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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Arizona Papers?

Long story, short:

Vietnam era, draftees in Detroit, waiting to be shipped out for basic, filling out endless papers. After an hour or so for paperwork, a sergeant comes in and asks "Anyone have Arizona papers?"

People look around, no one from Arizona. Sergeant repeats "Anyone have Arizona papers?" and he looks around for any hands shooting up. None do.

Turns out, sergeant was from Down South, and he was asking asking "Does anyone have errors on their papers?"

And so, this:


Transcendent Economics 101: Rewards

We have established that Regulatory Agencies will not function in a society where the reward ( jobs in industry after leaving the regulatory commission, for example ) for ignoring problems exceed the rewards ( ones wages ) for addressing problems.

This begins to give us insight into statements about "transcendent focus", such as " The modern age has lost its transcendent focus" and other euphemisms for talking about religion.

Transcendent focus is usually tied to a transcendent reward structure. The loss of the reward structure is what people are actually referring to when they say we have lost our transcendent focus. We still wander out on Sundays to church - some do not - but we have no real anticipation of reward. Those who do have a real sense of rewards to come have already been rewarded. So it's all about our gifts, and the transcendent is indeed invisible, and a synonym for non-existence.

There is no reward for the Holy. For us, the Holy is seen as the end of a process, but it is the process itself in its entirety, past, present, and future. The reward, if reward you need, is your own "transcendent economic appraisal" of the process.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fatwa, Fatwa...

Studying Arabic, one learns more than one wants to know about Saudi Arabia.
You'll have to read it there. I cannot describe the story.


Tomorrow morning I shall fill this space in with a story about the frontier moving west, new people, and our times. Obama spent time in Hawaii, the furthest west frontier. Now we shall have to await going to the Moon and Mars, whither we shall import our ancient grudge to a yet  newer frontier.

We had gathered for the funeral from all points of the globe, now we were priming ourselves to enter diaspora again; there was a veil in the air - you could feel it. It was a silk diaphanous that cut short your breath and made you speak in short bites of language, often minutes apart, and we began to sound like Ke Sanh when the fight was winding down and automatic gun fire ejaculated in disparate bursts, like a prickly memento mori.
My mother chose this evening to drink. She had not seen my sister for five years, and the tension between them kept the wind hot as the sun was setting. The last time I had spoken to Nan about Mom, she had said that talking to our mother was like living in Germany in WW II: the terror was made banal by the simple fact that you still were alive, and the terror had not yet killed you... you accepted it as part of life, part of a diabolic deal for your life. She said talking to Mom was like watching a horror movie, like Saw III, only the deceptive domesticity rendered it seemingly normal.
So we all drank this evening. We had exhausted the routines of post-funeral gatherings; the eulogy had not been all that good, actually. The church was a misapprehension of German Expressionism, dark in the bowels of a wooden ship, beams and staves crossing at unnatural angles. He had not looked all that good, either, at the funeral home last night.
My mother almost never drank anything but a glass of wine, and now she had a disheveled Tom Collins - an afternoon drink by any standards - in her hand, and the perspiration off that tall glass ran in a slow rivulet over her cool hand. Her profile showed her Puritan stock, a tough race of farmers and entrepreneurs who had come west, western yet of the Western Reserve, and had put down roots.
As the great forests rose in the East, then grew old and were felled, the forests of the western lands took over. Leaders rose up across the country over time, like a sports wave in extreme slow motion, going from the East to the West over the course of 200 years. Our time had come and had gone in this history; the zenith had been World War II when the Midwest had been the Arsenal of Democracy. After the war, things still boomed for a while, but the spirit of the land picked up and moved westward, following the movies to California.
We sat now in the time when the President was born in Hawaii, which was about as far west as one could get. We couldn't go any further. We'd run out of places to run to. When we ran to the airport tomorrow and the day after, and let loose the fragile threads of agnate and enate and watch them drop, we would part again, but none of us could really run away anymore. No U-Turn.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paul Krugman writes:

June 6 2010
Lost Decade, Here We Come

The deficit hawks have taken over the G20:

“Those countries with serious fiscal challenges need to accelerate the pace of consolidation,” it added. “We welcome the recent announcements by some countries to reduce their deficits in 2010 and strengthen their fiscal frameworks and institutions”.

These words were in marked contrast to the G20’s previous communiqué from late April, which called for fiscal support to “be maintained until the recovery is firmly driven by the private sector and becomes more entrenched”.
It’s basically incredible that this is happening with unemployment in the euro area still rising, and only slight labor market progress in the US.

But don’t we need to worry about government debt? Yes — but slashing spending while the economy is still deeply depressed is both an extremely costly and quite ineffective way to reduce future debt. Costly, because it depresses the economy further; ineffective, because by depressing the economy, fiscal contraction now reduces tax receipts. A rough estimate right now is that cutting spending by 1 percent of GDP raises the unemployment rate by .75 percent compared with what it would otherwise be, yet reduces future debt by less than 0.5 percent of GDP.

Our previous run-in with a relcalcitrant problem of this magnatitude was solved by World War II and its resolution with the USA being the only intact Industrial Democracy still standing. We really do not know how this would have come out if there had not been a war which had the exact type of ending WW II had: if WW II had ended in a protracted stalemate, and Europe had not been reduced to ashes, it would have been different.
Nobody really knows what's going to happen.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Battle of the Awning

It rains on the rich and the poor alike. Similarly for the blowing wind and the driving snow. Ditto for earthquakes and floods and simooms, and all the meteorologic and democratic phenoms of the world. The only difference is in the realm of human consciousness, where man had worked to spend more money and time on the design and construction of buildings housing important people, while neglecting the foundations of the elementary schools, which turn to rubbery ooze in an earthquake. Or the aristocratic heat-coil pavement which melts the democratic snow... or a house built strong and sturdy set upon a hill to be seen, and far away from the cardboard boxes makeshifted under roadway culverts: Jerusalem seen in contrast to Goshen; the pain of Nature is swift and overwhelming and passes on like a killer tornado, while mankind's inflictions create an ongoing symphony filling every audible nook in extended octaves, killing by simile and metaphor, but also by antithesis and oxymoron.

Case in point: my brother's favorite bar, Rocky's Watering Hole - a name too expensive by far for all that neon, and the son of the eponymous Rocky, Joey but still called "Rocky", re-did the sign so that only "Rocky" lit up. It turns out a cost analysis of the electricity required to jitter neon gas through a longer tube compared to a  shorter is not so very much after all, and Rocky II was a victim of a false logic brought about by spending an afternoon waiting in his doctor's office and reading a TIME article on the Wharton School of Business.
The State had passed a law banning smoking from all public places. This put the hurt on Rocky's, and on my brother as well, for he was a habitue of Rocky's, and really what's the point of going to the bar to drink and smoke if you have to get up, leave your beer in the bar, and go outside and smoke a few butts? You can't take the alcohol outside. Even though there is a great public bacchanalia of drunkenness every year smack dab in the middle of downtown - a celebration for the sailing race from Port Desespoir to Malatesta - and open consumption of alcohol is not only tolerated, but positively encouraged, the rest of the drinking year remains under the law of the hijab of obscurity, and open alcohol must not be seen on the public streets. In fact, during the public drunkenness, smoking is forbidden even along the open streets where the Rocky bar people smoke now, because the festival is considered a public place, and all the streets which comprise ground zero of the festival are unified into one big network of "public place", and smoking is forbidden. At these times, people duck into the bars and cafes to have a smoke, and remember the good old days when they could sit there and drink beer and smoke and let their hair turn the color of a white dog's backside. The logic of it all escapes everyone, but logic is a stranger in a strange land.

My brother and his mates were watching some sporting event or other, seated in Rocky's. After a while, they decided to pop outside for a few cigarettes, only to be met by the driving rain of a sudden storm driven eastwards against the prevailing winds by circulation off the large body of water beyond the harbor. They whirled about the brick exteriors of the old buildings like packing peanuts and old leaves blown by the wind, and scouring every nook and cranny within the furrowed brick faces along the alley, looking for a dry spot. When they found one, their smokes were wet. They stood in a quiet desperation. My brother did two brilliant things: first, he decided to build, and did a preliminary design in his head for, an awning to provide cover from the rain; second, he realized that his way of life was being consciously undermined by an intelligent agency, an intelligence which obviously not only could sway lawmakers into inconveniencing him - which was not all that much, since every lobbyist could do so - but could also command the weather and elements to drive him into a state of furious defiance, where he stood alone like Ahab thrusting his fist against the sky.
On re-entry into the bar, he grabbed a fistful of napkins and secured a ballpoint from Rocky and began designing. Rocky's butted up against the Don't Worry, Be Happy Bistro - the entire name in neon - and formed an "L" shaped alley between themselves and Smiley's Diner which filled out the block up to the sidewalk. The two legs of the "L" were not very wide. The only appreciable area of ground was at their juncture where the two drinking spots came together. So from the aluminum overhang from the 1970s sheltering the front of Rocky's, you could duck into the narrow part of the alley - where you would be rained on only if the rain were coming straight down or ricocheting off the brick sides - and trot down to the smokers' oasis where a free standing awning, stretched between sturdy poles set in old buckets filled with "comcrete" awaited - the awning would not be attached to any buildings due to the necessity of a building permit.
So all hands sprung to work, and this week of construction was fondly referred to ever after as "The Week We Built The Damn Awning" with a smile of pride, and a haughty flick of ash. My brother forgot his newly found paranoia for a while, and drew plans and gave orders. Rocky had saved poles from front awnings earlier than the 1970s behind the dumpster, and they were ferreted out and roughly cleaned. Containers and buckets were procured, most of them coming from the bar itself or the diner; goodly sized 5-gallon buckets smelling of pickle chips or with a dab of strawberry filling along the sides. Broken bag - hence "free" - concrete was caged from Artis Hardware, and Mikey the part-time tattoo guy did this, and he did it in the afternoon of the day the morning of which saw him drinking beer and messing with his utility knife whittling a long pointed stick... and Artis wondered why he had so many broke up bags of "see-ment" in the chicken wire enclosure when Mikey stopped by to buy some "duck" tape and ask if there was any broken bag stuff.

And they kept at it. Drinkers usually plunge into projects like this with a gosh-all fury, but by 3:00 it peters out when the cinema paradiso of the imagination starts running travelogues and documentaries about green, cool oases in the hot desert, where the wadis run amber and - golly! - wouldn't a foam moustache on your upper lip be a hoot?
Not this time. The canvas for the awning was old sail thrown out by the sailors in the Port Desespoir to Malatesta classic. Real racers replace sail every three years or so. And it just goes to landfills, where it has a half-life of a thousand years, so Rocky found some guy refurbishing sails and got free space-age sail material for the awning.
The only thing they had to pay for was the rent on the heater to weld the space-age sail material into a hem around the transverse poles; no one sews sails anymore.

After 12 days, it was done. There were no big problems, and no one got hurt, except for Mikey who was the cement guy and he threw the bags around and mixed the cement and poured it into the containers to hold the poles, and it was a hot day, so he took off his shirt and the cement dust mixed with his sweat and began to hydrate... and that's an exothermic guy, you know, it gives off heat when it mixes with moisture, so he got some minor cement burns on his chest and shoulders.
So Rocky bought them them all a round of drinks, and they went outside and stood underneath the awning. They lit up, and life was good. All they could see was the sides and backs of buildings, and the dumpsters were close, and you could smell them, since food was served in all three of the surrounding places, but right then life was good.
They looked forward to rain.

Into each life, some rain must fall, as the saying goes. To the guys at Rocky's, it was not coming fast enough. They wanted to see how the new awning worked. Up until now, it had only functioned as a parasol, keeping the sun off them, or would have, had the sun ever descended into the narrow spaces and the covered area, but it didn't hardly, being at the wrong spot of the earth, so to say, and the "angle of the dangle" - as my brother put it - was wrong.
They began to look to the sky and pray for rain like farmers.

Soon after, it began to rain. If they hadn't been drinking yet, it was time to go. Bosses at part-time jobs listened to sudden reports of emergencies requiring the awning crew members to get home as soon as possible, everything being OK, well, not exact OK - there is an emergency - but it ain't like the end of the world as we know it, but emergency enough, but I'll be back here on the job in the AM, sure!
So everyone converged at Rocky's.
Two rounds were demolished, and they dashed out the door into the rain, squealing with delight like school kids, holding onto their smokes, protecting them from the rain, almost giggling with anticipation. They ran down the narrow alley leading to the awning like madcap Bowery Boys. My brother was in the lead. When he got there, he pulled up short, just inside the lip of the awning, just out of the rain, and the others sort of piled into him from behind - again, like Huntz Hall into Leo Gorcey.
They stared with disbelief. There in front of them stood a crowd of smokers they had never, ever seen before. The two groups squared off and eyed each other warily. The crowd that had been there first conformed slightly to allow Rocky's boys to just edge inside the protected area, but the Bowery Boys stood there looking around, and muttering just loud enough to be heard "Whathufuh?" and shaking their heads: looking, shaking, whathufuh and swallow a great gob of smoke.

The crowd thinned, the alien smokers withdrawing back to where they'd come from: the women wearing Anne Taylor and the men wearing Brooks Brothers back into the Don't Worry-Be Happy, and the Minnie Pearls and guys wearing overhauls into Smiley's.
My brother and his crew just stood around, pointedly flicking ash.
"This ain't right! This is our awning!" someone said. They looked around at their handiwork, and felt cheated that they had not even been the first to use it, to break it in... to christen it Rocky's Awning and Smoking Club!
They took their complaint inside, where the disbarred lawyer, Jerry Koppel, sat drunk and in a cramp about his own coffee house/bistro three blocks down, and how much his vendors were screwing him. He just laughed at them and said the awning overhung the three "propity" lines, and everyone had a right to be there.
"Even if there's no room for us? The guys that put it up?"
Jerry laughed again. He tried to think of some witty thing to say about justice... Dame Justice One-Eye, maybe... and irony and what goes around, but he could only come up with something from Star Trek, or maybe Star Wars, and it didn't have the weighty ring to it he wanted; he may have been disbarred, but he was still the only philosopher in the bucket of blood academy! So he laughed again.
"We could force 'em out!" They all agreed.
Jerry shook his head. "You'll end up in the slammer. The Be Happy crowd is the right crowd the city fathers want downtown, so you don't have a chance there." He paused. "And the Smiley's crowd is a bunch of farm boys that'll whoop you with one hand tied behind their backs." He used his laugh once more to punctuate his observations.
"It ain't fair, though!" the Bowery Boys wailed.
Jerry thought about fair. Fair. Something to say about fairness, like here's a quarter, call me when you find some! But it didn't come. He took out a cigarette... and lit it, wondering if anyone'd bust him.

pix:   Third picture:
Yonge Street Patterns 2

Next Big Corporate Gaff

What could they do after the spill into the Gulf of Mexico?
Well, for one they could actually mess up all your private information that they have. I received a letter from Chase Bank saying how they love me and my privacy, and they'd like to make it harder for the bad guys, and so on.

Trouble is, I know Chase has problems already with the data they have.

My mother went into her Chase branch, and on her account, she saw something that looked like "Unique Tools", "Wisconsin Avenue" and "Illinois". She asked what it was, and no one at the branch had a clue, even though they felt compelled to make a few incredibly stupid guesses.
So she gives me a scrap of paper with this on it, and I think she's nuts.
Only, I go to GOOGLE Earth and I find something very close to it on Wisconsin Avenue in Illinois. You can, too, if you try. If you are the CEO of the place, post me a comment and I'll fill you in with the rest of the details of how your company got into my mother's account at Chase Bank.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Obama's Katrina

I was reading J. Watland's story in The Eleventh Draft entitled What Obama's Katrina Means and enjoying his writing, as always. He writes of Karl Rove responding to this question in the Wall Street Journal.

It dawned suddenly on me that the Deepwater Horizon thing could only actually be Obama's Katrina if some of the drilling crew had been stranded on the rig for a week or so before anyone came to rescue them.

Furthermore, what Rove says is of no interest.
I was an observer:

My father was in an isolation ward in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia, although at first the med staff thought it was some tropical disease. (! true);

I gassed up the evening before the storm, figuring the price of gas would skyrocket after Katrina landed;

I went to the hospital later and watched the storm approach;

I watched for four long days afterwards as people waited for rescue: I watched Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera lacerate their comfortable fellows back in the studio - wondering when some bottles of water might be dropped by the Super Dome;

I actually said to myself, "By heavens, they are going to let them die there !"

That's what a Katrina is, not what Karl Rove speaks about.

Friday, June 11, 2010


From Der Spiegel:


The Mother of All Bubbles
Huge National Debts Could Push Euro Zone into Bankruptcy,1518,693317,00.html

...And the global financial world would be faced with a new Lehman Brothers, the American investment bank that collapsed in September 2008, taking the global economy to the brink of the abyss. It was only through massive government bailout packages that a collapse of the entire financial system was averted at the time.

So the banks throughout the world are set up like a line of dominoes, except that China's financial system is not as thoroughly integrated into the rest of the world's.

A lack of diversity means that when the population gets sick, all will be infected, for the entire group is similarly susceptible to the illness. Also, such promiscuity as envisaged by globalization leads to disease. The entire structure was based on the quaint belief that Western Capitalism did not carry the seeds of it own destruction within itself, such as had Communism. It was inconceivable that instead of leading the world into the new millennium, it might actually bring the world to a new Depression: the light that failed... the sequel.

What would people have said, or still yet may say? How could a loving, kind Economic System have let such evil happen? Why, there is no Economic System ! We shall be agnostic in our economics. Such are the songs we shall sing when our technology exhausts everything, and there is no diverse populations to take over; we will  collapse into a singularity.

Remedial Actions

It is quite clear we had no real remedies for that nightmare of mine, often repeated recently in the last year, about what one does when the oil line breaks in two. Of course, I never thought of the rig exploding, but I was wondering how one goes about putting a twist-tie on the gusher.

Well, we don't. Or, it's a coin toss at best. We really haven't tried this emergency stuff out one mile under water, but by extrapolation - since it works at 200 feet  - we figure it will work just fine.
This is not really a rational approach.
It mimics rationality and science, but it is almost pure faith disguised as due diligence and giving work to endless lawyers and bureaucrats... but it is not based on credible evidence.
Anyhow, if we really have no reliable remedies in our technology for the glitches of our technology, what remedies do we have when things go south with Mother Nature?
Suppose, for example, the Ogalalla Aquifer goes bust, or the Great Man Made River in Libya depletes its aquifer... or the projects in China. What then?  When it come to natural disasters, we don't even pretend to have a remedy.
What if the fishing stocks in the ocean crash? We don't really know the mathematics of sustaining life while scooping up great portions of the population and killing them. We really don't. If things go wrong, there is no remedy. Same with Global Warming: not a chance to sing or dance.

If there are no remedies better than 50/50, a cost-benefit analysis using these probabilities is called for: no charade of science where we "pretend" the equipment works at 100 feet, therefore it will function at 5,000 feet.

One Difference Between Poetry and Pop Music Lyrics

When the Nigerian singer   2Face Idibia   sings:

You are my African queen/
You make my heart go ting-a-ling-a-ling/

it obviously needs music and the structure of a song to carry it off. A poet really could not write that and get away with it.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wedding Tradition

The Wedding took place 10:30 AM on June 5, and the weather was fine: something borrowed, something blue... something like a typhoon?

The night of June 4 in Detroit:

The early morning of June 6:

Dundee, MI

Lake Township, OH

Some friends who had to return home early were driving to the airport at 3:00 AM Sunday, and the expressway underpasses were flooded, the trip taking 1 1/2 hours instead of the usual 1/2 hour from downtown Detroit.

My wife and I were married a few hours after Tropical Storm Doria had passed through Long Island in August, 1971, dumping 8 inches of rain, and flooding roads. There was no power at all in Nassau County, Long Island that morning, and no lights, A/C, or even fans in the church, but nothing could stop us.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Misstatements About Military Service

Paul von Hindenburg

You know you are living in the preliminary stages of a Military Empire when people running for office feel they have to enlarge their military resumes, in some cases, going from "none" to "some". If the perception is growing that the only people capable of being trusted are military personnel, we are very close to the days when Paul von Hindenburg, hero of Tannenberg,  was elected President of the Weimar Republic.

These misstatements are not deliberate attempts to deceive, for if they were, the candidate uttering them in this age of intense scrutiny must be considered out of the contest for lack of any semblance of good sense. No, they probably are believed by the individual, who wants very much to believe in them as his bona fides for high office.


I read Commentary Magazine on-line at least once a month. I find many of the articles interesting, particularly those articles which take the view that since Israel's greatest threat in the Middle East is from various Arab countries or peoples, then the USA faces a similar threat from - not Arab countries nor Arab peoples, but from Muslim Ideology.

I find them very interesting. I really cannot describe it. I know now is the time to set forth what I believe to be the case, what I agree with or disagree with, and all that folderol of the Reasonable Society, which - believe it or not - we are supposed to be part of. Imagine that ! Reasonable !
I no longer agree nor disagree. After 60 years of this conflict, to agree or disagree would be to enter into the same malaise that dogged my ancestors. No thank you. Observe our follies and learn from them.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tech of Respect, Tech of Disrespect

The Tech of Disrespect for the Earth and its People is by now much further advanced than the Tech of Respect.
Disrespect-Tech can foul oceans and the mighty seas, whereas Respect-Tech still sits around in sweat lodges.

Greenpeace takes a small boat out on the fishes-highway, cold Njörðr's house [ note: Norse sea god ], where they fight against modern whale-slaughter corporations upon the seas: where the thanes of Njörðr  [ note: the whales ] are killed and cut down like thin reeds, pulled into the maw of the life-rending ship, and processed by the hundreds and thousands; only 5 men in a small open skiff oppose them, risking even death.

When the Respect-Tech catches up, that will be the day of celebration. But for now, there is no great joy, for even those great medical breakthroughs we keep hearing about will often be denied to many of us for a number of reasons. Respect is and will remain an illusion for some time to come until that time when we may save and make whole the Earth and its inhabitants by the millions and for long periods of time with the same ease by which we create profits at high rates for long periods of time.

Getting to the Church on Time 4

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

3 Years

Just finished 3 years of poetry, one per week, for peace. Also fasting one day for peace. The 156th poem is at the peace weaving blog link located on the right just below candle in window --->

My poetry gets better, my hunger more refined; Peace, however, is not following her script, and Discontent is ad-libbing outrageously.

Dust Bowl Memories

Decades long abuse of the soil and the land culminated in the Great Dust Bowl years of the 1920s and the 1930s. The procedures being used on the land were designed for short-term exploitation, not long-term conservation.

As we know by now, these bills always come due.

We have been warned for years about the inherent problems for the ecology in offshore oil drilling. We have also been warned about chemicals in the food stream, nuclear waste, genetically modified food, and the rapid depletion of the water aquifers in all corners of the world.

Our technology is quickening the rate of our demise.

Getting to the Church on Time 3