free from a particular and specific injustice and suffering, but God's infinite yearning to be infinitely free. It is ended at that time when you will know it, and when you will see it; not before.
It is Weird and Paradoxical precisely because it is not a desire to be free of one thing, but an infinite yearning for an infinite freedom, and - hence - to be free of the yearning for freedom! It is only a paradox for reason, not the spirit!

We love our paradoxes, whether expressed as slogans:

"Freedom Is Not Free !"
"If You Wish Peace, Prepare For War !",

or in our behavior where we believe the weapons of violence, equitably distributed throughout society and the world, will give us greater safety from violence, or when a natural catastrophe occurs, to wonder on the nature of a Good God who Allows Bad Things to happen.

Paradoxes are the dead ends of reason; that's why we have so many of them. Our minds are filled with them and puzzles and jokes and puns...palindromes, anagrams, and sight-gags. Or the sound and the fury. But the Narrative of the Future has been shown to me to be the Story Plain & Simple, wherein it is a gift to be simple... a gift to be free... where we lay down our burdens,  and we are renewed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Literary Structures of War

Henry Williamson, recalling WWI:

...I see men arising and walking forward; and I go forward with them, in a glassy delirium wherein some seem to pause, with bowed heads, and sink carefully to their knees, and roll slowly over, and lie still...

A warm morning, dewy grass and the warm-fingered sun just beginning to comb the tangled fog.
Some see men going on the "Big Push", many to their doom.
I see the structures of a life:  structured snippets of childhood interecting with footage of the morning sun and fog, creating jumps to memory of vacation mornings at the sea, or by the river.
I sense the incredulity of the individual men as they are forced to let their consciousness give entry to the thunder of gunfire, and watch with unbelieving eyes the structure of the story of their arms and legs give way to a subcutaneous introjection of metallic and shining shards, tumbling towards them like grinning ninjas... a deadly beautiful noise destroying their regime of order... the praying-mantis sentinels of death come to smile at them...
...ah, more structure is yet to come!


Flights are beginning again in Europe.

Like all good socialist companies, the airlines want compensation from someone, probably governments, for their losses. This means tax dollars. Airlines did say up front, however, that they got into the bloody business just as fair-weather participants, so they should be compensated.

Like all good socialist citizens, the travellers inconvenienced by a volcano want compensation, probably from the government, or possibly from a consortium of insurance companies, who had a pool of $ somewhere for just such a contingency: a dusty-day fund, as it were.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed that the guidelines regarding flying through volcanic ash have been changed, following six days of discussions between aviation engineers and experts to "find a way to tackle this immense challenge, unknown in the UK and Europe in living memory".

A spokeswoman from the CAA told BBC News: "Air manufacturers, both engine and airframe, were asked to look at the scientific evidence from test flights and at the Met Office data, to understand how much volcanic ash in the atmosphere… jet engines could tolerate [without being] damaged."

Now, scientists and engineers have agreed a safe threshold - a concentration of ash of 0.002g per cubic metre of air. At or below this concentration, there is no damage to the engine.

Notice there are 6 days of discuss, not research...more like negotiations. Furthermore, I would feel a bit better with the ash concentration figures, if it could be demonstrated to me that all volcanic ash is uniformly distributed through the atmosphere, particularly that portion of the atmosphere through which I am to fly. I am sure that no one wants to stumble across that section of air where the concentration is 0.006 g per cubic metre of air.

I sense we may discuss this again, after the next volcano erupts, and the airlines blithely keep flying.

Le Bon Dieu le Flambeur, Dreams & Monorails

I wake up; anything is possible, a voice says:  rien n'est impossible.
so I watch a film, Bob le Flambeur - Bob the Gambler by Jean-Paul Melville.
darn good film noir, darn good...pas d' mal
it reminds me of monorails for some reason; maybe because it is
set in the Montmartre, which is like so much of the world with
NO monorails...or no particularly rational means of moving traffic.
Reason does not move traffic, altho sometimes it pretends it may.

I dream a lot this week; my soul is "girding it loins" for something.
I always sleep a lot before taking cuts into the line of the Big Change.

Anything is possible. The reason so many people read the Bible
differently is:   any viewpoint is God's viewpoint.
Anything is possible. You just have to want it, I tell myself, still half asleep.

A reasonable system of transport is possible, but you have to want it.
I dream of monorails, because all the roads are crumbling, and require repair so often, they only are open 75% of the time over 20 years. We have what we allowed to be defined as what we wanted.
Communism can work - regardless of what conservative or liberal thought says - but you have to want it to work. Capitalism can actually bring great things to all the classes of people for a long time...
if you want it to do so, if you want it to work well. The crises of capitalism - if you look - are defined as being results of the system and its participants, not the system alone. You need ruthlessly self-centered participants to recreate the messes we make; the system itself is nothing without the brutes of Capital. Everything becomes politicized, so then nothing gets done! If one's daily hygiene were to become a political issue, one half the country would not bathe.

I stumble from my bed. There is an advertisment on from 1958!

Detroit, Feb. 7 -- The automobile industry may be producing cars driven by solar power in the years ahead, James C. Zeder, Chrysler vice-president, predicted today.
"We know how to get electrical energy from sunlight by means of silicon converters," said the Chrysler engineering expert. "If we continue to increase the efficiency of these converters, and if we are able to develop small, efficient energy storage cells solar powered cars will be feasible."
Zeder added that expanding knowledge of nuclear and solar energy is "bringing into sight" more abundant power for people everywhere.
courtesy: Matt Novak

Nothing is THIS, and nothing is THAT! It is what you make of it by taking it within the Narrative of life and making something real and personal of it! Nothing is written on the pages of economic texts, nor on the pages of poli is all writ on our hearts.
REASON cannot comprehend how RELIGION frees the chameleon soul of man to SIN, repent, run free, and make better. Reason says to love the sinner, but hate the sin. No. Love the sinner. Edit sin out of the narrative, but hate nothing, lest you become wise in the ways of hatred. The one and only thing which denies a sinner that sinner's own self-hatred, nothing else. Abjure hatred, and flee its leprous touch.

Any viewpoint is God's viewpoint, and if you commit yourself to it in a godly manner, a great truth will be discovered within your life.

I need coffee to make sense of my life!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Jetson's Grocery Store: Waldbaum's

On Long Island, in New York, round about where Manhasset lies, was a gathering of grocery stores that filled in part of the mid-20th century saga of  "Life in these US of A" :  Bohack's, Grand Union, etc.
They were the grocery of the time and the place, not with overly wide aisles, and they had windows that only took up the upper portion of the front wall; the side wall abutted another building, and had no windows, but did have some joyous depictions of fruits and vegetables...maybe a pilgrim in November. Maybe a Manahatta Indian, too. Sometimes the floors were wood, but maybe that was the Woolworth's. I remember our Woolworth's had wood floors, and it had the vermilion and gold 5 and 10 sign, and there was a soda fountain beyond the ribbons.
The grocery stores were a conundrum to me: they were obviously part of the age of "Air-Flo" and "Aerodynamic Design", yet they were decidedly stodgy and firmly rooted in a past of foodstuffs and comestibles, not to mention  "hardwares"  and  "softwares"  in the For the Home section. It seemed no epistalsis of time had moved them forward.

And then there was Waldbaum's !

Waldbaum's was the promise of the City of The Future of the 1939 New York World's Fair come true - one of the few promises of that enormous amalgam of good wishes, good hopes, and Flash Gordon design that saw the light of day;  just as going to Old Navy reminds you of the Andrews Sisters and going to Willow Run to catch a Ford Tri-Motor flight to Chicago, Waldbaum's puts you in mind of waiting around in the Gold Star Flyers Lounge in 2001.
The architecture stunned the eye, going beyond the novelty of  "Modernistic"  into the rarified reaches of the galaxy called  "Futuristic": it was like a Moebius cross-section of a teardrop from the Horn of Plenty! It filled with glass those places other stores had brick, and leaped to vitrefy the surrounding space-time where other stores had never lifted up their heads to gaze upon, much less conquer with steel and glistening panes of glass.
And it was on a hill, so as we approached it, we were imbued with the sense of driving from the profane to the fane of groceries. To go there after Sunday services was a continuing of the cathedral-"gothic-rocket" church; to go there and buy challa and exchange a shabbas shalom on Friday afternoon was a foretaste-memory of the temple of the Diaspora in Andromeda.

It's all gone now.
We're lucky. We live elsewhere. We remember and dream of the old days, when a quarter was worth 25 bees...or 32 yellow jackets. And we have the last Waldbaum's around, far as I can tell.
However, it isn't a retail store. All the retail are gone. It is a grocery warehouse-type thing, and it was built around the time the developments around here were designed...and each unit in our development has groceries delivered from Waldbaum's.
If you remember the milk chutes, or milk boxes from the old days, that's what it is. Each unit has a glorified "milk box" built in - with security - which is refrigerated. We schedule our needs of dairy, meat, seafood, and other perishables, send in a list, get a verify, and we have the stuff delivered...for a price. But the price is pretty good, since there are so many people living in the area that use this service; far more than would probably merely drive to one grocery store. They probably would need 3 stores to cover this area, but they only have the one warehouse.
Things which aren't perishable are put into a smaller receptacle, and that's it. Some people use part of the refrigerated unit as extra storage. Doesn't matter. The food comes as regular as clock-work, as regular as the government pension check. We sit in the park and discuss philosophy, and -say! - when's the rest of the country gonna get with this Waldbaum thing?


Aunt Sophronia

We have been discussing "facts" and "fictions".

I don't believe facts.
They are not all they are trumped up to be. Just because they are somewhat more reliable when you are stumbling around in the middle of the night, trying to find the light switch, doesn't mean we have to "believe" them:  fact -  the switch is to your right, and down;   fiction -  the lights are water-activated, so you must flush the toilet to be able to see.

To me, facts are like the dowager aunts who are the bane of our existence, spending their time telling us to get a job, badgering us to not be a drain on society, and generally trying to find us a potential wife, who will make something of us. Indeed, having had the temerity to write it down, I see they are very much like my Aunt Eleanore. Her very demeanor leads one to urgently desire to append  "of Aquitaine"  when speaking her name. Or Aunt Stella, who lived to such an advanced age that everyone still alive had forgotten what a termagant she had been; they forgot, that is, until the will was read. Then it came to them.

Fictions are more like the chorus girls that we stage-door johnnies pursue with bouquets and love-grams. We hang around the, well, the stage door after the evening show, waiting for the parade of pulchritude to exit, and we swoop them up, and make off to Toots Shor's bistro.

I actually intended to make this serious.
However, I am quite sure that you will agree that the tone I adopted is much better suited to the discussion.


Needless to say, by such agreement, you give me my point.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Goes Around....Something, Something

I was driving my VDub when I looked over and saw a sticker on the rear window of the car next to me. It read "If you still don't have a job, Keep buying your foreign cars!" I didn't re-act much that I recall. After all, the VW North American headquarters used to be around the block from me. I looked again.

The car with the sticker on it was a Saturn.

The Uses of Science Fiction

I could take time and set down some ways people regard science fiction writing, but I won't. I am not writing for the audience of the year 2235, where no one any longer knows what Sci-Fi is; I am writing for the same people in the country wherein I was born and live: we share our intimate prejudices and tastes from birth, we drank them in our mothers' milk, we breathe them in the air from our first breath. Suffice it to say that in some quarters, fiction is frowned on, and science fiction is the frowniest. ( or frowniest upon...I shall have to check my Fowler's.)

Olaf Stadpledon's Last and First Men changed my life. I read it early on, when I was about twelve, I should think. I remember the Library Thought-Police sort of taking a gander at the binding and snuffing, "Isn't this a bit advanced for you...?"
When they said "you", they turned their searing gaze from the book binding to my ephebic form, trying to make me wilt. I just went back to the shelves, grabbed more books, and brought them back to the counter, saying, "Please, Miss: more?!"
Of course, they gave in. There were no really "bad" books there. Nothing that was on the "Index", say, nor anything too much in praise of Aphrodite or Eros. The books I wanted merely had explosive ideas that masqueraded as "sci fi", and were thus below the radar of officialdom. As far as they were concerned a Dewey classification under "fiction, science" was a dunce cap, meaning "japes, twists, guffaws, antics" , but quite immune from "Ideas, Greate & Serious & Wyse"

Well, Last and First Men showed me the length of days and the presence of the Holy in ways I had never dreamed of before. It caused me unquiet, and it set me to wrestle like Jacob with the angels of understanding.
I finally bought my own copy in Montreal. I still have it, a Penguin edition, the frontispiece with a silhouette of one of the winged Second Men.

The SciFi channel, now yclept ScyFy ( I use "yclept" since it is Anglo-Saxon, and "ScyFy" makes no sense to me, so I assume it means something like "The science fiction channel watched by Beowulf and Grendel...when they weren't carrying on".  Actually, the ScyFy - sort of a demon rather than an FCC regulated channel - seems to have developed a taste for slasher movies, which is either a last gasp of something, or a bad omen of something else...ta-da! )...
Anyway, the ScyFy has a mini-series called Riverworld on. I decided to watch it, since it, too, had a rather pronounced effect on me that went far beyond the typewriter-left-right movement of the eyeballs actively engaged in reading.
Written by Philip Jose Farmer, the novel which is To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first of the trilogy,  was published in 1971, and I came upon a bit more than 10 years later never having heard of it; I came across it cold, unaware of the Thing from beyond imagination! it contained.

Along the littoral of a river more than a million million miles long, all of mankind is reborn into the prime of life! Is it heaven, or hell? And those reborn, if dying yet again, will be reborn along the river, though possibly far from where they had lived their previous rebirth.

I had not thought much about rebirth, or the resurrection. There were not enough answers up front. I found it very unsettling to have such an ingrained particle of faith wrenched out of my psyche and forced to go onstage to fill in for one of the main actors. I mean, God's will, God's love, Creation - all those things are common fodder for the Sunday sermon, but...rebirth!? Finality! This is bloody it! Karma and Shawarma!!
I was knocked off kilter. I frantically perused ahead to find some crumbs of explanation strewn about by Farmer so I could once again emerge from the crumbs!
I got drunk and mused upon the mystery in that state. Not much help, although it did serve to ring down the curtain on the play of sound and fury upon the stage of my imagination.

All in all, one heck of a book. It is a trilogy and, as trilogies go, the second and third were pale and wan compared to the first.
But the TV series is not to be believed. The main character in the book was Sir Richard Burton, Burton of the Nile - not Burton of Night of the Iguana, and the main supporting role was Alice Liddel Pleasance, better known as the Alice of Lewis Carrol's acquaintance. ( Her father,  Liddel, was - of course - the Liddel of Liddel & Scott's Greek Lexicon. ) Richard Burton was a fascinating human being. I am reading his 1,000 Nights and a Night translation on-line now, complete and unbowdlerized by his loving wife. Somehow on ScyFy he is no longer the main focus, but has been re-incarnated as someone determined to prove a villain. Or whatever.
The main character on TV is a guy named Sam or Jack, a sandwich character who is a slab of Brad Pitt cast upon a bedding of secret-agent-McWaterboard or a Marine-tough-guy- &- handle-with-care. The "squeeze" ( and "squeeze" appears to be the only possible word one can use in talking about this. ) is someone named Jessica, last name not Rabbit.

Thus: the sublime to the ridiculous. Not just in SciFi, but in all Art:
Art transcends the human passion wherein it was created.
Schlock is a parasite within that needs the hormones and secretions of the body to increase.

Now, to the Uses of Science Fiction.
I quote from The New Time Travelers
David Toomey, 2007, W.W.Norton & Co,  ISBN 978-0-393-06013-3 (hardcover)
page 309

...Although many of the people described in this book read science fiction in their youth, they had a thirst for deeper knowledge. At some point there was...a kind of intellectual maturation...Listen to any of them speaking, and you will realize they are not so excited by imagined universes as they are by real universes - by what is.

First, the point about imagined versus real universes is not well thought out. All of the scientists mentioned in the book madly procreate hypothetical universes. They wish to prove them real, of course, but does this imply that the readers of science fiction somehow find inspiration yet lack any desire to fill out their understanding of the real world with the new inspiration found in their reading? Hardly.

Second, Mr. Toomey obviously believes that there is a hard "fact" which is superior to "story, narrative...theory, hypothesis". I do not. In a universe of vast information, all is information, and the ancient split between material and spirit has vanished. Ditto the Grand Canyon between "fact" and "fiction".

Third, the inspiration given by reading leads to deeper knowledge. To arbitrarily grasp "deeper knowledge" as the sole belonging of Science is to commit the same error that Creationists do by claiming Biological efficacy for the Bible.

Live long, and prosper!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Art & Porn

Greek god Eros

There is the quotation from the history of the forensic debate about pornography: I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it.

It always struck me as an incredible statement, but I was never able to define it, either. Of course, I had never lived my life with the necessity of defining things. I could live and interact without necessarily defining the various aspects of my own, personal biosphere.

However, I shall give it a whirl:

Both Art and Pornography are part of Imaging Behavior of mankind. (Or part of Language Behavior for the written.)

Art fascinates with or without Eros.
Pornography cannot fascinate without Eros.

We speak here omnitemporally:  "with Eros" means "with Eros in the past, present, or future".
Hence, Art may be inspired (past tense) by Eros, may give rise (present) to Eros, or may continue to eroticize.
Pornography without Eros is cold and uncomfortably forced. Without Eros to trick our eyes, in viewing Pornography we shall always see the creepy surroundings, the after-hours garages used as a studio. We feel shame for the people involved, and shame at hearing the words. Only Eros can transform our creepy feelings on viewing Porn into erotic flights of fancy.

I chose the above picture for Eros, because I really cannot stand nor understand the usual depictions. The modern ones are way too beautiful, coy, effeminate, self-centered... Eros is cool, studious; he is not like mad Pan, not too handsome and beautiful.  He is a smart dude with a job to do, and he enjoys his work, but is not prey to his own spells.
In looking the ancient paintings, I came across  one in the Louvre (Eros bobbin Louvre CA1798) and one in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Catalogue Number: Boston 01.8079). The Boston one says that Eros was carrying a fawn. By comparing the two, and looking with an open eye at the Boston painting, Eros seems to be no longer carrying that fawn. And that's all I'm saying about this.

And I really believe that Eros would wear sunglasses, a la Joe Cool.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Holocaust of Trust

I wuz treated like a dirty dog, much like genial Jim Cramer wuz by Sylvain Raynes on Erin Burnett's CNBC "Lite" financial show. I said that financial reform would take some of the air out of the Tea Party sails, and most people said, no it won't, idiot. The GOP will be obstructionist, and the TP's will love it, because the intention is to destroy government, not to change it.

Well, well, well.

Sometimes I do not write down everything I see. There are a lot of possible paths from the present to the future. The Tea Party path is one. What I see there is not what you want to see. Myself, I am not engaged like you probably are. As I have said before, in 2008, all illusions were removed, and I stood alone like Ausonius and watched the fabric of the Roman Empire unravel. I had reached a point where I understood the preceeding partial centuries of my consciousness: the wierd and odd became quite ordinary...

if you wonder what possibly I could be talking about, consider predatory all its forms...
Consider a people preyed upon by their privileged leaders...
Consider a holocaust of trust; sniff the air for the active crematories of our innocence...
Abuse is what we experience, and it is what we inflict. Predation is what we fear, and what we do...
Our awareness is a M.C.Escher concentration camp where we are Guards and Prisoners, eternally walking upstairs, only to find we have descended.

If you want me to tell you what lies down the path of the Tea Party, I suppose I could...but I won't just yet. Why? Because I don't wish to. I don't wish to be your teacher, your prophet, nor anything else. I just want the country to be reasonably OK, and to be left alone like jdsalinger. And I want you to be OK, too. That's all. I certainly don't want to be a leader of any sort, even though I am obviously as incompetent as the two pictured above.
We are not exceptional, and we are not God's chosen; we have to save ourselves. We still have a few years in which to learn how to be heroes and heroines.

(The picture above is nothing but a "Reanimator" poster for the damned.)


I was corresponding about baseball, and I mentioned how it was all spoiled for me back in '93 or '94, when Sparky Anderson was effectively fired by Mike Ilitch of Detroit for refusing to manage replacement players.
(Even then, I thought it was a bad omen to fire someone for being a purist, having integrity to the sport, and doing what they believed strongly to be right...)

The pain I felt was imaged as velcro pads ripping apart:  velcro eyes ( which has already been mentioned in one of my weekly poems within the past year...forget which ) or velcro heart, and that horrible sound you hear is what you love being ripped off your soul: velcro hooks being torn from velcro barbs.

So it should form the basis for next week's poem, IF...
If I can keep the song "Hungry Eyes" out of my mind, that is, which forces me into "Velcro Eyes".


"Iceland's last wish: to have its ashes scattered all over Europe"
Pedro da Costa

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Note to re: labels

"Depending on how the syrup is processed, it may or may not contain more fructose," says Roger Clemens, a professor at USC and spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologists, whose research has focused on functional foods, food processing and nutrition.

Tea Time: Whether to Invite Goldman Sachs...or the Taliban?

Goldman Sachs is accused of fraud.

What we will see now that Wall Street is beginning to be held accountable for its crimes, is that some of the demands of the Tea Party are actually being met. It will have the effect of taking some of the wind from the Tea Party sails: the more we drag the criminals in $1,000 suits into prison, the more wind is taken.

As the GOP filibusters, all of their wind will be gone.

As the details of financial crimes begin to fill the media, a great fervor will be whipped up, and the GOP is once again on the wrong side. Imagine standing up and protesting against regulation for an industry that has by common assent performed its functions knowingly to defraud investors.
This mess is not over by a long shot.
People are still held in the prisons of their houses and condos they cannot sell for any reasonable amount of money...that is, those who have not been foreclosed against. In some places it is getting worse.
How could an a segment of the society upon which everyone depends so greatly have destroyed our wealth, our trust, and - for some - our lives?

Whom shall I invite for tea?  Goldman Sachs, or the Taliban? Who has injured me less?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party Founder

Apparently the founder of the Tea Party was Franklin Jefferson Burns, ancestor of well-known Montgomery Burns. He was among those in the Boston Tea Party.

The Periodic Englishman Pub

I walked down to the Periodic Pub yester after [ I've decided "yesterday" and "afternoon" are too long and too expensive, so I've laid them off; they are redundant ( on one side of The Channel), and part of the grand chomage (on the other side of La Manche) ]. The place was shuttered and still, the lights extinguished and the wit laid under a bushel.

Sic transit, I thought, wondering when the next train to the northern 'burbs ran.

I did read the last broadside, affixed to the antique glass of the entryway. It was raining; my glasses were wet; I couldn't quite make it out in the light there: it was a veritable mezzuzah of the arcane and mystifying guarding the door.
I had managed to creep myself out, so I lit a match, and I read the post.
He had mentioned his gram (God rest her soul) had spoken in tongues to the family dog at times. Being an incurable romantic and an incurable dyslexic, I of course read this as "...spoken in the tongue of dogs to the family dog...", sort of changing things around, going from meditations upon old age and the passing of time, and turning it into a sort of pantomime version of Harry Potter.

What I found troublesome was the fact that I did not perceive my error until well along the passage. I suddenly realized my expectations of fantasy were like the Emperor who stepped out of the schvitz and walked down the middle of main street, oblivious of the fact that his towel had been caught on the doorknob of the baths.
Well, long story short, it is time for a confession: it is exactly this way that I dream up most of my stuff; it's all based on mis-readings of the musings of the brainy. There. Now you can do it, too.

Does God Know All Things? ( Quantum Epistemology)

Stop. Don't run away. I know I'm being repetitive, but I have said that I use this blog as my notebook, journal, and Vade Mekong, so sometimes I ramble on.
Ramble, you say? Like how? Well, like

Vade, Mekong, O flumen bellorum
in somnis nostris, parens Asiae
go, Mekong, o, river of wars inside our dreams,
mother of south Asia...

How long can you go on with a joke on "Vade Mecum"? Especially since no one studies Latin these days? Apparently - if you're me - you can do it forever. Good sense and good taste are a bit like quantum negative vacuum in my personality: they are exotic material, rare and hard to come by.

So, does God know all things? Actually this is not about the nature of God - which I consider something about which we cannot say anything at all - and it is about knowing

In a universe of conscious entities, Detail is infinite within the period of consciousness.

That is, if the sum total of knowledge at this moment is X, and I consider it, and you say "Montag has considered X on April 16, 2010." , you have added knowledge to the universe, and X has expanded to some new form, X+e.

The mere fact of "knowing" has altered what is "known".

So if God knows all things, God is constantly changing what is "known", so at time 1 "God knows all things" means somewhat less than it does at time 2. When a mediaeval scholar uttered "Omnia Deus scit", it did not have the exact denotation that it does today.

When I say "God knows all things" (GKAT for short), I assert it as being true, and I immediately create an extra detail of the sum total of knowledge which changes the sum total of knowledge, thereby falsifying the previous GKAT.

Conscious entities constantly add Detail to the universe. If there exists an up-to-date count of burgers sold by McDonalds, I can add Detail and create an updated burger account by going up and buying a solitary burger, with cheese or not.

My moral is not to talk about the attributes of God. It doesn't seem to do much good. And I can't remember any of the religious geniuses telling us to sit around and chatter about whether God is left-handed or right-handed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Squawk ( Pine-)Box

Foreclosures outnumber saved homes, 5 to 1!
Once a month, they report it.

But every stinking day we still have that idiots' parade of the stock market reports thrown in our faces, yelled at us, and trotting by on the bottom of the TV screens.
All the stock market is is a sham driven by nothing but cheap government money. It a bubble being set up to fleece another bunch of suckers. I don't want to hear abouit it 24/7 anymore. Wall Street has been exposed for what it is. It has been thrust from its coffin and exposed to the light of the Sun...but still it lives!  Enough!

If they reported on foreclosures and the homeless and the unemployed with the same frequency and screaming and sirens wailing that they do the damn stock market, maybe something effective would be done.

The Recording Secretary

I am the Secretary of the HOA where I live. I have discovered how true it is that History is not only written by the victors, but - more truly - it is written by the Historians and the Recording Secretaries.

For the great majority - 95% or more - of the great mass and heaps of tedious details that occur: the turns of phrase, the implied emphases, the body language, is exactly what the Recording Secretary says it is.

When I was elected to the position, some friends said, "Secretary? That's a wuss job."
I reminded them that Secretary was Stalin's position.
(...and I jotted their names down...on my "list"...)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Omnium Gatherum & Vade Mecum

I have a composition book I carry with me, that I bought for a dollar at the Dollar Store. I don't call it my Vade Mecum ( "Go with me." ); I call it my Vade Mekong, which means - I suppose - "Go, O, Mekong River!"

Just sayin'.

Rocks and Hard Places

God is difficult - the proverbial adamantine rock and the hardest of hard places.

When St. Paul speaks of leaving behind the things of a child, I do not think most of us have any idea how radical and difficult that is. It is the equivalent of being knocked off one's horse on the way to Damascus.

I think it is the very essential basis of blood in religion, blood sacrifice, blood letting, and the more severe asceticisms.

To give up the things of a child...that is to give up your childhood; it is to give up the child, you, which still lives with you. It is painful, and it is difficult. It is losing the security of childhood. If you had a miserrable childhood, then it's giving up the very basis of your hates and dysfunctions which provide the structure of your life.

If my life is like a house, God is demolition and excavation, then re-filling in so there's no trace left of the home that had been there.
God is the Leviathan to our Ahab, and He tasks us severely, even when our spirit has been reduced to the barest of framework of a battered ship, floating aimlessly within the ocean's expanse. He never stops.
At that point - so I am told - we see forever.

pix: bernard alapetite

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oklahoma's Confederation

Some bright guys in Oklahoma are considering setting up a state militia to resist the encursions of the federable [sic] govmint [sic].
I believe Baysage is somehow mixed up in all of this. He is very cunning.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shroud of Turin

Once again the shroud is on display. What surprises me about the shroud is that I never hear anything about miracles associated with it. Since the Church has a process of keeping track of miracles of saints, and verifying their "bonae fides", you would think there would be quite a long catalogue of miracles, and the Advocatus Diaboli would have thrown his arms up into the air and gone fishing.

Perhaps this is the trade-off: as we become more and more certain that the shroud is that in which Jesus was buried, there is less and less of the miraculous about it. It is becoming sort of a favorite of scientists and positivists; there are always carbon-dating parties going on at the clubs that it goes to. It's becoming profane.

I find it all very Anatole France, who deals with angels hobnobbing with earthlings in La Revolte des Anges: angels in the wickerwork, angels hanging out with women, the divine come to earth. Very inspiring, what?

Facts: Brutish and Red in the Tooth

I am having a disscuss with Ruth and Baysage about "facts" and "myths". I believe "facts" are subservient to "myths" or stories or narratives or plain fictions. No one is swayed by facts, except scientists and their ilk, but they have always been strange.

Facts are brutish and asperger-ish: they butt in at inopportune times, and then they usually hit you upside the head.

Stories, however, are smooth and polished. They have been to the best colleges and finishing schools, and they have PR people who keep track of their public personas.

Myths are what we elect to be our leaders; Facts are the harsh reality of the poor, weak creatures that haunt the halls of power.

The Holocaust

The death of the Polish President and his entourage in a airplane crash caught my attention for the paradoxical and irony of the fact that they were all going to Russia for a memorial of the slaughter of thousands of Polish soldiers by the Soviet Army in the Katyn forest.
Thousands and thousands sooner or later make millions dead. And it reminds me that the Holocaust is not an event solely reserved to the Jewish Nation to observe and commemorate with aspirations of "Never again!"

Millions of all the peoples of Europe were slaughtered, some with planning, some on the spur of the moment, but killed they were. It was a true feast of Death, The Celebrity, who was the focus of our fears and desires.

We all have a part in the memorial of the Holocaust. If we deny it, we deny our ancestors, who in turn will deny us before the throne of God.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What We've Become

Back in the day, we used to look at documentaries from socialist countries, like the USSR, and there would be daycare centers where all the children would be lined up and it was implied that they were sort of treated like commodities; the parents had to work on the collective farm or the state factory, and the state was responsible for raising the kids. How awful that was!

Well, I just saw something on daycare in the USA. Guess what?

Then I talked to a young woman in Naples who says that my favorite art gallery shut down ( Shamaly's ), and the busiest stores in town are those that are devoted to knock-off jewelry. I asked whether that was legal-type knock-offs (whatever they might be), and she paused. She did not know. Then we spoke about how openly things like that were shown and sold in Chinatown. So I said, "It's Chinatown, Jake!", referring to the film Chinatown (and I wonder if I can work another "Chinatown" in here).

So I said, it's all Baghdad, honey! We've met the so-called Third World, and it is us. (To top it off, there was a brief energy outage...first of the year here.)

Creation Scapes

George Burns in "Oh, God!"

As I sit here, Creation Scapes - or C-Scapes as I call it - is on. The info button on my AT&T Uverse thingie reveals that it is " Christian music amid the backdrop of beautiful pictures ". Ever quaint, eh?

Interesting. At first, my dyslexia led me to read it as "Creation Scrapes", which I took to be a Genesis-based sit-com with all kinds of loveable antics with a moral. ( I have an active imagination. ) I couldn't actually envisage God getting into scrapes - like Lucy and Ethel - because that omniscience thing would always be a Lucy wouldn't have gone gaga over William Holden in the Brown Derby restaurant, if she had omnisciently known that Ricky was going to bring him by the hotel just after lunch...
See how it spoils things?
Maybe the angels were getting into scrapes. That I could imagine. I've seen lots of pictures of roly-poly puti and cherubs having a blast, draping necklaces of flowers around the necks of centaurs and such ( must have been Disney's Fantasia! ).
If I were to pitch "Everybody Loves The Angel Raymond" at NBC, the execs would be mirthful. Similarly, if I pitched "Everbody Hates The Angel Chris", there would be good, old-fashioned, non-blasphemous giggles. Angels are OK. Open season on angels. They just grin and bear it. Angels are good old boys and girls, and never seem to hold a grudge.

Anyway, the program was indeed music which I found uninteresting "amid" scenes considered idyllic...if I were a designer for Hallmark inspirational booklets.
However, I realized that I never associated God with cool pictures. Nor do I praise God. I mean, seriously, I can't remember the last time I took Him aside, and said "Job well done!"...and that's "job" with a short o, not the proper name from the Bible, Job.

I think that maybe if I had to get myself worked up to think about God, I might have recourse to "pictures" to "arouse" me. However, this is rather mundane, and it reminds me too much of what people do with pornography. To associate religious feelings with a "high" brought on by gazing at sugary pictures strikes me as bordering on the if the Holy were an emotion to be called forth from our mixed up souls.

I think that if we didn't work side by side each and every day, I might get a notion to go to some special place and say nice things about Him, even though most religious services during the year remind me of "roasts"; the type of thing Dean Martin might have for God.

At this point, Creation Scrapes begins to sound good.

The Names of Cats

Cats have more names than did the ancient pharoahs of Egypt. They had their given names, their throne names, their - oh, I don't know - their Heb Sed names, if they made it to that festival, their ka names, dynastic names...I could look this up. The books on Egypt are right nearby. But I won't. You'll just have to take it on faith.

Cats have their legal, given names. These are usually accompanied by a long parenthesis of explanation, such as:
Her name is Chessie... like the cat that was a logo for the C & O Railroad...with her mate, Peake...and their kits.
This is the name. The explanation is usually appended to it 99% of the time if one is speaking to someone who has not met the cat before, so it a name. Why? When I meet people, and I say my name is Montag, do I say I was born at night, but not Monday night, or some such tomfoolery? No. Montag it is. If the explanation is considered so important for a cat, it is obviously the true given name.
This has an abbreviated form, a form we more usually associate with a given name:
Her name is Chessie...
Then there are the names of endearment, such as "Snookie", and so on, and names of exploits, such as "Mouse Bane" or "Vole Terror". ( the last being a pun on "Voltaire", although what M. Voltaire has to do with cats, I do not know.)

In fact, we name cats the way a lot of the rest of the world handles names, where the given name often disappears under some prominent sobriquet. Abu Māzin is a common name for the President of the Palestinian Authority, even though that is not his given name. It is a kunya, and means he is the father of Māzin, who is probably his first child.
But this type of construction can go further, and someone could be called Abu Salām, meaning " the father of peace " and indicating a potential Nobel honoree. This happens all over. In these parts, we tend to restrict the practice to sports figures and criminals: Sultan of Swat, Tony Pro.
Personally, I think this is due to our old Puritan influence that somehow sees a multitude of names as being equivalent to "Legion", and forces us to adhere to one name, but that one well chosen, such as Prudence, or Makepeace. I think we have lost a lot of the fun. Names should flower so bountifully, that the mere mention of a national ID card should be the occassion of mirthful laughter.

Our true selves comes out when we play with the names of our pets.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Climate Change, Supervolcanoes, Algae, Meteors, Mothers-in-Law, etc.

There are too many theories of how the great extinctions came about, way too many. I have read about meteors causing extinction, weather causing extinction, algae causing extinction, supervolcanoes causing mass extinctions, etc. Everything except the staid, tried and true mother-in-law theory of mass extinction, and I suppose that will be next.

I put forth my own idea that "it was just time" for an extinction, based on Wolfram's Cellular Automata behavior where suddenly regions of structure and form may come into being at step 100, endure for millions of steps, then suddenly disappear - with no apparent reason we can see - at the 50,000,000th step: it was just time for structure to go back to chaos.

What does this have to do with Climate Change?

Well, to my way of thinking, everything comes into being, lives, and passes away, either when it is time to go, or pushed into death by accident or a powerful inducement to extinction. If it isn't Climate Change, it will be something else.
We either are committed to Life as Mankind, or we are not. So far, we are doing little or nothing to protect, cherish, and extend the Life of Mankind. We witness increases in wealth and production, watching China bring millions into a semblance of a middle class, and we are happy that capitalism works so well. But we also have to be committed to Mankind, and plan to protect life and the quality of life. In essence, we have to enter into an age beyond capitalism.
Every possible situation that is injurious to mankind has its opposite, where we assert that the situation is not injurious; Cigarettes and Tobacco come to mind: there is yet a group of "flat-earthers" about tobacco, complete with scientists, who hold that smoking isn't all that bad. They can still discuss and moot it; they can "politic" about it.

For us, the Political Scenario has taken center stage, and we "politic" about everything for ages and ages. So far, everything has moved along at just the right snail's pace to let us do this, and reaffirm our smugness in how bright and brilliant we are. Except when we decide to go off and wage wars based on idle dreams and deceitful schemes...but even then, we see proof of our brilliance and forethought.

When things move fast, the Political Scenario will be thrown into the waste basket.
Then what do we do, since we have never thought in terms of hundreds and thousands of years. The best we can do is jibber-jabber about spending our grandkids inheritance. We hear that over and over, and we have heard it for all my life. Never did a thing about it for the long term, neither. Pretty much said, screw them grandkids!
We never really thought about creating a better world for grandkids in a long time. Maybe 60 years or more. We never thought beyond that: creating a better world hundreds of years down the way. Certainly not thousands of years! Let the dead bury the dead, and let the unborn bury the unborn!

The way of faith is a committment to God and His creation, and thus a committment to the Life of Mankind.

Town & Gown

There is a nearby institution of higher learning where a small group of students demonstrate that they wish to have their second amendment rights to bear arms on campus: they walk about the campus during the day with empty holsters.

A spokesperson was heard to say that they had a right to defend themselves.


Perhaps it is the remora of campus shootings that resonates within us; we think there is some semblance of logic because - in truth - people are going around shooting each other, particularly on the quad where it is like shooting fish in a barrel. These stories and tales swim in our minds like great cinema, and we nod our heads, thinking, yes, some day a wild eyed terrorist will indeed burst into Biology 101 and start shooting. It is regrettable, but there you are.

In the Middle Ages, things were rough, too. From the Ratio Studiorum of the Jesuits ( 1599 ) we read in the Rules of the Prefect of Lower Studies:

No one shall be permitted to carry weapons either in the corridors or in the classrooms, even of the higher classes.

I am guessing that the motivation behind the rule was that weapons tend to be used, whether a terrorist is at hand or not. How far our civilization has progressed, that we may think ourselves capable of carrying weaponry everywhere and not have the slightest worry that we shall misuse or abuse them. How advanced we are that our places of learning are the settings for slaughters, real or imagined.

Is God Omniscient? Get In Line.

A good deal depends on how one goes about knowing anything in order to impute omniscience to God. Does omniscience mean that God merely knows all the possible outcomes of a given state of affairs, and furthermore He knows which of all the possible outcomes will eventually come to be? ( We exclude the possibility that it is by faith that we know that He knows.)

However, this account assumes that we possess a robust means of describing all possible outcomes, otherwise, how would we be able to assert that God knows all the possible outcomes?

However, if we possess such a robust means of describing all possible outcomes of a state of affairs, then it is absolutely necessary that such a precise instrument of language and knowledge cannot be itself mistaken for omniscience, for then we would be omnisicient.

If I assert "God is omniscient", this is equivalent to asserting "I am omniscient". Else, I could not prove the assertion that God is so omniscient.
Of course, it is acceptable that one have faith that God is omniscient, but this jumps outside the area of proof.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Karzai's Misery

It must be a terrible situation for Hamid Karzai to try to work with a country whose military seems more like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight than a military force.

Hearts & Minds...and They Hate Us For Our Freedom... two nonsensical mantras we hear from politicians, leaders, and the media.
They may hate us because we have graduated from killing women in wedding parties to killing pregnant women in their first trimester...or later.

What else?
Suicide bombers?
At least suicide bombers make some sort of personal commitment to something, no matter how bizarre. Our country kills people indiscriminately from afar by drones; when they're up close, they can't seem to see the difference between a camera and a AK-47.

One of these days, we shall see the enormous depravity of war, and not let our young people go into it so blindly and unready.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Poetry...and Song
The language of her soul

By Ofer Aderet

Yasmin Levy likens herself to a butterfly fluttering among flowers, pollinating them. The flowers are countries and people; the pollen, her songs in Ladino. "I disseminate these songs because they are the only thing that will survive from this language," she said. "Within less than a generation, it will totally disappear." ...
"I took traditional songs, changed the rhythms and adaptations, added a few instruments and made them sound younger and more interesting," she said, while demonstrating how elements of jazz and flamenco fuse with Cuban beats to produce a pulsating Ladino number. "I understood that in order to reach a younger audience, I need to make these songs more accessible and evocative."

Nonetheless, she would never change the lyrics or the melodies: "I don't have the right to do such a thing," she said. "They're not my songs."

I respect Ms. Levy, even though I do not quite grasp her logic. I would say, who gets the money when you sing the songs, Yasmin? If the money goes to the immortal ancestors, OK. If you put it in the bank, it's your money and your songs.
Harking back to the previous post, creation is ongoing: don't try to pretend otherwise. You do no honor to the past by pretending not to change its creations. That is the meaning of life: to grow.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


I have decided there is no final form to poetry. Nor to music, for that matter. It may be too late to save the rest of the Arts.

A basic distinction among conscious entities is whether they want their curators to embalm the past, or to keep it available so that it may refresh and be refreshed!

Every emotional state evoked by the poet's words should be ensuffraged, and enter into the vast and living legislature of our consciousness.

Long Count

The Mayan Long Count cycle ends in 2012. Some would have us believe that this means Earth is going "down for the long count" when this occurs. It is not the latest - for there are more and more every day - tale of disaster, but it is recent.

Is there proof?
Why is there belief, then?
People believe what they want , or need,  to believe.

What Need of hideous strength compels our belief in disaster scenario after disaster scenario?
What is driving us in this present time?

( I have noticed there are shades and hues of Belief. A lot of people see disaster movies, or read books on coming catastrophes, but they do not "believe" necessarily. However, I have found that the opoinions of the people are shaded from " well, it's not impossible, so it could happen" to a tendency to store the particular disaster scenario away, and then recall it some time in the future.
So we do not have a well-defined list of beliefs about the end of things, or major metaphysical catastrophes, but we do have quite a long sort of "honey do" list of ways to point fingers of blame and bizarre explanations ready to be mustered at a moment's notice.

And we need them. We never learn how to stop the "catastrophe" or the "end of the world".
The "End of Times" is not a physical destruction of a planet . A metaphysical catastrophe is not just a real bad day on Mother Earth.
End of Times is the destruction of the reality created by consciousness; it is the end of the world created by the artists of consciousness - these artists being ourselves. The true drama is consciousness being destroyed, letting itself be destroyed, or, most tragically, destroying itself.
So, how do we learn to stop consciousness from participating in a stage-play where it is the Killer and Victim? )

Divine Discords

"There's gonna be a fight! There's gonna be a fight!", to quote Stan Laurel in the film Chumps At Oxford.
A theological-sociological one, but still a fight. A donneybrook.

I was reading a Lutheran's take on the attacks on poor Benedict XVI  ( which I have sadly gotten into the habit of saying " ex, vee, eye" instead of "16th"...since I cannot remember if it's 16 or 17, and I rebel at reading Roman numerals ever since the "unpleasantness" at the Super Bowl ).
The upshot of it all was that the forces of Modernism were conspiring to destroy good old Christianity...which I have sadly gotten into the habit of referring to as "Pe - ex -ianity " , from the symbol of the Greek Chi  X  superimposed over the Greek Rho  P ... the rho looks like the English "p"...

Anyway, forces of Modernism running amok, and quotations from Niemuller abounding: when they came for the Catholics, I did not protest, because I was not a Catholic, etc.
And all the comments were similar "onward, Christian soldiers" broadsides, and lots of wonderment why the Media should impoverish Christianity, while there was the Drang von Osten  ( Push from the East ) of Muslims filling the ghettoes and sketchy areas of Europe.
( and why do foreigners seem so attracted to our sketchy areas, anyway? A bit of nostalgie de la boue, perhaps? )

I was properly appalled. I applauded their writing. I said that once again we see that a good fight touches us mightily........... ways the love of God cannot.

The love of God needs all our rhetorical skills to whip us up into a frenzy. For the most part, our love is not quick, not acute, not painfully intense. That's why we have sermons to incite us. If any peoples anywhere ever danced themselves into a frenzy around a fire in a religious ritual, then similarly we allow our divines to strain at oratory, and use words to try to inflame our hearts.
But our hearts are green wood.
Were they fat wood, then the love of God would touch our hearts with intimate flame the same as does a good fight!