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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Machine... Leaks

E.M.Forster wrote the short story The Machine Stops in 1909, and it was the early paradigm of the story of a mechanical and scientific Eden where everything was done for mankind by the "machines". In Forster's story, the machine stops, leading to a breakdown of civilization as it is known in the sanitized and sequestered community of mankind where even the weather is controlled.
One day, the world controlling machine stops, and it stops not with a Bang!, but a whimper.

How prone are the electronic machines to a breakdown? I always thought that one of our major problems would occur as our systems break down, either willingly or unwillingly, and they show us numerous signs that they may do so at some point in time. One thinks of such things when the stock market plunges 1,000 points in 2 minutes, as it did this year. Purely a glitch. Got it under control. No need to worry.

But the most serious threat to our machines is WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks says it will dump secret information from one of the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks in 2011, and the aftermath should be interesting.

The hackers and leakers are the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil in our modern electronic Eden, and will probably continue to be so. Quantum computing will have its hackers. Governments hope that the future of computing includes costs so great that only nation-states may afford it: things such as Stuxnet!

WikiLeaks is an information revolution.
In democratic systems, the Revolution of Real Information will be something we have never seen before.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gaza as Jallianwalla Bagh

My nephews asked me what I thought of events in Gaza over the past half year.
Retreating to satire, I paraphrased a scene from the film "Gandhi" as best I could:

"General Dyer, exactly how does a Palestinian child victim of a bombing raid apply for aid?"

If this is unclear to the reader, I suspect that there is much that is unclear.
General Dyer was the perpetrator of the Amritsar Massacre, also referred to as Jallianwalla Bagh, when the troops turned their rifles against the unarmed citizens in said Bagh, or Garden.

I achieve a certain level of clarity if I believe that 60 years ago someone decided that genocide should change its target from Jews to Palestinians. Truly, the Narrative of Blood Sacrifice is a scenario from which we cannot seem to escape. It has always been very potent and sacred, and we seem to relish it.
Therefore, we struggle within its grasp and change it every possible way we can, but it is still the same destructive way of viewing the world. The victims change; the perpetrators change; the onlookers change; but the underlying process does not.

The Intuition of future disaster - end of times or whatever - is an intuition that we cannot escape the Narrative of bloodletting, and Isaac or Ishmael must ceaselessly be sacrificed in an obsessively-compulsive ritual from which we find no exit.

What dark god compels us?

Addiction: Panic in Needle Mall !!

I sense that everything is changing. Of course, my life is, that goes without saying. But yours is, too. The world is moving to that different place. I keep looking around and saying "So that's how they did it in the Roman Empire!"

Case in point, the phenomenon of Black Friday, the day of enormous retail sales after Thanksgiving. Crowds of people lines up all night. Thank heaven they still do not really make and effort to keep things under control, and there were a couple of videos of people being trampled when the various castles of consumerism opened their doors. There was one in Buffalo; we were watching Buffalo, NY, news in Toronto Saturday morning.

Bread and Circuses. Go back and look at the coverage and what people do. The items are not exactly free and the circus is ourselves in a reality show of greed, but just look how fascinating it is, and how we act as crowds and mobs, and how all our buttons are pushed.
We are the consumer proles getting our consumer fix.

So I keep looking around and saying "Roman Empire... deja-vu!" The degradations from the Needle Park of Consumerism to the Virtual Striptease of the TSA fighting to keep us safe from the groups our government was supporting just 20 years ago.
I know this is coming to an end. We all do.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Events from Before the Big Bang

Professor Penrose has published on his cyclic theory - CCC, confomal cyclic cosmology - which postulates as series of Big Bang events and no Inflationary Period immediately following the Big Bang. Personally, I always found the Inflationary scenario a bit to Ptolemaic saving-the-appearances for my taste. It is a brilliant bit of ad hoc-ery.

Perhaps we will soon see an end to that other bit of jiggery-pokery: Dark Matter. There are other possible interpretations than this enormous Hunting of the Snipe we are currently engaged in.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

O, Pakistan!

In talking to a friend, a lady from Pakistan, she expressed an interest in my knowledge of the history of Pakistan - at least its early history - and we talked of the days of Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Gandhi. I told her I would dig this poem out and refurbish it. It was written just after the assassination of Mrs. Bhutto.

note: "  Ijtimaa'  " we use to mean community, specifically community between all peoples.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah's Tomb and Memorial

Oh, Pakistan! Whether the past
be glorious or dismal,
let it not diminish thee!
The long road of the future beckons.
Not hatred, but forbearance.
Not strife but ijtimaa '
Attain the perfection
of your lives which
Islam demands of thee!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Returning Home to Moscow from the Caucasus

Nomad Mikhail

when did you get home?
and did the ocean roar?

did you see your pals again
at the Georgian shore?

did you look into a store,
did you hold your child high?

and why was he a kid again,
and why was I a sigh?

i have already been there...
i shall not go again.
go and find your future
and sometimes i will send

an email of christmas time,
easter email too,
picnics, woods, and running twain
for we will ne'er be true...

On Seeing "Avatar" Again

Viewing the film Avatar again reinforces my love-hate relationship with it: even though I sincerely would love to love it, I find it so derivative and deja-vu and tedious that I could scream. I love the sensuous animal nature of the Na'vis, and that is the entire extent of my admiration.

The story is based on a short story Call Me Joe from the 1950's that is immediately recognized, although in the short story, the action took place on the surface of Jupiter; i.e., a gas giant planet about which Pandora orbits. If you recall the shot of Pandora in its orbit, the gas giant has a Great Blue Spot storm on its surface atmosphere and looks a good deal like Jupiter and its Great Red Spot.
James Cameron also has what I consider a bad habit of having obsessionally structured scripts which he follows rather faithfully, only to have to edit out large portions of the finished product, leaving us with informational GAPs which tend to startle me, if no one else. The whole business of Sigourney Weaver's school was hard to grasp, and I am used to walking into movies in media res and getting a grasp without much problem.
Floating land masses, adrift in the atmosphere have been standard fare of surreal artists for a long time. Furthermore, they make absolutely no sense whatsoever in the atmosphere of Pandora, but they do have interesting possibilities for havens in the atmosphere's of gas giant planets.
The whole business of the Home Tree swept me immediately into Tolkien's Shire, along with his depiction of the evils of industrialization in the Shire being paralleled by the "company's" mining operation for "unobtainium"
I found the company middle-level management hacks practicing their putting in space a sincere homage to Borges: a mirror of infinite representations; how many times may one use a stock scene? I fully expected Peter Boyle from Outland to smile at me; his quest was illicit drugs, however. (I must also admit that Sigourney Weaver had begun to resemble Frances Sternhagen - also in Outland - quite a bit.)
The characters were shallow depictions: Military Man, Company Hack (... I mean, can't you just sense Paul Reiser as the hack from Aliens in this? I felt so bad to see Giovanni Ribisi wasted in a mish-mosh of characters stitched together.) I found the mechanized body suit in which the Military Man fights at the end too redolent of Sigourney Weaver in her mechanized hydraulic body suit in Aliens.
I thought the religious theme shallow, but what religious themes in films aren't when you think about it? Films that use traditional religious imagery to depict religious experience are doubly damned by too great a dose of sugar and saccharine.
The chase scenes through the forests looked like Star Wars forest moon of Endor, home of the Ewoks.

I think my biggest disappointment was that James Cameron turned what could have been a historic film combining sensuality, religion, and the discontents of our age into something that is a good deal less than a not particularly good comic book: technically a masterpiece, conceptually a re-hash, and spiritually a porridge.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poems to Mary

A poem I wrote in 2009 to the Virgin Mary, Theotokos. Mary is a fighter for the oppressed and the poor. I realize this might offend some people, but the spiritual reality is far more ferocious than the mainstream churches lead us to believe. I pray to her now for my sister-in-law in Toronto undergoing surgery.

Kick-Ass Mary

How great the pain that pierced your heart,
Mother, when they raised Him on the cross;
ceaseless furrows of your tears record the
tsunami of your loss!
Hammer and spear, thorns and scourge,
all life from your soul did purge?

"My pain blinded everything else, I could not stand;
I admit that in my pain I cried a few
tears and screamed in my deep despair... softened
by the mound of stones I threw!
From Roman heads came blood, their cries attest:
'Get that Jew bitch! That Jewish terrorist!' "

the Virgin Mary is usually depicted as silently suffering during the passion of Jesus. However, she fought for her kids like a soldier, and drew the blood of killers. She still fights for us.
(as I explain in a comment, I tired of Mary being portrayed as Our Lady of Perpetual Victimization.)

ART: Tarsila do Amaral

nasceu em 1886 na Fazenda Sao Bernardo, Brasil.

Speaker for the Arts

I am reposting this, not because of any great demand from any quarter, but I am off to Toronto and there may some some complications over the next week or two, prohibiting me from doing too much writing. So, I really loved this dream and bring it to your attention.

I was dreaming this morning at 4:00 AM. I know because I woke up as I finished my dream-speech, thrust my arm forward into the air, and fell onto the bedroom floor, having run out of mattress. I woke up, looked around, and remembered having raised my arm outwards, recalling the Levi's commercial which runs "O, Pioneer, My Pioneer!" with cuts of young folks running, jumping, hiking...remembering that the advertisement originally had a shot with a young girl standing nearby a statue, the scene lit by fire light, and everyone raising their right arms in a salute redolent of the 1930's and 40's and very Leni Riefenstahl.(The later edited versions of the commercial excised this portion.)

Ah, I said, I'm having a Hogan's Heroes moment. I am imagining myself as Werner Klemperer 's Colonel Klink being an absolute toady in front of General Burckhalter. Then it came to me: I had been at a meeting about the Arts, and we had been discussing something along the lines of making the Arts relevant for our community, and I had made a point and finished my speech with a flourish of the radius and ulna...or...and here's where it gets a bit may have not been a flourish at all; I may have punched a lady in the face: it wasn't quite clear.

Now it may strike you as odd that we here in this community would have a round table about the Arts and end up fighting like animals in the octagon cage, but that's why we love this town, as Ernie Hudson ( in Ghostbusters ) might say; it is the wonder of its topology.

And it was a dream sequence. Don't forget that. That is an important point: dream sequence versus reality. The entire country forgot this distinction sometime back in the first decade of the 21st century, and imagine the egg on our faces when we couldn't even find any Christmas cracker bon-bons (those tubular constructs with pull tabs on the end you...pull, actually, and it goes...sort of poooof! crack!, and if you're lucky, you may get a small toy or fortune from inside it: party favors!!) ...couldn't even find a Christmas cracker party favor in Saddam Hussein's Holiday Pantry!
So - dream sequence (mind you, if anything profane or untoward happens, I am guiltless) and there is a goodly number of us Art types thronged into what resembles The Shop Around the Corner in the You've Got Mail version - or possibly Gepetto's workshop...or Heidi's grandfather's house...all very cosy, very woodworky, very alpine cum Hochzeit, very lots-a-booksy, library-and-roaring-fireplace-type things, as if Heidi's grandfather did a lot of reading, instead of rescuing stranded skiers from avalanches and giving tokes of brandy to lost pilgrims and what-not. (I think I may have mixed up Heidi's Opa with a St. Bernard, but it does not affect this story in the slightest.)

Anyway, in comes an artsy chick from the cold, layered with four layers of loveliness to protect her from the winter's chill, and she has a determined look on her face. To me, she looked like a Russian Ice Queen, and the sweep of her scarves emulate the sway of her long, pendulant braids! I can't quite see these braids yet, but I'm sure I will later. She comes in and makes an intercept course right at me, looking a bit peeved, and I'm suddenly wondering what happened to the fair damsel I kissed in the summer boathouse (dream sequence, again! dream sequence). Well, it was the guy behind me she was coming full speed after, not me. He was an athletic chappie in a Norwegian sweater; an Arno Breker type that looked as if he could have posed for any number of monumental statues of the 20th century.

An Arno Breker Statue

She reduced her forward momentum considerably as she neared us and hove to; her eyes flashed warning shots across our bows. He handed her some sort of sign that had to do with the whole Artsy deal we were involved in, only it seemed to be about the size of an advert for the side of an autobus. She gave a look of "it's about time!", and secured it on her main deck (continuing the feeble metaphor of ships and vessels), did a 180, and strode off - not before sending the faintest Marconi wireless bit of electro-smile, a spark of white teeth flashing duh-duh-duh-daaaa!...and I heard Vera Lynn whispering that we'd meet again, and actually the time and place were quite well known: about midnight at her place...but it was all for Arno Breker, not for me.

I was getting light-headed from the exhalations off the warming bodies, when the meeting finally came to order, or as much order as is possible in a meeting of the artsy folks. My cousin - who had somehow infiltrated the meeting, obviously to cause trouble - suggested that Montag tell the assembly his opinion on what the group should do to to promote Art.
I heard my name and jolted out of whatever reverie I was then engaged in. (It never ceases to amaze me that even in my dreams, I am usually wool-gathering or daydreaming somewhere. I mean, how many drams of Nepenthe does one need?!)
I rose to my feet slowly, whispering fervidly to my neighbors, "What the heck are we discussing?"
"Arts." they said. "Promotion of..."
They seemed to speak as if they were assembling a card catalog with entries sorted by last name, or pretending they talked like Yoda:

" arts, promotion of "


" yourself, don't make a fool of " .

It was one of those dreams of school where one has not studied for the exam and you struggle to remember exactly what the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram looks like, and your hangover keeps humming a Max Steiner motif from " A Star is Born ", and you know you always get Frederic March mixed up with Raymond Massey, and you know you are screwed royally.

I slowly stood up. I thanked my cousin, greeted all the assembled worthies, verities, luminaries, heroes and heroines of the Arts...I kept it going while my brain spun like a Land Rover stuck in a mud wallow somewhere in Kenya. So while my tongue wagged like a red pennant in a strong offshore wind, the extra addition I had had built onto my brain was working overtime to come up with a plausible statement of intent. I knew it was working; I could hear the million typewriters being pecked on by the million monkeys I had hired to do such drudge scripting and editing.
Finally, a runner from my extra brain rushed into the main hall of my intelligence - a structure that eerily resembled a Big Top right now - and thrust a couple sheets of paper into my sweating hands.

"That's it." the runner said.

I looked at the scribbles in amazement and disbelief. " it?!"

"That's it!" and he ran off.

I heard myself intone, "Now, to the main point of my remarks..."

I would like to say the room reverberated, but it was more of a rustling noise, bodies moving around, more layers of clothes being removed, and a distinct scent of eau de pissed-off was in the air, since everyone wanted to get their 2 cents in, and who the heck was this Montag feller anywho?

The lady in front of me popped up. She wore a Burberry scarf, and a brown leather coat. She wore black boots collared with fur over tight jeans painted on her legs, which themselves looked like two sharp stiletto blades pendant from her hips: she was an erotic Aphrodite-scissors-legs, used to cutting men in two with those mortal gams, and she was tired of waiting for me. I fancied I heard a whetstone being applied to steel.
She spoke as if I did not exist. She held her head directly in front of me. Her hair was the artifice of time and expense. It settled like a carpet for the Muses, and she frequently had to give one of those twist things women do when their hair descends upon their eyes...exiting it all to the side of the proscenium arch of her lovely face with a managerial flip of the head and combed by an ushering hand; that same fair hand she would not hesitate to knock me aside with.
The chairperson finally thanked her, even though she was not done, not by a long chalk. The chair mentioned that I had not spoken, or at least had not spoken to the point, and it still was my turn to speak, and - by the by - would I be kind enough to wrap it all up in a timely manner?

She glared at me. She sat down, plotting some revenge.

I spoke.
I said that all mankind are artists by nature. (That sounds good. They'll eat it up! Like greedy school boys cramming sweets into their mouths!)
The basics of living beings are the things they do, the crafts, things made, things found; what is Art but the transformation of craft and work and rote, things found and things made, into a higher level of life, the Aesthetic Level. (There was a groundswell of approbation coming my almost made me sway as I stood there.)

If we were to reform the educational system to inculcate into each and every child the fact that Art is transformation of Life by discipline and theory and imagination, we would not have need of constant meetings to ponder what one should do about promoting the Arts, for -indeed!!- to paraphrase Ebenezer Scrooge, Mankind and the Arts are my business!  
(Everyone was smiling and beaming, except the lady in the Burberry scarf. She turned and glared at me. Her very long scarf had loosened and one end had drooped to the floor, where I had covertly affixed it firmly with the toe of my shoe. And happily I had done so, for she decided to cut off my speech. She stood abruptly in front of me, only to be pulled back down, croaking, as her scarf pulled her back like an unruly mastiff on the business end of a leash. Sorry, I muttered, as I removed the offending toe from the choke-scarf. I was Bogart, "Sorry, sweetheart.")

Returning to the Arts, I said that they are similar in this respect to religion; as St. Paul enjoins us to create within the spirit; put away the things of childhood, and transform yourselves!

At this point, some smiles sort of froze, as if someone had clobbered the individuals on the pate with a rolling pin. A dazed look unrolled over the room... Hastily, I dropped the religious stuff. Christmas had just passed, and everyone had had quite enough of that, thank you. Religion is a lot like cookies, food, and drink: one tends to overdo it during the holidays, and is, thus, forced to go on a rigorous fast after New Year's to try and get back into one's groove.

" The Arts are the business of mankind! I said. When this society realizes this, and teaches every child to live his life to its fullest potential, then the Arts will come into their own! " I said, not having a clue what any of this actually meant. I ended with my arm thrust out, saluting that brave, new world of the future.

It was at this point that I kissed the floor, O, Pioneer, My Pioneer!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ART C. Jeffrey

Artist:   Catherine Jeffrey

I love this painting for its unabashed Prairie Home Companion feeling: as if I were outside the Fitz theater waiting for Garrison Keillor and the crowd. The people are Everyman... and the cars, well, they're Every-Car, and the theater is Every-Palladium. Somewhere a young child is singing "Rhubarb Pie".


May the Steve Zissou be with You!

And the Steve is no other than Steve Zissou of The Life Aquatic fame.
There is an unusual interleaving of life with all things Steve:
(1) Stephen Wolfram (a variant spelling); scientist, mathematician, and author of A New Kind of Science,
(2) Stevia, the universal sweetener.

Furthermore, there is the film itself, and it is a glorious mish-mosh of themes that are somehow how rolled together into one big pistachio baklava of Steve Zissou:
(1) his partner was killed by a mythic, possibly non-existent, shark - Moby Dick theme,
(2) his wife may be becoming close with her ex - must have been done with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne at some time,
(3) a young man comes on the scene claiming Steve is his father - Family Guy's My Black Son episode,
(4) Steve's recent films have not been well received and he is in an artisitic crisis - Fellini's 8 1/2 ,
and so on.

To be absolutely honest, this film is totally constellated around Bill Murray. If someone else had played Steve Zissou, this film would have gone down in flames. Consider the sitch (i.e., situation) where Nicholas Cage had played Zissou - ghastly. Or Brad Pitt - uni-dimensional. Denzel? No, but seriously... Bill Murray informs this film in the same way that the eternal ideals of Plato were to inform and cause the representations of the physical world. It is Murray. There is no other protean actor who acts on the quantum level where everything is possible.

In this many-faced, many-possible-outcome world, symbolized by the multi-national make-up of the crew, Steve Zissou is Everyman faced with an infinite universe whose complexity is tangible and mind-boggling.

The Steve be with you.

ps. For future historians, chronologically Steve Zissou and the Life Aquatic must predate Broken Flowers, because in Life, his friend Esteban has been shark-eaten, while in Flowers, the film starts with him talking to Esteban in a diner. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bespoke Ghettoes of Choice

Israel is to build a barrier along its border with Egypt to stop illegal immigrants and smuggling.

The 240-kilometer-long, $370 million barrier will be part fence and part surveillance technology. The project was announced in January by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel," he said.

It's none of my business, but the utter irony of free and democratic "ghetto-izing" must give everyone pause to wonder "What the heck...?"

From The of "ghetto":

Although the ghettos owed their origin primarily to the intolerance and tyranny of the citizens, yet the Jews themselves must have found it undesirable to live scattered among a hostile population, and must have regarded the ghetto as a place of refuge. Lippmann Heller, rabbi of the community of Vienna, claims credit for having been instrumental in organizing the ghetto of that city; it existed, however, only from 1625 to 1670. The Jews of that time found it in many cases impossible to live together with the Christians.

 My point has been that we are tiptoeing into a new age of Fascism, with a renewed anti-Semitism to be the paradigm of our Racist dynamo that powers the new Fascism. In the USA, Arabs are depicted in the manner the Nazis caricatured the Jews. In Europe, all minorities are frowned upon. In Israel, the fact of life is that the Israeli government feels it must separate itself from the neighborhood.

It does not matter how Fascism starts. By reading history books, one gets the impression that the birth of Fascism is a straight-forward and logical process which progresses step by logical step to Dictatorship.
Nonsense. Fascism is born in the welter of everyday life and it morphs along until it finds its way. But its start requires Division, Distrust, and Deception to kick start its era of primitive tyrannical accumulation of evil.

Preacher versus Teacher

The best way to inform people is to give them relevant information and time to ponder it. Let them make the important logical connections themselves. Once people go "Ah-ha!" and gain clarity, they never forget that lesson.
Whereas preaching and sermonizing are like shooting water cannons and our minds are the ducks' backs: the words slide off and need to be renewed soon again.

Freedom of Religion in one of its senses means that men and women must at some time in their lives make the "vision quest" or the withdrawal into the desert for "forty days and nights"; they must ascend Sinai or make a Night Journey They must come to grips with God as an immanent reality. That lesson they won't forget.

Some will be destroyed by such an encounter, no doubt. I think the numbers will be much less than the multitudes destroying themselves now with drugs and alcohol and violence.


Niono Reborn

Artist: Michael Eade

Niono is a city on the Sahel River in Mali in the Sahara Desert. The Sahel is a tributary to the Niger. Engineers Without Borders has been working on rehab projects in Niono.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Brother's Beer

I went to visit my brother and give him some money.
He needs ID.
His PO (parole officer) has been after him to get his ID.
He said it was something to do with his DNA test.
"DNA test?", I said. "Why a DNA test?" I was wondering just how frivolous one can be with one's money.
"Anybody with a felony conviction gets a DNA test", he said.
"Oh," I mused, wondering at the marvelous technology and the cesspool of the Justice system. One gets a lot of information and hands it over to creeps.

His PO says that if he does not get his ID, then it will be a misdemeanor.
"Oh...," I decided to be willfully obtuse. "...perhaps they'll give you another DNA test for that."
"Yeah," he laughed.
It was debated whether he should bring it up to his PO, something like saying that he knew he needed another DNA test for failing to procure ID, producing a plastic specimen cup, brandishing it in her parole official face, and asking for a Playboy.

His PO was a good looking lady. I saw her once. Twice actually. Well, more like 11 times, if the truth be told. And that omits the glimpses in the rear view mirror.
This all came about one afternoon earlier in the year, in the summer of 2007, when I had taken him to the store. He has no car and no driver's license ( a piece of ID).
My job is to help, I guess. So as we were finishing getting the necessities, I asked whether he needed some beer.
"Sure," he said. "That always comes in handy."
He's not supposed to drink. Whether that is court mandated or comes from his history of hepatitis C, I do not know. I just know he does, and why make him walk to The Licker Locker after I go?
Furthermore, he lives, as it were, in the sights or cross hairs of three bars or liquor service restaurants. He is firmly triangulated and they have him cornered.
So we got a 12-pack of suds.
We checked out and took the groceries to the car, baking in the sun, where we put the bags in the back seat and the beer in the front seat, between us, in order to keep it cool when we drove, right in front of the A/C.
As we arrived at the parking lot by his abode, I turned the car in and noticed two ladies standing in the thoroughfare and talking.
"Gosh," I said. "It's nice to see two ladies who aren't talking on cell phones."
"Gadfrey," he said. "That's my PO!"
Now he said this with a bit of warmth, leading me to conclude that this was not an opportune crossing of paths. He threw his left arm over the 12 pack, trying to obscure its cover, a cover painted and inked with vibrantly cool propaganda, dancing bears, gushing mountain streams, and happy brewmeisters.
"You don't want her to see the beer?" I asked.
So I ducked down a side aisle and began cruising the parking lot, up and down, back and forth, just as I usually do when looking for a meter with time on it.
Fortunately, the lot was just big enough that the ladies did not eventually decide that they needed to unlimber their MACE cannisters on us.
They were both blonde. Well, who isn't these days? I mean, who of their age and in Port Desespoir. They were paradigmatic emblems of the femme d'affaires; no-nonsense women of the world.
Certainly the one called " my PO " must be. I kept trying to get a gander of her in the rear view.
I couldn't approach too close. I had thoughts of dominatrices scowling at us.
Crash...or Clunk actually...the 12 pack fell forward off the seat!
"That ought to be fizzy enough." I said.
My brother scrabbled the cube of liquid delight back onto the seat.
"Why don't we drive by and pop one open and spray them?" I said.
He laughed.
Then the A/C quit.
It had always been iffy. I usually did not use it. I think what happened is that the freon that was left decided it was time to join its brothers and sisters up, up, way up there in the Green Pastures of the Ozone Layer.
So the beer was not only stirred and shaken, but it was now going to warm up.
We drove on.
After a while, I began to wonder what happens to a 12 pack in critical condition. Would it eventually explode and take out half of downtown? Bullets of sweat began to form upon our troubled brows.
Finally, the gab fest ended. The two blondes lionesses shook their manes, and each strode off as regally as Aiyesha, looking for men to enslave and yoke to their chariots.
Slowly, we crept around a corner, watching the PO get into her car, fiddle with the seat belt, pick up a cell phone, then think better of it, and start the engine. Her red back ups glowed promisingly.
I came up slowly, looked around, saw she had 1 hour left on her meter, and slid the 1991 Marquis into the spot as gracefully as a an admiral guiding the USS Forrestall into dry dock. Actually, I think the Marquis has more "flight deck" than does the Forrestall.
We slowly got out of the car. The coast was clear. I carried the loot to the front door of his building.
It was a close call.


Скорбящая мать Хаита

The Grieving Mother of Kaita ( or Hoyit ) was built after the 1949 earthquakes and landslides in Tajikistan to commemorate the 28,000 who died. At the time, Tajikistan was a member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The monument was located in the Karategin (Rasht) valley, in the plain of the Yarhich River between Jirgitol and Gharm.

During the Tajik civil war, 1992 - 1997, the area was controlled by the Islamic Rebirth Party, who judged it to be un-Islamic and destroyed it.

I reprint this post and its picture - no, its icon - because it is so rare. As far as I can discover, this is one of only two pictures of the Mother of Khaita that exists on the web; I have found no others. The second is here:

I am thankful that I was able to have stumbled across it by accident back in July 2009. It was in the blog
Ghosts of Alexander
Conflict and Society in Afghanistan and Central Asia

which is a must read for anyone who hopes to make sense of our policy in Afghanistan.
I refer to the lady of the statue now as

'Umm Khaita (the above written in my own hand), or Mother Khaita.
I am still rather astonished I had never heard of the statue, nor the catastrophe, until last year. I hope to find out more about it. The statue is huge, but it has a haunting spirituality that differentiates it from the usual Soviet realism.

you will find the spelling Kaita or Khaita. The Russian spelling indicates "kh", as well as the alternative name of the region being "Hiyot", which suggests an emphatic "h" at least in the initial position.

reprinted for Linda

Speakers for the Living

In the new age, we shall be speakers for the living. The old age when we elected leaders who were speakers for the dead: dead ideas, dead passions, dead battles, will have passed into the lands of the sunset.

To speak for the living is to speak for the future. We must always speak of how things will be. In the election just past, I never heard one comment about the future; it was all blame for the past, and remedy for the present... but note well: no one ever imagined the future, unless you count things like "we shall return to our place of prominence in the world" type of chatter; it is obviously looking backward because the speaker cannot - or dare not - look forward.

Moment of Truth

Picked up in:

which refers to:

House Democrats are exploiting an embarrassing moment for the GOP earlier this week to highlight the hypocrisy of Republicans' relentless opposition to health care reform.
Four members -- Joe Crowley (NY), Linda Sanchez (CA), Donna Edwards (MD), and Tim Ryan (OH) -- are rounding up signatures for a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker-to-be John Boehner, encouraging them to press their members to refuse their federal health benefits based on the same principles underlying their opposition to health care reform.
 Somebody will be punked. Don't know who yet. Surely not all incoming Republicans will want the "public option" of Government health care provided to the Congress!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Intelligent Design

I am wondering whether to embrace Intelligent Design, that theory which postulates that it is possible that although God created the world, it was designed by somebody else.
One problem I have is that this "somebody else" is never named. Another problem is that obviously such a potent being as the Intelligent Designer may actually be "the real deal" and be a better object of prayer; the Designer might be a young Sammy Glick ("What Makes Sammy Run?") version of the old and staid Jehovah. Whereas after a full day's work, Jehovah goes home, kicks off his shoes, and goes to sleep after dinner, Sammy "The Designer" Glick loves the night and its denizens, running down to Toots Shor's where he can rub elbows with the great and near-great and wanna-be-great.

Having thought of this for a long time, I decided that the Intelligent Designer is Santa Claus, and I shall wholeheartedly embrace the dogma of Intelligent Design, remembering that the Designer knows whether I have been naughty or nice. It's that Omiscience thing he apparently shares with Jehovah.

Sukkot of Glass

Eichmann in Tel Aviv

I think we are in a period where we are re-defining our fears.  Some things are new, more bells and whistles, some things are old and are now being re-worked before the grand opening on Broadway.

Using fear-defining stories that ignore the nobility of mankind makes the journey to Auschwitz a whole lot quicker.

Fear was re-defined after 9/11. How did that work out? A quick and unscientific poll of the dead will suffice.

Fear is part of the background intelligent processing; our conscious fears are part of the foreground - conscious. We have to put clothes on them, give them lines to speak, and sit back and watch the play. I hope that when we have finished re-defining our fears - writing books, drawing cartoons, and delivering speeches -  we will not find ourselves eventually in that place where there are glass Sukkot from Tel Aviv!
sukkot  is the plural of sukkah, meaning "booth", tent or tabernacle. we use the meaning "booth" here.

Bonsai Willows of Ritual as Repetitive and Recursive Functions

Willow Bonsai

I have a post on Ritual considered as a bonsai willow; how we miniaturize the large in order to be able to see it from every angle. We use ritual to fix and prune the Holy into a an easily handled size, then we may put it in a box, or a series of boxes, and open them up once a week, or twice a year, put the contents on display, and then re-package them to wait in their limbo.
Having said that, it seems to me that intelligent beings are forever on the verge of an epidemic of creativity for good or for ill: new ways to help mankind versus new ways to destroy new arts versus new pornography, etc.

It is the latter tendency that leads us to imprison ourselves within dogmas (we shall not speak of civil laws here and now). We make our beliefs defined, consistent, coherent -- all of which intelligence very often is not! -- and we make it repetitive and predictable. It is machine-like and utterly predictable, and thereby allays our fears.

It should be defined, but not well-defined. It should be repetitive, but not recursive. If we look into the universe and it seem indifferent to us, we need to be educated on how to stand on our own two feet, rather than putting a cap on our fears by handing over our birthright of creative intelligence to prison guards holding new straight jackets for us.

We all draw, we all paint, we all dance, we all play; not all of us are professional artists of a certain type of conscious expression, but we all do it. So do we all confront the Holy, and the only coaches, managers, tutors, and mentors we have are the ones standing by with holy books and holding the keys of our spiritual cells!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Remember When...

...When Comrade Stalin Rode The Subway

That's how old I am. Those were the good old days. Before megalomania took its toll. We should know. I remember the days when there was a peace dividend, when the US and USSR were well on the way to standing down, dismantling nuclear weaponry... just like back after The Fatherland War when we embraced in the ashes of Berlin!
Well, the USSR disappeared and Russia was down on its luck for a while. Meanwhile, back here in the US of A, most of us sat around bemused, wondering what to do. We began to strut around in a daze, muttering to ourselves "Able I was ere I saw Elba"... we began to hear bumps in the night.
We began to see Metternichs in every cupboard and Wellingtons on the dinner table.
In short, we went a bit nuts, and everytime they tried to throw the good old strait waistcoat on us, we ran off towards the Middle East like lunatic bonapartes.

Now there is a START treaty to approve. The threat of nuclear weaponry is too great for political games. It must be approved now.

In future times, historians will look at the 20th century and say that one of the greatest moral achievements in the history of mankind was the mutual refusal of the USSR and the USA to perpetrate nuclear crimes.

And right now, most of us do not even think about it.

Future historians will have something to say about that, also.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Going to Toronto for Thanksgiving

This year we'll be going to Toronto for Thanksgiving, although it is not Canadian Thanksgiving at that time. We just have things to do. And we will be going to the Museum of Art, which means we'll be parking by the Sharp Center. The Sharp Center was one of the funniest and astounding moments of my life: when I came out of the parking garage and saw it in front of me, I was speechless and literally could not believe my eyes.
I submit a retro version of the Sharp Center in Toronto:

Sharp Centre Cross Section

In December, 2009, we were in Toronto, and other than going to Daiter's Delicatessen to get the cream cheese, and to Levy's Bakery next door to get the lightest, sweetest Challa bread in the world, and to West Bloor Village to get fresh pierogi and strudel and doughnuts and chocolates, we were spending a dab of time hanging around the Art Gallery of Ontario for laughs.
The King Tut exhibit was there at the time, but we didn't attend that. Tickets had been bought decades ahead; grandparents bought them for their descendants about the time of MacKenzie King, and the descendants were finally cashing them in. It was packed.
We went to see something else really cool, but I forget what it was... is how cool it was!
Anyway, traffic was a bear: schools were, schools were in. Definitely IN. If schools were out, all those little people in uniform would have been home playing video games. But they weren't. They were at the Art Gallery of Ontario in long lines, wearing checks and tartans, and playing tag around Henry Moore nudes. So schools were definitely in session, and they were having a trip to the Art Gallery that day.
Parking was difficult. I happened to chance upon a World of Zelda type of parking lot, which seemed to stretch the entire length of McCaul Street; it was dark, narrow and had signs and meta-signs: a meta-sign is a sign which adds the information "exit - left " immediately in the vicinity of the basic primary sign which conveyed the information "exit - right". It wasn't a contradiction, it was a higher level commentary, all of which I came to appreciate after about 20 minutes of driving back and forth through the same parking lanes.

Exasperating ordeal. Park. Slam door. Lock doors. Curse. Curse all foreigners! For some reason, I had assumed the lot was owned by foreigners for whom English was a second or third - maybe even further back - language. And this all based on a contrarian approach to the word "Exit".
I felt ashamed. I did a stutter walk of sorts: Damn foreigners!! - skip - oops, shouldn't say that...damn foreigners and their damn parking garages!!! - stumble - oops, that's a bit harsh...damn Pakistanis!! - skip, turn, dance around - say, there's a lot of people from Pakistan I admire... Mr. Jinnah was very admirable...
And so - interminably - on did I do this bi-polar two-step all the way to the exit on McCaul Street.
The exit door was well hidden behind a corner and bushes and shadows, so I studied it thoroughly having exited. I walked backwards to the street, looking all around, making sure I could find this devilish door in the wall of the unenchanted garden again, marking down street numbers, making sure I didn't stumble into people - damn foreigners probably!!!
And I exhaled, turned around, and for the first time in my life, I saw the Sharp Centre for Design almost directly across the street from me!! I stood totally still in McCaul Street and was shocked!

I did a real triple-take, and slowly looked up from street level to the top of the building.
I was just about exactly at the spot the illustration was taken. I first thought of an alien invasion...sort of New Orleans Mardi Gras alien invasion...sort of alien invasion of the House of Extravanganza voguing down the run-way on caran d'ache legs with intent to kill.

I had never heard of the Sharp Centre before, nor had I ever seen a picture of it... I was quite frankly not entirely sure that I was seeing it then!
I spent at least another 20 minutes approaching it from various angles, wondering if I had indeed gone through some Lewis Carroll looking glass. I mean, a monstrous Kleenex Box on Pencils was a bit over the top.
It was one of the coolest surprises I ever had.

The Approach of Thanksgiving

Have a happy drumstick, all ye mighty omnivores!
Break bones and suck marrow while ye may,
for winter is soon a-coming!

When I go to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents, bets are placed and smart punters have a line on what grade of disaster my mother will cook up this year. As long as she does not forswear cookery and the arts (?) of cuisine, Las Vegas bookies will still make book on her cooking.

Fortunately, this year I hear the smart money is on potatoes boiling over and mushy vegetables. This puts the old mind at ease since I am slipping out of the country to avoid the confrontation of irresistible force (hunger) meets immovable object (Stove-Top turkey stuffing in a box).

In the past, there have been regular Byzantine sieges in the kitchen:  butter set ablaze like Greek Fire to be hurled at the Turks; there have been onslaughts like World War I: pressure cookers exploding like infernal devices set by a platoon of sappers at Ypres; and many a great leader took a wound in the gizzard, and were thereby rendered hors de combat, like Albert Sidney Johnston at Pittsburg Landing.

So last year,the butter was burned badly, but it was discovered before the fats ignited, so that is a "feather in our caps". It stank, of course, and our clothes were imbued with its odor, so that is a "black eye".The people from the fire alarm company called a couple of times, and I wished them a "Merry" Thanksgiving; no one knew how to properly disarm the alarm, and it continued to intermittently do series of short blasts for about 20 minutes, and, come to think of it, we were doing a pretty good imitation of a ship of fools at anchor in a fog as thick as pea soup.
This was a series of "feathers in caps" and "black eyes" sort of at random.

A couple of other pots - the gravy, the potatoes - were set and poised to burn or boil over, but by now we were vigilant, and my mother launched into a long, keening epic of kitchen disasters and epidemics, once again forgetting she had turned the heat up to "high" to goose things along.
My father couldn't figure out what was going on. I told him we had to air out the house, so we would open the back door in the kitchen, which had a screen door, and the front door, which had no would he please make sure that his cat was in a bedroom with the door firmly closed; my parents are quite concerned with their overweight cat scampering out the door.
Very solicitous they are. One look at the feline would indicate that he might take it into his head to saunter towards an open door, but surely not scamper. Further on this train of thought, no largesome cat would take a powder just before the groaning board is put under full capacity, would they? Surely not. Anyone who had stuck with it during the early days at Los Alamos would surely want to be there with Oppenheimer at Trinity?! 
Thanksgiving is the A-bomb of gustatory finesse - or lack of finesse - so why miss "Carb-aggedon"?

So, he says the cat is fine, where's the fire? So I say, the fire's out, there was no ignition...howzat?...there was no ignition of the butter...howzat?...IT DID NOT START ON FIRE- almost, but it didn't. So, doors open...bow (pointing to the front) and stern (pointing to the back). I did this since everyone was Navy.
So make sure the cat's secured,mate!
The damn cat's alright! How do ya turn that damn thing off? ( at this point, the alarm was cycling through its tale of woe and alarum.)
Long story short, within 20 minutes he discovers the door to the bedroom open and his cursory inspection reveals no cat.
Who opened this door?
I don't think you ever shut it.
Howzat? Eh?
And so on.
No one stepped forward to take the fall for the open door incident. My niece's daughters brightly denied having done so, then turned at me and gave me one of those blah! blah! so there, mr. smarty pants! looks, and waved their little fingers around, as if I were the culprit. I shook a fist at them, and they ran away laughing. Shallow end of the gene pool!
Where's the cat? I heard again. Who opened this door?
I whispered that I had told you to close it; I did not want to be heard, but I did want to let the words out, for they began to choke me like oil on a choppy sea......whereon I am swimming from a shipwreck ( naufragium!) and trying to save myself, and not having much luck, and gulping down sea water and oil from the ruptured fuel tanks,  and waiting for the Titanic - on her wonderful maiden voyage - to swing into view to rescue me! Ah, peace and contentment at last!

My mother continued with her Agatha Christie tale of  "Dial M for Medium-High", a tale of crime and punishment, the heroine's well-intentioned flicking of the dials to "High" resulting in the nemesis of "Backdraft"!
I think...I strongly suspect that this is a sign of her insanity: she has always steered clear of friends and relatives that show any signs of being hazy or gave any indications of dementia, treating them rather like wounded pack dogs who will slow things down for the rest of the pack, and so have to be put out of their misery. So she long ago adopted the strategy of doing odd things in an obsessional way - even though she was demonstrably compos mentis - in order that when the time really came, she could always claim she had been doing it that way all along. She is a master mind of analysis; ask her.
None of the rest of us were remotely interested, and we edited this op-ed of  lack of interest with the punctuation of bored and loud yawns, but she read it all as huzzah! and encore!

My father became visibly upset when she told him she was giving us some left-over turkey, and not to worry, for she had all she needed for his soup, for it was the soup he truly loved, not the festal board where we peck at the bird itself - that same festal board oft ruined (according to my father himself) by the gowking e'en of kin gobblin' like kine! not fed since yestreen!  ( yes, that's e'en for eyes. you had to be there. and kine is cows or of those breeds which do not split the udder or the hoof or whatever it is they split or cleave or separate.) I fully felt he would go out front and begin going through the cooler, with which we had transported our share of the feast from home, and now was meagerly filled with turkey shreds. It began to feel like the holidays at Cold Comfort Farm.
I had picked up my brother - he has no drivers' license - and now he and my wife gave visible and audible rumblings of mutinous discontent and uprisings unless we cast off, and that right quick!
I cheerfully said it was time to go, and we pushed our way into the elements.
On the way back, my brother went "Oh, jeez!..." every time we passed a convenience store, slapping the back pocket where the wallet goes, or the side pockets where coins go, or the shirt pocket where  cigarettes go, and muttered something about smokes and not having any money...
But he said nothing about good Samaritans, so I did not offer. I don't think the real Good Samaritan bought a smoke for that guy in the Bible who was down on his luck. (Although we did joke about the ancient Assyrians: Hey Nebby Chadnezzzer...ya'll got an extra one o' them ziggurats!)
He had not taken a drink all night, nor did he smell of booze when I had picked him up. Now being out of money may explain not being soused when your ride comes to the door, but it doesn't explain why no free noggins o' rum were hoisted at the dinner. A miracle -almost -from the temperance view, and a market crash from the liquor producers vantage.

It's a bit too early for an instant-replay decision on a miracle...but I've been being a good boy, with a selfish interest in getting something good for myself if miracles are indeed being handed out. If his sobriety is how it works out, I suppose I can work up a good deal of enthusiasm...eventually; some of the good old baraka of the good metaphysics may splatter on me. It is very hard to say...
As the old hymn goes:

His ways of mystery to conceal,
God makes a really, really big deal...

or something along those lines.

reprint, mish-mosh, and amalgam

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Intelligence not Restricted to Consciousness 2

I tried to clean it up and make it brief:

Intelligent beings have Foreground processing (consciousness) and Background processing (unconsciousness). Some processing is more advanced than other types, but all are potentially intelligent.

Our intuitions and visions often may be extra capacity Background processing that explores the mysteries of Being in its intelligent manner, and at some point is able to get some of the "consciousness" coding to bring it into the Foreground.

This does not imply anything about the real or unreal existence of the objects of Intuition or the contents of Visions as they are remembered and communicated.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Del Boy

I did a Del Boy falls through the bar type thing. Very Derek.
Leaning against the gate that flips up for the staff to enter and exit the bar area... leaning against it... a wait-person flips it up while I am not in the leaning-against-it-state for a moment and I return to recumbency, missing the now flipped-up gate, expecting solidity where there is none, and the old what-used-to-be corpore sano falls through into the bar area on the floor.

The Liquid Desire of Risk

There is and has been a debate whether children who are exposed to and actively engaged in virtual depictions of war, manslaughter, murder and mayhem are in any way perverted by such exposure: whether they are de-sensitized to violence and things like that; whether they might be inclined to pull wings off insects, waterboard cats and dogs, and torture prisoners and bomb wedding parties.

The evidence is unclear.

I think the exposure results in a desire for the liquid stimulus of the chemicals in the blood released by the virtual reality of such games: the testosterone, the adrenalin, the liquid fear and risk!
And it creates a desire for more.
But it would be too simple if the kids of Video Violence grew up to be mercenaries...

...they will be alpha males and females driven into monstrous mutation, created by our own little Island of Dr. Moreau right at home, where we induce the chemicals into their innocent bodies.
Perhaps they will grow up to be supreme risk-takers in finance, balancing on the edge of rationality in the financial sector, gambling with the welfare and livelihood of the entire society! Perhaps they will search to create conflicts where they may feel renewed, creating wars and discords!

It's all in the blood!


Walking Dead

I watched The Walking Dead yesterday, the new zombie TV show. I am into zombie-themed, vampire-themed, and werewolf-themed products of modern day society, in case you haven't noticed. I believe that intelligent beings create their own reality, so popular themes and "myths" are important to me.

First, Daniel Defoe wrote a pamphlet titled Murder Considered as a Fine Art. When I first saw it years ago, I immediately became aware that a complex symbol - such as "Art" or "Money" or "Religion" - is exactly what you make of it, no more, no less.
If the Nazis had won World War II, our Holocaust Museums of today would be places to celebrate, and the pictures of Auschwitz would be sold by Sotheby's and purchased  by admiring art collectors for millions. Treblinka would be Eichmann's "Blue" period.

So it is with with Art. A show can be technically great and well written, but it can still be a nasty bit of business. Evil is not debased by our adoration of it; we are. If Murder were a fine art, so much the better for Murder, and so much the worse for us.

The Walking Dead is a great and ghastly show.
It is a diseased story of the Resurrection: the zombies rise from the dead not to glory, but to horror, infamy, degradation, and mindless brain-eating ennuie; another form of death-in-life.

Even after death, violence is eternal.

There exists the quaint notion that a bullet to the head mercifully puts things to rights and the zombie out of their misery: a well-depicted bullet shot with a good deal of detail.

Therefore, I watched a show where zombies achieved their Nirvana by well-intentioned devotees of guns, priests of the cult of violence; a future and present where the only release from death is more and more death! Impressive, eh?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tariq Aziz

Tariq Aziz must be released immediately!

Wait! He is a Christian. Iraqi Christians have lost 50% of their numbers by flight of death: a Christian community going back to the time of Christ has been destroyed  by the USA war on Iraq. I don't seem to hear any of the Talking Dead on cable asking Grinning George Bush about it.

Maybe we should destroy Tariq Aziz along with the rest of the Christians.

Intelligence is not Restricted to Consciousness

Intelligent beings do conscious things: talk, sing, play, work, pray, etc. and they do unconscious things, like transmit visual data from the retina to the brain.

What is the unconscious? Is it a mysterious place? Not really. It is, however, inaccessible by consciousness.

Intelligent individuals process information by electrical and chemical messages. For each and every system and sub-system that exists - for example,  the cones in the retinae of the eyes - there are codes that the intelligent system uses to control the flow and processing.
Only some of the intelligent systems are conscious: language, music, maths, structured movements and behaviors, imaging, etc. These systems have high-level codes in them which eventually cause the intelligent individual to be "aware" of them, and to be considered conscious. There are a certain class of codes that bestow awareness-of-being-done. Language follows rules and codes that create the sense of "I-am-aware-that" I am talking; the processing of visual data before the brain does not.

The systems that do not do so are considered unconscious. Again, the system of structures and messages and the codes employed in moving information from the cones in the eye to the brain is not a system that has consciousness associated with it: we are "unaware" of it. However, it goes on working none the less.

Thus, we may think of intelligent individuals as systems of information processing with conscious and unconscious sub-systems of information processing.

There is nothing particularly mysterious about the unconscious at this point. There are more mysteries about consciousness and things like Chomsky's Deep Grammar of Language, one of the foremost "conscious" systems of intelligence.

The "unconscious" processing is still connected to our environment, even though we don't consider it conscious. The "unconscious" keeps on working. It works in the background. Intelligent beings parallel process by nature, and we may think of consciousness as foreground processing and unconscious as background processing.
So why are we surprised when someone springs a surprise on us, like a Joan of Arc who seems to have had a "global" intuition of the state of France - physically, morally, and spiritually - of her time? She had as good an unconscious processing system as anyone else, maybe better. Perhaps she had extra unconscious processing capacity, which could turns its resources from the autonomic maintenance of the body to a higher level knowledge
Somehow, she was able to make her unconscious; i.e., good knowledge but unexpressed in language, or math or music or images, make the transition from unconscious to conscious. She heard voices: language; she saw things: images.

It seems to me that a lot of what people call "God", or the Holy is actually deep unconscious knowledge of intelligent individuals whose intelligent processing systems are working well and have the happy ability to take the "silent" and "background" knowledge of their unconscious system and give it language, give it form and shape, shove it to the foreground of awareness, and make it a gift to the rest of us.


Forever 4:00 AM. Forever light balmy breeze off the great Ocean. Coffee and something to read, something to write. Plan an expedition to the uncharted seas, the Islands of Cake and Birds' Nest Baklava! A boat ship-shape and Bristol fashion, with a soul bright coin and Quito gold!


Meditation is the return to Dawn Consciousness.
One's eyes are extinguished, and one touches the light in unity.

Mr. Ford

Temping in Ypsilanti, I have occasion to drive by Ford's Rawsonville plant - not to mention the Willow Run Airport - and view Ford Lake and the hydro dam there: all of one turbine visible through the small turbine house which I would put at 1930-1940 for construction. Whether this small installation was part of Henry's idea of dispersing the manufacture into smaller towns and smaller factories run by clean hydro power I don't know. The 1-turbine dam and the plant are suspiciously close, and I think that in 1939, that one turbine may have been able to power what was at Rawsonville with Kwh to spare.
I thought of the following, and reprint it:

I am reading a paper by Nicholas Humphrey and this act is a great pleasure. He reminds me of Voltaire. ( Having said this, I immediately flash on Talladega Nights, having seen it recently, and laugh at the satire on our deprecation of Frenchy things.)

He repeats an apocryphal story about Henry Ford ( there is only 1 Henry Ford, so I do not require roman numerals or other indicators as to which person I refer) wherein Mr. Ford sent fellows around the country to scrap yards looking for remnants of his Model T to determine whether any parts were still serviceable.
They discovered that the kingpins of the vast majority of Model T junkers they found were still in extrememly good condition.
Mr. Ford immediately wrote a memo stating that all parts used in their cars be of lesser quality and not last for such a long time.

This is a tale of the present age, not of Henry Ford and his time.
It is not only apocryphal of Mr. Ford, it is a complete fabrication and misrepresentation.
The present day auto companies would do this in a second. Not so Henry Ford.

We make a grave mistake when we try to re-draft the history of the past in the misguided lineaments of this, our present day.

My wife and I just read the memoirs of Mr. Ford's chef at Fair Lane. The man's son is a neighbor of my parents. He attended elementary school in Greenfield Village, if you can imagine such a wonderful Tom Sawyer type of existence.
Mr. Ford was interested in food and health, expending efforts on soy products in association with Dr. G.W.Carver. Mr. Ford's insistence that his workers not smoke and not drink used to be considered cranky and intrusive. Now it appears to be enlightened and a fringe benefit.

We want to take a one or two day trip in the area of the Huron River in Michigan where Henry Ford dreamed of small village industry: a factory to make certain auto components located in one village, power being supplied by hydroelectric dams across the rivers and creeks.

Not factory towns. Towns with a small factory, on a human scale, with clean and renewable energy.
Some of the dams still exist. Portions of some of the factories exist in truncated form. It is a vision of America which is enchanting and just too much like our memories of Twilight Zone's Willoughby or Ray Bradbury's Rocket Summer to be real.
If you visit Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, the trip would be complete with a visit to Mr. Ford's vision of American industrialism, an industrialism which would have attempted to avoid the worst of the evils of the industrial systems up to his time.

Henry Ford built his cars to last. It is attested by many that Model Ts were notoriously long lived. Hence,the apochryphal story above is nonsense.

Henry Ford's memory has been corrupted by the present day which recalls only what it wants to recall edited through its Ministry of Truth. Even truly great individuals must be deformed to fit our Procrustean bed.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Teamsters' Strike in Michigan

I have decided to write about the strike by the Teamsters against our family business in 1997, a three month strike which contributed to the end of the business. I have all the surveillance tapes, too, and may be able to post video.
It occurred in Port Huron, and I have never been able to return there without disgust and regret. And I have not been able to face it until now. There were no winners.

The Discrete Charm of Reason

The world of literary criticism is the world of Reason in a microcosm. We set up long rows of desk with monitors, and people get to work creating things. Then we create mirror image of everything on the other side of the work space. Then we further add a mirror of infinite regression, wherein all the workers at creating messages of reason are multiplied without end.

The only knowledge which works well in all this is Science, because it has the on/off switch of experimentation to put an end to infertile speculatory paths.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fellini Benigni 2

The title makes as much sense as anything I have written so far in this here blog, y'all.

I wish to make an homage to Fellini.
Thus, I created a bumper sticker:

8 1/2  Fellini

which I thought to be sort of on the lines of stuff such as " I 'heart' New York " and so on.

People began to ask me whether I had eaten - or "ate" - Fellini, and was it somewhat like spaghettini?
And why did I eat only half of it? Was it too spicy?
Of course, the more literate gave me a wary eye. In their limited understanding, they think "fellini" is somewhat akin to and synonomous with other words that are spelled "f e l l - - - -".

So I went to the grocery store and did a "fellini"
in the fruits and produce, doing it as if I were Roberto Begnini,
falling by the organic bananas
like a couple of Johnny Stecchini.

photo: Dennis Darzacq

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Money Talks, and BS.... Prays

Sorry for the title, but it does seem apt.
In Michigan, the legislature and the governor are on board for a bill permitting hard liquor to be sold before noon on Sundays. This would repair that pimple of Temperance that disfigures the otherwise perfectly beautiful, boozy face of Ms. Lady Week.

I won't even wonder if it was the money of liquor lobbyists and retailers that pushed this through.

Ill Omens

Ill omens for US companies: on the NBC evening news for the last two days - and perhaps the entire week - there has been a special rport each night on
people getting rid of excess possessions and living a much more frugal existence. You know that corporate America must hate to watch their consumers exposed to this heresy.
If the Consumer Era is over, where shall we find growth? India, China, and Indonesia - to name only three - are emerging into the world economy. There is at least a generation that will be devoted to their rapid growth phase. We shall be beleaguered with imports from them, and find it hard to sell anything to them in quantities sufficiently large.
So where's the growth going to come from?
This is where we dropped the ball. Space would have been the untrammeled frontier of possibilities where we did and still yet do have a great advantage. Even here, however, there is at least a generation of work and exploration in the near area between Earth-Moon-Mars before anything could be expected to jump.

China expects a man on the moon in 2020. We have our sights set on 2018. China sees this project as of tremendous importance, we see it, shrug our shoulders, and whet our budget trimming knives.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things to Come

The world of the future should have:

1) Free Institutions and Free Markets;

2) Free Religion.

I suppose now you are going to be tedious and ask me what "Free Religion" is. Well, let's think about it for a while. The very fact that "freedom" and "religion" conjoined together may strike us as unnatural and somehow licentious is a good indication of where our heads are at right now.
Think about why it seems odd.


Any analysis of Art should contain a good-sized amount of the spiritual dimension. That is why I speak of "diseased" myths and stories: even the most inane and stupid film about crazed teen-age vampire-zombies gives a glimpse into the kaleidoscope of conceptual-DNA fragments which float around the cultural genome; even a film that has a cult following due to its ineptitude has a structure that moves us on a deep level.The fact that concept and spirit are both unseen, are both constructs of the awareness of intelligent beings tends to bring Concept and Spirit close together in most people's minds.

The ideas and concepts are our past, present, and future.

When you watch a good movie, consider the morality of the story and bring your total life history and philosophy to bear in looking at it.
Same for books.
Same for music.
We do not do this at present. I know this because a lot more people would be walking out of movies after the first 15 minutes. I have stood up and walked right out of The Aristocrats and Reservoir Dogs.
When I experience Art, I wish to be deeply moved, not violated: that is the starting point of my analysis.

Video Games

Is viewing violent video games bad for children?

Rationality becomes a disease when we reach a point where we can stand with straight faces and as, "Do you think this small innocent child could in any serious way be harmed by - not just watching - but actively participating in a virtual slaughter?"

Tres Trabajadores No Especializados

Before the Fall...

Waiting for the knots on the Nikes of the world to fully untie, the best and the brightest looked down at their feet and suddenly saw the laces were all the same, the knots were all invariant, and it was just a matter of time.
When they looked up, they felt like the dinosaurs at Chicxulub watching a massive meteor approaching the Yucatan, glowing like a Santa and His Jolly Reindeer in a Christmas pageant. The times were now pregnant with promises of things to come.

Hank, Montag, and Oscar often met for lunch at Hanaan's Diner, and tried to figure a way out. They always started "Estamos aqui...", but as they ate, no map presented itself to them, and digestion took precedence over thinking. Digestion even of Hanaan's food was not as painful as thinking.

One day, they decided there were still a lot of jobs to be done by handymen, so they put their tools together in Oscar's van, and repaired their ladders with a MIG welder, and hoisted them on the top of the van, securing them with a halloween assortment of bungees.

They drove to their first job at the America Home.
America Home needed a lot of work. A fair sized bit of space garbage had destroyed a section of the clubhouse, falling from the sky on a sunny day when no one was in the clubhouse. Knowing that lightning never strikes twice, there was a buzz of activity when what was left of the insurance carrier was forced to pay for repairs, and a second fragment of satellite hit again at ground-zero, killing all the repair men and the old ladies who were taking measurements for reupholstering.

Hank and Oscar were going to do roofing repair on some structures near the clubhouse crater, while Montag suffered from acrophobia, and would be a scrivener and factotum for any of the inhabitants still comatose from post-traumatic syndrome....



Freedoms are only as good as those who bear them. If they misuse them, they go bad, like anything else. Freedoms are liable to rust and corruption, disease and infection. Freedoms are balanced on the creative edge of chaos, they teeter between Life and Death-in-Life.
This balancing act requires men and women of good will and good character to be able to keep things in balance.

Otherwise it is 2008 all over again, and we shall reminisce of times "Before The Fall".
And was this how Adam and Eve were driven from the garden?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Many neuroses are problems of information processing. Fascism in its early stages is an information-flow problem: the fascist side wishes to receive no "bare" information from those they oppress; the information must be filtered and censored, lest anyone see the oppressed as human beings.
On the other hand, the oppressed receive more information than before, and more than they want. The information encoded in riots, blows, and destroyed property - as well as vituperative words and images - are too much information:  the oppressor gets to send millions of subcutaneous insertions of metal-casings into bodies as Valentine's messages, and the recipients don't get off any notes of their own; one way info.

With image information, please note how many cartoons about Arabs and the Prophet resemble the old day anti-Semitic pictures of the Nazis, the faces becoming little more than  beards and noses.
The imagery of Muslims in the USA is very proto-fascist.
There are ghettoes of Muslims in Europe.
There is an information-flow problem developing itself very well. (My wife's hairdresser somehow got into a discussion with her about Muslims, asking "Is Allah a different God?" which is a mind-set that would easily slip into acceptance of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" given half a chance.)
Anyone taking bets?

The Partisan Media

Psalm 64

Hear my voice, O God, in prayer.
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked,
from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity...
who bend their bows and shoot bitter words
They encourage themselves in an evil matter:
they commune of laying snares privily,
they say, Who shall see them?



The film referred to in the title was called "Jar City" in its release in the USA. I use it as a device to understand the story of redemption. It is one of those items I immerse myself in over and over again. I heard Clarence Thomas speak on the radio today, and to myself I muttered, "Runar... that piece of filth!"
Mr. Thomas has incorporated himself into the image of Runar Gislason, instigator of a long line of bad karma in "Jar City". However, it is not the past that influences my casting of Clarence as Runar; it is the future that does.

Who Are These People?

There is something terribly wrong with the people described as Islamists, the strict and fundamentalist Muslims.

Harry's Place
Ofcom, the UK’s broadcasting regulator has today ruled that the Islam Channel, Britain’s pro-Islamist satellite TV channel, has breached the UK Broadcasting Code after presenters on the channel advocated marital rape, justified violence against women and described women who wore perfume as ‘prostitutes’.

To diminish perfumes and attars of roses and flowers is to deny the history of love; it denies the heritage of the Arab peoples; it denies much that made Islam great, and now reduces the religion from the glory of Sufi experience of Allah to a mean and brutish puritanism.
Those who cannot do, deny.
Those who cannot love, hate.